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Pa. voters could get final say on stricter ID rules

Plus, Gov. Tom Wolf calls for state rep. to resign after arrest.


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Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
September 28, 2021
Veto avoidance, foster care, resignation call, better training, Capitol rally, civil trial, pipeline canceled, and the return of seasonal brews. Happy Tuesday. 
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Republican lawmakers are advancing a proposal that would give Pennsylvania voters the opportunity to significantly change how elections are run here.

The House State Government Committee on Monday passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require people voting in person or by mail to present “valid identification," Spotlight PA reports. 

The proposal would also give voters the power to pick Pennsylvania’s top election official, ban counties from accepting outside money to help cover election costs, and require an "audit" after each election. 

THE CONTEXT: The path to amending the state constitution is long, but has a major upside for Republicans: It bypasses Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. 

The governor earlier this year vetoed a GOP-led election overhaul because of its voter ID requirements, though he later signaled he may be open to changes. That led Republican Rep. Seth Grove to reintroduce the rejected bill, which also passed the panel Monday.

"We look forward to moving in a bipartisan way to address elections," Grove said. "But the Wolf administration has come to the table — plain and simple."

Wolf's spokesperson told Spotlight PA the "governor will veto any bill that suppresses the vote with unnecessary restrictions."

But he doesn't have the power to stop a proposed constitutional amendment, which could reach voters by 2023 at the earliest.
With so much on the line this fall — from redistricting to voting reforms to the GOP's review of the 2020 election — Spotlight PA's tough, nonpartisan journalism is more vital than ever. Give now and we'll DOUBLE it »

"Evidence obtained indicates that the facility conducts practices that jeopardize the health, safety, and well being of youth at the facility."

—A West Virginia inspector on a group home in Grove City, Pennsylvania, one of several potentially unsafe facilities where the neighboring state sends its foster children.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Pfizer is studying an oral drug to prevent COVID-19 infections in those exposed to the virus; Republican lawmakers advance a bill giving schools the authority to decide mask rules for sports; and Pennsylvania releases vaccination data by legislative district. To find the vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» CRISIS OF CARE: Join us Friday, Oct. 8 at noon ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on rising rates of Alzheimer's disease in Pennsylvania, the barriers to care, and the solutions urged by advocates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A summer shot of a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air featured at Street Rod Nationals East in York. Thanks, Dennis B., for the photo! Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
STEP DOWN: Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for the resignation of state Rep. Kevin Boyle, who was recently arrested for violating a protection from abuse order. According to WHYY, Wolf said Boyle "deserves" treatment for reported mental health issues but should still step down.

TRUST THE PROCESS: The state Senate is advancing legislation to improve transparency and training in the state's constitutional amendment process, per the Capital-Star. The measures come in response to "internal systemic failures" within the Department of State that derailed a statewide referendum for survivors of child sexual abuse

MARCH FOR LIFE: Thousands of people opposed to abortion access gathered at the state Capitol on Monday for Pennsylvania's first March for Life, PennLive reports. House Speaker Bryan Cutler, one of several elected Republicans to attend, said his caucus plans to pursue additional restrictions, as Gov. Tom Wolf renewed his veto vow

KIDS FOR CASH: More than 300 people are expected to testify over the next two weeks at the civil trial of two former Luzerne County judges who sent children to detention centers in exchange for kickbacks. WNEP reports a federal judge will determine how much money Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan owe the victims in damages. 

CANCELED: The company behind a proposed natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey has canceled the project, the Associated Press reports. PennEast Pipeline Company recently won a Supreme Court case but determined the project "no longer is supported."
FATHER AND SON: If you're a "Star Wars" fan, you'll want to check out this podcast and YouTube series from Kerwin and Keith Yarde, a father-and-son duo from King of Prussia that has bonded over the force. 
THE 'DEADZONE': Apologies to all the grass lovers out there, but according to this entomologist, your lawn is a bit of an ecological nightmare. This fall, consider native plants instead — there's even a society you can join

WIFE GUY: I will take every opportunity I can find to remind people that state Sen. Vince Hughes (D., Philadelphia) is married to the Sheryl Lee Ralph, one of Broadway's original "Dreamgirls." I'd like to thank the Tonys for this chance.

ON THE TRAIL: Pennsylvania has launched four new culinary trails dedicated to apples, cured meats, fermented foods, and bread (as if I needed an excuse to eat a lot of bread). 

THEY'RE BACK: Yuengling and Hershey have once again teamed up to create a chocolate porter that's only available in the fall. Tröegs, meanwhile, has released its limited Master of Pumpkins brew
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.
Yesterday's answer: Deciduous

Congrats to our daily winners: Irene R., Neal W., Kevin M., Michelle T., Becky C., Chad S., Maureen G., Brandie K., Briann M., Mike B., Marty M., Susan D., Don H., Jodi R., Mike B., Patricia M., Elizabeth W., Karen W., Craig E., Jill A-S., John P., Judith D., George S., Elaine C., Brian B., James B., Susan F., Tish M., Dianne K., Kimberly S., Tanya W., Lynne E., Perry H., Bill S., Kevin H., Tim B., David W., Ann E., Kyle C., Joel S., Daniel M., and Beth T.
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