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Government Outreach -August 25, 2023

Government Affairs & General Updates
August 25, 2023

1. Who's to blame for the budget delays? Poll suggests voters aren't sure but Shapiro remains historically popular. The new Franklin and Marshall poll suggests voters are more likely to blame lawmakers for the budget delay than they are to blame the governor. While voters surveyed by the poll were divided as to who should be blamed for the budget delay, those surveyed were most included to blame Senate Republicans. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said Senate Republicans are responsible for the delay, while 20% said it was House Democrats' fault and 20% said it was the governor's fault. Though put another way, 40% of voters blamed Democrats for the impasse - with half of them blaming Shapiro and half blaming House Democrats. Even so, the poll found that just under half of those surveyed said Shapiro is doing and "excellent" or "good" job as governor, which is the highest rating for a new governor at this point since Gov. Tom Ridge's first term back in the 1990s.

2. House member presses for Senate to pass legislation to re-establish Fresh Food Financing Initiative. A House lawmaker is calling on the Senate to act to authorize the re-establishment of a program that would encourage efforts to increase access to fresh foods in low-income neighborhoods. State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, introduced House Bill 580 to re-establish the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which operated from 2004 to 2010. This program provided grants and low-interest loans for the construction, rehabilitation or expansion of grocery stores, farmers' markets and other healthy food retail establishments in low- to moderate-income areas in need and other underserved communities. House Bill 580 passed the House in June and is currently sitting in the Senate. If this bill is voted out of the Senate and signed into law, this program would be reauthorized and the $2 million allocated for it in the budget can be utilized. "We took the necessary steps here in the House to make this program's resurgence a reality," Kinsey said. "Now, we need our colleagues in the Senate to do right by these desperate communities and pass House Bill 580 so we can re-establish this crucial program and bring healthier eating options to our communities."

3. New study reveals shocking increase in severe maternal morbidities. A new report sheds light on a dramatic increase in serious complications for moms giving birth and how the risks of complications are significantly greater for poor women and Black women. The study by the Pennsylvania Health Cost Containment Council found that from 2016 to 2022, the number of women who had maternal morbidities increased 40%. Severe maternal morbidity includes unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short- or long-term consequences to a woman's health. The rate of maternal morbidities among new moms increased from 75.2 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2016 to 105.2 per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2022. The rate actually peaked in 2021 when it hit 110 before dropping last year. The increase in severe maternal morbidity rate during this time was largest for Black, non-Hispanic patients: jumping 51% from 127.1 in 2016 to 191.5 in 2022. And the rate of severe maternal morbidities in poor ZIP codes was double the rate in wealthy ZIP codes. The disparities based on the comparative poverty and wealth of the new moms' communities of residence widened -from a 37.9 point gap (the rate was 101.9 per 10,000 in poor ZIP codes and 64 per 10,000 in wealthy ZIP codes) in 2016 to a 73.9 point gap (the rate was 163.6 per 10,000 in poor ZIP codes and 89.7 per 10,000 in wealthy ZIP codes) in 2022.

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