Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The focus should be on growing these profitable gaming markets rather than trying to dismantle successful assets, State Sen. Wayne Fontana says.
Wednesday, May 8
Throughout its more than 40 years in existence, the Pennsylvania Lottery has funded approximately 75 percent of the state’s Department of Aging budget through programs that offer low-cost prescription drugs, free and reduced-fare transit, property tax and rent rebates, long-term living services and senior centers. Today, our Lottery is one of the most profitable in the nation. When Pennsylvania legalized slots gaming in 2004 and expanded to table games in 2010, one of the issues the Legislature faced was how the state’s lottery would be affected by these additions to the gambling industry. Recognizing the concerns, a provision was included in Act 71 of 2004 that requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LB&FC) to issue annual…
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
State Sen. Wayne Fontana discusses school safety legislation, and a new bill that could provide schools with funding to address safety issues.
Wednesday, April 24
School safety is of the utmost importance for everyone in our communities as well as employees of a school district. We send our children to these institutions to receive an education believing that this place is a safe haven for all who are involved in the development and learning of our young ones. The recent tragedies that have occurred across the United States and in particular, Sandy Hook, remind us that even the young and innocent are often the target of some mentally disturbed individuals. Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) which would provide targeted grants to Commonwealth schools in order to address the issue of school violence and improve school safety statewide. In particular, the …
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The recent disagreements between Highmark and UPMC have caused great concern and anxiety for the many people who are employed by these health care giants, customers, individuals ... as well as local officials, State Sen. Fontana says.
Wednesday, April 17
In 2011, the state’s largest insurer, Highmark, signed an affiliation agreement with the financially troubled West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) and its five Pittsburgh-area hospitals to create an integrated health system. The goal of the acquisition is for the integrated health system to be a competitor to the largest hospital network in western Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Now, the acquisition agreement between Highmark and WPAHS is set to expire at the end of the month. At this point, it is up to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to make a decision on whether the money being spent by Highmark will compromise the health care system’s ability to pay the claims of its customers while still …
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I look forward to covering the Chartiers Valley area.
Hello, Chartiers Valley Patch readers! I'm Erin, and I'm the new local editor for Chartiers Valley Patch. Former editor Mike Jones, who today begins working for the Observer-Reporter in Washington, Pa., has introduced me to many of you. If I haven't met you yet, I hope for the opportunity to meet you soon. For the past year and a half, I have served as the local editor for Dormont-Brookline Patch, and I will continue that role while also serving the Chartiers Valley communities. Community journalism is what I love, and I’ve been working in the field since 2007. I began my career as a contributor for the Observer-Reporter. From there, I became a freelance contributor for both the Bridgeville News and The Signal Item—both publications of …
Sunday, April 7, 2013
A concern about noisy nighttime trash collections in a North Hills community raises a bigger question of whether trash collection, lawn mowing, construction and other noisy activities in Pittsburgh's suburbs should have time limits.
Complaints from residents in a North Hills community have brought to light a problem that many municipalities have faced over time—when to restrict noise-making activities. Noise at night has been the topic of conversation at many board of commissioners and council meetings throughout the Pittsburgh area over the years. Ross Township commissioners are amending an ordinance to restrict the collection of garbage from commercial and/or non-residential areas from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Currently, trash collection is not allowed in Ross between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. under an ordinance enacted in 1993. The township's decision was made after residents complained about noisy, night garbage collections near three North Hills School District buildings. …
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Take our poll and give a grade to the roads, bridges and other parts of the public infrastructure.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has released its 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. Every four years, the ASCE grades the nation, state by state, on the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure in the form of a school report card—assigning letter grades that are based on physical condition and needed fiscal investments for improvement. Put mildly, the country didn't do so well. America's GPA (grade point average) came in at a D+. The ASCE says some investment is needed to raise that GPA—an estimated $13.6 trillion by 2020. Pennsylvania fared a little better, earning a C- as its grade. The report card indicates the state has 852 high-hazard dams, 5,540 structurally deficent bridges and notes that 57 …
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Or does it act more as a business? And what about the other major nonprofits in the area?
In a June 2012 "Taxpayer Alert," Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner questioned the fairness of nonprofits that have expanded their roles beyond the traditional definition of a charitable organization, but still maintain tax-exempt status. "In these challenging financial times, it is our duty and responsibility to address the questions raised by a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling and determine if properties are used for a truly charitable purpose," Wagner said in the report. "While exemptions are justified for clearly charitable organizations such as churches, soup kitchens and many others, some are plainly unfair." A 2012 state Supreme Court decision has given local governments a tool to challenge the loopholes in a five-…
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Let us know what this holiday means to you.
For some it's green beer and bangers. For others, it is a time for religious reflection on St. Patrick himself. Some people decorate their houses green. Others, who aren't Irish or Catholic, shun the fun. How do you celebrate? Vote in our Patch Poll and tell us in the comments section how you will spend your day.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
President Obama has proposed making minimum wage $9 an hour—and some Democrats want to push the minimum wage above $10 an hour. What do you think?
A majority of Americans support President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage, according to NBC.com. Some 71 percent of those surveyed said they supported raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25, while 27 percent opposed it, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday. States have the ability to set their own minimum wage level, as long as it is above the federal minimum wage. Pennsylvania maintains the federal standard at $7.25. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania for jobs where employees receive tips is $2.83. According to an editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 2.9 percent of U.S. workers make minimum wage. Most of them are students working part-time, not the primary wage earner supporting a …
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Students who don't have the potential for success in college—or who don't want to pursue or can't afford a degree—might be better served by a vocational education program at the high school level.
College has always been part of the American dream. Laborers didn't want their children to have to do manual labor. Parents with college degrees expected the same of their children. And college loans opened the doors for some students whose families couldn't have afforded the bill. But is college the right choice for everyone? Data collected by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for its report "Education at a Glance 2010" showed that, among 18 countries tracked, the United States finished last (46 percent) for the percentage of students who completed college once they started it, according to a report in Reuters. That puts the United States behind Japan at 89 percent, and former Soviet-bloc states such as Slovakia, …