The swearing in of state senators Tuesday afternoon was far from business as usual. "Mr. President it is your duty to put a motion properly before this body. If you continue to refuse to perform your duty, the Senate will proceed to replace you," Sen. Jake Corman told Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. Shortly after that comment Senate Republicans did just that, removing Fetterman from his role as Senate President. That all happened after Republicans refused to allow Democrat Jim Brewster to take the oath of office because of an ongoing challenge to his narrow victory in November. His opponent, Nicole Ziccarelli, says Allegheny County counted more than 300 votes that should have been thrown out and without those votes, she and not Brewster would have won. Brewster's 69 vote victory has been certified by the state.
Lancaster County St. Rep. Bryan Cutler is going to serve his first full term as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The House voted unanimously Tuesday to make Cutler the House Speaker. Cutler took over the job last year after Mike Turzai stepped down. Cutler has been in the state House since 2006.
Pennsylvania's Department of Health added more than 8800 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, pushing the overall number to nearly 674,000. 185 new deaths related to the virus were also reported Tuesday, leaving the state's total at 16,546. The Lehigh Valley added 658 new cases to its total, which now stands at more than 39,000.
Gov. Phil Murphy won't allow restaurants and bars to expand outdoor dining, a lifeline that's helped struggling establishments amid the pandemic. Murphy vetoed the bill Tuesday, which would allow bars, restaurants, breweries and distilleries to utilize the outdoor spaces they own or lease along with public sidewalks. The governor says he axed the bill because it circumvents existing licensing and regulations in place to maintain public safety. Murphy did note the state has already made efforts to keep establishments functioning outside through the end of March.
New Jersey officials are asking residents to hold off on signing up for a vaccine if they're not health care workers. The website to sign up went live Tuesday, but was off to a rough start when several people received error messages. The portal, New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System, is open to anyone who wants to join a waiting list but is still prioritizing personnel who fall under category 1A.
A one-year-old has died from injuries suffered in a New Year's Day crash that also killed his 22-year-old mother. The baby was pronounced dead Monday. The crash happened around 2:30 Friday morning in the 1200 block of South Eighth Street in Allentown. Two other people involved in the crash survived. The investigation into the crash continues.
In an effort to give teachers more time to teach students amid the pandemic, Easton Area High School is dropping all of its final exams for the spring semester. Principal Kyle Geiger says the school is behind on instruction and using those exam days will provide teachers more time to focus on skills and content. He points to surveys from parents where common complaints were about their kids learning less due to them not having enough work and a lack of live instruction to support their decision.
A missing teenage girl has been found safe. Police say 17-year-old Adrianna Stahler was located Tuesday. She had last been seen on December 28th. Police aren't giving any details of how or where they found the teen.
Investigators are looking into the cause of a fire that damaged four homes in Bally. The fire happened last night on North 4th Street. Firefighters say it took about an hour to extinguish the flames, but no injuries are reported. It appears the fire began in an attached garage and spread to the four neighboring homes.
New Jersey lawmakers are introducing a bill that would impose a fine for underage possession of marijuana. Under the legislation, anyone 18-to-20 years of age who's caught with pot would face at least a $250 fine, while juvenile offenders would get community service. This would match up with a bill passed by lawmakers last year that allows for possession at age 21 and up, with sales regulated and it would no longer be illegal to carry six ounces or less. Gov. Phil Murphy favors legalization, but says he won't sign the bill until it addresses underage use.
Penn State's basketball game scheduled for tonight against Ohio State is being postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Nittany Lions program. While there hasn't been clear word out of Happy Valley as to the level of the spread, a member of the Wisconsin basketball team said he was told multiple Penn State players had positive coronavirus tests after the Christmas break. Penn State's game with the Badgers was postponed on Sunday.