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New bill would make Pa. the next legal pot state

Plus, Gov. Shapiro's voucher pivot has some in GOP missing Wolf.

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Friday, July 7, 2023
Legal effort, Act 77 appeal, 2020 audit rejected, police conduct, labor briefs, water bills, and Philly preps for Beyoncé as Pittsburgh mourns.

Two state senators have officially introduced legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use in Pennsylvania.

State Sens. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) and Sharif Street (D., Philadelphia) unveiled the legislation on Thursday. The bipartisan lawmakers introduced a similar bill last session, but it failed to advance. 

“Legalized adult use of marijuana is supported by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians and this legislation accomplishes that while also ensuring safety and social equity,” Laughlin said in a news release.

Read Marijuana Moment’s full report: Bipartisan pair of Pennsylvania senators unveils new marijuana legalization bill.

THE CONTEXT: Neighboring states like New Jersey, New York, and Maryland have already legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, and Laughlin and Street say Pennsylvania is missing out on huge sums of tax revenue.

The Pennsylvania legislature has yet to seriously consider legalizing cannabis, though that could change this year with Democrats in control of the state House for the first time in more than a decade.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro supports recreational cannabis and proposed a related tax in his 2023-24 budget package that he predicted would bring in $188 million in revenue for the state by the end of the decade

Read more: 5 ways Pa.’s marijuana laws could change in 2023.


"Pittsburgh is our home, and there is an immense amount of pride that comes with that."

Mayor Ed Gainey on the launch of the city’s first officially licensed merchandise line, with 10% of proceeds going toward the city’s budget
Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
» State-related university funding fails in Pa. House, via Inky (paywall)

» Lawmakers react to state House budget vote, via Capital-Star

» Shapiro blames Senate GOP for budget limbo, via @katieemeyer4

» Shapiro voucher pivot has Ward missing Wolf, via @SenatorKimWard

» Former Corbett official Montero files for U.S. House run, via LVN

» Early 2024 congressional vulnerability ratings, via PoliticsPA

The ruins of the Bullock Octagonal School in Chadds Ford Township, Delaware County, via Don N. Have a photo you'd like to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Broken remnants of a destroyed stone building surrounded by tall, leafy trees.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ON APPEAL: A Commonwealth Court judge recently rejected a bid by 14 current and former GOP lawmakers to invalidate Act 77, the law allowing any Pennsylvania voter to cast a mail ballot. Now, PennLive (paywall) reports Republicans are appealing to the state's highest court in an effort to overturn the law, which many of them helped pass.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.2020 AUDIT: A Lycoming County judge has denied a conservative group’s request for a forensic audit of the 2020 general election, PennLive (paywall) reports, saying there’s nothing in the state Election Code compelling an independent, third-party review. A hand recount conducted there in January found no major discrepancies.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.USE OF FORCE: A Williamsport man has named eight local police officers in a federal lawsuit alleging his 14th Amendment rights were violated by an illegal search and arrest that followed his calls for help. An attorney for Earl Sampson told the Sun-Gazette his client was subjected to a violent, unjustified, and excessive use of force.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.LABOR NEWS: A strike at the Wabtec locomotive plant in Erie has hit the two-week mark, and both sides have returned to the table to continue negotiations, per Erie Times-News (paywall). Elsewhere: The National Labor Relations Board has ordered four Pittsburgh-area Starbucks to rehire workers fired over union activities.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.WATER AID: Gov. Josh Shapiro's administration has announced the reopening of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program after securing additional federal funding. Fox43 reports the program helps eligible residences maintain access to drinking and wastewater services. Applications for the program are set to open Monday. 
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
🏆 HEADS UP: It was a busy week in Pennsylvania news. Were you paying attention? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Budget impasse and a local sci-fi legend.

HUMAN IMPACTS: The closure of a Downtown Pittsburgh homeless shelter in June affected hundreds of people who took refuge there. PublicSource shares some of their stories.

CROSS POST: The Indiana Gazette reports the Hilltop Baptist Church in White Township, Indiana County will soon have the largest cross in Pennsylvania, coming in at 100 feet — 40 feet more than the previous record holder.

FRESH FORESTS: Own any land that was formerly mined? If so, you can help a company on its mission to transform these environments into 2,000 acres of forests across Pennsylvania, WVIA reports. 

PHILLY RENAISSANCE: The show is still on for Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour stop in Philadelphia on July 12. The Inquirer (paywall) has a guide to preparing for the Virgo queen’s arrival.

INVASIVE SPECIES: Another menace to society is wreaking havoc on Pennsylvania. An invasive species, the Spongy Moth has killed millions of oak and other tree species across the state, per the Allegheny Front.

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: Megalopolis

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Tracy S., Barbara F., Don H. Susan N.-Z., Stacy S., Elaine C., Jon W., Kim C., Dan A., Susan D., Dianne K., Dennis M., Wendy A., Stanley J., James and Anne B., and Tom M.
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