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February 7: Decision Time

Good Tuesday Morning. It’s Special Election Day.

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Pittsburgh | Mostly Cloudy, Showers, 54
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Wilkes-Barre | Increasing Clouds, 45

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What We’re Hearing
“While many hospitals and health systems are facing unprecedented challenges, those faced in rural America are unique.”

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Top Story

1. Three Special Elections Will Determine Control of PA House

What do you want to know about voting in Allegheny County? Your questions answered. - PublicSource

For a month, the Pennsylvania legislature has been frozen by a handful of vacancies in the State House of Representatives that made the difference between Democratic and Republican control, and by representatives’ inability to agree on basic operating rules.

Special elections on Tuesday could bring the General Assembly back to life.

Those elections will fill three vacant House seats in Allegheny County — home to Pittsburgh — where Democratic candidates won in November but either did not take office or quickly stepped down. In the 32nd District, the winner, Tony DeLuca, died shortly before Election Day but too late to have his name removed from the ballot. The 34th District’s representative, Summer Lee, was elected to the United States House, and the 35th District’s representative, Austin Davis, was elected as lieutenant governor. (New York Times)


Special Elections in Pittsburgh Could End PA House Impasse. “Pittsburgh-area voters will fill three vacancies Tuesday in the state House of Representatives and the results may resolve a stalemate over majority control that has left the chamber in limbo for the past month.” (AP)

3 House Districts in Allegheny County to Fill Vacancies. “A special election scheduled for Tuesday will fill vacancies in three Democratic-leaning House seats in Allegheny County.” (Tribune-Review)

The Stakes Are Huge In 3 Allegheny County Elections. Will Anyone Vote?With three special elections Tuesday set to determine which party controls the state House, the biggest challenge for candidates might just be getting Allegheny County voters to actually vote.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • Special Election Preview: 32nd State House District. (PoliticsPA)
  • Special Election Preview: 34th State House District. (PoliticsPA)
  • Special Election Preview: 35th State House District.  (PoliticsPA)



2. Rozzi Pledges to Ready House Rules By Month’s End

Pa. Speaker Rozzi pledges to ready House rules by month's end | WITF

“Pennsylvania’s Speaker of the House is outlining what’s next in the effort to put new procedural rules in place.

The state House has been deadlocked over how it should conduct business for the first time in at least a decade. Without rules, no legislation can get done – which is why the chamber has been at a standstill for weeks.” (WESA)


Commission Presents Proposals to Eliminate Confusion at Polls. “A new Pennsylvania state government report suggests making secrecy envelopes optional, standardizing the use of drop boxes across the state, and clarifying how ballots should be dated.” (WITF)

Red Tape Skyrockets Energy Costs In PA. “For prices to fall, experts told the House Republican Policy Committee that removing barriers to production is “key.” David Callahan, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said bureaucracy still stands in the way of the economic growth necessary to make that happen.” (The Center Square)


Around The Commonwealth

3. Rural Areas Increasingly Lose Inpatient Hospitals Like UPMC Lock Haven


UPMC Lock Haven reopens |

“Many rural hospitals can no longer afford to offer inpatient care, and UPMC has decided that its Lock Haven Hospital has become one of them.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) said the increasing closures of inpatient services at rural hospitals across the country are typically preceded by low patient volumes, low reimbursement rates, staffing shortages and regulatory barriers.” (Lock Haven Express)


Resuming Medicaid Case Checks Confronts 3.6M in PA. “The federal government’s pandemic-era prohibition against kicking people off Medicaid is ending, meaning that hundreds of thousands of people in Pennsylvania face losing the free health insurance in the coming year.” (AP)

Super PACs Made Early Picks For Mayor In 2015 and 2019. This Year, They’re In Flux. “Philadelphia’s political community last week pored over and parsed new annual campaign finance reports that offer a window into how candidates in the Democratic primary for mayor are faring so far.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Home Rule Question Will Be On Lancaster’s Primary Ballot. “Lancaster residents will decide in May whether to authorize a home rule study commission after City Council agreed Monday to include a question on the primary election ballot.” (LNP)

Challenge to Helfrich’s Ability to Serve as York Mayor Moves Forward. “The waiting game begins on the matter of York City Mayor Michael Helfrich’s eligibility for office now that his attorney filed his legal defense with a state appellate court.” (York Dispatch)



4. What They’re Saying

A glance around the Keystone State at editorials and opinions.


1 Thing

5. State of the Union: ChatGPT Style

ChatGPT bot channels history to pen State of Union speech | |

“If you’ve heard it once in a president’s State of the Union speech, you’ve heard it 100 times: There is nothing the American people can’t do when they pull together.

But you haven’t heard that thought in a State of Union address from William Shakespeare: “Lo,” said the bard. “With kindness, love, and understanding clear, we shall conquer all, and have naught to fear.”

To shake up the formula before President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress on Tuesday night, The Associated Press instructed the artificial intelligence program ChatGPT to work up State of the Union speeches as they might have been written by some of history’s greatest minds as well as some stooges. (AP)


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