Happy weekend, all.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced earlier this week that $2.5 million in federal funding is available to community organizations for efforts to educate and connect underserved Pennsylvanians with the commonwealth’s unemployment compensation system.
… “Not everyone in their time of need is aware of our services or able to access them,” Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said in a statement.
In June, Pennsylvania was one of seven states to be awarded funding through a federal competitive grant program to “support efforts by partner organizations to reduce disparities in unemployment benefits and services.”
The funding stems from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Unemployment Insurance Navigator grants.
“With this federal grant, L&I and its community partners will work to eliminate barriers faced by historically marginalized communities and ensure all eligible workers, regardless of background, receive the support they need to overcome economic hardship. These federal dollars will bolster the Wolf administration’s commitment to developing true equity in access to Pennsylvania’s UC system,” Berrier said.
The department said that the UC Navigator Grant is designed to improve UC access, especially for immigrants and refugees in Pennsylvania’s biggest urban centers – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, individuals in low-income communities with limited access or familiarity with technology, and individuals with disabilities.
The department said that funds awarded to community organizations may be used for outreach and education efforts, such as classes, workshops, seminars, educational equipment, staffing, training, and vendor costs for translation, printing, and mailing services.
The deadline for organizations to apply for the UC Navigator Grant funding is August 22, 2022, at 4 p.m.
As always, the top five stories from this week are below.
1. New Pa. budget includes $140M boost to state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program
Inflation is causing price hikes all around Pennsylvania, but the new state budget is looking to ease one cost for the elderly and people living with disabilities.
The $45.2 billion state budget that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week, providing a $140 million increase to the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, an action that will expand payments by 70 percent for one year.
Pennsylvanians living with a disability, widows who are aged 50 and older and general residents 65 or older can qualify. The program has income limits, excluding half of Social Security income, for homeowners with an annual income under $35,000 or renters that earn under $15,000 annually.
2. While GOP lawmaker amplifies call for election reform, state officials push back on misinformation
With hotly contested and closely watched elections for U.S. Senate and governor about three months away, Pennsylvania officials are pushing back on misinformation about voting provisions they say is harmful to public confidence in the process.
At the same time, a growing gyre of litigation has created uncertainty about the future of the most significant addition to ballot access in Pennsylvania in decades.
Three separate lawsuits in the U.S. Supreme Court, Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Commonwealth Court challenge the validity of the 2019 law that allowed Pennsylvania voters to cast ballots by mail without an excuse. The state Supreme Court is poised to issue a decision on the law’s constitutionality.
3. Pa. Rep. Dean: Trump should be criminally charged for role in the Capitol insurrection
A Pennsylvania lawmaker who participated in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial says the Republican should be “held responsible by the rule of law,” for inciting a crowd of his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results.
Trump “assembled the mob, lit the fuse, and sent them up Pennsylvania Avenue,” and did nothing to stop them for more than three hours as rioters battled with U.S. Capitol and Washington D.C. police and rampaged through the Capitol sending members of Congress, their staff, and former Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for their lives, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean said Monday.
4.The 5 Pa. Senate races to watch in 2022 | Analysis
The nation’s eyes are on the commonwealth’s high-profile, high-stakes races for the U.S. Senate, House and governor – but majority rule in Washington, D.C. and the executive mansion aren’t the only things up for grabs in this year’s general election.
Republicans have held the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly since 2011. Prior to that, Democrats held a slim majority in the House from 2007 through 2010. As both parties jockey for power in Harrisburg, several races could have a major impact on the makeup of the legislature – and its relationship with a new governor.
5. Mastriano courting voters on Gab pushes the GOP further right, experts say
Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano’s use of the far-right social media platform Gab.com to engage potential voters is a step toward extremism that more moderate members of the Republican Party have a responsibility to repudiate, experts on politics and the internet say.
Mastriano paid $5,000 for campaign consulting to Gab.com, according to his campaign finance reports filed in May. Gab was the site where a gunman posted anti-Semitic screeds before the October 2018 shooting when he allegedly killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.