LANCASTER – Saturday afternoon’s Spotlight features Independence Law Center’s Chief Counsel Randy Wenger discussing the Barronelle Stutzman legal case. Stutzman, a 72-year-old flower shop owner from Washington State, was taken to court after refusing to provide flower arrangements for a same sex wedding due to her Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. She could now wind up losing her home and all her assets. Wenger says adding “sexual orientation” to anti-discrimination laws poses a problem for Christians in the workplace. Wenger warns that such laws could impact Christian businesses in Pennsylvania. Hear more from attorney Randy Wenger on Saturday afternoon’s Spotlight at 12:30 on WDAC and at 2 p.m. on WBYN 107.5. You can listen to the program online right now at wdac.com under “WDAC Podcasts.”
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania State Police says it costs $600 million a year to provide full-time coverage to 2.5 million residents in nearly 1,300 municipalities that don’t pay for a local police force. State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker gave the figure at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. Senators’ questions about the cost came after Gov. Tom Wolf proposed charging those municipalities an annual $25-per-person fee for the coverage. The proposed fee would raise $63 million, but it’s unclear whether lawmakers would approve it. That $600 million is roughly half of the state police’s $1.2 billion budget, most of which is funded by money constitutionally restricted to highway construction, repair, and safety.
HARRISBURG – Three area state senators – Lancaster County’s Ryan Aument, Mike Regan of Cumberland & York Counties, and David Argall of Berks & Schuylkill Counties – are advocating for additional investigators to find welfare waste, fraud, abuse, and misuse. The three have introduced Senate Bill 425, which would require the Office of Inspector General to hire at least 50% additional staff dedicated to finding fraud within public assistance programs administered by the state’s Department of Human Services and Department of Health. Sen. Argall says each welfare fraud investigator saves taxpayers $1.2 million each. he added that the proposal would pay for itself over and over again. Anyone with information regarding welfare fraud is encouraged to call the Office of Inspector General’s toll free welfare fraud tipline at 1-800-932-0582.
UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) – The PA Department of Health is investigating mumps cases on Penn State’s main campus. Penn State says the first confirmed case was reported Jan. 29. Since then, there have been 19 other reported cases, including four confirmed by lab tests. State Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy says the confirmed mumps cases are troublesome because spring break is approaching and the condition could be spread. The school is urging students and visitors to make sure their vaccinations are current.
READING (AP) – The FBI has subpoenaed financial records for the city of Reading that date to the former mayor’s administration. The document served Thursday seeks “any financial and compliance audit report or similar records” regarding federal funds awarded to the city in from 2012 to 2014. That’s when Vaughn Spencer was mayor. He told the Reading Eagle he has no idea why the FBI wants the records. He’s not been charged with any crimes. Current Mayor Wally Scott has said previously that he contacted the FBI about a contract the Spencer administration had with a towing company. The owner told city officials last year that he was owed $1.8 million for 81 cars that had been towed from the city.
HARRISBURG – President Donald Trump rescinded the transgender mandate letter sent to school districts by the Obama Administration and has restored confidence in maintaining biologically-distinct restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities along with policies for sports teams and overnight trips. PA Family Institute President Michael Geer said that the federal government has absolutely no business regulating local school district bathroom and locker room policies here in Pennsylvania or anywhere. All schools should be confident that they can maintain common-sense distinctions based on biological sex in bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities during this school year. Schools should be encouraged to provide a safe environment for all students and respect everyone without taking privacy rights away from anyone. All Pennsylvania school districts that changed their policy because of the Obama administration’s order should restore their original policy in order to protect all students.
HARRISBURG – PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro sent a letter to federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania and a state organization representing all district attorneys, offering the “full assistance and cooperation” of his office to support any investigation into threats against Jewish community centers and places of worship in Pennsylvania. In the past six weeks, synagogues in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have been vandalized. The FBI and U.S. Justice Department are investigating similar incidents across the country. On Monday, 11 Jewish community centers across the U.S. received bomb threats, all of which were hoaxes. This year, a total of 54 Jewish community centers have received threats, sometimes multiple times.You can read Shapiro’s letter by CLICKING THIS LINK.
LANCASTER (AP) – Lancaster County has long welcomed new immigrants, but advocates are now divided over how to educate older students who arrive with little English or formal education. The School District of Lancaster believes the 17-to-21-year-old students will do better in a small alternative high school where they can earn credits and graduate more quickly. But the American Civil Liberties Union believes the students will learn more in the international program at the main high school across town. Federal courts have so far agreed. Lancaster Superintendent Damaris Rau says they have a better chance of earning a diploma at the alternative school. A full trial on the issue is set for this summer unless the two sides forge a settlement.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A ruling is increasing the possible penalty that three former Penn State administrators could face if convicted of crimes for how they responded to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Judge John Boccabella granted a request by the attorney general’s office to add conspiracy to the charges of endangering the welfare of children. Prosecutors say each felony count carries up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Jury selection is scheduled for March 20 in the case of former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz, and former athletic director Tim Curley. They’ve sought permission from the judge for an appeal. If the judge agrees, that could delay the trial.
EPHRATA – Over 3,000 volunteer quilters have been working on the 100+ quilts displayed at this year’s quilt preview held March 2-4 at Mennonite Central Committee’s Material Resources Center at 517 W. Trout Run Road in Ephrata. The preview is an opportunity to view the quilts slated for auction at the 61st annual Pennsylvania Relief Sale. Quilt viewers are invited to vote for their favorite quilt by donating money. Each cent counts as one vote and goes toward the Relief Sale’s My Coins Count collection. The collection supports MCC’s efforts to help communities improve their access to water by drilling wells, installing pumps, capturing rainwater, and constructing sand dams. Tours of the Material Resources Center warehouse will be also offered. Quilt preview hours are March 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and March 4 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The 61st annual Pennsylvania Relief Sale will be held March 31 – April 1, at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The event benefits MCC’s global relief, development, and peacebuilding work. Last year’s sale raised $450,000 for MCC.