An investigation is underway into the Monday drowning death of a young child at Moraine State Park in Butler County. Authorities say a visitor found the Pittsburgh five-year-old unresponsive in the park’s man-made lake and that life saving measures proved unsuccessful. Lifeguards do not monitor the area and folks are advised that they swim at their own risk.
A traveler from Slippery Rock was stopped at security Monday at Pittsburgh International Airport after agents say they found a loaded firearm in his carry-on. During an X-ray screening, agents found what turned out to be a loaded 9-millimeter handgun and two additional loaded magazines. The weapons and ammo were confiscated and the traveler is facing potential civil penalties.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has failed to meet the deadline to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot; it would have given relief for child sex abuse survivors. The proposal, which was the focus of hotly contested debate at the start of this year’s legislature, would have given thousands of survivors a two-year window to seek monetary damages against their abusers. State lawmakers had said the window was necessary because the statute of limitations to file suit expired. The Department of State told Spotlight PA late last week that it’s now too late to draft, approve and publish the legally-required media notices to hold a constitutional referendum this year.
Triple-A reports the average price of regular fuel is now three-85 per gallon. That’s up just a penny from a week ago and up 21-cents from where the price stood one month ago. In New Castle the average price is at 3.81 a gallon while motorists in Sharon are paying 3.86.
Two Republican senators have introduced legislation to target more disabled veterans for property tax relief. Senate Bill 844 will allow disabled veterans to get a reduced assessment on their property in relation to their disability rating. Under current state law, veterans who are permanently disabled can obtain 100-percent property tax relief, but the senators say veterans who aren’t fully disabled receive no reduction, even though they can experience significant challenges. The bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says he’ll introduce legislation that would outlaw civilian use of military-style body armor. Representative Tim Briggs, a Democrat from Montgomery, says he’s noticed that mass gunmen and other murderers wear such gear, which prevents law enforcement from neutralizing the threat early in various situations. New York and Connecticut already restrict access to body armor. Briggs also notes that federal law bars felons from possessing body armor.
Funding for Pennsylvania’s four state universities is still pending, despite Governor Josh Shapiro signing the main budget bill. The governor’s office says he still expects the schools, including the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, to receive the millions of dollars that the state typically assigns to them. However, the state House has yet to approve the allocations because many Republicans voiced concerns over the amount the schools receive as well as transparency issues. Penn State officials say they expect the legislature to reconsider the funding decision in September.
One of the largest-ever lottery paydays is up for grabs in the next Mega Millions drawing. The jackpot is now estimated at just over one-and-a-half-billion dollars, making it the largest payout in the game’s history. No one has taken home the top prize since April. Two previous Powerball jackpots are the only U.S. lottery wins to ever exceed the current Mega Millions sum. The next drawing happens tonight at 11:00.
Registered Pennsylvanians planning to vote by mail ahead of the Nov. 7 general election can already begin requesting their ballots. The process can be completed at the election office for the voter’s county of residence or online through the Pennsylvania Department of State. Voters must provide the last four digits of their Social Security number or their Pennsylvania driver’s license or Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ID number if applying online. To ensure that ballot is counted, it must be received by county officials no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots postmarked by that time are deemed ineligible.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has voted to increase the costs of licenses and permits for the second year in a row. Before last year, license prices had not changed since 2005. Under the proposal, two-dollars and 50-cents will be added to the current price of the most commonly purchased licenses, increasing the cost of an adult license to 26-dollars. Officials say the nearly three-million-dollars the fees will generate will enable the agency to keep up with increasing inflation levels and escalating costs of infrastructure improvements to enhance the state’s lakes and rivers.