Archives for October 2018

More Funerals Today in Pittsburgh

Members of Pittsburgh’s grief-stricken Jewish community endured another round of funerals today for victims of the synagogue massacre, a day after President Donald Trump encountered hundreds of protesters when he came to town to pay his respects. Melvin Wax, 87, Irving Younger, 69, and Joyce Fienberg, 75, were to be laid to rest as part of a weeklong series of services for the 11 people killed in a shooting rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue Saturday. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Six people were wounded in the attack, including four police officers, two of whom remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Two congregants were still in the hospital, one in critical condition. In a bit of good news, hospital officials said the two most seriously injured shooting victims are improving.

PA GOP Dealt Third Redistricting Loss in Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court is dismissing another challenge by top Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania to the legality of new congressional district boundaries imposed by the state’s highest court in a gerrymandering case. The high court on Monday denied the case by House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. It’s the third time the nation’s highest court has rejected such a GOP effort. November’s election is being conducted on new court-drawn districts viewed as more competitive than the now-invalidated map drawn in 2011 by Republicans to help Republicans win. Under the 2011 map, Republicans won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 House seats in three straight elections even as Democrats dominated statewide elections.

Gov. Wolf Signs Child Victim Law

A Pennsylvania law that prevents authorities from filing criminal charges against child victims of human trafficking for the laws they are compelled to commit is going into effect. Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed legislation that also requires police to contact the state Human Services Department whenever they encounter a child who has been sexually exploited. The bill’s main sponsor, Republican Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, says the bill aims to prevent sexually exploited or trafficked children, who may not even think of themselves as victims, from being charged with prostitution, drug trafficking or other crimes.

Change in PA’s Organ Donor Law

A revision to Pennsylvania’s law governing organ and tissue donations is going into effect, and backers say it will improve survival rates for transplant patients. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill that passed both legislative chambers unanimously earlier this month. The bill imposes rules to prevent organ donation from interfering with criminal investigations. A voluntary organ donation fund on driver’s license and vehicle registration applications will increase from $1 to $3. Officials say the state’s transplant waiting list currently has about 7,500 people.

Pence in PA

Vice President Mike Pence is in Pennsylvania to stump for Republican congressional candidates as the GOP faces losses in the state. Pence is campaigning with Republican John Chrin in Scranton before appearing with Republican Reps. Lloyd Smucker and Scott Perry. The boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts are changing after a January court ruling that Republicans unconstitutionally gerrymandered the districts in 2011. Republicans won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats in 2016, but are expected to lose seats around Allentown, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Nov. 6’s election.

Pence in PA Wednesday

Vice President Mike Pence is making a campaign stop to help a Republican candidate in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright in northeastern Pennsylvania, an area where President Donald Trump did well in 2016. Pence’s Wednesday visit to help Republican John Chrin includes a rally near the Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport. On Tuesday, Eric Trump, the president’s son, is visiting businesses with Chrin to tout his father’s tax-cutting law. The third-term Cartwright won by 8 percentage points in 2016 in a district Trump won by 10 points.

PA Dems Hopeful

Dozens of new faces will be joining the Pennsylvania Legislature next year because of retirements, and the national political mood has Democrats hopeful they can pick up seats and chip away at the large majorities Republicans have long enjoyed in both chambers. But the Republican margins of 121-82 in the House and 34-16 in the Senate mean even the bluest of waves would likely fall short of flipping control. There’s much at stake, because in the Pennsylvania Legislature the majority party has a dominant role in determining what happens.

PA Prisons Will Begin Screening Books for Drugs

The Pennsylvania Corrections Department announced today it will screen books donated to state prison inmates for drugs as part of its response to a sharp rise in the number of employees seeking medical care for suspected exposure to synthetic marijuana. The agency said outside donation groups will no longer ship books directly to inmates. Instead, they will be examined by drug sniffing dogs at a central location before being handed out to prisoners. The most commonly requested free book is a dictionary, so the prison system has decided it will provide them to all inmates who ask.

Altoona Man Charged in Wife’s Murder

The husband of an Altoona woman whose body was found in a city garage months after she disappeared has been charged in her death.Michael D. Copley, 30, was taken from Blair County Prison, where he is serving a sentence from a March assault, to the Altoona Police Department at about 11:30 a.m. Altoona police filed homicide and related charges against Copley for the death of his wife, 29-year-old Catherine Copley, who vanished Dec. 10, 2015. Her decomposed body was found in a garage behind an abanondoned house at 408 E. Pleasant Valley Boulevard on June 8, 2016.

Tougher PA DUI Penalties on the Way

Tougher penalties for repeat DUI offenders will soon become state law following passage by the Pennsylvania Legislature. The bill that received final votes in both chambers late Wednesday would establish the state’s first felony offense of driving under the influence. It applies to those with a third conviction of driving with at least twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system and for anyone with fourth DUI convictions. The legislation also establishes more severe penalties, including longer mandatory jail time, for unintentionally causing the death of another person as a result of a repeat DUI violation. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf plans to sign the bill.