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Shapiro signs cancer screening bill into law, his first

Plus, why State College gambling foes failed to stop a casino.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2023
In today's edition: Landmark law, anti-casino movement, safe sites, cattle consequences, factory funds, mystery leave, and Fresh Air families.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro signed his first bill into law on Monday, one requiring insurers to cover the costs of breast cancer screenings for people at heightened risk of developing the disease.

According to the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy, 11 other states have laws removing copays or deductibles for breast cancer imaging, but no other state has mandated coverage of testing that identifies genetic predispositions to breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Shapiro signs first bill, expands Pa. health insurance coverage for breast cancer screenings.

THE CONTEXT: Shapiro was flanked by lawmakers from both major parties as he signed the bill — now Act 1 of 2023 — on Monday, saying: "this spirit of goodwill and compromise needs to continue."

Advocates for health care access said the law is a positive, though limited, step toward making crucial medical tests more affordable. They urged further action in this vein, something that typically requires lawmakers to negotiate with the commonwealth’s powerful health insurance industry.

Advocates for patients and survivors of cancer were unable to say how much money the new law will cost insurance companies or provide an estimate for how many people will be newly eligible for no-cost testing.

"This has taken years off my life."

Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, a retired film industry executive, who fought the Philadelphia Water Department for 19 months over a nearly $3,500 bill
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Redbud blossoms in Clarion, via Tom D. Send us your Pennsylvania photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of pink blossoms on a branch.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CASINO CRITICS: State College area residents have for years opposed a mini-casino slated to go in College Township’s Nittany Mall, but it's going forward anyway. Spotlight PA traces the opposition movement's failure to stop the project, in part, to a 2017 state law that created 10 mini-casino licenses and a short window for municipalities to opt out. And once a town opted in, there was no backtracking.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.BAN ADVANCES: The state Senate voted Monday to ban supervised injection sites as harm reductionists rally support for the facilities they say have been proven to save lives in an overdose epidemic. Every Republican voted yes and nine of 22 Senate Democrats voted no. The bill is headed to the Democrat-controlled state House where the AP reports it's unlikely to come up for a floor vote

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.COW CONCERNS: Veterinarians are worried that Gov. Josh Shapiro's scheduling of the animal tranquilizer xylazine amid a rash of human overdoses linked to the drug will have unintended consequences for animals. The Inquirer (paywall) reports xylazine is the only sedative that works on cattle, and veterinarians worry the rule will make manufacturing and distributing the drug too costly here.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.SEED MONEY: A firm led by a former Amazon executive and backed by Pittsburgh billionaire Thomas Tull is set to receive an $81 million investment to create 300 full-time jobs and a new high-tech manufacturing operation in New Kensington. WESA reports $18.75 million in state grants and loans are part of the package. The facility will focus on energy, robotics, aerospace, and biotech.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.ON LEAVE: PennLive (paywall) reports Dauphin County Prison's new internal affairs investigator has been placed on paid leave, and it's unclear why. Kevin Myers was hired in February to bring more integrity and independence to investigations into staff members' actions at the prison amid a spate of deaths and related scrutiny. County officials aren't saying why Myers is on leave or when he might return.

RTK DECISION: In a decision filed last week, Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court ruled 4-3 that social media posts by public officials on private accounts are public records only if they constitute an official action of behalf of the agency. The former head of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records called it a significant case in an evolving area of open records law.

BARRON RETIRING: After almost four decades with The Patriot-News and its online site PennLive, PA Media Group President Cate Barron is set to retire, effective June 30. Barron's career spanned the paper's first Pulitzer Prize and its pivot from the print era to the new digital media era.

VIRAL VIDEO: A diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused exchange between Monroe County NAACP President Christa Caceres and a Moms For Liberty school board candidate in East Stroudsburg has gone viral. Bad Faith podcast's Briahna Joy Gray calls it a "master class."

FRESH AIR: Wanted: Pennsylvania families to host Fresh Air Kids from New York City this summer. The Inquirer (paywall) reports the Fresh Air Fund started with a pastor in Lackawanna County and has evolved into a nonprofit that’s allowed 1.8 million kids to visit host families outside the Big Apple.

DOS AND DON'TS: Recreational cannabis has been legal in neighboring Delaware for more than a week now. WHYY has "an extensive but non-exhaustive tutorial" on what is and isn't allowed there as a result.

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: Flimflam

Congrats to our daily winners: Jane R., Julie K., Craig W., Barbara F., Kevin M., Mark O., Bruce B., Don H., Bob C., Al M., Susan N.-Z., Kimberly D., Kimberly B., Lynne E., Daniel M., Eric F., Sherri A., Beth T., Jon W., Jodi R., Elaine C., Keith W., Mark C., Dan A., Susan D., John F., Gina L., Kirby D., Judith D., James B., Judy M., Karen W., Carol S., Michelle T., Starr B., Wendy A., Dennis M., Bill S., Stanley J., Ada M., Elizabeth W., Dianne K., Tom M., Susan R., Richard A., Irene R., Vanessa J., William Z., Vicki U., Terry P., and Kim C.
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