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Left out of Pa.'s $125M Whole-Home Repairs Program

Plus, court upholds Pa.'s mail-voting law again.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Fixer-uppers, mail-voting decision, fringe theory, ballot rejections, child welfare, official exits, and wildfire smoke returns. Thanks for stopping by.

Pennsylvania's new $125 million grant program for home repairs is getting underway with three rural counties on the sidelines. 

The Whole-Home Repairs Program, funded with federal pandemic aid, offers grants and forgivable loans of up to $50,000 for homeowners and small landlords to fix problems like leaky roofs or exposed wiring.

But homeowners in three rural counties won’t be able to receive any of the money because their local officials did not opt in. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Demand is set to swamp Pa.'s Whole-Home Repairs Program as some rural counties are left out.

THE CONTEXT: Sixty four of Pennsylvania's 67 counties are participating, and demand is expected to overwhelm the program quickly as supporters call for the program and its one-time funding to be made permanent.

As for the three counties left out — Adams, Perry, and Sullivan — officials said they didn't apply due to a mixture of not knowing the funding was available and concerns over being able to handle another grant program.

Sullivan County alone stood to receive an estimated $200,000.


"We're actually pretty close to a final product."

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) on state budget talks that continue ahead of Friday's deadline; Ward expects private school vouchers to be included in any budget deal, per @StephenJ_Caruso
» Schooling debates grow as budget deadline looms, via Capital-Star

» Schmidt closer to becoming top Pa. election official, via Votebeat

» House panel backs cyber charter reform bill, via @JanMurphy

» Reps. Kenyatta, Solomon float good-gov't reforms, via @AngelasInk

» Rep. Vitali says Dem leadership scuttled his bills, via @KateHuangpu13
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As seen in Grove City by @lora_explores. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A roadside sculpture of a large wristwatch and oversized flatware.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ACT 77 UPHELD: Pennsylvania's embattled mail-voting law stands. The AP reports the Commonwealth Court on Tuesday rejected the latest Republican effort to throw out Act 77, which GOP state lawmakers supported in 2019 and turned against after former President Donald Trump's reelection loss a year later. Republican lawmakers said prior lawsuits had invalidated the law, but the court disagreed.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.SCOTUS RULING: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday shot down a fringe legal theory that Republican lawmakers — unhappy with redistricting results — used to argue for unchecked legislative control over election policy in states like Pennsylvania and removing courts from the political mapmaking process. The high court, in a 6-3 vote, rejected the theory that advocates warned could sow election chaos.Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.REJECTED VOTES: Rejected Philadelphia mail ballots are more likely to come from nonwhite and lower-income communities, found an analysis of May primary ballots by Votebeat and Spotlight PA. Older voters are also more likely to have their ballot at risk of rejection due to simple, disqualifying mistakes, like a missing or incorrect date. Whether those ballots should be counted has prompted ongoing litigation.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.CYS ARRESTS: Five employees of Lackawanna County's Office of Youth and Family Services have been charged with endangering child welfare and failing to report abuse. Per WHTM: State inspectors say the staff allowed children to live in unfit homes, failed to properly track cases and conduct interviews, and acted too slowly to remove children. In some cases, falsified reports were filed to downplay risks.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TOXIC WORKPLACE: The Sun-Gazette reports Old Lycoming, near Williamsport, is down to one supervisor following a wave of resignations that at least one person linked to harassment over a police department regionalization vote that caused "all hell to break loose." Dave Shirn is the last supervisor standing until a county court appoints interim replacements. Township business has slowed to a crawl.
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IMPACT FEES: Natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania paid a record $278 million in impact fees in 2022, the total coming two years after a record low. Meanwhile, the state's age-old severance tax debate continues.

PICKLE PAIN: Popular in Pennsylvania, pickleball could cost Americans nearly $400 million for related injuries this year. Insurers have linked a rise in joint replacements and other surgeries to the no-contact, fast-growing sport. 

LONG LEGACY: Harrisburg may be "financially stable" now, but PennLive (paywall) reports "the ghost of a financially doomed incinerator" still haunts the capital city, and complicates its exit from a state financial aid program. 

SMOKY SKY: One day after Canadian wildfire smoke gave Chicago some of the worst air on earth, that smoke is headed toward Pennsylvania today. An Air Quality Action Day declaration is expected for Allegheny County.

TIL: That Pennsylvania-ism "knee-high by the Fourth of July" is not a good gauge for a healthy corn crop. As this story from deep within UPI's archives reports, "an elephant's eye" might be a more reliable metric.

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Yesterday's answer: Byzantine

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