Blue Cross Affordable Care Act Rates To Rise

Members enrolled in Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Affordable Care Act plans will see their premium rates rise by an average of 6.9 percent in 2015.

Officials for the Wilkes-Barre-based insurer declined to specify how many members are covered by its Affordable Care Act plans. Its website shows 12 available 2014 “Blue (Affordable Care Act) Metal” plans.

“The increases are necessary to meet the coverage requirements, including essential health benefits, of the (Affordable Care Act) and to keep up with the cost of care for members in our ACA products,” said Anthony Matrisciano, spokesman for Blue Cross of NEPA, which has about 550,000 members across 13 counties.

The increase, effective Jan. 1, comes amid a state Insurance Department review of Highmark Inc.’s proposal to acquire Blue Cross of NEPA. It’s one of two rate hikes submitted by the insurer that received approval from the state Insurance Department.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/blue-cross-affordable-care-act-rates-to-rise-1.1789100

Tom Wolf On Work, Reforms And Driving His Jeep

AFTER TOM WOLF got his doctorate from MIT, he worked at his family-owned cabinet company – driving a forklift.

That experience could soon come in handy.

Estimates just released by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office say the incoming governor’s first budget faces a shortfall of nearly $2 billion.

Heavy lifting clearly is called for.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20141117_Tom_Wolf_on_work__reforms_and_driving_his_Jeep.html#7AA1RDMFBPBSBrrc.99

5 Important Questions About BB&T’s Purchase Of Susquehanna Bancshares

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As LancasterOnline reported Wednesday, Lititz-based Susquehanna Bancshares is being bought by North Carolina banking company BB&T.

So what does that mean if you’re a Susquehanna customer?

Here are five important questions and answers about the $2.5 billion deal.

Q: What happens to Susquehanna’s 245 banking offices in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia, including the 30 offices in Lancaster County?

A: All Susquehanna branches will be retained, although they will be renamed BB&T. No branches are being closed because the Susquehanna and BB&T branch networks do not overlap.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/important-questions-about-bb-t-s-purchase-of-susquehanna-bancshares/article_cb08e0b2-6b3d-11e4-9d29-bff9821ae372.html

Kane Fires, Disciplines AG Employees Over Porn E-Mails

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said Wednesday she had fired, suspended, or disciplined about two dozen employees for sending or receiving e-mails containing pornographic content over the last few years.

In a statement, Kane said an internal review had identified 31 workers whose e-mails contained sexually explicit content, although she didn’t say when the messages were sent. The disclosure comes after her office had said it identified 30 other workers in the office who participated in pornographic e-mail exchanges between 2008 and 2012.

The 61 represent just short of 10 percent of the 750 workers in the office.

Of them, Kane said, four have been fired, two will be fired, and two have resigned. Eleven others were suspended without pay, and others were being disciplined or reprimanded in their personnel files.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20141113_Kane_fires__disciplines_AG_employees_over_porn_e-mails.html#57I5ocuw35z08eTR.99

Voter Turnout Around 45 Percent, About Average For Governor’s Race, Officials Say

Although nice weather and busy poll stations may have given the impression of above-average voter turnout Tuesday, election officials in Chester, Berks and Montgomery counties indicated it was anything but.

“It was a little lower than it was four years ago,” said Deborah Olivieri, director of the Berks County Office of Voter Services.

“But it’s better than 17 percent,” she said, referring to the anemic voter-turnout in the spring Primary Election.

According to figures posted on their respective websites, voter turnout ranged between a high of 48.2 percent in Montgomery County, where 262,738 votes were cast, to a low of 41 percent in Berks County, where 100,731 votes were case.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20141106/voter-turnout-around-45-percent-about-average-for-governors-race-officials-say

Evaporating Cap On Pa. Gasoline Taxes To Offset Drops At Pump

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If gasoline prices continue to hover where they are, Ron Stover might get rid of his Dodge Durango.

These days, the dark silver sport utility vehicle with its V8 engine costs $85 to fill.

“I haven’t filled it up in I don’t know how long,” said Stover, 39, of the North Side.

Pennsylvania drivers pay less for a gallon of gas than they did a year ago, but planned changes to a state tax could increase the cost down the road, even as experts predict prices nationwide might continue to drop.

Read more: http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/6977771-74/tax-taxes-gallon#ixzz3HpbJFanD
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

State’s ‘Public-Private’ Transportation Deal Will Replace 53 Bridges In Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A team of Pennsylvania-based subcontractors has three years to replace 558 structurally deficient Pennsylvania bridges, including 53 in Allegheny County.

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch announced Friday that Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners would lead the department’s $899 million Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

In the “public-private partnership,” the state retains ownership of the bridges, but the team is responsible for replacing the bridges and maintaining them for 25 years. Construction must begin in summer 2015.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7027588-74/project-million-penndot#ixzz3H6NZKGOn
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Southwestern Energy Snaps Up Assets In Marcellus, Utica From Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy continued its sell-off of gas drilling operations in the Marcellus and Utica shales Thursday with its biggest withdrawal from Appalachia.

Pennsylvania’s biggest shale gas producer agreed to sell 435 shale wells, 1,100 conventional wells and the rights to drill in more than 400,000 acres to Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. for $5.375 billion.

“I certainly think this is consistent with what we’ve seen from Chesapeake,” said Scott Hanold, an energy analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6974705-74/energy-southwestern-marcellus#ixzz3GPXRKihi
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Distressed Cities Bill Wins Final OK

HARRISBURG, PA — Scranton and other fiscally distressed cities could triple the local services tax to help them move out of Act 47 status under legislation that won final legislative approval with a 43-5 Senate vote Thursday.

This option would be available to Act 47 municipalities only as an alternative to an increased earned income tax already available to them.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill after a review, said spokesman Jay Pagni. He has 10 days to review the provisions.

The local services tax could potentially triple from $52 annually to $156 annually for individuals working in those municipalities but those earning under $15,600 annually would be exempt from the higher local services tax.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/distressed-cities-bill-wins-final-ok-1.1772463

Lancaster Is Google’s 2014 eCity For Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Just another reason to love Lancaster :)

Lancaster is known for its local foods and crafts, and in recent years, those traditional products have begun to be offered in a new way: online.

The Lancaster community on Thursday was recognized for taking business into the digital world.

It was named the “digital capital” of Pennsylvania and recipient of Google’s eCity designation.

For the second year, the internet search giant has recognized a community in each of the 50 states. Last year, Exton, in neighboring Chester County received the award.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/google-names-lancaster-its-ecity-for-pennsylvania/article_32d60764-555a-11e4-8ea5-0017a43b2370.html

Manhunt Impacts State Police’s Future

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Monroe County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Monroe County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA — As the intensive manhunt for suspected cop killer Eric Matthew Frein ends its fourth week, Harrisburg is taking the first steps to address how this unprecedented event will affect the future operations of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Officials here discuss the topic with the caveat that the manhunt isn’t over yet. Considered armed and dangerous, Frein, 31, of 308 Seneca Lane, Canadensis, is the sole suspect in the Sept. 12 sniper attack at the Blooming Grove state police barracks in Pike County that killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II of Dunmore and wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass of Olyphant. Since then, authorities have been searching for Frein, a self-described survivalist, in the dense state forest that straddles Barrett and Price townships in Monroe County.

The estimate by a state police spokesman this week that the manhunt has cost several million dollars so far is one issue emerging on the radar screen of Corbett administration officials and lawmakers. Policy makers are starting to focus on related matters such as security at state police barracks, equipment needs of state troopers, impact on local governments and schools and assistance of local fire companies, 911 centers and the Red Cross with the manhunt.

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, has requested a Senate committee hearing in Pike County once the manhunt is over to delve into these issues.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/manhunt-impacts-state-police-s-future-1.1769039

Bon-Ton To Close Two Of Its Stores

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. is shuttering two of its stores, citing low sales, the company said in a news release.

The Bon-Ton store in the Clearview Mall in Butler, Pennsylvania and the Elder-Beerman store in the Raleigh Mall in Beckley, West Virginia will close before January 31, 2015, when their respective leases end. Approximately 38 employees at the Clearview Mall Bon-Ton and 39 at the Raleigh Mall Elder-Beerman will lose their jobs, the press release said.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_26679132/bon-ton-shuttering-two-stores

Corbett Down 17 In New Quinnipiac Poll

Democratic challenger Tom Wolf leads Gov. Tom Corbett (R) by 17 percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania – 55 percent to 38 percent – as the campaign enters its final month, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.

The survey shows a slight improvement for Corbett compared to the last Quinnipiac Poll of the race Sept. 11, when Wolf led 59 percent to 35 percent among likely voters.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/big_tent/Corbett-down-17-in-new-Quinnipiac-Poll.html#Ccbgppqxvz3zPMFX.99

With $30.7 Million In State Grants, U.S. Steel Promises To Stay In Pennsylvania

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

United States Steel Corp. is committed to keeping its headquarters in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday as he announced the state was providing $30.7 million in grants for the Fortune 500 company to help rehabilitate some of its plants.

The company has not said publicly that it was looking to relocate from Pennsylvania, but there has been speculation about whether it would move to another site in the region when its lease at U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, expires in 2017.

Corbett and administration officials acknowledged that they acted to secure a commitment from the company to stay in Pennsylvania based on fears — and not any knowledge — that it would exit the state.

“I think they were considering it,” said Corbett. The governor cited Chicago and Indiana, where U.S. Steel has its largest mill, as places where he thought it might relocate.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6905730-74/pennsylvania-steel-company#ixzz3FBvNnlfJ
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Corbett Stands By One Of His Appointees In Porn Scandal, Wants Another To Resign

GOV. CORBETT is standing by one state law-enforcement official caught up in a porn scandal, but has asked another to resign.

Corbett says information released this week by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane does not show that State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan opened any of the more than 300 explicit emails he received while working as a top deputy to Corbett when the governor served as attorney general.

Noonan has told the governor he did not look at the files, a Corbett spokeswoman said.

A source familiar with the porn scandal said Randy Feathers, another top deputy when Corbett was attorney general, is resisting for now the governor’s request to resign his post on the state Board of Probation and Parole.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20141005_Corbett_stands_by_one_of_his_appointees_in_porn_scandal__wants_another_to_resign.html#BhkWAdZgxCUCrRcS.99

Wolf Maintains Large Lead Over Corbett With Month Left In Governor’s Campaign

The latest sample of voter opinions in the Pennsylvania governor’s race tested for lingering effects of Gov. Tom Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation.

It shows the struggling Republican incumbent still trailing Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by double digits.

Robert Morris University Polling Institute found 54.6 percent of voters say the Sandusky case would not affect their vote, according to an online survey sponsored by Trib Total Media. Almost 27 percent say Corbett’s handling of the investigation makes them less likely to support his re-election, and 12 percent say it makes them more likely to vote for Corbett.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6892975-74/voters-percent-corbett#ixzz3F6TB4qOv
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Porngate: The Pa. Good Old Boys Club Strikes Again (York Daily Record Opinion)

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Worth the read as it makes some good points about the political “culture” in our state.

The latest scandal enveloping Harrisburg has already been given the “-gate” treatment.

Every political scandal since Watergate, no matter how absurdly frivolous, seems to have been given the treatment.

Thus, we had Bonusgate in the state capital.

And now, we have Porngate.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/opinion/ci_26649625/porngate-pa-good-old-boys-club-strikes-again

Enrollment Drops In State System Schools, Including Millersville University

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Millersville University’s enrollment slipped 2.8 percent from last year to this year — a decline that’s slightly higher than the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s anticipated drop of 1.5 percent.

But the trend at MU is expected to start moving in the opposite direction, as Millersville — one of PASSHE’s 14 member institutions —announced an ambitious plan last month to boost enrollment to 10,000 students by 2020.

The university’s undergraduate and graduate enrollment is 8,047 this fall, down from 8,279 students in fall 2013.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/enrollment-drops-in-state-system-schools-including-mu/article_965c8ae2-4a47-11e4-a41d-001a4bcf6878.html

Suburban Life: County Farm Markets, Stands Offer Variety Of Gourds For Carving, Baking

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fall is here, and that means its time to begin thinking about the season’s fruits, vegetables and decorations.

Fresh-picked apples are available from mid-August through mid-November. And while pears and watermelons should be around through the first part of October, you probably won’t find corn, beans and tomatoes after the middle of September.

Pumpkins and gourds are now out in full force, along with other fall decorations including Indian corn, hay bales, corn stalks and mums.

York County has a wealth of locally owned markets and stands where you can find fall fruits, vegetables and family activities.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/community/ci_26583752/suburban-life-pumpkins-gourds