HARRISBURG – Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf announced today that the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg will host its first ever National Night Out event on next Tuesday, August 4. The event will run from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Pennsylvania State Police and the Capitol Police Department will be on hand to greet visitors and speak with families and members of the community. The Residence will serve light refreshments and will be open for tours of the house and its gardens. The Governor’s Residence is located at 2035 North Front Street in Harrisburg. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community relationships in order to build safer, better neighborhoods. It was started by the National Association of Town Watch, which is headquartered in Wynnewood, Montgomery County, in 1981. It is held annually on the first Tuesday of August in more than 16,000 communities across the country, according to the National Association of Town Watch.
HARRISBURG – Lancaster Co. Rep. Bryan Cutler is encouraging small businesses that are looking to conserve energy to submit applications for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Small Business Advantage Grant Program. Cutler said our small businesses truly drive the local economy, and this is a great opportunity for them to make improvements that will enable them to stay in business for the long haul. Under the program, businesses can apply for a 50 percent matching grant of up to $9,500 for saving at least 25 percent annually in energy or pollution-related costs. Applications are being accepted now for this program. To view the 2015 application, visit Cutler’s website at www.RepCutler.com and click on “Small Business Advantage Grant Program.”
HARRISBURG – York Co. Rep. Seth Grove today said the recent credit downgrading of eight school districts across Pennsylvania by Moody’s Investor Service demonstrates the dire need for school construction reimbursement reform. Three school districts in Pennsylvania were downgraded to the service’s junk bond category, making it more difficult for them to borrow money. It will also make it more expensive for those schools to build or upgrade their facilities. Rep Gove says our school districts across Pennsylvania face a wide variety of challenges, from skyrocketing pension costs to the Commonwealth’s unfair school funding formula. He added that Gov. Tom Wolf had the chance to reform the way schools are reimbursed for their construction projects and he instead decided to veto the budget bill. Reform for the Planning and Construction Workbook Process, or PlanCon, was passed along with the House and Senate’s budget in late June.
WEST CHESTER(AP) – Officials at a PA university say an employee has tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease and eight campus buildings had higher-than-acceptable levels of the bacteria. West Chester University officials told more than 1,000 employees in an email Wednesday that steps were being taken to kill the Legionella bacteria that were found in the buildings’ cooling towers.
A remediation firm is continuing to treat the affected cooling towers today to eliminate the bacteria.
Officials say the university was informed of the employee’s illness on July 6 and water samples were taken from the cooling towers three days later. The test results came in last week. Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia spread by bacteria commonly found in water supplies.
PHILADELPHIA—In the wake of the public release of three disturbing undercover videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s possible sale of the body parts of aborted babies, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network is urging all churches and morally responsible organizations to become educated about where the funds in their pension plans and investments actually go. PPN President Sam Rohrer said while efforts are under way to defund Planned Parenthood, government money is not the only way the agency pays for abortion services. Many private companies and organizations also give directly to Planned Parenthood, and churches and their congregants must make sure that none of their investments are tied to these firms that are funding the gruesome business of abortion. PPN encourages churches to conduct research about their investments, through qualified financial professionals or online research, such as two resources that recently came to light since the Planned Parenthood videos were released: the Daily Signal and 2ndVote.com.
YORK (AP) – There’s been another meeting aimed at resolving Pennsylvania’s state budget standoff, but participants aren’t reporting any breakthroughs. Gov. Tom Wolf met Wednesday at the Yorktowne Hotel in York with the Republican floor leaders, Rep. Dave Reed and Sen. Jake Corman. Reed spokesman Steve Miskin says they talked about proposals to cut public sector pensions, privatize the liquor system, add money for public education and reduce local property taxes. Miskin says negotiators are making progress, but it’s slow and there were no developments to make him think a deal will be reached in the next week or two. Pennsylvania’s new budget year began July 1.
HARRISBURG – Our region is under a code orange air quality alert today. Code orange means that air pollution concentrations within the region may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including children, the elderly, and people suffering with asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases. The effects of air pollution can be minimized by avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standardized air quality index uses colors to report daily air quality. Green signifies good; yellow means moderate; orange represents unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people; and red warns of unhealthy pollution levels for all people.
HARRISBURG – As the Commonwealth continues to plan for possible avian influenza, PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding emphasized that his department has the financial resources available to continue its work and be ready, should an outbreak occur. Avian influenza has not been found in the state, but Redding says we need to plan and act as if it could at any moment, which is a distinct possibility. When the virus hit in 1983 and 1984, 17 million birds were lost which equated to a $65 million negative impact to the state’s economy. Redding said Gov. Tom Wolf has approved $3.5 million for the department, which would be on the front line of any response, to continue its planning work and mount a response to any initial outbreak, but the size and scope of that response is uncertain. Nationwide so far, more than 220 flocks have been infected by avian flu, killing approximately 50 million birds. The virus has spread west to east across the United States since December primarily through migratory birds from the Pacific to the Central flyway to the Mississippi flyway. The Atlantic flyway, which intersects with the Mississippi flyway and overlies Pennsylvania, has not shown birds carrying the virus to date. Poultry is a $13 billion industry in Pennsylvania.
HARRISBURG – PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said a recent report by Moody’s Investors Service that ranks several PA school districts among the financially worst in the nation underscores the need for fundamental reform of the Commonwealth’s education system. Moody’s issued a report this week that classified eight school districts as downgraded to a junk bond rating category, primarily because of a host of financial stresses including charter school tuition mandates. DePasquale called it troubling news for school districts and for residents because when bond ratings are downgraded it drives up the costs when schools need to borrow money to repair or upgrade their facilities. He says simply increasing funding is not enough. We need to stem the hemorrhaging of school district finances and look for long-term, systemic changes. “With no significant reforms being seriously considered in the legislature to fix these huge problems, more and more Pennsylvania schools could very well slide off the financial cliff. The Auditor General’s office reviewed audits of school districts, I-U’s, and other school entities in 2014, and identified $19 million in potential savings from many sources including: improper lease reimbursements to charter schools; excessive superintendent retirement buyouts and deficient contracts; employee leave payouts; errors reporting student enrollment; tuition waivers granted without proper approvals; and school districts being over charged for transportation services.
LANCASTER – Beginning August 1, Lancaster General Health will become a member of the University of Pennsylvania Health System or Penn Medicine. The integration follows completed reviews by state and federal regulatory agencies. The combination unites one of the nation’s top academic medical centers – world-renowned for its clinical and research excellence – with a health system nationally ranked for its clinical quality. Both are among the top five systems in Pennsylvania, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Thomas Beeman, President & Chief Executive Officer of LG Health says joining Penn Medicine strengthens our region’s access to cost-effective, high-quality care that will improve our communities’ health and well-being and strengthen our complementary teaching and research missions. Penn Medicine will provide for the healthcare needs of the LG Health community for as long as LG Health may be affiliated with Penn Medicine. LG Health’s assets will continue to be used to advance the health and well-being of the LG Health community.