HARRISBURG – With a case before the U.S. Supreme Court addressing whether so-called same-sex marriage is protected under the U.S. Constitution, one Justice continues sending out a message to the Americans that she has already decided which side of the issue she is on. This past weekend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at another same sex wedding in Washington, DC. The American Family Association of Pennsylvania is again calling on Ginsburg to recuse herself from the marriage case pending before the Court. AFA of PA President Diane Gramley says Ginsburg has been sending a message since her February interview with Bloomberg that her mind is made up on the issue. Gramley asks, “How can we trust the decision of a Justice who refuses to show impartiality in this case?” Gramley also called on Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself for involvement in a same sex ceremony.
WASHINGTON, DC – PA U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey have introduced legislation to aid the children of fallen first responders. The Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act increases the amount of Pell Grant money available to qualifying students who are the children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and fire police. If the child of a fallen first responder qualifies for a Pell Grant aid, this bill would allow that student to be treated as if their Expected Family Contribution was zero, making the student eligible for the maximum Pell Grant award authorized by law, currently $5730 per year for a full-time student. The Fraternal Order of Police and Pennsylvania Fire Police Association support the measure.
HARRISBURG – PennDOT, state, and local police are partnering for nationwide “Click It Or Ticket” seat belt enforcement now through June 7. Pennsylvania is one of 16 states and Ontario, Canada participating in a border to border seat belt initiative. The enforcement involves more than 500 state and municipal law enforcement agencies across the eastern seaboard, conducting increased enforcement at state borders to emphasize police focus on seat belt use. Throughout the mobilization, enforcement will focus largely on nighttime operations using traffic enforcement zones and roving patrols on roadways identified as having higher unbelted crash rates. According to PennDOT, unrestrained fatalities dropped from 425 in 2013 to 383 in 2014. The statewide number of crashes in which people were not wearing seat belts also decreased to 13,627 in 2014 from 14,436 in 2013.
LANCASTER – Lancaster Police are looking for a suspect. Around 10:10 p.m. last Thursday, a man entered the Turkey Hill at 870 Manor Street in Lancaster and used stolen credit/debit cards to purchase items. Police released photos of the suspect which are posted below. If you recognize the suspect, contact Lancaster Police at 717-735-3300 or Lancaster City/County CrimeStoppers toll free at 1-800-322-1913. Tips can also be submitted at www.lancasterpolice.com.
COLUMBIA – Park Elementary School in the Columbia Borough School District in Lancaster County is now closed due to an electrical problem this morning. Parents are asked to contact Park Elementary or Columbia School District for information.
PHILADELPHIA – PA Pastors Network is reminding pastors, churches, and all voters of their role and responsibility in the political process, especially as several judges are on the ballot who could potentially impact religious liberty in Pennsylvania. Network President Sam Rohrer says increasingly, we are seeing the impact judges are having on the legislative process throughout our state and nation, particularly when it comes to religious freedom. Rohrer urged all Pennsylvanians to consider carefully that fact and to vote for individuals who will uphold both constitutional and biblical principles. Other municipal and school board elections and area ballot questions will also be held. Voters should evaluate each candidate individually, regardless of party, and examine position statements as well as past voting records, when available. You can get information at www.PAFamilyVoter.com. You can CLICK HERE for information on statewide races.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf is responding sharply to calls by Pennsylvania business leaders to abandon his plan to levy a new tax on natural-gas drilling. Wolf charged that a coalition of business groups is putting gas and oil interests ahead of schools and children. He says Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without such a tax and that his plan would provide money for education that would produce a stronger work force. Gene Barr of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry says the proposed tax would eliminate the state’s competitive edge and drive away its fastest-growing industry. Dave Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, says natural gas has created new market opportunities for manufacturers. He says the state should be helping the industry, not punishing it.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff, Katie McGinty is accusing Senate Republicans of advancing pension reform legislation that would allow lawmakers to escape concessions it would force on rank-and-file employees. McGinty called it a huge payout to lawmakers. A Senate Republican spokeswoman says McGinty is using a selective, salary-based argument, and that lawmakers would get the same benefit as other new state government or public school employees. The bill would end the traditional pension benefit for future employees and replace it with a 401(k) and a cash balance plan.
LANCASTER (AP) – Over a dozen dogs have been euthanized at a Lancaster County animal shelter after one of the dogs spread a fatal virus. The Lancaster County SPCA says 14 dogs had to be euthanized over the weekend to prevent further spread of canine distemper. Director Susan Martin said an infected Great Pyrenees had been adopted within 24 hours of being surrendered, but the highly contagious virus spread anyway. Distemper attacks the respiratory and central nervous systems. Symptoms can take some time to appear, and when they do they’re often mistaken for the common kennel cough, which is also contagious, but less dangerous to dogs. The shelter closed Friday, but will reopen today.
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland officials estimate a Supreme Court ruling against the state’s tax policy will cost the state about $200 million in refunds it will have to pay residents going back seven or eight years. The court ruled Monday it’s unconstitutional not to allow a tax credit for money residents make in other states. Maryland does not apply the tax deduction on a local “piggy back” tax collected by counties. The decision also will cost local governments about $42 million annually. Last month, lawmakers prepared for the ruling by directing that money be paid out of a reserve fund the state’s comptroller uses to pay refunds. Lawmakers also stipulated that costs will be shifted to local governments beginning in fiscal year 2017. The payments will be spread out over two fiscal years.