HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped in March for the fourth straight month. The state Department of Labor and Industry said Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8% last month. The national rate was 4.5% in March. A survey found that the civilian labor force grew by 7,000 in March. Employment rose by 17,000 to a new record high above 6.1 million while unemployment dropped by 9,000 to 321,000, the lowest in nine years. The figures are preliminary and could change.
LANCASTER – Saturday afternoon’s Spotlight features PA Family Institute President Michael Geer discussing issues impacting families in the Keystone State. He talks about the latest in the federal lawsuit against the Boyertown Area School District. He also discusses a privacy toolkit that’s available to citizens, defunding Planned Parenthood, and more 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.”
WARMINSTER – Gov. Tom Wolf joined Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards at a roundtable discussion in Warminster about the effects of cutting taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood would have for people in Bucks County and across the state. Wolf said no funding for Planned Parenthood will have a dramatic impact on Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program in that unintended pregnancies will increase and reproductive health services will need to be covered. President Donald Trump signed into law this month a bill to overturn a rule that prevented states from defunding Planned Parenthood, the #1 abortion provider in the U.S. States can now redirect Title X funds away from abortion organizations and toward comprehensive Community Health Centers that better serve women and girls.
LANCASTER – The boil water advisory for Lancaster’s Quaker Hills was lifted this morning. Lancater City Water Authority says the drinking water problem has been corrected and the water is safe to drink again. The notice was for those living on Village Green, St. Regis, and Walnut Lanes, Cedarhurst Circle, Fresh Meadow, Blue Ridge, Glen Oaks, Alan, Oak Ridge, and Pilgrim Drives, as well as Quaker Hills and Wabank Roads. The boil water advisory was after several water main breaks and the sudden drop or loss in water pressure. Water officials apologized for any inconvenience and thanked residents for their patience.
HARRISBURG – The PA House passed legislation to permit eligible patients with a terminal illness to use investigational drugs, biological products and devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Under House Bill 45, physicians would not be held liable for recommending experimental products to their terminally ill patients, nor would the bill create a private cause of action against the manufacturers that make the drugs. While the bill does not require insurers to cover these products, they may do so at their own discretion. The legislation passed by a unanimous vote in the House last session, but the Senate failed to take up the bill.
HARRISBURG – Legislation will be introduced that includes charter schools in the teacher evaluation system used for all other public school educators. Pennsylvania adopted a system of educator evaluation in 2011 that requires the combination of a structured observation system and various pieces of student performance data be used to calculate ratings for teachers, principals, and other professional staff. However, charter schools are currently not required to use the system. The legislation would require that charter schools and cyber charter schools use the same evaluation system as other public schools starting in the 2018-19 school year. Bill sponsor, Montgomery County Rep. Steve McCarter said charter schools and public schools should be treated equally under law since both receive tax dollars and both are considered public schools under Pennsylvania law.
WASHINGTON, DC – Area Congressman Scott Perry reintroduced two bills that would stop future assaults on the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment Defense Act prevents the Executive branch from unilaterally taking action to create more restrictive regulations on law-abiding gun owners without Congressional action. The second, the ATF Wrongful Classification Act, originally was proposed to block a last minute push by the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to reclassify certain types of ammunition, specifically the M855, as “armor piercing.” The M855 typically is used for sporting purposes; however, technology allows it to be used in handguns. The ATF cited a loophole, which states ammunition that “may be used in a handgun” may be considered “armor piercing.” Perry’s bill amends U.S. Code to ensure that ammunition may be reclassified only if the manufacturer designs and intends the ammunition to be used in a handgun. The ATF since reversed its decision, but Perry’s legislation would ensure future administrations couldn’t attempt similar misclassifications.
HARRISBURG – Repeat DUI offenders could face tougher punishments under legislation introduced by Lancaster County Sen. Scott Martin. His legislation would mandate at least two years of jail time for any individual convicted of more than two DUIs in a 10-year period, with harsher sentences for offenses that lead to the death of another person. Under Martin’s bill, a repeat offender who causes the death of another person as a result of a DUI could be charged with a first-degree felony. More than half of all Pennsylvanians who lose their license due to a DUI conviction are repeat offenders. Martin cited several tragic cases in which innocent motorists and pedestrians were injured or killed by intoxicated individuals who had prior DUI offenses.
HARRISBURG – Lancaster County Rep. Dave Zimmerman has introduced a measure designed to condense the process for conservation permitting for agriculture projects. House Bill 1256 would move the responsibility for farm permitting from DEP to the Conservation Commission, consolidating the responsibilities of permitting, inspection, and enforcement under one roof. He added that this should speed up the process of farm permitting and also have folks that understand farming do the permitting for farmers. The bill is currently before the state House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee for consideration.
YORK (AP) – York County and Springettsbury Township will pay $285,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a shoplifter fatally shot by police outside a Kmart in 2012. The township will pay $275,000 and the county $10,000 to settle claims brought by the family of Todd Shultz. The 40-year-old man was killed after police say he resisted multiple attempts to arrest him outside the store in December 2012. Police say he was armed with a knife and scissors. Township manager Benjamin Marchant says the supervisors are “very disappointed” in the settlement, which he says was a “business decision” made by the township’s insurance carrier. The township police chief opposed the settlement, and says he stands by his officers.