Archive: December, 2011
The close of each year brings with it the annual roundup of headline news.
Topping the list of 2011 news stories in Pennsylvania: the sex abuse scandal at Penn State, severe flooding that damaged scores of communities across the state and the controversy over Marcellus Shale drilling.
What about the damage done to nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations by grueling budget cuts imposed by Gov. Corbett and the legislature?
It's no secret that lawmakers outside of the southeast regularly pillory Philadelphia as that gaping hole into which state money is poured.
But now consider that fines paid by drivers who speed through red lights in Philadelphia are funding roadway improvements far beyond City Line Ave. - millions of dollars have supported transportation projects in 106 other municipalities, among them McKeesport, Aliquippa and Highspire. (We dare say places many Philadelphians have never heard of, let alone visited.)
Since the program started in 2005 some $15 million raised in Philly has gone elsewhere.
As the battle between the bankrupt city of Harrisburg and its debt backers played out on the political stage this year, it turns out one side was at the Governor's mansion cutting deals and the other was out in the cold.
Care to guess which side prevailed?
Bloomberg reports that while Harrisburg was trying to negotiate terms of its debt, Assured Guaranty Municipal, the Bermuda-based insurer that has backed much of Harrisburg's $310 million debt had hired a lobbying powerhouse to ensure they got what was owed them.
More than 20 members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate have formed the first LGBT Equality Caucus inside the Capitol dedicated to educating colleagues on the lives and challenges facing Pennsylvania's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
The caucus' mission statement reads as follows: to extend equal rights, repeal discriminatory laws, eliminate hate-motivated violence, and improve the health and well-being for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
There could be a big showdown today or tomorrow over the controversial congressional redistricting plab that squeaked through the Senate by the narrowest of margins.
Now it seems that House Republicans don't have the support to pass a map drafted by Republicans that appears to protect GOP incumbants and snag several Democratic seats along the way.
Arm twisting was underway late last week with Philadelphia Democratic City Committee Chairman and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia, calling Democratic state House members from the Philadelphia delegation, asking for a vote for the congressional redistricting plan, according to Capitolwire news service.
Tim Curley, suspended Penn State athletic director, and Gary Schultz, retired university vice president, will be in court today for a preliminary hearing on charges they committed perjury in grand jury testimony about the Jerry Sandusky case.
UPDATE: With comment from DPW Sec. Alexander.
Is Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander the savings wizard he's made out to be?
Gov. Corbett appointed Alexander to the post as chief of this huge agency in no small part because of the fiscal magic he worked in Rhode Island where he held a comparable position.
No shale tax or fee. No tuition vouchers. No liquor privatization.
But two abortion bills are suddenly rolling on the fast track through the Pennsylvania legislature.
The state House gave final approval today (146-45) to legislation that would prohibit private insurance companies from covering abortion care - even for women paying for their own coverage and those with serious medical conditions - under the federal health care law.
The state House gave preliminary approval today to legislation that would prohibit private insurance companies from covering abortion care for women with serious health conditions under the federal health care law.
House Bill 1977 prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion care in the insurance exchange created by the federal healthcare law, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and imminent death.
Republicans say the bill would prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for "elective abortions."
Since the revelations of the sex scandal at Penn State early last month, the legislature promised to create a child abuse task force to consider changes needed in law and policy to address child sex abuse.
So far, there has been no sign of legislation to establish the task force. (Although House GOP officials say a resolution likely will be introduced this week and voted on next week.)
Today Senate Democrats offered a package of bills they'd like to see enacted - and some policy changes at the state level to improve reporting and oversight and increase penalties.