TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR JULY 13TH, 2022

A federal jury in Pittsburgh on Friday found a Chicago man guilty of sex trafficking a minor in the Butler area. Department of Justice officials say it took the jury just over an hour to convict 32-year-old Roderick King on multiple counts last Friday. King was accused of paying a 14-year-old hundreds of dollars for sex on multiple occasions. King also made videos of him sexually exploiting the victim. The crimes took place starting in 2017.  No sentencing date was set. King faces up to 15 year in prison and a fine 250 thousand dollars.

Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that the Pennsylvania will soon be getting three new state parks. In comments Tuesday, he says the state budget passed late last week includes 56-million-dollars to add the three new areas. The sites haven’t been chosen, but the governor says the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is working to choose and purchase the land.

The new Pennsylvania state budget includes some incentives to help the state’s film-making industry.  The Post-Gazette dot com reports the new tax code officially increased the film tax incentive from 70 to 100-million-dollars. The budget also provided for five million to go to Pennsylvania film producers. Some 11 projects filmed in southwestern Pennsylvania last year reportedly had an economic impact of more than 300-million-dollars. 

The state’s new spending plan includes a Rainy Day fund deposit of 2.1 billion dollars. PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity says that brings the fund’s balance to nearly 5 billion dollars. Garrity says that’s a far cry from just a few years ago when the state didn’t have enough reserve funds to cover even three hours of expenses. Now, it’s up to 42.6 days. With that deposit, Garrity says Pennsylvanians can have confidence that the Commonwealth has set aside enough to help protect citizens and the economy in the event of a downturn.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed Republican legislation to stop cities and towns  from writing new building codes that restrict certain utility service. It would have been based on the energy source, including natural gas. In his veto message to lawmakers, the governor says the measure takes away “local decision-making” from municipalities that want to address climate change. Many cities are going to all- electric building codes in that effort. 

New legislation is expected to be signed into law soon that will change fertilizer use as applied to turf areas, such as lawns, golf courses and athletic fields. Senate Bill 251 sets clear standards for fertilizer application to turf. Bagged do-it-yourself fertilizer will not be able to contain phosphorus unless it is labeled for the establishment or repair of a lawn that requires phosphorus. Supporters say the measure will help cut down on excess nitrogen or phosphorus that can get into surface streams and lakes.

President Biden has nominated the United States attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania to fill a seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Cindy Chung became U.S. attorney in 2021 after having served a number of years as the assistant U.S. attorney in the Pittsburgh office.  Chung would become the first Asian Pacific American judge to serve on the 3rd Circuit Court.

Health officials are reporting a total of nine confirmed monkeypox cases in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The Allegheny County Health Department says six have been discovered in the county since the first case at the beginning of the month.  Doctors are clear in pointing out that the illness is not easily spread, requiring physical contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.  The CDC reports 27 cases across the state.

A Greensburg man is behind bars today and facing charges that he sexually assaulted a child 15 years ago.  The accuser, a man in his 20s, went to police last fall and told them that Jared Painter had sexually abused him twice in 2007…once in exchange for Pokemon cards.  Police say the victim would have been around 7-years-old at the time while the suspect was around 15.  Painter is facing charges including child rape.