HARRISBURG(AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf is telling top Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers that he’ll veto a Republican budget plan that falls short of his priorities. Rep. Mike Hanna and Sen. Vincent Hughes said Wolf was clear during a Thursday morning meeting about a veto if Republicans advance budget legislation he doesn’t support. Administration officials maintain Wolf hasn’t seen the details of Republican budget plan and those will factor into his decision. But Hughes, of Philadelphia, says Wolf told Democrats that he’s looking for comprehensive legislation that boosts education aid, cuts property taxes and resolves a yawning deficit that’s damaged Pennsylvania’s credit rating. Hanna, of Clinton County, says a Republican budget won’t leave Wolf many options to selectively approve money for certain programs and line-item veto money for other items.
GETTYSBURG (AP) – The bookstore at Gettysburg National Military Park has stopped selling items with the Confederate flag in the wake of last week’s massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War’s pivotal battle, said Thursday it will no longer sell 11 items that use the battle flag as a stand-alone feature. The bookstore says it will continue to offer items that feature both the U.S. and Confederate flags, as well as books, DVDs, and other educational materials “where the image of the Confederate flag is depicted in its historical context.” The National Park Service had asked concessionaires to pull Confederate-flag clothing, stickers and other items. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis says “stand-alone depictions of Confederate flags have no place in park stores.”
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf will withdraw his application to take over the insurance marketplace created under the 2010 federal health care law now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the law’s nationwide tax subsidies. In a statement, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor said Thursday that he’s “extremely pleased” with the ruling that keeps insurance subsidies flowing to 382,000 Pennsylvanians, lowering their insurance premiums. As a result, Wolf says, his administration will notify the federal government that it’ll withdraw a plan to take over some functions of the insurance marketplace. He says that plan was strictly a contingency to keep the subsidies in case the court stuck them down for states that aren’t running their own marketplaces. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 736,000 Pennsylvanians could be enrolled in subsidized marketplace plans in 2016.
BELTSVILLE, MD. (AP) – A Pennsylvania man, working as a highway construction worker in Maryland was killed along Interstate 95 when a tractor-trailer entered a construction zone and struck two vehicles. Maryland State Police say the tractor-trailer was northbound near Interstate 200 in Beltsville, Maryland around 1:30 a.m. Thursday when it hit two vehicles and one vehicle hit a worker. Police say that worker, 62-year-old Randy Jury of Halifax, Dauphin County, was taken to Laurel Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Police say the tractor-trailer driver was also taken to the hospital, but his condition has not been released. Authorities have been on the scene for several hours investigating the crash and cleaning up the scene. Lane closures caused significant delays.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A state appellate court is striking down a Pennsylvania law designed to make it easier for gun-rights advocates to dismantle local gun ordinances. Commonwealth Court ruled Thursday that the procedure lawmakers used last year to enact the law ran afoul of the state constitution. Under the law, gun owners no longer had to show they were harmed by an ordinance in order to challenge it, and it let “membership organizations” like the National Rifle Association sue on behalf of any Pennsylvania member. The provision was merged late in last year’s legislative session with a bill whose intent was to establish criminal penalties for secondary metals. The judges say it violated constitutional requirements that bills can’t be altered to change their original purpose and must be confined to a single subject.
HARRISBURG(AP) – A senior Wolf administration official says hope is waning for productive budget negotiations with top Republican lawmakers before the state’s new fiscal year begins next week.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s policy secretary, John Hanger, spoke Wednesday after making what he calls significant concessions in the governor’s proposal to raise taxes on Marcellus Shale natural gas production. But Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati says the administration’s position on a Marcellus Shale tax is not negotiable. He says he and other leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature are preparing a budget bill without any tax increases to send to Wolf before the fiscal year ends Tuesday night. Hanger says Wolf will assess a GOP budget bill when he gets it and says a veto is among the options if it doesn’t meet his standards.
HERSHEY (AP) – Young people are learning to work on old cars. When Penn College of Technology in Hershey revved up its vintage vehicle restoration major in 2012, it became one of just a handful of degree programs around the country teaching teens and 20-somethings how to help refurbish and maintain North America’s fleet of more than 10 million classic cars. Experts worry vital skills like metal shaping and upholstering might be lost unless a new generation is enticed into the field. The multibillion-dollar industry recognizes the problem of its aging workforce and has been throwing money at training programs and scholarships.
ANNAPOLIS, MD(AP) – Gov. Larry Hogan has scheduled a news conference to discuss transportation infrastructure in Maryland. The news conference is scheduled for this afternoon in Annapolis. It will be the first public appearance by the governor since he announced Monday that he has been diagnosed with cancer. The governor’s office declined to comment on details about the announcement ahead of time. Hogan has said he would make an announcement by the end of the month about whether to move forward with the proposed Purple Line light rail in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.
DOVER, DE (AP) – The state Senate is set to vote on a Democratic proposal to raise motor vehicle fees to pay for road and infrastructure improvements. The measure to be voted today cleared the Democrat-led House on a party-line vote last month, just meeting the required three-fifth majority with no Republican support. In the Democrat-led Senate, however, the bill needs Republican support to get the required vote majority. The legislation increases the tax on car sales from 3.75 percent to 4.25 percent. Penalties for late license and registration renewals, along with several other fees, would increase substantially. The increases would take effect Oct. 1 and generate about $24 million annually. In other news, the General Assembly’s budget-writing committee is relying on cuts to nonprofit groups and money from a nationwide financial settlement to balance a spending plan for the fiscal year starting next week. The Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday finished work on a $3.9 billion operating budget for fiscal 2016, roughly 2.5 percent higher than the current year’s budget. To help balance the budget, lawmakers agreed to use $25 million in one-time funds from a nationwide settlement involving mortgage-backed securities. They also agreed to across-the-board cuts of 5 percent in grant funding for nonprofit groups and community agencies.
HARRISBURG(AP) – A proposal to give adoptees access to their original birth certificates is on the agenda for a Pennsylvania House panel. The House Children and Youth Committee plans to take up the proposal during a meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday. The sponsor says people who were adopted want better information about their ancestors and that some are interested in relationships with their birth families while others hope for details about medical history.