HARRISBURG(AP) – Pennsylvania’s Senate is backing legislation that will again delay the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement for another school year and provide alternative ways for students to achieve proficiency. The Senate approved the bill unanimously today, amid a flurry of votes as lawmakers scrambled to wrap up their spring session. The bill goes to the House. Under the bill, the use of the Keystone Exams would be delayed for another year, this time until 2020-21. Meanwhile, it would task state education officials with coming up with a proficiency standard for students taking the test, and give school districts the ability to develop alternative ways for students to demonstrate proficiency without taking the test.
HARRISBURG (AP) – School safety legislation is advancing in Pennsylvania’s Legislature to set up state-administered programs to distribute grants and take anonymous reports of dangerous activities or threats of violence in schools. The House unanimously approved the bill today, and sent it to the Senate as part of an advancing budget package that’s seeding the grant program with $60 million. Lawmakers are exploring improvements to school safety spurred by February’s Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people. Under the bill, school districts could apply for a grant for a wide range of purposes, including safety and security assessments, security-related technology, training, counselors, police officers and anti-violence programs.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The main appropriations bill in a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania’s approaching fiscal year is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk, more than a week early.
The Senate voted 47-2 today, three days after first details of the no-new-taxes package were unveiled. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly Wednesday and Wolf supports it after negotiating it with Republican majority leaders. The package boosts spending through the state’s main operating account by $700 million, or 2 percent, largely for schools, social services, pensions and prisons. However, critics say it masks the true spending increase by sending roughly $900 million in Medicaid costs off-budget. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A final vote is approaching for the main appropriations bill in a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania’s approaching fiscal year. Today’s scheduled state Senate vote comes three days after first details of the no-new-taxes package were unveiled. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly Wednesday and Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf supports it after negotiating it Republican majority leaders. The package boosts spending through the state’s main operating account by $700 million or 2%. The increase goes largely to schools, social services, pensions, and prisons. It also puts money in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. However, critics say it masks the true spending increase by sending roughly $900 million in Medicaid costs off-budget. Hundreds of pages of budget-related bills also are being prepared, including guidelines for a new $60 million off-budget school safety grant program. Pennsylvania’s new fiscal year begins July 1.
HARRISBURG – June is Dairy Month in the Commonwealth after the PA Senate approved Senate Resolution 403. Dairy farming generates $14.7 billion in economic activity in the Keystone State. Lancaster County Sen. Ryan Aument, who sponsored the resolution, says dairy farmers in the state are facing hard times and need help in keeping the industry growing. He said in 2016, the state lost 120 dairy farms and overall, 1200 dairy farms have been lost since 2012. Pennsylvania’s 525,000 cows produce more than 10.8 billion pounds of milk annually supporting over 52,000 jobs across the state.
HARRISBURG – Hospice workers would be allowed to dispose of medications left behind when a patient passes away in order to keep opioid drugs out of the wrong hands under legislation approved by the PA Senate and sent to the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 978 was needed due to a change to federal Drug Enforcement Agency rules that prohibited drug disposal by home care providers, unless specifically authorized by the state. Supporters say with drug overdose fatalities at record highs, one way to counteract the epidemic is to prevent properly prescribed drugs from falling into the wrong hands. The measure was supported by the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Bayada Home Health Care, the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, and others.
LANCASTER – An early morning shooting in the city of Lancaster is under investigation. Around 12:55 a.m. today, officers responded to the 300 block of W. Marion Street for reports of shots fired. A caller said they heard three shots in rapid succession and then heard someone yelling. When they arrived, police found a 22-year-old Lancaster man on the ground in the 100 block of N. Concord Street who had been shot in each leg. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. So far, no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to contact Lancaster Police at 717-735-3300 or Lancaster CrimeStoppers toll free at 1-800-322-1913.
LANCASTER – A Lancaster man will serve a 26 to 52 year sentence in prison for slashing his infant daughter’s neck while kidnapping the girl in 2014. 37-year-old David Sleets was convicted of attempted murder and related counts regarding the Nov. 11 incident that started on E. Frederick Street and ended at a Lancaster General Hospital parking lot. Sleets had kidnapped the child and placed the injured child in a trash bag inside a backpack. He ran a distance, then tossed the bag with the child under a parked vehicle in the lot. The child’s mother, who was in pursuit, rescued the baby, and took her to the hospital. The child would have died without emergency surgery.
HARRISBURG – Pro family and pro life groups are pushing for passage of House Bill 2050, the Down Syndrome Protection Act, which passed the PA House and is now before the full state Senate for a vote. The bill would prohibit the abortion of a child due solely to a diagnosis of possible Down syndrome. PA Family Institute President Michael Geer says a well-known Christian advocate for those with disabilities, Joni Eareckson Tada, has sent a letter to PA senators encouraging them to pass the measure. You can read Joni’s letter by CLICKING THIS LINK. Geer is urging citizens to contact their state senators and urge them to pass House Bill 2050. Public awareness about advances in support for families impacted by the condition have dramatically improved the life span and educational and work opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. Today, the life expectancy for an individual with Down syndrome has been extended to age 60 and beyond. Gov. Tom Wolf opposes the measure.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The PA Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the number of its seats, but it’s putting the onus back on the state House to decide whether voters should get the question of shrinking it. The Senate voted to send House Bill 153 back to the House after it stripped out a provision to reduce the Senate from 50 seats to 38. Amending Pennsylvania’s constitution requires both chambers to pass the same measure in two successive legislative sessions before the proposal goes to a statewide referendum. Both chambers passed a resolution to shrink the House from 203 seats to 151 in the 2015-16 legislative session. Passing it again this year will send it to a referendum. However, the state House in March inserted wording to also shrink the state Senate.