Your Phone Bill Is About to Go Up

If you think your phone bill is too high right now, wait until August.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law on Monday a bill that will increase the cost of calling 911 for emergencies, in an effort to raise additional funds to operate the call centers, PennLive reported yesterday.

The new law, PennLive says, will put into effect a uniform $1.65 911 fee irrespective of the type of phone service a customer uses. Cell phone and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) users currently pay one dollar a month per line for 911 service, while landlines are charged between $1 – $1.50 depending on location.  Read more »

The Brief: Why No One in Philly Smokes Anymore

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

1. Philly’s smoking rate has fallen to a record low.

The gist: CBS3 reports that “the percentage of adult Philadelphians who smoke has dropped from 27.3 percent in 2008 to 22.4 percent in 2014-15, according to data from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey.” Even more impressive: A drop took place among all ethnicities and socioeconomic groups in the city, and it happened after smoking rates went up in 2000 and 2008. Also, the recent smoking rate doesn’t factor in the full impact of Philly’s new cigarette tax, which has likely caused smoking to become even less common. Read more »

BizFeed: Gas Drillers Are Not Happy With Tom Wolf

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

1. Wolf, Frackers in Heated Dispute

The News: On the campaign trail, Gov. Tom Wolf promised to tax natural gas drilling in an effort to fund education. It was one of the key platforms that got him elected.

Now that Wolf is in office, members of Pennsylvania’s natural gas sector are questioning the governor’s commitment to the booming industry. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that they’re not too pleased with Wolf’s recent actions to propose stricter drilling rules to curb wastewater contamination and heavily fine companies for wrongdoing. In fact, Wolf’s regulators just imposed an $8.9 million fine against a gas operator, the largest ever in the state. Read more »

Wolf Expected to Veto GOP Budget

tom-wolf-budget-940x540

Gov. Wolf, center, during happier times at the Legislature.

Looks like Harrisburg may blow past Tuesday’s June 30 deadline for a state budget.

The GOP-controlled legislature worked through the weekend with the House passing its own $30.1 budget on Saturday and a Senate committee giving its approval Sunday night. But Gov. Wolf sent signals he would veto the bill, which includes none of his ideas for education funding or taxing the Marcellus shale, two of his big priorities. Read more »

The Brief: Police Shootings Plummet 62% in Philadelphia

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

1. Police shootings fell 62 percent between 2012 and 2014.

The gist: 2012 marked a modern high for police shootings: City cops fired at civilians 104 times that year, killing 16 and injuring 32. Last year, the number of shootings dropped significantly. Philly.com reports that police fired at civilians 40 times in 2014, killing four and injuring 21; so far this year, they killed one person and wounded seven. “This is exactly what we want to see,” Kelvyn Anderson, the director of the watchdog group Police Advisory Commission, told Philly.com. “Whatever the department is doing, this is exactly where we want it to go.”
Read more »

INTERVIEW: Dr. Rachel Levine on Her Collaborative Approaches to Healthcare

Rachel Levine

For Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s newly appointed Physician General, collaboration is second nature.

In fact, back in 1996, while serving her tenure at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, she created a unique program that served teens, children, and young adults with eating disorders using a multidisciplinary approach, examining the patients’ physical and mental well-being through psychology, nutrition, and psychiatry. Read more »

5 Questions About the Future of Philly’s Schools

Students have a modest request of City Council. | Photo  courtesy of Philadelphia City Council. Produced and Edited by Michael Falconi and Jenae Brown.

Earlier this year, students made a modest request of City Council. | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr

Philadelphia City Council did something Thursday that it’s done a lot in recent years: voted to increase both taxes and education funding. Lawmakers expect to raise an extra $70 million for the city’s schools by hiking the property, parking and use-and-occupancy levies.

So, where does that leave the school district? Somewhat better off than it was before, no doubt. But it’s not out of the woods yet, either. Its future depends on the answers to these five big questions, which we should learn in the coming weeks: Read more »

BizFeed: Comcast Cashing In With Jurassic World

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World, hitting theaters TK.

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.

1. Comcast Feeling the Jurassic World Bump

The News: Jurassic World just had the biggest opening weekend in movie history at $208.8 million in the United States and $550 million globally— and Comcast is set to cash in big time. As the parent company of Universal Pictures, Comcast should reel in big profits on DVD sales, licensing, downloads, merchandise — and even feel a jolt at its theme parks.

Why It Matters: Big blockbusters aren’t usually able to send a big media conglomerate’s stock up or down, but this film just did. In fact, Comcast’s stock is up 2.2 percent since Monday morning and now sits at $58.88. Read more »

Why The Latest Liquor Privatization Bill Might Actually Pass

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Yes, we’ve heard a million times before that the Pennsylvania Legislature is mulling a liquor privatization bill. A million times before, it’s gone nowhere. So why highlight the latest bill from Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican?

Answer: Precisely because it’s originating in the Senate, where previous House attempts at privatization have long gone to die. Read more »

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