We welcome back Congressman Conor Lamb (17th Congressional District) to Business as Usual.
In addition talking about upcoming COVID-19 relief measures, Lamb will talk about his priorities during the 116th Congress that include:
The 17th Congressional District includes parts of Allegheny and Butler Counties, as well as all of Beaver County. Join us for this unique opportunity to connect with Congressman Lamb.
Good afternoon, everyone. This is odd. Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. thrilled to be here on a Friday afternoon. I have a guest today, which is US Congressman Connor lamb, very excited to have a chance to talk with him. And a couple of things. First of all, we have a couple of a couple of organizations that have just been amazing for us. And one is Huntington bank. Huntington bank has been a sponsor of ours, right from the beginning. They are one of the largest SBA lenders, they have been so busy with PPP. And on top of that, they've just been incredible partners all across the tech ecosystem. So I want to thank them, also want to thank at&t, who continues to be our partner as we have a governor government series to business and they've just been terrific in terms of partnership and, and helping all through COVID. Just making sure that people get the tools that they need, so that they can be connected, and they've just really stepped up. So really appreciate at&t. And then there's 40 by 80, which is the wholly owned subsidiary of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. And that's where we focus on things such as workforce development, soon you'll hear about apprenticeship and entrepreneurship. So that's our 501 c three. So I want to just remind everyone, and a couple of people didn't have their mics on mute, or we had some sort of glitch, mics on mute. We've done that on purpose. And we have a chat and the chats gonna be monitored by Jonathan kersting. He is here. He's vice president of all things, media, and marketing for the tech Council. So I'm going to jump in right now. And welcome congressman Connor lamb. I'm thrilled to have you. I'm thrilled to have this conversation with you today. And before we start, first of all, this is the second time you've been with us. We've been doing this daily series for 11 months now, Congressman, it's hard to believe the last time you were on the world was a little bit different. And you know, we're very excited to have a chance to talk to you so welcome. Thank you for being with us.
Thanks for having me back. And
yeah, the world seems to always be changing, at least politically. Every time I think we've reached the craziest point in the journey, something else unpredictable happens. So
no, it's amazing. But before we start, can we just take a quick, you know, just a few minutes, just to talk about your background before you ran for Congress. And just tell us a little bit about your district.
Sure. I grew up here in Mount Lebanon, where I'm talking from now. And went to Catholic school, my whole childhood, Central Catholic High School, went out to college and law school at Penn in Philadelphia, and then joined the Marine Corps after I graduated from law school. So I was a military lawyer, mostly a prosecutor in rape and sexual assault cases, which are unfortunately a pretty big problem in the military. Got a lot of trial experience doing that. And when I came off of active duty, I became a federal prosecutor, back home here in Pittsburgh, stayed in the Marine Corps reserves. And when I was here in Pittsburgh, Dave Hickton was the US Attorney, we had a big push against the opioid epidemic. And I prosecuted a lot of heroin trafficking cases, some corrupt doctors to whipping out the painkillers that often lead to heroin overdoses, as well as some other things, bank robberies and violent crime. And that was what I was doing when I decided to, to quit and run for Congress in late 2017. So happy to talk more about that. But that's, that's where I come from.
But no, it's great. And you know, so we're glad to have you here and the impetus for you to run.
I think that for me, first of all, President Trump, his arrival in politics, and the fact that he did so well, not only in Pennsylvania, but in western Pennsylvania was kind of a wake up call for someone like me, who was from a family of Democrats, people active in politics. And at the same time that that was happening, you know, I was working these cases where people were overdosing on heroin, and it was really hollowing out communities all over our area in Washington County, Fayette County, green County, all these places kind of outside of the city of Pittsburgh, where you could just tell they weren't doing as well as they were 20 or 30 years ago. And neither party was fully to blame. I'd say both parties are to blame and their policy failures over that period of time. And the more I work these cases, I started thinking myself there's much bigger issues at play here, involving you know, how we build and protect the middle class and trade and wages and you know, just culture. And I wanted to be part of that. And I felt like running for congress might give me a chance to help.
And so I'm talking about your area who you represent one of the region's one of the counties.
Yeah, I've had, I've had two districts in the short time that I've been in the district that I represent right now. You can think of it as kind of where I live in Mount Lebanon in this portion of the South Hills, heading west to the airport. Never going into the city, but hugging the city all around. So I have like, you know, green tree and craft and, and mckees rocks, and those places that are right up against the city, out to the airport, and then in Allegheny cap County, wrapping around through sewickley, all through the North Hills, and out as far as like the trona Heights up in the Allegheny Valley. And then I have all of Beaver County, and I have half of cranberry. So it's kind of this, this thing that is, is west and north mostly of the city up against the Ohio Western Union,
we're still a very diverse community as well. Yes. Right. So it let's let's talk a little bit about the you know, in terms of the next stimulus package, you know, what's going on? Can we talk about where the discussions are right now? What are your personal priorities for the package?
Sure. And one, if I could just kind of make a point about word choice. It's important to us that the the emphasis in this package actually is not as much on stimulus as people tend to say, we really view this as much more like a disaster relief plan, like a rescue plan. That's what Biden officially calls it. So there are some stimulative parts of it like the 14 $100 checks. But even those we view as somewhat backward looking of trying to help these families that have lost so much throughout the year, and that are going deeper deeper into debt for various reasons. So that's a big piece of it is is helping people with cash payments as quickly as we can get it like you would in a disaster. Extending the unemployment benefits. What we've seen over the year is that a lot of people lost their jobs right away. A lot of them got them back within a few months, depending on what they do. And there's a group of long term unemployed, who were is really just stuck. And those are, you know, it's hotels, it's restaurants. It's anyone related to like travel, you know, it's certain key industries, tourism entertainment, that we all know why they can't be in business. And those people are skilled at their jobs that have just been long term unemployed. And so we need to make sure we keep helping them. There's a lot in the bill related to improving the vaccine rollout. And even investing in the research for the booster vaccines that we'll probably need for different variants, investing in how to reach harder to reach communities, like in rural areas, or you know, in inner city areas where people might be skeptical of vaccines that actually cost time and money to do. And then the last big piece I would emphasize its unique is direct federal aid to our state and local governments. We haven't really done that up to this point, we've we've conditioned some very specific Coronavirus relief to them. But the state of Pennsylvania, for example, had about a $4 billion budget shortfall last year, because they weren't collecting as much gas tax. You know, tolls all the stuff that the state collects that just slowed down during the pandemic. And that's that really, when you think about that, the lesson, I guess, that they've told us after 2008 was state local governments employ a lot of people, you know, they just have a lot of employees, they contract with the firms that go out and do all the road and bridge and sewer work and stuff. And when they run out of money, they start laying people off or they stop hiring people. It's just what they have to do. And so this money not only helps us respond to COVID, it helps the unemployment problem from getting any worse and affecting, you know, cops, teachers, but people who make this place work every day.
So along the lines of let's talk about return to work and economic inclusion, the house recently passed the national apprenticeship, act with your help and with your leadership. And we at the tech Council and tech community, were particularly bullish on apprenticeships. So talk about the components of that, that the act and why you're so supportive of it, and also talk about the amendment that you, you know, successfully offered to help improve for the final bill. So this is, this is the first time in a long time we're talking about this stuff at the federal level. Great.
Yeah. I mean, what I like about this bill is that it takes an existing program, an existing idea that has been extremely successful and just sort of builds on it or doubles down on it. You know, so often, I think we get stuck in politics in these debates between, like the kind of far out, you know, very liberal or progressive types who want to reinvent everything and like big and bold as their term and do all these new ideas that haven't quite been tested for Like extremely hardcore small government types, you want to just sort of cut and stop everything. And my position tends to be more, some people describe it as in the middle, I would say more has to do with, let's look at what has worked and reinvest in that and look at what has not worked, no matter how well intentioned and not do as much of that. This is an example of looking at something the federal registered apprenticeship program, which has been around since FDR, and just expanding it. So you know, it provides federal funding for on the job apprenticeship training. If you think about it, small, even medium sized businesses might have a hard time paying for that type of training for someone that has no skills, they need the training to happen, because they're, you know, if you're a pipe fitter, for example, that's a very advanced trade, you have to spend some time learning it, who's gonna pay for it. So this program helps that investment become possible. And what this bill did was put a whole lot of additional money behind it so that we can do more, and expand the industries in which these types of apprenticeships take place. And technology is a great example, where we need a lot of a lot of people who, you know, probably don't need that bachelor's degree, but need more than they get coming out of high school. And there's also fun stuff like winemaking tree trimming. Senior Care is one of the areas where it's one of the fastest growing jobs in America. And we want to see more of an apprenticeship model in there. So it's expanding access by having more people in more professions. And that should help people from having to take on too much student debt, gets them into the workforce faster, earning more money, it's just a win win. That's why we had a huge bipartisan support as a result.
And so anything about the amendment,
your Yeah, I had some amendments related to veterans access to apprenticeships. So like a lot of government programs, you know, like this vaccine, for example, a lot of people want it, not everybody knows how to get it. So you always have to put in some resources for the kind of outreach and marketing. And we did that by bringing what they call VSOs, which are like the American Legion, wounded warrior, you know, those traditional veterans organizations, bringing them into this process of recruiting people for apprenticeships, basically.
So, there's a couple of questions in there. I don't know if we, if Jonathan, you want to,
let's start with Sherry voc here wants to know, says, um, two questions from her actually. Are you doing anything to try to get the Keystone pipeline reopened and get everyone who is laid off the jobs back? And number two, her mother is seem to be 93 and has not been able to get her vaccine appointment. Do you anticipate more availability soon?
Yeah, sure. And thank you for the question. So Keystone pipeline, I talked to a number of the trade unions about this. And, you know, I was sort of on their side of it that I wouldn't have handled it the way that that President Biden did in terms of kind of first day executive order cancellation type of thing. That being said, he said during the campaign, he was going to do that. And so when I reached out to the White House on behalf of, you know, working people who were interested in this, their response was, look, we said we're doing it in the campaign, we're keeping our word. And so I don't I don't think there's unfortunately, going to be reconsideration of that under this president. I do want to make the point, though, that is important for Western Pennsylvania to understand, which is that the Keystone pipeline way out there in Montana, the Dakotas, Midwest, wherever, it did not have a huge energy or jobs. implication for Western Pennsylvania, at least at this stage. We think there, there were around 1000 people working on it at that time, and I wouldn't, I didn't want them to lose their job, I wouldn't want them to lose their job. But many of the numbers that you've heard about 10,000 people working on the pipeline, for example, were seasonal construction jobs, building the pipeline. And I believe that if we work hard enough on getting the vaccine done rebuilding the economy, doing a big public infrastructure program, that most of those construction workers will work on a different seasonal, you know, pipeline or other infrastructure project this year. And I've talked to some of the unions about that, about sort of who moves between jobs. And I think that they're broadly in agreement with me on that one as far as western Pennsylvania goes. The other one, I do anticipate a lot more rollout of the vaccine. It's up about 60% since Biden was inaugurated, nowhere near good enough yet, and the storms have slowed it down. But they're continuing to up the amounts that are coming out every week.
Yeah, that follows up to Bernards question with snow, is there more of a national plan for a vaccine rollout?
There is. What I'm told is that when this team had arrived in office in January, there really wasn't much of a national plan. As far as distribution. The administration had put a lot of resources behind development of the vaccine and deserve credit for that. It was an incredible accomplishment by a lot of people. But what was happening was they We're basically just dumping doses on governors and state health departments with very little notice. And so you know, the PA health department might get noticed that, you know, you're going to have 100,000 vaccines arrive tomorrow? Well, as you've probably experienced, if you're trying to, you know, get access to any of those doses, a pharmacy, a hospital, whatever, they need to know how many they're getting advanced to even set up the website or phone number for you to call and get how many appointments did they schedule, right? So now that the administration has gotten it to three weeks notice for all vaccines coming, and our hope is that that will not only make it smoother, but iron out some of these communication problems where, you know, the state is saying, oh, all of a second doses are here. And then you read the news the next day that that's not true. I mean, it's just, it's inexcusable, sloppy. But I think it's going to get better and better with each week.
Excellent. Really interesting question here about a shortage of CDL drivers at a crisis level right now on any way to include training in the apprentice program around CDL.
Yes, I will have to check on whether that is considered part of the apprenticeship bill that we just did. But I know that there has been a lot of effort at the federal level to increase CDL drivers and training and I agree with you, I've been hearing about it from people for two years. And those people are making a lot of money. I mean, there were people signing with Walmart making 80 to $100,000 a year as drivers. So it's a it's a quick training program, it's a great way to get people in. I know that here in western pa actually the United mineworkers, we're doing training of laid off miners into CDL, with some federal funds. So I'll make sure that we're continuing programs like that.
And so let me just jump in. And so in terms of the tech apprenticeship to other categories in there that you know, offhand,
that are led to believe that what they did was make funds available to sort of categories of tech companies that can then sort of apply with their own customized approaches of like, here's what we would use it for. So it's hard to be real specific about it. But there's anyone on the call who is part of my district, and it would be interested in exploring something like that contact my office, I mean, we'll we'll help you get an answer from the Department of Labor.
But we'll put your link out there real quick. I'm gonna get I'm gonna get to one question, and then we'll go back into the questions. Jonathan, I want to talk about, you know, President Biden working on immigration reform. Okay. And this is, this is an issue that we think is critical. It's critical to Pittsburgh's economy. It's Pittsburgh, it's, you know, critical to innovation and entrepreneurship. 42% of the companies that are actually on the NASDAQ were founded by immigrants. You know, there are people who are driving the next generation Pittsburgh has an incredible background and immigration of people who have come from all over the world. So, you know, Madonna was founded by an immigrant, what, you know, in terms of jobs there, they've found it so much for our economy. And I just want to make sure that this is at the top of the agenda. Do you think that some of President Biden's you know, plan includes components to address? Yes,
I thought I know it does. I don't know specifically, you know, which visa programs he wants to increase by which amounts. But that is that's being discussed a lot in the news right now. And they're clearly looking at the issue. I know, one thing that has affected the tech community a lot is the country caps on certain visas. And so a lot of really exciting entrepreneurs and inventors coming from India, for example, that run into a cat, when, you know, you don't end up with as much from another country. So that's part of what is under review. I think his his initial rollout has a lot to do with, you know, the people that are freezing intense on the Mexican border right now and trying to get families, you know, reunited. But this part of it is definitely under discussion as well.
Yeah, it's, it's I just can't make that point enough that that's so important for Western Pennsylvania, and you're in the area that you represent. So thank you for that. Let's go back, Jonathan, let's grab some of these questions.
Absolutely. That's I kind of aggregated some of these so we can kind of knock some of these out some chunks. Congressman. So really, we talk more about the idea of building more infrastructure in the country. Lots of concerns around improving our crumbling infrastructure.
Yeah, I mean, there's there's there's so much to do, we almost can't lose by just doing a healthy size infrastructure bill. I serve on the infrastructure committee in Congress in what we believe is that after this COVID rescue plan is done. The by the administration's second major legislative push of this first term is going to be essentially a infrastructure jobs climate type of Bill. A couple of unknowns about that right now that will affect how it turns out. You've probably if you're following this, you've seen that the COVID package was being done basically on partisan lines using a thing in the senate called budget reconciliation, which allows you to pass it with 51 votes instead of 60. You can only use that tool twice in a congressional term for whatever reason, that's what the rules say. So, at the outset, we don't know whether an infrastructure jobs climate type of bill would also end up going under along those lines, or if it would go along more traditional bipartisan lines. My hope is, is for the bipartisan approach. I think there's nothing about infrastructure that should be partisan. What will could potentially be a flashpoint though, as the cost and number of Republicans are, are finding their fiscal conservative routes, again, after kind of abandoning them under Trump, and objecting to what we're spending on COVID and everything else. So that's going to be the political dynamic, you know, the contents of the bill, I think it's gonna have a lot to do with surface transportation. So roads and bridges, rural broadband, and even increasing broadband access within cities going to be a huge component. There's some of that in in the COVID relief bill. But that's mostly has to do with like, getting hotspots to kids that needed this more would have to do with laying more fiber or getting more 5g infrastructure out there. Climate pieces that you would see would be like major investment in electric vehicles. So the chairman of our committee, for example, wants to replace almost the entire fleet of the US Postal Service with electric electric vehicles, delivery trucks, that kind of thing. You would see more sort of energy related infrastructure, this issue in Texas kind of reveals how our aging electrical grid needs to be updated. More money for things like public transit, transit, that also has a positive climate affect electric buses and cities, that kind of thing. So those are a few elements. Happy to answer more advanced questions about that if
you guys want. JOHN Barnes is here. Thanks for your support everything around neighborhood 91. And wants to know more about the importance of this to your district neighborhood. 91 says a transformative thing with additive manufacturing. Thanks, john.
Yeah, one of the most important things happening in my district. So it's add, for those who don't know, it's at the airport, they use some of the free land out there to try to create an advanced manufacturing hub, focus specifically on metals and 3d printing of metals. A lot of aviation parts, I believe. So it's everything we're talking about, right? It's it's job creation, it's a greener type of technology. It's advanced, it relies on, you know, a more educated and trained workforce, and it will help inject a little bit of life into that corridor, Pittsburgh as a whole, I think there's a there's a strong case to be made that we could be the capital of advanced manufacturing, at least as related to metals. Just given our history and the intellectual resources we have and the investment, they've made the airport. And so you know, I represent the airport, I do everything I can to get sort of funding for them. And we're exploring along with john, you know, some different grant programs and opportunities that would just help keep the investment going there. They've done such a great job attracting web tech and, and other tenants to get things started.
So that's great. I just want to just articulate that at the tech Council, we really care as well, I mean, for so many market sectors of electric vehicles. And, you know, we were forming a, you know, an Eevee coalition to address the the downstream opportunities as well as the upstream opportunities, retracting companies there, so anything going on at the federal level that you want to talk about?
Sure. You know, we do things like tax credits, for example. But I think something like what I mentioned, of, you know, making a massive investment in in the Postal Service's ability to do electric vehicles, or even, you know, using defense spending for that kind of thing. Those are the kind of investments that can move an entire industry forward. Those are the kind of investments that the US made in aviation in its earlier stage, that then allowed it to jump into the civilian sector and energy and there's, you know, the internet, there's so many examples like that. So we're looking at things like that. Another thing that that comes up a lot on another committee, I'm on the science, space and technology committee is availability and access to rare earth minerals. You know, these electric batteries require some very specific minerals like cobalt that only exist in certain parts of the world. China has, unfortunately seized control of a lot of that process. And we need to figure out, you know, if we sort of can't get them the traditional route, at least in quantities large enough, how would we get them including from here in the United States, there's a lot of belief that given a country as big as ours, if we look in the right places in an efficient manner, we can probably extract a lot of this stuff ourselves. So that work is already happening at the, at some of our national labs, actually that a lot of people don't know, we have a national lab here in South Park. And they're doing that work with respect to cold trying to extract some of this stuff from coal. So that's a big part of it too.
Well, so the good news is about EBS is that we're actually able to leverage our assets in terms of, of natural gas. And so we can, we can use that right here in southwestern Pennsylvania to build our assets, with all the partners that we have here, all the big companies, you know, covestro, US Steel, etc. So it's sort of, it's a great way of keeping the economy even stronger.
And even though you know, the plastics sector, coming out of the shell cracker plant, people don't always think of this connection, but that material, the polyethylene that they're going to be manufacturing there, that actually helps go to lightweight vehicles, like electric vehicles to make them efficient enough to run on electric power. And so that's actually an area where we might be able to contribute. Now, a lot of people shell is a very dirty, you know, project, but it has kind of some, some clean outputs.
So there's there's a couple of more questions off, and people are asking about the heroin and opioid.
Let's switch gears to that, because we have not covered that. I know, that's a passion of the congressman wants to know, can you speak more about your work to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic? Absolutely, um,
you know, my, my background was more in the law enforcement side of it, which is ongoing. And, you know, increasingly, the epidemic has really become the fentanyl epidemic. And so, a big part of that fentanyl really comes from labs in China, sometimes sent to Mexico and smuggled into the US. And so there's, we're always looking for ways to increase law enforcement's ability to detect some of that stuff coming from China very difficult. And now using diplomatic means to try to force the Chinese to crack down on it themselves. I mean, it's been said that if you write a semi critical political cartoon in China, you know, an agent of the state is going to be at your door 15 minutes later, yet they claim they don't know where these illicit fentanyl Labs is. But really what where the money is to be made is on kind of demand the treatment side. And there What seems to be the biggest issue is continuing to try to expand access to health care for the people that are most at risk, and particularly mental health care. So we see time and again, that it's people that lost their job, went through a domestic situation, whatever the case may be, that end up falling into painkillers and or opioids, illegally. And you get a small window of time where someone might encourage them to seek substance abuse treatment. And if they're not covered, if they show up and they can't get access, because they don't have the right insurance, and there's a million forms they have to fill out and all that stuff, you may lose them for good. And so continuing to do things like Biden is doing with reopening the Obamacare exchanges, rebuilding the community of kind of recruiters, and explainers out there who helped get people signed up for Obamacare, that actually has a huge effect on the opioid problem. And we've done a lot to By the way, just to regulate like prescription opioids and building the databases can no longer get as many as it used to, but that's ongoing as well.
There's one more question related to this one's related to cannabis.
Sure. Yeah. I've gotten a lot of questions about cannabis.
Entering the class, one drug for cannabis, and legalization of cannabis, which is being done in a large number of states.
Yeah. So given my background, you know, the way I look at this is, marijuana was in schedule one of the Controlled Substances Act, you know, where that sort of most dangerous drugs belong, that should no longer be the case, marijuana has no place in schedule one, it hasn't for a long time. And we we just voluntarily wouldn't prosecute marijuana cases when I was in office, because it doesn't have the same criminal value that people thought it had. A recent proposal in Congress was just to take marijuana totally out of the Controlled Substances Act altogether, which would it just be an unusual approach because like even prescription drugs are in the Controlled Substances Act, you can still get them. But there is a controlled process for how you get them, namely a prescription, you know, all the checks that go with that. So my personal position is at the federal level, we should remove marijuana from schedule one, move it down the schedule, create a safe way for people to get it for medical purposes. And then as states continue to experiment in cities, by the way with, with decriminalization and recreational schemes, let's see how that goes. And there may come a day where the federal government wants to adopt that too. But I think this is an area where we can use slightly different federal and state approaches to try to keep people safe, and get access to the people that needed for medicine quickly and effectively.
So Jonathan, I know we're coming up we've spent more than 30 minutes with him and I want to be sensitive to the congressman's time, but Congressman, there's lots of questions that are out here.
And if you guys want to stay on good,
okay. All right, going, Jonathan.
Very cool. Very cool. Let's scroll up the line here. This is from drew fields, following up on on Audrey's earlier question says, We have a great nonprofit tech organization started by two immigrants called for one two Food Rescue is scaling nationally as an app called Food Rescue hero. Is there an appetite in Congress to provide tax incentives or other incentives for entities to support tech for good organizations? Like for 123? rescue?
That's a great question. And I think I would have to look into it. I mean, I would argue that 501 c three status is the ultimate tax incentive, because paying taxes but yeah, as as to specific technology that you could acquire. We can certainly look at that. And I think they would be eligible for things like PPP during the pandemic that might help them as well.
Very cool. In a question from Matt Rosenberger. Do you know if the manufacturing USA Institute's will be supported or utilized as a tool to help drive tech adoption and workforce support?
Yes, thank you for asking about that. Because to me, those are like one of the hidden gems of the federal government created after 2008. And, you know, one of my real ambitions is I would like to see more investment in those in western Pennsylvania. So for those who don't know, there's, I don't know, you could probably correct me, but it dozen or so of these manufacturing Institute's around the country created after 2008, designed to fuse the intellectual resources of universities with the know how of companies and materials experts to sort of figure out the next generation of manufacturing. The problem is I see it is if you look at a rival country, like Germany, which has done a really good job preserving its manufacturing base, they have like 70 of these things. In a country the size of Texas, we have like 12 in a country, the whole size United States, we need more, we'd be inviting more people in CMU participates in one now related to advanced robotics, especially for the defense sector. But you know, maybe the direction that something like neighborhood 91 is heading we could try to expand access to those for this area. Great.
And I think we have one more question that clears out our queue for today. And thank you so much for taking the extra time to talk to our crowd today. from the CDC, can you address the vaccine in not being allowed to go to other I guess, counties to get the vaccine that was that counties or countries? Or maybe countries possibly?
I saw that one too. And it wasn't wasn't clear to me. Yeah, counties.
Go the other counties to get to the you know, we've had people in our own office good either.
Renee, reiterated County. So I guess we would have to talk through your specific case, because I am also aware of people going to other counties, I don't know.
She was stopped that may that may have been specific to the provider that you were dealing with, because I know that other people doing it through their insurer have actually been sent to other counties based on where the availability was. So I don't know who the provider was in your case, or maybe they've changed the rules. One of the unfortunate things has been that since the supply is fluctuating so much, the providers have had to continually adjust the number of employments what's available, who it's available to kind of in real time, which is the most frustrating thing ever. For normal people, I get it, like you're being told you have an appointment, and you don't hear you have a second coat those guaranteed and you know, a lot of this has to do with the storm supply chain issues. But then I also think that communication at the state level has been lacking in clarity and certainty, as the availability of the vaccine improves. You know, like we said, it's up 60% already in the last month, a lot of that will fall away, because there will be more for everybody. But we're going to be in a rocky period for a few more weeks as that happens. So I'm sorry that that's happening to you.
Mm hmm. Yeah, it looks like they changed the rules after shoot out there. I'm sorry about that when I so let's let's just end on this note, last year, and I think it was during COVID, you issued a congressional app, and a challenge to encourage students from your district to learn and adopt coding skills. What What was that about? Can you talk about that?
Yeah, this is this is sponsored by a National Foundation, just to give kids a reason to get into coding, inventing apps. So we participated in, you basically invite I think, middle schoolers and high schoolers from throughout the district to make submissions and a number of people, including probably a few people on this call, took part as judges to help us figure out who's the best and there was a student from Fox Chapel High School, you know, very painful thing for me being Central Catholic alarm, and we used to battery, right, Apple came out on top and this one invented an app that helps people figure out if they needed to get a coat It tests based on who they've been exposed to. So it's very impressive. And I think it's just a great, great reason to get kids doing something a little bit outside the normal curriculum.
Listen, I want to thank you so much for being with us. People really appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for being accessible. Thank you for representing us. Lots of issues to address lots of matters to be resolved. So my hat's off to you. I want you to stay safe. And we will stay connected to you and your team really appreciate the work that you're doing for us. But before we end, Jonathan has an announcement and is going to talk about Monday.
Absolutely. So everyone has to tune in to business as usual Monday in the entire week. Because we are partnering with work scape and Knoll for a home office makeover. We've been sitting in cardboard boxes, propping up our laptops, achy backs from bad chairs, or one lucky business as usual, participant will be selected, but you got to submit a picture of your awful home office setup. So we have more details on that to submit your pictures, but be here for next week because you're gonna have to be in attendance in order to win the setup. Good stuff on Monday. And then on Monday, we have Camille scantly. stopping by to talk about project Greenwood really important project going on. Yes,
Buddy. Thank you for having me again.
thank you enough. Thank you. Stay safe everyone. Have a great weekend. Thanks for joining us.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai