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How the midterms could shape Pa.'s legislature

Plus, deadline nears for Wolf's Marijuana Pardon Project.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
September 23, 2022
Legislative contests, pardon deadline, power problems, SNAP guidelines, offer rejected, COVID cases, and Pa.'s Hall of Fame voters. It's Friday.
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In addition to high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, there will be 203 state House and 25 state Senate seats on the Nov. 8 ballot. 

New political maps and roughly 40 legislative seats opened by retirements and primary defeats will undoubtedly usher in changes when the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2023 after the election. 

What's uncertain, the AP reports, is whether Democrats can take control of either chamber. Should Republicans retain their majorities, they may advance significant voter referendums, including one that asserts the state’s charter does not protect abortion access.

THE CONTEXT: While the state Senate map produced during this year's redistricting cycle did not make significant changes, the state House map created more districts that Democrats could win

Some Republicans said the creation of more Democratic-leaning seats was done for political reasons. Data tests, however, show the map better reflects the partisan makeup of the state, as well as population shifts over the past decade.

The AP reports that the greatest opportunities for Democrats are in the Philadelphia suburbs, while Republicans hope to make gains in the northeast and western parts of the state. 

At the moment, Republicans hold a 29-21 majority in the state Senate and a 113-90 majority in the state House.

"... we continue to hear that survivors are waiting and waiting and just not sure what's happening with the evidence or with their case."

—Donna Greco of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape on a bill that would create a statewide tracking system for rape kits.
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» 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:

»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  Where Mastriano, Shapiro stand on LGBTQ rights
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election
»  Tell us what election coverage matters to you

En Español:

»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» MEDIAITE: Post-Gazette urges Fetterman to release full cognitive tests
» MORNING CALL: Fetterman, Shapiro lead GOP candidates — new poll
» NPR: Democrats lifted GOP opponents in races that now look close
» POLITIFACT: How could U.S. voting be affected if election deniers win?
» WTAE: Your Pennsylvania voter registration guide
Morning on the Nesquehoning Creek in Carbon County, via Karen A. Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
SECOND CHANCE: State officials and pro-cannabis advocates are urging people who have minor, nonviolent marijuana convictions to apply for a pardon as part of a special push by the Wolf administration before the Sept. 30 deadline. Celeste Trusty, secretary of the state Board of Pardons, told the Morning Call people will be able to qualify "in a matter of months as opposed to a matter of years."

CLIMATE CHANGES: Pennsylvania has suffered 82 weather-related, major power outages over the past two decades, which a new report links to extreme weather driven by climate change, StateImpact reports. Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh is currently hosting world leaders at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, and WESA reports that young people are urging them to condemn "false climate solutions."

SNAP DECISION: Pennsylvania is set to increase the income threshold for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicants on Oct. 1, opening eligibility to “more than 420,000 additional Pennsylvanians in more than 174,000 households,” state officials announced. Capital-Star has the new monthly income limits: $2,266 for a one-person household up to $9,348 for a 10-person household.

NO DEAL: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who campaigned on accountability for the city’s police force, offered substantial raises to the bureau’s rank-and-file with one condition: big changes to disciplinary procedures. PublicSource reports the offer was roundly rejected by a vote of 377 to 206, according to the police officer’s union, sending both parties into binding arbitration with the contract set to expire on Dec. 31.

STILL DEADLY: Health experts are warning people to stay vigilant against COVID-19 despite comments from President Joe Biden declaring the pandemic is over. TribLIVE reports that the virus is killing an average of 10 people every day in Pennsylvania, while more than 1,000 people are currently hospitalized. 

HATEFUL MESSAGES: West Chester has rescinded the permit for a pro-LGBTQ community fest after being inundated with hateful messages. NBC10 reports the local Republican committee had urged people to oppose the event.

HALL OF FAME: Ahead of Pennsylvania's 2022 election, PA Local spoke to members of the state's Voter Hall of Fame — people who haven't missed a single November contest for 50 consecutive cycles.

IT'S FALL: It's officially the best season (I said what I said), and Pennsylvania is preparing to release its first fall leaf-peeping reports of the year.

ART WORLD: Jesse Krimes served five years in prison on drug charges after growing up in Lancaster. He's now the subject of a documentary about formerly incarcerated artists making waves in the art world

HOMEWARD BOUND: A dog named Zeus jumped out of his family's car in Allegheny County three months ago and hadn't been seen since. KDKA reports he was just reunited with his owner — on the owner's birthday. 

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 today for an extra chance at winning a shipment of Spotlight PA swag. Reminder: This week's words so far were resolution, overexposure, saturation, and...

Yesterday's answer: Aperture

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Michelle T., Elaine C., Don H., Tom O., Mike B., Becky C., Ed R., Jodi R., Starr B., Al M., Warren D., John B., Jane R., Joel S., John A., George S., Doris T., Kim C., Bill S., Judy M., Jody A., James B., Stanley J., Cynthia R., Susan N.-Z., John P., fitch387, Tish M., Dianne K., Susan D., David W., Jude M., Judith D., Nancy S., Daniel M., Samantha S., and Kimberly D.
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