TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 16TH, 2022

Workers at City Brewing Company in Latrobe are on the picket lines striking against what they say are unfair labor practices.  Union officials say their members have been working without a contract since earlier this month and have been trying to reach a new deal with management since October.  Employees say the company has been forcing them to work 12-hours shifts without overtime pay.  City Brewery took over the plant from Anheuser-Busch in 2007 and currently makes Iron City Beer, some Southampton brands, Stoney’s, and Stoney’s Light.

State Police in Mercer County report a one vehicle accident in Delaware Township. Police report 24 year old Clayton Blackmon of Greenville was northbound on Mercer Road when he traveled off the roadway, struck a mailbox and a ditch causing the vehicle to flip onto its roof. Blackmon was not hurt.

Triple A is reporting a jump in gasoline thefts.  The travel organization says more thieves are drilling holes into vehicle tanks in order to steal fuel.  Experts suggest parking in safe, well-lit areas or secured lots whenever possible to minimize the possibility of criminals accessing your vehicle.  Triple A also advises choosing parking garage spots near exits or elevators because they offer greater visibility and foot traffic.

Pennsylvanians who draw social security could see another cost-of-living bump in 2023 due to rising inflation.  According to the Senior Citizens League, cost of living increases to social security are tied to inflation and could increase payments by more than seven-percent in 2023.  Bumps to social security due to inflation are calculated around October every year. This year seniors on social security received a five-point-nine-percent cost of living increase, the highest benefits increase since the 1980s.

We’ll soon know the complete list of the names on the ballots for Pennsylvania’s primary election on May 17th.  Tuesday was the final day for candidates to file with the state in the U.S. Senate, Congress and governor’s races.  Races for the lieutenant governor and the state’s 17 congressional districts are also on the ballot.  Filing for the legislative races can’t be determined until a ruling is made on newly-mapped districts.

The state’s mail-in voters will be able to use that convenience again in the upcoming primary elections.  The mail-in voting law remains in place as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices weigh the constitutionality of the current law and it’s unclear how quickly the court will rule.  For now, it seems the idea is to allow the state enough time to sort out the aftermath of whatever decision the justices make but wait until after the election to do so.  Many opponents feel that the GOP-led lawsuit was brought to suppress votes.

A third and final committee hearing on legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania has been held.  The hearing Monday of the bipartisan Senate Law and Justice Committee took place as the group began to finalize language for a new bipartisan reform bill.  Proponents say the measure might be the best chance yet of getting the idea passed through the General Assembly.

Pennsylvanians over the age of 65 might soon be able to get a fourth COVID booster.  Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has asked U.S. Drug regulators to authorize the added shot.  The drug company believes seniors might benefit from the added protection, but it’s not known how soon older people would need to get the shot.  The idea would have to be approved by the FDA and the CDC.   

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says the spike in omicron COVID cases is slowing down.  There were just over 943 new cases and 64 new deaths from coronavirus cases reported statewide as of Monday.  State health officials also say case rates are declining in virtually every county in the state.  

State education leaders say there needs to be a new approach to attracting new teachers as so many have dropped out of classes due to the COVID pandemic. Tanya Garcia, a deputy secretary at the Department of Education, told lawmakers there has been a 66-percent drop in newly-issued  P-A  teaching certificates over an 11-year period. She also notes the number of undergraduate education majors dropped by the same amount 66-percent over the last decade.