Questions About The Future Of Three Mile Island

CHICAGO – Exelon Corporation announced that its Three Mile Island nuclear power plant did not clear in the latest PJM capacity auction, highlighting the challenge nuclear energy continues to face without compensation for its ability to produce electricity without harmful carbon and air pollution and to contribute to grid resilience. TMI did not clear in the past three PJM base residual auctions. TMI remains economically challenged as a result of continued low wholesale power prices and the lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear energy. Exelon has been working with stakeholders on options for the continued operation of TMI, which has not been profitable in five years.

PA Moves To Comply With Federal Real ID Law

HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania is closer to complying with a federal law that requires people to prove they are legal U.S. residents in order for their driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes. The state Senate voted Tuesday 49-1 to approve Senate Bill 133 directing state government to comply with the 2005 Real ID law. The bill still requires House approval. Residents would not be forced to obtain a so-called Real ID, and the bill would allow PennDOT to continue producing driver’s licenses and photo ID cards that don’t meet the heightened standard. The Commonwealth faces a June 6 deadline to become compliant for Pennsylvania licenses to be sufficient to get into federal facilities, such as military bases. Next year, Real ID’s heightened standards kick in for people boarding commercial airlines. About half the states are compliant.

Selling Naming Rights To Help PA Taxpayers

HARRISBURG – Two lawmakers want to sell naming rights to buildings owned by the state, similar to what happened in 2012 when the Farm Show Complex’s Exposition Hall was renamed Weis Market’s Exposition Hall. The grocery store chain agreed to a five-year contract netting the state $750,000. Sen. David Argall of Berks & Schuylkill Counties and Allegheny County Sen. Randy Vulakovich want to put similar funding into a specific account that will rehabilitate unused office space. Currently, there are floors of empty office space currently owned by PA state government agencies. Both lawmakers say the state is in a tough fiscal situation and there’s a need to explore innovative ways to cut costs and raise revenue. The proposal would bring in revenue without raising taxes. It will also require a report by the Department of General Services to the General Assembly to provide annual updates on the initiative. According to the senators, the goal is to move state employees out of leased facilities and back into offices already owned by the state in order to reduce taxpayer costs.

SEN. RANDY VULAKOVICH
SEN. DAVID ARGALL

 

EMS Week In The Commonwealth

BETHLEHEM – The Wolf Administration and state officials are thanking EMS providers for their service as part of EMS Week. Deputy Secretary of Health Planning and Assessment Ray Barishansky says Pennsylvania’s dedicated EMS providers work to prevent premature death and disability by providing care to patients between the home and the hospital. He also encouraged folks to become aware and involved in the work of their EMS providers. Pennsylvania has over 45,000 certified EMS providers who work for over 1,300 licensed ground and air EMS agencies providing services in the state. These providers respond to over one million requests for service each year. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is the lead agency for emergency medical services in the Commonwealth. Within the Department of Health, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services is responsible for the statewide development and coordination of a comprehensive system to reduce premature death and disability.

PA Insurance Chief To Lead New Agency

HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf will nominate his insurance commissioner, Teresa Miller, to lead a new agency overseeing public health and human services programs. Wolf said Miller would lead the proposed Department of Health and Human Services. It would be created by combining the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs. Before becoming insurance commissioner in 2015, Miller was a lawyer specializing in the implementation and enforcement of the 2010 federal health care law. Wolf pitched the consolidation in January as a way to improve services and save money for a deficit-strapped budget, but lawmakers are still considering whether to approve it.

More Arrests On Day 2 Of Harrisburg Demonstrations

HARRISBURG (AP) – Five more people were arrested inside the state Capitol in Harrisburg on the second day of demonstrations for a ban on gifts to state lawmakers. Police arrested demonstrators Monday in the office of House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe. Capitol Police spokesman Troy Thompson says they’re being charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to leave Metcalfe’s office. Thompson says two demonstrators who were arrested on two straight days were charged with defiant trespassing. The March on Harrisburg demonstrators want a gift-ban bill that’s been sitting in Metcalfe’s committee since January to move forward. Group members say Metcalfe refuses to meet. Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania doesn’t limit how much in gifts lawmakers may take. Lobbyists routinely dole out free meals, drinks, and even tickets to expensive sporting events.

New PA DEP Secretary In As Health Secretary Departs

HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf’s cabinet is undergoing some changes. The state Senate confirmed Patrick McDonnell as Wolf’s Secretary for Environmental Protection, while Wolf says his Health Secretary, Karen Murphy, is leaving the post. McDonnell ran the Department of Environmental Protection for a year since his predecessor, John Quigley, resigned amid a clash with lawmakers and the natural gas industry over drilling regulations and power plant pollution. Murphy has steered the Health Department while it writes regulations for Pennsylvania’s newly legalized medical marijuana program. Wolf says Murphy also helped improve the regulation of nursing homes and led the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program. She’s expected to leave the job by early July.

DR. KAREN MURPHY
PATRICK MCDONNELL

PA Settles With Target On Data Breach

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Pennsylvania has joined with 46 states in an $18.5 million settlement with the Target Corporation over a major data breach in 2013 that resulted in over 100 million pieces of credit card or personal information being stolen from customers nationwide. 1.6 million consumer transactions affected by the data breach took place in Pennsylvania. Under the settlement, Pennsylvania will receive $469,000, which will go to the state Treasury. The settlement also requires Target to make significant reforms to improve its security measures to better protect its customers’ financial data from future cyber-hacking attempts. Apart from the settlement, an estimated 225,000 consumers across the country will receive restitution from a $10 million fund established through class-action litigation.

JOSH SHAPIRO

“Paul’s Law” Approved By PA Senate

HARRISBURG – A bill to protect critical health services for individuals with special needs was unanimously approved in the PA Senate. Known as “Paul’s Law,” Senate Bill 108 would prohibit organ transplant organizations from discriminating against patients on the basis of physical, developmental or mental disability. The legislation was inspired by Paul Corby of Pottsville, Schuylkill County. Corby, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, was denied a life-preserving heart transplant by the University of Pennsylvania hospital in 2011. The legislation now moves to the House for consideration.

Rallying For The Second Amendment At The PA Capitol

HARRISBURG – Hundreds of gun owners and gun rights advocates were joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the state Capitol Rotunda on Monday to voice their support for the Second Amendment rights of Pennsylvanians. It was the twelfth annual rally held in Harrisburg and a number of nationally noted speakers shared their perspectives on legislative and judicial efforts to protect and preserve the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Butler County Rep. Daryl Metcalfe was the organizer of the rally. Participants say they want to eliminate Pennsylvania’s criminal background checks system for gun buyers in favor of participation in a national checks system. They also support legislation that will prevent local governments from regulating the ownership, possession or transportation of firearms and ammunition in Pennsylvania as well as a measure to make Constitutional Carry legal for citizens in the state.

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