Gift Ban For State Government Officials Proposed For Next Month

HARRISBURG – Lancaster County Sen. Lloyd Smucker says he’ll introduce a bill next month to ban nearly all gifts to public officials and employees in Pennsylvania. He says Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is setting the right tone by pledging to ban gifts to executive branch employees and officials. Smucker began working on a bill after the news broke last March that state lawmakers had accepted money from an undercover informant posing as a lobbyist. Pennsylvania doesn’t limit such gifts. Smucker says four out of five states impose some sort of limit. It might cause heartburn in Pennsylvania’s Capitol, where lobbyists routinely provide free meals, drinks, and tickets to sporting events and recreational opportunities, like ski areas. Earlier this year, the lawmaker chaired a public hearing of the Senate State Government Committee in which the merits of various gift ban approaches were discussed.

SEN. LLOYD SMUCKER

               SEN. LLOYD SMUCKER

EZ-ID Could Be Coming To PA

HARRISBURG – Following two recent informational meetings, Rep. Mike Regan of York & Cumberland Counties said he is preparing to introduce legislation that would make license plates simpler to identify by using fewer numbers and adding symbols. Regan met with representatives from law enforcement, PennDOT, and others as they map out the feasibility of making license plates easier to identify. The state of Massachusetts has passed legislation to move toward implementing EZ-ID license plates. With 70% of all crime involving a motor vehicle, fewer than 1% of crimes witnessed are able to properly report the plate to law enforcement. Regan said adding a symbol allows for fewer characters on the license plate which will make the fonts larger and more readable. Additionally, if the witness of a crime only remembers the symbol and one other character, it greatly reduces the number of suspect vehicles which would aid police agencies in their investigation.

Regan121514EZID03

Seeking Solutions For A Deadly Berks County Road

BLANDON – Sens. Judy Schwank and David Argall met with officials to work towards solutions that would make Berks County’s Route 222 less deadly. The gathering included Berks County law enforcement, including District Attorney John Adams; PennDOT; local chambers of commerce; Berks County officials; township officials; and business leaders. The group agreed that additional law enforcement should begin to be explored. PennDOT said it would examine lower speed limits, flashing signs and other enhancements to try to improve the safety of the corridor. Leaders agreed it would take many additional years to build a limited-access highway to relieve the stress and problems of Route 222 but they said that a new road would still be pursued as a long-term solution.

SEN. JUDY SCHWANK

SEN. JUDY SCHWANK

SEN. DAVID ARGALL

SEN. DAVID ARGALL

Judge Delays January Trial On Penn State Sanctions

HARRISBURG (AP) – A judge is delaying a trial on the legality of the NCAA’s consent decree that punished Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey said the case brought by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and state Treasurer Rob McCord will begin Feb. 17. It had been scheduled for Jan. 6. The judge says she needs more time to resolve disagreements about which documents the NCAA must produce. She’s also requiring the NCAA to give her the documents under seal so she can determine if Corman and McCord should get them. Corman and McCord sued to enforce a state law requiring the consent decree’s $60 million fine benefit Pennsylvania only.

Ride-Sharing Service Gets Approval

HARRISBURG (AP) – Ride-sharing service Lyft has received regulatory approval to offer service for two years everywhere in Pennsylvania, except for Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today voted 4-1 to approve the company’s application, with conditions to which it must agree. Lyft and a competitor, Uber, initially won utility commission approval to operate in the Pittsburgh area after a battle with the agency and taxi operators. Uber also won approval last month to operate for two years in Pennsylvania. Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies use smartphone apps to dispatch drivers who use their own personal vehicles.

MD Getting Pressed To Remove Constitutional Provisions

ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Some freedom-from-religion advocates are pressing Maryland and six other states to remove provisions from their state constitutions prohibiting people who don’t believe in God from holding public office. The Supreme Court struck down such restrictions in 1961. Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin said today that the ban is among a number of what he called “obsolete provisions that are littering the constitution.” and those items could best be addressed by a constitutional convention. Marylanders get to vote every 20 years on whether to hold a constitutional convention. The next referendum is set for 2030.

Reaction To York County School Consolidation Study

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office officially released “Fiscal Implications of a York County School District Consolidation,” the results of a study commissioned last year by the county’s House delegation. The report examines the potential savings for taxpayers that might be realized, if the administrative functions of York County’s public school districts were consolidated. York County lawmakers: Rep. Will Tallman, Rep. Seth Grove; and Representative-Elect Kristin Phillips-Hill reacted to the findings of the report. Consolidation of schools is often mentioned as a potentially more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. The study took a hard look at the variables involved and found the idea to be cost prohibitive.

REP. WILL TALLMAN

REP. WILL TALLMAN

REP. SETH GROVE

     REP. SETH GROVE

REP.-ELECT KRISTIN PHILLIPS-HILL

REP.-ELECT KRISTIN PHILLIPS-HILL

Congressman Has School Lunch With Students

MILLERSVILLE – Area Congressman Joe Pitts is visiting Penn Manor High School today to have lunch with students and discuss federal requirements for school lunches. The Congressman was invited by district officials who are concerned about the impact of newer federal standards on the quality of meals. School food service directors from neighboring districts have also been invited to attend.

REP. JOE PITTS

                REP. JOE PITTS

Lawsuit Claims Cover Up In Fatal York County Shooting

SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP (AP) – The family of a knife-and-scissor-wielding man whose fatal shooting by York County police was captured on dashboard video says the local prosecutor covered up what happened. Todd Shultz’s family filed an $8 million federal civil rights lawsuit against York County and district attorney Tom Kearney as well as the Springettsbury Township Police department, its chief, and two members of the force. Family attorney Devon Jacob tells The York Dispatch that Kearney’s version of the December 2012 shooting outside a Kmart in the 1000 block of Haines Road isn’t supported by the video. Officers shot Shultz 17 times. Jacob called it “shocking and unlawful.” Kearney cleared the officers of wrongdoing. He says they made multiple attempts to subdue the 40-year-old Shultz and no choice to shoot once he refused to drop his weapons.

Bethesda Youth Pack Food For The Needy

HARRISBURG – Harrisburg’s Bethesda Mission’s Youth Center is involved in a special project this year. Yesterday, they packed food boxes to be distributed to the poor and needy during the Christmas holiday. Over 20 youth are involved in the project, demonstrating God’s love and compassion for others. They packed 300 boxes for the distribution will take place today from 4 – 6 p.m. at the Youth Center located at 1438 Herr Street. The Mission utilized a voucher system with local agencies to determine who would be the beneficiaries of the food boxes.