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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 83,338

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Alaska governor proposes constitutional changes to give voters say on taxes

JUNEAU, Alaska — Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday proposed constitutional changes that would limit legislative authority and give voters a say on taxes and any changes to the annual check residents receive from the state’s oil-wealth fund.

One of the proposed amendments is aimed at ensuring the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend is not changed without a vote of the people.

Another seeks to set what Dunleavy called a “spending and savings rule,” replacing an existing spending limit that critics say is too lax and targeting leftover revenue to the permanent fund and a reserve account.

The third constitutional change would let voters decide whether to approve any new or higher state taxes passed by lawmakers. If, on the other hand, voters by initiative pass a new or higher tax, legislators would be asked for their approval.

Read more: https://triblive.com/usworld/world/14561356-74/alaska-governor-proposes-constitutional-changes-to-give-voters-say-on-taxes

Gov. Wolf calls for tougher gun laws after synagogue shooting

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf is renewing his call for lawmakers to pass legislation expanding background checks on firearms in Pennsylvania and end an exception for shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles that are sold at gun shows.

The Democratic governor’s statement Tuesday comes three months after a truck driver walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and fatally shot 11 people. Six were wounded, including four police officers.

The Republican-controlled Legislature last year passed legislating forcing people in Pennsylvania with a domestic violence ruling against them to more quickly surrender their guns.

However, the Legislature has long resisted gun-control measures, such as expanding background checks. The House’s Republican majority leader, Bryan Cutler, says Pennsylvania already has fairly comprehensive background checks and says policymakers instead might find agreement on mental health interventions.

Read more: https://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/14556212-74/gov-wolf-calls-anew-to-expand-background-checks-to-gun-shows

State conducting criminal investigation of shale gas production

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is pursuing criminal investigations of “environmental crimes” committed by the oil and gas industry in Washington County and possibly throughout the state.

In an Aug. 16, 2018, letter to attorneys in a civil case before the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, Mr. Shapiro and his office said they already had accepted a referral and “assumed jurisdiction over several criminal investigations involving environmental crimes in Washington County.”

By that time Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone already had discussed with and referred claims of environmental problems in shale gas development to the attorney general’s office.

Three Washington County residents told the Post-Gazette that they have spoken with AG investigators and were told they could be called to testify, with a Washington County woman saying that she already presented testimony before an investigative state grand jury in Pittsburgh.

Read more: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2019/01/28/pa-attorney-general-josh-shapiro-criminal-investigation-oil-gas-industry-washington-county-environmental-crimes/stories/201901210078

State park and forest maintenance 'crumbling' amid $1 billion funding shortfall

Pennsylvania’s state parks and state forests contain 3,000 miles of roadways, 4,800 buildings, 860 vehicular bridges, 1,470 miles of hiking trails, 131 dams, 70 sewage treatment plants, 180 boat ramps, 56 swimming beaches and more than 30,000 picnic tables.

But finding the money to maintain, fix and improve park and forest infrastructure and operations has not been a walk in the park and certainly no picnic.

A new report released Monday afternoon by the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation finds that the state’s failure to provide adequate funding for both built and environmental infrastructure needs in state parks and forests has created a $1 billion maintenance backlog.

And that backlog has put at risk outdoor recreation and natural amenities in the state’s parks and forests enjoyed by more than 40 million visitors a year, said Marci Mowery, president of the non-profit foundation that supports 41 volunteer organizations working in and with the state’s parks and forests.

Read more: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2019/01/28/State-parks-and-forests-face-1-billion-maintenance-funding-shortfall/stories/201901270203

World briefs: Top Dems introduce bill to prevent U.S. from striking first with nukes

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON - Legislation introduced by Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate on Wednesday would bar the United States from using a nuclear weapon unless attacked with one first, demonstrating growing momentum for antinuclear sentiments on the left in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a 2020 presidential contender, and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the “No First Use Act” in their respective chambers to codify in law what they said “most Americans already believe - that the United States should never initiate a nuclear war.”

The text of the bill is simple, saying only that “it is the policy of the United States not to use nuclear weapons first.” But while the measure has support among many Democrats, and could pass through the House, it likely wouldn’t win enough Republican backing to win approval in the Senate.

It would almost certainly face a veto by President Donald Trump, whose administration has opposed the proposal in its nuclear weapons policy. Still, the introduction of the bill by a high-profile presidential contender and the chairman of one of the House’s most powerful committees indicates how the idea is gaining traction within a swath of the Democratic base.

Read more: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/world/2019/01/30/World-briefs-Top-Dems-introduce-bill-prevent-US-from-striking-first-with-nukes/stories/201901310072

The article is based primarily upon an article in the Washington Post.

Robert Morris University planning to close one school, offer buyouts to administrators

Robert Morris University is reducing the number of its schools by one, reorganizing academic programs within them and will offer “voluntary severance” to a majority of its administrative staff in a restructuring, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The moves, following a series of enrollment declines, “will ensure the university remains affordable and better positioned to compete in a challenging enrollment market,” the school said in a written response to an inquiry by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The statement indicated that one of five free-standing schools on the campus in Moon will be consolidated, but did not say which one. It also did not specify how many staff positions beyond “some” that it expects to eliminate through the buyouts.

School officials said faculty positions are not being eliminated.

Read more: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2019/01/30/Robert-Morris-University-RMU-job-cuts-staff-Chris-Howard-college-buyouts-labor/stories/201901300134

Gov. Wolf seeks increase in Pa.'s minimum wage. Again.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is again seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025, even though the issue has for years been opposed by Republicans who control both legislative chambers.

Wolf, a Democrat, on Wednesday proposed raising the state’s current minimum of $7.25 — the same as the federal minimum — on a sliding scale, starting with a bump to $12 this July. It would rise by 50 cents every year until 2025, when it would be $15. The wage would increase with the cost of living every year after that.

At a news conference in the state Capitol, Wolf noted that 29 states have a higher minimum wage than the one set at the federal level. That includes all of Pennsylvania’s surrounding states, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Raising the wage just to $12 an hour, Wolf said, would give a raise to one million Pennsylvania workers.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/news/minimum-wage-increase-wolf-pennsylvania-20190130.html

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kids Explain Climate Change to Donald Trump

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Roger Stone is a Batman Villain

Feds indict powerful Philly union boss, councilman, others

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A powerful union boss with a tight grip on construction jobs in the Philadelphia region and outsized influence in city and state politics has been indicted in alleged schemes to embezzle more than $600,000 and have a councilman on the union payroll do his bidding at City Hall.

Johnny "Doc" Dougherty has steered tens of millions of dollars to political candidates in Pennsylvania, most of them Democrats, during his 25-year tenure running the electricians union. He helped get Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney elected to office in 2015, the same year his brother, Kevin Dougherty, won a seat on the state Supreme Court.

And he's used his muscle to influence political and business decisions large and small.

According to the 116-count indictment, Dougherty pressed Comcast Corp. to steer $2 million worth of electrical work to a friend as the media giant negotiated the renewal of the city's 15-year cable lease; pressured Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to have union workers install MRI machines even though the warranty called for it to be done by the manufacturer; and had his point man at City Hall, Councilman Bobby Henon, investigate a towing company that seized Dougherty's car.

Read more: https://www.trentonian.com/news/national/feds-indict-powerful-philly-union-boss-councilman-others/article_838b923c-52a3-5148-845d-98dac8db3f23.html
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