Archives for May 2018

Penalty Reinstated Against Former PA House Speaker

A judge is effectively reinstating a $1 million penalty against a former Pennsylvania House speaker after the state’s highest court threw it out as part of a 2012 corruption sentence. reported that a Dauphin County judge imposed the new $1 million penalty Wednesday against John Perzel under a law that targets the pensions of state officials convicted of committing crimes on the job. He is expected to appeal.

Wagner Resigns Senate Post

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Scott Wagner says he’s resigning from his Senate seat on Monday to focus on the governor’s race. Wagner submitted his resignation letter on Wednesday to Senate President Joe Scarnati. Wagner’s spokesman Andrew Romeo says the senator realized the best way to “bring about the most change and do the most good for the commonwealth” is by devoting all of his time and energy to the election. He will face Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is seeking a second, four-year term. Wolf says Wagner’s decision to resign after missing key votes and one month before the budget deadline “proves that he is the very worst of Harrisburg.” Wagner has held his Senate seat for the past four years.

Gov. Wolf Says no to Debate Tour

Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner says he wants Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to join him in a town hall-format appearance in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties before the November election, although Wolf’s campaign is dismissing it as a “political gimmick.” Wagner’s campaign floated the idea Tuesday, saying it would allow the candidates to break away from rehearsed campaign-trail answers. Wolf’s campaign says the governor is already traveling around the state meeting with people. It also cited criticism of Wagner for rejecting invitations to forums during the three-way Republican primary campaign, although Wagner participated in at least nine televised forums and debates. Wagner’s campaign counters that Wolf thinks he doesn’t have to defend his record to voters. Wolf is seeking a second four-year term. The campaigns otherwise haven’t discussed a debate schedule.

Conviction Upheld for Former PA Attorney General

A Pennsylvania appeals court is upholding the conviction of former attorney general Kathleen Kane for leaking secret grand jury information and lying about it. Superior Court, today, rejected arguments made by Kane, a Democrat sentenced in 2016 to 10 to 23 months but out on bail.

PA Transgender Ruling

A Pennsylvania school district can allow transgender students to continue using bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their sexual identity. That was the ruling of a federal appeals court panel Thursday. A three-judge panel heard extended arguments in the case before conferring for less than 30 minutes and ultimately affirming a lower court decision refusing to halt the Boyertown School District’s transgender student bathroom policy. A student at the school district about 45 miles northeast of Philadelphia, with the help of the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a lawsuit alleging the district is violating his constitutional privacy rights by allowing transgender students to use the same facilities he uses. The judges called the lower court’s ruling, “exceptionally well-reasoned.”

PA Pothole Help

Pennsylvania drivers will be getting some relief from pockmarked roadways in the form of $180 million to fill in potholes and perform other work after the ravages of a tough winter. Gov. Tom Wolf was announcing today $22 million for pothole and pavement repairs, enough to buy nearly 30,000 tons of paving material. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation burned through nearly 23,000 tons of asphalt to repair potholes through the end of April. It used about 15,000 tons over the same period last year and in 2016. The state also plans to spend $7 million on interstate maintenance work, $30 million for interstate upgrades, $60 million for resurfacing and $62 million in interstate preservation.

Virgina State Police Release Crime in Virginia Report



New Rules on PA Medical Pot Law on Hold

A judge put a hold on plans to implement the research provision of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law Tuesday, siding with dispensaries and growers who challenged the Health Department’s approach. Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough issued a preliminary injunction that halted the agency’s regulations pertaining to handing out additional licenses to growers and dispensaries that partner for research with medical schools. McCullough said the regulations may go beyond provisions of the law and circumvent its detailed method of licensing growers and dispensaries. Health Department spokeswoman April Hutcheson said the agency is considering its legal options. Hutheson said, “Research is a vital component of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to improve treatment options for patients suffering from serious medical conditions, including opioid-use disorder.”

A Call for More Independent Voters

Some top Pennsylvania lawmakers want to allow independent voters to participate in the major parties’ primary elections in an effort to bring more moderates to the polls. Currently, only voters registered with a political party may vote in its primary election, leaving unaffiliated voters without a voice until the general election.

Latest PA Unemployment Stats

Pennsylvania’s payrolls crept to another record high in April, while the unemployment rate inched down to a post-recession low as the labor pool shrank. The state Department of Labor and Industry said today Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.7 percent in April. The national rate is 3.9 percent. A survey of households found Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force contracted by 16,000, falling further below its 2012 record high as employment and unemployment dropped. A separate survey of employers showed seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls rose by about 9,000 in April, reaching a record high a bit farther above 6 million. The biggest gains were in professional and business services and education and health services.