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LOCAL NEWS FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2013

LOCAL NEWS FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 27, 2013

  DEMOCRATIC SENATOR BOB CASEY CALLS THE SUPREME COURT RULING TO STRIKE DOWN THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT "THE RIGHT DECISION."  CASEY SAYS "THE RULING WAS A CRITICAL STEP IN STRENGTHENING EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL."  DEMOCRATIC LEHIGH VALLEY CONGRESSMAN MATT CARTWRIGHT SAYS HE APPLAUDS THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION SAYING "IT HAS RIGHTED A WRONG AND OUR COUNTRY IS BETTER OFF FOR IT."  NO COMMENT YET FROM THE OFFICES OF SENATOR PAT TOOMEY OR CONGRESSMAN CHARLIE DENT.

  "THE COURT'S RULING IS VERY TROUBLESOME," SAYS PRESIDENT OF THE PENNSYLVANIA PASTORS NETWORK SAM ROHRER.  HE SAYS THE PAIR OF SUPREME COURT RULINGS ON GAY MARRIAGE MAKES AMERICA A LESS MORAL, LESS STABLE NATION.  HE SAYS STRIKING DOWN CALIFORNIA'S PROPOSITION 8 IS A BIG BLOW TO CALIFORNIA VOTERS, WHO APPROVED IT TWICE.  "BY REMANDING PROPOSITION 8 BACK TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA IT EFFECTIVELY TELLS THE PEOPLE THERE THAT WHAT THEY DID CONSTITUTIONALLY TO THE REFERENDUM IS NOW GOING TO BE SUBJECT TO SOME POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS IS VERY, VERY TROUBLESOME," ROHRER SAYS.  HE SAYS THE RULINGS WILL TOUCH OFF LEGAL ACTION ALL ACROSS THE NATION THAT WILL CONTINUE TO ERODE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.

  IN A 6-3 VOTE, LEHIGH COUNTY COMMISSIONERS REJECTED USING TAX DOLLARS TO BUILDING THE HAMILTON CROSSINGS SHOPPING CENTER ON 63 ACRES IN LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP.  COMMISSIONERS OTT, SCHELLER, SCHWARE, OSBORNE, MAZZIOTTI AND McCARTHY VOTED AGAINST THE TAX INCREMENT FINANCING.   DEVELOPERS OF THE PROPOSED $140 MILLION SHOPPING CENTER HAVE SAID THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS THEY WON'T MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROJECT WITHOUT THE TAX MONEY.

  RAIN AND THUNDERSTORMS HAVE BEEN PRETTY HIT AND MISS SO FAR THIS WEEK.  ACCU-WEATHER'S BRIAN THOMPSON BELIEVES THAT WILL CHANGE TODAY.  "THE ACTIVITY LATER TODAY INTO TONIGHT IS NOT GOING TO BE NEARLY AS ISOLATED AND SCATTERED AS IT HAS BEEN.  IT'S GOING TO BE A LITTLE MORE WIDESPREAD," THOMPSON SAYS.  HE SAYS SOME OF THOSE THUNDERSTORMS COULD BRING A LOT OF RAIN AND STRONG, GUSTY WINDS AND COULD POSSIBLY CAUSE FLASH FLOODING.

  A SLATE BELT MAN HAS BEEN ORDERED TO STAND TRIAL IN THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE A DOZEN YEARS AGO.  A JUDGE ON WEDNESDAY SENT THE CRIMINAL HOMICIDE AND EVIDENCE-TAMPERING CASE AGAINST 74-YEAR-OLD EDWARD YALE OF BANGOR TO MONROE COUNTY COURT.  SIXTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD JOAN LITTS YALE WAS FOUND DEAD AT THE BOTTOM OF STEPS LEADING TO THE BASEMENT OF THE COUPLE'S MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP HOME IN MARCH 2001.  STATE POLICE TOOK ANOTHER LOOK AS PART OF A COLD CASE INITIATIVE AND SAID A FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST FOUND THE WOMAN'S INJURIES INCONSISTENT WITH A FALL.  POLICE ALSO CITED INCONSISTENCIES WITH THE DEFENDANT'S ACCOUNT OF EVENTS THAT DAY.  YALE DENIED TO REPORTERS WEDNESDAY THAT HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS WIFE'S DEATH. RELATIVES OF THE VICTIM SAY THEY'RE GRATEFUL THAT CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED.

  A SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE FOUND IN THE PARKING LOT OF A BETHLEHEM CASINO WAS FOUND TO BE HARMLESS.  FIRE MARSHAL ROBERT NOVATNACK SAYS THE PACKAGE SPOTTED IN THE SANDS CASINO RESORT PARKING LOT AT ABOUT 1:30 P.M. WEDNESDAY CONTAINED ONLY HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS.  HE SAID "IT WAS BASICALLY A HOAX."  POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL RESPONDED ALONG WITH RESORT SECURITY AND THE BOMB SQUAD.  NOVATNACK SAID THAT PORTION OF THE PARKING AREA WAS CLOSED OFF AND TRAFFIC WAS DIVERTED.  SOME PARTS OF THE CASINO WERE EVACUATED AND SOME AREAS CORDONED OFF, BUT GAMBLING WAS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE INSIDE.
 

  LEHIGH UNIVERSITY POLICE WERE ABLE TO CATCH TWO OF FOUR PEOPLE WHO ROBBED A STUDENT AT GUNPOINT EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING.  POLICE SAY THE STUDENT WAS ROBBED JUST AFTER 1 O'CLOCK WEDNESDAY MORNING.  UNIVERSITY POLICE RESPONDED AND CHASED DOWN TWO OF THE ROBBERS, WHO ARE IDENTIFIED 18-YEAR-OLD LUIS MALDONADO, OF BETHLEHEM, AND A 17-YEAR-OLD BOY.  A PELLET GUN AND STOLEN ITEMS WERE FOUND DURING THE ARREST.

  PENNSYLVANIA'S REPUBLICAN SENATORS ARE POSTPONING A PLANNED FLOOR DEBATE ON LEGISLATION DESIGNED TO ALLOW PRIVATE STORE OPERATORS TO SELL WINE AND LIQUOR IN PENNSYLVANIA.  THE IMPENDING WEDNESDAY SESSION WAS PUT OFF UNTIL TODAY, AMID SIGNS OF GROWING DESPERATION AMONG REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADERS TO REACH A CONSENSUS ON ISSUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO GOV. TOM CORBETT.  LAWMAKERS ARE PLANNING TO MEET ALL WEEK TO WRAP UP A NEW BUDGET AND OTHER BUSINESS BEFORE LEAVING HARRISBURG FOR THE SUMMER.  NORMALLY, SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADERS DON'T BRING A BILL TO THE CHAMBER'S FLOOR UNLESS THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY APPROVES OF IT AND THEY'VE ENSURED IT'LL PASS.  HOWEVER, SENATE REPUBLICANS ARE SPLIT OVER LEGISLATION ON WINE AND LIQUOR SALES BEING SOUGHT BY HOUSE REPUBLICANS AND CORBETT. DEMOCRATS OPPOSE IT.

  PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE SPEAKER SAM SMITH SAYS THERE'S TIME FOR LAWMAKERS TO FINISH WORK ON MAJOR BILLS BEFORE THEY BREAK FOR THE SUMMER, BUT PENSION REFORMS MAY HAVE TO WAIT.  SMITH SAID THE FOUR DAYS LEFT IN THE FISCAL YEAR ARE ENOUGH TIME TO PASS A STATE BUDGET AND TO REACH AGREEMENT ON SOME HIGH-PROFILE ISSUES GOV. TOM CORBETT HAS HIGHLIGHTED.  THE JEFFERSON COUNTY REPUBLICAN SAYS TRANSPORTATION FUNDING TALKS HAVE BEEN FLUID, CAUSING POSTPONEMENTS OF MORE THAN ONE MEETING OF THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE, BUT HE'S HOPEFUL A SCHEDULED THURSDAY SESSION WILL BE PRODUCTIVE.  HE SAYS ANY FINAL PLAN WILL REQUIRE VOTES FROM THE DEMOCRATIC MINORITY.  SMITH SAYS THE COMPLEXITY OF THE PENSION DEBATE MAY REQUIRE CARRYING IT OVER INTO THE FALL SESSION.

  THE MOTHER OF A 10-YEAR-OLD PENNSYLVANIA GIRL RECOVERING AFTER A DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT SAYS DOCTORS TRIED TO REMOVE HER BREATHING TUBE BUT WERE FORCED TO REINSERT IT.  JANET MURNAGHAN SAID IN A STATEMENT PROVIDED BY A SPOKESWOMAN THAT HER DAUGHTER, SARAH, "COULD NOT HANDLE THE REDUCED SUPPORT" AFTER THE TUBE WAS REMOVED WEDNESDAY.  SHE CALLED THE DAY "EXCRUCIATING" AND SAID IT WAS "IMPOSSIBLY PAINFUL" WATCHING HER DAUGHTER STRUGGLE TO BREATHE, SO THE GIRL WAS ULTIMATELY SEDATED AND RE-INTUBATED.  JANET MURNAGHAN SAID DOCTORS HAVE ASSURED THE FAMILY THAT THE DAY'S EVENTS DON'T CHANGE SARAH'S LONG-TERM PROSPECTS BUT JUST MEAN "SHE NEEDS MORE TIME TO REGAIN HER STRENGTH."  SARAH SUFFERS FROM SEVERE CYSTIC FIBROSIS.  SHE UNDERWENT THE OPERATION AFTER A NATIONAL DEBATE OVER THE ORGAN ALLOCATION PROCESS.

  A PHILADELPHIA ABORTION PROVIDER SERVING LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDER HAS REJECTED A PLEA DEAL IN A FEDERAL DRUG CASE.  DR. KERMIT GOSNELL HAD BEEN EXPECTED TO PLEAD GUILTY WEDNESDAY TO CHARGES THAT HE ILLEGALLY DISTRIBUTED PAINKILLERS.  INSTEAD, GOSNELL REJECTED THE DEAL WITH PROSECUTORS.  IT WOULD HAVE TACKED ON A 20-YEAR SENTENCE TO THE LIFE TERM HE'S CURRENTLY SERVING.  PROSECUTORS SAY THE 72-YEAR-OLD GOSNELL RAN A "PILL MILL" BY DAY AND A ROGUE "ABORTION MILL" BY NIGHT AT A FILTHY CLINIC IN WEST PHILADELPHIA.  GOSNELL WAS CONVICTED IN MAY IN THE DEATHS OF THREE BABIES BORN ALIVE AT HIS CLINIC.  THE JUDGE SET A TRIAL DATE OF SEPTEMBER 9 ON THE DRUG CHARGES.

  THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS APPROVED AN EFFORT TO AMEND THE PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTION TO CLARIFY THAT LAWMAKERS, NOT JUDGES, MAY DECIDE WHAT KINDS OF INSTITUTIONS QUALIFY AS CHARITIES AND CAN ESCAPE PAYING CERTAIN TAXES.  WEDNESDAY'S 118-82 VOTE IN THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED HOUSE PUT ASIDE OBJECTIONS BY DEMOCRATS THAT CASH-STRAPPED CITIES WILL BE HURT.  THE SENATE APPROVED IT IN MARCH.  IF APPROVED IN THE NEXT TWO-YEAR SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE, THE PROPOSAL COULD BE SENT OUT TO A STATEWIDE REFERENDUM IN 2015.  THE AMENDMENT WOULD LET LAWMAKERS DECIDE WHICH INSTITUTIONS QUALIFY AS "PURELY PUBLIC CHARITIES" THAT ARE EXEMPT FROM LOCAL TAXES, INCLUDING HOSPITALS, UNIVERSITIES AND CHURCHES.  A 2012 STATE SUPREME COURT RULING LIMITED LAWMAKERS' POWER TO BROADEN THE DEFINITION OF TAX-EXEMPT CHARITIES AND SAID THE COURTS HOLD THAT CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  DEMOCRATS OPPOSE REVERTING TO A STATE LAW THAT THEY SAY ALLOWS MANY INSTITUTIONS TO ESCAPE PAYING TAXES UNDER QUESTIONABLE CIRCUMSTANCES AND PREVENTS MUNICIPALITIES FROM CHALLENGING THAT STATUS.

  STATE POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD HORSES IN PENNSYLVANIA.  STATE POLICE COMMISSIONER FRANK NOONAN SAYS WEDNESDAY THAT THEY'RE SEEKING DONATIONS OF HORSES TO BE USED FOR SEARCHES, CROWD CONTROL, AND PATROL OPERATIONS OF REMOTE AREAS.  NOONAN SAYS STATE POLICE HAVE USED HORSES SINCE 1905, AND THAT THEY ARE STILL A RELIABLE TOOL IN POLICE WORK.  DONATED HORSES MUST BE GELDINGS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 5 AND 15 YEARS OLD AND STAND AT LEAST 16 HANDS TALL, BUT LESS THAN 18 HANDS TALL.  DRAFTS AND DRAFT-CROSSES ARE PREFERRED, WHILE THOROUGHBREDS ARE LESS DESIRABLE.  THE HORSES MUST HAVE QUIET, SOUND DISPOSITIONS AND BE FREE OF SERIOUS STABLE VICES.  DONATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED ON A 90-DAY TRIAL BASIS.

  THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS REPORTEDLY ORDERED PENNSYLVANIA TO SPEED UP PROCESSING OF FOOD STAMP APPLICATIONS.  THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER SAYS ITS EXAMINATION OF U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DATA INDICATES THAT THE COMMONWEALTH RANKS AMONG THE WORST IN THE NATION FOR GETTING FOOD STAMPS TO THE NEEDY WITHIN 30 DAYS, AS REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW.  THE PAPER SAID THE DEPARTMENT RANKS PENNSYLVANIA 39TH ON A LIST OF 53 THAT INCLUDES THE 50 STATES, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, GUAM AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS.  CRITICS ACCUSE THE COMMONWEALTH OF SCRIMPING ON CASEWORKERS AND EMPHASIZING FRAUD PREVENTION ALTHOUGH FOOD STAMP FRAUD IS RARE.  ANNE BALE OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE SAYS THE DEPARTMENT IS WORKING ON A PLAN TO IMPROVE TIMELINESS, AS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ORDERED IN DECEMBER.

  GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE SAYS HE WOULD VETO A SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL AGAIN.  CHRISTIE SAYS HE REMAINS OPPOSED TO GAY MARRIAGE BUT IS WILLING TO PUT THE QUESTION TO VOTERS.  HE HAS ALREADY VETOED A MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL ONCE.  SEN. BARBARA BUONO, THE DEMOCRAT RUNNING AGAINST CHRISTIE, ASKED FOR AN OVERRIDE VOTE TO BE SCHEDULED THURSDAY, BUT SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY SAID THAT WON'T HAPPEN.  NEW JERSEY IS AMONG A HANDFUL OF STATES THAT OFFERS CIVIL UNIONS, BUT NOT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.  A GROUP OF SAME-SEX COUPLES AND THEIR CHILDREN WILL FILE A MOTION NEXT WEEK ASKING A JUDGE TO FORCE THE STATE TO RECOGNIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AFTER THE U.S. SUPREME COURT'S RULING STRIKING DOWN A BAN ON FEDERAL BENEFITS FOR GAY MARRIED COUPLES.

  A NEW JERSEY SENATE PANEL IS POISED TAKE UP A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW THOSE WHO ARE IN THE COUNTRY ILLEGALLY TO QUALIFY FOR IN-STATE TUITION RATES AT STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.  THE SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS THE MEASURE TODAY.  AN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE PASSED THE BILL EARLIER THIS MONTH.  THE SPONSOR SAYS IT WAS INITIALLY POSTED THEN REMOVED FROM THE FULL ASSEMBLY SCHEDULE LAST WEEK BECAUSE IT DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH VOTES.  TO BE ELIGIBLE, A STUDENT MUST HAVE ATTENDED A NEW JERSEY PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL FOR AT LEAST THREE YEARS, HAVE A DIPLOMA FROM A STATE HIGH SCHOOL OR THE EQUIVALENT.  THEY ALSO MUST SUBMIT AN AFFIDAVIT STATING THEY HAVE FILED OR WILL FILE AN APPLICATION TO LEGALIZE THEIR STATUS AS SOON AS THEY ARE ELIGIBLE.

  NEW JERSEY OFFICIALS SAY THEY WANT TO SHINE A LIGHT ON SPORTS GAMBLING BY LEGALIZING IT, ARGUING IN A U.S. APPEALS COURT THAT BETTING ON GAMES CAN'T BE ELIMINATED BUT CAN BE CONTROLLED.  GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE HAS LED THE FIGHT TO BRING SPORTS BETTING TO THE STATE'S STRUGGLING CASINOS AND RACETRACKS.  BUT A 1992 FEDERAL LAW LIMITS IT TO NEVADA AND THREE OTHER STATES.  FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL THEODORE OLSON, REPRESENTING THE STATE, SAYS THE FEDERAL LAW DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THE OTHER 46 STATES.  ANOTHER FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL, PAUL CLEMENT, REPRESENTS THE NFL, NCAA AND OTHER SPORTS LEAGUES THAT OPPOSE NEW JERSEY'S PLAN.  HE SAYS THAT THE INTEGRITY OF SPORTS IS DILUTED WHEN STATES CONDONE BETTING.  BOTH SIDES MADE THEIR CASE WEDNESDAY IN THE FEDERAL APPEALS COURT IN PHILADELPHIA.

 

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