Gov. Josh Shapiro has decided to scrap his push for private school vouchers in Pennsylvania’s state budget, which is something Democratic lawmakers objected to. Shapiro says he'll line-item veto his own proposal to use $100 million to fund vouchers to private schools and that was enough for Democrats in the state House to approve a $45.5 billion budget Wednesday night. All Lehigh Valley Democrat representatives voted for the budget. All local Republican representatives except for Joe Emrick voted against it. Shapiro had previously promised support of the voucher program to the Republican-controlled state Senate, which approved the budget in a 29-21 vote last week. Republican lawmakers say Shapiro negotiated in bad faith. In a statement, Shapiro said, “Our Commonwealth should not be plunged into a painful, protracted budget impasse while our communities wait for the help and resources this commonsense budget will deliver.”
The man who killed another man in the parking lot of the AutoZone store on S. Fifth St. in Allentown will not be charged. Lehigh County DA Jim Martin made that announcement Wednesday afternoon. Martin says the gunman, who is not being identified, acted in self-defense when he shot and killed 22-year-old Edgar Gonzalez, of Allentown. Martin says the shooting happened after at least a pair of confrontations between two groups. The DA has charged Joshua Ortiz of Allentown with attempted murder for his alleged role in the incident. Martin says Ortiz was exchanging gunfire with the unnamed man in the AutoZone lot back on June 4th.
A 62-year-old man was killed in Tuesday afternoon's crash on I-78 West. John Furbur, of Catasauqua, became unresponsive due to a medical emergency while driving between the Shartlesville and Strausstown exits around 1 p.m. and went off the road, struck a parked tractor trailer and backhoe, then continued into the woods and struck a tree. Furbur was pronounced dead at the scene about an hour later.
A Lehighton Area School District teacher is facing a lot of trouble following a trafficking investigation. Football coach and teacher Michael Feifel has been charged in the investigation after police say they used an undercover officer to pose as a minor on adult websites and Feifel allegedly agreed to pay her for inappropriate activities. School district officials say Feifel's employment status is being reviewed and he's been cooperative in the investigation.
It looks like big changes are coming to the 115-year-old National Budiling on Northampton Street in Easton. The Easton Planning Commission approved a plan to convert the commercial building to mixed-use. Plans call for 32 residential units on floors two through seven. The district court on the first floor will remain. Of the 32 residential units, 28 would be one-bedroom units with the remaining four containing two bedrooms. The units will range from 473 to 1,025 square feet and monthly rent are expected to be between $1,100 to $1,400.
State police are reporting the roadway numbers from the five-day Fourth of July holiday travel period. Three people were killed and 194 injured in a total of 668 vehicle crashes around the commonwealth in the period beginning June 30th and ending July 4th. Alcohol was reported as a factor in 59 of the non-fatal accidents. More than 79-hundred speeding citations were issued and 505 DUI arrests were made.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey had his best fundraising quarter ever this past quarter. Casey's campaign officials say the senator raised more than $4 million dollars this past quarter for a total of $6 million now in his campaign fund. However, they say his full report has not yet been filed with the Federal Election Commission. The website www.opensecrets.org says the $167 million spent by candidates in last year's senate race was three times higher than the amount spent in the race previous to that. So far, no Republican candidate has officially challenged Casey.
A Rapho Township, Lancaster County, storage building exploded this morning, damaging another township building and nearby homes. Lori Shenk is the township's emergency services coordinator. "There are no injuries. We are very thankful that there have been no injuries," Shenk says. It appears a worker who smelled propane, saw that a heater had fallen out of the ceiling, and got out of the building. Despite the worker not turning on any lights or doing anything that might have caused a spark, the propane ignited and destroyed the building, badly damaged the nearby township building and damaged several nearby homes.
State officials say you can help ease the threat against Pennsylvania's state insect. Officials from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say monitoring fireflies, also known as lightening bugs, is one way to check their numbers. The insects are under threat due to habitat loss and other factors. The program Firefly Watch involves spending at least ten minutes once a week observing fireflies in one location, which can be your backyard or in a nearby field. More information is available at Mass-Audubon-dot-org. Pennsylvania's firefly season runs through mid-August.