Pennsylvania’s ‘Extraordinarily Tight’ Labor Market Continues as Jobs Go Unfilled

A tight job market in Pennsylvania is good news for workers, but employers still struggle to find enough people to fill the available jobs.

That struggle remains a stubborn one for business owners, as shown in the latest economic update from the Independent Fiscal Office.

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Pennsylvania’s Thanksgiving Turkey Prices 21 Percent Higher than Last Year

The cost for Thanksgiving dinner has crept up, as has the gas Pennsylvanians buy to get to their relatives.

“The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs more than last year, at $28.96 for a 16-pound bird,” the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau said in a price report. “That’s $1.81 per pound, up 21% from last year, due to several factors beyond general inflation.”

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Report: Pennsylvania Lags in Health Care Due to Restrictions on Nurse Authority

Pennsylvania is out of step with its neighbors and deregulating some health care services could give residents of the commonwealth better access to treatment, a new analysis argues.

The Commonwealth Foundation released a report arguing that Maryland’s effort to grant nurse practitioners full practice authority is a model for Pennsylvania. 

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Support for Pennsylvania’s 800,000 Veterans Is Still Lacking

Pennsylvania has the better part of a million veterans living within the commonwealth, but support for them can be lacking.

“I don’t like that veterans have to take care of veterans,” Rep. Joe Webster, D-Collegeville, said, noting a lack of centralized support. “Our nation should be taking care of these veterans. It shouldn’t fall to a 501(c)(3) or a group of guys just helping a veteran down the street … Our nation asks for the full measure – we’re not then taking care of them when they have sacrificed greater than the average citizen.”

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Pennsylvania Set to Receive Part of a Nearly $400 Million Settlement from Google over Location-Tracking Probe

Google agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states after an investigation found that the tech giant participated in questionable location-tracking practices, state attorneys general announced Monday.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called it a “historic win for consumers.”

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Pennsylvania Weighs the Extra Revenue as Another Neighbor Approves Marijuana

While Pennsylvania lawmakers debate whether to legalize recreational marijuana, its neighbors have started to greenlight it.

The midterm elections have seen Democratic gains on the state and federal level in the commonwealth, as The Center Square previously reported, and Maryland voters approved cannabis legalization.

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Commentary: Early Vote Data Suggests Trouble for Dems in Pennsylvania

Democrats are getting some warning signs in the mail. Voting data in the key states show that mail-in voting, which traditionally favors Democrats, is down. In-person voting, meanwhile, will likely continue to be dominated by Republicans.

Take, for example, my home state of Pennsylvania. In 2020, there were 1,564,483 ballots cast nine days out from Election Day. As of Sunday, nine days out from the midterm election, there were only 777,309 ballots cast. That’s a drop of more than half. And it is even steeper for traditionally Democratic voting groups like black voters. In 2020, approximately 147,539 black Pennsylvanians had voted at this point; now, it’s only 47,830. 

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Pennsylvania Natural Gas Impact Fee Collection to Hit Record-High $275 Million

State revenues from natural gas were high last year, and are expected to set a new record this year buoyed by rising prices and more drilling.

According to a new estimate from the Independent Fiscal Office, impact fees from natural gas wells will hit $275 million in 2022, $40 million higher than 2021.

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Obama Jumps into Pennsylvania Midterms After Fetterman’s Error-Filled Debate Performance

Former President Barack Obama urged Pennsylvanians to vote for Democratic candidates in the November midterm elections during a campaign ad, just days after Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman struggled during his debate with Republican Mehmet Oz.

Obama told Pennsylvanians that their midterm vote would shape the future of American democracy and women’s abortion rights, according to the 15-second ad which was obtained by Axios. Obama’s efforts to ramp up support for the Democrats in Pennsylvania comes after most of the debate audience believed that Fetterman failed to win, according to a recent poll conducted by WXPI.

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Commentary: Fetterman’s Record in Braddock Is No Roadmap for Pennsylvania

Aliquippa, Duquesne, Greenville, New Castle, and Rankin: western Pennsylvania has no shortage of economically distressed municipalities that seem to have been left by the wayside and forgotten. But the town of Braddock got something different: a political figure standing 6-foot-8, draped in gym shorts and a Carhartt hoodie. He promised to turn around a persistent economic depression, and he brought national media attention to the small town, which had seen a population decline from a peak of 20,000 in the 1920s to under 1,800.

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Appalachian Commission Sends $7 Million for Workforce Projects in Pennsylvania

The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced almost $50 million in grants across the 13-state region, and Pennsylvania will receive $7 million to encourage economic growth.

Nine projects in Pennsylvania will receive about $50,000 to $1.5 million for workforce training, manufacturing, child care and feasibility studies for potential development.

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Pennsylvania Weighs Parental Bill of Rights as Gender, Race Issues Flare in Schools

Punctuated by claps, cheers, jeers and a call to order, the Senate State Government Committee held a public hearing on a proposed parental bill of rights that raised questions of local control, race, and gender issues.

Senate Bill 996 is sponsored by Republican gubernatorial nominee Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg. 

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Fiscal Policy Report Card Gives Pennsylvania Low Grade

In a recent ranking of America’s governors, Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf ranked at the bottom of the pack – 44th for his fiscal policies.

An annual fiscal policy report card from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, graded the nation’s governors “from a limited-government perspective.” In their grading that emphasized lowering taxes and cutting spending, Wolf earned an “F.”

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Request from Pennsylvania Republicans on Mail-In Ballots Declines

Pennsylvania’s expansion of mail-in voting in 2019 has left some ambiguity about which ballots get counted, and state Republicans are requesting clarity from the Department of State over the matter.

While Republicans point to a recent federal ruling, the Department cites a state ruling to deny changing its current guidance.

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Commentary: Pennsylvania’s Suburbs Are Not OK

For families living in Pennsylvania’s suburbs, things are not OK.

The prosperity enjoyed by suburbanites is in peril, and they know it. Soccer field small talk has moved beyond gas prices. Polite conversation has moved into something more urgent: survival.

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After Chaotic 2020 Process, Pennsylvania Still Won’t Have Midterm Results on Election Day

Pennsylvania during the 2022 midterms will once again fail to produce election results on election day itself, a shortfall the secretary of state’s office is blaming on a recently passed law that fails to permit pre-election counting of mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said in a briefing on Tuesday that state officials are anticipating “that once again Pennsylvania will not have unofficial results on election night.”

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Report: Pennsylvania Population Growth Woes a Risk to the Economy

While Pennsylvania’s retired population grows in the future, its working-aged and school-aged populations that support them will shrink.

Such are the projections in a new report from the Independent Fiscal Office, noting flat state population growth in the near term and a slight decline in the long term (-0.1% annually).

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Commentary: Pennsylvania Democrats’ Abortion Mirage

In the final weeks of the 2022 midterm campaign, Pennsylvania Democratic candidates continue to bet big on abortion. It was the dominant theme of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s first rally in Philadelphia. And the party’s candidates in swing U.S. House districts, like the 1st in suburban Philadelphia and the 17th in suburban Pittsburgh, are hoping that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will entice voters to go blue.

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Commentary: The Importance of Doug Mastriano

Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor — that would be state Sen. Doug Mastriano — is under attack by the establishment elite for not being … part of the establishment elite. And, of all people, the Republican Governors Association has signed on for the attack.

For those who have not followed the tale, Mastriano is a 30-year active-duty combat veteran who retired as a colonel in the Army. Apart from being deployed to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm (1991), assigned to the U.S. forces liberating Kuwait, in the post–9/11 world he was assigned to NATO and had three tours in Afghanistan. He ended his military career as a professor at the U.S. Army War College, in nearby (to me) Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He has four master’s degrees and holds a doctorate in history.

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Pennsylvania Union Contract Pits Steel Workers Against Union Officials

 A controversial union contract at a steelworks plant has pitted workers against their union representatives. Though workers twice rejected a contract, union officials ratified it with management. Now, workers who want to decertify the union are barred from doing so for three years.

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Pennsylvania Faces High Housing Prices Unless ‘Record-Level Building’ Happens

Pennsylvania’s struggle to build more housing, be it affordable or market-rate, will continue unless dramatic change happens within city, county, and state governments.

Such was the takeaway from a House Urban Affairs Committee hearing focused on northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

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Fetterman Being Outspent by Oz as Polls Show Narrowing Race

Allies of Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania have dramatically increased their funding for his candidacy in the state, with new polls released Tuesday suggesting that their contributions are impacting the race.

John Fetterman currently leads Oz by under 2%, gaining 47.7% of the vote to Oz’s 45.9%, per a September poll by the Trafalgar Group – within the margin of error of 2.9%. In July, the same poll showed Fetterman leading Oz by 5%, outside the margin of error.

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Pennsylvania’s Approach to Sealing Criminal Convictions Could Go National

Criminal justice reform that started in Pennsylvania to clear previous convictions may become the standard in federal law.

Two criminal justice reform bills, the Clean Slate Act and the Fresh Start Act, would “enable people with federal arrest and conviction records to petition to clear those records and support increased access to automatic record sealing for eligible offenses at the federal and state levels,” as described in a news release from the Clean Slate Initiative, a pro-reform group.

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Pennsylvania Gets $25 Million to Build out Electric Vehicle Charging

Pennsylvania will expand its electric vehicle charging infrastructure after it received $25 million in federal funds to do so.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the $25.4 million came from November’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, legislation also known as the bipartisan infrastructure law.

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Pennsylvania Expands Election Funds and Audits

As Pennsylvania gears up for a November election less than eight weeks away, county boards of elections are getting more funds and the Department of State will require more audits to ensure public confidence in results.

Changes that could speed up the voting process and counting of ballots, however, do not appear to be on the table for this year.

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Pennsylvania Counties Take the Lead in Spending Opioid Settlement Dollars

Pennsylvania is set to spend $1 billion from the National Opioid Settlement – and the focus is on the county level.

Pennsylvania’s share of the $26 billion settlement will be divvied up so that 70% goes to counties, 15% is appropriated by the General Assembly, and 15% goes to counties involved in the opioid litigation, subdivisions, district attorneys, and special districts.

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Commentary: Pennsylvania’s Utility Disconnections Spike Amid Energy Affordability Crisis

Pennsylvania earned a dubious distinction recently that underscores the economic pain wreaking havoc statewide for millions of residents struggling to make ends meet.

We, along with four other states, account for 69% of all 3.6 million utility disconnections between January 2020 and December 2021, according to a report from the Center for Biological Diversity. 

It gets worse.

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Commentary: Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Candidate John Fetterman Is Soft on Crime

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, maintains that he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a socialist, on “virtually every issue.” Sanders, in turn, has endorsed Fetterman and appeared at events with him. But if Fetterman is taking his economic advice from the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, where is he getting counsel on dealing with violent crime? Sadly for Pennsylvania voters, Fetterman seems to be taking his lead from the City of Brotherly Love’s Larry Krasner, district attorney of Philadelphia.

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Commentary: Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Candidate John Fetterman Is Soft on Crime

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, maintains that he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a socialist, on “virtually every issue.” Sanders, in turn, has endorsed Fetterman and appeared at events with him. But if Fetterman is taking his economic advice from the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, where is he getting counsel on dealing with violent crime? Sadly for Pennsylvania voters, Fetterman seems to be taking his lead from the City of Brotherly Love’s Larry Krasner, district attorney of Philadelphia.

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Lack of Affordable Housing Remains a Problem in Pennsylvania

Housing shortages and rising rents are a national problem, and the process for building more housing, especially affordable housing, is only one of many barriers.

In Pennsylvania, rents have increased mainly in the southeast and central parts of the state. As The Center Square previously reported, a report from pro-housing group Up for Growth estimated Pennsylvania has underproduced 98,000 units of housing. Statewide, rents increased by 14% from 2020 to 2021.

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Commentary: For Pennsylvania Families, the Midterms Can’t Come Fast Enough

The critical midterm election is in less than 70 days, but it can’t come soon enough for Keystone State families being crushed under the weight of failed Democrat policies. Reckless spending by Democrats in Washington has driven us into a recession and burdensome policies by Tom Wolf, John Fetterman, and Josh Shapiro have left Pennsylvania with high unemployment and shuttered small businesses. As State Treasurer, I know the importance of fiscal responsibility. I oversee an office of more than 300 employees and am tasked with protecting more than $150 billion in state assets. As a Pennsylvanian living in Joe Biden’s economy, I know firsthand the consequences of reckless spending and see the painful impact on every town in the commonwealth.

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Major Pennsylvania Newspaper Says Fetterman’s Stroke ‘Raises Serious Concerns’ About His Ability to Serve

A major newspaper in Pennsylvania questioned Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s ability to serve in the Senate in a Tuesday editorial after he declined another debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has not fully recovered from the serious stroke he suffered in May,” the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. “His campaign has acknowledged his obvious struggles with ‘auditory processing’ and speech, but the persistence of those struggles has contrasted with the campaign’s rosier predictions of a return to the rigors of campaigning, including debating his opponent, Mehmet Oz.”

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Major Pennsylvania Newspaper Says Fetterman’s Stroke ‘Raises Serious Concerns’ About His Ability to Serve

A major newspaper in Pennsylvania questioned Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s ability to serve in the Senate in a Tuesday editorial after he declined another debate with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has not fully recovered from the serious stroke he suffered in May,” the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. “His campaign has acknowledged his obvious struggles with ‘auditory processing’ and speech, but the persistence of those struggles has contrasted with the campaign’s rosier predictions of a return to the rigors of campaigning, including debating his opponent, Mehmet Oz.”

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Student Loan Forgiveness in Pennsylvania Favors the Wealthy

As Pennsylvania higher education institutions face a shortage of students, their former students will disproportionately benefit from student loan forgiveness.

A research brief from the Independent Fiscal Office estimates that almost 2 million Pennsylvania borrowers hold $69 billion student loan debt, and $21 billion would be forgiven. Another $1.8 billion would be forgiven through the expansion of the income-driven repayment program. 

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Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Expansion Could Include Sealing Low-Level Felony Records

Advocates say a bipartisan effort to seal criminal records for low-level felonies would give more people second chances and boost the Pennsylvania economy.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss House Bill 1826, which would expand the Clean Slate Act by automatically sealing some low-level felonies.

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Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Expansion Could Include Sealing Low-Level Felony Records

Advocates say a bipartisan effort to seal criminal records for low-level felonies would give more people second chances and boost the Pennsylvania economy.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss House Bill 1826, which would expand the Clean Slate Act by automatically sealing some low-level felonies.

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Student Enrollments Down, Administrator Hires Up in Pennsylvania

A new report questions the narrative of a “teacher shortage” in Pennsylvania, pointing out significant declines in student enrollments even as public school employment has risen.

“Since 2000, Pennsylvania public school enrollment has dropped 6.6% (120,000 fewer students); but public schools have added 20,000 more employees (8.7% growth), including nearly 40% growth among administrators,” the Commonwealth Foundation noted in its Back to School Education Trends report.

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RNC Sues Pennsylvania over Ballot Curing for 2022 Elections

The Republican National Committee announced Friday that it is leading a lawsuit against Pennsylvania over ballot curing in the 2022 elections.

The other plaintiffs are the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, Pennsylvania GOP and several state voters.

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Pennsylvania GOP Nominee Mastriano Sues January 6 Committee, Alleges Subpoena Legally Defective

In an extraordinary legal strike two months before mid-term elections, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor on Thursday sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-run Jan. 6 committee in federal court, alleging it failed to follow its own rules and does not have the legal authority to compel him to testify.

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Pennsylvania GOP Nominee Mastriano Sues January 6 Committee, Alleges Subpoena Legally Defective

In an extraordinary legal strike two months before mid-term elections, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor on Thursday sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-run Jan. 6 committee in federal court, alleging it failed to follow its own rules and does not have the legal authority to compel him to testify.

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Pennsylvania’s Latest Mail-In Voting Decision Has Local Officials Scrambling

Pennsylvania authorities contentiously combined voter registration and mail-in ballot applications into one document this month, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the latest in a series of disputed election-related policies.

The state’s Department of State issued an updated form Aug. 19 allowing citizens to register to vote and request a mail-in ballot, which had previously required multiple forms, The Federalist reported. Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions Jonathan Marks said this was intended “to simplify the process,” but many county elections officials argued the change occurred without warning and demonstrated a continuing lack of respect for them, according to the Inquirer.

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Pennsylvania’s Latest Mail-In Voting Decision Has Local Officials Scrambling

Pennsylvania authorities contentiously combined voter registration and mail-in ballot applications into one document this month, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the latest in a series of disputed election-related policies.

The state’s Department of State issued an updated form Aug. 19 allowing citizens to register to vote and request a mail-in ballot, which had previously required multiple forms, The Federalist reported. Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions Jonathan Marks said this was intended “to simplify the process,” but many county elections officials argued the change occurred without warning and demonstrated a continuing lack of respect for them, according to the Inquirer.

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Pennsylvania Program Sends Out 10,000 Anti-Overdose Medications

Pennsylvania has some of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the nation, and a program to distribute anti-overdose medication has hit a new milestone.

The Wolf administration announced that its mail-based naloxone program has filled 10,000 requests for naloxone, which helps reverse overdoses.

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Inflation Takes Its Toll on Pennsylvania Agriculture

The effect of inflation on Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector has been to exacerbate already-existing problems, driving up costs and squeezing business owners.

Since March, the monthly consumer price index in Pennsylvania has averaged 8.4%. Large amounts of federal spending, along with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have meant rising prices from raw materials to food and consumer goods.

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Progressive Philly DA Krasner Calls State House Subpoena ‘Anti-Democratic’

A national trend of criticism aimed at district attorneys in major cities has sparked a feud in Philadelphia between the DA and state Republicans.

In August, a House committee investigating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner issued a subpoena to his office. Krasner told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he will not comply and called the investigation “illegal” and “anti-democratic.”

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Pennsylvania Bans Scholarship Displacement, but Few Colleges Admit to the Practice

Pennsylvania has a new law that bans “scholarship displacement,” a practice where universities reduce financial aid to students when they receive an outside scholarship. 

University officials said they already do not displace outside scholarships unless required to do so by law. However, critics do not believe them.

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Answers Sought on Mail Delivery Delays in Delaware, Pennsylvania

Delaware’s trio in Congress want answers about service delays within the U.S. Postal Service.

The letter asks what action plan and solutions have been enacted pertaining to continual service delays and disruptions with mail in the region. It asks for answers by Tuesday.

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