Capitol Wire: Bill to limit displaying human remains suspended

I continue to cover the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste. This is part of a post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association.

HARRISBURG – A bill that would impose civil penalties for certain commercial displays of human remains will stay in the House Judiciary Committee until after a public hearing can be held this summer, the committee decided Tuesday.

House Bill 2299, sponsored by Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, would require greater knowledge of the source of cadavers and other remains displayed in museums and places of public view.

On June 4, Fleck proposed an amendment to a 2008-09 non-preferred budget bill that would have eliminated the Carnegie Science Center’s $254,000 appropriation. Fleck was critical of the science center’s recent exhibit of human cadavers, called “Bodies: The Exhibition.” The exhibition showcases preserved human bodies dissected to display bodily systems.

Such exhibits have come under fire from some ethicists, human rights activists and religious leaders regarding the source of the cadavers used in the exhibit, with exhibitors unable to demonstrate the circumstances that led to the death of the individuals, or if people consented to their remains being used in the exhibit.

No date for the public hearing was given. The decision to table the bill until after the hearing came on a unanimous voice vote.

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Number of Views:6553

Capitol Wire: Clean air taxi cab bill

I continue to cover the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 23) – The majority of Pennsylvania taxicabs would be clean air cars in eight years under legislation amended and approved by the House Consumer Affairs Committee Monday.

Special Session House Bill 49, introduced by Rep. David Kessler, D-Berks, passed the committee 21-7. As amended by committee Chairman Joseph Preston, D-Allegheny, the bill calls for 80 percent of a company’s common carriers designed to carry eight passengers or less to be clean air vehicles by 2016. All taxicabs purchased 180 days after the bill’s enactment would need to be clean air cars, and $500 per purchase tax credits would be available to offset the costs.

“With the savings in gas costs alone, the switch makes perfect sense,” said Kessler. Even small cab companies would stand to benefit from the higher fuel efficiency, he said.

Seven of the 13 Republicans on the committee voted against the bill, including Minority Chairman Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery.

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Capitol Wire: Winery bill criticized in House committee hearing

I continue to cover the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 19) – A proposal to bring Pennsylvania law on wine deliveries in line with a court ruling would mean “a total disruption” of the state’s liquor control system, one witness told the House Liquor Control Committee Thursday.

House Bill 2165 would make Pennsylvania law compliant with a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that forbids states from prohibiting out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to consumers if in-state wineries are able to do so.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, would require all limited wineries, both those operating within and outside the commonwealth, to ship wine to consumers through the state store system. From there, the product could be shipped by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board directly to homes or businesses.

Currently, out-of-state wineries must receive a license to ship products into Pennsylvania to be sold at state stores. Out-of-state wineries that produce less than 200,000 gallons annually can receive a license to ship directly to consumers, but only one has done so, California winery Kistler Vineyards, said Lynn Benka-Davies, the executive director of the House Liquor Control Committee.

Without the bill, in-state wineries benefit from being able to ship directly to consumers with nothing more than quarterly reports to the LCB.

Pay to subscribe on Capitol Wire to read the rest. Image courtesy Sanford Winery.

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Capitol Wire: McCain criticized in small Capitol rally

I continue to cover the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 20) The trade policy of Sen. John McCain was criticized during a small rally Friday, the same day the Republican presidential nominee gave a policy speech at the Economic Club of Toronto.

“Sen. McCain doesn’t need to visit Canada,” said Bill George, the president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. “He needs to visit Cleveland and Pittsburgh…”

McCain’s support of NAFTA was condemned by George, while less than 10 supporters, some from organized labor groups, stood on the rotunda steps of the Main Capitol holding signs like “McCain = McBush”

Number of Views:2021

Capitol Wire: Senate Banking and Insurance committee on health care

I continue to cover health reform here in the State Capitol for Capitol Wire, a service for which you don’t have a subscription, so I can only give you a taste.

HARRISBURG (June 19) – The estimated cost of the House-passed health care reform package could be highly inaccurate, testified one witness hired by the Senate GOP at the Senate Banking and Insurance committee hearing Wednesday.

“The rules aren’t the same as in other industries,” said Jack Burke, a principal and consulting actuary from Millman Inc., a consulting firm in Wayne retained by Senate Republicans to review cost estimates attributed to the health care plan.

His firm reviewed “Cover all Pennsylvanians,” an earlier proposal that has since been replaced by the Rendell-endorsed Pennsylvania Access to Basic Care plan, a package of health care reforms that would provide state-subsidized health insurance to nearly 273,000 uninsured residents at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion by the fifth year.

The pitfalls of any state-subsidized health care plan are possibilities, Burke said. If a younger, healthier pool of participants isn’t engaged, or mandated to purchase insurance, premiums could become costlier than anticipated. Additionally, because so many factors are involved in a program’s complex cost analysis, estimates could be grossly exaggerated, higher or lower, he said.

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Image courtesy of Penn Live, depicted Gov. Ed Rendell and Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario.

Number of Views:2221

King of Prussia: the child of Philadelphia tax structure

Your boy Tom Infield had an 1,800-word (not including sidebar) profile of King of Prussia – the 27,000-person outpost northwest of Philadelphia famed for the mall of the same name – for the Inquirer yesterday.

It is the prototype for suburban sprawl that is trying to remake itself into green(er)-friendly, small city life to retain a growing environmentally-conscious and urban drawn population who still might be concerned by the rampant crime of Philadelphia.

The thing is I don’t think any of the 60 online comments for the story came after having read the whole thing – I know mine didn’t.

Because, while Infield’s piece suggests King of Prussia was developed by the convergence of major roads at its doorstep – 202, 422, I-76, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike – it didn’t mention anything about Philadelphia’s aggressive tax structure.

This is something I read quite a deal about for my honors thesis, which focused on Philadelphia’s Republican Party. Indeed, I actually posted on this very topic back in January on the blog I made for the thesis.

Continue reading

Number of Views:4010

Capitol Wire: Pennsylvania House insurance committee hearing coverage

Who is covering insurance committee meetings!? I am! This a brief for Capitol Wire, an online-only, subscription service for state government, policy wonks. I won’t post most subscription stuff, but this is just so damn boring, I know it just doesn’t matter. And, fair use law has to include something so short.

By Christopher Wink | Jun 16, 2008 | Capitol Wire

HARRISBURG (June 16) The House Insurance committee passed a flurry of legislation in a meeting Tuesday.

All told, six bills were reported from committee, though only two were the subject of any debate.

Four were passed unanimously, including the following: bills 1824, which would funnel federal funding to community-based health providers; 2490, which would make a refusal to renew an insurance policy based on an adjacent property an unfair practice; 2580, which would require health insurance policies to reimburse services provided by licensed occupational therapists, and 2625, which is a companion to 1824 and would establish a system of assessment for community-based health care providers.

Bills 1122, which would create a health insurance consumer advocate, and 2642, which would limit some rate increases used by insurance providers, passed but received some Republican opposition.

Cartoon courtesy of Allen Brown Insurance Agency.

Number of Views:2453

Capitol Wire: Child safety task force

Before the pressures of writing for legislative-heavy, paid subscription state government, online service Capitol Wire fully got to me, I started yesterday by covering a task force meeting. Brief, but still managed to be frighteningly dull.

Again, it’s a paid subscription, so I won’t be able to post full stories, but get a taste below and then fork up the $1,000 or so to get the insight that I – and men smarter than I am – will provide for an entire year.

A hearing byline for Capitol Wire

A Joint State Government Commission Task Force on Child Safety will release its advisory committee report “as soon as possible,” one member said today.

The task force and its report, which includes 12 recommendations for the General Assembly, came at the behest of a House Resolution from June 2005, requesting ways to curtail preventable child injuries and deaths.

Its recommendations include legislation that would create a post within the Pennsylvania Department of Health to address consumer and constituent concerns with child safety, require annual reports on child safety, and increase staff charged with child safety issues.

Check out Image courtesy.

Number of Views:1783

Welcome to Capitol Wire, Christopher

This State Capitol post-graduate internship in Harrisburg has taught me plenty already. I spent my first two weeks working with a helluva state government reporter – more than a quarter decade in, and still happy with his life! – and did plenty for him and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

But, the value of this internship – rotating through the state’s five largest newspapers – keeps me moving. So, today I started with the other participant in the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association internship program – Capitol Wire, an online-only, subscription service catering to legislators, lobbyists, state government journalists, advocates, watchdogs and Capitol policy wonks everywhere.

What that means is I am about to get an entirely different level of education on state government.

Because the dirty secret of general interest newspapers is that they are general interest, so readers don’t tend to have in-depth of knowledge on most of the subjects about which they read, so – believe it – the journalists writing on those subjects are rarely experts either.

So, I am trying to navigate my way through a 900-word, in-depth review of a major health insurance initiative by the Rendell administration. Wish me luck.

Image courtesy The Capitol.

Number of Views:4512

Dwight Evans owns the world

Very good story by Brad Bumsted – top notch State Capitol reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – on Philadelphia’s own Dwight Evans.

Evans’ star rises to top of House

HARRISBURG — Over the past year, Rep. Dwight Evans has emerged as the most powerful member of the state House.

“Dwight Evans is the real powerhouse now in the (Democratic) caucus,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the affable Evans, 54, of Philadelphia is the fifth-ranking member on the depth chart of Democrats, who control the House by a one-vote margin.

Read the rest here.

We also learn that Evans loves Dancing with the Stars.

Image WHYY.

Number of Views:2594