July 7, 2015

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg: Budget negotiations resume

The new fiscal year begins with limited funds available for state spending. State employees will still be paid, but social service groups could lose out. The Wolf administration and lawmakers resumed talks Monday.

Allegheny County: Asbestos-related deaths higher than national average

Pennsylvania is one of six states with asbestos deaths more than 50 percent higher than the national average.

Allegheny County: Bill backlog

The Allegheny County Council has 63 ordinances awaiting votes. Many of them have stayed longer than the 90-day maximum, but there is no penalty for letting bills linger. Council President John DeFazio said that everything pending a vote will be decided by the end of the year.

Philadelphia: Prepping for the mayor’s transition

Although inauguration day isn’t until Jan. 4, 2016, Mayor Michael Nutter and his administration are already taking steps to smooth the transition. A project director was hired to focus solely on developing a plan so that Philly residents won’t even notice the change.

Statewide: Family Dollar settlement

A merger between Family Dollar and Dollar Tree was challenged by 17 states. As settlement, Family Dollar needs to sell 330 stores to other competitors, 19 of which will be stores in Pennsylvania ordered to be sold by Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Statewide: Clean Vehicle Corridors Act

The bill would introduce new infrastructure for vehicles that use alternative fuel methods, like electric cars. If the bill is approved, it would allow alternative fuel vehicles to use HOV lanes and have their own parking spots, and would install new fueling stations along interstate highways.

NATIONAL

Fighting corruption on the border

In southern Texas, more public officials are convicted of federal crimes than any other region in the country. The Rio Grande Valley Public Corruption Task Force seeks to expose corruption at all levels — whether it’s a school board or the state Legislature. The region’s complex economy is based on border culture, where the rich and poor live in close proximity.

Driverless cars aren’t just safer, they reduce emissions

Autonomous taxis aim to take the human error out of driving, but studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory show that the tiny, pod-like vehicles will also reduce emissions by up to 94 percent of current levels of gas-powered cars.

Colorado experiment lowers teen pregnancy rate

With funds from a private grant, Colorado offered free long-acting birth control implants to teenagers and poor women. Over six years, the birth rate for teenagers dropped 40 percent and the rate of abortions dropped 42 percent. Researchers say that having free access to contraceptives will also help reduce poverty over time.

World Cup Win

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team defeated Japan 5-2 on Sunday, winning the cup for the first time in 16 years.

IN OTHER NEWS

Skinny Oreos

Mondelez International is adding a new Oreo cookie to the roster: Oreo Thins. They arrived in China last year to enthusiastic success, so the thinner cousin of the regular cookie will hit stores next week in the U.S.

The daily report was compiled by Stephanie Roman, a PublicSource intern. You can reach her with questions or suggestions at sroman@publicsource.org.