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PA gave billions to Shell based on 'faulty studies'

Plus, court grapples with Pa.'s Medicaid abortion ban.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Today: Abortion limits, misleading reports, bad air, superintendent shortage, nervous professors, PSERS fallout, and Pa.'s River of the Year.
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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower appellate court to reconsider a case that will determine whether Medicaid must cover abortions in Pennsylvania in a post-Roe v. Wade world.

Democratic attorney Adam Bonin, who frequently litigates cases before the high court, said justices "strongly hinted" they will strike down a portion of the 1982 state law barring Medicaid coverage for most abortions here.

The high court's justices offered key insights into their thinking on the issue in five separate opinions, and a majority agreed that the Pennsylvania Constitution “strongly” protects against sex-based discrimination.

That takeaway will now be considered by Commonwealth Court as it revisits the case and prepares to make its own ruling.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa. Supreme Court sets the stage to consider whether the state constitution protects abortion.


“They have no families. They live in squalor.”

Dem PA-12 congressional candidate Laurie MacDonald on the district's residents — her would-be constituents — in a "raucous" Sunday forum
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"Official HBG Snow Dog" Phoebe enjoying a stick at Wildwood Park, via Rachael C. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A large black-and-white dog lying in snow on a trail while chewing a stick.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.FLAWED STUDIES: Lawmakers were misled by two reports used to justify record-setting state subsidies for Shell's massive petrochemical plant in Beaver County. Environmental Health News reports flaws in the studies raise “serious academic and ethical concerns.”

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.STEEL DEAL: Environmental advocates are cheering a multimillion-dollar settlement with U.S. Steel over pollution in Allegheny County, including from the nation's largest coke plant in Clairton, where Inside Climate News chronicled years of air quality concerns.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
SUPER SEARCHES: There's a shortage of qualified superintendents in Pennsylvania schools, and TribLIVE reports politicized school boards and pandemic fallout are factors. Almost 35% of all superintendents in Pennsylvania changed jobs in the past two years.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PENN PLAN: Liz Magill's resignation at UPenn amid criticism from pro-Israel voices, including billionaire Marc Rowan, hasn't quelled tensions there. The New York Times (paywall) reports professors are organizing over fears that Rowan plans to upend academic freedom.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.SEC FINE: A former adviser for Pennsylvania's largest pension fund, the $70 billion Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), has been fined $1.5 million for errors that exaggerated PSERS profit reports and kick-started a scandal, per The Inquirer (paywall).
UNION NUMBERS: Union membership increased to 12.9% in Pennsylvania last year, "bucking a national trend," Axios reports. That's up from 12.7% the year prior but down from around 17% in 2000.

TAKE TWO: One Pittsburgh restauranteur's plan for a volcano restaurant may not be finished after a Historic Review Commission panned the idea. City Paper reports it might just be destined for another part of town.

GUN FOUND: Police in Adams County are trying to figure out whether a Civil War-style gun found in a trash can outside a Walmart — miles from a Gettysburg museum — is an original or a replica, PennLive reports. 

ON HOLD: Pennsylvania Game Commission officials have paused a plan to reintroduce the American marten here amid a mixed response from hunters, WJAC reports. The agency wants more input before moving forward.

WINNING RIVER: Congratulations to the Allegheny River on being voted Pennsylvania's 2024 River of the Year. The Allegheny begins on a hilltop in Potter County and feeds into the Ohio River at Pittsburgh.
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