HARRISBURG â€“ The PA House passed legislation designed to make sentencing tougher on criminals who hide their faces during the commission of a robbery. If enacted, House Bill 217 would specifically call upon the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to increase the sentence range for a person who commits a robbery while concealing, or trying to conceal, all or part of his or her face during a robbery. The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.
HARRISBURG â€“ The PA Farm Bureau joined with PennDOT, State Police, and the state Agriculture Department to promote safe driving on rural roads. This is Rural Roads Safety Week and drivers are alerted that large, slow moving farm vehicles and equipment are once again on the move. 2014 PennDOT data indicates 101 crashes and seven fatalities that involved farm equipment in the state. Farmers are legally allowed to operate farm equipment on Pennsylvania roads and must display the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem, which is an orange colored triangle with a red border on all vehicles or equipment that consistently travel at speeds of 25 mph or less.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system released a study that says its statewide economic impact totals $6.7 billion. Chancellor Frank Brogan released the report by the Baker Tilly accounting firm today. Meanwhile, dozens of students and educators from the State System of Higher Education roamed the Capitol corridors to help lobby for a $43 million increase in state funding that Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed. The report says the system’s 14 universities generate $4.4 billion in economic activity, mostly in spending by the schools, 110,000 students, and 12,000 faculty and staff members. The consultant says another $2.3 billion comes from 62,000 jobs that exist because of the universities. Last week, the system’s board tentatively agreed to freeze tuition rates in exchange for the proposed increase in state funding.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Pennsylvania’s prosecutors are warning Gov. Tom Wolf’s death penalty moratorium could affect plea bargains and how judges and juries view executions. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association released a friend-of-the-court brief that said the governor has misinterpreted the term “reprieve,” arguing his moratorium violates the state constitution. The prosecutors say reprieves can only halt a criminal sentence for a defined period of time and for a reason that relates specifically to a particular convict. Wolf announced the moratorium in February saying the current system is error-prone and expensive. He plans to issue reprieves while a legislative committee prepares a report about the state’s use of capital punishment.
HARRISBURG – A new proposal designed to reduce the property tax burden for all Pennsylvania homeowners was the topic of a House Finance Committee hearing held Tuesday in Harrisburg. House Bill 860 would increase the personal income tax from 3.07 to 3.7% and the sales tax rate from 6 to 7% to provide dollar-for-dollar reductions in the school property tax, and would employ a mechanism to offset future property tax increases. Bill sponsor, York County Rep. Stan Saylor said his proposal differs from the Governorâ€™s plan by allocating revenues directly to property tax relief, instead of the general fund, to prevent the money from being redistributed to other programs. Gov. Wolf’s plan raises the sales tax from 6 to 6.6%, but eliminates scores of sales-tax exemptions while Saylor’s plan keeps current exemptions. House Bill 860 now awaits consideration by the House Finance Committee.
HARRISBURG â€“ With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, Dauphin County Sen. Rob Teplitz is pushing for tougher distracted driving laws. Senate Bill 153, co-authored by Teplitz, would make a driverâ€™s use of a hand-held mobile device while operating a motor vehicle a summary secondary offense subject to increased fines. In 2012, over 421,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 3,000 were killed. Another study indicates that teen drivers are distracted almost a quarter of the time. The bill is now before the Senate Transportation Committee.
HARRISBURG â€“ With today being the tax return deadline, the Department of Aging is warning the public of scam artists targeting taxpayers, including scams that specifically target the elderly. In recent weeks, the IRS has been on alert for scams that target the elderly and have issued warnings. The IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment of taxes owed without first sending you a prior official written notice. They also will not ask you for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone or pressure or threaten you to involve law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment. If you received such a call, contact the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
HARRISBURG – Hundreds of Pennsylvanians from all over the state gathered at the Capitol Rotunda Monday for the first ever Life Action Day. The event bore witness to the truth of abortion in the Commonwealth. Despite a reduction in abortions over the past few decades, one in five pregnancies still end in abortion, and Planned Parenthood is performing more abortions than ever. The advocates for life, along with several members of the PA Legislature, were the first to see the new State of Abortion in Pennsylvania report, which brings together for the first time comprehensive statistics on the business of abortion in our state. Planned Parenthood clinics are making millions off of abortion in Pennsylvania every year, and taxpayer dollars subsidize those clinics. The legislators, presenters, and regular citizens in the rotunda agreed that itâ€™s time to turn off the spigot of taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood. The rally also served as a launching pad for an innovative website, www.AbortionIsPersonal.com, a resource for Pennsylvanians committed to understanding the true impact of abortion on women, their families and our communities.
EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP â€“ Units responded to a two alarm fire at the Rodeway Inn in the 2300 block of Lincoln Highway East in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County yesterday afternoon. The blaze broke out in a first floor guest room. One person was treated for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire was electrical.
MIDDLETOWN – Three Mile Island will conduct an emergency preparedness exercise today to evaluate the stationâ€™s emergency plan. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency as well as counties, municipalities, and school districts within the 10-mile radius of TMI will participate, staffing their emergency response centers. The exercise uses simulated emergency scenarios to test the ability of plant personnel and off-site emergency organizations to respond quickly and effectively to a real plant emergency. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission independently evaluates TMIâ€™s comprehensive emergency preparedness program every two years. FEMA will evaluate the performance of state, county, and municipal emergency organizations during the exercise. Residents near Three Mile Island may hear plant public address announcements but the off-site emergency sirens will not be used. The exercise will begin this afternoon and concludes this evening.