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Vetting the candidates on your midterm ballot, bracing for election lies, and Krasner hearings set

Plus, bill to legalize fentanyl test strips advances.

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A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 21, 2022
Midterms manual, pot problems, worrisome waits, Tree of Life trial date, Krasner hearings, and The Gang Forms a Union. It's Wednesday.
There are 48 days left before this year's pivotal midterms, and to help you prepare to cast your ballot on Nov. 8 — or sooner via mail ballot — Spotlight PA has compiled a basic guide to DIY candidate vetting. 

It includes tips for separating good media coverage from bad, using Facebook's ad library to track a candidate's messaging, investigating legislative records when possible, and following the campaign money.

Read the full report: Pa. election 2022: A basic guide to vetting candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, and more.
THE CONTEXT: The state's political future, and potentially control of the U.S. Senate in 2023, are hanging in the balance. 

Races for governor and the state legislature will decide the balance of power in Harrisburg, while Pennsylvania is among the states set to determine what happens to Democrats' narrow edge in the U.S. Senate.

All Pennsylvania voters will also choose their representative to Congress and the state House in the first general election under redrawn maps. 

Only half of the lawmakers who serve in the state Senate — those in even-number districts — are up for reelection this time.

Compare your old and new political districts here, and keep scrolling for more Spotlight PA election resources and events. 

"This process has gone longer than perhaps what many would have wanted in Schuylkill County, but we are trying to move through it." 

—State Rep. Paul Schemel (R., Franklin) on developments in a misconduct-related impeachment probe of County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr.
Friend, time is running out to take advantage of our special matching gift and power some of the best election reporting in Pennsylvania. If you haven't joined the effort yet, give now and get your support DOUBLED.

Thank you to the 276 people who have given during our Autumn Member Drive so far, including John F., who said, "Quality journalism is critical for our state and country." Join John and contribute now »
» THE STATE OF PA ELECTIONS: Join us Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A with Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman, who oversees elections in Pennsylvania. Chapman will discuss how her agency secures and runs elections, explain the state's voting policies, and answer all of your pressing questions ahead of Nov. 8. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A quick guide to all of Spotlight PA's 2022 election coverage:

»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador
»  Where Mastriano, Shapiro stand on LGBTQ rights
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» KDKA: Allegheny County state House seat a 'must-win for Democrats'
» PENNLIVE: Rep. Scott Perry, Shamaine Daniels to participate in forum
» VOX: What election deniers want to do when they're running elections 
Oz backs prison sentence reductions after clemency critiques
» WHYY: How Shapiro and Mastriano differ on addressing crime
A purple beautyberry shrub, as seen by Don N. in Intercourse, Pa. Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
SERIOUS FLAWS: An ongoing series from Spotlight PA has uncovered serious flaws in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program and prompted calls for change from doctors, patients, industry leaders, and policymakers. Here is your guide to the coverage spanning potentially dangerous medical advice, inconsistent enforcement of advertising rules, and the professional risks for patients.

SLOW COUNT: Pennsylvania officials are worried that a slow vote-counting process in November's midterm election will feed a 2020-style cycle of disinformation, the AP reports. Pennsylvania's no-excuse mail voting law still stands. But while election staff statewide have pressed legislators to pass a law allowing them to start processing mail ballots sooner, speeding up results, that hasn't happened

START DATE: Jury selection for the long-delayed trial of a white nationalist charged with killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 will begin on April 24. Robert Bowers is facing the death penalty and his defense team wants permission to ask prospective jurors about their religious affiliation, per TribLIVE, reportedly to ensure that anti-death penalty Catholics aren't "improperly excluded." 

ON DEFENSE: A week after he was found in contempt by the Pennsylvania House for failing to comply with a GOP-led impeachment probe subpoena, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office is now supplying some of the records requested, though he remains highly critical of the effort, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Related public hearings are set for two days next week

TEST STRIPS: A Pennsylvania Senate committee has advanced a bill that would legalize fentanyl test strips here and make it easier for people to detect the powerful opioid in drugs before they're consumed, YourErie.com reports. The strips are classified as drug paraphernalia currently. Despite politicians nationwide warning of the dangers of fentanyl, the test strips remain illegal in about half of U.S. states.

WORK FORCED: The labor of Black prisoners — many arrested for minor offenses after the Civil War, if they committed any at all — was used by Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel to grow its empire. The AP and Reveal have the history and U.S. Steel's pledge to "consider a plaque."

ROUND AND ROUND: PennDOT is looking to roundabouts as traffic light and stop sign replacements and says crashes decreased at 33 locations where they've already made the switch, PennLive reports.

UNION SHOP: Workers at a Home Depot in Philadelphia have filed papers to form a union there, one of the company's first. "We got screwed over during the pandemic," organizer Vincent Quiles told The Inquirer (paywall).

HOME DOME: Collapsable domes designed by a Carnegie Mellon University freshman are intended to serve as a form of shelter for unhoused people. TribLIVE reports they measure 254 square feet inside.

TRAIN PAIN: Trains are running from Philadelphia to Wawa, Pennsylvania, for the first time in decades. But YouTuber and public transit advocate Alex Davis says serious design flaws are killing his buzz.  

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.

*Bonus: Guess this week's theme on Friday for an extra chance at winning a shipment of Spotlight PA swag. 

Yesterday's answer: Overexposure

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Becky C., Regis K., Barbara F., John P., Elaine C., Don H., Mike B., Ted W., Jill M., Warren D., Jody A., Lewis Z., Jodi R., Doris T., Kimberly D., Bill S., fitch387, Jane R., Irene R., Judy M., Irene R., Greg V., Al M., Steve H., Michelle T., George S., Susan D., Kim C., Marty M., David W., James B., Jude M., Daniel M., Lex M., Susan N.-Z., Stanley J., Mark C., Dianne K., Ron H., John A., Joshua V., Judith D., Starr B., and Tom O.
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