ISSUE 104 | April 21, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Regional mass transportation takes another hit
After a second attempt to coordinate public transportation services, Lackawanna County has pulled out of consolidation conversations with Luzerne County. 

Last year, the mass transit systems recognized the need for a coordinated system to provide high-quality, reliable services to NEPA residents.

Leaders also recognized potential economies of scale as a result of consolidation.

It was a win-win proposition until last week. 

Vaccine hesitancy reported among PA nursing home workers
According to a recent study by the PA Department of Health, slightly more than half of long-term care facility workers are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that much of the remaining staff did not wish to be among the first to get vaccinated.

The state hopes to reverse this trend with a new program that allows for ongoing vaccinations of long-term care staff and new residents. 

Most supervised big city cuts probation by one third
A Columbia University study ranked PA as the third most supervised state in the nation, and Philadelphia among its most supervised cities. 

In response, Philadelphia’s District Attorney introduced policies to limit probation duration. 

The average term has since declined approximately 10 months, with reduced racial inequities in sentencing and without measurable changes in recidivism.

Columbia researchers do not predict statewide improvement unless limitations are established legislatively. 

Research Spotlight: In 2013, The Institute's Planning, Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Task Force sponsored the research for a case study on regional transportation. Recommendations included the formation of a Regional Transportation Alliance among airport, rail authority, and bus systems. It would have been the third largest system in PA, with opportunities for enhanced federal funding. The consortium received a planning grant, but talks dissolved after a strategy was developed.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Asian population growth changes politics and policy
Asian population growth exceeded 70 percent nationally over the past 20 years, and the number of votes from Asian Americans grew by nearly 140 percent – outpacing the Hispanic (121 percent) and Black populations (33 percent).

Today, 160 Asians serve in 33 state legislations and 17 serve in Congress.

Asian voters are actively engaged in BLM and protesting hate crimes as well, with recognition that their influence will help shape future public policy. 

Study shows improved oral health thanks to Medicaid expansions
Thirty-nine states and Washington, D.C. expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, and included dental coverage.

Researchers from the University of Michigan reported improved oral health as a result.

The study also found that recipients credited the care for more improving employment efforts as well as job performance. 

Supplemental funding available to combat substance abuse
In late 2020, $1.65 billion in supplemental funding was allocated as part of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

States may receive money based on a federal formula and must submit action plans for approval by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The period between May 2020 and May 2021 was among the deadliest in terms of drug overdoses.

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