Latest Pennsylvania news, business, and entertainment

Latest Pennsylvania news, business, and entertainment

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A new audit says overall spending by the General Assembly increased last year, but the year-end surplus declined. The report released Wednesday by the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission said total legislative spending was nearly $307 million in the year that ended in June, an $8 million increase. The surplus, which lawmakers maintain as insurance in case of a budget standoff with the governor, totaled $140 million, down by about $43 million from the previous year. The auditors suggest the House do away with the checkbooks controlled by committee chairmen, arguing that spending should be funneled through a central system. They also say the House should consider standardizing leave policies, as the Senate has already done. The largest category is payroll and benefits, which cost the public $249 million last year.

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A Pennsylvania appellate court says government-issued employee telephone and cell phone numbers are not public information, but that officials’ home addresses are not similarly protected from disclosure. In a pair of decisions Wednesday, a seven-judge Commonwealth Court panel also said “secondary” e-mail addresses issued to government officials are exempt from mandatory disclosure under the state Right-to-Know Law, but that public officials must disclose their middle names and the county that they live in. Craig Staudenmaier, the attorney for the citizen activists who filed the two lawsuits, says he’s concerned that the decisions will make it more difficult for citizens to get public information, but that on balance Wednesday’s rulings are good news. Staudenmaier says he’s unsure whether his clients will appeal the decisions.

 

RED LION, Pa. (AP) – A transgender teenager in central Pennsylvania running for prom king is upset because he was listed instead for prom queen. The York Dispatch and York Daily Record both report that students at Red Lion Senior High School who bought tickets for Saturday’s prom were listed on the ballot for prom court. The paper said 18-year-old Issak Wolfe was campaigning for prom king when friends discovered he was listed by his birth name – Sierra Stambaugh – among the candidates for prom queen. Wolfe says he’s in therapy and plans to undergo a physical transition. While the prom listing drew an outcry, he acknowledges he’s enrolled in school under his birth name and says school officials are good people who made a bad decision. School officials are declining to comment.

 

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

 

Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Drilling Update

 

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A federal agency and laboratory will conduct research on air emissions at natural gas drilling sites, and on possible hazards to workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says in a release that they’ve signed an agreement to collaborate with the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is based in Morgantown, W. Va. Washington, D.C.-based NIOSH says the research will support ongoing efforts to address worker health and safety issues in the oil and gas industry, which has seen booming production in recent years. The new research will conduct exposure assessments on emissions at natural gas drilling sites. The agency says the research may lead to new recommendations for personal protective equipment for workers. NIOSH is the federal agency that makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is reinforcing long-standing case law on mineral rights that has guided the natural gas industry since it began exploring the Marcellus Shale formation. The state’s high court ruled Wednesday in favor of a Susquehanna County couple, saying it stands by a 130-year-old ruling that separates mineral rights from gas rights. The case stems from a dispute between John and Mary Josephine Butler and a man named Charles Powers and his heirs. The deed for the Butler’s 244 acres in Apolacon Township splits “minerals and petroleum oils” between the parties. The Butlers contend it didn’t mention natural gas rights, so the gas should still belong to their property. However, a Superior Court panel said in 2011 it wasn’t certain that Powers’ heirs had no claim to the gas.

 

PENNSDALE, Pa. (AP) – The land of scrapple and chipped ham is getting a taste for jambalaya. Southerners are filling jobs in north-central Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry. Now, local retailers are responding with the kind of food the drillers want. Therefore, P-A convenience stores are stocking sweet tea and barbecue. You can even find alligator meat and crawfish. The culinary cultural exchange works both ways, though. The drillers are getting a taste for real pizza made in the area’s mom-and-pop Italian restaurants.

 

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

 

The Latest Business News

 

LONDON (AP) – Britain dodged recession after official figures showed the economy grew in the first quarter. The Office for National Statistics said the economy grew by 0.3 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous three-month period. Economists on average were expecting growth of 0.1 percent compared with the previous quarter. However, with growth so anemic, even a statistical blip could have put the number in negative territory and push Britain into its third recession since 2008. A recession is typically defined as two quarters of economic contraction. Economic indicators ahead of Thursday’s release were not promising for Britain, which has the third-largest economy in the 27-country EU. Britain’s government desperately wanted a robust number to justify its austerity policies.

 

NEW YORK (AP) – Investors are taking their cue from a heavy dose of earnings this week, and they were uninspired yesterday by the mixed bag of earnings from some big-name American companies. The stock market finished pretty much, where it started. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the market’s most widely used barometer, ended up a fraction of a point closing at 1,578. The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 43 points, or 0.3 percent, to close 14,676. The bluechip index was held back by big drops in Procter & Gamble and AT&T. In other market action, the Nasdaq composite edged up 0.32 point at 3,269. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fared better. It rose 0.5 percent, or 4.75 points, to 934.

 

BANGKOK (AP) – Asian stocks rose today as mixed U.S. corporate earnings and a slump in orders for U.S. durable goods convinced investors that central banks would continue efforts to help the global economic recovery. One analyst says the data reinforced concerns of an economic slowdown. However, he said that markets were thrust higher by hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks would continue to pursue policies to encourage growth. Benchmark crude oil rose to near $92 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

 

UNDATED (AP) – Traders are anxiously awaiting the weekly jobless report from the Labor Department, which is due out this morning. Also from Washington today, mortgage giant Freddie Mac will release the weekly mortgage rates, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the president’s budget proposal. There are a number of financial reports today that could drive the market. 3M, Dow, and Exxon Mobil report their quarterly financial results. In the airline sector, Southwest and United Continental report. In addition, set to report their quarterlies today are Starbucks and Unilever, the multinational consumer products maker. How United Parcel Services fared during the last quarter could give investors an insight into business shipping. In addition, today, Europe’s most powerful economy, Germany, will release its updated growth forecast.

 

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

 

Features & Entertainment

 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The number of U.S. states allowing gay marriage is set to enter double digits now that Rhode Island’s state Senate has taken a landmark vote. The Senate endorsed a bill allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed Wednesday. It has already passed the House but must return for a final, procedural vote next week. Gov. Lincoln Chafee says he will sign the bill. Gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders cheered at the Statehouse following the vote. Bills to legalize gay marriage have stalled in this heavily Catholic state for nearly 20 years. This year, an aggressive and coordinated campaign helped ease the bill’s passage. Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, a Providence Democrat and a Catholic, says she wrestled with her vote but decided to vote yes after hearing the personal stories of gays and lesbians in her district.

 

NEW YORK (AP) – It’s usually a good thing when an artist sees sales of one of his songs spike upward. However, when the artist is Neil Diamond, the song is “Sweet Caroline,” and the reason is the Boston Marathon bombings, it’s something making the singer a little uncomfortable. Therefore, his publicist says Diamond is donating the recent sales windfall for the song to marathon bombing victims. The song saw sales go up 597 percent since the blasts a week ago Monday. The song has been a favorite in Boston because it was associated with the team’s World Series win nearly a decade ago. Since the blasts, the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, the Toronto Raptors, and other pro sports teams have played the song recently as a tribute to the Boston victims.

 

PENNSDALE, Pa. (AP) – The land of scrapple and chipped ham is getting a taste for jambalaya. Southerners are filling jobs in north-central Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry. Now, local retailers are responding with the kind of food the drillers want. Therefore, P-A convenience stores are stocking sweet tea and barbecue. You can even find alligator meat and crawfish. The culinary cultural exchange works both ways, though. The drillers are getting a taste for real pizza made in the area’s mom-and-pop Italian restaurants.

 

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

 

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