CANCELLED – MCCC Hosts Physicians For Social Responsibility Program On Fracking

Blue Bell, PA— Far from the Marcellus Shale fields of southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region has largely escaped some of the direct impacts from the exploration, drilling, transportation and waste handling from natural gas operations—commonly referred to as fracking. However, a proposal of an energy hub in Philadelphia and new pipelines headed to the region may bring it closer to home.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Philadelphia will hold a program at Montgomery County Community College on March 11 at 7 p.m. to review the different operations of fracking, the risks of harm to health, and the exponentially higher releases of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The program, which is free of change and open to the public, will be held in MCCC’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

PSR is a public health, non-profit organization that provides education, training and direct services and advocacy on issues that threaten health and that medicine cannot cure. Andrea Thomas, MCCC alumna and current graduate student in Arcadia University’s Public Health and Medical Science program and PSR intern, will help participants gain a clear understanding of the ways fracking operations can impact health and the environment.

The program is sponsored by MCCC’s Division of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in collaboration with MCCC Diversity Faculty Fellow Natasha Patterson. For information, call 215-641-6445. To learn more about Physicians for Social Responsibility, visit http://www.psr.org.

What You Need To Know About The Bill To Privatize State Liquor Sales

Legislation to end Pennsylvania’s 82-year monopoly on liquor sales is due for a vote Thursday in the state House.

The plan would dramatically change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 466, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, is similar to a proposal that cleared the House in 2013. It would close the 600-plus state stores and replace them with 1,200 private licenses.

“In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes,” Turzai said in a memo to colleagues seeking support.

It was estimated last session that the proposal would generate about $1 billion up front, with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-bill-to-privatize/article_a18654d0-bb6b-11e4-bc93-6bbbd42717b0.html

Pennsylvania Shale Gas Production Eclipsed 4 Trillion Cubic Feet In 2014

Pennsylvania shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014, setting another record despite low prices that have prompted a cutback in activity, the state reported Tuesday.

Producers pulled more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale last year, a 30-percent increase from the year before.

Industry groups applauded the numbers while sounding a cautious tone about what they see as threats to development: depressed prices and a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose two new taxes on sales and production.

“This is a tremendous success story – a story about jobs and opportunity,” said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “We hope the story continues, and that the next few chapters include sensible tax policy and new infrastructure so that Pennsylvania residents can fully benefit from the commonwealth’s abundant natural gas supplies.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7748482-74/based-wells-gas#ixzz3S2v34nob
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As Banking Goes Mobile, Branch Closures Rip Through Local Economy

Phil Arlia has been dispensing medication in Pitcairn since 1968, but he was more than a pharmacist.

He was a kind of banker.

“We always had a courtesy of cashing customers’ paychecks, state checks, any kind of check,” said Arlia, owner of Phil’s Pharmacy on Broadway Boulevard.

But he stopped cashing checks when the borough’s only remaining bank, a Citizens Bank branch, closed last March. Arlia no longer had fast access to cash to replenish his register when it got low.

The branch closure made it more difficult for Pitcairn residents to access cash to spend at local businesses.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7501236-74/bank-branch-banking#ixzz3QcH1zOMS
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Tom Wolf’s Agenda: Raise The Minimum Wage To $10.10 An Hour

Tom Wolf, who was elected governor in November, wants to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

That’s the same rate as the federal minimum wage.

Nationwide, 29 states have a minimum wage above the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

2. Wolf says raising the minimum wage would create jobs.

Wolf’s “Fresh Start” policy plan, released in February 2014, says raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation would raise wages for 20 percent of Pennsylvanians and lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs by 2016.

The plan cites the Economic Policy Institute, which describes itself as dedicated to including “the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions,” as its source for those figures.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_27320709/tom-wolfs-agenda-raise-minimum-wage-10-10

MCCC Offers Notary Public Training & Renewal Courses This Spring

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—A Notary Public is like a safety pin. When you need one, nothing else will do.  If you transfer a car title, for example, you need a Notary Public to certify the document.

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) offers the only bricks-and-mortar Notary Public class in Montgomery County and is one of only three colleges in Pennsylvania authorized to offer Notary Public training by the Pennsylvania Department of State.  The course covers the powers, duties, and obligations of being a Notary in the Commonwealth.

This spring, MCCC will offer its Notary Public Training and Renewal course from 6-9 p.m. on select Tuesdays and Thursdays. The course will be held on Jan. 27, Feb. 3, Feb. 17, March 5, March 24 and April 7 at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and on Feb. 26 and April 14 at the College’s West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The cost is $75.

The Notary Public Training and Renewal course is open to individuals who are interested in becoming Notaries, as well as to those who are applying for reappointment. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also accepts the course as fulfilling three credits of Continuing Legal Education for licensed attorneys.

MCCC will also offer a Notary Signing Agent Training course to provide specialized training in the closing of real estate transactions on two Saturdays, March 7 and April 25, at the Central Campus. This class is for individuals who are already commissioned Notaries Public. Tuition is $159.

To register for either course, visit webadvisor.mc3.edu or call 215-641-6551.

Notaries Public are the first line of defense in the battle against document fraud, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State website. They are people of integrity who are authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “to administer oaths and affirmations, certify copies, and take depositions, affidavits, and verifications upon oath or affirmation and acknowledgments.” Notaries public commissioned in Pennsylvania are authorized to notarize documents in any county in Pennsylvania.

To perform this essential service, a prospective Notary Public needs to be a Pennsylvania resident, at least 18 years of age, and have no felony (or lesser) convictions for five years before applying. And he or she also needs to have completed a three-hour education course offered by a certified provider.

Since 2005, the Montgomery County Community College College has trained more than 500 people to prepare for becoming a Notary in Pennsylvania. The College also offers onsite training at area businesses.

To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics, then select Areas of Study, followed by Social Sciences and Career Training Programs.

Philadelphia Braces For Mind-Numbing Cold

Philadelphians will wake up Thursday to the winter’s first single-digit day. At 4 a.m. the temperature was expected to plunge to 9 degrees. And AccuWeather was calling for a “Real-Feel” temperature of -14 degrees.

But hang in there.

“It will be getting warmer. Or less cold,” said Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, N.J. “I don’t know if 37 will feel warm. But it will feel less cold.”

To get to 37 degrees – Sunday’s expected high – the city first needs to bear a high of 20 degrees Thursday, 34 degrees Friday, and 25 degrees Saturday.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150108_Phila__braces_for_mind-numbing_cold.html#75SbwG1JJzQRxZC6.99

Wolf Brings Urban Policy Expertise

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.

As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.

“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wolf-brings-urban-policy-expertise-1.1803039

Labor Department: Marcellus Shale Contractors Owe $4.5 Million In Back Wages

Contractors involved in natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia must pay nearly $4.5 million in back wages to more than 5,000 workers, following a two-year U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

“An ongoing multi-year enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division offices in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh from 2012 to 2014 found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which resulted in employers agreeing to pay $4,498,547 in back wages to 5,310 employees,” read a Labor Department statement released on Tuesday.

“It’s part of an ongoing initiative, a multi-year initiative,” said Labor Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson of the Philadelphia office. “These are the findings from the first three years.”

A list of the violating companies can be found attached to this story at http://www.timesleader.com.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50834414/Labor-Department:-Contractors-owe-millions-in-back-wages

Inch Of Snow Possible Tuesday As Temperatures Seesaw

Autumn today, winter tomorrow.

Monday should see afternoon highs of around 57 degrees, which is probably enough to clear away the remaining shreds of snow.

Although unusually warm for the season, the day will be wreathed in clouds, and a midday shower is likely.

But temperatures will drop to 31 Monday night, and that’s where they’ll stay. Tuesday temperatures aren’t expected to climb above 33.

In fact, it’s possible we’ll see up to an inch of snow Tuesday, although less is likely.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/inch-of-snow-possible-tuesday-as-temperatures-seesaw/article_dfffefaa-7953-11e4-a096-af439967278f.html

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
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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
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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
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