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|Zabel resignation, school-board wars, testimony delayed, Mastriano misgivings, Passover votes, Biden's budget, and a state senator in 2D.|
Democratic state Rep. Mike Zabel says he will resign, effective March 16, following allegations of sexual harassment against him.
The Delaware County lawmaker announced his decision Wednesday in a letter to Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia).
Zabel, who was first elected in 2018, initially rebuffed calls for his resignation, saying he would seek inpatient treatment for an unnamed illness.
Read the full report: Accused Pa. House lawmaker says he will resign.
THE CONTEXT: The decision comes a week after union lobbyist Andi Perez publicly accused Zabel of sexually harassing her, and the same day that state Rep. Abby Major (R., Armstrong) made a similar accusation.
Perez said she was discussing a bill with Zabel outside the Capitol in 2019 when he "decided to caress my leg while I was wearing a skirt all the while telling me he was impressed by my passion and knowledge of the issues." She added, "I moved away from him hoping he would stop — he did not."
At least two other people have accused Zabel of similar harassment. One is a sitting GOP lawmaker who has requested anonymity; the other is Zabel’s former campaign manager, Colleen Kennedy.
Zabel has not responded to Spotlight PA's requests for comment.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"After more than three decades of harm and displacement caused by the Vine Street Expressway, the Reconnecting Communities grant is a beacon of hope for the Chinatown community."
—John Chin of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation on a study into capping I-676 to reconnect the neighborhood it split apart
VITAL DATA: Join us during Sunshine week on Thursday, March 16 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel on health care reporting in Pennsylvania, how we fight for open records, and your rights under the Right-to-Know Law. Register here and submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A touch of gray, via Jessica T. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.|
|BOARD WARS: Moms for Liberty, the conservative group fueling LGBTQ book bans and school-board wars statewide, has its sights set on school board seats in places like Cumberland and Lancaster Counties. Several candidates for open Warwick school board seats in Lancaster County have ties to the group, though not all of them may be eager to advertise that fact while courting voters, LNP (paywall) reports. |
NO-SHOW CEO: Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw is now set to appear before Pennsylvania's Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee on March 20. Shaw was due to appear Wednesday but said he couldn't make it because he's testifying in D.C. today. The Pennsylvania Senate will subpoena all Norfolk Southern communications around February's toxic train crash.
DOUG DOUBTS: The chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a key fundraiser for GOP campaigns, is not excited about Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) possibly running for U.S. Senate in 2024. "His last race demonstrated he can't win a general," the chair, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R., Montana), said. Mastriano lost Pennsylvania's governor's race by 15 points last year.
IN THE RUNNING: This week's deadline for nominating petitions has come and gone, solidifying the fields for key May primary races, including Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Philadelphia mayor, and Allegheny County executive. Nominating petitions filed by former U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R., Pa.), who's running for Lycoming County district attorney, are involved in a citizen-led legal challenge.
PRIMARY CONFLICT: Pennsylvania is among several states that plan to hold presidential primary elections on the first day of Passover in 2024, making in-person voting "impossible for observant Jews," per Jewish Insider. Pennsylvania and Maryland are home to two of the largest Jewish populations in the U.S. Maryland is considering moving its primary. In Pennsylvania, mail-voting remains an option.
PAPER CUTS: Gannett, the owner of newspapers in Pennsylvania and states nationwide, has shed 10,000 jobs — nearly half its workforce — since 2019's GateHouse merger. Papers in Beaver County, Bucks County, and Doylestown were among the outlets impacted.
BIDEN'S BUDGET: President Joe Biden will make his 2024 budget pitch from a union hall in Philadelphia tonight, an unusual venue born of a request from the U.S. House Budget Committee's highest-ranking Democrat.
SPECIAL DATE: The special election to find a successor for former state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver in Northumberland County will take place on primary day, May 16. Culver is now in the state Senate.
APP STOP: A proposed ban on TikTok on state-issued devices is on the move again. Days after clearing a state Senate panel, the bill passed the chamber Wednesday and is headed to the state House.
FLAT OUT: A cardboard cutout of state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D., Montgomery) is greeting visitors to her office while she's away after giving birth. The prop assures her "presence is still felt in the Capitol."
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