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Why 2 Shapiro officials still have 'acting' in their titles

Plus, a sixth victim has died from the Plum house explosion.

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Acting secretaries, HBCU designation, explosion death, athlete policy, election money, Starbucks suits, and a 'cute, furry, sexy' Gritty. Happy Friday.

Seven months into his first term as Pennsylvania’s governor, two of Democrat Josh Shapiro’s picks for top cabinet posts haven’t been confirmed by the state Senate. 

In practice, the distinction between an acting and confirmed secretary is minimal — they have essentially the same powers as cabinet officials approved by state senators.

But Debra Bogen's continued service leading the Department of Health has roiled at least two Republican lawmakers who now want to curtail the powers of acting secretaries. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Why some of Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s cabinet picks still have ‘acting’ next to their title

THE CONTEXT: Shapiro recalled Bogen’s nomination in late June after it became clear she did not have the votes to be confirmed by the GOP-controlled state Senate. 

Bogen, a pediatrician, had served as the head of the Allegheny County Health Department during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Republican leadership attributed the lack of support to Bogen’s “past management work.”

Two GOP state senators say that allowing acting secretaries to perform their duties without lawmakers’ approval permits the governor and his cabinet to evade oversight set up in the state constitution.

Now, they're backing a constitutional amendment that would limit the powers of such secretaries.


"We can't lose. It's already a win for the kids, for everybody, and if they come home tomorrow they are still champions in our book.”

Bill Hagan, the former president of the Media Little League, on the team’s appearance in the Little League World Series.

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» President Joe Biden visits Scranton to pay respects to former first lady of Pennsylvania, via AP.

» Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. announces affiliation with centrist Forward Party, via WESA
» State Rep. Rob Mercuri says he is “all in” for congressional run, via @StephenJ_Caruso.
» Regulations preventing LGBTQ+, hairstyle, and religious discrimination are in effect in Pennsylvania, via WHTM.
A silver-spotted skipper enjoying a butterfly bush, courtesy of Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
a orangeish butterfly sits on top of a bunch of purple flowers on a green plant
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania. HBCU RESCUE: Alumni and students of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania are proposing a plan to restore their school after it narrowly avoided collapse. The Inquirer (paywall) reports their plan includes turning the school over to the National Park Service, but the state system disagrees and is defending its work to restore stability. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.HOUSE EXPLOSION: A sixth victim died on Wednesday as a result of injuries from a house explosion in Plum, TribLIVE reports. The cause of death for all the victims is still pending. Peoples natural gas company officials said they do not believe there is a common link connecting last weekend’s fatal incident with previous blasts in the borough.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
TRANSGENDER ATHLETES: A conservative, religious liberties law firm provided Central Bucks school board a copy of draft regulations targeting transgender student-athletes per the school’s request, the Bucks County Courier Times reports. The school district is set to revisit the policy in September. The law firm previously assisted with the school’s controversial library materials policy.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION FUNDING: York County is set to receive another $1.6 million in grant funding from the state to help run elections there, the York Dispatch reports. As Spotlight PA and Votebeat previously reported, the state made $45 million in election grants available last year through a law known as Act 88 that also banned counties from taking dollars from outside groups for election administration.  

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STARBUCKS LAWSUIT: A former Philadelphia Starbucks manager is receiving an additional $2.7 million from the coffeehouse chain for lost pay and tax damages. FOX29 reports Shannon Phillips previously won $25 million in relation to a lawsuit she filed alleging she was fired for being white. 
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
CULTURAL FESTIVAL: The 10th annual African American Cultural Fair & Parade returns Sept. 5-9 to Lancaster. Pop star Sean Kingston is one of the musical acts scheduled to perform. 

PUBLIC FACILITIES: Pittsburgh will test three public restrooms downtown for six months starting in September. The bathrooms will be open daily and have running water, heat, and air conditioning. 

GRITTY YEAR: Spice up your yearly calendar with Flyers mascot Gritty who is set to release his own “cute, furry, sexy” take on the months for 2024

UNWANTED HORSES: When a horse’s racing days are over, they are sold at auctions. The York Daily Record dives into the bleak fate of horses no longer in demand.  

PRETZEL LINE: A Montgomery County actor is taking the time to make sure striking actors and writers are fed by bringing pretzels to the picket lines
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 counted.
Yesterday's answer: Prevaricator

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., Susan N., Barbara F., Jon W., Don H., John E., Dennis M., Richard A., Tom M., Steven Z., and Judith D.
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