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WESA's Top Stories, June 1: Local Lumber Prices And Home Sales Skyrocketing; Pittsburgh Pride Events Are Back

Gene J. Puskar

Today's top stories on Pittsburgh, the state, and the world, from WESA, NPR, and public radio partners.

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1. Local businesses, consumers among those getting the short end of the stick during lumber shortage
Lumber prices have skyrocketed amid a national shortage. An-Li Herring reports the price of lumber started to climb soon after COVID hit, as sawmills shut ahead of an expected recession. But then demand for housing and home renovations surged, and suppliers couldn’t keep up.

2. State Senate bill would allow teens to bypass parental approval for COVID-19 vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people as young as 12 in May. But in Pennsylvania, kids under 18 must have parental consent for many health care services. Julia Zenkevich looks intonew legislation that would make exceptions.

Demonstrators march on the Andy Warhol Bridge.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Demonstrators march on the Andy Warhol Bridge.

3. Pittsburgh Pride events are back, and there's no shortage of ways to celebrate
LGBT Pride celebrations are set to return virtually and in-person this month. The group Trans YOUniting plans to hold a march from downtown to the North Shore this weekend, with a celebration to follow at Allegheny Commons Park. Later this month, People’s Pride by Sisters PGH returns for its fourth year with a virtual events lineup. Katie Blackley has the rundown.

4. The Pennsylvania Legislature has new power to overrule Wolf on COVID, but the two camps differ on details
After Pennsylvanians approved a constitutional amendment giving the state legislature broad authority to end or change a governor’s disaster declarations, lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill aimed at dismantling many of Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic mitigation efforts, WHYY's Katie Meyer reports.

5. Trump looms large in Pennsylvania's GOP primaries in 2022
With Pennsylvania's wide-open races for governor and U.S. Senate taking shape, Republican candidates with strong ties to Donald Trump are running and considered strong contenders for the party's nominations — a powerful sign of the former president's enduring popularity within the GOP, the Associated Press' Marc Levy reports.

A scene from "Back for Good" takes place on Mount Washington.
Courtesy of DragonWake Films
A scene from "Back for Good" takes place on Mount Washington.

6. Pittsburgh-native siblings' Indie film premieres online
An independent feature film made largely in Pittsburgh debuts this week. “Back for Good” is co-written and co-directed by brother and sister Bailey and Molly Donovan. Bill O'Driscoll reports the award-winning film, shot before the pandemic, is a comedic drama about a young woman who leaves New York to reunite with an old flame in Pittsburgh.

7. Why is it still so hard to see police bodycam footage in Pennsylvania?
Police body cameras are a rare tool that can help secure criminal convictions and hold police officers accountable. The recordings theoretically make it harder for police to lie about what happened, and, in turn, for citizens to lie about police. But WHYY's Ryan Briggs reports that for the general public, getting a glimpse of any body or dashcam footage is a rare feat, partly thanks to a Pennsylvania law that intentionally makes it hard to access.

8. Mark Zuckerberg helped some Pa. counties survive the 2020 election. Right-wing lawmakers say that was unfair.
More than 20 Pennsylvania counties turned to private philanthropy when it became apparent the Republican-led General Assembly wasn’t going to help them cover COVID-related expenses, Spotlight PA's Marie Albiges reports.

9. Students or horses? Education advocates want to repurpose Pa.'s generous horse-racing subsidy
Pennsylvania is a nationwide leader when it comes to state government subsidizing the horse racing industry. Keystone Crossroads' Emily Rizzo reports education advocates want the funds redirected to schools.

Special Programming: 9 a.m.

Intelligence Squared U.S:.”Should Society Legalize Psychedelics?”

Psychedelics, in medical terms, is an inexact category of drugs that affect perceptions and cognition. Their proponents say psychedelics should be made more widely available to treat a range of mental and emotional issues, as well as to ascertain a more profound sense of ourselves. Not so fast, say opponents. Society does not know enough about the broader consequences of greatly increasing access. Featuring Rick Doblin, Bia Labate, Jefferey Lieberman, Kevin Sabet, and host John Donvan.

Listen at 90.5 FM or online at

Corrected: June 1, 2021 at 9:26 AM EDT
Updated to include correct information today's special programming.