A Pennsylvania Representative Just Introduced a “Blue Lives Matter” Bill

Blue Lives Matter Bill

Courtesy of Representative Frank Burns

Pennsylvania Representative Frank Burns, a Cambria County Democrat, has introduced a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that would prompt crimes committed against law enforcement and corrections officers to be considered hate crimes.

That means his bill would add the category of “law enforcement officer” alongside the state’s currently covered categories of race, color, religion and national origin.

“Law enforcement personnel have been singled out for attacks across the country, just because they wear the uniform, most recently in Dallas where five police officers tragically lost their lives,” Burns said in a statement.

If the bill were to pass, Pennsylvania would become the second state in the country to protect police officers in its hate crime statue, according to the Washington Post. Louisiana passed a similar bill in May.

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Wolf: Pennsylvania Budget Will Become Law Without My Signature


Governor Tom Wolf announced on Sunday night that an appropriations bill approved by the state House and Senate would become law without his signature.

Late last month, the legislature agreed to a $31.6 billion spending plan. Wolf said at the time that he supported the plan, which provides additional funding for basic education and programs aimed at battling opiate addiction, but wouldn’t sign it until the legislature specified how the plan will be funded.

Throughout this year’s budget process, Wolf has identified investments in education and addiction programs as his priorities, along with approving a balanced budget that matches all spending with stable revenue. So far, the legislature has not agreed on a revenue package.  Read more »

State House and Senate Send Spending Bill to Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf's hopes of ending Pennsylvania's 99-day-old state budget impasse were dashed Wednesday when nine of his fellow Democrats joined all House Republicans to vote against his revised plan to raise billions in income and gas drilling taxes.

Tom Wolf | Photo: Matt Rourke, AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted Thursday evening to adopt a spending bill for the next fiscal year, with hours to spare before the midnight deadline. The bill was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday. Governor Tom Wolf said he will sign the bill, but only after lawmakers finalize a plan on how to finance it.  Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2016 Pennsylvania Budget Battle

Clockwise: House Speaker Mike Turzai, Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. | PUT PHOTO CREDIT HERE

Clockwise: House Speaker Mike Turzai, Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. | Photos by Matt Rourke and Chris Knight/AP

It’s budget season once again in Harrisburg. Or more accurately, it’s still budget season. Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican leaders in the state House and Senate have been negotiating—and failing to negotiate—over taxes and spending since Wolf laid out his first budget proposal in early 2015.

It took more than a year after the governor gave his first budget address for an actual spending plan to become law, and that only happened without Wolf’s signature. Lawmakers passed last year’s budget nine months after the June 2015 deadline, the longest budget delay in modern Pennsylvania history. And by the time it was settled, Wolf had already proposed his budget for the next year.

Now the due date for a new financial plan is fast approaching. Will state lawmakers meet the deadline? Or will they blow it like last year, leaving school districts and nonprofits across the state in the lurch? Here’s everything you need to know: Read more »

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


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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