First Read

First Read PA – Oct. 4, 2023

House moves ahead with primary day change … Lawsuit over solitary confinement conditions… Second Allegheny County executive debate… and more

WEATHER: Philadelphia: sunny, high of 85; Harrisburg: dense fog until 10 a.m., then sunny, high of 83; Pittsburgh: sunny, high of 83.


* State lawmakers yesterday moved ahead with tentative plans to change the date of the state’s 2024 presidential primary election. The House State Government Committee voted 13-12 to advance legislation that would move next year’s primary election date from April 23 to April 2. 


* Solitary confinement conditions in a Pennsylvania state prison are unconstitutional, worsening and creating mental illness in those held there, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday on behalf of five inmates who say they have spent long periods in “torturous conditions,” The Associated Press reports. 

* Democrat Sara Innamorato and Republican Joe Rockey met last night for a second televised debate in their race for Allegheny County executive. The hour-long forum on WTAE-TV revisited key topics they argued over a week before, but the extended discussion allowed some policy differences to emerge more clearly, WESA reports. 

* A political group almost entirely funded by Pennsylvania's richest resident has contributed one out of every three dollars raised this year by candidates running in critical statewide judicial races, Spotlight PA reports. 

* Approximately $1.1 billion from the state budget still needs approval, and was left hanging when lawmakers left Harrisburg for their summer break amid a breakdown in budget negotiations. So was hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for four state-related universities that allows those schools to offer in-state tuition discounts, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

* State lawmakers are once again considering expanding the state’s voter ID requirements, this time as part of a larger proposal to change the date of the 2024 presidential primary, Spotlight PA reports. 

* The Republican preoccupation with John Fetterman gives Dave McCormick an opportunity to motivate his base against someone who isn’t running, but who evokes intense emotions, the Inquirer reports. 

* Sean Kilkenny wasn’t expecting to be involved in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race last year. But the Montgomery County sheriff, who helped build the Democratic Party in the suburbs, has carved out a niche as a go-to lawyer for local governments, the Inquirer reports. 

* On energy issues, Gov. Josh Shapiro has tried to balance support for the traditional energy sector while holding big polluters accountable and taking care of the environment. But climate activists gathered at the state capitol Monday to urge the governor and lawmakers to do more, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports. 

* Yesterday, Waterkeeper and PennEnvironment announced they were filing a 60-day notice of intent to sue Styropek for water quality violations in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Front reports. 

* Janelle Stelson, 63, who resigned as weeknight anchor at WGAL News 8 two weeks ago, told PennLive yesterday she is entering the crowded Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, seeking the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, PennLive reports. 


* The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that Shapiro missed an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how he feels an organization should respond to claims of sexual harassment, assault or other mistreatment.

* The Inquirer has commentary from Jeanmarie Perrone, a professor of emergency medicine and director at the Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who writes that rather than stigmatizing people living with addiction, the most important thing we can do is encourage and support people in their journey to recovery.


* The House of Representatives is in a state of paralysis today, ground to a halt by the ouster of Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy and with no clear sense of who might succeed him – or when, The New York Times reports.

* The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial issued a gag order yesterday barring Trump from making comments about court staff after the former president posted a social media attack on the judge’s principal law clerk that included her photo, Politico reports.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Lt. Gov. Austin Davis … and to Jamar Johnson-Thompson, vice president of people technology at Avalara, Inc. … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email their name, job title and upcoming birthday to

MOVING ON:  Elizabeth Hersh has stepped down as executive director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services … and current OHS Chief of Staff David Holloman will step into the role of interim executive director … Have a career change or life event to announce? Email us:


9 a.m. – The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee holds a public hearing on skill games, Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg. Watch here.

9 a.m. – The House Aging & Older Adult Services and the Human Services Committees hold a joint informational meeting on personal care homes and assisted living facilities, Room 515, Irvis Office Building. Watch here. 

9 a.m. – The House Health Subcommittee on Health Facilities holds an informational meeting on hospital consolidation and closure, Room G50, Irvis Office. Watch here.

10 a.m. – The Senate Labor & Industry Committee meets, Room 8E-A, East Wing. Watch here.

10 a.m. – The House Children & Youth Committee meets, Room 523, Irvis Office. Watch here.

10 a.m. – The House Finance Committee meets, Room B31, Main Capitol. Watch here.

10 a.m. – The House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Facilities meets, Room 60, East Wing. Watch here.

10:30 a.m. – The Senate Local Government Committee meets, Room 8E-B, East Wing. Watch here.   

Off the Floor – The Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee meets, Rules Committee Conference Room.    

Call of Chair – The House Appropriations Committee meets, Room 140, Main Capitol. Watch here.

Call of Chair – The House Judiciary Committee meets, Room 523, Irvis Office. 

To have your events included in Today’s sked, please email the information to


“I had brothers in there swallowing batteries, razors, tying nooses. We organized this lawsuit because we felt it was a time to make change, we felt like if we didn’t do something positive or take a stand the DOC were going to keep doing this.” – Angel Maldonado, a plaintiff in the solitary confinement suit, via the AP

NEXT STORY: First Read PA – Oct. 3, 2023