Gambling Expansion Bill Passes PA Senate

HARRISBURG – The PA Senate is advancing legislation to allow online casino-style gambling in the state as lawmakers look for ways to address the state’s deficit-ridden finances. House Bill 271 would make Pennsylvania the first state to allow both its casinos and lottery to take games online in a quest for money from new and younger players. House approval is still required. The Senate estimates the state would reap over $100 million next year, primarily from casinos paying for one-time online gambling licenses. It also would allow online gambling parlors in airports, and reinstate a requirement that casinos pay millions of dollars to local governments. The bill would require casinos to pay $10 million a year. Courts invalidated the “local share assessment” provision last year.

Bill Making Child Protection Law Permanent Advances

HARRISBURG – In an effort to protect Pennsylvania’s children from online sexual predators, the state House unanimously approved legislation to make permanent an important tool to locate child predators. In 2014, the General Assembly enacted legislation which gave the attorney general and district attorneys the authority to use administrative subpoenas to identify from internet service providers the “IP address” of computers used to transmit known child pornography. When that legislation was enacted, it contained a sunset clause stating that it would expire on Dec. 31, 2017. House Bill 561, which received bipartisan support, would make the law permanent. Bill sponsor, Rep. Rick Saccone of Washington & Allegheny Counties says hundreds of child sex predators have been taken off the streets because of the law and it needs to be made permanent. The bill now advances to the full House.

REP. RICK SACCONE

PA U.S. Senators React To President’s Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, DC – Both PA U.S. Senators have weighed in President Trump’s budget proposal. Republican Pat Toomey says pro-growth tax reform, rolling back excessive regulations, balancing the federal budget, and cutting government duplication and waste are important goals that the Trump budget embraces. While supporting the broad goals of the proposed budget, Toomey does not support proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health. Democrat Bob Casey says the proposal cuts services for middle class families, children, seniors, and those with disabilities while giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations. He added the proposed budget will devastate rural Pennsylvanians by decimating Medicaid and cutting vital economic development programs.

SEN. BOB CASEY
SEN. PAT TOOMEY

Questions About The Future Of Three Mile Island

CHICAGO – Exelon Corporation announced that its Three Mile Island nuclear power plant did not clear in the latest PJM capacity auction, highlighting the challenge nuclear energy continues to face without compensation for its ability to produce electricity without harmful carbon and air pollution and to contribute to grid resilience. TMI did not clear in the past three PJM base residual auctions. TMI remains economically challenged as a result of continued low wholesale power prices and the lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear energy. Exelon has been working with stakeholders on options for the continued operation of TMI, which has not been profitable in five years.

PA Moves To Comply With Federal Real ID Law

HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania is closer to complying with a federal law that requires people to prove they are legal U.S. residents in order for their driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes. The state Senate voted Tuesday 49-1 to approve Senate Bill 133 directing state government to comply with the 2005 Real ID law. The bill still requires House approval. Residents would not be forced to obtain a so-called Real ID, and the bill would allow PennDOT to continue producing driver’s licenses and photo ID cards that don’t meet the heightened standard. The Commonwealth faces a June 6 deadline to become compliant for Pennsylvania licenses to be sufficient to get into federal facilities, such as military bases. Next year, Real ID’s heightened standards kick in for people boarding commercial airlines. About half the states are compliant.

Selling Naming Rights To Help PA Taxpayers

HARRISBURG – Two lawmakers want to sell naming rights to buildings owned by the state, similar to what happened in 2012 when the Farm Show Complex’s Exposition Hall was renamed Weis Market’s Exposition Hall. The grocery store chain agreed to a five-year contract netting the state $750,000. Sen. David Argall of Berks & Schuylkill Counties and Allegheny County Sen. Randy Vulakovich want to put similar funding into a specific account that will rehabilitate unused office space. Currently, there are floors of empty office space currently owned by PA state government agencies. Both lawmakers say the state is in a tough fiscal situation and there’s a need to explore innovative ways to cut costs and raise revenue. The proposal would bring in revenue without raising taxes. It will also require a report by the Department of General Services to the General Assembly to provide annual updates on the initiative. According to the senators, the goal is to move state employees out of leased facilities and back into offices already owned by the state in order to reduce taxpayer costs.

SEN. RANDY VULAKOVICH
SEN. DAVID ARGALL

 

EMS Week In The Commonwealth

BETHLEHEM – The Wolf Administration and state officials are thanking EMS providers for their service as part of EMS Week. Deputy Secretary of Health Planning and Assessment Ray Barishansky says Pennsylvania’s dedicated EMS providers work to prevent premature death and disability by providing care to patients between the home and the hospital. He also encouraged folks to become aware and involved in the work of their EMS providers. Pennsylvania has over 45,000 certified EMS providers who work for over 1,300 licensed ground and air EMS agencies providing services in the state. These providers respond to over one million requests for service each year. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is the lead agency for emergency medical services in the Commonwealth. Within the Department of Health, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services is responsible for the statewide development and coordination of a comprehensive system to reduce premature death and disability.

PA Insurance Chief To Lead New Agency

HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf will nominate his insurance commissioner, Teresa Miller, to lead a new agency overseeing public health and human services programs. Wolf said Miller would lead the proposed Department of Health and Human Services. It would be created by combining the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs. Before becoming insurance commissioner in 2015, Miller was a lawyer specializing in the implementation and enforcement of the 2010 federal health care law. Wolf pitched the consolidation in January as a way to improve services and save money for a deficit-strapped budget, but lawmakers are still considering whether to approve it.

More Arrests On Day 2 Of Harrisburg Demonstrations

HARRISBURG (AP) – Five more people were arrested inside the state Capitol in Harrisburg on the second day of demonstrations for a ban on gifts to state lawmakers. Police arrested demonstrators Monday in the office of House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe. Capitol Police spokesman Troy Thompson says they’re being charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to leave Metcalfe’s office. Thompson says two demonstrators who were arrested on two straight days were charged with defiant trespassing. The March on Harrisburg demonstrators want a gift-ban bill that’s been sitting in Metcalfe’s committee since January to move forward. Group members say Metcalfe refuses to meet. Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania doesn’t limit how much in gifts lawmakers may take. Lobbyists routinely dole out free meals, drinks, and even tickets to expensive sporting events.

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