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Original and in-depth coverage about topics important to Pennsylvania

Families, advocates react to low wages for people with disabilities

A traumatic fall four years ago left Lenora Robinson of Waterford with chronic back pain and a neurological disorder that made work as she knew it impossible.

So when 51-year-old Robinson, a former nursing assistant, learned about work programs for people with disabilities from a PublicSource report, she saw it as perhaps her only option to help pay household bills and to escape the isolation of home — despite the low wages and menial work.

Jailhouse poets find voice in writing course

Few inmate education programs in Pennsylvania

For the inmates at the Allegheny County Jail, Words Without Walls is a chance at education beyond the basics. Through the program, they learn to channel feelings like anger and loss into something constructive, one of the program’s main goals.

While in jail, inmates are encouraged to work toward their GED – something that’s mandated if they’re moved to state prison. They also receive some instruction on job and social skills. But opportunities for learning beyond the high school level are scarce.

Some groups that pay disabled workers below minimum wage not complying with the law

Little oversight makes breadth of problems unclear

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Pennsylvania organizations to pay $118,000 in back wages to workers with disabilities since 2011, according to records PublicSource obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

More than 40 percent of Pittsburgh residents in danger zone for crude oil train derailment

City doing a risk assessment for emergency responders

About 40 percent of Pittsburgh’s residents are at risk if a train carrying crude oil through the city derails and catches fire.

Pittsburgh’s South Side has had largest number of violent crimes for four years running

For four years, the South Side Flats has had the largest number of violent crimes in Pittsburgh, and the situation has become so bad that the Public Safety Department has created a new position to help cut crimes against patrons of bars and nightclubs there.

Thousands of disabled workers in PA paid far below minimum wage

Opportunity or exploitation?

About 13,000 disabled Pennsylvanians are earning an average of $2.40 an hour in a legal use of subminimum wages.

Since 1986, there has been no limit to how little they can be paid.

Does this practice provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have a job? Or does it exploit those who could work for minimum wage if given the chance?

Corbett has spent $1.7 million on TV ads since the primary

Gov. Tom Corbett, trailing opponent Tom Wolf by 20 to 25 points in the polls, has poured $1.66 million into television ads blanketing the state in July, according to FCC reports.

That’s more than one-third of the $4.8 million in campaign funds Corbett had left over from the primary.

Fingerprint hearing: Best and worst PA counties have same equipment

The five counties with the worst fingerprinting rates in the state have the same amount of fingerprinting equipment as the five best counties, Linda Rosenberg, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, told lawmakers today.

Lawmakers to examine problem of missing fingerprints

Pennsylvania police are failing to fingerprint thousands of suspects every year, jeopardizing background check systems at the state and federal levels. Lawmakers are uncertain what they can or should do about it.

What you should know about crude oil on trains coming through PA

More trains carrying crude oil to East Coast refineries mean a greater risk of accidents. Derailments in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are a signal to some that an accident could be disastrous.

EQT offers some Washington County residents cash so they won't sue

$50,000 for release from health, property damage

For the last eight years, Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Washington County, some 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh, EQT Corporation has been busy 2013 drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site.

Pennsylvania police fail to fingerprint thousands of suspected criminals

Missing prints for sex crimes mean inaccurate background checks

In 2013, 30,000 suspected criminals whose offenses included sex crimes, assaults and murder were not fingerprinted by Pennsylvania police, according to state records.

State law requires that suspected offenders be fingerprinted within 48 hours of arrest.

So, if thousands of people aren’t getting fingerprinted, whose fault is it?

PA scores poorly on AARP’s list for elderly, disabled care

Pennsylvania, which has a larger percentage of people over 65 than the national average, is not the best state to grow old in, according to a recent AARP report.

The state was ranked 42nd overall in the new study on long-term services and supports for older people. Even worse, it was 46th in terms of affordability and access to long-term care.

What Pittsburghers need to know about the Act 47 plan

Act 47 is a state oversight program for “financially distressed” cities in Pennsylvania. The state tries to help cities turn around their finances and operations. The name comes from the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act (Act 47 of 1987).

Could drones make the energy business safer?

Small, high-tech drones are being used to make movies, shoot photos for the media and find sick or diseased crops in farm fields across the country — even though the government restricts commercial use.

Now, some are saying that drones could make operations safer in an industry Pennsylvania knows well: Energy.

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