Restoring Subpoena Power To PA House Committees

HARRISBURG – Legislation restoring subpoena power to all standing committees and subcommittees in the PA House has been introduced. Currently under House Rule 45, only the House Appropriations and Judiciary Committees have subpoena power. House Resolution 191 amends the House rules to allow all standing committees and sub-committees to issue subpoenas for testifiers in order to investigate potential waste, fraud, and abuse within public bodies or public contracts. The measure would also enable House committees to place testifiers under oath to ensure both the appearance of witnesses and to hold them fully accountable for their testimony. The provisions also protect anyone subpoenaed to testify before a state House committee under PA’s Whistleblower Act and other applicable civil service protections.

Committee Mulls Changes To Charter School Bill

ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland’s Senate Education Committee is mulling amendments to Gov. Larry Hogan’s charter school expansion plan. Changes to the bill include the creation of a charter school pilot program, holding charter school teachers to the same certification requirements as their public school peers, and eliminating the option for a charter school to request a state waiver to free it from many laws that govern public schools. Hogan introduced his plan in February. The governor’s special adviser, Keiffer Mitchell said the administration was concerned some of the amendments could limit flexibility, which is necessary for charter schools to flourish. The committee is scheduled to vote on the amended bill on Friday.

Penn State Set To Freeze Tuition

HARRISBURG (AP) – Penn State’s president says he’ll support a freeze on tuition next year if lawmakers approve a nearly $50 million increase proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Eric Barron made the offer to the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing yesterday. The governor is proposing significant spending increases for higher education, including the 14 state-owned universities and the state-related schools. In exchange, Wolf wants the state universities to freeze tuition and the other schools to try to keep rates low. Barron says he’ll recommend no tuition increases next year if Wolf’s request is approved. Penn State trustees approved a 3.9 percent boost in room and board charges last week, citing inflationary increases. The board will vote on the university’s budget in July.

Two Eaglets Now On The Live Cam

HANOVER (AP) – A York County nest watched by thousands of people on live-streaming video has a second hatched eaglet. The hatchling came a day after the first eaglet arrived in a nest in York County’s Codorus State Park. A PA Game Commission biologist says the sibling eagles will compete fiercely for food and could end up harming each other. Statistics show only about half of hatched eagles ever leave the nest. The eaglets won’t be ready to fly on their own until late June or early July. The game commission installed a live-streaming “eagle cam” focused on the nest in December. More than 640,000 people have watched the live stream with many checking in daily. The live-streaming camera feed can be found on the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Authorities Investigate Racist Letter To State Police Pick

HARRISBURG (AP) – Authorities are investigating a racist letter delivered to the home of Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee for state police commissioner. State Police say the handwritten, unsigned letter containing a racial epithet arrived in Col. Marcus Brown’s Cumberland County mailbox Monday night. It’s the latest development in the fight over Brown’s nomination. Retired troopers have criticized the ex-Maryland state police superintendent for wearing a PA state police uniform despite not attending the State Police Academy. A state troopers union and top Republican senators have asked Wolf to withdraw Brown’s nomination after he was caught last week removing roadside signs critical of him.

Maryland Senate Tackles Budget Plan

ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – The Maryland Senate is to consider changes to the state’s $40.4 billion budget plan. Two budget bills that are working in tandem to balance the state’s books for the next fiscal year will be before the Senate today. The House approved the measures last week. They restored money for education that Gov. Larry Hogan had scaled back to help balance the state’s books. The House also restored money for a 2% cost-of-living adjustment for state employees. The House and Senate will need to work out differences before the scheduled adjournment of the Legislature on April 13.

Maryland Considers Waiving Up To 3 Snow Days

BALTIMORE (AP) – School systems in Maryland can apply to waive up to three snow days this year. The state Board of Education voted to authorize Superintendent Lillian Lowery to make case-by-case decisions on waivers from the state’s 180-day requirement. The board also asked that each system’s waiver request include an outline of calendar changes made to meet students’ instructional needs. So far, officials say 11 school systems have requested waivers, but others may make requests in coming weeks. There’s no timetable for decisions on the requests. The board has already allowed four school systems to open on the Monday after Easter, a state school holiday, to make up some of the lost time.

Attorney Says Officer Acted In Self Defense In Shooting Motorist

HARRISBURG (AP) – The lawyer for a Cumberland County police officer charged with homicide in the shooting death of an unarmed motorist says she acted in self-defense. Attorney Brian Perry says the charges against Hummelstown police officer Lisa Mearkle are an injustice. Perry says Mearkle “felt like she had to do what she did” when she shot 59-year-old David Kassick twice in the back as he was lying facedown. Mearkle told investigators she fired because he wouldn’t show his hands and she thought he was reaching into his jacket for a gun. Police say Kassick sped away after Mearkle tried to pull him over for an expired inspection sticker in February. Court records say Mearkle disabled Kassick with a stun gun before shooting him. Mearkle is a 15-year veteran of the force.

Bald Eagle Egg Hatches In York County Nest

HANOVER (AP) – One of the eagle eggs in a York County nest that has been watched by thousands of people on live-streaming video has hatched. The hatchling in the nest in Codorus State Park was first seen Tuesday morning, partially still in the egg that had split in half. Officials say the eaglet won’t be ready to fly on its own – or fledge – until late June or early July. The PA Game Commission installed a live-streaming “eagle cam” focused on the nest in December. Since then, according to spokesman Travis Lau, say more than 640,000 people from across the country have watched the live stream, and many of them check in daily. The nest produced two eaglets in 2014, but only one survived long enough to fly away.

Maryland Charter School Bill Likely Vote This Week

ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – A Maryland Senate committee is likely to vote this week on what direction the state’s charter school law should go in the future. State Sen. Joan Conway, Chairwoman of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, said her committee is considering an amended version of Gov. Larry Hogan’s bill to expand the state’s charter school law. As proposed, the expansion includes allowing charter schools to apply for a state waiver to free them from all laws that govern public schools, and exempt employees from state teacher certification. Keiffer Mitchell, a special adviser to Gov. Hogan, said some of the amendments seem to pull the current law backward.