Wednesday, October 25, 2006

State News-Wednesday, Oct. 25th

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State Senate leaders expect to announce a plan today for handling changes made by the state House to a slot machine regulation bill. That's according to the Senate majority leader's chief of staff. Unlike the Senate version, the House version passed last night would ban campaign contributions from applicants for horse racetrack licenses. The House version would also allow require casinos to comply with local smoking bans.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass a lobbyist-disclosure bill. The state Senate passed such a bill late Monday night, but will need to redo the vote because of a clerical error. The next Senate meeting is scheduled for November 20th. The bill was written so the law doesn't take effect until January First anyway, so the delay in getting it through the Legislature isn't expected to have any practical effect.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state is poised to provide subsidized health insurance to thousands more children in January. That's because the House of Representatives approved a bill to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, sending the measure to Governor Ed Rendell. He's expected to sign the bill. The bill required compromise as the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature clashed over how many additional children should be covered by the program commonly known as CHIP. The House passed the measure 176-to-19 late last night without any debate. G-O-P leaders sought to limit the expansion. They argued that it would encourage families who can afford private insurance to abandon it for state benefits.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Transit officials from Philadelphia and other cities plan to attend a demonstration today of an emergency vehicle designed to run on subway tracks. It can carry up to four people and equipment, allowing emergency workers to reach accident scenes. The transit agency serving Washington, D-C, and its suburbs is hosting the demonstration in Hyattsville, Maryland.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia and Pennsylvania coal miners are demanding stronger safety measures and better enforcement in the nation's coal mines. About 60 members of the United Mine Workers gathered yesterday in Morgantown, West Virginia, one day after a Pennsylvania miner was killed in an explosion at a small mine. That death brings the number of coal mining-related fatalities to 42 this year. Half have been in West Virginia. The U-M-W members gathered at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's District Three headquarters, where the agency's district managers were meeting. They hoped to meet with new MSHA chief Richard Stickler, but he wasn't there. The union met with a regional manager.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The owner of a pier that collapsed in May 2000 cried on the stand as he recalled learning of the disaster that left three women dead. Michael Asbell testifed that he saw numerous cracks on the Philadelphia pier -- but said engineers assured him it was safe.The prosecution alleges that Asbell and operator Eli Karetny knew that their pier was falling apart and about to collapse into the Delaware River, but opened the pier and a nightclub on it anyway with deadly results.

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A jury is to decide if a Bucks County man deserves the death penalty for shooting a policeman last year. Robert Flor pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Newtown officer Brian Gregg. The 39-year-old Bedminster Township man was suspected of drunken driving when officers took him to a hospital for blood and urine tests. Flor killed Gregg and wounded two others after grabbing another officer's gun. The defense decided yesterday to have a jury decide the penalty. Jury selection could take all week.


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