Thursday, May 23, 2013
The liquor privatization debate has brought out a new special interest—the property owners who rent space to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — Inside Pennsylvania’s liquor privatization debate, everyone wants a taste. A new special interest is asking for a seat at the table after the state legislature’s actions threaten the finances of its members. The Liquor Store Real Estate Owners Association is the latest opponent to liquor privatization. The group is comprised of property owners who have lease agreements with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Among their ranks is David Neal, a Philadelphia real estate owner who owns the property for the state-owned wine and spirits shop on South Street. His lease, like all others in the state store system, has a termination clause, one without any penalties if the agreement ends. This …
Wednesday's Senate hearings on the IRS 'Tea Party' scandal included Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey, who both released statements after the event.
Pennsylvania's Sen. Bob Casey (D) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R) both participated in Wednesday's hearings about IRS scrutinty of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Both men released statements regarding the event. Witnesses before the Senate Finance Committee were: Casey, chairman of the Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth, said: “Pennsylvanians and Americans across the country deserve to know that the IRS and all government agencies do their jobs without prejudice or political agenda. I intend to hold accountable those responsible for any breach of the taxpayer’s trust. Today, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I directly questioned top IRS officials about what took place, who was …
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
As much as $515 million in costs and savings of Medicaid expansion were mis-estimated by the IFO, according to the Corbett Administration.
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG — The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett says a report on Medicaid expansion by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office improperly claims as much as $515 million as savings, revenue or underestimated costs to the state. The IFO report, published in April and updated last week to reflect new information, showed expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania would produce $180 million in savings for the next during the next budget year – mostly due to shifting state-level costs to the federally funded Medicaid program. The expansion of Medicaid is a part of the federal health-care reform law, but states must voluntarily opt-in to the program, something Corbett has so far been unwilling to do. In a letter sent to …
Seven candidates will vie for four school board seats, and three council seats will be up for grabs between six hopefuls.
The day before the Bensalem School Board votes on a controversial budget proposal, voters took their chance to decide who will compete for the four seats up for grabs in November's general election. Of the four school board seats, only one incumbent, Kim Rivera, chose to run again. After winning the nomination on Tuesday, Rivera will appear on the Republican ballot with Jason Harris, Kiran Patel and Jennifer Ryan. Like the majority of school board candidates, Ryan crossfiled her candidacy and earned enough votes to appear on both parties' ballots, joining Bill Nazarro, Eric Stern and and Peter Waitze on the Democratic side. The primary results were much less dramatic for the Bensalem Township Council seats. The three Republican incumbents…
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille is running for retention this fall, after serving two terms on the court.
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — Judges in Pennsylvania typically have no problems securing their offices in retention races. In 45 years, only Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro lost his seat in 2005, after an infamous pay raise lawmakers gave themselves in the middle of the night inflamed state voters. Eric Epstein with the government reform group Rock the Capital thinks the ease with which judges are retained should give voters pause as Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille campaigns for 10 more years this fall. “Why should people automatically vote yes?” he asked. “And what does it takes before somebody calls into question the ability of someone to serve on the bench?” A new Rock the Capital voter guide urges …
Monday, May 20, 2013
The Office of Administration says server outages may be a thing of the past once its new contract for web services with NIC is up and running.
Monday, May 20
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A state lawmaker continues to raise red flags about a website redesign and management contract. Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver, said this week he’s concerned the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett knew it would pay millions to NIC USA, a government website design and management firm, even though the contract was entered as a “self-funded” agreement. NIC provides “eGovernment” services in 28 other states, all of which operate on a self-funded model, relying on fees added to transactions business and individuals may make online. Pennsylvania is the only state to authorize a sole-source contract. Matzie said three work orders totaling about $2.6 million are proof the administration knew this …
Three council seats and four school board positions are up for grabs this year.
The following are the candidates running for office at the state, county and township level and seeking the nomination from Tuesday's primary election. The unofficial list has been provided by the Bucks County Board of Elections office. Pennsylvania has a closed primary, meaning that only party members can vote for candidates in their party. Democrats vote for Democrats, and Republicans vote for Republicans. Independents cannot vote in the primary election. If you are unsure where to vote, visit this site and input your address. Polls open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. The general election takes place Nov. 5. The last day to register for the general is Oct. 7. Judge of the Superior Court (vote for one) Vic Stabile (Republican) …
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, Pennsylvanians for Accountability, targeted four GOP lawmakers in November and is now airing TV ads attacking Corbett’s education policies.
Sunday, May 19
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A new political nonprofit claims to be holding Gov. Tom Corbett accountable on behalf of Pennsylvanians. But the group comes up short on the accountability scale, itself. The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit is called Pennsylvanians for Accountability, and in recent weeks it has been airing television ads attacking Corbett’s policies for supposedly short-changing education in order to fund corporate tax breaks. An article published Wednesday by Public Source, an investigative reporting organization based in Pittsburgh, calls attention to the group. The ads blast Corbett for playing a “shell game” that cuts money from education and forcing districts to lay-off teachers while “bankrolling big tax cuts …
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Privatization debates in the Pennsylvania General Assembly could mean changes to where Pennsylvanians can buy six packs.
Saturday, May 18
By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent HARRISBURG — A simple six-pack of beer is becoming a focal point of the most substantive legislative debate on Pennsylvania alcohol laws since Prohibition. A Tuesday afternoon Senate Law and Justice Committee on liquor privatization, headed by Chairman Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, featured numerous testifiers discussing the already-private industry of beer sales. Chief among the concerns from the beer distributor industry and taverns is package reform, or allowing establishments who sell beer to sell different amounts. Under current law, beer distributors cannot sell less than a case, and bars or grocery stores with the ability to sell bottles cannot sell more than a 12-pack. The Senate, under McIlhinney’s…
Friday, May 17, 2013
Medicaid expansion continues to hang over Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and budget-making lawmakers.
Friday, May 17
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent HARRISBURG – Democratic leaders in the General Assembly say Gov. Tom Corbett has delayed long enough on a decision about expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania. And if the governor won’t make a decision, they are ready to force his hand. “If Gov. Corbett is unwilling to do the right thing, my colleagues in the Senate must send a clear message that this is unacceptable. It’s time for a vote on Medicaid expansion,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, on Tuesday. Hughes has filed a resolution to force the state Senate to vote on Medicaid expansion. If a majority of senators support the resolution, a proposal to force the state to accept the expansion would be busted out of committee and brought …