Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is dedicated to producing non­partisan investigative journalism about Pennsylvania government and urgent statewide issues. It is an independent watchdog unafraid to dig deep, fight for the truth and take on the powerful to expose wrongdoing and spur meaningful reform.

Spotlight PA connects Pennsylvanians to their state, and to each other, through public service journalism that matters to their lives and is creatively told in the many modern, digital ways they consume their news.

Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race: What we know so far

Jul 20, 2021
The race is on in Pennsylvania for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's open seat, with a large field of interested candidates and lots of money in the mix.
JOSE F. MORENO / Philadelphia Inquirer

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

Reform groups including Fair Districts PA wanted an independent commission void of elected officials who could unfairly influence the process of drawing the state's political maps.
TIM TAI / Philadelphia Inquirer

This article is part of a yearlong reporting project focused on redistricting and gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. It is made possible by the support of Spotlight PA members and Votebeat, a project focused on election integrity and voting access.

HARRISBURG — Redistricting reform supporters in Pennsylvania are having a moment of disappointing déjà vu.

Philadelphia's citywide plastic bag ban will go into effect next month, but it will not be fully enforced and implemented until April 2022.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Philadelphia Inquirer / Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG — Cities and townships hoping to ban plastic bags within their borders may finally have the legal authority to do so in Pennsylvania.

When the Republican-controlled legislature passed the state budget last week, it didn’t renew a statewide preemption on single-use plastics, opening the door for cities and municipalities to approve new prohibitions or enforce existing bans.

Democrats call any new ID restrictions 'voter suppression,' while Republicans say it makes elections more secure. The reality is more complicated.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Philadelphia Inquirer

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House passed an election overhaul bill Tuesday that creates stricter voter ID requirements and early voting in 2025, despite opposition from most Democrats and a promised veto from Gov. Tom Wolf.

The move diminished anti-gerrymandering advocates' hopes of preventing Pennsylvania's most powerful lawmakers from drawing maps that unfairly benefit one political party.
Madhuri Shukla / For Spotlight PA

This article is part of a yearlong reporting project focused on redistricting and gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. It is made possible by the support of Spotlight PA members and Votebeat, a project focused on election integrity and voting access.

HARRISBURG — A key state Senate committee agreed Tuesday to put guardrails on how Pennsylvania lawmakers draw congressional maps, while stripping out proposed limits on how the General Assembly’s own districts are drawn.

Wolf, Pa. Democrats Again Push For Passage Of LGBTQ Discrimination Protections

Jun 16, 2021
'The fact that we haven't gotten this bill done is what so frustrates people about politics,' Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia), one of three openly LGBTQ people serving in the legislature, said Tuesday on the steps of the Capitol.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Philadelphia Inquirer

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — As people around the country celebrate Pride month, Gov. Tom Wolf again called on the state’s Republican-led legislature to pass non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

Pa. Republicans' Major Election Overhaul Advanced In The State House As Dems. Called It A 'Farce'

Jun 16, 2021
Gov. Tom Wolf has made clear he opposes the voter ID requirements and would almost certainly veto the bill in its current form.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Philadelphia Inquirer

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Pa. GOP Proposes Major Election Overhaul, Including Stricter Voter ID And In-Person Early Voting

Jun 10, 2021
The legislation is sure to draw intense scrutiny and will likely face steep obstacles as Republican leaders, who control both chambers of the state legislature, try to keep their party unified while also winning the approval of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Unemployed workers and advocates from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia protest more than 300,000 unemployment claims still waiting for review by the state Department of Labor and Industry. The department is launching a massive overhaul of its computer system.
Rebecca Moss / Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — “I feel like I am a sinking ship right now.”

“Next month will be a year that they have been putting me through this.”

“I just need some help, I am about to be homeless.”

After Citing Privacy Law, Pa. Backtracks And Discloses Wasted Vaccine Details

May 29, 2021
One provider who reported a high number of spoiled doses cited a late shipment from the state and a lack of demand.
Fred Adams / Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

Pa. Voters Back Curtailing Gov. Tom Wolf's Emergency Powers In A Win For Republicans

May 19, 2021
The Wolf administration has forcefully pushed back on the claim that it can only mandate business closures when a disaster declaration is in place, arguing that power resides with the state's health secretary.
Commonwealth Media Services

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

FBI Probe Of Massive Pa. Pension Fund Seeks Evidence Of Kickbacks Or Bribery

May 18, 2021
Federal authorities are demanding records concerning a series of Harrisburg buildings and lots bought by PSERS, including the former Patriot-News building at 812 Market St., shown here after demolition.
Kalim A. Bhatti

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

A New Wave Of Election Directors Step In To Fill Pa.'s Many Vacancies

May 18, 2021
Bob Morgan, the Luzerne County election director, talks about how to set up and use a voting machine during a recent training class. A new crop of election directors will be in place for Tuesday's primary, but with uneven training.
FRED A. ADAMS / For Spotlight PA

This article is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

HARRISBURG — Among the most stressed-out folks in local government this week will be the former manager of the USA Field Hockey team, a congressman’s past chief of staff, and an ex-political science professor.

Taxpayers Foot Huge Bill To Run Pa.'s Full-Time Legislature, But Are Blocked From Many Details

May 12, 2021
About $20 million went into Pennsylvania lawmakers' pockets over four years in the form of reimbursements for meals, mileage subsidies, per diems, and other expenses.
Leise Hook / For Spotlight PA

Over the next year, The Caucus and Spotlight PA will examine and make public specific areas of spending by the legislature as part of their ongoing efforts to follow the money and track taxpayer dollars. Be the first to know by signing up for Spotlight PA’s free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania legislature got to work at 1 p.m. on March 18, 2019.

Three and a half hours later on that Monday afternoon, lawmakers had adjourned.

After Receiving Police Report, Pa. Prosecutor Waited Months To Charge A Man Who Shot At Protesters

May 10, 2021
Civil rights marchers on a journey from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. are seen here in Youngstown, Ohio.
Amanda Mills / For Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

BEDFORD — The district attorney in Bedford County has brought dozens of charges against a man for firing a 12-gauge shotgun at civil rights marchers last August, striking one in the face and endangering 19 others.

In their order, the Pa. Supreme Court's justices, five Democrats and two Republicans, did not explain their pick.
CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE / PennLive

This article is part of a yearlong reporting project focused on redistricting and gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. It is made possible by the support of Spotlight PA members and Votebeat, a project focused on election integrity and voting access.

Fundamental Flaws: Addiction Treatment Providers In Pa. Face Little Scrutiny Despite Harm To Clients

Apr 29, 2021
Ian Kalinowski's brother, Adam, died by suicide in 2014 while he was a client at a treatment center run by Addiction Specialists Inc., in Fayette County. An Allegheny County judge later said the business, two of its owners, and an ASI physician were negli
Kristina Serafini / TribLIVE for Spotlight PA

This investigation is a joint project of KHN, a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues, and Spotlight PA, an independent, collaborative newsroom dedicated to producing investigative journalism for all of Pennsylvania.

When Ian Kalinowski was at work, his mom usually texted him. So when he saw her number show up as an incoming call around lunchtime one Tuesday, he figured it had to be important.

How Pa. Troopers Use Sweating, Stuttering During Traffic Stops To Launch Vehicle Searches

Apr 29, 2021
Pennsylvania State Police troopers have justified vehicle searches by saying a driver was nervous, sweating, or eating.
JOSE F. MORENO / Philadelphia Inquirer

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

Syringes containing vaccine stand at the ready for members of the public to get the vaccine administered to them in the Sullivan County Elementary School in Laporte Bourgh Sullivan County Pennsylvania
Fred Adams / Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — A state lawmaker wants to compel the Wolf administration to make public details on wasted COVID-19 vaccine doses, information it refused to release to Spotlight PA.

New Partnership To Provide WPSU Listeners With More Investigative Journalism About State Government

Apr 12, 2021

For the past decade, there’s been nothing short of a crisis in our state capital.

More and more of Pennsylvania’s sprawling and costly bureaucracy operated without scrutiny from investigative reporters, the watchdogs tracking how our hard-earned tax dollars are spent and demanding answers from lawmakers about waste, fraud and abuse.

Together, we can restore accountability.

State College Contractor Hawbaker Accused Of Fleecing Employees To Pump Up Profits

Apr 9, 2021
Attorney General Josh Shapiro
Monica Herndon / Philadelphia Inquirer

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — A major Pennsylvania government contractor has been accused of siphoning millions of dollars in retirement and health benefits from its employees, state authorities said Thursday.