The state Senate vote 49-0 in favor of a bill that paves the way for the demolition of the old Allentown State Hospital. The bill, written up by St. Sen. Pat Browne, grants the Department of General Services permission to tear down almost all buildings on the grounds of the hospital and then choose a developer to revitalize the property, which has been empty since 2010 when the hospital closed. The bill now heads to the House, where it's backed by St. Rep. Michael Schlossberg.
The Slate Belt man accused of dropping explosives around a Northampton County community is staying in jail until he goes to trial. Jason Muzzicato was in court Tuesday on charges he placed several explosives around the Slate Belt, some of which exploded, some of which did not. Investigators say they found crystal meth, guns and explosive devices in his Bangor home. Muzzicato, who owns an auto repair shop, has further been accused by prosecutors of dropping nails and paint thinner along roadways in order to cause damage to vehicles.
A Monroe County woman whose daughter died after the woman was driving high is heading behind bars. East Stroudsburg's Rebecca Willis was sentenced Tuesday to serve 18-to 36 months in prison in connection to the death of her daughter, Sophia. Sophia died when Willis crossed over the center line while driving down Business Route 209 in June of 2015 and collided with another vehicle. Investigators say the child was not properly secured at the time and Willis was convicted of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.
Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for legislation that would impose fees on communities that don't have their own police departments and rely on state police for coverage. The governor claims many municipalities don't pay their fair share for police protection. Wolf says the money used to compensate for that coverage is instead being drawn from funding intended for bridges and roads. Wolf's proposal would set the fees on a sliding scale based on population. A representative for the state police says 10-million residents are already supporting their municipal police departments through local taxes.
A state House committee is advancing legislation intended to prohibit drivers from having cell phones in their hands while operating a vehicle. House Bill 37 intends to require the use of hands-free technology while driving. The measure is now awaiting a full vote in the House.
Members of the criminal justice reform push are hoping a series of bills from both Republicans and Democrats will lead to prison reform in Pennsylvania. There are proposals to shorten prison sentences and focus on re-entry programs. St. Rep. Jordan Harris. "Re-entry is not just something you should do, it is simply our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters get back into our society. Because when we do that, we see that is actually how you make communities safer," Harris says. Brandon Flood who runs the PA Board of Pardons, says Pennsylvania always needed prison reform but a current workforce gap and the opioid crisis has legislators now scrambling to fix the system.
A report on a York building collapse following a fire last year says several factors contributed to the deaths of two firefighters. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration's findings say it was too risky for Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony to enter the charred remains of the old Weaver Organ Company in March of 2018. The report says inactive sprinklers, long and deep-seeded fires that couldn't be easily extinguished as well as previous structure collapses at the building all were contributing factors in their deaths. The widows of Flanscha and Anthony have both filed wrongful death lawsuits.
Hunting and fur-taking licenses for the 2019-2020 season are going on sale next week. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says the licenses will go on sale Monday, June 17. General hunting licenses and fur-taker licenses still cost about $21 for residents.
Employees of hotels across the Garden State are getting a security boost with the passage of a panic device law. Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Tuesday requiring hotels in New Jersey with more than 100 guest rooms to provide workers doing housekeeping tasks with a panic device to protect them from sexual assault and harassment. Once deployed, the device contacts authorities outside the location for help. Murphy says the safety of workers in the hospitality industry must be improved upon.
People are advised that swimming may be dangerous right now at two Jersey Shore beaches due to potentially unhealthy water conditions. The Department of Environmental Protection is reporting that bacterial samples exceeding the water quality standard were recently taken at the Atlantic Avenue ocean beach in Long Branch City and the New Jersey Avenue bay beach in Somers Point City. No beaches in New Jersey are currently closed, but exposure to the bacteria present can cause a variety of serious infections.