Welcome aboard, Marley! | Five for the weekend

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Happy Weekend, all.

Before we adjourn for the weekend, I’m sure you noticed a new name and face on the Capital-Star page this week!

Please join me in welcoming our newest staff reporter, Marley Parish, to Harrisburg! Marley will be working diligently to cover the state Senate for the Capital-Star among other things!

In case you missed them, here are a few bylines from Marley this week to get you acquainted and caught up.

An ‘energy choice’ bill has some lawmakers worried local government could lose power
Senate Democrats propose ‘New Deal’ spending plan for Pa. relief funds
Thousands in Pa. could have compromised health data. A Senate panel wants answers
Pa. Senate Maj. Leader Ward announces stage one breast cancer diagnosis
The tax filing deadline is one week away. Here’s how Pa. residents can file for free online

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1.  ‘I moved into systemic racism’: Pittsburghers speak out on displacement of Black residents

On Wed., May 4, Pittsburgh City Council held a special public hearing on the crisis of Black Pittsburghers leaving the city. The public was invited to sign up to register for public comments during the meeting after a petition from city residences requested the hearing before council.

With much conversation about issues facing Black Pittsburgh in an election year, the meeting was filled with impassioned speakers who had their ideas on what has caused this “exodus.” One of the big stats repeated over the afternoon was that from 2014 to 2018, over 7,000 Black people, 9% of the remaining population, left the city. Over 20 people were given a chance to speak during the meeting, though many of the people were not present or experiencing technical difficulties.

2. A Keystone Election: Meet the 2021 candidates for Pittsburgh mayor

If past elections are any indication, incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto would seem to be a shoo-in to win the Democratic primary on May 18, and re-election in November. The Steel City has not elected a Republican mayor since the 1930s, so the Dems’ primary is typically a reliable predictor of who will win the November general election.

And even though incumbents are still tough to beat at every level of Pennsylvania politics, the tides have been shifting ever so slowly in deep blue Allegheny County in the past few contests; during the 2018 midterms,  Reps. Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato, who ran with the support of the Democratic Socialists, both won state House primaries over Paul and Dom Costa, respectively, both of whom were well-established local politicians.

The first post-Trump election in Pittsburgh follows last summer’s demonstrations, which saw Black Lives Matter protesters arrive literally at Peduto’s doorstep to question what they saw as a lack of action by the two-term mayor on issues of racial justice.

3. What you need to know about the 2021 Pa. primary ballot questions

In addition to casting a vote in municipal and judicial races, Pennsylvania voters will have to vote “yes” or “no” on May 18 on four ballot questions.

The first is a statewide referendum asking voters if they favor making municipal fire departments eligible to apply for loans from an existing state loan program.

The other three ballot questions are proposed amendments to the state Constitution.

4.Work search requirements, digital hearings advance as lawmakers tinker with Pa. unemployment

As vaccination rates creep upwards and businesses reopen, Republican lawmakers have begun to offer changes to the state’s system for paying out unemployment benefits.

The House Labor and Industry Committee did not advance legislation addressing the pandemic’s impact on unemployment from late March 2020 until January 2021, according to legislative records. But since the new year, the committee has advanced three bills.

In total, the proposals would move unemployment hearings online, increase the amount of time employers and claimants can appeal a ruling from 14 to 21 days, and bring back work search requirements for the 1 million Pennsylvanians receiving jobless benefits.

Under state law, unemployment recipients must apply for two jobs, and conduct one “work search activity,” such as attending a job fair, each week to qualify for unemployment.

5. Wolf admin.: Pa. to lift COVID-19 restrictions by Memorial Day; mask order once 70 percent of adults are vaccinated

The Wolf administration said Tuesday that will lift its COVID-19 restrictions by Memorial Day, on May 31, except for its mask mandate, which will be lifted when 70 percent of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

The state now requires people to wear masks indoors and outdoors if they’re away from home. But in accordance with orders from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities, the administration said in a statement.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.