Pennsylvania Still in Top Five States for Deer Collisions

Pennsylvania drivers are among those with the highest risks of crossing paths with a deer while driving.  But your biggest risk of running into a deer is in West Virginia.

State Farm Insurance says drivers in West Virginia have a one in 40 chance of a collision with a deer. Pennsylvania’s rank has dropped from fourth to fifth place, at 1 in 76.

Deer vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur in November, October is the second most likely month and December is third.

Nationally, the number of deer-related collisions is up almost 8% over the last year.

The number of deer-related claims paid by the insurer has increased almost 8% over the last four years, while similar auto claims have dropped more than 8%.


Gov’s Signature to Complete Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Structural prison reforms are already being put into place, designed to produce better outcomes and save the state up to $350-million dollars over five years.  That was the first half of the Justice Reinvestment initiative (SB 100), which was signed into law in July. 

Like the first bill, the second piece of the Justice Reinvestment effort (HB 135) has cleared the General Assembly with bipartisan support.  It will reinvest a portion of the prison system savings into the front lines of the justice system, like local law enforcement and county probation & parole departments. 

“An effective probation system can lower recidivism among people on probation and can also manage growth in your prison system because of more effective management of offenders,” explains Marc Pelka, program director with the Council of State Governments Justice Center. 

The CSG Justice Center has worked with 16-states on Justice Reinvestment, and Pelka says each strategy is tailored to the issues driving growth in those states prison systems.  “So although the individual policies are different for each particular state, the overall outcome is reduced spending on corrections and reinvestment in areas that increase public safety.” 

A Justice Reinvestment working group first met at the Governor’s Residence in January.  Radio PA spoke at length with Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel about their progress in June.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Candidates Clash

The two candidates for state Attorney General locked horns in Harrisburg Monday night during their only debate of the campaign. Former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane, the Democratic nominee, focused her jabs on the investigation of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, again saying she would launch an independent probe into the handling of that case.

Kane has been critical of the charges being filed only after former Attorney General Tom Corbett was elected Governor. She says Republican nominee David Freed could not launch an independent investigation, as he was the governor’s “hand-picked” candidate. Freed has stated that he would launch a review of the case, if elected, but he would not comment further because he could be handling possible appeals.

Governor Corbett has stated in past interviews on that much of the key information in the Sandusky case did not come in until late 2010 or early 2011, as he was being inaugurated, and he says the end result – convictions on 45 counts of child sexual abuse – show that the office of Attorney General did the right thing.

Freed attacked Kane’s record, saying her attitudes toward the job show her lack of experience.

Recent polls show Kane leading the race, but with a large number of undecideds yet to make up their minds. Pennsylvania voters have never elected a Democrat to the Attorney General’s post.


vending machine, junk food, obesity

Study Links Parents’ Stress with Kids’ Weight

Stressed out parents are more likely to have obese kids, according to a new study to be published in next month’s edition of the journal Pediatrics.  “When you add things up you can get something that’s called a stressor pile-up,” says Dr. Elizabeth Prout Parks of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  “So you may be able to deal with one thing that’s stressing you, but when there’s five things stressing you, you’re behavior changes more.” 

The conclusions were drawn by crunching the numbers contained in an existing survey of thousands of households in southeastern Pennsylvania. 

The stressors can include everything from finances to relationships.  While further research is needed to uncover specific reasons for the link between parents’ stress and kids’ weight, Dr. Parks made an educated guess for Radio PA.  “For example if [stress] is leading you to have decreased sleep or increased demands upon your time; then that’s going to make you less likely to want to cook, less likely to want to go grocery shopping and more likely to consume fast foods.”     

In fact, the study also finds that parents who perceive themselves to be stressed are more likely to have children who eat fast food more than two times per week. 

Dr. Parks, a physician nutrition specialist at CHOP, doesn’t want to make already stressed parents feel bad – she wants to make public health officials aware of this issue.

New Voter ID Requirements?

Attorney General Candidates to Debate

Two candidates vying to become the state’s top prosecutor will debate in suburban Harrisburg tonight.  The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) and Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association (PLCA) have teamed up to host the forum at the Widener School of Law’s Harrisburg campus. 

Democrat Kathleen Kane is a prosecutor from northeastern Pennsylvania, and Republican David Freed is currently the Cumberland County District Attorney.  The attorney general’s office is an open seat this year as Linda Kelly agreed not to seek election when she was nominated to fill out the unexpired term of now-Governor Tom Corbett. 

The public is invited to attend tonight’s debate, which will take place in room A180 of the Law School Administration Building.  Doors open at 6pm, and the debate begins at 7pm.  If you can’t make it in person, the event will be broadcast live on PCN TV.

Study: the Arts are an Economic Driver in PA

The direct economic activity generated by nonprofit arts groups and their audiences adds up to more than $2.5-billion dollars in Pennsylvania, according to a new study by Americans for the Arts.  “We pay our taxes, we spend in our communities and we create jobs,” explains Jenny Hershour, managing director of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania. 

The new study actually finds 81,000 full-time equivalent jobs and $360-million dollars being paid in taxes.  “For this current fiscal year the General Assembly approved a budget that included $8.179 million dollars for grants to nonprofit arts organizations,” Hershour says.  “If you compare that with $360-million that nonprofit arts organizations are generating for state and local governments, that’s a really good investment.” 

Arts supporters in the General Assembly will soon be spreading that message with the creation of a bipartisan, bicameral arts and culture caucus in Harrisburg.  Speaking at a news conference in the state Capitol rotunda, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) called the arts an essential part of the fabric of Pennsylvania. 

“It is music to my ears,” Hershour told Radio PA when asked about the new caucus.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 10.19.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul are joined by F&M College political analyst Terry Madonna to reflect on the life and career of Arlen Specter. The former U.S. Senator passed away October 14th at the age of 82. You’ll also get an update on the new bills that are about to become law in Pennsylvania.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Jerry Sandusky is currently locked up in the Centre County Correctional Facility. He will appeal the conviction.

Sandusky Seeks New Trial

Attorneys for Jerry Sandusky have filed post-trial motions seeking a new trial.  They’ve added Philadelphia attorney Norris Gelman to the defense team.

The filing in Centre County Court raises questions of insufficient evidence, insufficient time to prepare the defense and claims the statute of limitations had expired on some of the charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach.

Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sex abuse involving 10 boys. He was  sentenced to serve 30 to 60 years in jail earlier this month.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence.

Study Recognizes the Overlooked and Undercounted

A new report finds that one in four Pennsylvania households is living below the self-sufficiency standard.  Pathways PA calls that standard the true cost of living, and they’ve crunched the numbers county-by-county. 

“We look at the cost of food, transportation, health care, housing and child care as well as miscellaneous costs,” explains senior policy director Marianne Bellesorte.  “Using publicly verifiable data we’re able to determine how much – at minimum – a family would need to make ends meet.” 

For instance, in Dauphin County, a one adult household would need to earn $19,000 dollars a year to meet the self-sufficiency standard.  Add an infant, and that number would increase to $34,000 dollars.  Child care is generally a household’s biggest expense, according to Bellesorte. 

The new report finds that 25% of PA families live below the standard, up from 20% in 2007.  The highest numbers can be found in Philadelphia (42%); the lowest in Adams County (17%). 

The report’s called Overlooked and Undercounted: How the Great Recession Impacted Household Self-Sufficiency in Pennsylvania.  “The people who are overlooked and undercounted are people who are above the federal poverty level, but are below the self-sufficiency standard,” Bellesorte explains. 

Pathways PA wants policymakers to pay attention, and take action that leads to adequate work.  Bellesorte says nearly 4 in 5 of the households below the standard have at least one adult the workforce.

Teen “Sexting” Bill Heads to Gov’s Desk

Sexting involves the electronic transmission of nude or sexually explicit photos.  It’s all too common among teens, and this bill ensures that the penalty matches the crime.  State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) says the only way to deal with juvenile sexting under existing law was through a child pornography charge.  “Kids within that age cohort, it wasn’t about abuse or trying to take advantage of children,” explains Grove, the bill’s prime sponsor.    

“A felony charge will ruin your life, period.  On every [job] application, a 14, 15 or 16 year-old will have to put ‘convicted child pornographer’ for the rest of their lives.” 

The new offense will carry penalties that range from a summary offense to a 2nd degree misdemeanor, depending on the details of the case.  But supporters say it will still send a clear message to Pennsylvania’s youth that sexting is something to avoid.  “Once it’s done – especially in electronic format – there’s not retracting that picture,” Grove tells Radio PA.    

The bill earned broad bipartisan support, passing the House 188 – 3, and the Senate 37 – 12.  Grove says it also has the support of all the statewide law enforcement groups.