Work zone speed cameras to be deployed in Pennsylvania

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, The Associated Press

Cameras to detect speeding in Pennsylvania’s roadway work zones will begin limited operation next week ahead of their use statewide early next year.

Two cameras will be deployed, one in the Pennsylvania Turnpike system and one on another Pennsylvania roadway, but for 60 days violators won’t be issued warnings or tickets.

Read More

Pa. moves a step closer to first major overhaul of election rules in more than 80 years

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, October 19, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Pennsylvania’s election rules could be in for their first major overhaul in more than 80 years if bipartisan-backed legislation approved by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday reaches Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.

The House voted 138-61 to approve an election reform legislation that has Wolf’s support as well as the Senate’s majority Republicans that not only provides a new voting option starting with next year’s elections but also provides counties with $90 million to help cover the cost of replacing their voting machines with ones that have a paper trail.

Read More

Bill to allow 3 Sunday hunting days tweaked in state House

Monday, October 28, 2019, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Legislation to allow Sunday hunting with a landowner’s written permission three days a year in Pennsylvania is getting some minor changes ahead of a final vote in the state House.

Representatives voted overwhelmingly Monday to waive trespassing violations for unarmed people who enter posted property solely to retrieve a hunting dog, to let local police help the Game Commission enforce trespassing rules and to push back the law’s effective date by three months.

Read More

If Pa. puts a cap on carbon emissions, what happens to electricity prices?

Laura Legere | Thursday, October 24, 2019, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

In the weeks since Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he is taking steps to enroll Pennsylvania in a regional collaboration to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, a key question arose: How much will this raise electricity prices?

A new report offers a surprising answer: It won’t, at least not in the near future.

Read More

Pa. House passes bills to address firefighter shortage by offering property tax credits, college loan forgiveness and more

Jan Murphy | Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Length of service awards, college loan forgiveness, tuition assistance, and local property tax credits may soon be among the incentives available to individuals who choose to serve as a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania.

The state House of Representatives passed a package of bills on Wednesday aimed at addressing a growing shortage of volunteer firefighter and EMS personnel that is nearing or at crisis levels in some communities around the state. Those measures, along with ones passed earlier in the week, now will go to the Senate for consideration.

Read More

Sen. Costa, Rep. Mizgorski introduce identical solar bills

Jacob Tierney | Tuesday, October 22, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Two Pittsburgh-area lawmakers on opposite sides of the aisle proposed measures that would allow customers to buy solar power directly from utility providers.

State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Shaler, on Tuesday introduced identical local solar program bills in the state Senate and House.

Read More

Pa. spends $1.3 million (so far) on search for lottery partner amid fierce competition for $1B contract

Jan Murphy | Monday, October 21, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

The hunt for a company to service the Pennsylvania Lottery’s games and gaming system for the next decade has proven to be a contentious and costly venture.

Two companies are vying for 10-year lottery servicing contracts that would pay close to $1 billion or more over the life of the deal (the contracts could be extended for two to four years). It’s one of the commonwealth’s most lucrative long-term contracts.

Read More

Want to vote in November? The deadline is approaching quickly

Ron Southwick | October 3, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

If you’re hoping to cast a ballot in the November election and you haven’t registered to vote, time is running out.

The deadline to register to vote in the fall election is Oct. 7. Next month, voters will cast ballots in judicial, county, municipal and school board races. It may be an “off-year” since the presidential election is a year away, but these races determine who will set local property tax rates, oversee schools and protect the public.

Voters will also be asked if they want to amend the constitution to clarify the rights of crime victims.

Read More

Gov. Wolf aims to raise Pa.’s profile in climate change fight by joining multi-state carbon tax program

Charles Thompson | October 2, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Gov. Tom Wolf is about to take his biggest step yet in the fight against climate change by entering Pennsylvania into the Northeast’s multi-state system that promotes cleaner air by placing a tax on future carbon emissions.

Wolf, by an administrative action that may trigger future court challenges, is expected to announce Thursday the first steps to commit Pennsylvania to enter into full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Read More

Bill would allow Pa. local officials to get pay increases of up to 68%

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, October 1, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

The maximum pay for certain local government officials, which hasn’t risen in nearly a quarter of a century, could go up by as much as 68% under legislation moving in Pennsylvania’s Capitol.

That proposed increase in the maximum salary that could be paid to township supervisors, mayors and borough council members under this package of bills, sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster County, reflects the regional percentage change in the Consumer Price Index since 1995, the last time the local municipal officials’ salary cap was set.

Read More

Rivers Casino unveils $5M lounge with 360 degrees of TV screens for sports gambling

Natasha Lindstrom | Monday, September 30, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

While tailgaters sweated outside Heinz Field in the muggy weather, another black-and-gold-clad crowd gathered hours before Monday night’s Steelers game in the air-conditioned comfort of River Casino’s latest addition — a 5,500-square-foot lounge for sports gambling.

People placing bets or simply checking out the new sportsbook digs relaxed in plush recliners while drink servers took their orders.

Read More

$2 million study looks at hyperloop – 700 mph transit – that would cross Pennsylvania

Jana Benscoter | Thursday, September 26, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Will a hyperloop work in Pennsylvania?

That’s the question officials from legislative and executive branches, statewide agencies, organizations and departments, as well as a handful of private business leaders are trying to answer.

Fifty people, invited to a workshop at Dixon University in Harrisburg on Wednesday, met to talk about the possibility of building a hyperloop system in the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has until April 2020 to complete a $2 million state-legislative commissioned study on its viability.

Read More

Gov. Tom Wolf now supports legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania

Wednesday, September 25, 2019, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is now in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, saying Wednesday that most of the state’s residents support it and that the state has a wealth of knowledge from the experience in other states to guide it.

Wolf, a second-term Democrat, packaged his announcement with a call to the Republican-controlled Legislature to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and allow the expungement of past convictions of nonviolent and small marijuana-related crimes.

Read More

State study: Arnold Palmer Regional Airport boosts economy by $226M

Jeff Himler | Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport boosts the local economy by $226 million annually, according to a state study.

The 2019 state Bureau of Aviation update of its similar 2011 report shows the Unity airport’s impact has more than doubled since 2010 — when it pumped $97.5 million into the area, a year before Spirit Airlines began regular commercial flights from the airport to Southern destinations.

Read More

Pa. Capitol Rotunda crowd control policy tweaked to allow for easier pedestrian traffic flow

Jan Murphy | Monday, September 23, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Visitors to the Pennsylvania Capitol will now see fewer stanchions in the Rotunda to carve out a pathway for people to navigate around large rallies in this popular gathering spot.

Just one week after putting a new policy in place to control Rotunda crowds and limit their size, the Wolf Administration has tweaked its policy to reduce the number of stanchions that will be set up. That should allow for freer pedestrian traffic flow in the Rotunda on days when the General Assembly is in session and more people are in the Capitol.

Read More

Pennsylvania set for big expansion of utility assistance for low-income consumers — at a cost of $102 million

Andrew Maykuth | Thursday, September 19, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, split along party lines, voted Thursday to dramatically expand low-income utility assistance programs, making them more forgiving and more affordable for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

The PUC’s action could significantly lower energy costs for the poorest families — a household with a $10,000 annual income could see a $1,000 decrease in electric and gas bills. But the new policy will shift the estimated $102 million cost of the expanded low-income subsidies to other customers, including, for the first time, commercial and industrial customers. Utility consumers in Philadelphia, the poorest large city in the country, will likely bear a significant part of the cost burden.

Read More

Hospital admissions for opioid overdoses decline in Pennsylvania

Deb Erdley and Emily Balser | Wednesday, September 18, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

A significant decrease in hospital admissions for opioid overdoses across Pennsylvania may have more to do with evolving treatment and the widespread availability of a lifesaving antidote than any major drop in drug abuse, experts said following the release of a report on overdose hospitalizations.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council tracked overdose hospitalizations in the state between 2016 and 2018 and found that admissions for opioid overdoses dropped from 3,500 to 2,667 — or nearly 24%.

Read More

Pa. Liquor Control Board’s refusal to share records with state lawmaker sparks court battle

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, September 17, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

A state lawmaker is finding his quest for records to help him decide whether to support a bill that would increase the number of restaurant liquor licenses has led him into a court battle with a state agency.

Using the state’s Right to Know Law process, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria County, asked the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for the number of out-of-service or revoked restaurant liquor licenses in each county that are able to be auctioned.

Read More

Rallies in the Pa. Capitol Rotunda are in for a change with crowd size now limited

Jan Murphy | Monday, September 16, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Some changes are in store for the state Capitol Rotunda that will impact the size of rallies held there and the people trying to move around them.

Starting Monday, the state Department of General Services is instituting a policy that will limit the maximum occupancy for events that get scheduled on that date and thereafter for this popular gathering spot inside the Capitol to 450 people. That includes the attendees who stand on the marble staircase, on the floor as well as on the balconies above.

Read More

Pa. lawmakers are among the highest paid in U.S., but they’re doing less and less actual lawmaking

Liz Navratil & Jonathan Lai| Friday, September 13, 2019, Spotlight PA

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the nation and its lawmakers are among the highest-paid in the country, yet, increasingly, they’re doing less and less actual lawmaking.

The number of bills introduced in the legislature has fallen by more than 20% from its peak in the early 1990s, and the number of bills actually passed into law has fallen even more dramatically in the years since, according to an analysis of four decades of legislative data by The Inquirer and Spotlight PA.

Read More