Gov. Wolf Working on Securing Elections

Governor Tom Wolf is bringing together government agencies to help ensure the state’s elections are safe and secure. Wolf announced today he was setting up the Inter-Agency Election Preparedness and Security Workgroup, led by his cabinet member who heads the agency that oversees voting. The chairmen are acting Secretary of State Robert Torres and John MacMillan, the Office of Administration’s chief information officer.

PA Forces Alleged Abuse Victimss to Repay Court Costs

Pennsylvania is forcing three former state university students who say they were sexually abused by a high-ranking administrator to pay $10,000 in court costs after a jury ruled against them in their federal lawsuit nearly four years ago. The state attorney general’s office, representing East Stroudsburg University, said it’s “standard procedure” to seek repayment of court costs. The students’ lawyer denounced the legal maneuver as “outrageous, insensitive and vindictive,” and plans to appeal it. East Stroudsburg fired former Vice President Isaac Sanders in 2008 following an internal investigation by Pennsylvania’s state university system into allegations of sexual misconduct toward students as well as financial mismanagement at the university.

State Court Overturns Welfare Law

A Pennsylvania law that ended state cash welfare benefits in 2012 and made other changes to human services programs was thrown out Wednesday over methods used to push it through the Legislature by Republican majorities. The state Supreme Court unanimously struck down the multi-faceted legislation because its passage violated state constitutional requirements that bills be considered in each chamber for at least three session days before being voted out.

Revenue up at PA Casinos

Revenue at Pennsylvania’s commercial casinos crept to a record high above $3.2 billion in the just-completed fiscal year. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said Tuesday that revenue at the state’s 12 casinos rose by $45 million, or 1.4 percent, over the 2017 fiscal year. The state in the meantime is in the midst of an aggressive gambling expansion to help shore up its treasury.

PA Man Indicted For Threatening Trump

A federal grand jury has indicted a Pennsylvania man who has been sought since last month on allegations that he threatened several government officials, including President Donald Trump. Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Shawn Christy of McAdoo is accused of having posted threats on Facebook in early June naming the president and anyone trying to detain him on the basis of a bench warrant. A poster released earlier by federal marshals said Christy is wanted for failure to appear on assault charges and for a Northampton County probation violation. Christy was convicted in 2012 of harassing the Alaska lawyers of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

PA Online Gambling Takes First Step

Applications to operate casino-style gambling online in Pennsylvania are rolling in ahead of the deadline for the state’s casino owners to get a license at a discount of $10 million. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said today it had thus far received three applications. After today, owners of Pennsylvania’s 13 casino licenses have another 30 days to apply, but they’ll pay a premium of $12 million to operate all three forms of online casino games, including slot machines, table games and poker. Pennsylvania last year became the fourth state to legalize online gambling, joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

PA Tuition Increase

Tuition for in-state students at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities will rise by 3 percent. The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education on Thursday voted to approve the $224 increase for the 2018-19 school year. The system says tuition will rise from $7,492 to $7,716 for most full-time Pennsylvania residents, who account for nearly 90 percent of the system’s students.
The total tuition increase amounts to $30 million, leaving what the system says is a budget gap of about $20 million that it must close.

Pence Stumps for Barletta

Vice President Mike Pence will headline a fundraiser for Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Lou Barletta. Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio said Wednesday that he expects the July 23 event in Philadelphia will raise $300,000 to $400,000 for Barletta, who has badly trailed Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in campaign cash. Casey is running for a third term. No independent poll puts Barletta within striking distance of Casey, although Barletta is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump and Republican officials expect Trump will come to Pennsylvania to campaign for Barletta.

Huge PA Inmate Transfer

Over 2,500 inmates at an 89-year-old Pennsylvania prison are being transferred to a brand-new, long-delayed facility about a mile down the road. The Department of Corrections says the first phase of transfers began just after 9 a.m. this morning from the state prison at Graterford to the sprawling, $400 million complex at SCI Phoenix.
Several hundred inmates will be moved each day by bus, for however long it takes to complete the operation. A spokeswoman says the roads between the facilities about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia are closed to the public during the transfer.

Flight 93 Memorial on Schedule

The remaining wreckage of United Flight 93 has been buried near the Pennsylvania memorial marking where it crashed on 9/11. Four shipping containers holding the wreckage were buried in a private ceremony on June 21 in a restricted area accessible only to loved ones of the victims. The wreckage was scoured for identifiable items in the months before the burial, and workers found a number of items that will be added to the memorial collection. The park service is expected later this year to release a full report of the items collected and how they will be incorporated into the memorial. The final phase of the memorial is on track to open on the 17th anniversary of the attacks.