Here's what's trending for March 17.


After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a series of challenges to a newly approved set of legislative maps, candidates who want to run for state Senate and House offices can start to circulate nominating petitions starting Friday. The court ruled that the new maps are not contrary to law, as had been cited by Republicans who opposed them, who said the districts were unfairly drawn. The ruling means there are four instances where a Republican incumbent will be facing another Republican incumbent in the May primary, including Gary Day vs Ryan Mackenzie in the redrawn 187th district. There is only one case of Democrat incumbents facing off. Would-be candidates have 11 days to circulate petitions, half of what was available in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit on behalf of Lehigh County voters. The suit had been filed by the ACLU after 257 mail-in ballots for the November election weren't counted because they didn't have a date on the return envelopes. It's unknown whether the voters who pushed the lawsuit will appeal. The results of a tight race between Republican David Ritter and Democrat Zachary Cohen are pending the ultimate decision on the 257 contested votes. Ritter leads Cohen by 74 votes for the third and final spot on Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas.

Pennsylvania St. Sen. Mario Scavello is stepping down from his position after serving in politics for almost 25 years. Scavello announced his decision to retire yesterday as he stated his health and desire to spend more time with his family as reasons why. He is endorsing fellow Republican Rep. Rosemary Brown to serve in his place for the 40th District which includes Monroe County. Brown recently announced that she wouldn't be seeking re-election to the House.

The opening of South Bethlehem’s Riverport Market has been pushed back to at least this fall due to supply chain issues and construction cost spikes. The market hoped to open at the old Starters Riverport this spring, but the pandemic has pushed back those plans. More than 20 retailers, food and beverage vendors are planned for the property, which has been vacant since Starters Riverport closed in February 2013.

The City of Allentown will raise the transgender flag over the plaza outside City Hall. The flag-raising will be on March 31, which is the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

There's plenty of reaction to a speech delivered by Ukraine's president Wednesday morning. Sen. Pat Toomey says, “President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resolve has shown the world that Ukraine will do everything they can to stand up to Putin. America can lead the rest of the world in answering Zelensky’s call by imposing secondary sanctions on the entirety of Russia’s financial sector." Sen. Bob Casey says, "I just watched Zelensky's address to Congress. He spoke clearly and eloquently about Putin's brutality and outlined the support he needs from the world. The United States stands by the Ukrainian people and we will work with our allies to support their needs."

As Russia continues to target Ukrainian cities, hospitals, and residential areas, Ukraine's president continues to ask for a no-fly zone, which the U.S. has not agreed to because it would mean potentially shooting down Russian fighter jets. Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan says Congress hopes it can meet other needs of the Ukrainian army. "I know that we are also looking into a variety of different acts and I am hopeful that we will continue to be as creative in our solutions and what we are able to deliver to them as possible," Houlahan says. Houlahan represents almost all of Chester County and part of Berks County.

Two state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill to ban smoking in casinos and private clubs in Pennsylvania. Representative Dan Frankel and Sen. Jay Costa announced the legislation yesterday. State casinos were forced to go smoke free for about a year during the pandemic, but Costa says most have gone back to allowing smoking.

Penn State says Sandy Barbour, the university's vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics, is retiring this summer. Barbour came to Penn State in 2014 to serve as the school's ninth athletic director and was appointed to her current position in 2019. Penn State plans to conduct a national search for Barbour’s replacement.

Cannabis industry leaders gather in New Jersey to tout the economic advantages marijuana will have on the state. Experts believe cannabis will be a $2 billion industry for the state within five years. Cannabusiness Association President Edmund Deveaux expects the first retail shops to open by the fall. The conference on Wednesday focused on the economics, as well as security and AI application for the industry.

Atlantic City's in-person casino revenue is up 43-percent. Figures released Wednesday by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement show the nine casinos won over $212 million dollars from in-person gamblers in February. That's only about three-percent less than their winnings in February 2020, prior to the pandemic.

The Phillies have signed outfielder Kyle Schwarber to a free agent deal. Right fielder and National League MVP Bryce Harper loves the move. "It's huge for us. It gives us another bat in the lineup. He's a proven winner. Everywhere he's gone he's done a really good job and this gives us the opportunity to get that much better," Harper says. Schwarber's deal is reportedly for four years and is worth $79 million.

Tonight, Flyers captain Claude Giroux becomes just the second player in Flyers history to play 1000 games with the franchise. "It's been a fun ride. It's been a lot of good memories. I've been lucky enough to have great teammates and great coaches. It feels like it went pretty fast," Giroux says. Bobby Clarke is the only other Flyer to play 1000 games in the orange and black.


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