Report shows natural gas fracking didn’t produce promised jobs to Pa. and Appalachia | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

While still recovering from the Great Recession of 2008-2009, natural gas drilling — aka fracking — appeared in the Pittsburgh region and claimed to be able to offer economic relief. One of the first major energy players to move into the Pittsburgh region and greater Appalachia was Range Resources. The Texas-based oil and gas company claimed that fracking would lead to economic benefits beyond just those made from extracting natural gas.

In an October 2012 commercial, Range Resources claimed Pittsburgh is the place “where manufacturing will become American again” and ends with the tagline, “Drilling is just the beginning.” Those manufacturing gains never materialized, and the Pittsburgh region has lost several thousand manufacturing jobs since 2012.

And according to a new report from the Ohio River Valley Institute, that was just one of several failed economic promises natural gas companies made to the Pittsburgh area, Appalachia, and the Marcellus and Utica Shale region.

Source: Report shows natural gas fracking didn’t produce promised jobs to Pa. and Appalachia | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pennsylvania Covid-19 vaccination appointment hotline intercepted by hackers – CNN

At some point “mid-afternoon,” the Allegheny County health department and the 2-1-1 service became aware that a hacker was intercepting callers and diverting them away from the help line without their knowledge, officials said.

Source: Pennsylvania Covid-19 vaccination appointment hotline intercepted by hackers – CNN

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf wants to increase taxes for some residents | Fox News

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants to raise taxes on wealthy residents and the natural gas industry to help pay for new investments into education and coronavirus relief.

The governor’s proposal will call for increasing the personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 4.49%.

The reported budget plan follows a statement Tuesday in which Wolf’s office said 67% of Pennsylvania taxpayers would see tax cuts or have their taxes stay the same under his plan to cut costs for working class households while raising billions to invest in education and “workforce development.”

Source: Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf wants to increase taxes for some residents | Fox News

Pennsylvania Among Worst States To Drive In, WalletHub Says – CBS Pittsburgh

When it comes to the best states to drive in, Pennsylvania is at the bottom of the list.

According to WalletHub, Pennsylvania is the 44th best state to drive in.

Texas, Indiana and North Carolina are at the top.

As for the worst state for driving? Hawaii.

Neighboring states Ohio and West Virginia came in 10th and 28th respectively.

WalletHub compared all 50 states across 31 “key indicators” of a good commute, with data sets ranging from average gas prices to rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality.

Pennsylvania ranks second for most auto repair shops per capita.

$1 Million Winning Mega Millions Ticket Sold In Pennsylvania – CBS Pittsburgh

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is one lucky winner of the billion dollar Mega Millions lottery.

The golden ticket for the top prize matching all six numbers was sold in Michigan — but don’t throw out your ticket just yet.

Mega Millions says there is one ticket in Pennsylvania that matched five numbers and is worth a $1 million prize.

The winning numbers to match are: 4, 26, 42, 50, 60, and 24.

Source: $1 Million Winning Mega Millions Ticket Sold In Pennsylvania – CBS Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania officials respond to delay in unemployment benefits

“It’s a complete nightmare,” said a Finleyville woman. “I’m going on three weeks Wednesday without any kind of payment or anything.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has made more than $33.1 billion in unemployment program payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three of these programs are part of the federal CARES Act, which expired at the end of 2020. L&I urged the federal government beginning in November to extend the CARES Act as soon as possible to prevent gaps or delays in unemployment program benefits to claimants. The federal government did not complete the extension until Dec. 27, and L&I has been delayed in restarting payments for the three federal programs by the federal Department of Labor, which did not issue all of the guidance needed to ensure states are following the federal law when making payments for the federal programs until Jan. 11. L&I has prioritized restarting payments for these programs and is announcing the dates for claimants to begin filing again as soon as necessary reprogramming is complete. L&I is doing everything possible to minimize delays while working under the constraints created by the federal government.

The statuses of each active unemployment program is as follows:

STATE PERMANENT PROGRAMS:

Unemployment Compensation (UC)

  • L&I has made approximately $6.6 billion in UC payments since March 15 (the start of the pandemic).
  • Unemployment Compensation is a state program that provides up to 26 weeks of payments to eligible claimants who are able and available to work but have lost their jobs for qualifying reasons. Claimants who exhaust their 26 weeks of payments roll over to the PEUC program, and then the EB program. The program is unaffected by the federal coronavirus relief bill.
  • A small percentage of the claimants who filed for UC on Jan. 1 were affected by a glitch that caused them to not receive their payment on time. L&I rectified the issue and reissued the payments to claimants a few days later. L&I apologizes for the inconvenience caused by the delayed payment and has worked to prevent the issue from recurring. No other payment issues have been detected for UC claimants since the Jan. 1 issue.

Extended Benefits (EB)

  • L&I has made approximately $230.6 million in EB payments since March 15.
  • EB provides claimants who have exhausted their maximum number of UC and PEUC claim weeks with additional claim weeks. The number of claim weeks provided to a claimant varies depending on the claimant’s personal situation. EB is a state program that is triggered on when the unemployment rate reaches a certain threshold.
  • Because EB is a state program, it was unaffected by the expiration and extension of the federal coronavirus relief bill. Some claimants who filed EB claims on Jan. 10 did not receive their payments on time due to a programmatic glitch. The issue was identified and remedied on Jan. 16 and payments to the affected claimants were reissued on Jan. 17. L&I apologizes to these claimants for the inconvenience of the delayed payments. Other EB claimants have been receiving payments as normal.

TEMPORARY FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS:

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

  • L&I has made approximately $1.1 billion in PEUC payments since March 15.
  • PEUC provides UC claimants with a 13-week extension on their claim, with an additional 11 weeks added through the coronavirus relief bill extension, bringing the total to 24 weeks. After a claimant exhausts PEUC, they become eligible for additional weeks through the EB program. PEUC initially expired the claim week ending Dec. 26 and an extension was signed Dec. 27.
  • L&I could not begin paying the claim weeks in the PEUC extension until the federal Department of Labor provided guidance on how the federal program should be enacted by states. L&I began working on upgrading its computer system to accommodate changes made by the coronavirus relief bill extension and has completed upgrades to allow claimants who had weeks remaining on their 13 allotted weeks to begin filing for these claim weeks on Jan. 15. L&I will make an announcement when the additional 11 weeks have been added to claimants’ accounts and filing for these weeks begins.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

  • L&I has made approximately $7.1 billion in PUA payments since March 15.
  • PUA is a special unemployment program created by the federal coronavirus relief bill to assist claimants who are not typically eligible for Unemployment Compensation, such as freelancers, gig workers, and business owners. The program expired the claim week ending Dec. 26 and an extension was signed Dec. 27. The initial coronavirus relief bill provided PUA claimants 39 claim weeks and the extension provided an additional 11 weeks (50 weeks total).
  • Numerous changes, such as new identity and employment verification requirements, were added to the program in the extension by the federal government. The federal Department of Labor did not provide L&I with the necessary guidance for the changes to the PUA program until Jan. 11. L&I is working to complete reprogramming of the PUA system to accommodate these changes and has turned off claimants’ ability to file for weeks after the expiration of the original program. The ability to file for claim weeks after Dec. 26 will be added when the reprogramming is complete, and L&I will make an announcement as soon as this date is determined. Some claimants have reported seeing what they believe are errors in their PUA system dashboard, but this is due to the reprogramming and the correct amounts will be populated into claimants’ dashboards when the system is ready to accept the new claims.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

  • L&I has made approximately $16.2 billion in FPUC payments since March 15.
  • FPUC provides an additional $300 to claimants each week they receive at least $1 in benefits from the UC, EB, PEUC or PUA programs. This payment is on top of the other program’s payment. The program previously provided $600 in additional weekly compensation but was initially eliminated when the federal government failed to extend it in summer, and then cut in half to $300 and reinstated when the federal government agreed on the coronavirus relief bill extension.
  • L&I began issuing payments on Jan. 8 after receiving the necessary guidance from the federal Department of Labor. The timing of the payments’ arrival varies based on when claimants file the claims for their other unemployment benefits and the method the claimant chose to receive their payment (checks require mailing time, financial institutions may cause delays with direct deposits, etc.), with the first claimants receiving their payments for FPUC on Jan. 12.

Claimants who have questions about their individual claim should email uchelp@pa.gov.

Source: Pennsylvania officials respond to delay in unemployment benefits

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf unveils updated coronavirus vaccine rollout plan – The Morning Call

State officials on Friday said a new update of the coronavirus vaccine rollout plan puts several groups of people — those over 75, those with significant health issues and essential front-line workers — in line behind health care workers for priority in getting shots.

HARRISBURG — State officials on Friday unveiled an updated coronavirus vaccine rollout plan that puts more people — including those 75 or older, those with significant health issues and essential front-line workers — in line behind health care workers for priority in getting shots.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in an online press briefing that the state has received 827,300 doses of the two approved vaccines and more than 235,000 Pennsylvanians have been vaccinated, with health care workers and people in long-term care facilities being inoculated now.

Source: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf unveils updated coronavirus vaccine rollout plan – The Morning Call

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans refuse to seat Jim Brewster, take control from Lt. Gov. Fetterman – The Washington Post

Officials shouted and spoke over each other, at one point trying to conduct dueling sessions in a stark showcase of this year’s party divides over normally routine functions of democracy.

Source: Pennsylvania Senate Republicans refuse to seat Jim Brewster, take control from Lt. Gov. Fetterman – The Washington Post

Jim Brewster’s Pennsylvania Senate seat remains in doubt amid pending lawsuit from Nicole Ziccarelli

A day before Pennsylvania state lawmakers will be sworn in for a new two-year session, state Senate Democrats said Monday that the Republican majority is trying to “steal an election” by objecting to letting a Democratic member take his seat for a fourth term.

The dispute revolves around the election of Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster of Allegheny County and could leave the decision on who to install in the Senate district to a majority of senators.

The contest between Brewster and Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli hinged on court decisions that said mail-in ballots that lack a handwritten date on the ballot envelope is not a reason to disqualify someone’s vote.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, called the Republicans’ refusal to swear in Brewster during Tuesday’s ceremony “unlawful” and suggested that his caucus will go to court.

Republicans were trying to “steal an election” in what Costa framed as a continuation of “the Trump playbook. It’s about abusing the process that’s in place.”

Costa also pointed out that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swore in Rep.-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, even as her Democratic opponent’s challenge to the election results remains under review by the House.

The Senate’s top Republican, President Pro Tempore-elect Jake Corman, R-Centre, called it a “fairly unique, if not unprecedented situation.”

Ziccarelli has filed a complaint with the Senate and a lawsuit in federal court in an “extremely close” election affected by court rulings, Corman said.

“I think this unique set of circumstances dictates that the Senate review it and take very seriously the contest,” Corman said.

He did not say how long the Senate will need to review Ziccarelli’s filing before voting, or how long the Senate is willing to leave the seat vacant.

Brewster beat Ziccarelli by 69 votes in the Nov. 3 election, according to state-certified returns last month.

Source: Jim Brewster’s Pennsylvania Senate seat remains in doubt amid pending lawsuit from Nicole Ziccarelli

Pittsburgh weather: Winter weather advisory issued ahead of Christmas snow

The winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service will be in effect from 7 p.m. Thursday until 1 p.m. Friday.

 

More: Read the weather alert for your county

The winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service will be in effect from 7 p.m. Thursday until 1 p.m. Friday.

Source: Pittsburgh weather: Winter weather advisory issued ahead of Christmas snow

Gov. Wolf initiates transfer of $145 million in funds to support businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic | WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that he has initiated a transfer of $145 million in funds from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to be appropriated by the state legislature into grants for businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Business owners and employees have worked hard to protect their customers and their communities during this pandemic, and I thank all of those who have prioritized health and safety despite the hardship of the past several months,” Gov Wolf said. “Our business owners and workers have been forced to make sacrifices because of COVID-19 and they need and deserve our support.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that my administration will make funds available to help businesses whose operations and revenue were significantly adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The $145 million transfer from the fund into the state’s general fund requires legislative authorization to expend the loaned money for the purpose of making grants to businesses. The legislature has the authority to establish grant agreements for purposes it deems appropriate, in this case, to support businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.

Gov. Wolf urged the legislature to follow his lead and allocate this funding as quickly as possible to businesses affected by the pandemic, among them restaurants and bars, gyms and entertainment venues.

Source: Gov. Wolf initiates transfer of $145 million in funds to support businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic | WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

PennDOT lifts speed limit restrictions on area roadways

PITTSBURGH —PennDOT has lifted the speed limit restrictions that were put in place Wednesday when snow was hitting the Pittsburgh region.Speed limits were reduced to 45 miles per hour on all interstates and several other routes.

Steve Cowan, spokesperson for PennDOT District 11, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 crews still have work to do on secondary roadways, shoulders, ramps, gore areas and turning lanes.

He said PennDOT will keep its full complement of trucks out until the work is finished.

Source: PennDOT lifts speed limit restrictions on area roadways

Vehicle restrictions announced; motorists urged to ‘avoid traveling’ during snowstorm: PennDOT – pennlive.com

In preparation for a major winter storm event, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) are advising motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel during the storm, and are anticipating that restrictions on trucks and other vehicles will be imposed on certain roadways around the state.

“We have been preparing for winter since the last one ended, and we’re calling on the public to be our partners in safe travel,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian in a press release. “Please, avoid traveling and if you must travel, be sure to check travel conditions and give plow operators plenty of space so they can do their jobs safely and effectively.”

Source: Vehicle restrictions announced; motorists urged to ‘avoid traveling’ during snowstorm: PennDOT – pennlive.com

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announces new COVID-19 restrictions – CBS News

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine provided an update on COVID-19 in the state Thursday, and announced new restrictions to help slow the spread.

Beginning Saturday, Wolf said extracurricular school activities, such as sports practices, are suspended. Restaurants will not be permitted to offer indoor service, but outdoor seating and takeout are still allowed. Business is also being temporarily suspended for other indoor facilities such as theaters, museums, movies, casinos, and gyms, though retailers can operate at 50% capacity.  

Source: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announces new COVID-19 restrictions – CBS News

Gov. Wolf gives update on COVID-19 testing in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Director of Testing and Contact Tracing, Michael Huff, gave an update on COVID-19 testing in the state Tuesday afternoon.

Wolf announced the extension of the Department of Health’s contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to provide COVID-19 testing in five regions across Pennsylvania.

Over the next 12 weeks, five strike teams will provide regional testing for 61 counties.

The six counties not receiving testing from AMI have county health departments providing other means of COVID-19 testing.

“These testing sites are open to anyone who feels they need a test. It is important that even people with no symptoms who test positive isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Huff said.

Beginning Wednesday, drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics will be held to contain the recent rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the following counties:

  • Bedford
  • Mifflin
  • Tioga
  • Northampton

Testing will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Wednesday through Sunday.

Beginning Friday, drive-thru and indoor walk-in testing clinics will be held in Butler County. Testing will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Tuesday.

The testing site addresses are:

  • Butler County: Michelle Krill Field, 100 Pullman Park Pl., Butler, PA, 16001;
  • Bedford County: Bedford High School parking lot, 330 West John St., Bedford, PA, 15522;
  • Mifflin County: Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, 1150 Riverside Drive, Lewistown, PA, 17044;
  • Tioga County: North Penn Mansfield High School, 73 W. Wellsboro St., Mansfield, PA, 16933; and
  • Northampton County: William Penn Highway Park & Ride, Emrick Blvd., Easton, PA, 18045.

Up to 450 patients can be tested per day at each location.

Mid-nasal passage swab PCR tests will be performed

Source: Gov. Wolf gives update on COVID-19 testing in Pennsylvania

Kauffman, Schemel Issue Statement on Reintroduction of House Resolution Regarding Election Integrity | Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus

HARRISBURG – Reps. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) and Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) released the following statement regarding the reintroduction of the language in House Resolution 1094 regarding election integrity:

“Tonight, at midnight, in accordance with the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the General Assembly’s 2019-20 Legislative Session concludes. As a result, all current legislation expires. To move forward, any public policy objectives will need to be reintroduced in the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

“Nevertheless, House Resolution 1094 was formally introduced in the 2019-20 session. Pennsylvania’s Nov. 3 General Election was plagued by multiple irregularities and inconsistencies, many of which are currently under review by state and federal courts. We maintain that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s recent certification of the election results was premature in light of the ongoing litigation. Pennsylvania’s presidential electors do not have to be named until Dec. 12, giving additional time for the courts to resolve election disputes before certification must occur. Time, however, was simply not on our side to bring this resolution to a full House vote before the current legislative session ends.

Source: Kauffman, Schemel Issue Statement on Reintroduction of House Resolution Regarding Election Integrity | Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus

RepKauffman.com

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Pa. Lawmaker: Governor cannot certify fraudulent election | One America News Network

The Trump legal team gains ground in Pennsylvania when their evidence is finally considered. One America’s Chanel Rion has more on the step in the right direction.

Watch Video: Pa. Lawmaker: Governor cannot certify fraudulent election | One America News Network

PA Supreme Court rejects Trump challenge to absentee ballots in Allegheny County | Fox News

President Trump’s attorneys asked the courts to throw out ballots that were missing information.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign lawsuits Monday that called for the dismissal of more than 8,000 absentee ballots in Allegheny County.

In five lawsuits, President Trump’s attorneys asked the courts to throw out ballots that were missing information, such as a handwritten name or address or the date on which the ballots were signed. In its ruling, the state’s Supreme Court determined the ballots should be considered valid.

“Here we conclude that while failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters,” the ruling said.

PERDUE, LOEFFLER BACK TRUMP CALL FOR GEORGIA RECOUNT, MORE SIGNATURE MATCHING

In addition, the state Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had invalidated 2,349 ballots in Allegheny County over missing information. The ruling was a setback for Trump as the state’s counties move forward with efforts to certify the Pennsylvania vote.

Source: PA Supreme Court rejects Trump challenge to absentee ballots in Allegheny County | Fox News