ISSUE 105 | April 28, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
For the first time, PA voters elect lawmaker who is openly autistic
Autism has historically been considered an intellectual disability with varying degrees of severity and no cure.

A new perspective is long overdue.

´╗┐According to Jessica Benham, disability does not come from autism but from the way the world treats people with autism.

Points to consider while transforming commuter rail
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New infrastructure funding could make commuter rail from NEPA to NYC a reality, but could such a reality spark an economic resurgence?

Possibilities exist, though finishing the rail line alone is not the only obstacle.

Multiple issues must be considered, such as:

  • equitable access
  • reliability
  • post-pandemic need 

Marijuana legalization appears to run along party lines
Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Senate favor legalization of marijuana, and two Republican candidates do not.

Some PA lawmakers anticipate that legalization would be a new revenue producer, much like gambling was in 2004.

´╗┐A recent statewide poll mirrored a national survey, revealing that nearly three of five residents support legalization.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
CDC acknowledges racism as a public health threat
The Centers for Disease Control declared racism a public health issue, citing extensive evidence of disparities on nearly all health measures.

Black Americans face heightened risk of disease, poverty, and premature death.

Many also struggle to access high-quality health care. 


Bills to improve housing introduced in the House and Senate
Housing is fundamental and influences physical and mental health, as well as job and academic performance.

Several new bills could improve the quality and safety of affordable housing.

One has been introduced to upgrade public housing by adding green retrofits to more than 950,000 units, and others -such as the Public Housing Fire Safety Act - would make funding available for safety mechanisms like sprinkler systems. 



New York passes internet law to bridge the digital divide
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New York households earning less than $30,000 per year can now pay a flat rate of $15 per month for internet service.

Prior to this mandate, low-income households were paying $50 or more per month for basic services.

The measure is particularly crucial during a time of remote education, work, and healthcare.


Research Spotlight: The Institute has recently produced research that reveals elements of systemic racism - including evidence that the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. One study explores the concept of redlining and its impact on housing, and another study details equitable healthcare amid COVID-19.
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