Pa. House passes bill to loosen rules on substitute teachers

By: Jan Murphy

Legislation to provide more flexibility when it comes to finding substitute teachers to staff classrooms won unanimous approval on Monday from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Barb Gleim, R-Cumberland County, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Pa. says it’s starting to excel at COVID-19 vaccine distribution

By: David Wenner

Pennsylvania officials on Thursday said during the past week the state has vaccinated more residents per 100,000 than all but one other state.

“That is proof the pace of vaccination is accelerating here,” said Alison Beam, the acting secretary of health.

Officials further said Pennsylvania stacks up especially well when compared with the other states that have the largest populations of people 65 and older.

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State Senate panel approves bill changing bridge tolling process

By: Robert Swift

HARRISBURG — A Senate committee on Wednesday approved a newly introduced bill to require legislative approval for the state Transportation Department’s plans to toll major bridges.

The Transportation Committee voted 9-4 on a party line vote (Republicans in support, Democrats opposing) to approve Senate Bill 382 requiring legislative approval of projects involving a user fee under the Public-Private Transportation Partnership Program (P3).

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Pa. lawmaker wants license plate stickers reinstated, saying state loses millions without them

By: Pennlive.com

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers don’t want new bridge tolls to help fund PennDOT projects, but one lawmaker thinks some old technology could help the funding woes — license plate registration stickers.

PennDOT stopped issuing the registration expiration stickers in January 2017 to save money. The department estimated the move would save $3.1 million in the first year of not printing and mailing out the stickers.

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Pa. House spends $445,000 for 2 meeting rooms, but conservatives said it was needed

By: The Patriot-News

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives spent nearly $500,000 to allow it to do more of what government does a lot: hold meetings.

That money was used to renovate two old courtrooms that had been sitting vacant for over a decade and transform them into large meeting rooms to accommodate more than two dozen House committees.

While spending that money at a time when Pennsylvanians are hurting from the pandemic may raise some eyebrows, even fiscal conservatives such as House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster County, finds it to be money well spent.

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Wolf pessimistic about his stimulus spending hopes for Pa.

By: Katie Meyer

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

Gov. Tom Wolf says there’s a lot he’d like to do with the billions of federal dollars set to flow into Pennsylvania now that President Joe Biden has signed the massive stimulus plan.

But in a virtual appearance Thursday at a conference for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the governor, who has less than two years left in his term, said he doesn’t have much hope he’ll be able to do any of it.

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Pa. health official: Focus should be on covid vaccinations, not allocations

By: Megan Guza

The state Department of Health continues to try and meet the demand for covid-19 vaccines, particularly first doses, an ongoing struggle when requests from providers outnumber the state’s total allocation by nearly 200,000, a health official said Wednesday.

The federal government sent 254,150 dedicated first-shot doses to Pennsylvania’s health department this week, said Barry Ciccocioppo, the department’s covid-19 response spokesman. Providers across the state requested 425,000 first doses.

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Gov. Wolf indicates Pa. restaurants and bars can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

By: Sue Gleitner

Raise a pint of green beer. Cue the bagpipes.

It appears scaled-down versions of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are likely a go at Pennsylvania’s restaurant and bars, nearly a year after the Irish theme parties were abruptly canceled due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Gov. Tom Wolf is not considering implementing new restrictions at this time, said Lynday Kensinger, a spokeswoman for the governor.

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Pennsylvania agrees to settle gas drilling royalties lawsuit

By: Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania reached a settlement in a lawsuit against natural gas driller Chesapeake Energy Corp. for its handling of royalty payments to property owners, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Monday.

Speaking in Tunkhannock, a northeastern Pennsylvania town in the heart of heavy Marcellus Shale natural gas production, Shapiro said the agreement called for $5.3 million in restitution and improved royalty payments going forward.

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A business owner’s guide to Pa.’s next wave of COVID-19 relief grants

By: Charlotte Keith

Help is on the way for Pennsylvania’s struggling bars, hotels, and restaurants, as $145 million in state grants becomes available this month.

The aid is targeted at businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have lost at least 25% of their sales as a result of the pandemic. Priority will go to those that have not received relief from other state and federal programs, had to temporarily close as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown orders, or lost more than half of their revenue in 2020.

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