HARRISBURG – Several area state lawmakers intend to introduce legislation to increase cybersecurity and to comprehensively overhaul Pennsylvania state government’s information technology systems. Legislation from Lancaster County Sen. Ryan Aument and York County Reps. Seth Grove and Kristin Phillips-Hill would codify the Office of Information created by Gov. Tom Wolf through a 2016 executive order and includes additional components to improve how state government would meet important IT goals. The bill would consolidate all IT functions, powers, duties, infrastructure, and support services in the executive agencies into one office – the Office of Information Technology (OIT) – which would centrally manage those functions. The proposal would also address the increased threats of cyber-attacks against IT systems. To promote best cybersecurity practices, the bill would require all state agencies to adopt new security standards created by the OIT director, mandates the director develop a two-year schedule to test cybersecurity capabilities, and creates a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity committee to include representation from all branches of government, who would issue an annual report regarding cybersecurity preparedness.
EASTON – Lawyers with the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center and Alliance Defending Freedom went before a federal judge to defend the rights of several students from the Boyertown Area School District. The school district, without parent or student notification, made an unwritten change to school policy and opened its sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex. Four high-school students are now suing the district. Both male and female students in the district have had their privacy violated. Two of the plaintiffs were in the boys’ locker room in a state of undress, when they discovered a member of the opposite sex in the locker room with them. One of them saw a biological female wearing nothing above her waist other than a bra. He was told by the principal to “tolerate” it and make it “as natural as possible.” One plaintiff discovered a boy in the girls’ bathroom. She now feels she cannot return to school for her senior year because school officials are permitting boys into girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms. Another plaintiff now refrains from using facilities as much as she can.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania senators were back in the state Capitol, but with no agreements in sight on elements of the state government’s budget. Monday’s Senate session could be a prelude to floor votes later in the week to fully fund a nearly $32 billion budget law that negotiators say is about $1.5 billion out of balance. Gov. Tom Wolf says he wants a tax package big enough to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania’s bruised credit rating. But House Republican officials are balking, and pushing for a final agreement that includes their priorities, such as tougher limits on Medicaid benefits. Stuck in the Legislature are measures to revive the flow of casino revenue to host counties and municipalities and deliver approximately $600 million to Penn State, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln, and Penn.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The head of Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system is leaving after four years on the job. The State System of Higher Education announced that Chancellor Frank Brogan will retire on Sept. 1 from the position that pays him $346,000 a year. The 63-year-old Brogan told the board of his decision last week, shortly before a meeting in which the system received a consultant’s report that was highly critical of its leadership. The report by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems says the 14-school system needs better top management to address a climate of distrust, non-transparency, confrontation, and competition. Brogan came to Pennsylvania after serving as chancellor of the State University System of Florida. He’s a former Florida lieutenant governor.
LANCASTER – The owner of a pit bull that mauled two children in Lancaster is facing charges. 42-year-old Luis Oma Colon-Colon of Pottsville was charged with attacks causing severe injury, reckless endangering, and other counts. Police say a 2-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother suffered wounds to their faces after the dog broke through a fence June 19 and attacked them in the 700 block of Lafayette Street. An investigation found that the dog also bit Colon-Colon’s 4-year-old grandson multiple times in July 2013. The dog was euthanized on June 30. Colon-Colon was arraigned and released on $5,000 bail.
HARRISBURG – A measure that makes extensive changes to the Public School Code concerning charter schools is moving closer to the governor’s desk. House Bill 97 was amended by the state Senate and returned to the House for a concurrence vote last week. Blair County Sen. John Eichelberger, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, says Pennsylvania’s charter school law was enacted in 1997, but he noted that the bill has become outdated over time. He said the measure will set higher standards for students, tighten up many requirements for charters, and establish a commission to examine the funding of charters.
MOUNT JOY (AP) – The coroner has released the name of a man killed at a Lancaster County packaging plant. Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni planned an autopsy today on the body of 47-year-old Robert Stauffer. The Landisville man was killed at Phoenix Packaging in Mount Joy. Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency officials say he was reportedly trapped under a piece of lift equipment just before 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Mount Joy Fire Chief Philip Colvin says the lift device was part of a processing line. He says workers moved the device off the fallen worker before emergency crews arrived. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the company are investigating. The company hasn’t commented on the incident. Phoenix Packaging’s website says the company makes cardboard boxes and other materials used for shipping and mailing.
LANCASTER – Police have made an arrest in the July 9th robbery of the Turkey Hill at 870 Manor Street in Lancaster. A man entered the store with something wrapped in a black tee shirt and pointed it at a clerk demanding cash. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money. Through the course of the investigation, police were able to develop information on a suspect. Authorities obtained a warrant for the arrest of 43-year-old Aurelio Lopez of Strasburg, Lancaster County. On Saturday afternoon, Lopez was located and taken into custody by State Police. Lopez was charged with robbery. He was later arraigned and committed to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $200,000 bail.
SWATARA TOWNSHIP –A suspect involved in a Dauphin County bank robbery last week has been taken into police custody in Maryland. 52-year-old Nathan Griggs of Harrisburg was wanted for the robbery at First National Bank at 4250 Derry Street in Harrisburg last Thursday. Griggs was taken into custody early this morning in Baltimore County. He is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The slow-motion arc of Pennsylvania’s budget negotiations is a sort of first debate stage for Gov. Tom Wolf and the would-be contenders hoping to contest Wolf’s re-election bid next year. Wolf has kept a low public profile. He’s refused to discuss the ins and outs of negotiations or cast blame, saying only that his administration continues to negotiate and that he’s optimistic about getting a deal. The potential Republican nominees have each tried to paint Wolf as out of touch or unable to lead. They include state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County and Paul Mango, a former health care consultant from suburban Pittsburgh. PA House Speaker Mike Turzai of Allegheny County has all-but declared his candidacy.