Trump Campaign Has Outraised Biden Campaign in Pennsylvania

Donald Trump Joe Biden Pennsylvania Fundraising

Donald Trump (R) has raised the most money from Pennsylvania state of all presidential candidates, with $2.14 million raised since the start of the campaign cycle. Trump raised $502,595 in the fourth quarter of 2023. Joe Biden (D) has raised the next most from Pennsylvania, with $1.5 million since the start of the campaign and $943,704 in the fourth quarter.

Twenty-three notable presidential candidates, including those who have dropped out of the race, raised a total of $6 million from Pennsylvania donors between Jan. 1, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023. Thirty-five notable candidates raised $47.6 million in Pennsylvania during the 2020 election cycle, while 25 raised $25 million during the 2016 election cycle.

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Pennsylvania Sends $6 Million for Homeless Services, Emergency Housing

Homeless Person

About two dozen grants totaling $6.3 million will go to 25 counties in Pennsylvania to combat homelessness.

The Emergency Solutions Grants, issued by the Department of Community and Economic Development, can be used for prevention, emergency rehousing, street outreach, emergency shelter, and related uses.

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Pennsylvania Tax Credits Worth $400 Million Projected for Next Fiscal Year

PA Capitol

The use of tax credits and state subsidies has grown significantly in recent years, and the trend is expected to intensify in the near future.

A report from the Independent Fiscal Office noted that Pennsylvania awarded $857 million in tax credits in fiscal year 2022-23, and the IFO projects that $1.23 billion will be given away in 2023-24.

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Pennsylvania Democrat Warns of Losing Latino Voters to GOP

Nicarol Soto

A Democrat in the battleground state of Pennsylvania voiced concerns over her party increasingly losing Latino voters to the GOP ahead of the November election, Politico reported Friday.

Democrat Nicarol Soto of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who ran an unsuccessful city council campaign in 2023, told the outlet that she’s seen signs of the voting bloc moving toward the Republican Party within her own family. Soto, who immigrated to Pennsylvania from the Dominican Republic, believes the shift is largely due to the community’s views on the economy and abortion, according to Politico.

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Pennsylvania Energy Policies Exacerbating Reliability, Blackout Concerns

Gene Yaw

Pennsylvania’s energy future isn’t only a question of renewables versus fossil fuels — it’s a question of whether the state can reliably provide enough energy to meet growing demand.

One problem is that power plants retiring is happening quicker than new, cleaner ones get built. The shuttering has been driven by state and federal rules to mitigate pollution, but getting projects approved and built takes years and years.

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Red Tape Closes Pennsylvania Power Plants Before Replacements Ready

Power Plant

Despite the key positions states like Ohio and Pennsylvania hold to solve future energy problems, shifting the power grid from coal and natural gas to wind and solar isn’t as easy as flipping a switch.

A cadre of Pennsylvania legislators trekked to Columbus for a joint meeting of three House and Senate committees from the two states to be advised by energy officials on PJM, the regional power grid to which both belong.

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High Court Brushes Up Against Constitutional Abortion Access

PA Supreme Court Justices

A recent state Supreme Court ruling side-stepped the question of constitutional abortion access in Pennsylvania, reviving discussion over a would-be ballot referendum mired in legislative gridlock.

Five justices said Monday the Commonwealth Court erred when it dismissed a 2019 case brought by seven abortion providers challenging Medicaid coverage restrictions first established in 1982 and upheld in 1985.

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Pennsylvania Wants to Bet Big on Outdoor Recreation

Nathan Reigner

Pennsylvania’s economic future, state officials think, means growing the outdoor recreation economy.

Such was the discussion during the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s advisory council meeting on Wednesday. The newly launched Office of Outdoor Recreation touted the industry’s impact, calling it responsible for $17 billion annually and 164,000 jobs.

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Pennsylvania Bill Proposes Mental Health Days for Students

Sad Student

A proposal that recently cleared the House Education Committee would consider mental health days as excused absences for students.

The bill was one of three approved Thursday after lawmakers fielded testimony about the public education system’s struggle to offer comprehensive mental health support to students.

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UPenn Sees Increase in Chinese Donations After Biden’s Think Tank Documents Scandal

U Penn Campus

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) saw the amount of donations from China more than triple in its most recent reporting period, shortly after the university faced a scandal regarding Joe Biden’s storage of classified documents in his think tank’s offices at the university.

As reported by Fox News, the surge in foreign donations was revealed in documents obtained by Americans for Public Trust (APT). With donations from individuals and entities directly tied to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the university saw roughly $25 million in such donations during the 2022-2023 academic year. By contrast, the academic year of 2021-2022 saw just $8.6 million from China.

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Forward Party in Pennsylvania Targets More Local Victories

Andrew Yang

A growing dissatisfaction with America’s two-party system might make voters more open to supporting an alternative candidate this year – something the Forward Party is banking on. 

Forward’s current goals are to get candidates on the ballot in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and achieve official party status – both statewide and nationally.

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Pennsylvania Funds $40 Million to Replace Diesel Trucks with EVs

The diesel-to-electric vehicle conversion continues as Pennsylvania coughs up the funds for localities and trucking companies to make an upgrade.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced on Wednesday $40 million in grants to 16 applicants to replace aging diesel vehicles with EVs.

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National Park Service Backtracks on Removing Beloved Pennsylvania Statue After Widespread Ridicule

William Penn

The National Park Service reversed its decision to remove a famous statue from Welcome Park in Philadelphia, according to a Monday statement from the agency.

A statue of William Penn, who founded the then-colony of Pennsylvania in 1681 and played a significant role in American politics, will not be removed from Welcome Park after deliberation from the National Park Service, accordingto The Associated Press. The agency first planned to remove the statue as part of “rehabilitation” efforts for the park, but backpedaled on that commitment after public backlash.

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‘I Actually Feel Quite Valued’: Mentorship Program Works to Retain New Teachers

Teacher and Students

Jack Fredericks is investing in new teachers because he wants to help them stay in the classroom for the long haul.

He serves as the program coordinator for the new teacher mentorship program in the West Tallahatchie School District, something he worked with his superintendent to create after researching mentorship as a Teach Plus Mississippi policy fellow. 

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Pennsylvania Representative’s Candidacy Subject of 14th Amendment Lawsuit

Scott Perry

A new lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania asks the state court to scrub Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry from the upcoming primary ballot.

Gene Stilp, a Harrisburg-based activist, filed the legal challenge in Commonwealth Court on Tuesday, claiming Perry – who represents the 10th Congressional District in south-central Pennsylvania – violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment for his support of 2020 election fraud “conspiracy theories.”

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Pennsylvania Rural EMS Agencies Fight the Drug Scourge as They Lose Workers

EMT

Rural EMS agencies respond to, and train for, more drug-related calls. But they can’t always get people the help they need.

In northwest Pennsylvania, Elk County EMS has had training sessions to learn more about drug use as a disease and how to use overdose-reversal drug naloxone (also known as Narcan).

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Year in Review: Pennsylvania Energy Policy

Fracking Drilling

Pennsylvania has had a significant year for energy development, with hundreds of millions of federal dollars coming into the commonwealth.

Though the status of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first mandatory market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, remains mired in a legal fight, hydrogen hubs and natural gas have kept legislators and the public busy.

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Worker Discrimination Lawsuit Against Union Argued in Pennsylvania Court

AFSCME Members

The Commonwealth Court recently heard arguments in a case regarding a state worker and the public sector union she says discriminated against her during an employer dispute.

The lawsuit, filed in May 2021 by the Fairness Center, alleges Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, violated its duty of fair representation when it negotiated an unfavorable settlement without the consent of the worker it involved, Penny Gustafson.

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Pennsylvania Senators Earmark $1 Million for LGBT Center Hosting ‘Anti-Capitalist’ Financial Planner

PA Senators

Pennsylvania Democratic Sens. John Fetterman and Bob Casey sponsored an earmark in the next year’s fiscal budget for a community center that plans to host an “anti-capitalist” financial planning class.

The senators sponsored the inclusion of $1,00,000 in funding for the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of renovations and expansions into the Senate Appropriations Committee fiscal budget for 2024, according to a report from the committee. The center provides a number of services to the community, like peer counseling and resources for transgender individuals, and will host a series of anti-capitalist financial workshops starting on Feb. 22, according to the center’s website.

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Inside the Federal Probe of Pitt’s Fetal Organ Harvesting Program

University of Pittsburgh

A federal probe may reveal violations of law in the University of Pittsburgh’s testing of body parts from aborted babies, according to a pro-life organization monitoring the school’s program.

The U.S. government began investigating the University of Pittsburgh’s protocols in its program to harvest fetal organs, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. 

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Pennsylvania Transgender Activist Touted by State Democrats Charged with Rape of a Minor

Kendall Stephens

LGBTQ activist Kendall Stephens, who identifies as a transgender woman and has worked with members of Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party, was charged with the rape of a minor, according to court documents filed Monday in the Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Stephens, 37, was arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department and appeared before a judge on Monday, according to the documents. The department charged Stephens with one count of rape forcible compulsion, unlawful sexual contact with a minor and indecent assault of a person under 13, among other charges.

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Republican State Lawmakers Block University of Pennsylvania Funding over Antisemitism Response

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted down legislation Wednesday providing over $33 million in state funding for the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) veterinary school due to concerns about antisemitism on campus, according to The Associated Press.

Former UPenn President Liz Magill stepped down alongside Scott Bok, the chairman of UPenn’s Board of Trustees, on Dec. 9 after the university faced heavy criticism for UPenn’s handling of antisemitism on campus and Magill’s testimony to Congress earlier this month. The state’s House of Representatives passed the funding measure in the first two votes but failed to clear the necessary two-thirds majority required by the state’s Constitution, according to the AP.

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Despite Concerns, $290 Electric Vehicle Fee Proposal Advances in Pennsylvania

Although a bill that creates an electric vehicle fee in Pennsylvania cleared a House committee on Monday, it’s unlikely to pass in its current form.

Senate Bill 656, sponsored by Sen. Greg Rothman, R-New Bloomfield, would replace the alternative fuel tax with a $290 EV fee paid at the time of vehicle registration. Owners would also have the option of enrolling in a monthly payment plan. 

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University of Pennsylvania Loses $100 Million Donation After Donor Disapproves of School’s Handling of Anti-Semitism on Campus

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has lost a potential gift worth nearly $100 million after the donor behind it voiced his disapproval of the college’s response to a rise in anti-Semitic protests and incidents on campus.

As reported by Axios, alumnus Ross Stevens, the founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, said that his primary reason for withdrawing the donation was the poor testimony by UPenn president Liz Magill before Congress on Tuesday. He had first announced the gift in December of 2017, which was intended to establish a center for innovation in finance at the university.

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Concerns Grow over Perceived Viability of Hydrogen Hubs in Pennsylvania

Doubt swirled among a panel of Pennsylvania lawmakers this week about the practicality using hydrogen hubs to lower greenhouse emissions, and federal subsidies earmarked to build them.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee met Monday to promote a fossil-fuel-free future, harnessing hydrogen for industries where electrification can’t cut it.

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Pennsylvania Forest Land Expanded to Include Miller Mountain

Pennsylvania has grown its state forest land again with the addition of 2,500 acres to Pinchot State Forest in Wyoming County.

The property, called Miller Mountain, is the first forest land in the county follows last year’s creation of Vosburg Neck State Park, the county’s first state park.

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Pennsylvania Licensed 312 Recovery Houses, Far Short of Its Goal

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in Pennsylvania is celebrating a boost in its licensed recovery houses, but the success falls far short of the former administration’s expectations.

After attending a recovery-focused yoga class in Harrisburg hosted by addiction treatment provider Gaudenzia, DDAP Secretary Latika Davis-Jones announced that 312 recovery houses have been licensed by the commonwealth.

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Pennsylvania Appeals Carbon ‘Tax’ Decision

The Shapiro administration will appeal a Pennsylvania court’s decision to strike down a proposed carbon “tax” as unconstitutional in a bid to “protect” the authority of future governors.

The news comes just one day after Gov. Josh Shapiro teased the appeal during a press club luncheon in Harrisburg. He said it was important to “listen” to all sides involved, most of whom agree that “cap and trade” is a good idea to reduce harmful emissions.

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Pennsylvania Property Owners May Soon Pay Blight Fines

Owners of vacant and blighted properties in Pennsylvania may soon have to pay annual fees that get more expensive with each passing year.

Where those fines will get levied, though, would depend on what local governments decide to do.

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Pennsylvania Basic Ed Funding Hearings Wrap with Charter Schools

Student Homework

Pennsylvania’s Basic Education Funding Commission hearings ended in Harrisburg this week, where charter schools took center stage.

After months of painstaking reflection on the inadequacies of the state’s funding, charter school administrators were asked to defend against commentary from others within the educational community who believe that their schools are a drain on district budgets.

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Pennsylvania State House OKs Jobless Benefits for Striking Workers

UAW Workers on Strike

House lawmakers in Pennsylvania voted Wednesday to extend jobless benefits to workers on strike.

House Bill 1481, which passed the lower chamber 106-97, would make workers unemployed due to a labor dispute eligible for compensation, alongside others who haven’t voluntarily quit their jobs.

“Making the decision to strike is not easy by any means,” said Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Philadelphia. “It’s a decision that often results in loss of pay, which is money our workers need to provide food and housing for their families.”

Dawkins, who chairs the House Labor and Industry Committee, joined other state representatives and union officials from United Steelworkers, SEIU and Sheetmetal Workers on Wednesday afternoon to promote the legislation.

“This legislation is of utmost importance to our workers and would protect their right to bargain for better pay and working conditions without the loss of income,” he said.

The controversial legislation, however, is likely dead on arrival in the Senate. Critics say the proposal would steal money from taxpayers to support union strikes.

“Taxpayers and job creators should not bear the burden of funding strikes,” Nathan Benefield, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Raising taxes to incentivize walkouts and picket lines is a slap in the face to hardworking Pennsylvanians. We’ve seen firsthand how strikes hurt workers, taxpayers, and consumers alike, and this bill would only worsen matters.”

The foundation, which advocates for fiscally conservative policies, said the state should focus on preventing union leaders from using “strong-arm tactics, lies and threats” to force strikes.

The Center Square reached out to Senate leadership for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

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UAW Ratifies Five-Year Contract with Mack Trucks

United Auto Workers union members ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with Mack Trucks covering about 3,900 employees at facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

“The new agreement guarantees significant wage growth and delivers excellent benefits for our employees and their families,” Mack President Stephen Roy said in a statement. “At the same time, it will safeguard our competitiveness and allow us to continue making the necessary investments in our people, plants and products.”

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Exit Clause for Abused Renters Debated in Pennsylvania House Committee

Legislation offering an exit clause to renters subjected to domestic abuse is headed to the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, despite concerns that the proposal could cause unintended harm to landlords.

Under the bill, renters can break a lease on a property shared with an abuser after providing written notice to the landlord detailing their experiences and concerns. Police reports, medical notes, arrest records, protection from abuse orders, and documentation from the state’s Victim Advocate Office also suffice as notice.

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Yet Another Billionaire Donor Demands University of Pennsylvania Fix Its Anti-Semitism Problem

Influential donors have been retracting their support from the University of Pennsylvania, citing concerns over anti-Semitism on campus following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Now, billionaire Len Blavatnik, a philanthropist and noteworthy figure in the business world, has joined the growing list of benefactors expressing discontent with the university’s handling campus anti-Semitism.

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Pennsylvania State Police Open Second Hiring Round amid Surging Interest

Nixing the college degree requirement for Pennsylvania State Police troopers has returned dividends, drawing a surge in applications that’s pushed the agency to open a second hiring round.

After a two-month enrollment period earlier this year, the PSP saw a 258% increase in candidates taking the written exam, the agency announced in a press release.

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Soros-Backed Pennsylvania Candidate Loses DA Bid Despite Landslide Primary Win

Matt Dugan, the Democratic candidate running for district attorney in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, lost his election bid despite receiving nearly $2 million of funding from megadonor George Soros, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Dugan first challenged incumbent District Attorney Stephen Zappala in the county’s May primary election, beating Zappala by 10 points after receiving $700,000 in funding from the Soros-funded Pennsylvania Justice and Public Safety Political Action Committee (PAC), according to the Post-Gazette. The PAC donated an additional $1.1 million to Dugan’s campaign between June and October, but Zappala managed to beat the Democratic challenger by 3 points despite his major loss just months earlier.

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Pennsylvania Convictions for Driving Past School Bus Stop Arms Up 47 Percent

Convictions for driving past school bus stop arms in Pennsylvania increased 47% in 2022, according to state data.

Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kara Templeton said that 511 residents faced penalties for violating the law, up from 348 in 2021. During the agency’s Oct. 18 event to raise awareness for school transportation safety, she said law enforcement and bus drivers witnessed 164 incidents in just one day.

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Pennsylvania Set to Receive $4 Million for Rural ‘Renewable Energy’ Projects

On the heels of $22 million in federal cash for energy efficiency projects, Pennsylvania will get another $4 million more.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that $3.6 million will support another 30 projects for efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects “to lower energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resiliency of their operations in rural Pennsylvania.”

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Pennsylvania Rectifies Its Rainy Day Fund

Pennsylvania’s rainy day fund will receive a big deposit after lawmakers settled a dispute with the governor’s administration this week over the definition of “surplus.”

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity said the $898 million contribution into the account, which helps agencies and programs withstand economic downturns, will keep the government operational for 48 days before running out of money – 3.5 days above the national median.

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Commonwealth Court Strikes Down Carbon ‘Tax’

Commonwealth Court struck down Pennsylvania’s entry into an emissions regulatory program Wednesday, agreeing with critics that it’s an unconstitutional tax.

The decision delivers a blow to supporters of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a multi-state program that charges power generators for the pollution they produce – who had hoped Pennsylvania might join the rest of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in the agreement.

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University of Pennsylvania Took Money from School That Settled with U.S. Gov’t over Alleged Hezbollah Ties

The University of Pennsylvania, which hosts the Penn Biden Center, took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2022, roughly five years after AUB paid a settlement to the United States government in connection with its alleged ties to Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terror organization.

UPenn received $474,947 from AUB in 2022, with the donations earmarked as “Education/Tuition/Scholarship,” according to a 2021-2022 foreign gift disclosure obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. AUB settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, paying $700,000 and promising to revise its policies, following a suit alleging the university assisted organizations linked to Hezbollah, Reuters reported.

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University Tuition May Freeze for More Pennsylvania Support After All

The state House agreed Tuesday to boost support of Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities in exchange for a tuition freeze in the 2024-25 academic year.

Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lincoln University will receive $640 million more from the state after months of legislative wrangling.

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Police Seize 50,000 Fentanyl Pills, Charge Two Arizona Men with Trafficking Drugs to Pennsylvania

Police in Pennsylvania seized 50,000 fentanyl pills disguised as prescription opioids and arrested two Arizona men who they said were trafficking the narcotics in a cross-country trek on Friday.

The arrests of Arizona men Leroy Williams and Ryan Hofer were confirmed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry (D) in a statement that confirmed a joint effort from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), her office, and Pennsylvania State Police.

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Infrastructure Crisis Escalating in Pennsylvania Public Schools

Lead paint, coal furnaces, hallway instruction, classrooms partitioned with teetering stacks of books and supplies, students and teachers struggling to work in unabated heat during sweltering weather — these are all images invoked by testifiers before the Basic Education Funding Commission over the last few months.

Experts say this barely scratches the surface of a massive infrastructural crisis across the state.

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Pennsylvania Ambulance Reimbursement Rates Made Whole

Emergency service agencies across Pennsylvania have warned of funding shortfalls and labor shortages, but a recently passed bill will help ease a fraction of the pain.

House Bill 1351, signed into law this week as Act 15, will require Medicaid to reimburse EMS agencies for every mile an ambulance travels with a patient. Previously, no payment would be made for the first 20 miles of travel.

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