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|In today's edition: Big money, ballot requests, truancy factors, state secrets, long-term trouble, and conflicting enrollment results. It's Halloween 🎃|
Pennsylvania voters will elect a new state Supreme Court justice one week from today, and money is pouring into the race in the homestretch.
Such contests have attracted big money in recent years as the court has handled weighty issues like election law and redistricting, and as abortion access has become a state issue. This election is no exception.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: New Democratic group and one libertarian billionaire are flooding the Pa. Supreme Court race with cash.
THE CONTEXT: The outcome of Nov. 7 balloting won’t flip the balance of power on the court, but it could make a big difference in the court’s partisan makeup later in the decade, when several judges are up for reelection.
A new Democratic group, Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness, and a single libertarian billionaire, Jeff Yass, are dumping money into this contest.
All told, this year's race had attracted at least $12.6 million since the primary as of Monday. By comparison, total spending on Pennsylvania's Supreme Court elections hit $16.5 million with three seats open in 2015.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"It is critical for Congress to have a thorough understanding of foreign investment in our nation’s agricultural land."
—U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R., Pa.) on the impact of foreign-owned farms and farmland across the United States, including in Pennsylvania
|At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this November by visiting our Election Center website. |
» See how judges affect you and the issues you care about most
» Pa. Supreme Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more
» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court
» Pa. Superior Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more
» Pa. Commonwealth Court 101: What it is, why it matters, and more
» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts
» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots
» Complete guide to who is on the ballot, when to vote & more
» Everything you need to know about using a mail ballot
» Elecciones Pa. 2023: Traducciones al Español
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» VOTER READY: Join us Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on voting rights in Pennsylvania, important dates and deadlines, and answers to your remaining Election Day questions. Register for the event here and submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
» RESULTS REVIEW: Join us, the New Pennsylvania Project, and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6-7 p.m. for a Q&A on the election results. Register for the event here and submit your questions to email@example.com.
Skunk cabbage, anyone? Thanks to Don H. for the pic. Have a Pennsylvania photo you want the whole commonwealth to see? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
|5 PM DEADLINE: There is one week left until Election Day and less than a day left to request your mail ballot. Mail ballot applications must be received by your local election office by 5 p.m. today. Spotlight PA reports, in its guide to using a mail ballot in this election, that if you have an emergency and miss the deadline, you may still be able to request an emergency absentee ballot up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.|
OUT OF SCHOOL: The Inquirer (paywall) dug into Philadelphia's truancy problem to examine root causes. Nearly half of all district students were chronically absent in the 2021-22 school year, and Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. once called the district's absenteeism a “life-and-death” issue. But some students say it's fear for their safety at school that's keeping them from going.
- RELATED: Pennsylvania’s voting law is filled with obsolete provisions, troublesome conflicts, via Spotlight PA
- Commonwealth Court candidates tout experience, squabble over billionaire’s role in campaign, via PennLive
PUBLIC INFO: With $640 million in state funding for several state-related universities still hung up in Harrisburg, the state House on Monday passed a bill 201-1 expanding what information those schools must make public, the Associated Press reports. The schools — Lincoln, Penn State, Pitt, and Temple — must reveal very little now, and transparency has been a budget season sticking point.
- RELATED: Pennsylvania lawmakers push forward significant juvenile justice reforms two years after task force findings, via WHYY
TROUBLED HOMES: Pennsylvania is aging rapidly, and TribLIVE reports the commonwealth's long-term care industry is facing "long-term trouble." The outlet says Pennsylvania has more abuse-related federal enforcement actions than most states, and that while some nursing homes have consistently been poorly rated and flagged for abuse here, none have had their license revoked in the past three years.
- RELATED: Bill repealing Pa. ban on religious garb worn by teachers in school is headed to the governor's desk, via WHTM
MIXED RESULTS: Two years after the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted to consolidate six of its universities into two, Inside Higher Ed reports the two resulting institutions saw opposite enrollment trends this fall. Commonwealth University enrollment rose by 11.8% while PennWest University dropped by over 20%, "raising questions about the link between mergers and head count."
QUIETLY POSTPONED: An Islamic art exhibition was quietly postponed at the Frick museum in Pittsburgh over concerns it might be hurtful to the Jewish community, TribLIVE reports, adding that emails reviewed by the paper suggest politics surrounding the Israel-Hamas war played a role.
COLD FRONT: After near-record warmth over the weekend, freeze alerts are in effect for Pennsylvania (and many other states). It's potentially bad news for trick-or-treaters and welcome news for fall allergy sufferers.
HOUSE RULES: Pennsylvania House Parliamentarian David Brogan holds a second-degree black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu and told PennLive (paywall) his martial arts training helps him keep his cool in the legislative fray.
GETTING MARRIED: Former state Rep. Brian Sims (D., Philadelphia) has made it onto Out magazine's list of "LGBTQ+ celebs engaged in 2023 (so far)." Sims proposed to boyfriend Alex Drakos over the weekend.
PHOTOGENIC PA: An important visual reminder from @pennslinger on X (formerly Twitter): Pennsylvania is beautiful this time of year.
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted
R L Y L U S I O
Yesterday's answer: Introspective
Congrats to our daily winners: Gary C., Eddy Z., Eric F., Don H., Jane R., Kim C., Mark C., Barbara F., Becky C., Kimberly D., Karthik B., Jon W., Craig E., Pam A., Beth T., James B., Tracy S., Carol S., Richard A., Sharon B., Marie B., Amy Z., Tish M., Cate P., Stanley J., Vicki U., Tyler K., William Z., Patty R., Julie K., Frederick H., David W., Tom M., Wendy A., and Geoff M.