Archives for March 2019

Pennsylvania Enacts Tougher Public Pension Forfeiture law

Pennsylvania’s first law of 2019 expands the list of crimes that would result in a convicted public official or government employee being stripped of their public pension. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill Thursday, at a time when Pennsylvania’s state and municipal pension funds face big debts. The legislation expands the law to apply to state and federal felonies and other crimes that could result in at least five years behind bars, on top of an existing list of crimes related to public office or public employment. It also requires the forfeiture of pensions when a defendant pleads guilty or no contest, or is found guilty by a judge or jury.

Blair Co. Recycling in for a Change

Our local recycling program is in for a big change. The man who’s led the organization for much of its existence is leaving. When you think of recycling and composting in Blair County, you think of John Frederick. He’s been the executive director of the Intermunicipal Relations Committee for more than 16 years.The IRC consists of Altoona, Hollidaysburg, and Logan Township which are mandated to recycle. Recently the IRC announced plans to open a central recycling center in the city of Altoona. Frederick is optimistic that will happen because the state has given some indications that the funding will be approved. Frederick is leaving the IRC on April 11. He says he believes the organization will hire someone to replace him,

Gov. Wolf Pushes for Teacher Pay Increase

Pennsylvania is setting up a $15 million pilot program to give support services and housing help for state residents fighting opioid addiction. Gov. Wolf’s administration said Wednesday the federal grants aim to encourage treatment and recovery and reduce overdose deaths. Housing aid could include temporary rent assistance. The support services could include applying for food stamps, linking people with recovery services and working out transportation needs. The money is going to 16 agencies and health entities, based on a formula that takes into account their county’s rate of substance abuse disorder and overdose-related deaths.

The Plan For New PA Voting Systems

Pennsylvania’s top elections official says one-third of the state’s counties are advancing plans to install new voting systems ahead of 2020’s presidential election.
Kathy Boockvar, Gov. Tom Wolf’s acting secretary of state, told lawmakers today that 21 of 67 counties have approved plans amid the administration’s push to adopt systems with voter-verifiable paper trails that are viewed as a hedge against hacking. Boockvar was testifying during a Senate committee hearing on legislation to require the administration to first submit a report to lawmakers justifying any effort to decertify voting systems in at least half of Pennsylvania’s counties.

Downtown Altoona Business Community’s “Eggcelent” Adventure

Enjoy a great day with the family or friends by exploring the area and some amazing local businesses as you hunt for eggs and discover other fabulous activities along the way.The hunt kicks off on Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop in at any participating merchant to begin your adventure. Grab your punch card, pick out an egg, enjoy some of that business’s services and activities, then move on to your next destination. As businesses join they will update you on Facebook .This is a free event that is great for all ages!

Racoon Causes Altoona Power Outage

A power outage hit parts of the Altoona area just before 10pm last night. Over 2,000 buildings were without power. According to a First Energy employee the cause of the outage was a raccoon that worked its way into a substation in the Highland Park area. Power slowly came back on and most everyone was fully restored late last night.

PA Unemployment Rate Drops Again

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped in February to the lowest rate since 1976, which is as far back as the state’s records go. The state Department of Labor and Industry said today that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent last month. The national rate was 3.8 percent in February. Among states, Pennsylvania is tied with Michigan and New Jersey for 35th.

PA Sports Betting Goes Flat

The third full month of legal sports betting in Pennsylvania saw gambling flatten.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said gamblers bet $31.5 million in February at five casinos and one off-track betting parlor where it approved sports betting. That was slightly lower than $32 million in January, which had three more days in it.The casinos made nearly $2 million, while $700,000 went to taxes.

PA Pension Forfeiture Law Changes

Legislation to toughen Pennsylvania’s public-sector pension forfeiture law is on its way to the governor, who says he’ll sign it. The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday for a bill that applies the forfeiture law to state and federal felonies and other crimes that could result in at least five years behind bars. It will also trigger forfeiture when a defendant pleads guilty or no contest, or is found guilty by a judge or jury.

Beto at Penn State

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is making an early impression in Pennsylvania, a late-voting state that may yet play a role in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest. An animated O’Rourke spoke Tuesday for 50 minutes to a crowd of hundreds in a Penn State auditorium, promising to take his campaign everywhere, including Republican strongholds. Later, speaking to reporters, he suggested that he’d support doing away with the Electoral College. The Texan’s appearance was easily the splashiest of any Democratic presidential hopeful who has ventured into Pennsylvania this year.