Tri County Report For November 21st, 2017

Legislation to impose a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production is getting closer to a vote in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, although the long-sought tax still faces hurdles. Debate over amendments lasted several hours last night, and was expected to continue today. A final vote may not occur before December. Gov. Tom Wolf and House Democrats have pressed Republican majority leaders to allow a tax vote. The bill imposes a volume tax that rises with the price of natural gas. It would raise about $100 million in a full year for the cash-strapped state, using 2016 production and current prices.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s family is “cautiously optimistic” that he will make a full recovery.  In a statement yesterday, a family spokesman said doctors are encouraged by his progress but warn there’s a long road ahead.  Ridge suffered a heart attack last week in Austin, Texas, where he was attending a Republican Governors Association conference.

The reward is getting bigger for information leading to the arrest of suspected cop-killer Rahmael Holt.  The New Kensington Retired Chiefs and Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers both added to the pot yesterday, bringing the total to 55-thousand dollars.  Holt is wanted for the Friday night murder of New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw.  Holt’s mother says he wants to turn himself in if a safe, peaceful and secure arrangement can be made.

No injuries were reported following a house fire Sunday in Mercer County.  The fire broke out about 8:15 p.m. at a home on Mercer-West Middlesex Road in Lackawannock Township. According to the Sharon Herald Four people were inside of the single-family residence at the time of the blaze, and all got out safely. It took a team of approximately 50 firefighters just over an hour to control the fire. The State Fire Marshall’s office is investigating a cause. No damage estimate was released.

State Police in Butler county report they will be conducting roving and stationary DUI patrols this weekend. The patrols will begin tomorrow and continue through Sunday night. Police are reminding motorists to be aware of their surroundings and to have their license, registrations and insurance cards readily available.

Teachers in the Ringgold School District are going back to work.  The striking teachers and administrators had another bargaining session yesterday, and although a deal was not reached, today is the state-mandated deadline to return to the classroom.  Teachers have been without a contract since July due to a dispute over salary and benefits.  Non-binding arbitration will now begin.

Emails are surfacing indicating Pennsylvania’s former Secretary of State may have been forced out of his job.  An October email was published yesterday, in which Pedro Cortes indicated to Governor Tom Wolf that he was being pushed out and did not understand why.  Cortes also referenced concerns Wolf had about his “professional performance or personal life.”  Wolf’s office announced last month that Cortes had resigned.

After holding steady for nine days, the national gas price average is slowly declining at the start of the Thanksgiving week. At $2.54, today’s national gas price average is two cents less than one week ago and 40 cents more than a year ago. The average price in Pennsylvania is 2.77 a gallon. In Lawrence County the average price is at 2.80 a gallon. Triple-A says Nearly 46 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles away from their home by car this holiday

Governor Wolf is expected to sign a bill that would put Pittsburgh’s Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the state’s Public Utility Commission.  The state House approved a bill last night designed to improve PWSA’s operations, safety and finances under the PUC’s watch.  City and PWSA leaders say they welcome the oversight.