VIDEO: Actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo pushes for fracking moratorium in Pennsylvania

VIDEO: Actor and advocate Mark Ruffalo pushes for fracking moratorium in Pennsylvania

Mark Ruffalo was joined by grassroots organizations today in the Main Capitol Rotunda to deliver petitions and a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf calling on the governor to enact a moratorium on fracking. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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Revised revenue plan still a tough decision for moderate Republicans

As the details of Gov. Tom Wolf’s revised revenue plan were made public Tuesday, Republicans—even some moderates who could potentially be in favor of some broad-based revenue increases—were still skeptical.

The new revenue plan, which is embodied in an amendment sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny) to House Bill 283, proposes to raise $3.6 billion over the next two fiscal years by relying heavily on increasing the personal income tax to 3.57 percent and placing a 3.5 percent tax on natural gas extraction.

The proposal would also increase the property tax forgiveness provision costing $195 million over two years while also making a transfer of $5 million to the Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program in FY 2016-2017.

According to House Democrats and the Wolf administration, the expanded Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program will provide $400 million in new property tax relief to seniors, the disabled, and veterans beginning in FY 2017-2018, resulting in the elimination of property taxes for 331,317 households, including over 247,000 new eliminations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
VIDEO: Reed discusses latest on budget

VIDEO: Reed discusses latest on budget

House Majority Leader Dave Reed visited the Capitol Newsroom late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the latest plans with moving forward on Gov. Wolf's budget proposal. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
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Auditor General: School districts feel like the Department of Education does not help them

Auditor General: School districts feel like the Department of Education does not help them

In releasing a much anticipated performance audit of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state Board of Education Tuesday, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said a culture within the department has existed over the last several years that leaves local school districts feeling as though they have been forgotten.

DePasquale pointed out his audit revealed—among other things—that PDE has left 561 academically challenged schools (with around 310,000 students) without adequate support.

“It is absolutely stunning…that basically, the Department of Education is overlooking some Title 1 schools and every poor performing school that is not Title 1,” he said. “It does worry me that it appears the department is doing the bare minimum to get by.”

Along with the failure to provide adequate support, the audit found three other major failures, including the lack of an updated master plan from the State Board, poor hiring practices with regard to annuitants, and a failure to monitor special advisors and assistants.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Industrial hemp bill clears committee

A bill that would revive the industrial hemp industry in Pennsylvania cleared a House committee Tuesday.

House Bill 967, sponsored by Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), would legalize and regulate the growth of industrial hemp—a cannabis plant with less than 0.3 percent of THC—in accordance with federal government requirements contained in the 2014 Farm Bill, which allows the activity to occur in pilot programs run by state departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education.

The bill unanimously passed the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee Tuesday morning.

According to a news release from Rep. Diamond, industrial hemp is used to make things like automobile dashboards, home insulation, building materials, soil fertilizer and even some food items.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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