Pennsylvania state Rep. Matthew Dowling is removing himself from the ballot following a drunken driving charge filed against him last week. The three-term Fayette County Republican faces charges of misdemeanor driving under the influence and traffic offenses. A spokeswoman for the Department of State says Republicans have until Aug. 25 to nominate a substitute to run against the Democratic candidate, Richard Ringer. Dowling’s blood alcohol content was found to be .27%, which is more than three times the legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania. Dowling said he entered a voluntary, month-long treatment program in a Pennsylvania rehabilitation facility the day after the wreck.
Work on a new state budget for Pennsylvania will plow into next week as the state government started the fiscal year with diminished spending authority and details of a new plan still largely a secret. Leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate sent rank-and-file lawmakers home through the holiday weekend, but top lawmakers professed confidence Friday that closed-door negotiations on a roughly $42 billion spending plan were on the right track. Without new spending authority in place, the state is legally barred from making some payments, although a stalemate must typically last several weeks before any effect on services is felt.
WASHINGTON — When the Sandy Hook school massacre wrenched the country in 2012, Sen. Pat Toomey was largely known as a staunch conservative who focused on economic policy.
A proposal is advancing in the Pennsylvania Legislature to require the four state-related universities to promise they are not conducting research or experiments with fetal tissue from elective abortions. The measure was added to a state budget bill by House Republicans on Monday. The target of the measure is the University of Pittsburgh, which is in line to receive $155 million from the state in the coming year. Another GOP-sponsored amendment, to force Penn State to disclose the whereabouts of a statue of former head football coach Joe Paterno, was easily defeated.
State House Republicans are blocking a proposal to prevent those ages 18 to 21 from possessing assault-style rifles. They voted in a legislative committee on Tuesday to completely change the bill into a constitutional amendment to allow anyone to carry concealed guns. It's the second week in a row that Republicans in the Judiciary Committee have used their majority to defeat Democratic proposals to address the country’s gun violence plague. The bill would have prevented those under age 21 from purchasing, possessing or transporting the types of weapons that have often been used to kill and wound people in mass shootings.
A man has been convicted in the kidnap and slaying almost a decade ago of a co-worker whose bones were found buried in his eastern Pennsylvania yard. A Monroe County judge on Friday convicted 55-year-old Michael Horvath of criminal homicide, kidnapping, evidence-tampering and abuse of a corpse in the 2013 killing of 41-year-old Holly Grim. He was acquitted of an obstruction count. Grim was last seen in Lehigh County’s Lower Macungie Township in November 2013. She and Horvath had worked together at a company that makes church organs, authorities said. Horvath's attorney called the case circumstantial. Sentencing is scheduled Sept. 8.
PHILADELPHIA — Heaps of bricks, twisted metal and splintered wood spilled across West Indiana Avenue and Third Street in Fairhill on Sunday morning, the battered sign for Star Pizza & Seafood jutting from the rubble.
The Supreme Court seems poised to take on a new elections case being pressed by Republicans. It could increase the power of state lawmakers over races for Congress and the presidency, as well as redistricting. It also could cut state courts out of the equation. The issue has arisen repeatedly in cases from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Democratic majorities on the states’ highest courts have invoked voting protections in their state constitutions to frustrate the plans of Republican-dominated legislatures. Already, four conservative Supreme Court justices have noted their interest in deciding whether state courts that find violations of their state constitutions can order changes to federal elections and the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts.
Pennsylvania’s workforce grew again in May as the state’s unemployment rate sank to another post-pandemic low. New state figures released Friday show Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.6% from April’s rate. The national rate was 3.6% in May. In a survey of households, the labor force grew by 30,000. The state’s labor force is rebounding after falling during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a separate survey of employers, non-farm payrolls in Pennsylvania grew in May by almost 7,000. At just above 5.9 million, payrolls are at their highest point since hitting a record high of nearly 6.1 million just before the pandemic, according to state figures.
Eight Philadelphia government employees are facing charges they lied that they were unemployed in order to recieve pandemic jobless benefits. Prosecutors said in announcing criminal charges Thursday that the city workers collectively were paid more than $300,000 in pandemic unemployment assistance in 2020. They say individuals collected between $17,000 and $63,000. They're accused of theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with public records. Attorney General Josh Shapiro says prosecutors don't believe the eight defendants are connected. They include people who worked for the city as asphalt rakers and social work services managers.
A bill that would allow incarcerated people to request public records only about themselves or their own cases is making its way through the Pennsylvania Legislature. The bill passed the House on Tuesday and now goes to the Senate. It would amend the state’s Right-to-Know Law by restricting the access inmates have to documents held by governments and public agencies. Supporters of the bill say it would help stem a tide of frivolous requests that can tie up state resources. Opponents say it’s unlikely to cure the problem and probably unconstitutional to boot.
The Pennsylvania Senate is advancing two competing plans to slash the state’s corporate net income tax rate. Democrats warn the bills are premature because there's no agreement with Gov. Tom Wolf. The bills passed Wednesday on a nearly party-line basis in twin votes in the Republican-controlled chamber. The Democratic governor has said he is optimistic about coming to an agreement with Republicans on a plan to cut taxes for corporations that pay Pennsylvania’s 9.99% tax rate. That's one of the nation’s highest. Wolf has yet to agree to a plan as part of this month's budget negotiations. The state House in April passed yet another plan.
A man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in one of dozens of explosions of automated teller machines in Philadelphia during civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis two years ago. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that 26-year-old David Elmakayes of Philadelphia was sentenced for using an explosive device to damage an ATM and for illegal possession of a firearm. Authorities said the defendant was carrying three additional explosive devices and other weapons when he was arrested in June 2020. Police said at the time that 50 cash machines were hit by explosives in the same week amid civil unrest across the nation.
President Joe Biden has told the largest federation of labor unions that he’s rebuilding the U.S. economy around workers. He's drawing a contrast with Republicans who have increasingly attracted blue-collar votes. Biden says, “We should encourage unions." His speech Tuesday at the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia was an attempt to reset the debate on the economy. His approval ratings have slid as consumer prices and the cost of gasoline have surged. That's overshadowed strong job gains and a healthy unemployment rate. Biden says the GOP is focused on cutting taxes for companies and the wealthy. Republicans argue that their 2017 tax overhaul helped growth by reducing corporate tax rates, making U.S. companies more competitive.
A lawyer for a father-son team of treasure hunters is accusing the FBI of either lying to a federal judge about having video of its 2018 dig for legendary Civil War-era gold, or illegally destroying the video. The FBI has acknowledged it was looking for gold at the Pennsylvania site but says it found nothing of value. The duo believes the FBI recovered a huge cache of gold and have sued for information about the dig. Their lawyer is now asking a judge to impose sanctions after the FBI claimed it had no video of the secretive excavation, even though evidence suggests otherwise. The FBI has been asked for comment.
A Pennsylvania House committee is voluntarily relinquishing its control over four bills to address gun violence, instead asking the speaker to have another panel take them over. After a testy exchange between the two parties during a Judiciary Committee meeting on Monday, the vote concerned proposals regarding safe gun storage, an assault weapons ban, a red flag bill and a measure to give local governments power to enact their own protections. The Democrats who voted with the GOP to send the bill package back to the speaker with a recommendation that he pass them over to the Local Government Committee said they hoped the proposals might somehow advance there.
Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers are launching into the busiest stretch of their year. These last weeks of June are vastly different this year than any other in memory because they have billions of extra dollars to spread around. Assembling a spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 will play out in the shadow of partisan fights over abortion rights and gun violence. A Democrat, Wolf wants about $1.8 billion more for instruction, operations and special education in public schools, or about one-fifth more. Republicans preach restraint, worrying over projections that the economy is heading for a slowdown.
WASHINGTON — State and local health departments remain in limbo over whether they’ll need to single-handedly fund their own COVID-19 vaccines and treatments as a stalemate in Congress drags into its fourth month.
The youngest defendant convicted in the torture death of a mentally disabled woman a dozen years ago is appealing the new sentence of 60 years to life imposed last month. The Tribune-Review reports that 29-year-old Angela Marinucci argues in an appeal filed Friday that the judge ignored evidence that she has matured during the 12 years she has spent in prison since her arrest in the stabbing death of 30-year-old Jennifer Daugherty of Mount Pleasant. An appeals court rejected Marinucci's original life without parole sentence because she was a few months shy of her 18th birthday at the time of the February 2010 slaying in Greensburg.
Two people were rescued after they somehow fell into a partially filled chocolate tank while doing maintenance work at a candy factory in Pennsylvania. The incident at the Mars Wrigley plant in Elizabethtown occurred shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday. Officials say the two people work for an outside contracting firm and it’s not clear how they fell into the tank. Emergency responders were able to free the pair by cutting a hole in the bottom of the tank. It wasn’t clear if either person was injured, but they were taken to hospitals to be evaluated. Their names and further details on their conditions were not disclosed. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident.