TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 25TH, 2022

State and national economists are warning of further inflation and rising gas prices in Pennsylvania following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Andrew Gross with Triple-A says that even as gas prices have been increasing due to higher demand as the pandemic slows, they could increase even more if Russia takes their oil off the global market.  Triple-A says the average price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline in Pennsylvania is currently three-dollars-and-74-cents, 20-cents higher than the national average.

A Democratic state senator wants to suspend Pennsylvania’s six percent sales tax for two months. In a memo circulated to fellow lawmakers in Harrisburg,  Senator Lisa Boscola says she will be introducing a measure to cut out the state sales tax for purchases made in June and July. She says residents’ buying power is being cramped by soaring inflation and believes the tax holiday will provide some temporary relief.  Federal officials say the annual inflation rate in the U.S. accelerated to seven-point-five-percent in January of this year.

The Pennsylvania House has recently approved a measure to prevent municipalities from enacting ordinances to prohibit the use of natural gas as a utility. House Bill 1947 also would prohibit discrimination against a utility service provider based upon the source of the utility service provided to a consumer. The bill was introduced in response to actions taken by some major U.S. cities that have enacted or proposed laws to ban or curb the use of fossil fuels in new homes and buildings.  The measure is now pending action in the Senate.

The head of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole provided an update on the agency’s membership during a state budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Parole Board Chair Theodore Johnson told Senators that the 9-member board, which currently hasone vacancy, will have three more in June. Johnson says being down four positions would result in a thousand less decisions which would cause a problem. Johnson hopes the Senate would make it apriority to keep the positions filled prior to June

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania is planning to install approximately 93 hundred feet of plastic gas pipeline this summer. The company is planning to install the pipe in Wayne and Perry townships near Slippery Rock Creek.  The project is scheduled to begin in early July, weather permitting and contingent upon receiving the necessary permits, and is scheduled to last until early 2023. The new pipeline will help with stormwater discharge. 

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has put out its 2022 adult trout stocking schedule. Brian Wisner, who is the Director of Hatcheries, says the schedule is a roadmap for stocking millions of trout into hundreds of waterways across the state before and during trout season.  Over three-million adult trout, primarily rainbow trout, will be stocked in nearly 700 streams and 128 lakes for public fishing.  The 2022 adult trout stocking schedule is now available on the FishBoatPA app and on fishandboat.com.

Pittsburgh City Council is beginning the process to make bridge inspection records available to the public.  The council approved a preliminary vote to establish a commission to oversee bridge repairs and place condition reports online.  A final vote on that legislation is expected next week.  The move comes as the city has 19 bridges listed in poor condition including the Swindell Bridge and the South Negley Avenue Bridge.

PNC Bank  is closing more than forty branches according to records filed with regulators.  That’s more than double the 18 closures the financial firm announced over eight weeks ago.  This marks the first major consolidating move for the bank this year.