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Shapiro 'scandalous' conduct edict raises alarms

Plus, the PA voting groups cooling on Biden.

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Today: Protest policy, portrait mode, Yass or no?, gun case, presidential polling, surprise source, and a tornado touches down at church. 
A revision to the Shapiro administration's code of conduct for state employees, one coinciding with widespread protests over the war in Gaza, is raising alarm among First Amendment advocates.

The vaguely worded update went into effect last week and bars employees from engaging in “scandalous or disgraceful” behavior, with transgressions punishable by disciplinary action and even termination. 

Neil R. Weaver, head of the cabinet-level Office of Administration, said hate speech can take many forms, from “social media posts, to boycotts, to graffiti, to public confrontations.”

Bryn Mawr lawyer Mark Schwartz, who has handled cases involving free speech and whistleblower protections, called the amendment “so overbroad it's ridiculous,” adding, "Scandalous behavior — what does that mean? Anybody at any time could be accused of anything."
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Shapiro orders state employees to avoid 'scandalous' conduct amid Gaza protests, raising free speech concerns.

“April 10th will always be remembered as a day of a miracle. Nobody lost their mother, nobody lost their son.”

—Imam Saifullah Muhammad of the Philadelphia Masjid on the April shooting that injured several people during an Eid al-Fitr celebration nearby
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The northern lights and moon in Somerset County, via Karyl S. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Vivid purple lights over a house with lights on in the windows.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
ART BUYERS: Official portraits of Pennsylvania's House speakers don't come cheap. But who exactly pays for them? LNP (paywall) reports the costs are covered by a nonprofit that doesn’t publicly disclose its donors, "leaving taxpayers unaware of who paid for the painting and what stakes they might have in shaping state policy."
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
DOX DONOR? Did Pennsylvania political megadonor Jeff Yass give $1 million to a group now engaged in the doxxing of pro-Palestinian college students? CNBC reports Yass’ name appears on Accuracy in Media's 2022 tax return, which the group seemingly forgot to redact, alongside its biggest donation of the year. But the group says he never gave.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
SCOPA CASE: Pennsylvania's Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a pro-gun political action committee's case claiming state police are “purposely” understaffing gun-purchase and license-to-carry background check units, causing illegal delays, per State Court Report. You can watch the day's cases here starting at 9:30 a.m.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
PA POLL: President Joe Biden is losing support among young and nonwhite voters in Pennsylvania (paywall), groups that were instrumental to his 2020 win. Inquirer, New York Times, and Siena College polling has Biden and former President Trump in a dead heat here, with abortion the only key issue Biden holds the edge on.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
SHALE SOURCE: Lithium extracted from fracking wastewater in Pennsylvania could theoretically meet up to 40% of U.S. demand for the element — a key component in batteries used to power everything from cellphones to electric vehicles, per federal research. The highest concentrations were found in north-central Pennsylvania.
IN MEMORIAM: Pittsburgh-based and world-famous pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht — who worked cases from the JFK assassination to the murder of JonBenét Ramsey — died on Monday at the age of 93, per TribLIVE.

TRADE SECRETS: A Gibsonia man is charged with "exploiting" his friend, who worked for Coraopolis-based Dick's Sporting Goods, to gain nonpublic information about the company and reap $800,000 in illegal profits

STORM SERVICE: A Washington County church was full of people when a suspected EF2 tornado tore through it Saturday. Minor injuries were reported, but damage to the building was severe

ALLEY HOUSE: New "alley houses" are being eyed for Bethlehem amid an ongoing affordable housing crisis. Lehigh Valley News reports a pilot is in the works. Dozens more of the accessory dwelling units could follow.

MEISSEN MUSEUM: Did you know Butler is home to the "only museum in Western Pennsylvania that focuses on Asian art and Meissen porcelain?" Atlas Obscura has a look inside the Maridon Museum.
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