HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf says a public official shouldn’t be in office if they’re guilty of a crime, as questions swirl around whether a state lawmaker secretly pleaded guilty to a federal felony. Wolf’s comments came after a report revealed Rep. Leslie Acosta’s criminal case. The Philadelphia Democrat is running unopposed for a second term in the November election. Her lawyer says Acosta won’t resign, despite Democratic Party pressure. Court records show Acosta was secretly charged last November and accused of aiding a scheme to embezzle from a mental health clinic where she once worked. The charging document was quietly unsealed after a still-secret plea document was filed in March. It remains unclear whether she pleaded guilty.
HARRISBURG – A half million eligible Pennsylvanians have used the state’s online voter registration since its launch in August 2015. The site at register.votesPA.com registered its 500,000th user last Saturday afternoon. The 500,000th applicant was a resident of Lancaster County. To date, 58% of users have been eligible citizens registering for the first time, while the remaining 42% were voters making updates to their existing voter registration, such as a change of name, address or party affiliation. October 11 is the registration deadline for those who want to vote in the November 8 election. The online voter registration system, available in English or Spanish, is more secure for applicants because the form is transmitted directly to the appropriate county voter registration office for processing.
HARRISBURG (AP) – PA lawmakers are moving closer to re-enacting legislation that would let the National Rifle Association and similar groups challenge local gun regulations that are more restrictive than state law. The House Judiciary Committee voted for a bill that’s nearly identical to a version thrown out by Commonwealth Court last year, a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court in June. The proposal gives standing to membership organizations to file challenges to local gun ordinances. The previous law was invalidated because it was deemed to violate a ban in the state constitution on bundling unrelated topics in a single bill. The new version adds a provision requiring 30 days’ notice before a lawsuit is filed, in case municipalities want to repeal their ordinances to avoid litigation.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has started a week-long trade mission to Israel. Hogan arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The governor met with executives at Enzymotec and its subsidiary VAYA Pharma, which recently relocated its U.S. headquarters to the University of Maryland BioPark. Business, academic and Jewish leaders from Maryland have accompanied the governor, along with some administration officials. About 25 private-sector representatives have made the trip.
WEST EARL TOWNSHIP – Police say a 2-year-old Ephrata girl who was pinned against a barn by a minivan has died. Tuesday morning’s accident in the 300 block of South Farmersville Road in Lancaster County happened on the same block where a toddler was struck and killed by a piece of farm equipment in November. A 23-year-old Terre Hill woman was behind the wheel of the minivan when it “somehow went forward” and struck the child. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. The van will be inspected to see if it was running properly. In November, a 19-month-old girl was struck and killed by a skid loader on her family’s farm on the same block.
HARRISBURG – Advocates for organ donation rallied at the state Capitol in Harrisburg to encourage action on legislation to update Pennsylvania’s outdated organ and tissue donation law. House Bill 30 would establish a comprehensive framework for public education on organ and tissue donations, clarify the methods for making such donations, streamline the process of working with law enforcement in deaths under investigation, and update the law to reflect the best clinical practices to support donations for transplantation. The law would be known as the Donate Life PA Act. Pennsylvania’s Uniform Anatomical Gift Act was enacted more than 20 years ago, and has not been updated since. Almost 1,000 Pennsylvanians are on the organ donation waiting list.
HARRISBURG – The PA House unanimously approved legislation that would help active duty military personnel who wish to run for a local elective office. Under House Bill 2186, a person who has established residence in a community would remain a resident of that community during a period of active duty military service, specifically as it applies to any residency requirements outlined as a condition for running for a local elective office. The bill also says a resident would be deemed an ongoing resident of the municipality due to active military duty unless and until the person declares an intent to establish a new domicile outside the municipality. Case law has held that a person must be physically present in a place to be a resident, so a person returning to his or her permanent home after active military duty could be required to ‘restart the clock’ to meet a residency requirement. The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
ENOLA (AP) – A Cumberland County high school is set to reopen more than three weeks after it was closed due to mold. The superintendent of schools says East Pennsboro High School will reopen Wednesday. The high school, middle school, and both district elementary schools had closed in late August. The other schools had since reopened and high school and middle school students had been sharing the middle school on a half-day schedule while the mold was cleaned from the high school. A testing company blamed the mold growth in the schools on extreme humidity and rain over the summer and a lack of air conditioning. Workers also reinsulated pipes because condensation from them was also believed to be contributing to the problem.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty is agreeing to join two debates in October after Republican incumbent Pat Toomey pushed for a four-debate schedule. The McGinty campaign said that she would join debates on Oct. 17 at Pittsburgh TV station KDKA and Oct. 24 at Philadelphia TV station WPVI. Both debates will be available for broadcast statewide. The campaign had no immediate explanation for why she would not join debates on Oct. 6 at Bucknell University and on Oct. 13 in Harrisburg. Polls show the race is virtually tied, and the winner of the Nov. 8 election could tip control of the U.S. Senate.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Two former state Supreme Court justices and a lawyer are launching another legal challenge to the wording of a constitutional amendment that would give state judges five more years before they have to retire. The three filed a lawsuit yesterday in Commonwealth Court that repeated their previous claim that the ballot question misleads voters into possibly falsely concluding there is no existing age limit for judges. The state constitution currently requires justices, judges, and district judges to retire at the end of the year in which they turn 70. The amendment would increase that to age 75. The high court earlier this month deadlocked in a 3-3 tie on the same plaintiffs’ previous lawsuit, effectively putting the question to voters on Nov. 8 without reference to the existing age limit.