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Another $350 million for Pa. small businesses?


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
September 11, 2020
Another proposal to help small businesses, the 19th anniversary of Sept. 11, and a guide to help you vote. You made it to Friday. 
Gov. Tom Wolf is calling on the legislature to use $325 million in federal CARES Act funding to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. Under Wolf's plan, a chunk of that money — $100 million — would be earmarked for businesses that are still facing COVID-19 restrictions, including restaurants, bars, and salons.

"We've seen which industries and which businesses have been hardest hit by this pandemic," the governor said at a press event in York. "We know now more than we did before, back when this started, and we have a better sense of where the needs lie."

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania has already tried to help struggling small businesses, in some cases unsuccessfully. A $61 million loan program launched at the beginning of the pandemic largely failed to reach businesses in the hardest-hit counties. Minority-owned businesses were also largely shut out. The state is now trying to rectify some of those issues through a $200 million grant program that targets the smallest and most vulnerable businesses.

At the moment, Pennsylvania is still sitting on $1 billion in CARES Act funding it could use to fund Wolf's plan. But there are a few things to keep in mind.

One, lawmakers are waiting to see if Washington will let the state use some of that money to fill significant budget holes this fall. Two, it's unclear if Congress will send more relief to states in the near future. At the moment, the prospect looks pretty bad, as Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week once again failed to reach a compromise. And three, there are a lot of competing interests for that remaining $1 billion. Just this week, the state Senate advanced legislation from Sen. Tom Killion (R., Delaware) that would provide $150 million in utility assistance to customers unable to pay their bills

"I see people who look like me being lynched, shot, and killed by people who despise people who look like me. I see myself shot in the back seven times." —Matthew Nolder, a Black father of two, responds to racist graffiti on a rural road in Central Pennsylvania. Nolder took matters into his own hands and covered up the hateful messages himself, the York Daily Record reports.
POST IT: Kathleen E. shares a photo of a mystical trail in Quittie Creek Nature Park in Annville. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
PANICKED PROVIDERS: Eight years ago, the state slashed $84 million targeted at mental health, disability, and housing programs, leading many services to be eliminated. Now, advocates fear they could be on the chopping block again, Spotlight PA reports.

19 YEARS: Today is the anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. To mark the occasion, both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, according to the Associated Press. You can watch the remembrance ceremony starting at 9:45 a.m. here

THE END: After just six weeks, the federal government has ended a program that provided $300 supplemental checks to people receiving unemployment, WPXI reports. Pennsylvanians are still waiting for the first payments to arrive.

THEY DO: Lawmakers are advancing a bill that would create a civil celebrant certification in Pennsylvania, allowing people who aren't religious leaders to preside over marriages. As PennLive reports, the bill moved through a Senate committee unanimously

LOUD AND CLEAR: A bill that would require legislative approval to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is headed to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has vowed a veto, according to StateImpact. The Senate vote was preceded by a tense shouting match after Republicans shut down debate, the Capital-Star reports.
MAILBAG: In yesterday's PA Post, I highlighted a story from LNP on how the state won't release COVID-19 case numbers for individual school districts. In response, Brad. B emailed to raise a number of logistical challenges the state is likely facing — including that there are a whopping 500 districts statewide. We always want to hear from you. Send us a note, or ask a question about Pennsylvania issues and we'll answer it here.

HOW TO: I don't mean to alarm anyone, but there are only 52 days until the Nov. 3 election. If you still need help creating a voting plan, the Washington Post has put together a great guide that highlights important deadlines and links

TAKE 5: My partner has taken to doing online puzzles before bed to relax (yes, we're very cool). This site takes photos of famous spots in Pennsylvania and turns them into puzzles just dull enough to lull you into a deep sleep.  

WALKING THE WALK: Eight women from the D.C. area are walking 116 miles from Maryland to Kennett Square in Chester County, Pennsylvania, retracing the path Harriet Tubman and others walked to escape slavery. "I’m just walking to freedom," one of the women said. "Harriet would want us to."

ACROSS THE COUNTRY: California is grappling with the largest fire in the state's history as Oregon and other western states likewise battle an unprecedented blaze. These stunning satellite images from Zoom Earth show just how serious the situation is on the West Coast. 
Unscramble and send your answer to newsletters@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Committee 

Congrats to our daily winners: John C., Kenneth A., Cory N., Patricia R., Thomas B., Dan M., Lynne E., Carol D., Sandy S., Carol S., John P., Theresa M., Elijah R., Joel S., Jill A.S., Theodore W., Chris W., Brandie K., Karen W., Daniel G., Sheila L., Richard W., and Michael H.
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