HARRISBURG (AP) – Emergency officials are warning that the weekend may bring severe weather. Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency says any impact from Hurricane Joaquin is several days away, but forecasts are calling for rain and strong winds. People in low-lying areas are being warned to prepare for possible flooding. Part of the state could also see strong gusty winds, and residents should consider securing or storing outdoor items that could damage people or property. Families are also urged to come up with an emergency plan and assemble an emergency kit for homes and cars.
LANCASTER COUNTY – The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County at about 12:35 a.m. Wednesday. Such a tornado carries peak winds of 90 to 100 mph. The tornado followed a northwest path and blew down trees, downed power lines, and ripped off parts of roofs and siding of buildings. No injuries were reported.
EAST EARL TOWNSHIP – Units responded to an early morning fire in Lancaster County. It happened around 3 a.m. at an apartment building in the 4100 block of Division Highway in East Earl Township. Two people were rescued from the roof. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
EPHRATA – Authorities are searching for the robber of a Lancaster County bank. At 11:28 a.m. Wednesday, the suspect entered the Lincoln branch of Susquehanna Bank at 1300 W. Main Street in Ephrata and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber is a white male with pale skin, wearing a black hoodie, sunglasses, and gloves. Pictures of the suspect can be seen under this news story. Anyone with information is asked to contact Ephrata Police via Lancaster Countywide Communications at 717-733-8611.
EAST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP – Cleanup is underway due to some overnight storms that caused extensive damage in Lancaster County. Much of the damage was in East Hempfield Township. The most significant was to a large warehouse at 499 Running Pump Road. Township officials are working with the building owner to determine damage to the structure. At least 40 weather related calls were answered by East Hempfield Township Police over a three hour period of time. Many trees were blown over. Power outages were reported from downed wires and some intersections had to be controlled with temporary stop signs. Police urge caution to motorists when traveling through the area due to some closed roads and debris. National Weather Service meteorologists from State College will conduct a storm survey today near Rohrerstown, Lancaster County.
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf says he’ll reach out to Republican lawmakers in an effort to build majority support for his stalled state budget plan. The Democrat told a Pittsburgh radio station today that he’ll continue to work with GOP leaders, but that he can win over “good Republican legislators” who are tired of the three-month-old budget impasse. On Tuesday, Wolf vetoed a GOP-crafted $11 billion emergency spending package. Republicans, like Sen. Rich Alloway of Adams, Cumberland, & York Counties and Rep. Dan Moul of Adams County, say that it would have eased hardships on schools and social services. Republicans say Wolf does not realize Pennsylvanians cannot afford his proposed multi-billion dollar tax increases.
HARRISBURG – Legislation has been proposed to assist members of the LGBT community as they age. House Bill 1576, introduced by Lehigh County Rep. Peter Schweyer, would create the LGBT Senior Community Grant Program. It would provide funding to non-profit organizations and county or municipal governments for health care, cultural competency, computer training and job placement, social activities, and other programs that specifically target the LGBT senior community. Schweyer, a Democrat, said if enacted, the services would be funded through the PA Lottery Fund.
WASHINGTON, DC – PA U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has introduced a measure which imposes harsher penalties on individuals targeting law enforcement officers and first responders with violence. When a jury in a federal case considers whether to impose the death penalty, the jury must consider certain “mitigating” and “aggravating” factors. Current law states if the murder victim was a federal law enforcement officer or prosecutor, this fact shall weigh as an aggravating factor in favor of the death penalty. The Thin Blue Line Act provides the same level of justice to local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and firefighters. It also enhances the penalty when a defendant targets a law enforcement officer, prosecutor or firefighter solely because that individual chose to protect and serve. A similar measure has been introduced in the U.S. House.
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed an emergency spending plan that would have provided more than $11 billion in funding for schools, rape crisis centers, and other social service providers to continue operations while state budget negotiations continue. The General Assembly approved the emergency spending plan last week, but the Governor continues to demand consideration of his full budget plan, which includes billions in state tax increases. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, PA Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, and Cumberland County Rep. Stephen Bloom were disappointed in the Governor’s action calling schools, seniors, and social services agencies as victims of the veto. Gov. Wolf said the stopgap budget sells out the people of Pennsylvania to oil and gas companies and Harrisburg special interests. He added that Republican leaders are intent on Harrisburg politics as usual and embracing a failed status quo that is holding Pennsylvania back. Just like their sham budget in June, Wolf said the stopgap budget makes it clear that Republican leaders not only want to do nothing to move the Commonwealth forward, but they are intent on taking us backwards. Wolf and top GOP legislative leaders are expected to meet again today.
HARRISBURG – PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says public school borrowing is in the hundreds of millions as officials search for ways to stay open through a state budget stalemate. DePasquale found that 17 school districts and two intermediate units have borrowed a total of about $346 million to make up for the stoppage in state payments. He says interest and fees on the loans could reach $11.2 million. DePasquale added that public school borrowing will surpass $500 million by Nov. 1 and $1 billion by Dec. 1, if the stalemate continues that long.