Pennsylvania State Capitol. Pennsylvania State Capitol. Photo credit: Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Unclaimed Property

The Pennsylvania Treasury returned nearly $270 million in unclaimed property to Pennsylvanians during the 2017-18 fiscal year, which is a new record, the Treasury announced.

That amount was up 18 percent from the previous fiscal year, according to a press release.

The Treasury acts as custodian of unclaimed property said to be worth $3.5 billion. Unclaimed property can be items such as abandoned bank, stocks or shareholder accounts, uncashed checks and contents of safety deposit boxes.

“While one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property, for some people, this money is crucial,” said Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella in a press release. “A check you weren’t expecting for a few hundred dollars can take care of some tough utility bills, or help a family save for college.

In a separate press announcement, Torsella praised the General Assembly’s amendment to the state’s Unclaimed Property Law. He said the law has strengthened lost contract standards by making the Treasury’s internal policy standard law.

High-Speed Internet

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf gave Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative Inc. a $1.5 million grant to place high-speed internet in Potter County.

Potter County is set to have 103 miles of above-ground fiber cable to provide access to broadband internet.

In Potter County, 830 residential, 540 seasonal and 13 commercial customers currently lack access to “adequate” internet speed, according to Wolf’s press release. Wolf estimated the construction would create 27 jobs. An additional four full-time permanent jobs were expected to sprout from the project.

In Pennsylvania, there are currently 520,000 people in rural areas without high-speed internet access and some 250,000 people also lack access to speedy internet in urban areas, according to the press release.

LGBTQ Affairs Commission

Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order spawning the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, which is the first in the nation, according to a press release.

The newly created commission joins the governor’s other commissions, including those regarding African-American Affairs, Asian-Pacific American Affairs, Latino Affairs and the Commission for Women.

The 40-member commission will be led by Todd Snovel as its executive director. The other members of the commission include: Anne Wakabayashi as chair; Shaashawn Dial and Tyler Titus as co-vice chairs; and Ben Allatt, Rich Askey, Mark Barbee, Chris Bartlett, Rosemary Browne, Patricia Bucek, Kathy Cameron, Joanne Carroll, Marc Coleman, Katharine Dalke, Jim DePoe, state Sen. Lawrence Farnese, D-Philadelphia, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, Elicia Gonzales, Amber Hikes, Jodi Hirsh, Malcolm Kenyatta, Michele Kessler, Jason Landau Goodman, Maryellen Madden, Jere Mahaffey, Michael Mahler, Adil Mansoor, Adanjesús Marín, Sean Meloy, Gerald Montano, Sebastian Pelaez, Brian Patchcoski, Sarah Rosso, Kristin Seale, Adrian Shanker, Henry Sias, state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, Sean Strub, Roberto “Tito” Valdes, Harry Young and Heshie Zinman.

2020 Census

Citing a “soaring prison population that is disproportionately comprised of minorities,” a state representative seeks to introduce a resolution urging the U.S. Census Bureau to change its policy of recording the residence of a jailed person to the correctional facilities they are housed in to instead use their last home address.

In a memo, state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, said the Census Bureau uses a “usual residence” concept that records a prisoner’s residence as the facility where they are incarcerated.

“With a soaring prison population that is disproportionately comprised of minorities, such a decision has the potential to weaken the voting strength in minority communities while giving disproportionate political power to predominantly rural, white areas of our country where facilities are often located,” Cruz said.

Population data compiled by the census is used in assigning the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes, drawing state and local legislation districts and allocating money in federal funding. •