PA Statewide

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If pornographic office e-mails are at the root of the criminal charges filed against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, new court orders unsealed Tuesday show that she could have released them, in full, as early as last December.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's attorney general says Gov. Tom Wolf's death penalty moratorium is blatantly unconstitutional and wants the state Supreme Court to clear the way for the state's first execution since 1999.

Administrative staff, certain volunteers, and university employees in Pennsylvania are no longer required by state law to be fingerprinted and submit to criminal history and child abuse background checks.

The tweaks to the child protection law were signed by Governor Tom Wolf on July 1.

governortomwolf / Flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state budget stalemate goes on in Pennsylvania, with the state into its first full week without a spending plan.

Aides reported no progress from a meeting yesterday between Governor Tom Wolf and legislative GOP leaders. No additional meetings were immediately scheduled and the House and Senate aren't set to reconvene any time this month.

A proposal to end civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania has bipartisan backing among state lawmakers.

House and Senate plans would halt a practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from someone accused, but not convicted, of certain crimes.

governortomwolf / Flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Three more of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's Cabinet members have the Pennsylvania Senate's blessing.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday confirmed Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller.

Pa. Lawmakers Push For Industrial Hemp

May 20, 2015
J. Paxon Reyes / Flickr

Proposals in both the Pennsylvania Senate and House would legalize a crop that could create an entirely new industry in the state: industrial hemp.

Republicans and Democrats are sponsoring both versions.

Kenzie/via Flickr

Wolf offered more money for preschool in this year’s proposed budget, and preschool providers jumped on it. Wolf proposed money for 14,000 extra slots. Providers who intend to apply say they could use 20,000 slots. The providers submitted letters of intent to the state last month.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Often when a private drinking well near a natural gas well becomes contaminated, it’s difficult to make a definitive link between the contamination and the drilling. In a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used a more sophisticated technology than what’s used by regulators to look for fracking chemicals in water wells. WSKG’s Matt Richmond spoke with the study’s lead author, Garth Llewellyn. He says they used industry technology to conduct the study.

Larry Darling/via Flickr

A lawsuit over school funding in Pennsylvania got thrown out Tuesday, but the parents and school districts involved aren’t dropping their case.

Melanie Holtsman/via Flickr

Pennsylvania students faced something new when they started state English tests today: an essay section. In past years, writing was tested separately and only in certain grades. That’s just one of the changes to state tests this year. The math test, which starts next week, is also new.

listener42 / Flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Federal officials say that more than 471,000 Pennsylvanians enrolled or re-enrolled in insurance plans sold through the marketplace created by the 2010 federal health care law.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that the statistic was through Sunday's deadline for 2015 coverage.
 
The report didn't distinguish how many enrollees signed up for the first time or how many re-enrolled in a plan after purchasing one during the six-month open enrollment period for last year.
 

School District of Lancaster/via Facebook

Pennsylvania’s new education secretary could be confirmed soon. Pedro Rivera has been acting secretary since his nomination late last month. His senate hearing comes on February 17.

Anthony Quintano / Flickr

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) -- The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said Monday the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

Nicholas_T / flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf is poised to sign an executive order restoring a moratorium on new natural-gas drilling leases on Pennsylvania's state parks and forests.
 
Wolf's office says he'll sign the order Thursday at Benjamin Rush State Park in Philadelphia.
 
It will supersede an order former Gov. Tom Corbett signed in May and restore the ban on new drilling leases that former Gov. Ed Rendell implemented in 2010.
 

Matt Richmond / WSKGNews

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state environmental regulators have released a study on radiation levels in oil and gas industry wastewater and byproducts that they say shows little potential for radiation exposure to workers and the public, but recommends follow-up study.

ManOnPHI / flickr

UNDATED (AP) - Barely a week after taking effect, a novel Pennsylvania law that makes it easier for gun-rights groups to challenge local firearms measures is already sparking change.

An attorney for four pro-gun groups and several residents says he put nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that they will face legal action unless they rescind their firearms laws. Attorney Joshua Prince says nearly two dozen municipalities have agreed to get rid of their potentially problematic ordinances rather than face litigation.

Plane Makes Emergency Landing In Pennsylvania

Dec 29, 2014

 WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — A plane traveling from Toronto to Washington made an emergency landing in central Pennsylvania after the crew detected smoke on the flight deck and in the cabin.

Porter Airlines spokesman Brad Cicero says the turboprop landed safely Sunday morning at Williamsport Regional Airport.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Pennsylvania is littered with old oil and gas wells that date back to the 1860’s. Unmapped and unmonitored, these wells can turn into pollution pathways for oil, gas and brine. About 12,000 of an estimated 300,000 wells have been found and plugged. But the peer reviewed report out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows even the plugged wells are leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

On the first cold day this season Fred White is turning on the heat. He could fire up the gas but today he’s using his wood furnace. He pours in a bag of wood pellets.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Marcellus Shale drilling companies have agreed to pay millions of dollars in back pay to workers, following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Department found significant violations, mostly related to overtime pay.

More than 160 companies were involved, from major drillers to smaller support service vendors. Alfonso Gristina oversaw the investigation, and says the companies have agreed to pay nearly $4.5 million dollars in back wages.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a 150-thousand dollar grant to a natural gas industry group to study the effects of drilling. The money was put into last year's state budget for independent research.
 
The grant recipient is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit partnership between industry and academia called the Shale Alliance for Energy Research, also known as SAFER PA. Its board has three representatives from Pennsylvania universities and five members from the oil and gas industry.

DEP awarded the grant on a non-competitive basis—meaning it didn’t shop around for other proposals. Barry Kauffman finds the deal concerning.

Severance Tax In PA's Environmental Future

Dec 8, 2014
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / The Allegheny Front

This week, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf took questions on the state's budget crisis. The Allegheny Front also asked Wolf about his proposal to create a severance tax on well drilling.

Inside the Capitol, packs of children and tourists traipse through the building snapping selfies with the big state Christmas tree. But elsewhere, in and around Harrisburg, state government’s preparing for another bearded man to arrive after Santa.

A half-hour away in the tony suburb of York, Wolf's hometown, the conversation got a little Scroogish.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The developer of a $750 million natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania into New York is threatening to seize land from reluctant landowners through eminent domain.

A letter obtained by the Albany Times Union tells landowners who have refused to sell rights-of-way for the Constitution Pipeline that they have until Wednesday to accept offered prices. After that, developers will take them to court to force such sales for possibly less money.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The billionaire appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to oversee the Thruway Authority has resigned as the agency deals with the fallout from how it handled last month's massive snowstorm in western New York.
 
A statement released by the authority late Wednesday said Howard Milstein has resigned as chairman of the board of directors to focus on his businesses interests, which include Manhattan real estate.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf will be at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
 
The White House says Friday's meeting will be with five other governors-elect from around the country. Wolf is the only Democrat among them.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered flags at government buildings to be flown at half-staff to honor a fallen soldier based at Fort Drum.

Forty-eight-year-old Sgt. Maj. Wardell Turner was killed when a vehicle carrying an improvised explosive device attacked his vehicle.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Janet Geiger and her husband Richard are retirees living in a small Sears Roebuck home in Bradford County—it’s a rural area along Pennsylvania’s northern border. Before the Geigers ever heard of the Marcellus Shale, they leased the mineral rights under their 10 acres, and never thought much would come of it.

That’s proven to be true.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Lake-effect storms have dumped nearly 8 feet of snow on parts of the Buffalo area over the past few days, and more is possible. The National Weather Service also is warning of potential rain and flooding this weekend as temperatures reach of high of 60 degrees.

PennEast Pipeline Company

The Delaware River Basin Commission has prevented natural gas drillers from drilling in the watershed since 2010. And now the multi-state commission will now help determine whether a new natural gas pipeline can move forward.
 
The proposed PennEast pipeline would cut under the Delaware River to deliver natural gas from Pennsylvania to heat homes in New Jersey. It would also pass through reservoirs and state parks. That’s why the basin commission has decided to review the project’s potential impact on the watershed.

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