Leaders of the Islamic State are determined to strike targets in the United States this year, senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday, telling lawmakers that a small group of violent extremists will attempt to overcome the logistical challenges of mounting such an attack. In testimony before congressional committees, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other officials described the Islamic State as the “pre-eminent terrorist threat.”
Governor Wolf yesterday delivered his budget address for the 2016-2017 fiscal years in Pennsylvania calling for a $33.3 million dollar spending plan fueled by an increase in the state income tax which would work out to an 11% increase as well as other taxes. In all, he is looking for $2.7 billion dollars in tax increases to close what he calls a long term budget deficit. Wolf also called for a hike in the minimum wage. Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in both the state house and senate are blasting Wolf’s plan saying it will harm Pennsylvania taxpayers. The state is still waiting for an agreement on this past year’s full budget plan.
Could Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane be the first elected state official to be removed from office since the 1890’s. The senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow whether or not to remove the Attorney General from her post. Kane has been serving for months despite not having a law license which was taken away from her following criminal charges of leaking grand jury information in a reported effort to take down a state judge. Kane has proclaimed her innocence and despite calls for her to step down has stayed in her job.
A new government report on health insurance has implications for the presidential campaign. The National Health Interview Survey says eight states saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents without health insurance. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and New York. Politically, that’s a mix of red, blue and purple states. All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that’s one of two major pathways to coverage under President Obama’s health care law. The other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states. GOP presidential candidates are vowing to repeal “Obamacare,” with hardly any detail on how they’d replace it without millions losing coverage. Overall, the nation’s uninsured rate dropped to 9.1 percent in 2015.
The Republican Committee of Lycoming County held its Lincoln’s Day Dinner on Saturday in Williamsport, with State Speaker of the House Mike Turzai as its main speaker. Turzai spoke about the budget impasse in Harrisburg putting the blame for the stalemate on Governor Wolf. Turzai told the crowd that the Republican led legislature has put three balanced budget on the governor’s desk with Wolf shooting all three down. Governor Wolf is expected to deliver his 2016-2017 budget address tomorrow with this past year’s budget still in limbo.
One state lawmaker here in Pennsylvania, has some harsh words for a Weather Channel meteorologist who he claims insulted Punxsutawney Phil. State Rep. Peter Daley wrote a letter to Stephanie Abrams, asking her to publicly apologize for remarks she made on Groundhog Day, calling Phil “just a rodent.” Daley called Abrams’ statements “unprofessional” and “demeaning” saying that if Phil is ‘just a rodent’ then the Grand Canyon is just a ditch, the pierogi is just a snack, and the Pittsburgh Steelers is just another football team. Daley said that disparaging Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day is unacceptable and uncouth.
Reports out of the state police academy in Harrisburg say that a cheating probe is underway there. It’s believed that cheating occurred at the academy, though officials are not saying much as to the manner of cheating. Cadets there are subject to a battery of written tests during the more than six months of training and it’s not known if any cadets in one of two current academy classes or any state troopers have been disciplined or dismissed as part of the probe.
As officials in Northumberland County still consider an alternate site for a new prison to replace the once which burned down in Sunbury in January of 2015, the County Prison Board got a look yesterday at four different designs for the new prison. Construction would cost anywhere from $35 to $40 million dollars for prisons housing anywhe4r from 243 to 295 inmates. The Prison warden came forward endorsing the design which would house the most inmates and cost about $38.5 million dollars. The county has already bought the former Knight-Celotex Industrial site for $2 million dollars and has spent another $1.2 million getting it ready for construction, but the new board of commissioners says they are not set on that site.
An effort by House Republicans to override the President’s veto of a bill which gutted Obamacare is over. The measure also defunded Planned Parenthood. Republicans could not muster a two-thirds majority vote needed to override a veto. The vote was 241-186. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan has vowed to continue efforts to end Obamacare.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said today he is suspending his 2016 campaign for president. Paul finished fifth in Monday’s Iowa caucuses with 4 and a half percent of the vote, behind rivals Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson.