Gov. Wolf to Close Two State Centers: AP Penna. Headlines


AP PA Headlines 2/13/20

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is following through on his threat to veto legislation designed to prevent his administration from closing two state centers for the intellectually disabled. Wolf said Wednesday that the bill would have continued a reliance on institutionalization, versus better and more integrated lives for the disabled through community services.

The bill emerged after Wolf’s announcement in August that he would close White Haven in northeastern Pennsylvania and Polk in northwestern Pennsylvania. The closings were fought by employees and family members of the centers’ residents, who also filed a lawsuit in federal court in an effort to block the shutdowns.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati tells The Associated Press he will not seek re-election. Scarnati made the announcement Wednesday night. The 58-year-old is a fifth-term Republican senator from Jefferson County in northwestern Pennsylvania.

He says he wrestled with the decision but thought it was the right time to step down after 14 years in a job steering a Republican majority through turbulent elections and fights in the Capitol. Scarnati rose quickly, becoming Senate president in 2007 with the endorsement of his predecessor after just six years in the chamber. He said he will remain in his role until the legislative term ends Nov. 30.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement office is starting a conviction integrity unit to review past convictions for mistakes that might result in them being overturned. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Wednesday that the unit will be headed by Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, the former chief public defender in Cambria County and former Somerset County District Attorney.

The unit is designed to provide county district attorneys with the resources to analyze past convictions. Only Philadelphia has a unit devoted to reviewing convictions. Still, the idea could raise jurisdictional objections from county district attorneys. The move comes as reformers have aggressively questioned Pennsylvania’s criminal justice practices.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania court is taking up a legal challenge by three transgender women to a two-decade-old state law prohibiting people with serious felonies from ever changing their names. Commonwealth Court will hear oral arguments Thursday in the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who live as women.

They are unable to change their masculine first names because of a 1998 state law designed to prevent fraud. Current state law requires anyone convicted of a felony to wait at least two years after completion of their sentence to apply for a name change. Those convicted of certain more serious felonies are permanently barred from changing their names.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Since then, Trump and his aides have moved with haste to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Democrats and outside analysts are raising red flags that Trump is exhibiting a post-impeachment thirst for vengeance that could cause lasting damage to institutions.

NEW YORK (AP) – Democrats are still searching for a presidential front-runner. Not a single candidate following the Iowa and New Hampshire contests has shown an undeniable prowess for locking up the nomination. AP VoteCast found a bedrock group of devotees for Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. But none of the candidates possesses an unstoppable momentum as loyalties are also in flux. The polling suggests voters are gaming out a series of overlapping and clashing impulses, trying to judge who would be most competitive in November against President Donald Trump.

BERLIN (AP) – A German man’s marriage proposal got a bigger audience than he had planned, after it showed up on an aerial picture used by Google Maps. German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that 32-year-old part-time farmer Steffen Schwarz used a machine to plant a field of corn in such a way that the gaps spelled out the words “Do you want to marry me?” Schwarz says he got his girlfriend to fly a drone over the field last May in Huettenberg, central Germany, revealing the romantic message. She said yes and they plan to marry in June..

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