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New rules didn’t grow bipartisanship in Harrisburg

Plus, SCOTUS weighs Pa. opioid settlement.

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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Tuesday, December 5, 2023
In today's edition: Majority report, Sackler settlement, protest backlash, bad fish, food bank surge, EV adopters, and Santa comes to Pottstown.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro urged a return to bipartisanship in Harrisburg over the weekend, but insiders say new state House rules meant to strengthen cross-party cooperation in the Capitol didn't work. 

Instead, they're chalking this year's much higher rate of minority party bills being advanced out of the chamber to the majority party's willingness to bring them up for votes, noting that goodwill could change at any time. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: New Pennsylvania House rules sought to strengthen bipartisanship. Insiders say it didn't work.

THE CONTEXT: Since the new rules took effect and the chamber began its regular operations under full Democratic control in March, the state House has passed 200-plus bills, including rare gun control measures, a minimum wage hike, and LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections.

Among a slew of bills covering Democratic priorities, the House also passed 28 bills with a Republican prime sponsor this year. That's 11 more than the total number of Dem-sponsored bills passed under GOP control of the chamber during the entirety of the last two-year session.

Members say the new rules aren't the reason for that shift, noting party control is the most powerful determinant of what moves and what doesn't.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks), who ushered in the new rules during his stint as House speaker, acknowledged leadership's role while defending his rules, saying the increased passage of GOP bills means the chamber is “heading … in the right direction for the first time in a decade.”

"You stand your ground, sir, and don't get bogged down by all the haters."

Ousted U.S. Rep. George Santos to embattled U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in a trolling Cameo paid for by U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, a Menendez critic

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A great blue heron pondering life at the Trexler Nature Preserve in Lehigh County, via Karen A. Have a photo you want to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A tall bird gazes at water while standing on a shoreline.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.SCOTUS SCRUTINY: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday began weighing the legality of an opioid settlement worth hundreds of millions of dollars for states like Pennsylvania. The Sackler family, former owners of Purdue Pharma, were behind the rise of Oxycontin and now want immunity in exchange for a settlement deal with several states. The high court will decide if that arrangement is allowed under federal law.
  • RELATED: Pennsylvania to get $148 million next year in payouts from 2nd wave of opioid lawsuit settlements, via WHYY.
  • Allegheny County Jail ordered to provide medication to inmates with opioid use disorder following DOJ probe, via TribLIVE.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CHANT CONDEMNED: President Joe Biden and Gov. Josh Shapiro are among those denouncing pro-Palestine protesters in Philly who chanted “you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” at an Israeli-style falafel shop on Sunday, the latter calling it "blatant antisemitism." The shop's Israeli-born and Pittsburgh-raised owner has been criticized for supporting an ambulance service that's partnering with the IDF.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
'DO NOT EAT': Eating a single serving of PFAS-tainted freshwater fish can be the equivalent of drinking water contaminated with high levels of the toxic "forever chemicals" for a month, a recent study found. Pennsylvania has issued at least one related warning to anglers in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, but KFF Health News reports our "do not eat" threshold is more than twice that seen in other states.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.EXTREME DEMAND: Pennsylvania food banks say demand is reaching "catastrophic" levels as donations continue to decline. PennLive reports some midstate food banks are reporting double the demand from last year. “It’s the highest ever, including comparing it back to the pandemic when we thought we were at a peak that would never be exceeded,” said Central PA Food Bank Director Joe Arthur.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.EV EVANGELISTS: Pennsylvania is leading almost every other state in tapping federal dollars to add electric vehicle charging stations. Axios reports relatively few Pennsylvanians are driving EVs now, but better infrastructure might change that. In other news: PennDOT says 42 intersections that were made into roundabouts have seen dramatic reductions in crashes. Some say there's a learning curve.
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INDEPENDENT DAY: Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger is leaving the Republican Party and changing his affiliation to independent following a dispute with local GOP leadership, per The Sentinel. Eichelberger is still conservative, but his move costs the GOP control of the county.

ONGOING INVESTIGATION: It's been 20 years since the body of Baltimore federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna was found in a Lancaster County creek, touching off a murder investigation that still hasn't produced any arrests, motive, or closure for Luna's family, WBAL-TV reports.

COLLEGE RESCUE: The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, is closing after "years of labor battles and enrollment declines," per The Chronicle of Higher Education. Misericordia University in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, some 200 miles away, has agreed to take displaced students in.

FARM SHOW FLAVOR: This year's Pennsylvania Farm Show milkshake flavor is ... salted caramel. The Farm Show — AKA Pennsylvania's secret state fair — runs Jan. 6-13 in Harrisburg. You can pregame with this year's milkshake at various pre-Farm Show pop-ups in the midstate region.

SANTA SHORE: Look kids, it's Santa pulling up to Pottstown, "as he always does, in an elf-powered Dragon Boat" on the Schuylkill River, via @PottstownNews. A water rescue team was on standby
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.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.

Yesterday's answer: Derivative

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