First Read

First Read – Jan. 29, 2024

Shapiro’s plan for higher ed … Debates heat up in the 12th Congressional District … A year after the East Palestine train derailment … and more

WEATHER: Philadelphia: mostly cloudy, high of 43; Harrisburg: mostly cloudy, high of 42; Pittsburgh: slight chance of rain and snow, high of 39. 


* There’s a lot to unpack in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s three-part education blueprint unveiled last week, with even more details to be outlined in his Feb. 6 budget address. 

* From our partners at At last week’s Philadelphia City Council session, Councilmember Rue Landau introduced a resolution that would task the committee with using data to solve the city’s gun violence crisis.


* Gov. Josh Shapiro plans next month to propose an overhaul of the higher education system that is among the worst in the nation in affordability, his administration said Friday, The Associated Press reports. 

* The three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District came out swinging during a forum at Carnegie Mellon University yesterday, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports.

* Shapiro plans to propose $282.8 million in new state funding for public transit, a development that comes as a cash-strapped SEPTA prepares for deep service cuts and a fare increase, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

* Shapiro’s administration approved a new cyber charter school in the state for the first time in eight years, breaking from Democrats’ long-held disapproval of the low-performing virtual schools, the Inquirer reports. 

* A state law that makes it a crime to release information about teacher disciplinary complaints is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge has ruled, WESA reports.

* After a 15-month legal battle, Spotlight PA won access to data showing the reasons why hundreds of thousands of patients qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program, Spotlight PA reports.

* With the first anniversary of the East Palestine train derailment looming, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made another push for Congress to pass the proposed Railway Safety Act, Pittsburgh Union Progress reports.

* U.S. Rep. Susan Wild told colleagues that her Carbon County constituents “drank the Trump Kool-Aid” and that she was “dismayed” when redistricting added them to her district last year, Delaware Valley journal reports.

* The Lehigh County controller’s calls for widespread reform in the child welfare system have been met with reticence from county leaders, criticism from advocates and disagreements among officials, The Morning Call reports.

* Gannon University has agreed to pay $1.1 million in a proposed settlement to end a federal class-action lawsuit related to the pandemic, GoErie reports.


* LancasterOnline writes that after an investigation turned up no information about why 268 mail-in ballots took weeks to arrive at the elections office, voters should take care to post their ballots by the specified date. 

* Triblive writes that Shapiro’s proposed overhaul to the way postsecondary education works addresses the issue by reassembling the state system schools and community colleges into one entity. A great idea, but how?


* President Joe Biden blamed groups supported by Iran for a militant drone attack that killed three U.S. service members and injured at least 34 in Jordan yesterday, The Washington Post reports.

* House Republicans yesterday released two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as they vowed to swiftly push forward with efforts to oust him, The Associated Press reports.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Caleb Wright, chief strategist, Versant Strategies LLC … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email their name, job title and upcoming birthday to


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KICKER: “The people of Carbon County are exactly the kind of people who should not be voting for a Donald Trump, but I guess I might have to school them on that a little bit.” – U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, via Delaware Valley Journal.

NEXT STORY: First Read – Jan. 26, 2024