ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s aides have begun unblocking people from his Facebook page after facing criticism for barring critics and a threat of legal action from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU wrote Hogan’s office Friday demanding a review of all 450 people barred from posting and the restoration of posting privileges for seven clients. The Washington Post reported that aides unblocked six commenters the ACLU represents, but couldn’t find the seventh. Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse says they appreciate the ACLU identifying people who “may have been inadvertently denied access.” ACLU of Maryland Legal Director Deborah Jeon says they are considering further legal action.
WEST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP – Authorities say a woman perished in a Tuesday night apartment house fire in West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. Units responded shortly after 7 p.m. to the 900 block of Mary Street. The body of 56-year-old Debra Durant was found on the first floor. The one time single family home had been converted to three apartments. The American Red Cross says its assisting seven adults and eight children after the blaze. Fire officials say an oxygen tank inside the residence had exploded. The State Police Fire Marshal is continuing to investigate the cause, but it does not appear to be suspicious.
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP – Dauphin County authorities are seeking the public’s help in locating David Palmer of the 4100 block of Spring Valley Road in Harrisburg. On February 1, police were contacted by Palmer’s out-of state relatives. Family members reported that Palmer was supposed to board a bus to Oklahoma City on January 29th, but never picked up the bus ticket that had been pre-purchased for him. Palmer has sent sporadic text messages to his family in Harrisburg, but his whereabouts remain unknown. If you have any information, contact Lower Paxton Township Police at 717-657-5656.
WARWICK TOWNSHIP – Police have released surveillance photos of two females who are suspects in a retail theft at the Target in Warwick Township, Lancaster County. You can see the pictures below. Anyone with information can contact the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police at 717-733-0965.
MOUNT JOY – If you were a participant in any of Josh McDowell’s Operation Carelift mission trips to Russia, Ukraine or Belarus, you are being sought for an upcoming reunion. The reunion will take place Sunday, March 5 at 6 p.m. at the Global Aid Network’s Logistics Center at 1506 Quarry Road in Mount Joy. The purpose of the reunion is to celebrate the missions that changed the face of that region and to allow Josh McDowell Ministry to gather photos and stories of changed lives. Attending will be Duane Zook, the CEO of the Josh McDowell Ministry, and John Crone, Vice President at Large and the person responsible for a project that will document the history behind the publishing of 40 million of Josh’s books over the last four decades. Mission trip participants are encouraged to bring stories and photos of your mission experience. For more information or to RSVP to attend, contact Joey Payne at 717-285-4220.
WEST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP – One person died in an apartment house fire in Lancaster County. It happened shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 900 block of Mary Street in West Hempfield Township. Crews found a deceased individual on the first floor. A cause of the blaze is under investigation.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Republican lawmakers are using budget hearings to question Gov. Tom Wolf’s assumptions for revenue from a minimum wage increase and a new tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production. Tuesday’s start of House and Senate hearings featured the non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office and the Department of Revenue. Wolf’s $32.3 billion budget plan has won praise from Republicans for its modest spending increase and efforts to save money. But they’re criticizing its reliance on $1 billion in tax increases to help fill Pennsylvania’s deficit. GOP leaders blame the deficit on too much spending, not inadequate revenue. Matthew Knittel of the Independent Fiscal Office says a recent analysis concluded that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour would boost economic activity.
HARRISBURG – Car dealerships in Pennsylvania could be open on Sundays under proposed legislation. Pennsylvania is one of 17 remaining states that does not permit Sunday sales. Ohio and West Virginia permit Sunday sales, Maryland has some restrictions on Sunday sales, but are permitted to be open on various Sundays. Currently the state of New Jersey is also considering Sunday sales legislation. Senate Bill 367 would not mandate that a dealership be open on Sunday – it would merely give them the option. The measure has been referred to the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee for consideration.
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would establish an independent commission to draw up Pennsylvania’s legislative maps has been introduced. Senate Bill 22 would establish an 11-member independent commission comprised by four individuals registered with the largest political party in the Commonwealth, four registered with the second-largest party, and three people not affiliated with either major political party. The commission would draw up both Congressional and state legislative district maps. It would take a majority of seven – with support from a qualified majority of Commission members — for a redistricting plan to win approval. Commission members would not be allowed to hold political or party office, be related to those who hold office, or work for those who hold office.
LANCASTER – Authorities are searching for a live-in caretaker who stole some personal checks. On February 14th, police responded to a home after receiving a complaint. An investigation revealed that 51-year-old Donald Blunt of Lancaster had been employed by the victim. It was discovered that 13 checks had been taken from the victim’s home. A call to the victim’s bank revealed that money was missing from an account. Police found that Blunt had forged the stolen checks, made them out to himself, and deposited the checks into his own personal bank account. The total amount of money was in excess of $115,000. It is believed that Blunt has fled the Lancaster area. A warrant was obtained for Blunt’s arrest. Blunt has been charged with theft by unlawful taking, forgery, and theft by deception. Anyone with information on Blunt’s current location is asked to contact Lancaster Police at 717-735-3301 or Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-322-1913. Callers may remain anonymous and do not have to give their names.