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Disability care system could 'collapse' due to low pay

Plus, search to see your old and new legislative districts.

A weekly newsletter by Spotlight PA

December 23, 2021 | spotlightpa.org

Staffing crisis, redistricting update, 100 a day, staying safe, your districts, fresh front, thrown out, officers disciplined, panel probe, and strike end.
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Dear reader, 

We're so close: Two generous local donors and Spotlight PA members, Jim Friedlich and Melissa Stern, have pledged $10,000 to encourage you to join them and make a gift to Spotlight PA before Dec. 31.

If you donate now, they will match your gift, dollar-for-dollar.

We have just $9,000 until we hit our goal.

As a reader, you know how important Spotlight PA’s coverage is to upholding democracy in our state. I hope those of you who are still on the fence will make a donation today to ensure this work continues.

Spotlight PA is in the final stretch of its most important membership drive of the year, and every dollar counts. Please give now.

Onwards together,

—Christopher Baxter, Editor in Chief
Pennsylvania is facing a dire shortage of direct support professionals who help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities perform many fundamental tasks.

The lack of workers has left thousands of people without essential services and their families without desperately needed help, Spotlight PA's Colin Deppen and Juliette Rihl for PublicSource report.

Many providers and families blame the staffing crisis on skimpy government funding. The state’s reimbursement rates for support services, they said, are too low to pay a living wage to professional caregivers, making hiring and retaining workers nearly impossible.

In some cases, families waited years to receive funding from the state for those services only to find there is no one to provide them.

Also this week, Spotlight PA's Kate Huangpu has more on Pennsylvania's redistricting process, including an analysis of how the proposed Pennsylvania state House map scores in every key area.

We've also launched a new tool that allows you to look up and compare your current and newly proposed state House and Senate districts. Keep scrolling to learn more. 
"We used to call this a crisis. Now we’re beginning to see the whole system just crumble and start to collapse."

—Nancy Murray, senior vice president of Achieva, a disability services provider in Southwestern Pennsylvania, on her industry's staffing crisis
Two generous local donors just extended our challenge. Jim Friedlich and Melissa Stern believe so strongly in Spotlight PA's mission, they've just pledged an additional $10,000 in matching dollars. That means they will match every dollar you give before Dec. 31. Contribute now.
» MAPPING POWER: Join us Thursday, Jan. 6 at noon EST for a free panel on the proposed state House and Senate maps, how they could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
» Federal regulators have authorized Pfizer's easy-to-take pill to treat COVID-19. Doctors are expected to quickly use the initial supply.

» One state lawmaker is offering "vaccine exemption assistance" as local doctors beg people to get the shot.

» A CDC panel is calling Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the "preferred option" over Johnson & Johnson.

» About 100 people are dying a day in Pennsylvania from COVID-19, as ICU beds fill up across the state

» Few nursing home residents are being hospitalized for COVID-19, and UPMC is attributing the victory to the vaccine

» Keep up with our coronavirus tracker, or find where to get a vaccine.
» See how the proposed Pennsylvania state House map scores in every key area

» Pa. redistricting maps: Search now to see your old and new legislative districts

» Low pay is causing a staffing crisis for disability care. Advocates say Pa.’s plan to raise wages isn’t enough.

» Everything you need to know to stay COVID-safe during a second pandemic winter

Introducing Spotlight PA's redistricting tool

Redistricting is not just a technical map-making exercise or a political free-for-all. It's a monumental power shift that impacts each and every Pennsylvanian.

That's why Spotlight PA has launched a new tool that allows you to look up and compare your current and newly proposed state House and Senate districts as part of our year-long redistricting project.

By entering your address (no, we won't keep that info), you can see the racial and voter registration makeup of the districts you live in now versus what they would look like under the proposed boundary changes.

The maps were drafted and recently given initial approval by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, a five-person panel made up of the four top legislative leaders from both major parties and a nonpartisan chair selected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

As Spotlight PA previously reported, the maps could dramatically alter the balance of political power in Harrisburg for the decade to come — with the advantage swinging to the Democrats.

It's important to note these maps are not final. They are currently under a 30-day public comment period and could be subject to legal challenges after the final vote in January. If you want to weigh in, you can do so here

Have thoughts about Spotlight PA's new tool? Ideas about what info we should add? Get in touch. Sarah Anne Hughes, Spotlight PA
FRESH FRONT: A lawyer for deep-red Fulton County indicates Pennsylvania Senate Republicans are expanding their contested 2020 election probe to also focus on voting machines. The lawyer, Tom King, told the AP that the Iowa-based firm conducting the probe wants access to Fulton County's Dominion-made equipment, a focus of fervid 2020 conspiracy theories. The state's election chief is suing to stop them.

'SEPARATE WAYS': Two years after being appointed by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Brandon Flood is stepping down as secretary of Pennsylvania's board of pardons, citing "philosophical differences" with Fetterman and Flood's own plan to run for LG as a newly minted Republican, PennLive reports. Flood, who was himself pardoned in 2019, says he and Fetterman "agreed to go our separate ways."   

THROWN OUT: An amendment that would enshrine rights for crime victims in the state constitution cannot go into effect, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week. As the Capital-Star explains, the court found the single question presented to voters contained too many changes that should have been considered separately.

17 MINUTES: A Black man in Pittsburgh pleaded for help at least 13 times over 17 minutes after police stunned him with a Taser. No one came to Jim Rogers' aid, and he died the next day at a hospital. According to TribLIVE, eight officers will face discipline after a review identified "compounding performance failures."

PANEL PROBE: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) has rejected an interview request from the House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, calling the panel illegitimate, per NPR. Lawmakers want to know about Perry's communications with Trump officials before Jan. 6.

» AP: Warnings issued over redistricting delays affecting primary 

» LNP: Anti-government group holds 'recruitment' meeting in Lancaster

» MORNING CALL: Pa. lawmakers give up on banning big fireworks

» POST-GAZETTE: What’s behind the increases in your utility bills?  

» REUTERS: Kellogg strike ends including in Pennsylvania
Send your answers to riddler@spotlightpa.org. Love the riddler? Chip in and become a member of Spotlight PA so we can keep the good times rolling.

HALF MEASURE (Case No. 126): What is half of 8 but not the number 4? 

Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.

Last week's answer: East. (Find last week's clue here.)

Congrats to Robert K., who will receive Spotlight PA swag. Others who answered correctly: Philip C., Ed N., Kenneth J., Jon N., Michael H., Hagan H., George S., James D., William D., Michelle T., Irene T., Joe S., John H., Annette I., Joel S., Roseanne D., Marcia R., Connie K., Norman S., Lindsey S., Dennis F., Lou R., Fred O., Jyo S., Johnny C., Bruce B., Mary B., Daniel D., Ken S., Elizabeth W., and Dennis P.
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