Governor Josh Shapiro has used a pledge to House Democrats to get the state budget passed Wednesday. The House approved the 45-and-a-half-billion dollar spending plan last night after the governor pledged to line-item veto his own proposal to use public money to fund vouchers to private schools. Shapiro had previously promised support of the voucher program to the Republican-controlled state Senate. Based on that support, the Senate passed the budget last Friday. The change has angered conservative lawmakers who say Shapiro negotiated in bad faith.
A New Castle man is facing drug charges following a drug raid on June 30th. According to the New Castle News 29 year old Joseph Phillips is charged with possession of a prohibited firearm, possession with intent to deliver a controlled or counterfeit substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The raid was conducted by the Lawrence County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Group and the Lawrence County Critical Incident Response Team. Bond for Phillips was set at 50 thousand dollars.
The first part of the penalty phase in the trial of Robert Bowers continues. Bowers was convicted last month in the October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in which eleven people were killed. If jurors determine in the opening phase that Bowers is eligible for the death penalty, they will then have to decide if he will be put to death. Prosecution witness and behavioral neurologist Dr. Ryan Darby, who has examined Bowers, testified yesterday and said the defendant told him that he had begun planning his attack in April of 2018 and that he spent a lot of time selecting his targets. Defense attorneys later questioned Darby about the impartiality of his findings and asked him how much he was being paid.
A Farrell Area School District employee has been placed on administrative leave but at this point, there have been no details on who it is or why. WKBN-TV reports the district posted an announcement on their Facebook page saying that the district is aware of the charges that have been filed against a District employee, and the individual was immediately placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. No other information was released.
State Police in Lawrence County have charged a Slippery Rock man in connection with an incident that took place back on July 1st. 43 year old Daniel Frey
is accused of punching a man in the face causing the man to fall and hit his head on a concrete floor. Frey is charged with aggravated and simple assault. The alleged incident took place at a residence in North Beaver Township. The injured man was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.
Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has accumulated his highest amount ever this past quarter for donations to his re-election campaign. Casey’s campaign officials say the senator raised more than four-million dollars this past quarter for a total of six-million now in his campaign fund. However, they say his full report has not yet been filed with the Federal Election Commission. The website open secrets-dot-org says the 167-million spent by candidates in last year’s senate race was three times higher than the amount spent in the race previous to that. So far, no Republican candidate has officially challenged Casey.
– State police are reporting the roadway numbers from the five-day Fourth of July holiday travel period. Three people were killed and 194 injured in a total of 668 vehicle crashes around the commonwealth in the period beginning June 30th and ending July 4th. Alcohol was reported as a factor in 59 of the non-fatal accidents. More than 79-hundred speeding citations were issued and 505 DUI arrests were made.
Western Pennsylvania residents who ship items through UPS could soon be impacted if the company’s union workers go out on strike. UPS and the Teamsters Union have been trying to hammer out terms on a new contract but both sides stepped away from the bargaining table yesterday and blamed the other side for the impasse. The union represents approximately 340-thousand UPS workers nationwide and has already authorized a strike if a new deal cannot be reached.
Marijuana sales have now begun in yet another state that borders Pennsylvania. Legal marijuana sales began in Maryland this past Saturday on July 1st. State police say they’ll be on the lookout for residents who bring the substance into the commonwealth. It’s not legal to possess marijuana in Pennsylvania as it’s use is still considered illegal under state law. Medical marijuana is allowed, however. Out of the PA tri-state area, Pennsylvania is the only state that has yet to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.