Pa. panel plans to look into issues of poverty

    A GOP state lawmaker says the next big focus of one House panel will be how poverty affects people across Pennsylvania and what can be done to improve the situation.

    Rep. Dave Reed of Indiana County, who chairs the House Majority Policy Committee, said Monday he hopes his initiative is eye-opening to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

    “Folks from the Republican perspective traditionally sometimes do not like to admit that poverty exists and I think from the Democratic perspective folks are afraid to question whether we’re spending money appropriately to combat poverty in Pennsylvania,” he said.

    “It gives us an opportunity to educate them on the additional barriers, or additional circumstances, that sometimes they might not always be aware of,” said Joe Ostrander, a spokesman for the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania, which is partnering with a House GOP panel on the project. “As we all know, every issue is more complicated than it seems to be on the surface.”

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    The announcement came the same day the House approved one last budget-related bill.

    The unusual voting session was required after the Senate stripped out a provision that suggested Republican leaders in both chambers favored legalization of payday loans.

    The nonbinding language raised objections from GOP senators.

    Proponents say legalizing the high-interest loans could help regulate a practice that is already available in the commonwealth by phone and online.

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