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January 31: Make or Break

😀 The Middle of the Week. And we bring a close to January.

PA Weather
🌥️ Hermitage | Partly Sunny, 39
☁️ Huntingdon | Mostly Cloudy, 44
☁️ Hershey | Cloudy, 42

PA Sports
🏀 Sixers (29-17) | Golden State 107-119 | Thu vs. Utah
🏒 Flyers (25-19-6) | All-Star Break
🏒 Penguins (22-17-7) | All-Star Break

What We’re Hearing
A Bloomberg/Morning Consult swing state poll released this morning of a Biden-Trump rematch showed Trump up three points in PA.

Political News? Yes, Please
The PoliticsPA Playbook gives you all today’s PA political headlines in an easy-to-read email format. All by 8 AM. And it’s free. Subscribe now.


Top Story

1. HD-140: Another Make or Break Special Election in the PA State House

HD-140: Jim Prokopiak vs. Candace Cabanas

“Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will hold a special election for a vacated state House seat that will determine the party in the majority in the chamber.

Of course you have heard this before. We’ve done this six times in the last 365 days in the 21st, 32nd, 34th, 35th, 108th and 163rd Legislative Districts.

And in 13 days, we’ll do it all over again in the 140th District in Bucks County.” (PoliticsPA)


Bucks County Gears Up For Pivotal Special Election In 140th Legislative District. “Candidates, political parties, and Bucks County election officials are preparing for the upcoming special election set for mid-February.” (Levittown Now)

Shapiro Among Governors Urging SCOTUS To Rule In Favor Of Medication Abortion Access. “The Reproductive Freedom Alliance, of which Gov. Josh Shapiro is a member, filed an amicus brief Tuesday in the appeal of a federal court decision that would restrict nationwide access to mifepristone, one of the drugs used in a two-step regimen used to end a pregnancy.” (Penn Capital-Star)

Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and a MAGA Meltdown. “For football fans eager to see a new team in the Super Bowl, the conference championship games on Sunday that sent the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers back to the main event of American sports culture were sorely disappointing. But one thing is new: Taylor Swift. And she is driving the movement behind Donald Trump bonkers.” (New York Times)



2. Rozzi, An Advocate For Sex Abuse Survivors And Former House Speaker, Is Leaving Politics To Focus On His Mental Health

Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi

Mark Rozzi got into politics to give survivors of child sex abuse such as himself a voice in Harrisburg.

But after 11 years serving in the Pennsylvania House, including a brief stint last year as House speaker, the Democrat from Reading is leaving politics less hopeful than he was when he started.

Rozzi, 52, quietly ended his auditor general campaign in December and told The Inquirer he has spent the last few months isolating himself during a particularly difficult bout of depression, a years-long struggle caused by being sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was a boy. He’ll serve the remainder of his term before leaving office at the end of the year.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)


Gov. Shapiro Is Pitching More Funding For PA’s Struggling Transit Systems. Will The State Senate Agree? “Dwindling federal stimulus dollars and shifting ridership have placed Pennsylvania’s dozens of transit agencies on high alert as they map out their future operations.” (Spotlight PA)

Mastriano Calls for PA National Guard Deployment to Texas Border with Mexico. “Sen. Doug Mastriano – chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee – called for Gov. Josh Shapiro to deploy Pennsylvania National Guard troops to Texas to support Operation Lone Star.” (PoliticsPA)

State, County Officials Encourage Voters To Become Poll Workers: ‘We Are Constantly In Need’. “Dauphin County — and most other counties in Pennsylvania — is looking for poll workers ahead of this year’s presidential election, with officials recognizing Help America Vote Day on Tuesday by encouraging citizens to get involved.” (PennLive)

Pennsylvania Bill Would Allow Returning Mail-In Ballots To Polling Places. “State Representatives Tarik Khan (D-Philadelphia), Ben Waxman (D-Philadelphia), and Joe Webster (D-Montgomery) say their planned bill would allow voters to deliver their ballot to a polling place on Election Day.” (ABC27)

Shapiro Administration Hires IT Consultant For $530K in Wake of Data Deletion. “An emergency procurement approved by the state’s Chief Information Officer Amaya Capellán on Jan. 19 permitted the hiring of Seattle, Wash.-based Layer Aleph for a 30-day contract at a cost of $530,000.” (PennLive)


Around The Commonwealth

3. Students Of Color At PA State Schools Endure Ongoing Racial Harassment: Report

WCU Achieves Multiple Top Rankings on U.S. News Best Colleges Lists - West Chester University

“A freshman soccer player attending a Pennsylvania state college returned to her room one day this year to find her favorite teddy bear missing. She eventually came across a social media post by a fellow teammate that showed the stuffed animal being lynched.

“She’s devastated. She calls her parents. Can you imagine that?,” said Sen. Art Haywood, who on Tuesday recounted the incident.

That was just one of the hundreds of racially charged incidents aimed at Black and brown students across state-owned universities and colleges documented in a report led by Haywood and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.” (PennLive)


Parker Prioritizes Education Funding And Clarifies ‘Year-Round School’ At Philly’s State Of The Schools Event. “Mayor Cherelle L. Parker said Tuesday that school funding will be front and center as she builds Philadelphia’s budget.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

‘Where We Want To Go’: Pittsburgh Touted For Workforce Development By U.S. Education, Labor Secretaries. “The country’s education and labor secretaries got a firsthand look Tuesday morning at how the Pittsburgh region is leading the way in bolstering workforce development through partnerships with K-12 schools and higher education institutions.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Somerset Commissioners Planning Larger Budget With 13% Tax Hike. “President Commissioner Brian Fochtman and board member Irv Kimmel Jr. said the 1.75-mill increase was needed to cover future employee pay increases, to pay for courthouse concrete repairs and to avoid dipping into the county’s $3.1 million reserves to cover 2024 costs.” (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat)

Candidate Announcements

  • PA-11: Lancaster City Democrat Formally Launches 2024 Campaign To Challenge US Rep. Lloyd Smucker. (LNP)



4. What’s On Your Mind

  • What’s Missing From Shapiro’s Bold College Plan. (Will Bunch)
  • Zoning Reform Can Make Pittsburgh More Affordable And Vibrant. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • How Democratic candidates Will Win. It’s Not By Culture Warring. (Paul Kendrick)
  • When Is Criticism Of Israel Antisemitic? A Scholar Of Modern Jewish History Explains. (Joshua Shanes)
  • Modern-Day ‘Back Alley’ Abortions. (Thomas J. Shaheen)
  • 2024 Election Is A Referendum On The Biden Presidency. (Peter Morici)
  • PA Can Ensure A Healthy Economy By Investing In Worker Education. (Ellen Duffield)


1 Thing

5. Phil’s The Star, But Holiday’s Roots Run Deep

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring after not seeing his shadow - ABC News

“The spotlight will be on Gobbler’s Knob in western Pennsylvania early Friday morning, when handlers of a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil will announce whether he saw his own shadow and predicts there’ll be six more weeks of winter — or didn’t, which signals an early spring.

It’s part of a tradition rooted in European agricultural life, marking the midpoint between the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s also a time of year that figures in the Celtic calendar and the Christian holiday of Candlemas.

And in eastern and central Pennsylvania, where people of German descent have been watching the groundhog’s annual emergence from hibernation for centuries, there’s a tradition of groundhog clubs and celebrations that are independent of Phil.” (AP)


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One Response

  1. Dung Mastriano wants to send PA National Guard to Texas border. We don’t want that blood on their hands.

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  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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