HARRISBURG – Legislation to prohibit Pennsylvania courts and state judges from applying foreign legal systems, including sharia law, when doing so would conflict with the federal or state constitutions and infringe upon constitutional rights, was advanced by the House State Government Committee. If enacted, House Bill 1288 would ensure that sharia law and all other foreign legal systems are forever banished from Pennsylvania courtrooms and that the Constitution remains supreme in the fair and equal dispensation of the rule of law. The fundamental liberties protected under the bill include due process, right to bear arms, freedom of religion and speech, freedom of the press, and any right of privacy that is defined in the PA and U.S. Constitution. The bill now advances to the full House for consideration.
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would let police departments refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers, unless a court orders its release has passed the PA Senate. The bill covers recordings from body cameras and dashboard cameras. It is supported by law enforcement organizations, but opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Bill sponsor, Montgomery County Sen. Stewart Greenleaf says it’ll encourage more police agencies to outfit officers with cameras. But the ACLU says it’ll be nearly impossible to obtain video that’s in the public interest, even if the requester is in the video. Senate Bill 976 now goes to the House for consideration.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Approval for Uber and Lyft to operate statewide is nearing final approval in the Pennsylvania Legislature before temporary regulatory authority to operate in most counties runs out early next year. The state House voted Wednesday to send legislation back to the Senate, which approved an earlier version last year. The bumpy ride for Uber and Lyft in Pennsylvania has included clashing with Philadelphia regulators and a record-setting $11.4 million state fine imposed on Uber. Under the bill, Uber’s fine would be limited to $250,000 while the companies would pay 1.4% of gross receipts in Philadelphia to the city and school district. Companies and drivers would be subject to licensing and safety standards and requirements to carry insurance and report accidents in a timely manner. Criminal background checks would also required for drivers.
PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP – Crews battled a three alarm sawmill fire in Lancaster County last night. It happened around 9:30 p.m. at Beiler’s Sawmill in the 900 block of Lancaster Pike, that’s Route 272, in Providence Township. Several fire companies responded to the scene. No injuries were reported. A cause is under investigation.
HARRISBURG – A bill to recognize a local soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2010 has passed the PA House. House Bill 2293 would designate the bridge over the Conestoga River on a portion of Route 741, between Pequea Township and Lancaster Township, as the Cpl. Eric M. Torbert Jr. Memorial Bridge. Torbert frequented the location his family chose to honor him. The 2003 Penn Manor High School graduate was a combat engineer of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was honored with the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. The bill now goes to the state Senate.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s “extremely disappointed” that the state’s System of Higher Education and the faculty union failed to reach a contract agreement. Wolf says the “resulting strike is detrimental to the system and will have far-reaching effects for years to come.” Faculty members went on strike this morning at 14 Pennsylvania state universities, affecting more than 100,000 students. Wolf says “everyone’s top priority should be the students and their families who are counting on an agreement to ensure Pennsylvania continues to deliver on its promise to provide a world-class college education.” He urges both sides to return to the negotiating table immediately and work to reach an agreement.
HARRISBURG – Two state senators called for the introduction of a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish an Animal Abuse Prevention Task Force. The task force would include professional experts and groups charged with the responsibility of analyzing current laws that seek to reduce instances of animal cruelty and abuse and report its findings and recommendations to the Senate. Sen. Rich Alloway of Adams, Cumberland, & York Counties and Sen. John Rafferty of Berks & Chester Counties held a news conference to outline their plans. The two said the task force would build on current efforts to address incidents animal cruelty, including Senate Bill 1372. That bill would change the existing statute pertaining to animal cruelty to bring Pennsylvania in line with the majority of other states in the country by increasing penalties for certain crimes against animals. It also adds a new classification for offenders who cause the death or serious bodily injury of an animal. Violators could be found guilty of a third-degree felony.
HARRISBURG – A faculty strike impacting over 100,000 students at 14 Pennsylvania state universities is underway. Contract negotiations between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and its faculty union hit an impasse late Tuesday night when the union says the state handed it its last, best offer and was done negotiating. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties officially went on strike at 5 a.m. today for its more than 5,000 faculty members and coaches. The two sides appeared to be unable to reach agreement on proposed raises and health care contributions. The system has never had a strike in its 34-year history.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The PA Supreme Court says the right to personal privacy in government records is guaranteed by the state Constitution, as it reversed a lower court ruling involving public school employees’ home addresses. The ruling came in a 7-year-old Right-to-Know Law case. Justices say the right to informational privacy may not be violated unless outweighed by a public interest favoring disclosure. They sent the case back to Commonwealth Court, which ruled last year that employees must first have a chance to fight such a request for their information. The case was prompted by requests to school districts for the names and addresses of employees. PA‘s largest teachers’ union sued to stop it and asked the court to declare the information exempt from public access.
HARRISBURG – The PA Senate approved legislation to permit all municipal police departments in the state to use radar to catch speeders. Under Senate Bill 535, police officers could use radar or infrared laser light devices to catch speeders after complete a training course. Currently, only the PA State Police are allowed to use such devices in the state. Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t permit local police to use radar. A municipality’s governing body would have to first adopt an ordinance authorizing its police force to use the devices. The bill now goes to the state House for consideration.