In case you missed it: This week’s best reads from Pa. cities

    Rep. Lou Barletta

    Rep. Lou Barletta

    That mid-holidays lull is still a busy time in Pennsylvania.

    Dollars and sense

    Cities always have needs, from expanding passenger rail options to making streets more accessible for everyone. 

    Distressed cities don’t always have the cash for those needs, but there are tax credit programs to bridge the funding gap. Pennsylvania recently received $310 million in federal New Market Tax Credits for cities across the state. 

    Distressed cities could also spend less, which may be the best way to prepare for the next recession, say some financial resiliency experts. Pennsylvania is among the least financially prepared states in the country, according to a report from S&P. 

    The difference between distressed and wealthy areas can be seen starkly in Newsworks’ slideshow of facilities in two school districts that are15 miles — and, in many ways, a world — apart. 

    All politics are local

    Particularly in Pennsylvania, which played a big role in the recent election. And the influence continues.

    Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta, part of the Trump transition team, is being considered for Labor Secretary in the new administration. 

    Recently re-elected Senator Pat Toomey has proposed anti-sanctuary city legislation that coincides with Trump’s promise to eliminate sanctuary cities in the first 100 days of his presidency. 

    Two local businessmen have been inspired by national politics and are considering statewide runs. Former energy executive Paul Addis and waste management enterpreneur-turned-state senator Scott Wagner are both planning to enter the 2018 Republican primary for governor. 

    And as one of the closest swing states in the 2016 election, Pennsylvania has gotten caught up in the recount mania. Centre County officials have denied the recount request, but Philadelphia is doing a partial ballot recount. 

    The recount is looking at vote counts. But are elections “rigged” in a more fundamental way? The anwer to that lies in gerrymandering. A recent ruling on gerrymandered districts by a Wisconsin judge may have implications for Pennsylvania as well. 

    Helping those who need it most

    A Pennsylvania state senator has been fighting to have addiction recognized as a public health problem for decades. A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General agreed with that concept, calling addiction an illness that must be treated as such. 

    As the job market changes, the workforce needs to change with it. Some industries are requiring more and more schooling, but higher ed institutions are helping out with a “stackable credentials” model that lets you build on your previous experience. 

    The Philadelphia Police Accountability Project is hoping to help Philadelphia keep tabs on its police department. The whole state could use a police accountability booster — restrictive laws keep most Pennsylvania police videos from public view, according to an Associated Press analysis. According to the AP, state police argue sharing videos could increase costs, compromise investigations and expose people to public scrutiny against their wishes. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is weighing in, offering best practices for police departments to handle officer-involved shootings. 

    Time could be running out for thousands of coal miners who are in danger of losing pensions and health care. But legislation called the Miners Protection Act could save the day — if Congress would schedule a vote on it. 

    Postcript: Birds of a feather

    Drones and avian suicide go together like Pennsylvania and turkeys. Trust me on this one.

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