Friday, July 28, 2017

Pennsylvania in focus: No budget yet: Pa. House majority starts ‘review’ of Senate/Wolf plan

By Watchdog News - July 28, 2017 at 08:17AM

Patriot News: No budget yet: Pa. House majority starts ‘review’ of Senate/Wolf plan

This ain’t over.

That was the no-so-subtle subtext of a memo sent by leaders of the Pennsylvania House’s Republican majority to their 120-member caucus Thursday, hours after the Senate passed a $2.2 billion revenue package that included about $530 million in new taxes.

The Senate package – including new levies on natural gas production and consumption – passed through that chamber Thursday morning after several weeks of closed-door talks with Gov. Tom Wolf’s senior staff.

The Senate votes represented a brief moment of success in what has turned into a frustrating summer in Harrisburg.

But the House GOP leadership – which took a no-tax detour from those talks early last week – is not on board, so there is no ready-made expectation for what the next step will be.

“The amendments to these bills were neither agreed-to, nor shared with the House in advance of the committee meetings [late Wednesday, where the final language was inserted in the bills]. So we certainly have no intentions to rubber stamp these bills,” stated the memo issued jointly in the name of House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, and the rest of their leadership team.

The Morning Call: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski pleads not guilty in federal court on corruption charges

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who federal prosecutors say engineered a pay-to-play scheme brazenly selling city contracts and influence for campaign contributions, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon in federal court to 54 counts in a federal indictment.

Standing next to his lawyer, Jack McMahon, and accompanied by his wife, Lisa, Pawlowski learned from U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski the conditions of his release under which he will live and campaign for re-election while the case against him moves toward a trial.

Pawlowski was released on his own recognizance after posting a bond meant to guarantee he will abide by the conditions of his release. Those include restrictions on travel outside the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the federal court jurisdiction that includes Allentown.

Pawlowski’s hearing came during an afternoon court session where Allentown attorney Scott Allinson, who is charged with fraud and bribery offenses in the same indictment as Pawlowski, and Rebecca Acosta, a former Reading School Board member charged in a separate but similar case in that city, also entered not guilty pleas. They were granted pretrial release on similar terms as Pawlowski.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Medical marijuana job fair in McKeesport draws hundreds of applicants

Gabriel Perlow has a license to practice law.

Thursday afternoon, though, the shirt-sleeved CEO of PurePenn LLC was distributing water bottles along the three-block-long line of sweltering job aspirants outside McKeesport’s Palisades Event Center. They had come to fill out an application for Mr. Perlow’s company.

“I’m very appreciative that people are standing out here in this immense heat to join our team,” he said as he grabbed another bottle.

PurePenn is one of 12 firms, and one of two in southwest Pennsylvania, that last month received a permit to build and operate a medical marijuana grow and process facility. Thursday’s job fair followed a groundbreaking ceremony at the building site meant to celebrate and welcome the new business.

When it opens, maybe by Thanksgiving, Mr. Perlow said, 25 people will be working at the five-acre former steel mill site in McKeesport’s RIDC Industrial Park, a workforce he projects to grow to 50 in three years and 100 by year five.