WEATHER: Philadelphia: a chance of rain, high of 55; Harrisburg: a slight chance of rain, high of 54; Pittsburgh: a chance of rain, high of 48.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler said he tested positive for COVID-19 days after announcing he had entered quarantine following an exposure to someone with the coronavirus, PennLive reports.
* Democratic state senators are opposing a federal lawsuit filed by Republican lawmakers that challenges a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
* Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s Democratic primary challenger Carlos Vega was accused of drastically understating his involvement in the 2016 retrial of a man wrongly convicted of murder who was later exonerated, Business Insider reports.
* The Philadelphia Police Department canceled plans to use a youth gun education program created by the National Rifle Association in city recreation centers one day after announcing the plan, Billy Penn reports.
* Jerry Dickinson, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who in 2020 ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in the Democratic primary for the 18th Congressional District, will again run against Doyle in 2022, PoliticsPA reports.
* The Pennsylvania Republican primaries for the 2022 U.S. Senate and gubernatorial nominations are already Trump-centric affairs where candidates are being defined in relation to the former president, Politico reports.
* U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest China’s human rights policies, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
* U.S. Rep. Scott Perry plans to go to the House Freedom Fund’s fundraiser at The Mar-a-Lago Club on April 24, which former President Donald Trump is also set to attend, PoliticsPA reports.
* Marijuana legalization advocates will rally for legislative changes during a cannabis festival in Kutztown next week, the Morning Call reports.
* Some state and federal lawmakers are holding tight to their view that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court improperly interfered in the 2020 election, further escalating tensions between the legislative and judicial branches that’s existed for years, WESA reports.
* Pennsylvania vaccine providers are extending their pause on the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until at least April 24, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
* The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s board of governors voted to freeze tuition for the third straight year, PennLive reports.
* The Scranton Times-Tribune criticizes Republican-led lawsuits to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results as a betrayal of voters and waste of taxpayer money.
* The Tribune-Review writes that pandemic rent relief funding is a Band-Aid that won’t address underlying issues of widespread financial insecurity in Allegheny County.
* The Citizens’ Voice questions a proposal by state Rep. Jordan Harris to allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. and wrote that bar hours should remain an issue under local control.
* The Inquirer writes that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed $5.1 billion budget represents a return to normalcy after the coronavirus, but underlying economic problems are likely to cause future woes.
* The coronavirus pandemic has turned into a patchwork of regional hot spots, with some states hammered by a surge of infections and hospitalizations even as others have seen the crisis begin to ease, The Washington Post reports.
* The CEO of Pfizer said people will likely need a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within a year of getting fully vaccinated and may subsequently need annual shots to protect against the coronavirus, NBC News reports.
* The Biden administration announced new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached U.S. government agencies and the nation’s largest companies, The New York Times reports.
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9 a.m. – The Philadelphia City Council Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention holds a hearing on formulating a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy, Council chamber, City Hall, Philadelphia.
10:15 a.m. – Gov. Tom Wolf discusses the commonwealth’s vaccination progress, vaccine hesitancy and how to encourage citizens to get the shots, Penn State Health Vaccination Clinic, 30 E. Granada Ave., Hershey.
1 p.m. – State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding hosts a virtual conversation with Pennsylvania farmers who are sharing their reasons for getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and to address vaccine misconceptions. Streaming live on Facebook.
3 p.m. – Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and the Gun Violence Task Force discuss arrests following an investigation into violent gang activity in Southwest Philadelphia that led to a series of shootings, 1400 S. Etting St., Philadelphia.
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KICKER: “We have a history here in Pennsylvania: when we’re not happy with what the courts decide, we take it out on them through emotional actions, through legislative actions.” – Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Campaign Director Kadida Kenner, via WESA