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Pa. lawmakers look to rein in concert ticket sales

Plus, why regional airports are struggling.

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Thursday, September 7, 2023
Swift sales, fracking waste, underfunded schools, debt program, empty airports, child labor, and this year's fall foliage forecast. 

Soaring demand for Taylor Swift's summer Eras Tour saw some fans pay upwards of 70 times face value for tickets, while others shelled out thousands of dollars for tickets that didn't exist. Nationwide calls for concert industry reform followed but have so far been slow to root, the AP reports.

In Pennsylvania, a House bill that would ban "speculative ticketing" — a widespread practice during Swift's tour rollout and one that has resellers hocking tickets they don't actually possess — is up for a hearing today.

"'Speculative ticketing' is deceitful and simply unfair to fans and consumers," state Rep. Robert Matzie (D., Beaver) wrote in the memo announcing his legislation, which is due for a hearing before the House Consumer Protection, Technology & Utilities Committee at 10 this morning. Watch live here.

A bipartisan bill with the same name is being floated in the state Senate by Sens. Ryan Aument (R., Lancaster) and Marty Flynn (D., Lackawanna), calling speculative ticketing an "opportunity for deception."

THE CONTEXT: Swift's tour also prompted scrutiny of Ticketmaster and a federal antitrust inquiry followed the tour's chaotic start

Politico reported in late July that the Department of Justice could file an antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment before the end of the year.

But Stateline reports that Eras Tour-inspired legislation — fee disclosure mandates and more — has encountered hurdles, namely the complexity of regulating sales in a ticket market upended by technology.

The speculative ticketing bans eyed in Harrisburg have supporters, while the Music Technology Policy blog says the activity may already be illegal under federal law, though it notes more specific legal language couldn't hurt.


"Those are the students who were most impacted by the pandemic, and they’re the ones who are going to suffer the longer-term consequences."

—Katharine Strunk, dean of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania, on new college students struggling with basic math
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» Shapiro backs third-party progressive for Philly council, via Inky (paywall)
» Blair County balks at changing presidential primary date, via PoliticsPA
» U.S. Rep. Summer Lee to launch reelection bid today, via Patch
» Marines vet latest Dem looking to challenge Perry, via WHTM
» Updated Pa. environmental justice policy to take effect, via WHYY
» CRIMINAL SOLUTION: Join Spotlight PA, the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and experts Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6-7:30 p.m. ET at Point Park University for a live discussion on how a Pennsylvania law traps people with mental health issues in jail. RSVP now; seating is limited. 

» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.
Labor Day sunset in the Poconos, via Amy Z. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.WASTE BILLS: State Sen. Katie Muth (D., Chester) is drumming up support for three bills aimed at closing loopholes in laws that govern the disposal of fracking waste — a bone of environmental and public health contention since the start of the shale boom here. The bills face opposition from the industry and its allies in Harrisburg, but Muth tells Inside Climate News she has no plans to drop the issue.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
SCHOOL TOOL: See if your school district is underfunded or adequately funded with this interactive tool from The Inquirer (paywall). Lawmakers have been tasked with fixing Pennsylvania's "unconstitutional" school funding system, which leaves an estimated 80% of districts without enough money to educate students well. Pittsburgh's funding is adequate, but Philly, Erie, and Scranton's is not.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
STUDENT DEBT: Pennsylvania already has 170,200 borrowers enrolled in the Biden administration's new income-driven student loan repayment program, which will pause payments for breadwinners making under $15 an hour and save higher earners about $1,000 a year. The plan, which is opposed by GOP lawmakers, comes ahead of a pandemic pause on student loan payments ending next month.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.GHOST PORTS: There haven't been any commercial flights out of Williamsport Regional Airport since American Airlines left in 2021. NPR reports the withdrawal of legacy airlines from small airports is a growing phenomenon that only gained speed during the pandemic, adding: Changing airline economics means the challenges facing regional airports like Williamsport's could become insurmountable.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.'DRAMATIC' DATA: The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has opened almost four times as many child labor investigations since January as it did in the same time last year, via CNHI. Reports of child labor law violations have been rising nationwide, overlapping with state efforts to loosen child labor laws. Lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House passed a bill in June that would double related penalties.
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COACH REHIRED: PennLive (paywall) reports that after weeks of delay, Gettysburg’s school board has rehired the district’s transgender tennis coach, Sasha Yates, who has led the girls’ and boys’ teams since 2018.

ON HOLD: The Margaritaville business empire is facing a future without its founder, Jimmy Buffett, who died Friday at the age of 76. Its first-ever resort in the Poconos stalled last year, via Morning Call (paywall).

PEAK LEAF: Peak fall foliage is weeks away in Pennsylvania, according to this interactive map from SmokyMountains.com. The peak will start in the first weeks of October and be gone by month's end.

X FACTOR: One possible X factor in the fall foliage timeline? An ongoing drought that can lead to more muted colors. WGAL reports a drought watch is still in effect for 20 counties across the state.

BURNING MAN: Philadelphia radio host Pierre Robert was among the masses stranded at the Burning Man festival in Nevada this week due to flooding, telling CBS3 it was "madness" and he will be going back.
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: Enunciate

Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Don H., Eric F., John E., Richard A., Jon W., Stacy S., Bob C., Victoria F., Dennis M., Susan N.-Z., Vicki U., David W., James B., Tom M., Becky C., Nancy S., William Z., and Wendy A.
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