The U.S. Supreme Court has approved Pennsylvania's plan to count mail-in ballots up to three days after Election Day. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar explains exactly what that means. "Right now, what stands is ballots mailed postmarked by November 3rd and received by Friday, November 6th, will be counted," Boockvar says. A suit was filed by Republicans after a lower court ruled in favor of the plan. The Supreme Court voted four-to-four on the initiative, which upholds the initial ruling from the lower court.
We are now one week from the deadline to request a mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania. Voters who wish to vote by mail must apply for that ballot by next Tuesday. You can request that ballot by heading to www.votespa.com. Monday was the lsat day for Pennsylvanians to register to vote in next month's election.
Local restaurant owners rallied in Bethlehem Monday afternoon in an effort to convince lawmakers to override a Gov. Tom Wolf veto of a bill that would have allowed more people to dine and drink indoors. Steve DiDonato is with the Lehigh Valley Restaurant Owners Task Force and organized the rally. He says many restaurants are teetering on the edge of extinction. "The Restuarant Association is estimating 60 percent of restaurants are going to close by the end of the year," DiDonato says. Gov. Wolf argues that the bill would have allowed for 100-percent capacity inside bars and restaurants, putting public health in jeopardy during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Jersey restaurant owners will not be getting reimbursed for money they lost over the summer. Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a $30 million bill Monday that would have made up for lost revenue the first time he canceled plans to reopen indoor dining this summer. Bill sponsors argued restaurants ordered food, hired back employees and purchased safety equipment to be prepared for the rolled back decision. But Murphy says he's allotted at least $35 million in CARES Act funding for bars and restaurants.
Pennsylvania's Department of Health added nearly 2400 new cases to the state's coronavirus total over a two-day period, pushing that number to more than 183,000. 34 new deaths related to the virus were also added to the state's total, which is now at 8500.
New Jersey officials say the number of newly identified COVID-19 cases is double where it was a month ago, as they ask residents to be careful ahead of the holidays. Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli explains the state is now reporting around 1000 new cases daily, adding it's not confined to one geographical area. Officials argue the spread doesn't result from schools or nursing homes, but rather mostly from home gatherings and parties. Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledges that the number of deaths has not spiked, suggesting the medical community knows more about coronavirus now than it did six months ago and noting cases are increasingly seen in younger people.
New Jersey is releasing thousands of inmates from jail next month, citing coronavirus concerns. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation Monday, which reduces sentences for 3000 inmates and more than 2000 of them will be released on November 4th. Both adults and juveniles with less than a year remaining on their sentences are eligible, but those convicted of aggravated assault or murder are not. State officials say the releases will be in place on a rolling basis throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
It appears Allentown property taxes will remain flat. Monday, Mayor Ray O'Connell released details of his proposed $119-million city budget for 2021. The property tax rate would stay the same, at 7.31 mills. The mayor says the city is able to avoid a tax increase because of department-wide spending reductions and hiring freezes. The Business Privilege Tax and the $52 Local Services Tax remain stable under O'Connell's budget. The Refuse Collection and Stormwater Management fees also remain flat. O’Connell will formally present the budget to City Council on tomorrow afternoon and budget hearings begin next Monday.
An unidentified 51-year-old man is dead after a standoff with police shut down part of Jim Thorpe for almost the entire day Monday. Police were called Monday morning to a home in the 600 block of Lehigh Street for a domestic disturbance. The man in the home threatened to shoot his wife and himself after an argument. The wife was able to escape the home with their kids. She told police the man pointed two guns at her, and that there were multiple guns in the home. Police called for backup, and eventually entered the home after hours of not being able to make contact with the man. They found the man dead inside and the Carbon County coroner was called to the scene. The official ruling on the man's death has not been made yet.
Vice President Mike Pence campaigned on behalf of President Trump in Cumberland County Monday and told supporters there a Supreme Court seat will be filled soon. "The Senate's got a job to do. And after they discharge their duties to advise and consent, I'm going to make a prediction for you. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to be Justice Amy Coney Barrett. We're going to fill that seat," Pence said. President Trump won Pennsylvania four years ago by less than one point.
Three plaintiffs are suing the state over the statute that requires a person to be at least 21 years of age to be able to carry a firearm. The three say the age limit is unconstitutional under the Second and 14th amendments. Two national non-profits that support gun rights helped file the lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiffs, who are all under the age of 21.