Consolidating state government... that's been an issue kicked around Harrisburg some time now. Governor Wolf wants four human service agencies combined into one... but state representative David Millard says you've got to look at the pros and cons. Representative Millard made his remarks on the Thursday edition of the WHLM Morning Buzz.
BU / Bathrooms
A day after the president's announcement withdrawing federal mandates for transgender bathrooms, officials at Bloomsburg University say its policies will not change. Bloomsburg University has about 40 gender-inclusive restrooms on campus and the university says those are here to stay. The university has multiple students who identify as either transgender or gender non-binary -- which means inclusive of all genders. University officials say despite President Trump's decision to roll back guidelines that require public schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice, Bloomsburg will continue to use gender-inclusive restrooms.
Bloomsburg Sign Law
Bloomsburg Town Council is considering changes to its zoning ordinance related to business signage in its Commercial, Commercial-Residential, and Business Campus districts. While existing signs would be grandfathered, some of the proposed changes would prohibit new signage that is similar to what is currently being used. The move has the Columbia – Montour Chamber of Commerce concerned... so says President Fred Gaffney. It will all be discussed during a hearing Monday night at 6 O'clock... just prior to town council's regular meeting.
As legislative budget hearings continued in Harrisburg Thursday, the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner got his turn to speak with members of the Senate Appropriations committee. The biggest budget story involving State Police is that $25 per - capita fee Governor Tom Wolf is proposing for municipalities that rely solely on State Police for their law enforcement... but while that grabs headlines, there were also concerns in the hearing about the total complement of troopers, which is about 500 below full. The governor is also calling for three additional classes of cadets this coming fiscal year to help make up the personnel shortage...
Higher Education / Frank Brogan
Officials with Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education are hoping lawmakers act as "true partners" in work to stabilize the system. Governor Tom Wolf proposed an 8.9 million dollar increase for the state system in his budget, a raise of 2 percent. System officials say, while that's welcome... it's going to take fundamental changes to keep the system sustainable into the future. That's why they've launched a review of the system, with recommendations expected by this summer. They say it will be important for lawmakers to also weigh in.
Hundreds of employees were forced to wait outside the federal building in Wilkes-Barre for several hours Thursday, after a suspicious packaged was discovered. The package turned out to be harmless, but it disrupted nearly an entire workday for hundreds of federal employees. Now Wilkes-Barre police have launched a criminal investigation into the package.
If you get into the political game... even at the local level... you've got to have deep pockets. That's the message delivered last night by a current Columbia County Commissioner. Commissioner Chris Young says the mighty dollar is the determining factor of any political office. Commissioner Young was one of several panelists at the Bloomsburg Fire Hall last night talking about the road one must travel seeking political office.
Northumberland Co. Prison
The former Northumberland County Prison will have a new owner. Commissioners accepted bids on the building and a Sunbury man put down $40,000. It's been just over two years since the prison was destroyed by fire. Mark Walberg of Sunbury told Media Partner Newswatch 16 he does not have any specific plans for the building, but what ever he does will benefit the community. He decided to buy the former prison because he believes it is a landmark. Northumberland County Commissioners still must approve Walberg as the winning bidder, and that is expected to happen at the next commissioner's meeting, which is on March 7th.
The charges against an alleged shooter in Luzerne County have been upgraded to attempted homicide.
Police in Hazleton accuse George Salata of shooting a man in the face with a shotgun last month at the corner of North Locust and 20th Streets. Salata was originally charged with assault and endangerment.
It's pretty quiet outside Leiby's Ice Cream House and Restaurant in South Tamaqua, but there are hints of work going on inside. On the restaurant's Facebook page, there are pictures of progress. Leiby's closed in 2007 after more than 40 years in business. Now apparently work is taking place... inside... with an opening target date of April.
A revised executive order on immigration is expected from the Trump administration soon. The president may have a better chance the second time around. F&M College political analyst Dr. Terry Madonna says the original Executive Order, or travel ban, was rushed and that was one reason it did not withstand judicial scrutiny. Madonna says with more of the President's cabinet in place now, he has a better support system to refine the order. He also believes that the ultimate test will come in the courts, but no matter what the order contains, opponents of the President will wage a vigorous fight against it...