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Democrats have flipped the Pa. House

Plus, AG Shapiro wants your Ticketmaster complaints.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
November 18, 2022
New majority, court decision, key appointments, fuel leaks, video evidence, policy pushback, and Tom Hanks in stereo. It's Friday. Welcome.

Democrats have won control of the Pennsylvania state House for the first time in more than a decade with a narrow win in the 151st District.

Republican state Rep. Todd Stephens conceded the Montgomery County race on Thursday to Democrat Melissa Cerrato.

A few hours later, Democrat Mark Moffa conceded the last disputed state House race, for Bucks County’s 142nd District, to Republican Joe Hogan. 

The Associated Press had already called 101 races for Democrats and 100 for Republicans in the 203-member chamber. The AP calls races when it can find no mathematical path for trailing candidates to win.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Democrats win control of Pennsylvania state House after picking up 12 seats.

THE CONTEXT: Democrats' pickup of a dozen seats has come as a shock to many in Harrisburg, including the Democrats themselves.

A decade of population shifts — reflected in this year's redrawing of political lines — made many of the gains possible.

The practical effects for the party are significant.

With Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro controlling the executive branch, Democrats will have a much larger say in Harrisburg’s day-to-day agenda.

Lawmakers from the party will be able to advance policy priorities such as raising the minimum wage or instituting LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, and block controversial constitutional amendments.


“With all of the breadths of issues we raised [the only thing they focused on] was their interpretation of critical race theory.”

—Sandra Dungee Glenn of the state’s board of education recounting lawmaker reaction to new anti-racist teacher-prep guidelines for Pennsylvania

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The fall show at Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory, via PA Poster Kimberly D. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A life-sized stuffed lion is positioned among red, yellow, and orange plants in a greenhouse area at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.RGGI REVIEW: Commonwealth Court is set to decide the future of Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature climate change agenda item — entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. StateImpact reports the court heard arguments in two cases this week on the constitutionality of the carbon-capping program. There is no deadline for a ruling. Observers expect a state Supreme Court appeal regardless of the outcome.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.IN TRANSITION: Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has not committed to RGGI. In announcing the start of his gubernatorial transition this week, Shapiro said he plans to convene groups of people on all sides of the issue — namely environmentalists and organized labor — before deciding. Here's what else happened at Wednesday's kickoff, including three key appointments, via City & State. 

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.GAS LEAK: Equitrans Midstream Corp. says it has stopped a massive natural gas leak at a storage facility in Cambria County after 11 days, per The Allegheny Front. Reuters reported on Thursday that the leak — which started on Nov. 6 — was on track to quickly grow to more than 1 billion cubic feet of gas. For comparison, the biggest leak in U.S. history released 4.6 bcf of gas over a period of four months.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.FACT CHECK: A claim that a video shows an election worker committing fraud in Delaware County by filling out blank ballots and stamping them in this month's midterms has been rated false by the AP. The wire service says the video is actually from 2020 and shows an election worker engaged in the totally legal process of transcribing ballots that are damaged and cannot be scanned.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.VOTED DOWN: The Hollidaysburg Area School Board this week voted 5-4 against a policy update that the Altoona Mirror reported would have barred Pride flags in school and restricted conversations about gender orientation or preferred pronouns. The paper says photos of the book Gender Queer on a teacher's desk "amplified" the issue earlier this month. Experts continue to warn against such policies.
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TICKET TROUBLE: With Tennessee's attorney general investigating this week's Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle, Pennsylvania AG and Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro is asking Swifties to report related issues to his office. Shapiro confirmed this week that he plans to stay on as AG until January.

TANKER CRASH: Hundreds of homes were evacuated in Bethlehem on Thursday after a tanker truck crashed and spilled thousands of gallons of fuel. Officials said the gas flowed down streets and into storm drains.

HANKS FOR LISTENING: Pittsburgh's WYEP radio station will spin a curated playlist by Tom Hanks, yes that Tom Hanks, on Thanksgiving Day. 

TIL: Mister Rogers — famously played by Tom Hanks — once sued rapper Ice Cube over a sample on Cube's Amerikkka's Most Wanted album.

FAST-MOVING: This flu season is off to an especially fast start. Vox has the early and extraordinarily quick spread summed up in one chart.

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: Constellation

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Becky C., Barbara F., Al M., Wendy A., Jon W., Judith D., Don H., Elaine C., Kimberly D., Daniel M., Susan N.-Z., George S., Bethany R., Kim C., Doug W., Susan D., Samantha S., Bill S., Frederick H., Dianne K., David W., James B., and John P.
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