Pennsylvania is getting out of the Russia business. State Treasurer Stacy Garrity has ordered all state dollars pulled from Russian investments. "Pennsylvania can rest assured that we are not supporting Russia in any way shape or form and also that we stand behind the Ukrainian people, and also I would say this is very bipartisan. It has a lot of support,” Garrity says. Pennsylvania had about $2.9 million invested in 31 Russian companies. Meanwhile, St. Sen. Lisa Boscola is introducing a resolution urging not only the state, but also its municipalities and businesses to get rid of any Russian holdings. Fellow St. Sen. David Argall is introducing a resolution that would, among other things, label Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
Oleg Bogdanovych lives in Philadelphia but is Ukrainian by background. He left for Ukraine Monday to provide humanitarian aid. Before he did, he spoke to Fox News about his objectives. "We're taking personal hygiene supplies and a lot of first aid stuff. I will find people who need them and hand them out as needed," Bogdanovych says. Although he does not plan to fight the Russian invasion, he wants to aid Ukrainians in fighting for the right to live on their land freely.
On the same day he was to go on trial, a 57-year-old East Stroudsburg man admitted he raped a young boy. Thomas Boneta was supposed to go on trial for 20 sex offenses, including more than a dozen felonies. Monday, he pleaded guilty to two of them as part of a plea deal. Prosecutors say Boneta sexually abused a boy in Bangor in 2007, beginning when the child was eight-year-old and continued until the victim was 20. Police say Boneta also abused a second boy. Officials say Boneta bribed and shamed his victims into staying quiet for years. He will be sentenced June 14th.
State Department of Health officials say COVID-19 cases increased from this past Thursday to Friday then decreased each day over the weekend down to only triple digits. Department data shows a little more than 1600 cases from Thursday into Friday, then dropped to 544 cases on Sunday. Officials also say hospitalizations are down about nine percent in the state. Also, the number of adult COVID patients in the ICU decreased about seven percent over the weekend.
Pennsylvania appears to be transitioning to the endemic phase of COVID-19, according to acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter. She says a lot of the credit goes to the majority of people getting vaccinated. "Despite this progress, COVID-19 is not going away. But, Pennsylvania is well-positioned with the tools, knowledge and resources that we have to prioritize prevention in every day life and manage future outbreaks when they occur. Vaccines are widely available for everyone five and older," Klinepeter says. Pennsylvania's daily case count is now as low as it's been since August.
A Republican state senator wants to use federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand school choice options during the pandemic. St. Sen. Ryan Aument has introduced Senate Bill 1015 to create education savings accounts or ESAs. He says families could use them to offset education costs for alternatives to public schools and they would be funded through the state's share of federal COVID relief money. Aument has pointed out that many students do not perform well through remote learning and he believes there's a broader impact on society when kids are kept home from school.
PennDOT is arguing in favor of a new program for adding tolls to several bridges to fund bridge and road upgrades. The plan, as talked about recently in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing would add user fees to nine bridges across Pennsylvania, but not all of them. Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian says the bridges are called 'candidate bridges' because PennDOT for environmental approval and expects all bridges to be approved by mid-August 2022.
Pa. State Police Troop P - Wilkes-Barre Barracks is investigating a theft from a police car, that happened in Hanover Township, Luzerne County on Saturday morning. Somebody reportedly smashed the passenger side window of a marked Pa. State Police vehicle and stole a black police duty bag with various police related equipment inside, a black police bag containing rifle ammunition, and a black police ballistic vest.
A new report released by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families says many children in Pennsylvania are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage that was extended during the pandemic. Laura Stephany, Health Policy Manager for Allies for Children, said when the public health emergency ends, it will put many state kids at risk of losing insurance due to procedural policies such as the state not having an up-to-date address. The public health emergency is set to expire April 15 but could be extended past July. Since the start of the pandemic, some 192,000 additional Pennsylvania children have enrolled in medicaid coverage.
Many Lehigh Valley workers at Target could be making up to $24 an hour. The retailer says its new starting wage range will be $15 to $24 dollars an hour. The new policy will affect workers at stores in addition to those at warehouses. It's all part of an up to $300 million investment Target is making. It includes the wage hike along with more access to healthcare benefits.
PennDOT is seeking volunteers to adopt a highway. PennDOT has put out the call this week for folks willing to help clear litter from along state-owned roadsides. The department says that more than 5000 groups and more than 100,000 volunteers took part in the adopt-a-highway program last year. More details are available online at www.adoptahighway.penndot.gov.