WASHINGTON, DC – Nationally recognized faith leaders came together at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to stress the importance of the protection of freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution as Donald Trump and Mike Pence prepare to take office. Faith Leaders for America is a group of clergy and leaders from various faith communities who share a common commitment to freedom and liberty, along with a commitment to address the imminent threats to those freedoms. Sam Rohrer, President of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network and American Pastors Network is a member of the group. Others of the group included National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson, Rev. Jerry Boykin, David Barton, Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, Bishop E.W. Jackson, and Bishop Aubrey Shines.
WASHINGTON, DC – PA U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he will vote “no” on three of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees. Casey said Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos has no experience in public education and the education work she has done is centered upon pursuing efforts to undermine and privatize public schools. After reviewing Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions’ testimony, his record, his record as a prosecutor, and meeting with him, Casey said he will vote against his nomination. As to EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt, Casey said on behalf of the children of Pennsylvania, who deserve clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and action on climate change, he will vote against his nomination.
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania has been granted an extension until June 5, 2017 from the Department of Homeland Security to fix state law to allow for federal Real ID compliance after Gov. Tom Wolf and bipartisan leaders wrote to federal officials earlier this month. The extension will allow the Wolf Administration to work with the General Assembly to resolve Pennsylvania’s non-compliance during the current legislative session. DHS told state leaders that additional extensions may be granted, as necessary, once the Commonwealth can commit to meeting all Real ID requirements. A state legislative fix is needed to avoid more widespread problems for travelers next year, when Real ID standards will be required for people boarding commercial airlines.
HARRISBURG – A measure to ensure that schools in Pennsylvania receive necessary funding during a budget impasse has been reintroduced in Harrisburg. The legislation would appropriate funding on the payment schedule provided in the Public School Code at the previous year’s amount until such time when an appropriation is enacted. Lancaster County Sen. Ryan Aument is the bill’s prime sponsor. Aument said his measure would ensure that our schools receive the funding necessary to operate without interruption or having to borrow money to keep operational.
HARRISBURG – Legislation has been reintroduced to gradually reduce Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income Tax rate to make the state more business friendly. The Commonwealth currently has the second highest such rate in the nation at 9.99%. House Bill 130 would reduce the tax rate over a five-year period to a much more competitive 4.99%. The reduction would take place at a rate of 1 percentage point per year. The legislation has received bipartisan support in the PA House with 29 co-sponsors.
HARRISBURG (AP) – PA Treasurer Joe Torsella says he’s banning contracts that pay third-party marketers for private money managers. It comes amid two pending federal criminal cases that revolve around the lucrative contracts to invest billions of taxpayer dollars. Torsella says the finder’s fees don’t result in better investment performance. He also says they’ve undermined public trust and added unnecessary taxpayer costs. Prosecutors charged Philadelphia businessman Richard Ireland for allegedly trying to bribe ex-Treasurer Rob McCord with secret campaign contributions. Firms marketed by Ireland have collected tens of millions of dollars from the state. Meanwhile, Ireland and a business partner have given more than $1 million in campaign contributions, including PA treasurer candidates.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A state lawmaker who secretly pleaded guilty to a federal money laundering charge will be replaced in a March 21 special election. The election for the heavily Democrat 197th District in Philadelphia was scheduled to replace Leslie Acosta. The district has seen two state representatives go down in scandal since 2012. Acosta resigned Jan. 3, after resisting pressure to step down. She pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting that she aided a scheme to embezzle thousands of dollars from a publicly-funded mental health clinic where she once worked.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Gov. Larry Hogan is announcing the expansion of a state program that has delivered donated books and school supplies. He said that the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives has worked with charitable groups and literacy advocates to deliver more than 25,000 books and school supplies. He says the materials went to nearly 50 schools, after-school programs, recreational centers and churches in the parts of the Baltimore-Washington area, southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore. Hogan says the program will expand to more counties in 2017.
WEST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP – Authorities found a missing autistic teen in Lancaster County. The 15-year-old boy went missing around 5 p.m. Wednesday after becoming upset and leaving on a bike in the area of Hempfield Hill Road and Vista Drive in West Hempfield Township. A State Police helicopter helped in the search. Several hours later, the boy was located in Columbia.
LANCASTER – A state appellate court has denied a Lancaster County man’s latest request for relief, finding the convicted killer of a couple has filed too late. David Ludwig, now 29, is serving two consecutive life terms for fatally shooting Michael and Cathryn Borden in their Warwick Township home in November 2005 after they told Ludwig he could no longer see their 14-year-old daughter. Ludwig, who was 18 at the time, drew a pistol as he was being shown the door to leave and shot both parents dead. He then fled with the daughter. The couple was found by authorities a day later in Indiana. In Ludwig’s latest filing, he argued he be treated as a juvenile killer serving life, pointing to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed life sentences for juvenile defendants “unconstitutional.” Ludwig also pointed to “ineffective assistance” of his previous lawyer. The PA Superior Court denied the request, concurring with Lancaster County Judge David Ashworth, who previously found the challenge to be untimely and without merit.