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Game Commission walks back unusual lobbyist hire

Plus, Mastriano J6 probe declined.

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Friday, March 8, 2024
Today: Non-renewal, Mastriano complaint, transit plan, ICE bill, IVF protections, Sultana update, and vegan scrapple. Thanks for checking in.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission says it will not renew a controversial and unusual contract with a politically connected lobbying firm.

The $10,000-a-month contract with Allegheny Strategy Partners, run by former state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, was first reported by Spotlight PA and drew scrutiny during a recent budget hearing. 

“While the intent of that agreement was to enhance the Game Commission’s relationships with members of the General Assembly, I acknowledge and take seriously the reservations you expressed about the appropriateness of using funding for this purpose,” the commission’s executive director told lawmakers.

The Game Commission already has a person on staff who is paid an annual salary of $105,507 to liaise with the state legislature.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Game Commission won’t renew contract with lobbying firm run by former top lawmaker.


“Unfortunately, a right wing online conspiracy was spread, completely denigrating what the center stands for.”

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.) after Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. senators backed away from federal funding for a Philly LGBTQ center recently targeted by Libs of TikTok; Boyle was the earmark's original sponsor

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Snowdrops and crocuses in bloom at the Stoneleigh natural garden in Villanova, courtesy of Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

purple and white flowers surrounded by leaves
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.NO PROBE: A state Senate ethics committee will not investigate state Sen. Doug Mastriano for his actions around the U.S. Capitol siege, Stephen Caruso reports. Mastriano (R., Franklin) faced a rare ethics complaint from state Sen. Art Haywood (D., Montgomery) who called the committee's decision "a terrible statement ... about the body."

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TRANSIT CRACKDOWN: Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has "no plans" to follow the lead of New York's governor by sending National Guard troops into Philadelphia's subways amid a well-publicized uptick in SEPTA crime, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Mayor Cherelle Parker is expected to unveil her public safety plan next month.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.LAKEN RILEY BILL: Three Pennsylvania Democrats on Thursday helped U.S. House Republicans pass a bill that requires ICE detain undocumented immigrants arrested for theft, a dramatic shift in policy, The Hill reports. Pennsylvania delegates Matt Cartwright, Chris Deluzio, and Susan Wild were all yes votes, per @jamiedupree.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
IVF ACCESS: U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.) has a bill to protect in vitro fertilization access nationwide, the Morning Call (paywall) reports. A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling raised concerns among fertility patients in other states. Wild brought one such patient to last night's State of the Union, where the president declared his IVF support.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.OFFICIAL PROSECUTION: Easton city councilor and state House candidate Taiba Sultana has been granted entry into a rehabilitation program for first-time offenders in a domestic assault case brought against her in July. Sultana said politics played a role in the prosecution. The district attorney said the case against her was strong.
🗞️ ARE YOU NEWSY? Prove it with this week's PA News Quiz: Gov’t land grabs, Trump ruling, derailed trains, and election games.

POLICE PROBE: Clearfield County's district attorney says an unspecified investigation into DuBois' police chief has been referred to state authorities, the Courier Express reports. Chief Blaine Clark is on paid leave. 

SPEED CAMERAS: Work zone speed cameras are now permanent in Pennsylvania, following a years-long pilot program, per Philly Voice. Critics say it's all about the revenue. Officials say the data show it's saving lives.

VRAPPLE'S UP: There's a vegan scrapple people swear by, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. It's called Vrapple and it's made with seitan.

SUNSHINE SUIT: A Cambria County man is suing local elected officials after he says he was booted from a public meeting for recording it.

COFFEE CLASH: City Paper explains why some in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood are calling a new Starbucks a "betrayal."

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: Fashionable

Congrats to our daily winners: Vicki U., Jody A., Bob C., Julie K., John P., Beth T., Elaine C., Becky C., Ada M., Marty M., Don H., Wendy A., Doug W., Eric F., Mike B., Daniel M., Susan R., John C., Barbara F., Richard A., Ted W., Jon W., Stacy S., Lynne E., Susan N., Alan B.., Kim C., Jane R., Karen W., Janet S., Stanley J., Amelia M., Frederick H., William Z., Pat E., Beth H., Malachy M., Dan A., David T., Sandi H., Sue L., Craig E., Helen D., Tina H., and Tom M.
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