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

     Young adult artists in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh paint a mural on the side of a building as part of a community wide 10 mural project organized by Moving the Lives through its Community Mural Project Wednesday, July 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    Young adult artists in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh paint a mural on the side of a building as part of a community wide 10 mural project organized by Moving the Lives through its Community Mural Project Wednesday, July 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    Gotta catch ’em all. Headlines, that is.

    Pennsylvania passed a budget

    No, this isn’t a joke. Less than two weeks after the deadline, the commonwealth has a budget for the upcoming year. But avoiding another months-long impasse took some creativity. 

    On Monday, Governor Wolf allowed the budget to lapse into law without his signature. But the legislature had not yet agreed upon a revenue plan to pay for $31.5 billion worth of government. Some said it was unconstitutional to have a budget without a revenue plan; others said it endangered the state’s credit rating. 

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    Thankfully, a revenue plan passed just a few days later. 

    Education was a hot-button issue that divided Democrats and Republicans. Reaching a budget and revenue deal required compromise, with Democrats taking progress where they could get it. The Reading Eagle took a look at all the winners and losers in the 2016-2017 budget. 

    Though, arguably, we’re all winners, since we won’t have to have nine months worth of budget-themed ICYMI’s!

    Guns, police, and race

    Has anyone tried restarting 2016 to see if that fixes the problem? Because this year has been pretty challenging all around. Just look at the last few weeks, from the club shooting in Orlando to the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas. Geographically distant though these places may be — the issues hit home in Pennsylvania cities. 

    Three weeks ago, while the national gun debate raged, local gun control advocates were marking a victory. The state Supreme Court struck down a law making it easier for municipalities to be sued for enacting gun control ordinances. The law, when it was in effect, led more than 100 municipalities to alter their gun control laws. 

    But that victory may be temporary. The legislature almost immediately proposed a nearly-identical law that addressed the judicial issues that concerned the Supreme Court. 

    Some cities, like Allentown, are reinstating their laws, even if it is temporary. Others, like Erie, say it’s not worth the hassle. 

    Last week’s shootings, both of and by police officers, have shifted the conversation. Speaking to NPR’s Morning Edition, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay urged a calm and reasoned response from both sides of the issue. He marched in a Black Lives Matter protest in Pittsburgh, which matches his, to quote Pittsburgh Magazine, “communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image.” 

    But how is his department doing? Pennsylvania cities are working to make their police forces more reflective of the communities they serve, Pittsburgh among them. Lancaster’s mayor said the city is pushing to eliminate racial bias amongst police officers. 

    Democracy at work

    How involved do you want to be in your local government? A Pittsburgh group wants to empower residents by giving them access to the city’s open data — and teaching them how to use it. They hope to encourage transparency, accountability and civic engagement. 

    One community in Cambria County got a lesson in those subjects on Wednesday night. Gallitzin, a borough of 1,600, had to move their council meeting into a larger room to accommodate the crowd as they discussed their controversial felon-tenant ban.

    The borough tried to prevent anyone with a drug felony on their record from renting in town. A judge struck down the ordinance last month. At the crowded borough council meeting on Wednesday, borough leaders decided not to pursue an appeal, keeping the law off the books and anyone previously convicted of a drug felony in their homes. 

    Over the next two weeks, the two major political parties will meet to officially name a candidate for president. The Democratic National Convention will be right here in sunny southeastern Pennsylvania, in the great city of Philadelphia. The Republican National Convention will be in some place west of us. (Just kidding! Rust Belt cities unite, Cleveland!) 

    If you want to be a part of the election year magic, head east or west, and you’re bound to hit one convention. If you want to avoid it like the plague, you’re safest in central Pennsylvania. We’ve got cornfields!  

    Pokemon Go outside

    Pokemon Go has taken over the world. Or, at least, a portion of the world.

    If you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go, you’ll have to make do with this explainer from NPR, because, as a non-player, I can’t explain it. As far as I can tell, it’s a smartphone app that takes you to real world locations — which, sometimes, aren’t such a fan of players being there. According to Fast Company, it’s making people fall in love with their cities again. 

    If you are a player, Keystone Crossroads has all the info — broken down by city — that you could need to catch those Pikachus.






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