HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania lawmakers are back at the Capitol with growing questions over the state government’s increasingly confusing budget situation. Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa told a Pennsylvania Cable Network interviewer today that it’s unclear how lawmakers will move forward because they are in uncharted territory. Tomorrow, Gov. Tom Wolf is delivering a budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1. But he and the Republican-controlled Legislature are at still odds over billions in the current fiscal year. Republican Sen. Randy Vulakovich of Allegheny County says the situation is shameful and that state government lacks people willing to compromise. He spoke at a hearing where senators questioned a state treasury official over Wolf’s legal authority to spend money above the amounts he allowed in December appropriations bill he signed.
HARRISBURG – The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region is collecting basic personal care items for homeless veterans, which will be placed into backpacks for their Totes of Hope Program. The backpacks will, in turn, be distributed to homeless veterans in our community. From now through February 29, the Red Cross is collecting the items needed to assemble 150 backpacks to be distributed through their network to those in need. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and corporate partners, they have collected most of the items needed: however, they still seeking additional items to complete the backpacks. These items include: fleece lap blankets, flashlights and batteries for them, pocket mirrors, personal sewing kits, personal first aid kits, nail clippers, rain ponchos, notepads, hydrocortisone cream, adhesive bandages, 17-Inch backpacks, and shaving cream. Donors are also encouraged to write a note of thanks to our veterans that will be included in each of the backpacks. Donated items can be dropped off at the Red Cross Offices in Carlisle at 79 East Pomfret Street, Harrisburg at 1804 North Sixth Street, and York at 724 South George Street during normal business hours. For more information concerning the Totes of Hope Program, you can contact Lori Demchak at 717-257-1822, ext. 1251.
DOVER, DE – Groups opposed to capital punishment rallied today in Delaware to protest the defeat of a bill repealing that state‘s death penalty, and what they describe as chronic racial injustice in the state. Demonstrators gathered for a “Moral Monday” protest outside Legislative Hall. They say protests will be a weekly occurrence during this year’s legislative session. Organizations involved include the NAACP, the Complexities of Color Coalition, the Delaware Repeal Project, and Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty. Legislation to abolish the death penalty in Delaware cleared the state Senate by a single vote last year, but was defeated last month in the House. Lawmakers supporting the bill say they will try to resurrect it for another vote after the General Assembly reconvenes next month.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf will release his 2016-17 budget plan even as he fights to get his major priorities into this year’s budget. Major portions of the current budget remain in limbo after a fight with the Republican-controlled Legislature. Disagreements over school spending, taxes, and Republican policy priorities could bleed into deliberations over a new budget. The new budget year starts July 1. Wolf is the first governor in modern Pennsylvania history to come to this point with substantial portions of the budget for the current fiscal year still in limbo. He has made some revelations about what he will propose tomorrow, including an additional $200 million for public school instruction and operations and another $60 million for pre-kindergarten programs for children of low-income parents.
HARRISBURG – The PA Supreme Court declined to reinstate the suspended law license of PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane as she fights criminal charges she leaked secret grand jury material and lied under oath about it. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said, “In the coming days I will be speaking with the Majority and Minority Leaders in the Senate to determine the date on which the full Senate vote on the removal of the Attorney General will take place. The Special Committee on Senate Address has done an excellent job providing each member of the Senate with all relevant information and testimony from its hearings and I strongly encourage all members to review the materials prior to a vote.
EAST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP – Lancaster County authorities are searching for a missing man. 27-year-old Michael Lawson has not been seen since Thursday morning from Park City Apartments North. Lawson is known to walk to Park City and Long’s Park. He is a white male, five eleven, 115 lbs with blue eyes and blonde hair. If you should see Lawson or know his whereabouts, please contact East Hempfield Township Police at 717-898-3103.
LANCASTER – Lancaster Police are investigating a homicide. Authorities responded to Lancaster General on Saturday evening for a shooting victim who was brought into the emergency room by private vehicle. The victim, a 20-year-old Lancaster man, died shortly upon arrival to the hospital. His identity was not released. Officers were directed to the 300 block of S. Lime Street, where the crime was believed to have occurred. Anyone with information is urged to contact Lancaster Police at 717-735-3300 or Lancaster City/County CrimeStoppers at 1-800-322-1913. Tipsters may remain anonymous.
LANCASTER (AP) – One of two defendants charged in the slaying of an elementary school teacher during a burglary of her Lancaster home pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges. 26-year-old Thomas Moore avoided a possible death penalty with the plea and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Moore was also sentenced to 20 to 40 years in consecutive prison terms for related counts including burglary, robbery, theft, and criminal conspiracy in the December 2014 death of 32-year-old Nicole Mathewson. Moore’s teenage co-defendant, Marcus Rutter, is scheduled for trial in April. Family and friends of the Brownstown Elementary School teacher spoke about their loss, but some said they had forgiven Moore or were struggling to do so. Moore apologized, saying “I appreciate the forgiveness.”
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is declining to reinstate the suspended law license of Pennsylvania’s attorney general as she fights criminal charges she leaked secret grand jury material and lied under oath about it. The high court today ruled against Attorney General Kathleen Kane. In a one-page order, it said she didn’t seek the recusal of Justice Michael Eakin “at the earliest possible time.” As a result, the justices say she waived her ability to object on that basis to the court’s unanimous September decision to suspend her license. A spokesman says Kane’s disappointed, but not surprised. The state House and Senate have both begun separate processes that could lead to her removal from office.
LANCASTER – Lancaster Mennonite School Superintendent J. Richard Thomas has announced that he will retire in December 2016, after over 33 years of service, concluding his tenure as the school’s seventh superintendent. Thomas said, “I was privileged to build on our founders’ vision that Lancaster Mennonite would be a school of educational excellence centered in Jesus Christ.” He added, “I am grateful for a board, staff and other stakeholders that trusted me, empowered me, forgave my mistakes and held me accountable to our vision to serve students.” A search committee for the school’s next superintendent is being finalized.