Pennsylvania lawmakers have gotten the chance to question the leader of Norfolk Southern. CEO Alan Shaw gave his first public testimony about the incident at the state Capitol Monday. Senator Doug Mastriano questioned him about who made the decision to set toxic chemicals on fire. Shaw says the “vent and burn” decision came from a unified command group led by a local fire chief. The move was supposedly done as a safety precaution but came just three days after the train derailed in February on the Pennsylvania/ Ohio border.
A Butler man is facing charges for allegedly firing a gun into his neighbor’s apartment. Gina Devanno says she woke up around 2:00 a.m. yesterday morning to the sound of shots coming from the unit above her. Police responded to the scene, saying they found 33-year-old Nathan Ferraro outside the house carrying a rifle. Authorities say they located 28 spent rounds in Ferraro’s apartment. WPXI-TV reports he was referred to mental health professionals and had three guns temporarily taken just a few days before the shooting incident.
State Police in Lawrence County report a one vehicle accident in Washington Township. According to police 28 year old Justin Storti of Volant was traveling north on Carter Road when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a utility pole, shearing it in half. Police charged Storti with driving under the influence. No injuries were reported.
House members have introduced legislation that would ban “ghost guns.” The untraceable firearms are ones that are bought online and assembled at home. House Bill 777 would ban the manufacturing, sale, and possession of ghost gun parts in the commonwealth. Representative Malcolm Kenyatta says such weapons are some of the main drivers of gun crimes. Another measure introduced, House Bill 776, also would ban undetectable firearms, such as 3D-printed guns.
Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt says the deadline to register to vote is May 1st. To be eligible, Schmidt says a person must be a US citizen for at least a month before the primary, a resident of Pennsylvania and a resident of the election district in which they plan to register and vote for at least 30 days before the primary, and at least 18 years old on or before the primary date. For information on how to register, go to vote.pa.gov. Because Pennsylvania has closed primaries, only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the May 16th primaries.
State officials confirm DHS staffing shortages for benefits workers, just as Medicaid coverage for thousands of residents is being threatened. The offices of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, which helps people keep their Medicaid benefits, are ramping up for higher workloads. That’s due to the state eliminating people from Medicaid who only were eligible during the COVID pandemic. Advocates worry that the staffing challenges could mean thousands of people could wrongly lose their coverage as a result. A DHS spokesperson says the department is trying fill the jobs.
Ohio’s new distracted driving law is now in effect. The law makes it illegal in most circumstances for Ohio drivers to use a cellphone or electronic device while behind the wheel. Police can now stop drivers if they are “using, holding, or physically supporting” a phone while driving. For now, drivers pulled over will be issued a warning but starting on October 5th, tickets will be issued.
Defense attorneys in the Tree of Life shooting case are renewing a motion to throw out the death penalty. Lawyers representing Robert Bowers say the decision by U.S. prosecutors to pursue capital punishment is arbitrary. The 50-year-old defendant is accused of killing eleven worshippers at the Squirrel Hill synagogue in 2018. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on April 24th.
Officials with area food banks say they’re trying to step up their operations as more people are expected to ask for help soon. Almost 100-thousand people throughout the state have had their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits cut in March. SNAP benefits total about 181-dollars per month for the average household. The residents’ benefits were eliminated due to them being no longer being eligible after COVID. Officials say because of that situation, many more people will rely on local food banks to feed themselves and their families.