New Castle City Police have charged a West Side woman of taking money from a collection jar for recent fire victims.  According to the New Castle News 43 year old Lawanda Harper is accused of taking the money from a 7-Eleven on Highland Avenue back on January 18th.  She was identified through a store surveillance video. Harper is charged with  theft and receiving stolen property. She was sent a summons to appear in court on the charges.

The state House speaker has kicked off his cross-state ‘listening tour’ with a stop at Carnegie Mellon University. State officials say about 80 people turned out for Speaker Mark Rozzi’s appearance in Pittsburgh. The event Wednesday comes one day after he adjourned the House until February 27th.  Rozzi told reporters he’s willing to recall lawmakers sooner if they reach compromises on House rules and the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers. 

A Pennsylvania State senator says he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Democrat Wayne Fontana says Pennsylvanians should have a voice as to whether the minimum wage should increase. Sen. Fontana says his proposal would ask the voters if they approve raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 starting on January 1, 2025. The proposed legislation would also require the state’s minimum wage to be adjusted to inflation each year.

A state healthcare organization wants Governor Shapiro to act on what it calls a severe healthcare worker shortage in the state. The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania wants a health care workforce council to be established and be led by a chief health care talent officer. The group says state shortages include a 32 percent vacancy rate for nursing support staff as well as respiratory therapists and a 31 percent vacancy rate for registered nurses.

The Greensburg police chief faces up to 20 years behind bars in connection to federal narcotics charges.  Shawn Denning was arrested this week on suspicion of selling cocaine and methamphetamine.  He has since been released on bond.  In addition to jail time, the chief also faces a one-million-dollar fine.  The DEA and the FBI are investigating.

A Republican state senator from the Cumberland and York areas has called for the state liquor board to not raise its prices. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board had previously announced it would increase prices at state-run alcohol stores by four percent.  State Senator Mike Regan has said he believes decisions on price changes for 2023 should instead be set by the governor’s office and the state legislature. It’s not known whether he’ll re-introduce the idea after the Senate reconvenes in February.

The American Lung Association has released its State of Tobacco Control report cards and it appears Pennsylvania has been given mostly failing grades. In their results out Wednesday, the state was listed among the worst in the country in preventing or reducing tobacco use, especially among teens. Some 26 percent of state high schoolers report using tobacco. Pennsylvania’s rate for lung and bronchial cancer is higher than the national average, too; 22-thousand residents die each year from smoking. 

Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano says he’ll introduce legislation that would ban drag shows on public property or in areas where minors could be present. He says the measure would place drag shows under the “adult-oriented business” classification, which would put restrictions on where they could be performed or the audience’s age. The memo was posted to the State Senate website Tuesday morning and so far does not have any co-sponsors.   

Some Sheetz Convenience stores are lowering the cost of their Diesel Exhaust Fluid to 99 cents until the end of January. The Pennsylvania-based chain is also lowering its price for regular diesel fuel by 50 cents. Company officials say the average price of DEF at their stores is three-dollars and 50 cents a gallon.  The deal is not available at all stores.

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