Wednesday, November 22, 2006

State News-Wednesday, Nov. 22nd

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State lawmakers approved a bill that would allow slot-machine parlors to serve unlimited free alcoholic drinks to gamblers. Under current law, bars and restaurants are only allowed to give one free drink to a customer. Racetracks can't give any free drinks. Both houses of the Legislature passed the bill before adjourning for the year last night. It goes to Governor Ed Rendell for his signature, but there's no word from the governor's office about whether he will sign it. Proponents of the measure say it is necessary to allow Pennsylvania's gambling establishments to compete with those in other states. Around-the-clock free drinks are customary elsewhere. This measure would still prohibit serving drinks, whether free or paid, between two a-m and seven a-m.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Tougher regulations on mercury emissions from Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants could become final quickly. Efforts by state senators to delay them failed last night. A 30-day legal review by the state Attorney General's Office is the next step. After that, the rule can be enforced as long as it meets federal benchmarks for mercury reductions. Some lawmakers plan to talk with Governor Ed Rendell's administration in hopes of making the rules more palatable to electric companies.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state Senate has unanimously passed legislation that would make broad changes to Pennsylvania's child sex-abuse laws, including some recommended by a grand jury that investigated alleged abuse by Catholic priests in Philadelphia last fall. The measure now goes to Governor Ed Rendell. The legislation would give victims of child-sex crimes will have until their 50th birthday to file criminal complaints. That's 20 years longer than current law allows.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Harrisburg International Airport was one of more than a dozen airports around the United States where breast-feeding mothers conducted "nurse-ins" yesterday. About a dozen women and children showed up for the protest at Harrisburg's airport. They were upset because a nursing mother was removed from a Delta commuter flight operated by Freedom Airlines from Burlington, Vermont, to New York last month. A flight attendant asked Emily Gillette to cover up as she was feeding her one-year-old and when she complained, she was asked to get off the plane.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A nephew of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar says it's great that authorities are still looking for his uncle. But Tony Gricar says he's concerned that the Bellefonte borough police are still running the investigation. He says they don't seem to have the resources needed to do the job. Ray Gricar hasn't been seen since April of last year. Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver vowed yesterday to pursue "several investigative strategies" recommended by an elite state police unit. Weaver declined to say what those strategies are. Weaver says his agency hasn't ruled out the possibility that Gricar is still alive but for some reason never returned home. Other possibilities are homicide and suicide.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The former chief pharmacist for the state Public Welfare Department is facing charges that carry potential prison time. Steven Fiorello of Palmyra was fined more than 27-thousand dollars last year by the State Ethics Commission for using his position to get consulting work. He had earned extra income from sources that included two drug manufacturers -- Pfizer and Janssen. He was arraigned yesterday on criminal charges for the same activity. Fiorello served as pharmacy director for the welfare department's Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for several years. He left state government and his lawyer says he now works in the pharmacy industry as a consultant. He paid the Ethics Commission fines in April 2005.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A woman is dead and three others badly injured after car crashed through the front window of a jewelry store near Allentown. South Whitehall Township police say the deceased and the injured were all customers of Bixler's Jewelers. Employees of the store, the driver and his passenger weren't injured.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Alcoa plans to cut 67-hundred jobs worldwide over the next year. It's part of the Pittsburgh-based alumimnum maker's plan to maximize profits. The company also says it will form a joint venture with the Sapa Group of Norway's Orkla A-S-A. The venture would combine Alcoa's soft alloy extrusion business with Sapa's Profiles extruded aluminum business. Alcoa's soft alloy extrusion business has about 64-hundred employees in 22 plants in eight countries. Three of those plants won't be in the new joint venture and will instead be sold. They are in Warren, Ohio; Tifton, Georgia; and Plant City, Florida. Alcoa has 129-thousand employees in 44 countries.


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