PA Ends Polygraph Testing Of State Police Recruits

HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania State Police is no longer subjecting recruits to lie-detector tests, saying the agency has lost good job applicants because the tests added time to the hiring process. State Police said its review of why some applicants were taking other jobs found the polygraphs contributed to the problem by causing unnecessary delays. The decision was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which says the troopers’ union is criticizing the decision. The union argues that the tests help ensure hires have the highest personal integrity.

Seeking More Time To Revive Struck-Down Casino Law

HARRISBURG (AP) – Senate leaders are asking the PA Supreme Court to give lawmakers more time to revive a now-invalid law that required casinos to pay more than $140 million to local governments. The nine-page filing asked the court for another 120 days. The justices struck down the law in September, but stayed their decision through Jan. 26, to give lawmakers time to develop a replacement. The court ruled that the “local share assessment” was unconstitutional because it treated the state’s 12 casinos unequally. Most casinos have agreed or pledged to continue paying the money. A key date is mid-April, when the first quarterly payment will be due to local governments.

Wolf Moves Funds To Treasury To Seek Investment Savings

HARRISBURGGov. Tom Wolf is moving three state-run funds to the Treasury Department in a move expected to save more than $5 million in investment fees. The department is taking over a $1.4 billion state workers’ insurance fund, a $700 million worker’s compensation fund, and a $200 million underground storage tank indemnification fund. Wolf said with the Commonwealth facing a serious budget deficit, we cannot afford to hand money from any fund to Wall Street when we could better manage the money ourselves and save millions of dollars. The three funds have been generating fees for 30 private money managers. Wolf delivers his budget proposal to the Legislature on Feb. 7.

GOV. TOM WOLF

Delaware Budget Plan Includes Tax Increases

DOVER, DE (AP) – Outgoing Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is proposing $212 million in tax increases to balance a proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Markell is seeking $56 million cuts in his $4.1 billion spending plan, which surely will be revised by incoming Gov. John Carney. It includes hiking corporate franchise taxes, increasing the top individual income tax rate from 6.6 to 6.8%, and eliminating itemized deductions. Changes to the real estate transfer tax, shared by state and local governments, would generate an estimated $55 million in additional revenue for the state while seeing the local government share decrease. Smokers would pay another dollar per pack in taxes.

GOV. JACK MARKELL

Measure To Prevent Animal Abuse To Be Reintroduced

HARRISBURG – Animal abuse prevention legislation will be reintroduced in the new legislative session. The resolution directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an Animal Abuse Prevention Task Force to conduct an analysis of laws for the prevention of animal cruelty and abuse and report its findings and recommendations to the state Senate. Montgomery County Sen. John Rafferty, who is sponsoring the resolution with Adams County Sen. Rich Alloway, said the makeup of the task force would include representatives from the Humane League, Governor’s Policy Office, Department of Agriculture, a District Attorney,  law enforcement agency, dog warden, an attorney, veterinarian, and an animal rescue association. Rafferty said that on average, over 1,900 cases of animal abuse and cruelty are reported each year.

SEN. JOHN RAFFERTY

Lancaster County Pizza Shop Robbed

LANDISVILLE – Police are searching for the robber of a Lancaster County pizza shop. Around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, officers responded to Parma Pizza at 301 E. Main Street in Landisville. A white male in his late teens or early 20’s, thin build wearing a black hoody, camouflage neck gaiter, and black framed glasses entered the establishment and demanded cash. The cashier refused to open the cash drawer, so the suspect grabbed the tip jar and fled. No injuries were reported. Anyone with information is asked to call East Hempfield Township Police at 717-898-3103. No photo of suspect is available at this time.

York County Senator Runs For PA Governor

MANCHESTER (AP) – Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County announced his bid for the GOP nomination for governor. The 61-year-old lawmaker has millions of his own dollars to spend on his campaign. He’s built two municipal waste-hauling companies, and currently owns Penn Waste, which has contracts with dozens of south-central Pennsylvania municipalities. Wagner told a news conference in Manchester, York County, that as a businessman who’s been involved in all levels of operations, he can make government more efficient. He says “take it to the bank” he can win the GOP nomination and unseat first-term Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018. Wolf is also from York County. Wagner’s been in office since 2014, when he won a write-in bid over the GOP’s hand-picked candidate.

SEN. SCOTT WAGNER

PA AG Settles With Law Firm Over E-Mail Review Bill

HARRISBURG (AP) – The PA Attorney General’s Office settled a dispute with a law firm over its bill for reviewing explicit and objectionable emails on the agency’s computers. The office will pay an additional $1.4 million to BuckleySandler, about $400,000 less than the firm had sought. That’s on top of about $380,000 already paid. Attorney General Bruce Beemer says the deal will help in the transition to a new attorney general, Josh Shapiro. He’ll be sworn in next week in Harrisburg. A team from BuckleySandler reviewed over 6.4 million documents and emails from a seven-year period that ended in 2015. The report released in November flagged 38 people as high-volume senders of inappropriate emails, including 13 senior government officials or judges.

JOSH SHAPIRO
ATTY. GEN. BRUCE BEEMER

Pennsylvania To Close Center For Intellectually Disabled

HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania is closing a center for people with intellectual disabilities, a decision that state officials say means about 80 residents will instead be cared for in homes and with community-based services. The Department of Human Services will shut down the Hamburg State Center, about 20 miles north of Reading, over the coming two years. The number of people in state centers in Pennsylvania has fallen from nearly 3,000 two decades ago to just under 900. The state is also closing the civil section of Norristown State Hospital which currently serves 122 people. Officials say the changes are aimed at improving the quality of life for the people who live there.

Delaware Lawmakers Move To Reject Recommended Pay Increases

DOVER, DE (AP) – Delaware lawmakers are calling for the state House and Senate to reject a state panel’s recommendations of higher salaries for legislators, judges, and high-ranking state officials. Fifty of the 62 lawmakers in the General Assembly signed on as co-sponsors to a resolution introduced to reject the recommendations of the Delaware Compensation Commission. Lawmakers say the pay raises are ill-advised at a time when Delaware is facing a budget shortfall of about $350 million. Under state law, the commission’s recommendations take effect automatically unless lawmakers vote them down in their entirety.

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