a total of $65,000 in state funds to protect, enhance PA waterways

Ensuring the protection of waterways within Cambria County for future generations to enjoy is the primary goal behind two grants awarded by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The grants announced earlier today by state Rep. Frank Burns. Burns, said a $50,000 state grant was awarded to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which will provide for the construction of forest buffers along the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed. A $15,000 grant was also awarded to the Allegheny Ridge Corp. to prepare and print updated maps and a management plan for the Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail.

More Layoffs at Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern has laid off 95 employees at their Locomotive Shop in Altoona. This is in addition to the 100 employees laid off at the beginning of September, and 50 employees back in May. The layoffs were confirmed by Steve McKnight, President and CEO of the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation .

Mack Truck Workers Ratify New Four-Year Deal

Mack Truck workers in Pennsylvania and two other states have ratified a four-year collective bargaining agreement reached after a 12-day walkout last month.
The United Auto Workers Local 677 said more than 79 percent of members voted Sunday in favor of the pact, which covers about 3,500 workers at plants in Pennsylvania, as well as Hagerstown and Baltimore, Maryland and Jacksonville, Florida. Union secretary-treasurer Ray Curry said the pact includes “significant wage increases, job security protections, and held the line on health care costs.” Members in the three states walked out just before midnight Sept. 12, citing concerns about wages, job security and pension and health benefits.

Cashless PA Turnpike on the Way

In two years, you may not need cash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The turnpike should be cashless by 2021, according to turnpike CEO Mark Compton. Overhead gantries will be put up over the next six years to bill drivers. Toll booths will remain at some ramps to record E-ZPasses and photograph license plates until 2026. About 600 toll collectors and auditors will lose their jobs when the turnpike goes cashless. State officials say those workers could take other state jobs.

$90M for voting machines, mail-in ballots signed into law

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Thursday that advocates say makes the most significant changes to modernize Pennsylvania election laws in 80 years and authorizes the state to borrow of up to $90 million to help counties buy new voting machines ahead of next year’s presidential election. Wolf said the legislation takes the nation’s least voter-friendly election laws and puts them in line with states that have the highest voter turnout.

Judge says state can’t tally victims’ rights amendment votes

A judge ruled Wednesday that votes in a referendum next week about enshrining victims’ rights in Pennsylvania’s constitution will not be tallied or certified while a legal challenge is pending. Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler issued a preliminary injunction that was requested by the voter and the state League of Women Voters who sued over the proposal.

Election reform bill speeds toward approval in Pennsylvania

Legislation headed toward the governor’s desk in Pennsylvania on Tuesday would deliver the biggest changes to state election laws in decades and provide aid to counties for much of the cost of new voting machines in next year’s presidential election. In a compromise package negotiated behind closed doors over the last four months, Gov. Tom Wolf secured some of his priorities to increase voting access, including allowing any voter to mail in a ballot and moving voter-registration deadlines closer to the election. In exchange, Republicans who control the state Legislature dropped their opposition to Wolf’s insistence that counties buy new voting machines and secured their top priority, eliminating the ballot option for straight party-ticket voting.

Pennsylvania to extend security grants to fight hate crimes

Pennsylvania will provide millions of dollars in grants to protect houses of worship and other potentially targeted community organizations from hate crimes, a program inspired by the deadly mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue a year ago. Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said earlier today that he will sign the bill, now that it’s passed the Legislature. The bill creates a five-year, $5 million grant program to be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The money can be used for anything that enhances an organization’s safety. Mass shootings are spurring similar grant programs in a number of states.

Ballot question, judge races highlight state’s Nov. 5 voting

A victims’ rights constitutional amendment question and a pair of vacancies on an appeals court are the only contested statewide elections in Pennsylvania this year, as voters also sort through thousands of local and county government races.
A legal challenge is ongoing regarding the Marsy’s Law amendment, which would enshrine victims’ rights in the state constitution, and it’s unclear what will happen to the proposal if it’s approved on Nov. 5.

Pennsylvania to get $53M in opioid treatment drug settlement

Pennsylvania is in line to receive more than $53 million as part of a nationwide settlement with a British company that once distributed a drug used to treat opioid addiction. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Thursday that the money is to settle allegations that the company defrauded Medicaid and other state health care programs. The U.S. Department of Justice had accused an ex-Reckitt Benckiser subsidiary of marketing Suboxone Film by saying the drug was safer than other opioid addiction treatments.