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House agrees to move 2024 primary, rejects voter ID

Plus, what this year's state budget means for rural communities.

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Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

Friday, October 6, 2023
In today's edition: Primary date change, rural funding, budget bills advance, toll resolutions, hospital mergers, and public comments.
The Pennsylvania House advanced a bill Thursday that would change the 2024 presidential primary date from April 23 to April 2. Other election reform items including expanded voter ID requirements and mail ballot rule changes were rejected.

“This bill should have been in the Senate by June,” state Rep. Seth Grove (R., York) said of the legislation to move the primary to April 2, capturing the sentiment of many Republican legislators and county leaders.

In a statement, state Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R., Indiana) did not directly address if leadership will bring up the April 2 measure for a vote.

Read Spotlight PA’s and Votebeat’s full report: House approves bill to move Pa.’s 2024 primary but rejects voter ID expansion, other election reforms
THE CONTEXT:  From Spotlight PA: 

"The current date of the 2024 primary, April 23, conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Passover and places the swing state late in the primary cycle. While the effort to move the primary has received bipartisan, bicameral, and gubernatorial support, counties, school boards, and a legislative advisory board are concerned it will strain local election offices, especially if lawmakers drag the decision out."

County officials worry the date change will make it difficult to secure polling places and recruit workers to staff those locations.

“Either let it be and let it rot or knock it down. But don't make it suffer.”

Pittsburgh photographer Mark Perrott on the uncertain future of the State Correctional Institute Pittsburgh, which opened in 1882 as the Western State Penitentiary.
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» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

Turtles on a log as seen from a kayak at Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County, via Don N. Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

small turtles climbing a log
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.RURAL BUDGET: Pennsylvania's rural communities have much to gain from the $45.5 billion dollar state budget, which earmarks money for outdoor recreation, housing programs, and other efforts. Spotlight PA explains how these shrinking areas of the state are poised to benefit.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.BUDGET PROGRESS: The state House has passed a number of code bills that would bring Pennsylvania closer to finishing its overdue budget, WITF reports. PennLive (paywall) has additional details on the bills, including one that would provide funding to the commonwealth’s four state-related universities, while City & State explains what a newly passed tax code bill would do

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.TOLL REPAY: The state Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that would allow the Department of Revenue to collect lottery winnings and income tax returns from people who haven’t paid their turnpike tolls, AP reports. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which is $13.2 billion in debt, lost more than $104 million in unpaid tolls in 2021. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.MERGER HEARING: The Office of Attorney General is calling for Pennsylvania to adopt an antitrust law as industry observers warn lawmakers about the negative impacts hospital mergers have on patients. CNHI reports a chief deputy with the attorney general says the law would compel entities to provide pre-merger notice to the public. Pennsylvania is the only state without an antitrust law in place. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.PERSONNEL MATTERS: Gov. Josh Shapiro held a private meeting with all eight of Pennsylvania’s female Democratic state senators this week, the Inquirer (paywall) reports. The meeting comes almost a week after Mike Vereb, his former secretary of legislative affairs, abruptly resigned. Vereb had been accused months earlier of sexually harassing a fellow administration employee. Shapiro made his first public comment on the matter Thursday.
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🏆 SEVEN QUESTIONS: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news this week? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: State park shortfall, McCarthy votes, and a megadonor’s money trail.
LAWSUIT THREAT: The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue the Perkiomen Valley School District in Montgomery County after its board passed a bathroom policy some activists and organizations say discriminates against transgender students. 

ART DEBATE: The seizure of a drawing from the Carnegie Museum of Art is raising questions about how a work of art officials believe was stolen by the Nazis came to be in Pittsburgh. 

NEW POLICY: Next door, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has removed a controversial diorama display that contained a real skull as museums reevaluate how to handle human remains, via WESA.

THEY WANT YOU: The Shapiro administration has launched a new website to encourage people to become educators in an effort to address the statewide teacher shortage, KDKA reports.

LEAF PEEPING: The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has released its fall foliage report for Oct. 5-11. Check it out to see the best time for fall colors
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