TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR DECEMBER 17TH, 2021

Pittsburgh International Airport can expect to see more than 11-million dollars in funding coming its way from the nation’s recently-passed infrastructure bill.  Senator Bob Casey yesterday revealed details on some of the money being earmarked for airports in Western Pennsylvania.  That includes more than 1.7-million dollar for Arnold Palmer Airport, more than 700-thousand dollars for Allegheny County and nearly 300-thousand dollars for Washington County.  Those dollars are expected to be put towards projects including improved terminals and runways. 

State lawmakers say policy changes are critical if Beaver County’s cracker plant is to help rebuild western Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry.  They say the state must lower its corporate tax rate and invest in transportation infrastructure if it’s going to compete for manufacturing business.  One trade publication lists Pennsylvania 22nd among all states for its business-friendly environment.  Its corporate tax rate of nine-point-nine-percent is the second-highest in the nation. 

State Police in Beaver County report a three vehicle accident in Green Township. According to police the crash took place at the intersection for routes 30 and 168, when 84 year old David Anderson of Georgetown Pa., pulled into the path of a vehicle operated by 56 year old Kimberly Smithberger of Woodsfield Ohio. Anderson then struck another vehicle operated by James McMasters Jr., of Wellsville Ohio. Anderson and a passenger were taken to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment. No other injuries were reported.

The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission is moving forward with the new preliminary district maps. The panel voted 5-0 for the Senate plan and 3-2 for the House plan, with both Republican leaders opposed to it.  The maps to represent more than 2-hundred House seats and the 50 Senate seats could have far-reaching effects on Republican majorities in the state Legislature. A 30-day period of public comment and objections is now in effect. The state commission will then produce a final districting map, and then legal challenges against it can go to the state Supreme Court.

A measure dealing with expanded sales of ready-to-drink cocktails in Pennsylvania has narrowly passed the state Senate.  A revived proposal by Republican StateSen. Mike Regan, would loosen the state’s current alcohol sales laws by adding pre-packaged cocktails to the list of alcoholic beverages that can be sold outside state-run liquor stores. the so-called “ready-to-go” cocktails would be able to be sold for off-premise-use at bars and taverns as well as beer distributorships and groceries. The controversial measure now heads to the state House, where a similar proposal stalled this summer.

Columbia Gas customers can expect to see increased service costs in 2022.  The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave approval yesterday to plans to institute rate increases.  Columbia Gas says that customers who use 70 therms of gas per month will see an increase of just over 8-dollars per month. 

More people are driving recklessly in Pennsylvania since the COVID-19 pandemic started.  PennDOT says despite a drop in daily vehicle miles traveled, roadway deaths were up six percent in 2020.  Data so far this year shows an increase of nine percent.  PennDOT is reminding people to put their cellphones down and their seatbelts on when they’re driving.

Allegheny Health Network is assessing the damage after its payroll system was hit by a ransomware attack.  Ultimate Kronos Group, which is a human resources management company used by AHN, was hit earlier this week by the security breach.  AHN says it uses Kronos for its payroll and scheduling.  The hospital network is figuring out how workers will still get their paychecks. 

Pennsylvania’s state Senate has approved legislation to overhaul how probation is handled in the state. The 46 to four vote sends the bill to the House for further consideration, but that’s where it’s gotten stuck before. Last year, the same kind of legislation died without being voted on. State law currently does not limit the length of probation sentences and critics say non-violent offenders are often sent to prison or jail on technical violations that aren’t crimes.

Almost two-million-dollars is heading for Butler County to improve the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad.  The funding is part of 33-million dollars being distributed across Pennsylvania through the Rail Transportation Assistance and the Rail Freight Assistance Programs.  In Butler County, the money will replace nearly a half-dozen miles of worn rail on curves in Butler and nearby counties.