DOVER, DE (AP) – Delaware Gov. John Carney is proposing a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to balance a budget for the next fiscal year. His proposal includes reducing non-personnel discretionary spending among state agencies by about 4.5%. He also wants raise the state employee cost share for health insurance, eliminate 200 vacant positions, and reduce spending for public schools, higher education, energy efficiency programs, and open space and farmland preservation. On the revenue side, Carney is proposing to raise corporate franchise taxes, personal income taxes, and tobacco taxes to generate about $193 million in additional revenue.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Four PA Republican congressmen are now saying they’re opposed to the House GOP’s health care legislation that’s headed toward a vote. Congressmen Charlie Dent, Brian Fitzpatrick, Scott Perry, and Glenn Thompson say they are opposed to the bill. Five PA Republicans say they’re inclined to vote for it. They are Lou Barletta, Mike Kelly, Tim Murphy, Bill Shuster, and Lloyd Smucker. Four more – Ryan Costello, Tom Marino, Patrick Meehan and Keith Rothfus – aren’t saying how they’ll vote.
WASHINGTON, DC – PA U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says he will not support Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court. The Democrat says, “I do not believe Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach will ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania. We cannot demand perfection from Supreme Court justices. But we can demand a constant commitment to fairness, to protecting all Americans regardless of power or wealth, to that guiding creed: equal justice under law. I have concluded that Judge Gorsuch is not the right choice to fulfill this commitment. I will not support his nomination.”
CATONSVILLE, MD (AP) – The former bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg from 1983-1989, has died. Cardinal William Keeler was 86. Keeler died early Thursday at St. Martin’s Home for the Aged in Catonsville, Maryland. No cause of death was released. Keeler, who was raised in Lebanon, retired in 2007 as the head of the archdiocese of Baltimore. He devoted much of his clerical life to improving ties with other denominations, especially Jews. Keeler urged religious leaders to tackle the world’s problems together.
DOVER, DE (AP) – Officials say more than 200,000 Delaware residents have been put at risk of identity theft following a breach of a state Labor Department job-seeker database earlier this month. The attack occurred after a hacker created a job-seeker account in the Delaware JobLink database and then exploited a vulnerability in the system. The database connects job seekers with employers and contains information from about 253,000 people in the state. The vulnerability has since been fixed, but officials believe personal information from about 200,000 accounts was potentially stolen.
LANCASTER – The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office intends to seek the death penalty against two Lancaster men charged with killing two brothers last month in their city home. Notices of intent were filed to seek death sentences against Joshua Proper and Juan Cristo-Munoz, both 18. Proper and Cristo-Munoz are charged with numerous counts, including two counts of homicide and robbery, for the Feb. 19 killings of brothers, Leroy Kinsey and Richard Walton, at their Poplar Street home. Proper and Cristo-Munoz are at Lancaster County Prison without bail and recently waived preliminary hearings.
PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP – State Police are investigating the death of a man in a Lancaster County home. Authorities found the body of 35-year-old Hugo Hernandez Garcia around 2:45 a.m. Wednesday in a home at 124 Pennsy Road in Providence Township. Hernandez Garcia was from Guatemala. State Police are working on multiple leads in the case. Lancaster Online reports that the death is being investigated as a homicide. Details on how Hernandez Garcia died have not been released.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Reaction to Republican health care legislation is mixed among Pennsylvania’s 18-member U.S. House delegation. In a letter Wolf’s office released publicly, the Democratic governor says the GOP health care bill would blow a $2.5-billion to $3-billion hole in the state government’s deficit-riddled finances. Today’s letter comes a day before the Republican-controlled U.S. House could vote. Wolf says the bill will drive up rates for older insurance customers and strip treatment coverage from many mentally ill and drug addicts. He also says it’ll shift costs to states and hospitals to treat people who can’t afford insurance, potentially driving some hospitals to close. Several of Pennsylvania’s 13 House Republicans are opposed, while some aren’t saying how they’ll vote. All five Democrats oppose it.
HARRISBURG – Legislation known as Libre’s Law has passed the PA Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 298 would make it easier to prosecute a person who knowingly mistreats, abuses or neglects an animal. 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. Sen. Rich Alloway of Adams, Cumberland, & York Counties sponsored the measure. The legislation was inspired by the story of Libre, a 4-month-old Boston terrier who was rescued in July from a Lancaster County farm after suffering from weeks of severe neglect. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
UNIVERSITY PARK – Experts in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are urging commercial poultry producers and small-flock owners in Pennsylvania to ramp up their biosecurity in the wake of recent outbreaks of avian influenza in other states. In early March, a commercial flock of chickens in Tennessee tested positive for avian flu. Since then, another case was found at a second Tennessee farm, and Alabama ag officials announced an outbreak affecting three premises in that state. With the spring northward migration underway, the poultry industries in Pennsylvania and neighboring states are at heightened risk. The PA Department of Agriculture recommends that any poultry flocks kept outdoors be brought under cover during waterfowl migration periods. State and federal agriculture officials also strongly urge producers to develop an avian flu plan and augment it with a comprehensive biosecurity plan. Poultry production in the Keystone State has a farm-gate value of $1.4 billion.