For the sixth straight year, property taxes in the Allentown School District are going higher. In a 5-4 vote, the Allentown School Board approved a $395.6 million budget for the 2022-2023 school year. It's a budget that includes a 5.3-percent tax hike, the largest legally allowed. Under the approved budget, an Allentown homeowner with a house assessed at $156,000, which is the district average, will pay $178 more in property taxes.
The State Senate has passed the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act," a bill that would ban transgender females from participating in school sports in public schools, state-funded universities and colleges. David Argall represents parts of Berks and Schuylkill counties and explains why he backed the measure. "I think if you look at the science, depending on when the transition has occurred, many people who were born as males are going to have an advantage in the pool or out on the track," Argall says. Corinne Goodwin is the executive director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Trans Equity Project and says the legislation is spiteful. "Nobody wakes up in the morning and says I want to transition today so I can beat people in swimming or at basketball or wrestling or whatever it is," Goodwin says. Gov. Tom Wolf has consistently said he would veto any such measure and in a statement Wednesday said, "Any legislation designed to deny opportunities is both disturbing and dangerous. Transgender individuals should know that they belong, that they are valued, and that their participation in activities is welcomed."
A bill has passed the state Senate that would prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades five or earlier. Another bill approved Wednesday would require parents be notified of all health care services offered at a school, as well as any well-being questionnaires, surveys or health screenings. The motions now head to the state House for consideration.
Salisbury Township police are investigating an early Wednesday morning incident. Police say somebody fired a gun inside a home in the 900 block of Miller Street just before 5:30 Wednesday morning. The bullet went through a window. Police say they didn't find anybody injured and no other property damage is being reported. Salisbury Township police call this an isolated incident and there's no threat to the public.
A former corporal with the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department will be spending some time behind bars. Steven Mertz was sentenced up to five years in prison Wednesday. A jury found Mertz not guilty of sexual assault charges, but Mertz was sentenced to 30 to 60 months for bribery and obstruction of justice after he allegedly used his position to assault a woman in 2019. He also faces perjury charges for inconsistent testimony during his trial but no trial date has been set yet for those charges.
Fire completely destroyed a home along the Delaware River on Tuesday. It was reported in the 3500 block of River Road in Upper Mount Bethel Township. Nobody was injured, however the home is a complete loss.
A southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median on Route 33 and crashed into a northbound tractor-trailer near the Hecktown Road exit in Lower Nazareth Township. The crash happened just before noon Wednesday. There were injuries reported in the crash, which remains under investigation.
Last week's ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court could likely mean Pennsylvania's abortion clinics will see more patients from states where the procedure could become illegal. But pro-life groups say they expect to see more women come through their doors as well. Alexis Sneller's with the Pennsylvania Family Alliance. "The pro-life movement has already set a great foundation for getting help to women in need. As a woman, I'm so encouraged because for too long Roe has prevented and meaningful advancements or discussion," Sneller says.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week for a New Jersey woman who allegedly vandalized Penn State's Nittany Lion shrine. Police have charged 23-year-old Julia Cipparulo, a Penn State alum, with vandalizing the lion on the University Park campus. She is accused of splashing red paint on the campus landmark and cutting off its ear during commencement weekend in May.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has voted this week to ban the sale of a legal hallucinogenic drug to minors. The National Institute of Drug Abuse says the drug called kratom produces opioid-like effects but is not currently a controlled substance so anyone can purchase it. The bill, if approved by the Senate, also would fine any retailer that violates the law.
The Republican candidate for governor and state senator is introducing a new bill that would impose stronger penalties on fentanyl dealers. State Senator Doug Mastriano had announced that he'll introduce "Tyler's Law" to target people who peddle fentanyl that results in a fatal overdose. The measure is named after a Franklin County 18-year-old who overdosed and died on what turned out to be pills laced with fentanyl.
Great Wolf Lodge will be giving away complimentary one-night stays to a random 100 families whose holiday weekend plans were disrupted due to flight cancellations. Great Wolf Lodge will randomly select 100 families who Tweet their flight cancellation notifications using #GWLRescue and give them the opportunity to reclaim some of the family time lost due to the canceled flight with a complimentary one-night stay valid at any of the 18 Great Wolf Lodge resorts across the United States, including in the Poconos. To qualify, the canceled flight must have been scheduled to depart between 12:01 am on Friday, July 1st, and 11:59 pm on July 4, 2022, and notification would need to be been sent to Great Wolf Lodge via Twitter using #GWLRescue prior to 6pm on Tuesday, July 5. Great Wolf Lodge will notify all 100 recipients of the complimentary stays by Thursday, July 7. The complimentary stays are valid August 15, 2022, through November 18, 2022.
Just one signature stands in the way of New Jersey passing its budget on time. Wednesday, state lawmakers passed the record $50.6 billion spending plan and sent it to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk. The budget includes $2 billion toward direct property tax relief and is nine-percent larger than last year. Governor Murphy has previously said he planned on signing the spending plan into law.
New Jersey seems to be shrinking. Travel website Move Buddha says their data ranks New Jersey fourth in the nation for people moving out. They say for every 34 people who move into the Garden State, 100 move out. It's believed about 25 percent of those leaving are moving to Florida. The website adds that 42-percent of the people they surveyed want to move to another state this year.