Archives for June 2019

PA Budget Highlights

Highlights of the spending package that passed the state Legislature . There will be Increased spending through the state’s main bank account to $34 billion. Including $674 million for cost overruns in the current fiscal year, it authorizes nearly $2 billion in new, higher spending, or 6% of this year’s enacted budget of $32.7 billion. It Does not increase tax rates on sales or income, the state’s two biggest sources of revenue. Deposits nearly $300 million into budgetary reserve. Uses hundreds of millions in transfers and payment delays to veil the true cost of operating state government. Authorizes borrowing $90 million to help Pennsylvania’s counties pay for new voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. Governor Wolf had sought the aid. Grants Wolf’s request to authorize his administration to take over Pennsylvania’s online health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act from the federal government. And Authorizes $255 million out of governor’s original $315 million request for additional pre-kindergarten and K-12 public school funding.

Last Minute Wheeling & Dealing on PA Budget

Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are inserting some pet policy objectives into hundreds of pages of just-unveiled legislation with the annual budget deadline days away. That’s forcing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf into hard choices.
Measures advancing today include a $34 billion budget package and policy changes for elections, schools and human services. One GOP-backed provision could make Wolf decide between eliminating a cash assistance program for the poor and continuing state subsidies for Philadelphia hospitals. Another provision packages money to help counties buy new voting machines with ending a ballot option that allows voters to select a straight-party ticket in elections. Another sprawling bill stalls any move by Philadelphia to ban plastic bags that many stores provide.

PA Sunday Hunting Receives Senate Approval

A proposal to end Pennsylvania’s ban on Sunday hunting has the approval of the state Senate. Senators voted 36 to 14 on Wednesday for a bill that would permit hunting on one Sunday during deer rifle season, one during deer archery season, and on a third day. The legislation directs the Game Commission to determine which three Sundays will be legal for hunting. Backers say it’ll widen opportunities for hunting by making it easier for younger people and others to hunt. Officials say it will also bring in more license revenue. Sunday hunting is currently allowed in all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states.

Local Kids Attend D.C. Business Cooperative

Valley Rural Electric Cooperative sponsored 15 high school students from eight
school districts on the 2019 Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., June 16-21. The teens, who just completed their junior year, spent their time in the capital meeting legislators, learning about the cooperative business model and touring monuments and memorials. Altoona High School had one student on the trip. Corey Lion is the son of Teri Lion and the late Christopher Lion of Altoona. He participates in chorus and drama clubs and serves as treasurer for Blair County Young Republicans.

DePasquale to Run for Congress

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is telling fellow Democrats that he’s going to run for Congress in a Harrisburg-area district that’s in Republican hands. DePasquale says he is planning to officially announce his candidacy in July,
Asked about it Tuesday, DePasquale declined to discuss it, saying only that he will talk about it soon. The seat is held by four-term Republican Rep. Scott Perry.

New Security Deal for PA Schools

Pennsylvania lawmakers say they’ll authorize a second year of school and community security grants, a $60 million program spurred by last year’s Florida school shooting that killed 17 people . Republican lawmakers said Monday that a newly unveiled comproise budget package will keep the program intact for the coming school year. Officials did not have imediate details on how the program guidelines will change. Governor Tom Wolfe had proposed a second ear at $45million but lawmakers say they are diverting another $15million from the state court system.

UPMC And Highmark Strike a New Deal

Western Pennsylvania health care behemoths UPMC and Highmark struck a deal announced Monday that averts the looming breakup of their business relationship and prevents disruption and higher costs for somme patients. The contract will extend highmark insurance customers in-network access to UPMC doctors and hospitals for another decade. That access had been scheduled to expire Sunday with the end of a five year, state brokered consent decree.

PA State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Woman

The Supreme Court ruled earlier today to give citizens another way to sue when they believe states and local governments have harmed their property rights, handing a victory to a Pennsylvania woman fighting her town over a cemetery ordinance. The high court ruled 5-4 along ideological lines in favor of Rose Mary Knick. She tried to bring a lawsuit in federal court after her town passed an ordinance that requires anyone with a cemetery on their land to open it to the public during the day. A town official found several grave markers on Knick’s farmland in eastern Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County, but she disputes whether there’s actually a small, family cemetery on her 90-acre property.

PA Voters to Decide on Victims Rights

Pennsylvania voters will decide whether to enumerate victims’ rights in the state constitution, a proposal likely to appear on the November ballot. The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to give its final approval, putting the state’s version of Marsy’s Law on the ballot as a constitutional amendment referendum.

PA Opioid Prescription Legislation

Legislation to further clamp down on powerful painkiller prescriptions in Pennsylvania passed the state Senate on Wednesday as part of a broader package to fight opioid addiction, nearly three years after lawmakers launched their first broad effort to curb a growing epidemic. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has said the hard-hit state is making progress in fighting overdoses, citing preliminary data from the state coroners association that overdose deaths declined about 20% to around 4,200 in 2018.