Archives for January 2019

PA Hunting Season Changes

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has given preliminary approval to opening the firearms hunting season for deer on a Saturday rather than a Monday.
The commissioners gave preliminary approval to an opening day of Saturday, Nov. 30, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If the change wins final approval at an April meeting, the firearms season would be expanded to 13 days, including three Saturdays rather than two under the current schedule. To accommodate the expanded deer season, commissioners would reduce the late November turkey hunting season by two days.

PA Election Security

A report issued today says Pennsylvania should adopt changes to make its elections more secure — encouraging the replacement of older voting machines, enhanced security of voter rolls and better contingency planning for cyberattacks and other technological challenges. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security report urges the General Assembly to do more to help counties pay for machines that produce a voter-marked paper record. The report warns that U.S. adversaries are expected to increase efforts to influence elections during the 2020 presidential race. About four in five Pennsylvania voters use machines that lack an auditable paper trail, although state officials have directed counties to have the paper-record voting machines in place by next year’s primary.

Tax Filing Season is Underway

The 2019 tax filing season began yesterday… the IRS is back to work, now that the federal government shutdown is over… the IRS has been working to get operations back to normal and said it expects to start sending out refunds the first week of February… the IRS still expects to issue more than 90 percent of refunds within 21 days of a taxpayer filing their tax return electrnoically. If you’re doing traditional paper and pencil, your refund generally will arrive within six weeks of filing.

PA Lawmakers Have Yet to Deal with Church Scandal

Lawmakers have returned to the Pennsylvania Capitol but have yet to revisit legislation on child sexual abuse scandals since an October fight killed a bill that would have allowed long-ago victims to sue the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions. The Legislature’s new two-year session began in earnest today, with little mention of legislation reflecting the state attorney general’s landmark grand jury report on child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses.

An Update on Central PA Shooting

A gunman opened fire at a hotel bar in central Pennsylvania, killing a man and wounding two other people, then broke into a home where he fatally shot another man before killing himself, authorities said. The initial shooting happened about 10:30 p.m. Thursday at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill in State College Jordan Witmer, 21, of Bellefonte, shot and killed Dean Beachy, 62, of Millersburg, Ohio, at the bar, . He also wounded another man as well as a woman he apparently had been in a relationship with.Witmer then drove away from the bar and later broke into a home, where he fatally shot homeowner George McCormick, 83, before turning the gun on himself.

Gov. Wolf Looks Into Legalizing Marijuana in PA

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is taking a new step in its exploration of legalizing marijuana, with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman preparing a series of town hall-style public listening sessions. Fetterman, himself an advocate for legalizing marijuana, said today he’ll hold a listening session in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in the coming months. Fetterman also says he’ll accept comments submitted through other means. The step comes after the Democratic governor changed his tune last month, saying it’s time for Pennsylvania to take a serious look at legalizing marijuana. Before that, Wolf had said Pennsylvania wasn’t ready .

Former PennDot Official Charged with taking Bribes

A former official with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has pleaded guilty to soliciting and accepting bribes. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday a judge has sentenced 53-year-old Nicholas Martino, of Norristown, to 9 to 23 months on house arrest and ordered him to pay $10,000.
Authorities say Martino accepted payments from a PennDOT contractor in return for continued work with the agency.

Former PA Senator Wofford Dies

Former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, a civil rights activist who staged an upset Senate win in 1991, has died. He was 92. Wofford died late Monday night of complications from a fall in his Washington, D.C., apartment. Wofford had joined the Senate in 1991, appointed to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Republican John Heinz. He then pulled off a surprise victory in a special election to complete the Senate term. But Wofford lost his 1994 bid for a full term. After his stint in the Senate, he headed President Bill Clinton’s domestic volunteer program.
Wofford’s activism in civil rights dated to the 1950s and he was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr.

PA TSA Workers Rally

Transportation Security Administration workers are venting frustration with the current government shutdown at a rally inside the Pittsburgh airport.
The rally, organized by union leaders representing the 450 TSA workers in Pennsylvania, got underway Friday at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s ticketing level. Union President William Reese says TSA employees in Pittsburgh and elsewhere are worried about feeding their families and paying bills. He says “morale is at an all-time low.” Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb spoke at the rally, calling on his colleagues in Congress to end the shutdown. TSA agents at other airports around the country also held rallies. The partial government shutdown has reached the one month mark.

New A.G.s Continue Looking into Clergy Abuse

Newly inaugurated state attorneys general say they plan to continue investigations of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic church as thousands of victims reach out to state hotlines and online systems to report past abuse. At least 14 attorneys general around the country have confirmed investigations of clergy abuse in the wake of a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailing sexual abuse by more than 300 priests. Six of those offices — New York, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Florida and Delaware — are helmed by newly elected attorneys general who plan to continue the investigations. Almost 3,000 reports of clergy abuse have been made in the last five months, including more than 1,450 reports to the Pennsylvania . That number doesn’t account for reports made to seven states that declined to disclose numbers from their reporting systems to The Associated Press, including states with large Catholic populations like New Jersey and California with a dozen dioceses. The number could be much higher with those included. Several states are seeing lower responses; Delaware reported only five victim contacts as of the beginning of the year.