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Skill games tabled during budget talks

Plus, SCOTUS blocks Purdue opioid settlement.

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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

Friday, June 28, 2024
Today: Skill games stall, bankruptcy block, Dem warning, cause of death, Allentown showdown, big ad buys, and Centre County 'scam jam.'
An effort to tax and oversee skill games appears to be in jeopardy amid state budget talks, cutting off a potential bargaining chip during negotiations.

Skill games are untaxed and unregulated devices that resemble slot machines and can be found in bars, restaurants, and convenience stores across Pennsylvania.

Casino interests consider skill games competition and want to see them taxed. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro pegged regulating the games to his budget proposal, as a way to boost state revenue.

But heavy lobbying by the casino and skill game industries has thrown the plan off course ahead of the June 30 budget deadline.

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Gov. Shapiro wanted to regulate skill games in this year's budget, but talks aren’t going well.
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"I am encouraged by progress that has been made, and while I do not believe that the work can be completed on June 30, I am quite confident that we have movement significant enough to allow the pieces of a budget puzzle to come together shortly after the constitutional deadline of June 30."
State Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R., Indiana) on the prospects of this year's budget deal getting hammered out by Sunday's deadline
A woman in Berks County shares what local news coverage she wants to read as part of a Spotlight PA study
Berks County residents are extremely frustrated with the diminished capacity of the local newspaper and they are concerned about a lack of access to trustworthy information in their community, according to a groundbreaking study released today by Spotlight PA.

In response to the findings, Spotlight PA is planning to launch a new regional reporting bureau in Berks County to be supported primarily by people living and working in the region. Read the full story, and then support the effort »
The strawberry moon over Elizabethtown, via John H. Send us photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
The moon in the night sky behind pine trees and a darkened house.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
PURDUE BLOCK: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a multibillion bankruptcy settlement between the maker of OxyContin and states like Pennsylvania that would have shielded the pharmaceutical company's family owners from future lawsuits. Per USA Today: Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said if Congress meant to reshape traditional bankruptcy practice so profoundly, it needs to do so directly.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
BOYCOTT BILL: The state Senate on Thursday passed a bill (41-7) that would block state funding for colleges and universities that boycott or divest from Israel. State Rep. Chris Rabb (D., Philadelphia) previously told the Center Square the bill "will cause a s--- show of epic proportions" for Democrats in an election year if it comes up for a vote in the House, adding a "vigilant ... subset of the electorate" is watching.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
PRISON DEATHS: Dauphin County Prison deaths appear to have been habitually labeled as “natural” when they should have been attributed to traumatic violence, UCLA researchers report, via PennLive (paywall). According to the study, Coroner Graham Hetrick’s office frequently leans on preexisting conditions, including in the case of Ty’Rique Riley, who went unconscious in a restraint chair and died days later.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
LEGAL FIGHT: Allentown City Council voted 6-1 this week to lay the groundwork for potential legal action against Mayor Matt Tuerk, accusing him of "obstructing" an investigation into discrimination in city hall, WFMZ reports. Tuerk had declared a contract with the former FBI investigator brought in to probe the issue void. The investigator said he already began his work — and found evidence to substantiate the claims.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
AD BUYS: TribLIVE reports President Joe Biden's campaign has heavily outspent former President Donald Trump and his allies on ads in must-win Pennsylvania, with $21.2 million spent here by Team Biden as of a month ago. The Trump campaign was set to run its first direct-buy Pennsylvania ads during last night's debate. Reaction to the debate came from Harrisburg Democrats and the pivotal Philly suburbs.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. Donate to Spotlight PA today.
🤔 FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS: Think you know your news? Prove it with this week's Great PA News Quiz: Canceled VP debate, state budget deals, legal pot, and a boycott bill.
CHURCH VOTE: The youngest leader of the Episcopal Church since 1789 is 49-year-old native of Sharon, Pennsylvania. Sean Rowe was elected to the role this week by the House of Bishops in Louisville, via the AP. 

PLAY NEXT: Sociologist Matthew Desmond went to a homeless shelter on Water Street in Lancaster and explains in an audio essay for the New York Times (paywall) why he wishes there were more like it.

MED SCHOOL: Students at IUP’s proposed college of osteopathic medicine will receive clinical training at Punxsutawney Area Hospital under an agreement signed by the two entities this week, per TribLIVE.

'SCAM JAM': To help older residents avoid scams by recognizing them early, the Centre County Office of Aging hosted a "Scam Jam" last week with "fraud bingo," testimonials, and more, WPSU reports.

SWEET SHOWCASE: Pennsylvania's newest museum is a 4,400-square-foot monument to maple syrup in Somerset, via the Tribune-Democrat.
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 countedPlease include your first name and last initial.

Yesterday's answer: Malarkey
Congrats to our daily winners: Eric F., Vicki U., Stacy S., Morgan B., Bob C., Jon W., Barbara F., Judith D., Ellen G., Kimberly D., Jody A., Don H., Tracy S., Jane R., Gail D., Mark C., Starr B., Sarah P., John A., Lynne E., Karen K., Julie K., Beth H., Elizabeth R., Mike B., John P., Julie K., Daniel M., Marisa B., Perry H., Joseph R. M., Timothy A., Karen W., Alan B., Sherri A., Johnny C., Annette I., Fran C., Roxane V., Wendy A., Craig E., Tom M., William Z., Matt A., George C., Daniel S., Bob S., Susan N.-Z., Michael T., Ronnee G., Ada M., Stanley J., and John H.
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