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Capitol flurry moves abuse amendment, ballot bill

Plus, safe injection site ban clears a Senate hurdle.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Lively legislature, DA discretion, fracking setbacks, detention crisis, PSU 'land grab,' Shapiro's startup, and Hoagie hitters. This is PA Post.
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A committee in the Democratic-controlled state House has advanced a bill that, among other changes, would allow counties to prepare mail ballots to be tallied before Election Day — a process known as pre-canvassing.

County calls for the change intensified after the 2020 election, when slow results — made slower by the lack of a pre-canvassing option — fed unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

After years of political deadlock, counties are one step closer to a pre-canvassing law — if partisan disputes don't sink the effort again.

Read Votebeat and Spotlight PA's full report: Bill allowing counties to process mail ballots early clears first hurdle in Pa. House

MORE BILLS: The pre-canvassing bill moved by the House State Government Committee on Monday is one of many bills being considered during a busy week of legislating in Harrisburg

Monday saw movement on a 22-year-old anti-LGBTQ-discrimination bill and Tuesday saw full state House passage of yet another legal relief bill for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The latter is headed to the Republican-controlled state Senate, where it's expected to stall.

The House Judiciary Committee — a chokepoint for gun legislation when the lower chamber was under Republican control — will meet today on several bills expanding gun laws, including background checks, a red-flag measure, and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. 

Elsewhere: The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill banning safe injection sites in Pennsylvania as harm reduction advocates rallied opposition. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro is against safe injection sites, including the one planned in Philadelphia.

Asked if the governor would sign the ban, were it to reach his desk, Shapiro's office told Spotlight PA on Tuesday that while any final version of the bill will need to be vetted, he remains "fully opposed" to the sites.


"I will be consulting with my own legal counsel to possibly pursue litigation to put a stop to this type of outrageous behavior."

—Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan threatening legal action against Clerk of Courts Brenda Davis, who altered comments Vaughan made to a newspaperthe two sides have warred before
» How Spotlight PA will cover Pa.'s 2023 primary election

» How to request, fill out, and return your mail ballot

» How to vote, find your polling place, understand mail ballots

» A guide to vetting candidates for school board, judge, and more

» A guide to the Commonwealth, Superior Court candidates

» A guide to the Pa. Supreme Court candidates

» High court candidates with party backing show fundraising edge

» Register to vote in the May 16 primary here; deadline May 1

» Request your mail ballot for the May 16 primary; deadline May 9

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now.
» Los candidatos a la Corte de la Commonwealth y Cortes Superiores

» Guía completa de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del Estado

» Una guía completa para el día de las elecciones primarias de Pa.

Apoye ahora la cobertura electoral de servicio público de Spotlight PA.

» LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: Join us Thursday, April 27 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel on what issues and policies are on the state legislature's 2023 docket. Register here and submit questions to

From the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, via John H. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.DA DECISION: Prosecutorial discretion loomed large after the 2020 fatal State Police shooting of Christian Hall near Stroudsburg. The 19-year-old's hands, one holding a pellet gun, were in the air when troopers shot. Now, Bolts Mag reports the case is hanging over this year's race for Monroe County District Attorney, with one candidate calling the shooting justified and another vowing to reopen the case.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.FRACKING LIMITS: State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D., Chester) wants to quintuple the minimum distance that fracking sites must be from homes, schools, and water wells as studies link proximity to adverse health effects, Capital & Main reports. The industry says such a move would render "much of the shale play in the Commonwealth un-developable." Drillers haven't followed the existing limits either

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.'PUBLIC CRISIS': Pennsylvania's juvenile detention system is overcrowded and a "serious public crisis," lawmakers with the state House's Children & Youth Committee were told during a budget hearing last week. Capital-Star reports the head of a juvenile probation officers’ group said more beds should be made available, but youth advocates want further reductions in the number of children being held.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.'LAND GRANT': The Inquirer (paywall) reports that Penn State faculty want the university to reconcile for indigenous land it was granted by the federal government more than 160 years ago — land that laid the foundation of a now-$4.5 billion endowment. Related recommendations were presented to the faculty senate Tuesday. If endorsed by the senate, they'd go to President Neeli Bendapudi for action.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.CODE PA: Gov. Josh Shapiro is launching a "tech startup." On Tuesday, the first-term Democrat signed an executive order creating the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience, or CODE PA, an in-house team to modernize state services, StateScoop reports. Past digital rollouts and updates of state services have not been without their issues. CODE PA aims to make the experience better for users.

LONG DRIVE: PennLive (paywall) reports there are 2.3 million Pennsylvania drivers age 65 and up, 26% more than a decade ago, and 500 over the age of 100. PennDOT is making roads, signs, and signals with them in mind.

TICKET TOWN: Allentown residents already complained that the city's parking authority tickets too much. Then came video of a parking officer issuing tickets to drivers in line at a free food drive, per Lehigh Valley Live.

BEE STORY: Two branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia are home to apiaries, Billy Penn reports. That means lots of honey and lots of bees — up to a quarter-million at Parkway Central alone.

TEAM HOAGIE: The Lehigh Valley IronPigs will become the The Lehigh Valley Hoagies in June. The Phillies' Triple A affiliate will temporarily change its name June 2 for Salute to Philly Night. Hoagie merch is "going fast."

SKY LIGHTS: The Northern Lights were visible across Pennsylvania — and lots of other states — earlier this week. In case you missed it, here's how it looked in State CollegeNorthampton County, and Union County.

Unscramble and send your answer to We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Virtuosic

Congrats to our daily winners: Elaine C., Barbara F., Jon W., Kimberly D., Don H., Tracy S., Stacy S., Dianne K., Susan N.-Z., Kimberly B., Bob C., Dennis M., Bill S., and Kim C.
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