HARRISBURG – Registration stickers that Pennsylvanians affix to their license plates will be eliminated starting in 2017. PennDOT anticipates the change will save over $3 million in costs. PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards says the savings will be used to purchase automated license plate readers which permit police to scan license plates to see if the vehicle is registered and has insurance. Motorists will still need to renew their registrations and have their vehicles inspected. Beginning Jan. 1, motorists who renew online will be permitted to print out a registration card. For more information on the plan to eliminate registration stickers, visit www.dmv.pa.gov and look under the Registration Stickers tab under Vehicle Registration.
HARRISBURG – Lancaster County Rep. Mike Sturla has introduced a bill that would increase funds available for transportation projects and ensure adequate funding for the PA State Police. House Bill 709 would establish the State Police Municipal Patrol Services Act, which would establish a fee structure for municipalities to pay for routine state police patrol services that some are currently receiving for free and restore an estimated $450 million to the Motor License Fund. A yearly fee of $156 would be assessed annually per capita and would be billed to municipalities who fully rely on state police coverage. Municipalities with part-time local police and part-time state police coverage would be assessed a discounted rate of $52 per capita annually. Municipalities that employ a full-time local police force would not be charged a fee. The proposal would free up transportation funding and provide more than $2 million in additional road projects annually in every legislative district. It would also establish a $20 million fund for the State Police to use for new cadet training.
HARRISBURG – The PA Public Utility Commission today voted to investigate a proposed rate increase for UGI Utilities Inc. for its natural gas service. The Commission voted 5-0 to investigate UGI’s proposal to increase annual revenues by $58.6 million or 17.5%. Under UGI’s proposal, the average total monthly bill for a residential customer using 57.3 ccf of gas per month would increase from $51.77 to $61.97. The proposal is suspended until Oct. 19 and will be assigned to the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge for a recommended decision or settlement. UGI provides natural gas service to about 387,919 customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania.
ABINGDON, MD (AP) – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered flags be flown at half-staff to honor two deputies shot and killed by a gunman. Hogan said in a statement, “It is my hope that their commitment and dedication to law enforcement and protecting others will be remembered and will forever serve as an inspiration to others.” The order takes effect today and will remain in effect until after funeral services are held for the deputies. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman ordered the county flag to be flown at half-staff effective immediately. The shooter, 67-year-old David Evans, was killed in the shootout yesterday not far from the shopping center where the Panera restaurant was located in Abingdon. The slain officers were described as a 30-year veteran and the other a 16-year veteran.
HARRISBURG – PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane will press on with an investigation into the exchange objectionable emails on state computers after the defeat of a state Senate resolution to remove her from office. Kane issued a statement shortly after the Senate failed to reach the super-majority required to kick her out of office as she fights criminal charges with a suspended law license. One Democrat voted to remove her from office. Dauphin County Sen. Rob Teplitz said the public deserves more than a general running the office. The public deserves a licensed, practicing attorney. Kane is awaiting trial on charges she illegally leaked grand jury material and lied about it. Kane also says the state House is acting too hastily in giving a committee power to begin a process that could result in her impeachment. Kane is awaiting trial on charges she illegally leaked grand jury material and lied about it.
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf plans to veto legislation passed by the state House to restore nearly $1 billion for state prisons. House Bill 1801, which authorizes $939 million for prisons, passed the chamber Wednesday and now goes to the Senate. The House also approved House Bills 1802 and 1803 that provides money for child advocacy centers and hospital burn units. The funds were vetoed by Wolf when Republicans sent him a budget bill in December that he opposed. Wolf is reiterating that he vetoed the money to balance a deficit that he says Republicans refused to address. The budget fight has left state government without a full-year budget for the fiscal year that began last July 1. The Wolf Administration says payments for prison costs will continue, regardless of the veto.
HARRISBURG (AP) – PA Turnpike officials and State Police say keeping vehicles on the turnpike during a historic snowfall last month that stranded hundreds for over 24 hours was the safest decision under the circumstances. Turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton told the state House Transportation Committee that alternative routes were also impacted by the blizzard, and motorists were safer on the toll road. He said “Having these motorists essentially shelter in place was the best option.” State Police Patrol Director, Maj. Edward Hoke said the fact that there was no loss of life shows that the decision to “not scatter traffic in areas not sufficient to handle it” was a wise one. Compton said officials are trying to ensure that in future sufficient personnel and equipment can get where they are needed.
BETHLEHEM (AP) – Lehigh University says a student tested positive for the Zika virus after a trip abroad, but has since recovered. Lehigh said there is no health risk to anyone on campus. State health officials said two female residents had tested positive for the virus, but both were mild cases and the public wasn’t at risk. Authorities say many people infected don’t get sick and most recover in about a week, but officials are investigating whether there is a link between Zika infections in pregnant women and a rare birth defect.
ABINGDON, MD – Two Harford County, Maryland deputies have died after they were wounded by a gunman who opened fire inside a restaurant in Abingdon and got into a shootout with deputies. Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said that authorities identified the shooter as 67-year-old David Evans, who had outstanding warrants for his arrest in Florida and Harford County. The sheriff says a loaded handgun was recovered from him. Authorities say Evans shot a sheriff’s deputy inside a Panera restaurant at lunchtime Wednesday and wounded another deputy during a shootout near the shopping center where the restaurant was located. No bystanders were hurt. The names of the two deputies who lost their lives have not yet been released. One was a 30 year veteran. The other served for 16 years.
HARRISBURG – Reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s spending proposal for fiscal year 2016-17 is coming in from area lawmakers. Lancaster County Sen. Ryan Aument called Wolf’s presentation a lecture. Lancaster County Sen. Lloyd Smucker said the governor is not being realistic. Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County said lawmakers need to get realistic about the budget deficit. Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, the Democrat Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he agrees with the governor that we have a financial crisis. The governor’s budget plan would increase taxes on working Pennsylvanians and employers by $3.6 billion and spending by 10%, or $3 billion, and calls for $33.3 billion in total spending. To support his proposed spending plan the governor has proposed 15 new tax increases, including a retroactive increase in the state Personal Income Tax on workers.