DEP Encourages Pennsylvanians to Join Local Trash Cleanup Efforts | Five for the weekend

Good weekend to all.

the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) calls on Pennsylvanians to do their part for the Commonwealth and join a litter cleanup opportunity in their local community as part of the Pick up Pennsylvania countryside.

“Clean green spaces and waterways contribute to our physical and mental health and enable the functioning of the ecosystem on which we depend. They foster thriving communities that attract investment and support our recreation, tourism and shopping economies. As the weather warms and we move outdoors, we benefit ourselves and our families by dedicating a morning or afternoon to Pick Up Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement.

In 2021, more … than 79,000 Pick Up Pennsylvania volunteers recycled 3,124,648 pounds of various materials and eliminated 3,818,760 pounds of waste.

For more than two decades, volunteers from Boy Scout troops, businesses, outdoor groups and environmental organizations have participated in the biannual cleanup campaign.

The ministry reports that there are already 290 recorded events this year on the Pick Up Pennsylvania website with about 21,000 volunteers.

“Cleanup activity is ramping up across the state. We are honored to support the efforts of groups and individuals who are working hard to better their communities,” said Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.

Those interested in volunteering can find local events here.

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

(City of Pittsburgh paper photo)

1. Marijuana Policy Project names Pennsylvania one of 19 states with worst weed laws

Pennsylvania’s cannabis laws are among the worst in the nation, according to a new report from the Marijuana Policy Project titled “Behind the Times: The 19 States Where a Joint Can Still You in Jail.”

Despite record levels of public support for legalization and the fact that the state’s largest municipalities such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have already passed measures to decriminalize cannabis possession, “there are still a ton of arrests for possession of cannabis” in Pennsylvania, the head of the organization said legislative counsel, DeVaughn Ward.

At the state level, legislators “have not fully addressed [decriminalization], and the feds haven’t fully taken care of that,” House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, said at a press conference Tuesday. “Let’s be clear,” Harris continues, “in Pennsylvania, the government sells the liquor. We sell this product, we sell this substance that we know is more harmful than marijuana.

Pennsylvania State Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

2. Retirement of 2022 Pa. Capital-Star holder and main tracker

With the 2022 election on the horizon, it’s hard to keep up with the legislative turnover amid shifting lines, dual incumbents and retirements. But the Capital-Star will attempt to monitor these potential changes over the coming months.

The House and Senate maps were approved in their final form on February 5, and the state Supreme Court declared the maps constitutional on March 16. Those lines drew 26 lawmakers to each other, but many of those matchups were resolved by retirements.

Below are the 34 state legislators who have so far said they will not run again, and the eight who are still facing a colleague to return to Harrisburg next year.

(Photo by John Altdorfer for the Capital-Star)

3. Staff shortages, COVID-19, politics take their toll on Pennsylvania teachers

When Becky Cibulka retired from the classroom last year, the West Mifflin Area School District lost more than one teacher.

The district lost a Spanish/English as a second language teacher, department head, social media manager, club counselor and school-to-work transition program coordinator.

Education was not the same as when the 41-year-old started teaching nearly 20 years ago.

Yet her decision to leave was not easy or without guilt.

It was a slow burn that began with voluntarily taking on additional roles, helping out as a band assistant, planning service projects and overseeing the Spanish club. Being involved in the community – where Cibulka grew up and still lives – has been a chance to build relationships with students, parents and alumni.

Eventually, his responsibilities expanded

(Image via Pa. Treasurer’s Office/The Philadelphia Tribune)

4. Pennsylvania Treasury to Auction Unclaimed Property This Week

A one ounce gold bar; a Rolex watch and South African Krugerrand gold coins.

These items, and more, will be on offer when Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s office hosts an online auction this Wednesday and Thursday of unclaimed property.

Under Pennsylvania law, the state treasury receives unclaimed property that has been abandoned or forgotten after three years of inactivity. Much of the property held in the Treasury vault comes from abandoned vaults, college dorms, nursing homes, and police evidence rooms. Other unclaimed property includes forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, stocks and insurance policies.

Courtney O’Brien, a human resources worker for the state of Vermont, holds her 4-month-old child in her office at the Department of Transportation. A number of states have programs allowing workers to bring their babies under 6 months into the office (Photo via The Pew Charitable Trusts).

5. Pa. Democrat Proposes Study of Four-Day Work Week for State Employees

A progressive Democrat from Philadelphia wants Pennsylvania to study the impacts of moving 77,000 state employees to a four-day workweek.

In a statement Monday, state Rep. Chris Rabb said he wanted a cost-benefit analysis of such a schedule to “improve the efficiency of state government,” while providing taxpayers the “level of service they both need and deserve”.

“We must end this trope of Protestant work ethic that demands an unrelenting commitment to work at the expense of the health of our households in our communities,” Rabb told Capital-Star.

The legislation, likely the first to call for a four-day workweek in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, asked the Legislative Committee on State Budget and Finance to study the subject. The study will also look at “policies aimed at inducing all employers in Pennsylvania to make the switch,” according to Rabb’s memo.

And this is the week. We’ll see you here next week.

Edward K. Thompson