Join us on Goodreads | Five for the Weekend

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Happy Weekend, all.

Another snowy week is drawing to a close. We hope you all were able to shovel out and can now relax a moment and enjoy throwing your head back on the pillow and getting lost in a good book.

Earlier this week, the Capital-Star team launched a Goodreads page where we will regularly lead discussions on books we are reading.

Anyone who wants to join is welcome! It’s free – all you need to do is create a Goodreads account to get started. You can find our group here. 

I am kicking things off with “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity”

I will be sharing my takeaways periodically in the group discussion, but we would love for all of you to read along and join the discussion! You can even recommend books to us for our next discussion.

I hope you all will consider joining us.

As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,
Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Scranton Democratic state Sen. John Blake set to resign office for job with Cartwright

State Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna, is set to resign, three Capitol sources have told the Capital-Star.

Blake is leaving Harrisburg to take a job with U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th District. The two northeastern Pennsylvania pols have scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference in downtown Scranton, according to a press advisory.

Cartwright is set to chair a Congressional appropriations subcommittee this session that manages $70 billion in federal funding for economic development, law enforcement, and science.

2. Pa. Democrats call for investigation of GOP statehouse colleagues’ role in Capitol siege

As former President Donald Trump faces impeachment charges for inciting a riot on the U.S. Capitol in January, state lawmakers in Pennsylvania are calling for investigations into Republicans who they say fanned the flames of insurrection from the Keystone State.

“While not every GOP elected official attended the insurrection in Washington, hundreds are complicit in spreading the lies that inspired their supporters to riot in front of the entire world,” Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, who chairs the House Democratic Campaign Committee, said on a press call Wednesday.

Accountability starts, they say, with a federal investigation to discover how many of their GOP legislative colleagues attended the rally or helped people get there.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg — including members of GOP leadership — signed letters after the Nov. 3 election objecting to the state’s election results. Some even spread misinformation about voter fraud and legally dubious theories of how to overturn the results.

3. Pennsylvania’s vaccine program is flailing. Nurses in the statehouse are out to fix it

State Sen. Maria Collett was beyond frustrated – and she wasn’t trying to hide it.

“I have not heard a lot about logistics from the Department of Health this morning,” Collett said, punctuating each word of speech for emphasis, as she addressed the state’s top health official at a Feb. 4 public hearing. “I’ve heard a lot of talk about accountability, transparency … but I’d like to hear more about logistics – please.”

As a state lawmaker from populous Montgomery County, Collett, a Democrat, has had a front row seat to Pennsylvania’s rocky vaccine rollout. She’s fielded complaints from local officials who say their hard-hit region isn’t getting enough doses, and from constituents who feel defeated by finicky appointment software.

4. With one Supreme Court seat up for grabs, Pa.’s 2021 judicial elections start to take shape

Two incumbent state appellate court judges won their parties’ endorsement this week to fill an open spot on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The state Republican Party endorsed Judge Kevin Brobson for the role. Brobson currently serves on the Commonwealth Court, which mostly handles appeals on lawsuits against state and local governments and their agencies.

A Widener University Law graduate, Brobson has served on the Commonwealth Court since 2009. Before sitting on the statewide bench, he practiced law at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a Pennsylvania-based law and lobbying firm.

Democrats, meanwhile, endorsed Judge Maria McLaughlin for the Supreme Court. McLaughlin, also a Widener University Law graduate, has served on the state Superior Court, which handles appeals of most criminal and civil cases, since 2017.

5. GOP lawmakers in 28 states, including Pa., have introduced more than 100 bills seeking to restrict ballot access | Analysis

The months after November’s presidential election have been filled with conspiracy theories, lies and myths about the security and integrity of U.S. elections, led by former President Donald Trump and many Republican leaders.

As a result, polls show that more than half of Republican voters wrongly believe that President Joe Biden and his supporters engaged in fraud to steal the election—a view backed by most congressional Republicans and scores of state and local GOP officials.

Pointing to their constituents’ doubts, GOP lawmakers in at least 28 states have introduced more than 100 bills to tighten voting rules, according to a recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. The bills would, for example, add new voter registration requirements and scale back or eliminate voting by mail, which voters flocked to during the pandemic. Supporters say these measures would restore public confidence in elections.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.