More-secure hand-marked ballots are also cheaper for Pa. counties

Christopher Huffaker | Thursday, August 15, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Election security experts told the Allegheny County Board of Elections in June that the best choice for secure elections is a voting system where most voters make their selections with a pen on paper — while those who need them have access to ballot-marking devices.

A new analysis shows that for Pennsylvania counties that have already selected new systems, that is also the cheaper option.

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Lawmakers might bring back license plate stickers with a new twist

Ed Blazina | Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state House Transportation Committee is considering a bill to reinstate those little vehicle registration stickers on Pennsylvania license plates.

But the bill proposed by state Rep. Barry Jozwiak, R-Reading, would do more than reinstate the registration sticker. Critics say it would completely overhaul the system by establishing a combination inspection-registration sticker that would be placed on license plates, requiring owners to have an inspection before they can register their vehicles rather than keeping them separate transactions.

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Gov. Wolf calls for sweeping reforms for charter schools in Pennsylvania

Deb Erdley | Tuesday, August 13, 2019, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday vowed to level the playing field between Pennsylvania’s traditional public schools and charter and cyber charter schools.

He said the latter lack accountability and transparency and are draining millions of dollars from struggling school districts.

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The state will hand out millions of dollars for redevelopment; Which central Pa. projects were awarded grant money?

Daniel Urie | Monday, August 12, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

The state recently awarded millions of dollars in grant money for redevelopment projects though the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The grant program is administered by the State of Pennsylvania’s Office of the Budget and is for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.

Grant money has been awarded from the state through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program since 1986.

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Tackling property tax relief on Pa. lawmakers’ minds again; work group formed to find a solution

Jan Murphy | Thursday, August 8, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Pennsylvania state lawmakers are making overtures once again about attempting to address the intractable issue of school property tax relief this fall.

A bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers along with administration officials are meeting behind closed doors later today to informally discuss possible pathways to lead to a new way to fund public schools.

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Only in Pennsylvania: Legal quirk for wineries – discounts are fine, just don’t advertise it

Harold Brubaker | Tuesday, August 6, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Here’s another dispatch from the weird world of Pennsylvania liquor law: The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has explicitly barred the state’s wineries from promoting volume discounts — such as 25 percent off a case of Cabernet Franc — because that amounts to an inducement.

Wineries are, on the other hand, allowed to offer a list price for a case of wine that is lower than the per bottle price, as long as they don’t promote the discount, according to an advisory opinion published last week.

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Gov. Tom Wolf calls charter schools ‘private,’ draws heated response from their largest advocacy group

Jan Murphy | Monday, August 5, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

To say Gov. Tom Wolf struck a nerve with the charter school community when he recently referred to their schools as “private” is putting it mildly, but his administration is not backing away from that description.

An organization representing those schools sent Wolf a letter on Thursday voicing their “grave concerns” about his comments as well as his perception of charters, which are public schools that operate independently of school districts.

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Pennsylvania Lottery reports record sales after adding online, bar games

Diana Nelson Jones | Thursday, August 1, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pennsylvania Lottery announced Thursday that this year’s $4.5 billion revenue from Pennsylvania Lottery games hit a record, topping last year’s record $4.2 billion.

A record $2.9 billion was paid out to winners, and 70 people won $1 million or more.

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These states have the largest amount of student loan debt. Where does Pa. rank?

Linda Hasco | Wednesday, July 31, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Student loan debt has become a hot-button issue for Democrats hoping to nab the party’s nomination for president in 2020. Some have suggested offering refinancing options, larger grants and free community college educations. Others have proposed debt-free college. And a few candidates are even calling for forgiveness of student debt.

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V-tolls: What they are and why you might be paying them if you travel the Pa. Turnpike

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, July 30, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Mysterious charges appeared on E-ZPass statements of Pennsylvania Turnpike customers at least 350,000 times over the course of a year.

Called V-tolls, these are $10 charges incurred by E-ZPass users when an E-ZPass transponder doesn’t get read as a vehicle exits the turnpike.

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Pennsylvania Turnpike using technology to clear accident scenes quicker

Ed Blazina | Monday, July 29, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a senior traffic operations manager for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, John Parker knew that tons of information is available about conditions on the toll road from a variety of sources: public safety reports, mobile apps such as Waze, even social media.

But at the turnpike’s control center in Harrisburg, it was a cumbersome process, at best, for the Traffic, Engineering and Operations personnel to monitor and use that information in the best ways possible.

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Pa. legislation aims to build on low number of roads, bridges named to honor women

Alyssa Biederman | Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Take a road trip through the Capital Region and you’ll see John Harris Memorial Bridge, the Sen. John D. Hopper Memorial Bypass, the Army Major Richard D. Winters Bridge, the Cpl. Paul Walters Memorial Bridge and more.

It’s a great way to open your eyes to important figures in local history – so long as you’re OK with forgetting about the women.

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Groups go to court to try to keep Pa.’s cash assistance for state’s poorest residents from ending on Aug. 1

Jan Murphy | Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Organizations that assist poor and disabled individuals have turned to the courts to try to salvage the state’s cash assistance program scheduled to end next week.

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and the Disability Rights Pennsylvania filed paperwork in Commonwealth Court on Monday asking for a preliminary injunction to keep the program alive for the 11,844 poor and disabled people who came to depend on it.

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Could Pa. be the next state to raise the age to buy tobacco products to 21?

Alyssa Biederman | Monday, July 22, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

When Sen. Mario Scavello was growing up, his house was filled with smoke from his father’s cigarette habit. His wife, Mary Ann, knew the same familiar acrid scent.

But that’s how it was “back in those days,” Scavello said – an easy argument to make until both his father and his father-in-law died from lung cancer.

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Gov. Wolf again pushes statewide broadband expansion and gas severance tax to fund it

Bennett Leckrone | Thursday, July 18, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

Despite pushback from the legislature, Gov. Tom Wolf still says that a gas severance tax is the best way to fund his proposed $4.5 billion infrastructure plan.

Flanked by business and government leaders from rural Pennsylvania, Wolf said at a Thursday press conference that he’s “all ears” to any other way the state can come up with $4.5 billion for his Restore Pennsylvania initiative, but added state funding was the only way to ensure the initiative’s broadband expansion.

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How much money in the 2019-20 Pa. state budget is heading to your school district?

Jan Murphy | Wednesday, July 17, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

The finalized $34 billion state budget includes more than $6.2 billion in direct support to help fund school districts’ basic operation in 2019-20.

Most districts are estimated to receive an increase although a half dozen receive less than a 1 percent cut with Clarion-Limestone Area School District in Clarion County being cut the most. On the other end, York Suburban School District in York County appears to receive the greatest increase at 16.1 percent.

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‘All hands on deck’: Pennsylvania ramps up battle against the spotted lanternfly

Tuesday, July 16, 2019, The (Allentown) Morning Call

Pennsylvania has allocated an additional $3 million in its budget toward the containment of the spotted lanternfly, bringing the total to more than $10 million to protect businesses and agriculture in the state.

The funding was announced Tuesday at a joint press conference held by Gov. Tom Wolf, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State University, and U.S. Department of Agriculture at a Harrisburg site populated with spotted lanternflies.

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New gambling options come online Monday — slots, blackjack and more

Gary Rotstein | Monday, July 15, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The latest newly legalized gambling opportunity in Pennsylvania reaches the public Monday, with two casinos scheduled to launch online sites that allow play of slots, blackjack and other games just like in their actual settings.

The Parx Casino, based in Bucks County, and Hollywood Casino, located in Dauphin County, will be the first to undertake multiple days of testing of their new online casino games, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach said. He said Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino, which is a sister property of the Rivers Casino, will introduce its site Wednesday and Thursday, also under gaming board supervision.

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Pa. adds anxiety to qualifying conditions for medical pot

Associated Press | Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Pennsylvania Health Department is adding anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome to the list of conditions that can qualify people to obtain legal medical marijuana.

The heath secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, announced Thursday she’ll be adding them as of July 20.

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Pa. legislators, how about a present for your constituents? Pass the Gift Ban bill | Editorial

PennLive Editorial Board | Wednesday, July 10, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

A bipartisan House bill would make it illegal to bribe Pennsylvania lawmakers with gifts such as expensive meals, sporting event tickets, transportation, lodging and anything else of economic value.

HB 1291 is one of those proposals that makes you wonder: Why is this even a matter of debate? The answer in Harrisburg is always the same, because someone benefits from the way things are. And it’s not you, the voter and taxpayer.

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