Acquitted Pro-Life Activist Describes Raid of Family Home by FBI and State Troopers

Veteran Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck described to Steve Bannon Tuesday the scene at his family’s home on September 23, 2022, when over 20 FBI agents and Pennsylvania state troopers banged on his door at 6:45 a.m.

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Tennessee Valley Authority Announces $3 Billion in Fourth-Quarter Revenue as Investigation into Blackouts Continues

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced Tuesday it made $3 billion in operating revenue in the final three months of 2022.

The revenue came as TVA faced what it called the first temporary blackouts in the energy company’s 90-year history in late December, something the company apologized for and has vowed that it is fully investigating.

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Policy Hearings Fill Pennsylvania’s Legislative Void

The gaping hole in the General Assembly’s session calendar notwithstanding, lawmakers continue delving into policy meetings this week as an outlet for their restlessness.

After a House Republican Policy Committee’s hearing on Monday about school funding concerns, lawmakers invoked their frustration with stalled legislative action and their colleagues across the aisle.

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Pennsylvania Governor Drops Four-Year Degree Requirements for Government Jobs

Pennsylvania’s new Governor Josh Shapiro issued an executive order last week that removes four-year degrees from 92 percent of government jobs. Shapiro stated that this initiative will open approximately 65,000 jobs in the state to those without college education, he announced on Twitter.

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Investigation Launched Into 3-Alarm Blaze That Killed 100,000 Chickens at Hillandale Connecticut Egg Farm

An investigation has been launched into a three-alarm fire Saturday that reportedly killed about 100,000 chickens at the Hillandale egg farm in Bozrah, Connecticut. At least 16 firehouses and more than 100 firefighters responded to the massive blaze, reported Fox61 News.

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Legalization of Esports Betting Proposed in Pennsylvania

A state lawmaker is urging colleagues to support a bill he is drafting to legalize esports betting in Pennsylvania. Representative Ed Neilson (D-Philadelphia) began circulating a memorandum last week making the case for legitimating video-game betting in the Keystone State, observing that the esports business took in $1.1 billion worldwide in 2022 and is predicted to soon realize a $1.8-billion global value.

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Pennsylvania Takes Steps to Ease Volunteer Firefighter Crisis

by Lauren Jessop   As Pennsylvania’s volunteer firefighters dwindle, lawmakers hope to reverse the trend. States nationwide struggle to recruit and retain volunteers, while simultaneously investing time and money into training required to keep up with stringent regulations. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, volunteers account for 96.8% of firefighters in…

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Auditor: 12 Pennsylvania School Districts Hid $400 Million to Pass Tax Increases

A dozen school districts in Pennsylvania exploited a legal loophole to raise millions of dollars in new taxes on the public without putting it to a referendum.

In the process, they’ve hidden hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve funds that could cover school costs without raising taxes. 

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Most Politicians’ Think Tanks Heavy on Research Output, in Contrast to Penn Biden Center

Numerous university think tanks have had national political leaders as figureheads. The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement isn’t unique in that regard. What does set the center apart from similar institutions — besides its recent immersion in national scandal — is its limited research output. 

The Penn Biden Center is undergoing intense and somewhat bipartisan criticism for having housed nearly a dozen classified government records after Joe Biden used the space as his main D.C. office from 2017 to 2019 while also nominally working as a professor. The documents were discovered last November and other restricted federal materials turned up this month in the president’s Delaware home. Some of the records were generated when Biden served as a U.S. senator and others materialized when he was vice president. 

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Penn Biden Center Hosted ‘Bootcamp’ for Congressional Staffers Promoting Closer China Ties

President Joe Biden’s D.C.-based think tank operated by the University of Pennsylvania reportedly held a two-day “bootcamp” last year during which congressional staffers were urged to support greater cooperation between the United States and China. 

The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement has become the subject of heightened public attention in light of revelations earlier this month that Biden, who used the establishment as his main D.C. office, kept classified federal documents there. 

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Penn Biden Center Inactive and Seemingly Leaderless for Nearly a Year

The Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement, the University of Pennsylvania think tank of which President Joe Biden was once the de facto leader, has had no publicized activity for nearly a year and its future is uncertain. Biden reportedly used the Washington, D.C.-based center as his main D.C. office for much of the time between the end of his vice presidency in 2017 and his presidential run in 2020. From 2017 to 2019, Biden received approximately $900,000 in salary for a Penn professorship that did not require him to teach regular classes.

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Revive Bill to Rein in Regulatory Spending

Republicans lawmakers will again tackle regulatory reform and the separation of powers in the new legislative session. Previous efforts made some progress, but failed to become law. The latest attempt is proposed Senate Bill 188 that would require legislative approval of “economically significant regulations.”

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Pennsylvania Auditor Digs up $20,000 Pension Underpayment After Miscalculations

The latest batch of audits for municipal pension plans show a few localities received too much in state aid — and one error led to a $20,000 underpayment.

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Texas Representative Gooden Calls on Administration to Investigate Gifts to Penn from China

A Texas congressman is asking the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to investigate funding that foreign entities have bestowed on the University of Pennsylvania.

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‘Fuel Poverty’ Stresses Pennsylvania’s Hospitals

Pennsylvania’s hospital administrators say rising energy costs driving worldwide “fuel poverty” threaten the stability of the entire U.S. health care system.

“Folks can’t pay to heat their homes,” Chuck DiBello, vice president of facilities and real estate for the Allegheny Health Network, told the Senate Majority Policy Committee. “They get sick and they come to the hospital – sometimes just to get warm.”

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Pennsylvania School District Policy Advises Teachers to Avoid Informing Parents of Children’s Gender Identity Changes

The Upper Moreland School District in Pennsylvania proposed a new policy that advises teachers and staff to avoid telling parents their children’s gender identity or pronoun preferences, and to focus specifically on school-related, not gender, issues when speaking with parents.

The school district discussed its proposed policy related to “Transgender and Gender Diverse Students at a board meeting on Tuesday.

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Pennsylvania Drops College Degree Mandate for State Jobs

In his first executive action since becoming governor, Josh Shapiro abolished college degree requirements for state job listings in hopes of expanding economic opportunity.

The executive order signed Wednesday instructs the state to prioritize skills and experience over credentials for 65,000 positions, according to a press release.

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Amid Renewed Controversy, Penn Scholars Defend Opposition to China Initiative to Catch Spies

Revelations that President Joe Biden kept classified federal documents at his University of Pennsylvania office in Washington, D.C., have brought renewed scrutiny to his relationship with the university — and the role many Penn professors had in persuading his administration to kill a Justice Department project combatting Chinese espionage.

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Penn Biden Center Appears to Have Published Little to No Original Scholarship

A review by The Pennsylvania Daily Star of output from the Penn Biden Center, the foreign-policy think tank established in 2017 to coincide with the start of Joe Biden’s professorship at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests the center has produced little to no original scholarly work. The Washington, D.C.-based center has drawn heavy media scrutiny after news came out earlier this month that nearly a dozen classified federal documents were housed there until last November. Biden reportedly used the location as his main D.C. office after his vice presidency ended and before he became president.

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University of Pennsylvania Continues to Boast of Relationship with China After Money from the Communist Nation Rolled In

“Today, Penn’s relationship with China is strong, and continues to grow.”

That’s how the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Global website still refers to the Philadelphia-based Ivy League school’s association with the communist-run nation. 

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New Senate Bill Proposes Ban on Vaccine Mandates in Pennsylvania

An impending proposal in the Pennsylvania Senate takes aim at vaccine mandates.

“The fight for medical freedom continues into the new legislative session,” said prime sponsor Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg, in a Jan. 4 press release.

Mastriano first introduced the measure, called the Medical Freedom Act, in December 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both versions of the legislation would shield residents from adverse employment actions or discrimination for refusing vaccination while working for state agencies or political entities.

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Penn Biden Center Had UPenn Interns Running Around 13,800-Square-Foot D.C. Offices

President Joe Biden’s former private office in Washington, D.C., where roughly a dozen classified documents were discovered earlier last November, was recently a site for high-profile University of Pennsylvania internships. 

Administrators of the Philadelphia-based Ivy League school brought the former vice president aboard as a professor in the winter of 2017 to coincide with the “soft opening” of the 13,800-square-foot Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Just under a year later, the think tank officially commenced operations with a stated aim of engaging “our fellow citizens in shaping this world, while ensuring the gains of global engagement are widely shared.” 

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Pennsylvania Bill Seeks to End Medical-Lawsuit Venue Shopping

Pennsylvania state Representative Torren Ecker (R-Abbottstown) is preparing legislation to restore a rule keeping each healthcare lawsuit in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred. 

Two decades ago, state lawmakers enacted the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act which forbade patients claiming they suffered from a doctor’s medical mistakes to file their lawsuits in jurisdictions where the alleged harm did not take place. Before that time, much litigation was being filed in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties whose common-pleas courts were known to look especially favorably on healthcare plaintiffs.

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Pennsylvania Senate Indefinitely Delays Impeachment of Philly DA Krasner

After a state court ruled that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s time in office did not constitute misbehavior, the Pennsylvania Senate has voted for an indefinite delay of his impeachment trial.

State senators voted 28-20 on Monday to delay impeachment indefinitely while readopting the rules of impeachment. 

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Pennsylvania Senate Passes Voter ID Amendment

The Pennsylvania Senate this week passed an amendment to the state Constitution that would require individuals to provide identification to vote in person in an election.

Also contained in the bill the chamber approved are an amendment that would open the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse and another amendment that would strengthen legislators’ power against a governor’s regulatory authority. 

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Pennsylvania Home Construction Down 60 Percent from 2004 Peak

Fayette, Lackawanna and Philadelphia counties weren’t factored into parts of the analysis due to missing or incomplete information, the report clarified.

After the 2008 housing crisis, annual housing permits found a new normal that was much lower than what was seen through the 1990s and early 2000s. As construction declined after the housing crash, demand outstripped supply, leading to higher housing costs across the commonwealth.

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Pennsylvania Republicans Propose Bill Preventing California Air Resources Board Emission Rule

Four Republican state senators are encouraging their colleagues to join them in legislating to keep a new requirement from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) from going into effect in Pennsylvania. 

Two decades ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began requiring that heavy-duty diesel-vehicle engines receive CARB certification as part of the agency’s Heavy-Duty Diesel Emissions Control Program. 

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University of Pennsylvania Allocates $890,000 for ‘Inclusivity in Teaching and Learning’ STEM plan

The University of Pennsylvania will spend $890,000 in the next six years with the goal of “increasing inclusivity in teaching and learning” in the STEM fields thanks to a $385,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The funding “will support a rigorous examination of STEM education at the undergraduate level,” according to a university news release.

Penn officials committed an additional $385,000 to the initiative. Penn is just one of 104 schools who received the six-year grants from HHMI under their “Inclusive Excellence 3 initiative,” according to science research foundation’s website.

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Legislator Wants Pennsylvania Spousal Notification Requirement for Abortion Repealed

A lawmaker from Montgomery County is circulating a request to colleagues to back repeal of a requirement that a married woman seeking an abortion in Pennsylvania notify her spouse. 

In a preliminary description of the upcoming bill, state Representative Liz Hanbidge (D-Blue Bell) bemoaned last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Hanbidge insisted that Pennsylvania’s founding principles of freedom and individual sovereignty should empower people to kill unborn life without constraint. 

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Report: ‘Unclear’ Whether Pennsylvania’s Rural Tax Credit Program Creates Jobs

Lawmakers have approved a variety of tax credits in an effort to boost economic growth in the commonwealth. Evidence of that growth, however, can be hard to find. 

For one program aimed at rural Pennsylvania, a state agency has recommended a pause until more data can show that the tax credits have actually created jobs.

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Fines Totaling $1.3 Million for the Pennsylvania Oil Industry, Environmental Costs of $1.8 Billion for State Taxpayers

Across Pennsylvania, thousands of violations have been issued in recent years over the “improper abandonment” of oil and gas wells. 

While the Department of Environmental Protection has collected more than $1.3 million in fines, reporting requirements are routinely flouted and improperly abandoned wells present environmental hazards to the public – as well as new burdens on taxpayers, who could be on the hook to pay for environmental remediation.

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Bipartisan Proposal Would Make Pennsylvania Pardon Recommendations Easier

A bill is re-emerging in Pennsylvania’s new State Senate session to end the requirement that pardon and commutation recommendations from the State Board of Pardons be unanimous. 

The five-member board comprises the lieutenant governor and the state attorney general as well as experts on corrections, victims’ rights, and mental health. Once the panel issues a recommendation for an inmate to receive a pardon or a commuted sentence, the governor reviews those determinations and decides whether to sign off on them. Historically, governors have tended to follow the board’s advice. 

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Pennsylvania House Elects Democrat as Speaker, Who in Turn Changes to Independent

After delays, motions to adjourn, and much uncertainty, the narrowly divided Pennsylvania House of Representatives chose Democrat Mark Rozzi of Berks County as Speaker of the House. 

Rozzi won 115 votes against Republican Carl Metzger of Somerset County, who received 85 votes. 

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Commentary: The Reason the Pennsylvania GOP Held the State Senate amid a Disappointing Midterm

This past midterm, Pennsylvania state Senate Republicans managed to meet electoral expectations while the remainder of the commonwealth’s GOP suffered stunning losses – many of them unanticipated. Why?

The story begins 99 weeks before Election Day, when state Senate Republicans elected Kim Ward as the legislative chamber’s majority leader.

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State Senator to Reintroduce Pennsylvania Constitutional-Carry Bill

Pennsylvania state Senator Cris Dush (R-Bellefonte) is asking colleagues to cosponsor legislation to let law-abiding state residents carry concealed firearms without a permit, something he tried but failed to get enacted last session. 

The senator’s original bill passed the General Assembly in autumn of 2021 but Governor Tom Wolf (D) vetoed it. Its chances of becoming law have diminished even further insofar as Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently was elected in November to succeed Wolf and Democrats won a majority of seats in the state House of Representatives. 

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Bill Would Clean Up Pennsylvania Voter-Record Errors

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania state Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lititz) told colleagues he will reintroduce a measure to clean up his state’s voter rolls.

Concern about the Keystone State’s voter records grew after Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a report in December 2019 alerting lawmakers to copious apparent errors in the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE). 

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Pennsylvania Gets $100 Million for Public Health, Worker Recruitment

As the year comes to a close, Pennsylvania will get almost $100 million to improve its public health infrastructure, from employee hiring to IT upgrades.

The federal funds, coming from the CDC’s Public Health Infrastructure grant program, provides $98 million to 10 county and municipal health departments. 

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Philadelphia Again Surpasses 500 Murders, Though Down Slightly from 2021

Philadelphia has again failed to stop murders in the city, as it repeats a homicide toll that surpasses 500 deaths. While murders are down compared to a year ago, the level of violence dwarfs recent years, when as few as 277 murders happened in 2016.

As of December 28, 514 people have been victims of homicide in Philadelphia. That number is down 7% from 2021, when a record 562 people died, but higher than the 499 deaths in 2020 and 356 in 2019.

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CDC: Overdose Deaths up 14 Percent Nationally, Pennsylvania Ranks Third Overall

America has seen a spike in overdose deaths since the pandemic, when drug overdose deaths rose more than 14% from 2020 to 2021. 

The biggest increase, perhaps surprisingly, came from adults aged 65 and over, but rates for adults 35-44 remain highest. As synthetic opioids like fentanyl continue to displace heroin, overdose deaths have increased.

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Pennsylvania Bill Proposal Requires Pain Medication for Unborn Humans Prior to Abortions

A measure proposed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week would require the administering of pain medication to an unborn child before an abortion is performed. 

State Representative Tim Bonner (R-Grove City) circulated a memorandum asking other representatives to back his upcoming bill which would instruct abortion doctors to dispense pain relief to a fetus if the organism has gestated for longer than 15 weeks. Bonner suggested his bill would not affect the legality of ending a pregnancy and entreated lawmakers on both sides of the abortion issue to join him in sponsoring the legislation.

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Proposal Would Let Independents Vote in Pennsylvania Primaries

Pennsylvania state senators are asking other lawmakers to support an upcoming bill to let nonpartisan voters participate in primaries. 

State Senators Daniel LaughlinTwo  (R-Erie) and Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem) proposed legislation permitting all state residents whose voter registrations reflect no party affiliation to cast a ballot in either the GOP or Democratic nomination contests. The senators cite 2021 data from the commonwealth indicating that 1,233,748 Pennsylvanians are registered to vote but choose to identify with neither of the two major parties. Since 2017, that number has increased by 51,816. 

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Without Banking Reform, Pennsylvania’s Cannabis Sector May Be More Dangerous

Appeals to federal lawmakers to pass cannabis banking reforms fell on deaf ears, leaving a business sector more exposed to risks of theft and violence than it needs to be, advocates say.

Those advocates of reform include a number of Pennsylvania Republican officials.

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Pennsylvania Democrats’ Bill Would Give Driver’s Licenses to Illegals

Three left-wing members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives announced they intend to introduce a bill to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. 

Representatives Danilo Burgos, Joe Hohenstein and Chris Rabb, all Philadelphia Democrats, asserted that unlawful U.S. residents should be able to obtain driving licenses or learners’ permits if they can establish to authorities their real names and dates of birth. They say acceptable documents to prove identity could be passports, consular identification papers, marriage licenses, divorce records or adoption certificates. 

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Pennsylvania City Treasurer Charged with Stealing $100,000 for Gambling, Vacations

A Pennsylvania city treasurer has been charged by the attorney general’s office for absconding with more than $100,000 of taxpayer money.

Uniontown city Treasurer Antoinette Hodge is accused of stealing almost $107,000 in 2020-2021 while serving as an elected official.

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For Pennsylvania Inmates, Phone Calls Are Three Times More Expensive

In Pennsylvania, a phone call from a local jail can cost more than three times the cost of one from a state prison.

Thanks to the outsourcing of phone services, high costs get passed off to families of inmates, many of whom are less well-off than the median Pennsylvania family.

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Philadelphia District Attorney Krasner Issues Answer to Impeachment Summons

As the holiday weekend nears, Pennsylvania state senators are viewing initial written arguments from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) contesting his impeachment. 

The then-GOP-controlled state House of Representatives voted last month 107-85 to try the radical prosecutor in the Senate to consider his removal from office. Senate leaders then issued a writ of summons to Krasner outlining seven counts against him. Articles of impeachment concern alleged “dereliction of duty and refusal to enforce the law,” obstruction of a legislative investigation against him, improper conduct in two criminal trials, failure to admit conflict of interest, failure to heed victims’ rights and refusal to prosecute certain crimes. 

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Pennsylvania’s Labor Force Participation Continues to Fall

Pennsylvania’s number of open jobs remains high while its number of workers in the labor force continues to shrink.

The trend, which has been ongoing for years, became worse when the pandemic hit in March 2020. The commonwealth has struggled to recover to its 2019-era labor force participation rate.

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Pennsylvania House Republicans Say Krasner Can’t Use Courts to Avoid Impeachment

Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives responsible for conducting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s impeachment are arguing Krasner can’t resort to the courts to avoid the state Senate trial. 

Earlier this month, the far-left prosecutor asked the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to preempt the proceedings initiated by Republican lawmakers in November. He cited three reasons: First, a new General Assembly has taken office; second, he contends that the state Constitution doesn’t authorize a city district attorney’s impeachment; and third, he disputes that “misbehavior in office” is seriously alleged. 

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