Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business, and entertainment

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are close to voting to end the state’s system of government-run liquor stores after holding ranks against Democratic opposition. A senior House GOP aide said after the votes on amendments that a final vote in the chamber is expected to take place Thursday. The key vote Wednesday was a Democratic-sponsored “gut-and-replace” bill that would have kept the current system largely in place but made a series of reforms, including longer Sunday hours at state liquor stores. That bill failed by a 17-vote margin. The amendment votes Wednesday suggested the measure may have the support Republican leaders need to send the bill to the Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett favors liquor privatization, and wants to devote the proceeds to fund public education.

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The board that oversees Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities has given the green light to new contracts for thousands of faculty members and hundreds of sports coaches. The State System of Higher Education board of governors ratified the pacts Wednesday. The four-year contracts are retroactive to July 2011. They provide annual pay raises of between 3.5 and 7 percent for the 5,500 faculty members over the last three years of the contract. The 600 coaches will get raises totaling 4.75 percent plus potential increases of 6 percent through performance-based merit pools in the last two years of their contract. Both groups are represented by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. The union members previously ratified the contracts. The state system comprises 14 universities that enroll about 115,000 students.

 

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) – A Pennsylvania high school wants its students to cut back on the body spray. Freedom High School in Bethlehem says one of its students was recently hospitalized for exposure to Axe Body Spray. Now, officials are asking students to stop using it as a cologne or fragrance while attending the school. In a statement posted on the school website Tuesday, officials say the affected student is severely allergic to the spray and recently had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance after being exposed to it. It wasn’t immediately clear what type of reaction the student had, or what chemical in the spray may have caused the problem.

 

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

 

The Latest Business News

 

UNDATED (AP) – Fear of a revived debt crisis in Europe is fading from the stock market. After dipping Monday on concerns that Cyprus would become the latest European nation to stir fiscal chaos, the Dow posted its second straight day of gains. Stocks traded steadily higher for most of the day Wednesday and spiked after the Federal Reserve said it will continue with aggressive measures to boost the economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that Cyprus crisis posed no major risk to the U.S. economy. The Dow was up 44 points shortly before the Fed announcement. It rose as much as 91 points shortly after the Fed released its policy statement at 2 p.m., touching an all-time high of 14,546 at 2:25 p.m. The Dow closed up nearly 56 points yesterday, to 14,511.73. In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points to 1,558.71. The Nasdaq composite index rose 25 points.

 

BANGKOK (AP) – Asian stock markets were mostly higher today on an improvement in China’s manufacturing and the U.S. central bank’s message that it will keep interest rates at record lows despite signs of improvement in the world’s biggest economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said at the end of a two-day policy meeting that the Fed won’t alter its aggressive monetary easing – $85 billion in monthly bond purchases to push down borrowing costs – until it is convinced the economy’s gains can be sustained. Another positive sign for markets came from a survey showing a better-than-expected manufacturing performance by China in March. Benchmark crude oil fell but remained above $93 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

 

WASHINGTON – There are some significant economic announcements being made today. The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims this morning. In addition, the Conference Board reports on February’s leading economic indicators. On the housing front, the National Association of Realtors reports on existing home sales for February and mortgage giant Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.

 

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

 

Features & Entertainment

 

NEW YORK (AP) – A government survey of parents finds 1 in 50 U.S. schoolchildren has autism, surpassing another federal estimate for the disorder. Experts say the increase could be attributed to doctors diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.

 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – These crooks are real saps. Maine forest rangers are looking for thieves who are illegally tapping maple trees and stealing sap. Ranger Jeff Currier says the Maine Forest Service has gotten a dozen complaints from landowners finding taps in their trees. The sap is used to make maple syrup, which sells for about 50 bucks a gallon. Currier says the number of sap tappers is up this year. No busts have been made, but the sap bandits could face theft and other charges.

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Tiger Woods says he went public with his relationship with Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn to devalue any photos of sports’ latest power couple. The star athletes simultaneously posted messages on their Facebook pages saying they are dating. Woods included four studio photos of himself and Vonn. He says being chased by photographers can be dangerous to his two children. He also said Wednesday at Bay Hill that by publishing his own pictures of his new girlfriend, the paparazzi would not be able to make as much money on whatever photos they get. Woods referred to them as “Stalkarazzi.” It’s the first confirmation from Woods of a relationship since his wife divorced him in 2010.

 

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

 

 

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