ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) – Maryland lawmakers who support changing the official state song think the time is right to finally wipe “Northern scum,” and other pre-Civil War phrases out of it. “Maryland, My Maryland,” was written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall. It was adopted as the state song in 1939.
Previous attempts to change or replace it have failed. Now, some say recent events involving Confederate statues may help change the language in what was originally a poem that doubled as a call to arms. In August, just days after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Maryland officials removed a statue of Roger Taney from the statehouse grounds. He was the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African-Americans.
HARRISBURG – PA Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman commented on the constitutional crisis caused by Gov. Wolf’s refusal to work together on a congressional redistricting map. The Republican lawmaker said if the state Supreme Court follows its order and on Monday produces a map, he says one person, a Stanford professor, will come to Pennsylvania to produce a congressional map for Pennsylvanians to live under, rather than a constitutional process where the people through their representatives put the map together. Corman called the situation “chaos,” quoting the Democrat Justice on the PA Supreme Court Max Baer, who said, “I continue to suggest respectfully that the Court reconsider it’s decision giving the substantial uncertainty, if not outright chaos, currently unfolding in this Commonwealth regarding the impending election.” Republican lawmakers are threatening to file a federal court challenge to any map the state Supreme Court may produce.
HARRISBURG – The PA Senate approved legislation that would promote the employment of people with disabilities. The Commonwealth has had an internal “Employment First” policy for over 20 years, but Senate Bill 21 sets new standards for accountability to make sure that state government is keeping its commitment to seek out and hire qualified individuals with disabilities. Montgomery County Sen. Bob Mensch is the bill’s prime sponsor. On any given day there are over 200,000 job vacancies posted on the state’s official job listing. More and more employers are finding that people with disabilities are productive, responsible, and dependable employees. The measure includes language that requires state agencies to make an effort to employ people with disabilities in no less than 7% of the overall state workforce. The bill now goes to the PA House for consideration.
SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP – Springettsbury Township Police were notified by Central York School District of a disturbing photo circulating on Snapchat. The photo showed a student displaying a gun in the Middle School restroom. Two middle school students were identified and interviewed regarding the incident. An investigation revealed the photo was taken on February 15th and the gun displayed in the photo was found to be a BB gun, which was recovered and is in police custody. The school district said there was no threat to the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff. Police are currently working with the District Attorney’s office to determine appropriate charges.
EPHRATA – Lancaster County authorities are investigating a diversion burglary and theft that occurred this past Wednesday around 3 p.m. at a residence on Bethany Road in Ephrata Borough. A white male suspect arrived in a white car. He told the elderly homeowner that his mother was moving into the house next door and asked the homeowner to step outside to discuss new fencing and landscaping, distracting him for about ten minutes. As they started toward the front of the residence, the suspect made a phone call. The suspect abruptly left and the homeowner noticed the car trunk was now open. When the homeowner returned inside his residence, he discovered someone had forced open locked areas and an undisclosed amount of cash was missing. Anyone who may have encountered a similar incident or have information on this crime, you are asked to contact Ephrata Police at 717-738-9200.
LITITZ – Police continue the search for a missing 85-year-old Lancaster County man. Walter “George” Kunz was last seen leaving his home on Peach Drive in Lititz on Feb. 8th. Through follow up investigation, it was determined that Kunz’s disappearance is not in accordance with what was initially reported to police of him suffering a medical condition that was responsible for his disappearance. Specifically, he has never been officially diagnosed by a medical professional to have dementia and/or Alzheimers disease. A photo shows Kunz at the Lancaster Amtrak station moments before boarding an eastbound train towards Philadelphia on Friday Feb. 9 around 4 p.m. Prior to being at the train station that day, Kunz had entered a local store in the 900 block of Lititz Pike where he purchased a backpack. Kunz is still listed as a missing person, and at this time there is no reason to believe he is in danger or missing under circumstances that are not under his control. Anyone who sees Kunz is asked to contact local police.
HARRISBURG (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf submitted a map to redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional districts, releasing it minutes before the court-ordered midnight deadline. Wolf’s map submitted Thursday night was the seventh such submission with others coming from Republican and Democrat state lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. Key differences include how many times Montgomery County is split up, which counties are packaged with the city of Reading, and whether incumbent congressmen are kept in their districts. The state Supreme Court has given itself four days to consider the proposals and issue new boundaries. Republican lawmakers say they’ll likely ask a federal court to block any boundaries the state Supreme Court imposes.
HARRISBURG – Lancaster County Sen. Scott Martin announced legislation that would give counties, municipalities, and school districts more flexibility in collecting property taxes. His bill would give local governing bodies the option to eliminate the position of Tax Collector and allow counties and municipalities to have the County Treasurer administrate property tax collection. It would also permit school districts to collect their own property taxes without having to enter into any special costly agreements. Martin said his measure would allow many local governing bodies to avoid a duplication of services and cut through layers of red tape that only serve to increase costs to taxpayers.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania Treasury is cutting fees for its state-sponsored program to help families save for college. State Treasurer Joe Torsella said that asset-based fees for its PA 529 Investment Plan account will drop, saving account holders about $17 million over five years. The agency says lower costs are a result of renegotiated deals with the companies that keep records and handle investments for the program. The state’s two PA 529 programs together include about $4.6 billion in savings for current and future students in technical or career schools and college.technical or career schools and college. For more information about the PA 529 Program, click on the banner below.
LANCASTER – PA Public Utility Commission Chairman Gladys Brown joined with leaders at Lancaster’s Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, along with utilities from across the state, to highlight the importance and impact of educating the next generation of utility workers. Brown added that utility jobs will remain in demand well into the future, with opportunities growing faster and wages substantially higher than statewide averages. The average utility wage in Pennsylvania is just over $93,000 per year and the number of utility jobs has increased by more than 11% over the past five years. Utilities are expected to hire an additional 70,000 workers by 2020, and growth in the energy sector is expected to create an estimated 1.5 million jobs by 2030.