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New legal peril for Pa.'s school mask rule

Plus, Pennsylvania's long-running hunt for lottery fraud.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
November 17, 2021
Expiration date, concealed carry, run on, Philly fallout, lottery fraud, board wars, and Pottsville's pinball wizard. It's Wednesday, thanks for checking in.
Hey, it's Colin, your PA Post editor...

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"We're on the verge of bankruptcy, so we had to make those decisions just to keep our doors open. We make those decisions knowing that's not in the best interest of students."

—Superintendent David McAndrew testifying about Panther Valley School District's financial hardships during Pa.'s landmark school funding trial 

We built Spotlight PA on the premise that Pennsylvanians will pay for unique, high-quality investigative and accountability journalism that holds our elected officials to account, keep tabs on our tax dollars, and calls out wrongdoing.

Now, as 2021 comes to a close, we need your help to continue our work in 2022. Make a gift of any amount right now and as a special bonus, your contribution will be DOUBLED. Now is the time to join the fight for the truth.
»  BOOSTER PLAN: Pennsylvania officials don't plan to follow the lead of other states by opening booster shot eligibility up to all adults and will instead continue to follow CDC guidance, the Post-Gazette reports.

» REPEAT CASES: Pennsylvania added 17,000 reinfections to its COVID-19 case count over the weekend under a new tabulation policy, WPSU reports. This caused a spike in some COVID-19 case trackers, including ours.

» JAIL OUTBREAK: Fourteen imprisoned people and officers have tested positive at the Mercer County Jail, New Castle News reports. The facility has been closed to visitors in response to the outbreak.

» 'RIGHT TO REFUSE': The Pennsylvania House Health Committee has endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to refuse vaccines, per The Morning Call. Voters would get the final say.

» COVID POSITIVE: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., York) has tested positive for COVID-19 and will work from home while quarantining. Perry has not publicly said whether he has been vaccinated against the virus, per CNN.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
An average find in your backyard in Shady Plain, which our PA Poster has declared Steelers Country! Thanks, PatriciaSend us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
VETO-BOUND: A bill that would loosen state gun laws to allow people in Pennsylvania to carry concealed firearms without a permit has earned final approval in the state House, Capital-Star reports. The bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf, who has vowed to veto the measure, calling it a dangerous lowering of the bar "for unvetted, permitless people to carry hidden weapons while they walk our streets."

RUN ON: The highest-ranking member of Pennsylvania's Senate has officially announced a run for governor, one week after a COVID-19-related delay. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) has not sought statewide office before and will do so on the heels of high-profile conflicts with the Wolf administration and with mixed standing among Trump loyalists, the AP reports. Here's a look at the field.

STEPPING DOWN: Following his conviction with City Councilman Bobby Henon in a federal bribery trial, Philadelphia powerbroker John Dougherty is stepping down from the electricians union leadership role he's held for 28 years, per CBS3. Mayor Jim Kenney was asked by The Inquirer what he'll say to Dougherty, whose union was a key part of Kenney's 2015 victory. "None of your business," Kenney told the paper. 

LOTTERY RULES: Pennsylvania's Auditor General wants the state's lottery to have the power to investigate frequent winners for fraud. A 2019 PennLive investigation into Pennsylvania's repeat lotto winners found statistical impossibilities and spurred an official inquiry. In related news, three Pennsylvania lawmakers want the state to see if lotto winners are also food stamp recipients, something it already does.

SCHOOL FIGHTS: Tuesday's school board war-focused episode of The Daily podcast was set in Central Bucks School District, the site of "particularly wild" public meetings amid a nationwide ratcheting up of tensions around school mask mandates and critical race theory. New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson chose the location because of the district's reputation and the area's broader political significance.

MISSED SHIFTS: Freeport Borough hasn't had a police officer on duty since Nov. 3, when the newly hired police chief quit at the end of his first shift, TribLIVE reports. State police are currently handling calls in the 1.3-square-mile borough of about 1,700 residents near Pittsburgh.

YARD SALES: A new study says rural home sales and prices grew in five Pennsylvania counties last year, boosted, at least in part, by people leaving cities at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, per the Post-Gazette. The counties studied were Monroe, Pike, Wayne, Susquehanna, and Somerset.

PINBALL WIZARD: A Pottsville man's collection of more than 300 pinball machines is the largest in the country and is being eyed for a new local museum that would be one of the largest of its kind, the Republican-Herald reports. "It took my whole life to get what we have," Butch Glauda said.

WIT INFLATION: Food staples such as cheesesteaks, hoagies, and soft pretzels are getting more expensive as inflation pushes prices up for vendors and, in turn, consumers. The Inquirer details the price shifts, the causes, and how this time differs from "familiar, cyclical" price surges.

CRAFT SCENE: A Redditor used NASA data to make a playable and incredibly detailed 1:239 scale copy of Pennsylvania's landscape — Susquehanna tributaries and all — for the videogame Minecraft. It doesn't include buildings or roads, but you can add those yourself.

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.
Yesterday's answer: Aspirational

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Becky C. (double winner, left off Tuesday's list), Michelle T., Neal W., Bridget C., Susan N., Craig E., Jessica K., Elizabeth W., Don H., George S., Lex M., Elaine C., Kimberly S., David W., Lynne E., Bill S., Mike B., Susan F., Dianne K., Tim B., James B., Joel S., Doris T., Vicki U., Ana G., and Laura B.


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