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Will Shapiro's legal weed push actually work?

Plus, years of warnings before bridge collapse.

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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

Thursday, February 22, 2024
Today: Legalization limbo, Fern Hollow failures, open records, Passover votes, petition challenges, 2020 subpoena, and drone doctors.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro wants legal weed (and the tax money it produces) for Pennsylvania, and he's not the first. But while his predecessor, Gov. Tom Wolf, faced a completely Republican-controlled legislature, Shapiro has the benefit of a Democratic-led state House.

Still, it's far from a slam dunk. While attitudes are shifting in the GOP-dominated state Senate, some lawmakers would prefer to wait for federal action on this issue. Meanwhile, more neighboring states are making the move, and, advocates note, reaping the financial rewards. 

State lawmakers have presented dueling visions of how marijuana legalization should work here, and talks around related bills aren't expected to move quickly. "There’s going to be a lot of people who want to influence what the final product is like," state Sen. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) cautioned.

Read Spotlight PA's full coverage: What to know about Shapiro’s pitch to legalize marijuana, its chances in the Pa. legislature, and more.


“I think what we saw in ‘20 was a lot of people not understanding the system. And I think they still don’t.”

—Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who's on the board of a nonprofit — Keep Our Republic — that's working to counter Donald Trump's Big Lie
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.WARNING SIGNS: Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge should have been closed years before it collapsed, federal investigators said Wednesday. The National Transportation Safety Board tied a lack of maintenance, repair, and oversight to the city and PennDOT.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.PIAA RULING: The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is subject to Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law and must turn over thousands of requested documents, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. The PIAA governs school sports statewide.
  • State Treasurer Garrity: PIAA must comply with Right-to-Know Law by posting contracts to e-Library, via Clearfield Progress
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.VOTING BLOCK: This year's presidential primary falls on Passover. What that means for Jewish voters is still coming into focus. The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle polled 294 readers: 59% are voting by mail, 38% are voting in person, and 3% are sitting this one out.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
IN DISPUTE: Tuesday’s deadline for challenging 2024 nominating petitions drew protests against two state House incumbents. A challenge was also lodged in the contentious Democratic primary for U.S. Rep. Summer Lee's Pittsburgh-area seat.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.MOOT POINT: A years-old subpoena state Senate Republicans sought to use to gather voter information for a Trump-inspired probe of the 2020 election is unenforceable, the state's Supreme Court has decided. The AP says it's unclear if lawmakers will try again.
JUNK STATUS: Allegheny College in Meadville has had its credit rating lowered to the brink of junk status by Moody's, per Bloomberg.

ZOO DEATHS: Five animals have died at Pittsburgh's zoo since the summer, per KDKA-TV. Three of the deaths occurred in the past week. 

DRONE DOC: York County's WellSpan Health is preparing to use drones to deliver prescriptions and medical supplies to patients at home.

BOOK STOP: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel will sign copies of his new book at Harrisburg's Midtown Scholar Bookstore next week.

ABE ORDER: A presidential order signed by Abraham Lincoln days before his assassination is up for sale in suburban Philadelphia, per WHYY. 
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: Enthusiasm

Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Eric F., Richard A., Tom M., Robert B., Barbara F., Stacy S., Elaine C., Susan N.-Z., Don H., Bob C., Alan B., Dan A., Stanley J., Jeffrey F., Mary N., Janet S., Mike J., Sharon B., William Z., and Craig E.
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