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Mastriano now says GOP must 'embrace' mail voting

Plus, Gov. Shapiro backs a private prison ban in Pa.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Shapiro selections, prison ban, rhetoric regrets, day off, mixed signals, severance stance, and the end of "The Log." This is PA Post.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro promised a bipartisan approach in his inauguration speech on Tuesday, and his picks for key cabinet posts reflect that vow — crossing party lines in some cases while skewing heavily in favor of people with state-level or public administration experience.

If approved, his appointees will preside over the day-to-day operations of state agencies that affect the lives of millions, covering everything from food and medical assistance programs to statewide elections.

Here's a running list of the picks we know about so far in Spotlight PA's full report: Who has Josh Shapiro nominated for his cabinet?

THE CONTEXT: All cabinet appointees must be approved by the state Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.

Some are holdovers — Shapiro wants to keep Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding and Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Dunn in those roles. 

Others, like Rich Negrin, are firsts: Negrin, an attorney perhaps best known in Philadelphia's political circles, would be the state's first Latino secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. 

Many of the appointees have long histories with Shapiro. Nancy Walker, his choice for secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry, worked with him for years in the attorney general's office. 


"I am not running for mayor of Philadelphia in 2023 or in any other year ..."

—Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter shutting down rumors that he was considering another run for the office in the coming election 
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» BROKEN BOROUGHS: Join us Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. EST on Zoom for a free panel on Pennsylvania’s local governments and how their oversight — or lack thereof — impacts residents and governance. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A view of the Cumberland Valley, from the Appalachian Trail, via Robert S. Robert said the photo was taken "just below the ridge which forms the boundary between Cumberland and Perry Counties." Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A shot from a mountaintop looking down through trees at houses in the valley below.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PRIVATE PRISONS: Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro told Al Día that he doesn't think there should be private prisons in Pennsylvania. Asked if he's comfortable with counties doing business with for-profit prison groups, including those overseeing the detention of migrants here, Shapiro told the outlet: "Regardless of who's being housed there, I'd like to see us, at the state level, ban all private prisons."

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CHANGE OF TUNE: State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin), who spent years vilifying mail voting, is changing his stance after his sizable loss in November's governor's race. In a piece for the right-wing Epoch Times, Mastriano writes that Republicans "have no choice but to embrace this method of voting." Other Pennsylvania Republicans are reaching a similar conclusion after bruising midterm losses.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PERSONAL DAY: Mastriano was the only state senator not on hand for Tuesday's swearing-in of Pennsylvania's 48th governor, Josh Shapiro, WITF reports. GOP political strategist Sam Chen said while there's no expectation that a losing candidate will attend a winner's inauguration: "The difference here is that [Mastriano] is still a sitting member of the legislature." Mastriano hasn't offered an explanation.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PITT PRIORITIES: Pitt's decision to reinstate star basketball recruit Dior Johnson after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for strangulation and simple assault has drawn criticism from survivors of domestic violence and their advocates, PublicSource reports. "[It] sends a message to everyone ... that his position on the team matters more than the woman he assaulted," senior Jenna Berman said.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TAX TRACKS: Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas-producing state without a tax on the fuel's extraction. PoliticoPro (paywall) reports that new Gov. Josh Shapiro hasn't weighed in on the issue, but he has cast himself as a pro-business and anti-tax Democrat. Pittsburgh Business Times (paywall) has a Manufacturers & Business Association rep saying: "I think he might want to stay away from it."
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LAWS OF THE LAND: Pennsylvania enacted 166 laws in 2022, the highest number in six years. The Morning Call (paywall) reports: Some were revisions of existing laws. Others added new sections of text. About six named dozens of bridges, interchanges, highways, and roads after people.

WATER LOG: The original log behind Robert Bush Sr.'s beloved Pennsylvania wildlife series "The Log" is gone. Bush said Sunday that the animal crossing that launched his YouTube fan favorite dislodged under pressure from a beaver dam. He has more cameras in the woods.

BIRDVILLE PIES: Get yourself over to Allegheny County for a "Birdville Pie." As TribLIVE explains, it's an unusual pizza with a "top secret" blend of cheeses, American chief among them, and a cracker-thin crust.

CENTURY III: The defunct Century III mall in West Mifflin, near Pittsburgh, is best known these days for producing eerie videos like this. But Instagram user @robertsmadness is making dioramas of the place in its heyday.

HAIL MARY: Coen Paronish drained a buzzer-beater from half court in a Northern Cambria basketball game recently, and it was caught on video that quickly went viral because he's only in the third grade.

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 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Truncate

Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Don H., Patricia M., Susan D., Becky C., Jon W., John P., Kim C., Craig W., Jane R., Susan N.-Z., James B., John F., Elaine C., Dennis M., Trudy W., Kimberly D., Dianne K., Bill S., Lance L., Starr B., David W., Jonathan S., Elizabeth W., Nancy S., and Hoss E.
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