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Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

It’s not a lizard and it’s not a newt, but a salamander is at the heart of House Bill 2328 introduced by Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana County.

More specifically Reed’s bill aims to name a salamander originally found in his county as the official amphibian of Pennsylvania.

Reed’s bill would give that designation to the Wehrle salamander.

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The Wehrel salamander was discovered by R.W. Wehrle, a naturalist and businessman, in the Two Licks area of Indiana County in 1911, according to a co-sponsorship letter Reed wrote in support of the bill.

The salamander was named after Wehrle in 1917, Reed wrote.

“At the suggestion of an outdoorsman in my district, I am introducing this legislation to serve as a tribute to Wehrle’s continuing impact to the naturalist and scientific community,” Reed wrote.

The Wehrle salamander, officially named Plethodon wehrlei, is a “bluish-black salamander with large, scattered white spots on its back,” according to Reed’s bill.

If is found “on forested hillsides and in cave entrances throughout Appalachia,” according to the bill.

Reed’s bill sets the stage for a cold-blooded showdown in the Legislature as Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Bradford County, has introduced a bill that would name the Eastern Hellbender as the official amphibian of Pennsylvania.

Yaw’s bill has already cleared the state Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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