In case you missed it: The week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Jeff Kirkland is a local historian who recently founded the Historical African American Preservation Society in the city of York, Pennsylvania. Listen to his story on the latest episodes of Grapple. (Jessica Kourkounis/For Keystone Crossroads)

    Jeff Kirkland is a local historian who recently founded the Historical African American Preservation Society in the city of York, Pennsylvania. Listen to his story on the latest episodes of Grapple. (Jessica Kourkounis/For Keystone Crossroads)

    President Trump looks to slash student debt forgiveness program; Philadelphia drops to sixth largest city; new podcasts, and more.

    Lawmakers re-introduce “Clean Slate” bill

    Pennsylvania lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would make it simpler for residents to seal certain parts of their criminal records from the public — parts that may be keeping them from getting a job, an apartment, or other necessities of life.

     Known as the  “Clean Slate,” bill, it would allow state police and the courts to automatically seal all non-violent misdemeanor convictions, including ones for theft, drug possession, and drunken driving.

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    Philly cheer: “We’re, uh, No. 6!”

    Philadelphia is now the nation’s sixth-largest city, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Phoenix, Arizona beat out Philly to claim the No. 5 spot.

     But Matt Cabrey, executive director of Select Greater Philadelphia, isn’t running out to reprint marketing materials any time soon, because the population is still growing in the city and the entire region.

     In the five-county Philadelphia region alone, each saw its populations tick up, with the largest growth in Chester County, which went from 498,886 in 2010 to an estimated 516,312 in 2016 — a 3.5 percent increase.

    How to pay for state law enforcement

    State lawmakers have been considering changes on how to pay  for coverage by Pennsylvania State Police in communities without local law enforcement.

    Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, has introduced a bill outlining a detailed scale, but it’s not easy.

    The issue arises as the state is cutting funds from the state’s Motor License Fund to state police. The amount was capped at $800 million last year and is scheduled to drop 4 percent annually.

    Under Sturla’s proposal, communities that depend on the state police would split the difference each year.

    Trump looks to slash Bush’s student debt forgiveness program

    The Trump administration is hoping to slash a bill, signed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, that devoted billions in new aid for student loan borrowers and established a new initiative for public service workers: any federal student loan debt left over after 10 years of payments would be forgiven. 

    The 2007 law won praise from both parties and was embraced as a long-needed overhaul to how the government helps Americans finance opportunities for higher education.

    Former Democratic U.S. Rep. George Miller, the lead sponsor, deemed the bipartisan effort “the greatest investment to help students and parents pay for college since the G.I. Bill.”

    Trump’s proposed cut is part of a pitch to slash $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives. Officials, according to the documents, would steer some of the savings into increased funding for charter schools and bolstering private and religious school vouchers.

     Local investment will help city thrive

    Brookings Institution researchers described Philadelphia as a place standing on the brink of being a world-class city.  All it will take, they said, is a little leap of faith among the region’s deep-pocket investors and the city will take off with equitable growth.

    Brookings was hired by a consortium of the region’s biggest businesses and institutions to study how Philadelphia could turn University City and west Center City into, according to its report, an “innovation district  — where research-oriented tech and creative startups are embedded within a growing, amenity-rich residential and commercial environment.”

     “Cosby Unraveled”: Check out the new podcast

    Comedian. Beloved television star. “America’s Dad.” Accused sexual predator. In June, Bill Cosby faces a jury that will determine whether he’s guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting one of more than 60 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. The podcast explores Cosby’s beginnings in the projects of North Philadelphia, the heights of his influence, and the causes of his downfall.

    In Episode 1, we take a look at Cosby’s North Philadelphia roots and his rise to fame.

     Subscribe to the podcast

    New on Grapple:  Grappling with race relations

    Pennsylvania’s York County, which borders the Mason-Dixon line, has experienced a long history of problems around race relations. In Grapple’s two-part series, reported by Emily Previti, you’ll hear how one school in the city of York is trying to deal with racial tension; what the area went through during the tumultuous 1960s; and how a hip-hop artist and a local mayor are trying to raise awareness around the issue.




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