Map, Travel, Tourism, Drive, Interstates

Industry Marks Tourism Day at PA Capitol

The rally’s theme, ‘I am Tourism,’ plays off of the more than 400,000 jobs attributed to Pennsylvania’s tourism industry.  It ranks second only to agriculture as Pennsylvania’s largest industry, and Pennsylvania Association of Travel & Tourism President & CEO Rob Fulton says tourism is actually the number one industry for most counties. 

Fulton says the tourism industry’s annual economic impact nears $36-billion, and the reach is broader than one might think.  “Restaurants, convenience stores; visitors go the malls to shop, they go to the outlets to shop, they go the grocery stores,” he explains. 

Included in the economic impact estimate are the $3.4-billion dollars in tax revenues for which tourism accounts.  Officials say their industry is not a part of the state’s budget problems – it’s a part of the solution. 

Rob Fulton

Rob Fulton talks tourism with Radio PA.

Fulton tells us his fear is that without adequate marketing dollars tourists will start to go to other states.  “The numbers will lag a little bit,” Fulton says, referring to the ‘Marketing to Attract Tourists’ line item in the state budget.  The state poured more than $10-million into such efforts in FY2011.  However, the proposed budget for FY2013 would include just over $3-million. 

That doesn’t stack up with other states.  For instance, Fulton says Michigan invests $25-million dollars a year in tourism marketing. 

Looking ahead to this year’s budget negotiations, Fulton hopes Pennsylvania’s policymakers will recognize the important impact 175-million visitors have on the state’s economy.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 04.27.12

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week. Professionally produced and delivered every Friday, Roundtable includes commercial breaks for local sale and quarterly reports for affiliate files.

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Zippo Nears 500-Millionth Lighter

Sparks will fly in Bradford on June 5th, when Zippo will produce its 500-millionth lighter.  “All manufactured right here in Bradford, Pennsylvania,” emphasizes Zippo President & CEO Greg Booth. 

The late George Blaisdell founded the company in 1932, and 80-years later Zippo lighters still carry his lifetime guarantee, “It works, or we fix it free.” 

Zippo Lighter

The 500-millionth Zippo lighter will look like this.

On June 5th the actual 500-millionth lighter will pass through a human chain of employees from the factory floor all the way to the nearby company museum, where it will be placed on permanent display. 

Booth says it will be a special day for the 600 plus employees who make the Zippo lighters, which are sold in 162-countries.  “Our employees work hard at it, our company works hard at it, and I’m just proud to be part of a company that can compete successfully – globally – and grow a business right here in Pennsylvania.” 

Zippo is currently experiencing a resurgence and just wrapped up the best quarter in the history of the company.  Booth tells Radio PA they’re up 30% in volume year-to-date. 

If a half-billion Zippo lighters were stacked on top of each other, the company says the tower would be the size of 14-Empire State Buildings. 

Collectors will be able to own a piece of Zippo history too.  About 60,000 lighters manufactured on June 5th will be marked with a special stamp to commemorate the milestone.  The two versions will sell for $50 and $100 dollars respectively.

PUC Puts Impact Fee Final Implementation Order on Hold

A Commonwealth Court judge’s injunction in a lawsuit challenging a portion of the impact fee law has prompted the state Public Utility Commission to delay action on a final implementation order.   

The PUC is seeking clarification from the court before moving forward with the final implementation order for the impact fee law.  The injunction deals with the zoning portion of the law, but the PUC also has a role in that area. PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher says they do not anticipate that the collection and disbursement of the fee will be delayed by the Commission’s decision to await a clarification. She says work is still continuing on the implementation of the act.

Kocher says the commission’s next scheduled public meeting is May 10th, but she could not say whether or not the order would appear on that agenda.

The Commission has jurisdiction in both the zoning and fee collection portions of the law.  Kocher says the PUC needs clarification on how the injunction impacts its role in reviewing local ordinances on oil and gas operations.   She says they hope to move other portions under their jurisdiction forward sooner, but they wanted to put everything on hold at this time to await that clarification. She says they felt there were some ambiguities in the court’s order.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Sets Seasons, Bag Limits

Ground hog and coyote kick off hunting season in July and the Pennsylvania Game Commission has set the dates and bag limits for the 2012-13 hunting and trapping seasons.   Hunting licenses will go on sale in June.   

There are no major broad-based changes, but spokesman Jerry Feaser says there are some added benefits, including an additional day for archery deer in the fall. The board expanded bear hunting opportunities in some urban areas of southwestern and southeastern Pennsylvania to reduce bear human conflicts, and added fall turkey to the Mentored Youth Hunting Program line up.

Feaser says snowshoe hare season has been closed in most of the state for the next hunting season except for three wildlife management units in north central Pennsylvania.  He says the species is very dependent on habitat.

The Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to nearly all of the seasons and bag limits for 2012-13 yesterday, but waterfowl and migratory bird seasons will not be finalized until this summer.

Hunters will receive a digest with all of the information about the seasons, bag limits, arms and ammunition regulations when they buy their license.

Drivers License, PennDOT

Mixed Reviews for Soft Roll-Out of Voter ID Law

Voter ID

Hoover believes signs like these can disenfranchise voters.

Tuesday was billed as a trial run for Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law.  Photo identification was supposed to be requested – not required – at the polling place.  While the ACLU of Pennsylvania was not actively looking for problems, legislative director Andy Hoover did notice several signs suggesting photo ID was required.  “It led to confusion,” Hoover says.  “Despite what the Secretary of State has said it was not smooth, and that was just from the few polling places that we saw.” 

Hoover’s referring to a statement released by the Department of State on Tuesday afternoon.  It reads that Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele visited several polling places in Philadelphia and witnessed the process working well. 

 “There may have been one or two of those bumps but overall – from what we heard from throughout the state – it went very smoothly,” says DOS spokesman Ron Ruman.  He says the department will train poll workers on the new law’s requirements throughout the summer, and reach out to educate voters all the way up to the November 6th general election.   

Ruman also confirmed reports that a few voters refused to show photo ID as an act of protest.  “Folks are certainly entitled to their opinion.  This is America and that’s what makes it a great country, but we don’t feel that the right thing to do is to encourage people to refuse to show their ID.” 

While the Department of state believes that 99% of eligible voters already have an acceptable form of photo ID, Ruman hopes that even the law’s critics will assist the rest in obtaining one by the fall. 

Likewise, Andy Hoover is not encouraging anyone to refuse to show photo identification in November.  He’d rather folks support their pending litigation in hopes of striking down the law, which the ACLU believes disenfranchises voters.

Earlier this year Pennsylvania became the 16th state to enact a Voter ID law.  The goal is to preserve the integrity of every vote.

Kathleen Kane Takes Democratic Nomination for Attorney General

Pennsylvania has never elected a Democrat to be state Attorney General. Pennsylvania has never elected a woman to be state Attorney General. With one more victory in November, Kathleen Kane could invalidate both of those statements in one fell swoop.

Kane won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General on Tuesday, coming out on top in a bitter campaign against former Congressman Patrick Murphy. A heated ad war highlighted the rough and tumble election, making it one of the most widely watched races as the returns came in on Tuesday evening. Kane led all the way on Tuesday and with more than 99% of precincts statewide reporting, she had taken the win by more than 40,000 votes. Kane will move on to face Republican David Freed in November. Freed is Cumberland County’s District Attorney.

Tom Smith Wins GOP Nomination for U.S. Senate

He didn’t have the state party’s endorsement or the approval of Governor Tom Corbett, but self-proclaimed Armstrong County “farm boy” Tom Smith will be the Republican party’s nominee for U.S. Senate this November. Smith prevailed in a 5-man field that included the party-backed Steve Welch and former State Representative Sam Rohrer.

Smith will face incumbent Democrat Bob Casey in November and took aim at his fall opponent in his victory speech Tuesday evening, saying Casey is a “big part of that problem” in Washington. Casey will be running for his second 6-year term in the Senate. He defeated Rick Santorum to win the job in 2006.

Smith financed his own Senate campaign with more than $5 million of his own money, and he was not lacking confidence fresh off his victory Tuesday night, predicting a November victory.

On Line Tool Helps Assess Disaster Risk

What type of severe weather is most likely to affect the area where you live?  There is an on line tool that can help answer that question during the first-ever National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

If you go to and enter your zip code, you’ll get a list of the types of severe weather and natural disasters that are more likely where you live.  It’s sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. The site also links you to some specific tips on protecting your home and family, depending on what type of disaster you might face.

Julie Rochman. President and CEO of the Institute, says there are simple steps you can take to protect your home and family.   She says many of these steps are low or no-cost.

She says people should be comfortable in evacuating their home if needed.  Every community should have safe spaces designated, such as a school or business.

If you have to shelter from a tornado or hurricane in your home, Rochman says you need to be in an interior space that does not have windows, preferably in a low area of the house.

Voter Turnout Expected to be Modest at Best

Most experts are predicting light voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election.  Franklin & Marshall College political science professor Terry Madonna says that’s especially the case now that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has suspended his presidential campaign.  “25 – 30% among Republicans, and maybe 20 – 25% among Democrats,” Madonna hypothesizes.  “I think if it reaches that it will be a good day.” 

Terry Madonna

Terry Madonna

He says legislative – and even congressional – primaries aren’t typically big draws at the ballot box.  “We may get a little modest bump on the Republican side in the Senate primary, because of the money spent on advertising.  But even there, Senate primaries typically are not big attention grabbers.” 

On the Democratic side, the big statewide draw is the race for the Attorney General nomination between Kathleen Kane and Patrick Murphy

State party officials appear to be a bit more optimistic about voter turnout on Tuesday.  A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania says other states have already tracked greater numbers of primary voters than in the 2008 primary cycle, and a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party estimates they’ll see 30 – 40% turnout among Pennsylvania Democrats. 

Voters can brush up on the primary ballots and confirm their polling places online.  The polls will be open from 7am – 8pm on Tuesday.