Pa. Legislators Want to Put Golf Courses, Water Slides in State Parks

Two state representatives want to give Pennsylvania’s parks a makeover.

Pa. Representatives Brian Ellis and Jim Christiana are supporting bills that would allow for Pennsylvania’s award-winning state parks to open up to private golf courses, hotels, restaurants, amusement parks and water slides, among other facilities.

Ellis recently introduced a bill that would amend the 1995 Conservation and Natural Resources Act to allow development of such amenities. The bill would also establish a Public-Private State Park Partnership Board to oversee the projects.

Christiana’s proposed legislation would create the Arnold Palmer Trails Program, which would oversee construction of four in-park golf courses adhering to “the golf course design philosophy of Arnold Palmer.” Christiana wishes to obtain a license for use of the Latrobe golfer’s name.

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Pa. House Votes for Abortion Ban After 20 Weeks

Abortion

Governor Tom Wolf at a press conference in April.

The state House approved a fast-tracked bill Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, which now heads to the Senate, passed with bipartisan support.

Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement yesterday that he would veto the controversial bill if it reached his desk. Wolf referred to a press conference earlier this year at which he spoke about the bill alongside women’s rights advocates.

“This legislation would be a step backwards for women and for Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in the statement. “If it passes the house, I urge the Senate to reject it. If this legislation reaches my desk, I will veto it. This is a bad bill for Pennsylvania and we cannot afford to allow it to go forward.”

The bill, which is sponsored by Warren County Republican Kathy Rapp, could potentially imprison doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of medical emergencies. Abortions are currently banned after 24 weeks.

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Why Pennsylvania’s Hate Crime Laws Still Lack LGBT Protections

hate crime laws

In the wake of the country’s worst-ever mass shooting, the nation’s cry for change is hard to ignore.

In the early morning of June 12th, a gunman opened fire at a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, killing 49, wounding 53, and leaving a horrific mark on the nation.

The massacre has brought discussions of hate crimes to the forefront of the country. Was the rampage fueled by terrorism and the killer’s professed ties to the Islamic State, or was it a hate crime against the LGBTQ and Latinx communities? President Barack Obama said it was both “an act of terror and an act of hate,” but federal investigators aren’t yet sure what to call it.

In Pennsylvania, members of the LGBTQ community are not covered by the state’s hate crime legislation, meaning crimes committed in the state based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be charged as hate crimes.  Read more »

Pa. Lawmakers Should Get Serious About Texting While Driving

Photo by iStock.com

Photo by iStock.com/encrier

Let us now mourn the turn signal.

I couldn’t assign an exact date to its demise, but there’s no question it’s dead. Drive on I-95 or the Atlantic City Expressway or 422, as I do every day, and you’ll see maybe one or two in 20 drivers still bothering to alert those around them to their intentions before they change lanes or pass someone or move toward an exit. And it’s not just on highways; drivers in my rinky-dink hometown are just as cavalier, jolting to a stop to parallel-park with no notice whatsoever, making lefts at four-way stop signs without warning, maneuvering through Walmart and Giant and Best Buy parking lots like they’re alone on the road. Read more »

State Rep. From Philly Removed Confederate Flag From Harrisburg Display

A flag display in Harrisburg is drawing quite a bit of controversy.

The Hanover Area Historical Society’s display of 50 flags, which signify different periods of North American history, might lose its Confederate flag – but not without some debate.

The summer display, which sits in the Capitol’s East Wing Rotunda, has featured the Confederate flag without controversy for years, display curator Debra Markle told PennLive.

But she found the flag missing Wednesday morning shortly before a press event. Read more »

Why Pa. Won’t Pass Stricter Gun Laws After the Orlando Massacre

We already know Congress probably won’t enact stricter gun laws in the wake of the worst mass shooting in United States history. It did nothing after Adam Lanza murdered 20 elementary schoolers in 2012, after all; it’s hard to imagine what could be a catalyst for change if that wasn’t. But what about Pennsylvania? Is there a chance the General Assembly will starting requiring background checks for private gun sales, or ensure that it takes residents longer than five minutes to buy the Orlando shooter’s gun of choice, an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle?

Gun control advocates: Sorry, but nope. Not happening. Not under this state legislature.

Gun lovers: Despite what you may have heard, you’ve got nothing to worry about!

The National Rifle Association has a friend in Pennsylvania’s GOP-controlled General Assembly. In its regular “report cards” for lawmakers, the lobbying group gave Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai a perfect grade of A+, Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed an A, and Republican House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler an A, according to VoteSmart.org’s database of NRA scores. Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman got an A+ and Republican Senate Whip John Gordner got an A, as well.

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Why Pa.’s New School Funding Formula Is Still Unfair and Unconstitutional

Photo by Christopher Futcher/iStock

Photo by Christopher Futcher/iStock

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Michael Churchill. Churchill is a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia.)

While politicians and advocates are celebrating the legislature’s passage last week of a student-based, fair formula for distributing new school funds, it is important to understand this reality: Our school funding system is as unconstitutional today as it was last week. Read more »

The Incredible Political Insurgency of Chris Rabb

Photo via Mary B Photography

Chris Rabb | Photo via Mary B Photography

How did Chris Rabb do it?

In a city where political machines crush challengers like grapes, the 46-year-old adjunct professor defeated an establishment-backed incumbent in the April primary. Rabb’s opponent in the race for Pennsylvania’s 200th House District seat — state Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis — was endorsed by Gov. Tom Wolf, former Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Jim Kenney. Even more importantly, Cook-Artis is a member of the mighty Northwest Coalition, a group of African-American politicians that has racked up electoral win after electoral win in the last few years.

Philadelphia magazine talked with Rabb about how he overcame the odds, how other political insurgents can do the same, and what he’ll pursue in office if he wins the general election against Republican Latryse McDowell as expected. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Jim Kenney Responds to Girl Thrown Out of Harrisburg Prom

Photo | Jim Kenney

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A Harrisburg teen gets kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit, and Jim Kenney supports her on social media.

Last Friday, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg Aniya Wolf was kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit. The Catholic school in Harrisburg informed the teen — who identifies as a lesbian who doesn’t like to dress in girly clothing — of the dress code before the event. But when she decided to show up in a prom suit, they restricted her entrance in and threatened to call the police. “I think my experience shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s because of something I was born with,” she told a local television station. Wolf added that although she feels accepted by the other students at her school, the administrators make her feel like a “mistake.” Read more »

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