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Courts settle over 'lose-lose' addiction rules

Plus, state House special election results.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Today: Settlement terms, local elections, on the ballot, Boyle's challenger, danger zones, and it's Valentine's Day. Thanks for checking in.

Pennsylvanians allegedly barred by county courts from taking legitimate medications to treat opioid use disorder will soon have new protections.

A recent settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania court system requires courts in Blair, Jefferson, and Northumberland Counties to adopt an anti-discrimination policy for substance use disorder medications following scrutiny of local restrictions the DOJ said violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The DOJ argued the rules forced some people under court supervision into a lose-lose scenario: Give up their medication or risk going to jail.

Court administrators have not admitted wrongdoing, but they have agreed to pay $100,000 total to individuals allegedly harmed by the restrictions. The settlement, which advocates are lauding, also requires training for judges and reports on which of Pennsylvania's remaining 64 counties agree to adopt anti-discrimination policies of their own, which all are encouraged to do. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: DOJ settlement will bring new protections for people with opioid use disorder in Pa. courts.


“I needed to go to the source and be a producer.”

—David Darling Jr., owner of The Farm at Catawissa Creek; David is one in a wave of younger farmers filling a void in Pennsylvania agriculture with "new ideas and viral videos," The Inquirer (paywall) reports
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As seen from Gail D.'s back window in Cumberland County's West Pennsboro Township Tuesday morning. Have a photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Snow on trees and a birdhouse in a backyard.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.SPECIAL ELECTION: Democrats will add to their narrow state House majority following Tuesday's special election in Bucks County. The AP called the contest for Democratic candidate Jim Prokopiak, who ran on abortion access and opposing school vouchers. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.NEXT UP: A special election for the reliably Republican state House seat vacated by GOP Rep. Joe Adams in Wayne and Pike Counties has been scheduled for primary day, April 23, the Capital-Star reports. It marks the eighth special election of this legislative session.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
PETITION DAY: Who made it onto Pennsylvania's 2024 primary ballot by yesterday's filing deadline? WHTM has the list for president, U.S. senator, and more. Just four of Pennsylvania's 17 congressional incumbents will face primary opponents this year.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PRIMARY CHALLENGE: State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia) also filed to run, days after a video of him being thrown out of a Montgomery County bar went viral. The Inquirer (paywall) reports he's facing a well-connected primary challenger with party backing.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.DISASTER DEJA VU: A leak at a natural gas storage site in Cambria County, labeled the worst U.S. climate disaster of 2022, could happen again. Floodlight flags a new report that found scores of opportunities for a repeat elsewhere in Pennsylvania and nationwide.
TIL: It's Valentine's Day, and Pennsylvania is the state with the highest rate of adults who've never married, USA Today reports, citing census data

COCOA COSTS: Speaking of Valentine's Day ... it's a little less sweet this year for candymakers like Hershey due to soaring cocoa prices.

PHIL FAIL: In yet another ding on Punxsutawney Phil's credibility, it snowed yesterday (a lot in some places) following his early spring prediction.

PHIL FACT: So just how accurate is Punxsutawney Phil? According to the Stormfax Almanac, he's right about 39% of the time

HOOP HOPES: Pittsburgh will explore bringing a professional basketball team to the city, per TribLIVE. It last had one in the 1970s.
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: Bibliophile

Congrats to our daily winners: Eddy Z., Susan R., Jane R., Bob C., Richard A., Ellen G., Don H., Barbara F., Terri H., Jon W., John P., Judith D., Susan N.-Z., Tracy S., Connie A. O., Daniel M., Kimberly D., Craig E., Beth T., Linda G., Stanley J., Julie K., Kim C., Jody A., Jay M., Daniel S., Stacy S., Alan B., Ada M., Marty M., Jeffrey F., Ronnee G., David W., Tina H., Janet S., David T., Beth H., David S., Tom M., Nancy S., William Z., Sarah S., Joel S., Tom S., Cyndi S., Pam M., Fran C., Karen W., Sharon B., Wendy A., Amelia M., Harry P., and Patricia E.
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