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Local
1:08 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Biden Visits PA Barbecue Restaurant on Campaign Stop

Vice President Joe Biden made a quick stop in Washington, PA on Thursday, talking with patrons at Hog father's BBQ. His visit was not announced ahead of time, he walked into the restaurant to applause from diners.

"I hear the food's pretty good here," said Biden as he walked through the doors.

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Transportation
5:40 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

State Funding Could Prevent ACCESS Cuts

A bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would allow the Port Authority of Allegheny County to apply for special funding from the state to avoid cuts planned for its ACCESS paratransit program.

Sponsoring Representative Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) said his bill would make the Port Authority eligible for up to $3.7 million for ACCESS. The money would only supplement PAT's total budget for paratransit services.

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Local
5:30 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Representative Opposes Outsourcing Corrections Nurses

Governor Corbett announced last summer he would look into privatizing prison health care as a way to cut costs, and similar privatization plans have been floated by past administrations.

Pennsylvania's state prisons already contract with private companies for certain medical, psychiatric, and pharmaceutical services, but the state's biggest health care workers union is rejoicing over news that nurses won't be added to that list.

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Economy
1:30 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Income Up for Pennsylvania Hospitals

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) released data today showing income for Pennsylvania's General Acute Care (GAC) hospitals increased more than 1.6% for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. It marks the second year in a row that total margins increased after two years of a steady decline.

PHC4 spokesperson Gary Tuma said Acute Care hospitals are "vital community assets."

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Environment
1:30 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Mike Krancer And The EPA: It’s Complicated

Over the last few years, the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency has taken an increased inter­est in reg­u­lat­ing and mon­i­tor­ing hydraulic frac­tur­ing. And when the EPA steps into an area that the Pennsylvania Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion is already over­see­ing, Sec­re­tary Michael Krancer appears to take it per­son­ally.

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Local
5:45 am
Thu May 17, 2012

Budget Unsure for State Police

Training a class of state police troopers may seem like a straightforward way to fill the ranks, but a lot of unknowns are part of the process this year.

The Pennsylvania state police have hundreds of vacancies to fill and not enough money to fill them. Officials are counting on a new class of cadets to lessen the force's projected shortage of up to 600 troopers by the end of the year.

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Local
8:13 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

No Charges Against Police in Jordan Miles Case

Two years and four months after three undercover Pittsburgh police officers injured then 18 year old Jordan Miles while trying to arrest him, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced today that he is not filing charges against the officers.

Zappala said it was "not a prosecutable case."

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Science & Technology
3:43 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Asthma Summit Highlights Regional Problems

Pollution and high obesity rates help to make Pittsburgh fourth highest in the nation for asthma rates, according to experts at an asthma summit on the North Side on Wednesday.

Speakers at "The Air We Breathe" summit highlighted links between asthma and obesity in children, as well as the role played by air pollution and viral infections.

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Arts
3:27 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

International Art Museum Day In Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Pittsburgh are joining more than 100 museums in the U.S., Canada and Mexico Thursday to celebrate "Art Museum Day."

The annual event is sponsored by the Association of Art Museum Directors and features reduced or free admission along with special events and programming.

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Arts
3:26 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Unusual UK Artwork at Children's Festival in Oakland

A structure that looks much like a playful moon bounce set up in Mazeroski Field on Oakland's Schenley Drive is actually an art sculpture.

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Local
7:56 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Bill Would Clarify Improvement District Voting Practices in Pennsylvania

The way the process works now is unless you have a certain number of votes when considering a neighborhood improvement district, any unreturned ballots would be counted as "yes" votes. State Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) will introduce a bill to change that.

"This legislation is trying to bring clarity to the voting procedures for property owners when they are trying to establish a neighborhood improvement district," said Costa. "We believe that only those votes that are cast should be the ones counted, and this legislation aims to bring clarity to that issue."

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Local
7:06 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Stonycreek Rendezvous this Weekend Starts PA Celebration of “River of the Year”

The Official Stonycreek River of the Year Celebration will take place in June, but this weekend the annual Stonycreek Rendezvous hits the water. Brad Clemenson is a project manager for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and an organizer for the River of the Year Celebration. He said each year the Rendezvous draws people from all across the country.

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Local
6:30 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Education Group Rallies to Support Pittsburgh Students and Save the Most Effective Teachers

Due to budget cuts, Pittsburgh Public Schools will cut some 400 teaching positions next year. Currently, the ones on the chopping block are largely the teachers with the least experience.

"In some schools that will mean that they will lose 30% to 50% of their teachers this year," said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools, an education advocacy group, "and some schools are our most vulnerable schools — schools like King, Faison, Arlington, Manchester — schools that can't afford that much turnover."

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Local
4:45 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Bills Would Allow Out of State Wineries to Deliver to PA Homes

Two legislative proposals would expand the selection of wines that can be shipped directly to Pennsylvanians' doorsteps, and both are awaiting action by the state House. The measures are popular, even with some in-state wineries that already have the ability to ship direct.

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Local
4:00 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Township Supervisors Prepare For Pennsylvania’s New Drilling Law

Aside from the drillers them­selves, there's prob­a­bly no group of peo­ple more impacted by Pennsylvania's new natural gas drilling law, Act 13, than town­ship super­vi­sors. The new impact fee will inject hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars into their munic­i­pal bud­gets. Statewide zon­ing stan­dards will either increase or scale back town­ships' drilling reg­u­la­tions, depend­ing on how robust their exist­ing local ordi­nances are.

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Economy
3:48 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

City Council Endorses Bill to End Allegheny County Property Tax

Pittsburgh City Council has endorsed a Pennsylvania Senate bill that would freeze Allegheny County's property reassessment and possibly end property taxation in the county and its municipalities.

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Local
9:54 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Bill Would Fund FDA's Foreign Inspections Through Domestic Fee

Legislation from Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA 18) would fund inspections of foreign pharmaceutical factories by imposing a fee on generic drug manufacturers in the United States.

H.R. 3988 would also provide funding to cut down on a backlog of generic drug applications in the federal Food and Drug Administration. Murphy said he wants to shorten the 30-month process of approving a generic drug.

Murphy said the legislation passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, with the support of U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

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Local
8:45 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Report: 34 Pennsylvania Children Died of Abuse or Neglect in 2011

Thirty-four Pennsylvania children died of abuse or neglect in 2011, one more than in the previous year. Seven of the children died in southwestern Pennsylvania.

That data comes from the state Department of Public Welfare, which issued its 2011 Annual Child Abuse Report last week.

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Local
8:23 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Adjunct Duquesne Professors Looks Into Unionizing, University Declines Voluntary Recognition

An effort is underway at Duquesne University to unionize part-time adjunct professors in the McAnulty College. United Steelworkers is helping in the effort and will be the bargaining agent for the adjuncts. Joshua Zelesnick is one of those part-time professors. He said as it stands now, people like himself, who teach only one or two classes a semester, are not treated the same as even some longer-term adjuncts.

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Local
7:19 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

State Police to Close Lancaster County Barracks

Plans to close a Pennsylvania State Police barracks and shift personnel from another facility could become a common theme if the agency's numbers keeping dropping.

The cameras rolled in Lancaster County as state lawmakers asked hard-hitting questions about a plan to close the Ephrata state police barracks, and shuffle the personnel of another station in Lancaster.

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Local
3:20 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Panel Talks Corrections Reform in Pennsylvania

A wide-ranging panel is urging the state to adopt prison reform measures that could could save money and reduce the inmate population. The coalition includes former Governor George Leader, Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, and leaders of groups across the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the conservative Commonwealth Foundation.

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Environment
7:00 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Quaker Environmental Group Targets PNC and Mountaintop Removal Mining

The Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) has been walking from Philadelphia to PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh since April 30th to protest the bank's financing of mountaintop removal coal mining, a type of mining that violates the Clean Water Act and has led to increased rates of birth defects and cancers for thousands of families across Appalachia, according to Zachary Hershman, EQAT campaign director.

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Local
7:00 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Pension Problems Could be Budget Growth Downfall

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's budget discussions have lately included warnings about the state's rising pension costs, but union representatives say those bills have to be paid.

Mike Crossey is president of the state's largest teachers' union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association. He acknowledges that pension costs are going up, but he says the state's unfunded pension obligation can also be traced back to a deal made in 2001, when state and school district contributions were not boosted along with a hike in benefits.

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Local
7:00 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Report Gives Pennsylvania a ‘D’ for Parental Leave Policies

Pennsylvania requires only the federal minimum of parental leave benefits for private sector employees, according to a report released this week.

The Commonwealth earned a 'D' grade in the "Expecting More" [PDF] report from the D.C.-based National Partnership for Women & Families. NPWF gave most states a 'D' grade or lower for their policies toward workers who've just welcomed new children to their homes.

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Economy
7:00 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Are Pennsylvania Corporate Tax Rates Too High?

Many business leaders believe Pennsylvania's regulatory and tax policies make it a poor place to do business, according to a survey of 650 CEOs across America.

A recent ChiefExecutive.net survey shows Pennsylvania scored fairly well in the "Workforce Quality" and "Living Environment" categories, but lagged badly in the "Taxation and Regulations" section.

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