ISSUE 135 | December 1, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Allentown plans to bridge the digital divide
The city intends to allocate about $7 million of ARP funding to launch a high-speed broadband service.

With guidance from a feasibility study, the plan will offer fiber-optic service at either subsidized rates or no cost to low-income residents.

City officials anticipate that the project will draw revenue from subscribers who pay full price while also attracting businesses and employment opportunities to the area. 

PA police departments opt not to report use of force statistics 
Only about two dozen of 1,500 police departments across the Commonwealth are enrolled in the FBI’s initiative to collect data pertaining to use of force – one of the lowest participation rates in the country.

Just 21 provided relevant data as of the first quarter of 2021.

Departments cited short staff and concern over federal involvement as reasons for low involvement, though this lack of information hurts planning and decision making efforts surrounding crime and law enforcement.

Pittsburgh builds airport terminal of the future
A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification terminal is under construction in Pittsburgh.

It will be solar powered, using sustainable and recycled materials and airflow systems aligned with pandemic standards.

The project will generate significant economic impact during construction and operations.  

In the Spotlight: The Institute's latest policy brief highlights the value of a national infrastructure bank - including impact on broadband access. Legislation such as HR 3339 presents opportunities for substantial economic impact.
From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
911 call center staff need behavioral health training
Pew Charitable Trust research found that few call centers have staff with crisis training to help them handle 911 calls.

Only a few communities are equipped with crisis-trained officers and many responders are unaware of available resources.

Centers do classify calls as mental health or substance use in the data management systems, but reports and data sharing of statistics are rarely used.  

Rhode Island opens doors to development of safe injection programs
A law passed in July allows establishment of harm reduction centers, where people may safely consume illegal drugs.

The centers will be funded both privately and publicly, and services will include health screenings, needle exchanges, and recovery support.

Regulations must be established by March 2022, and then counties can opt into the opportunity. 

More states assess racial impact when considering new laws
Historically, passage of laws has been based on assessment of fiscal impact.

In light of current events, however, more states are recognizing racial impact as the standard.

Such impact statements may vary in scope, and there is no guarantee that lawmakers will consider them amid pending legislation.

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