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Legislature

After years of negotiation, cost-savings criminal justice bills head for final approval
https://www.penncapital-star.com/criminal-justice/after-years-of-negotiation-cost-savings-criminal-justice-bills-head-for-final-approval/

Committee approves bill for moratorium on closing of White Haven center
https://www.timesleader.com/news/766174/committee-approves-bill-for-moratorium-on-closing-of-white-haven-center

Bill placing a moratorium on closing state centers passes in House
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/bill-placing-a-moratorium-on-closing-state-centers-passes-in-house-1.2572735

Bill Tracker: Legislature takes up fight over closure of state centers for the disabled
https://cumberlink.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/bill_tracker/bill-tracker-legislature-takes-up-fight-over-closure-of-state/article_f747c24d-6332-5487-82dd-90f2370dfd50.html

Yes, the U.S. Constitution could be improved. The process in this Pa. House resolution isn’t a path forward | Opinion
https://www.penncapital-star.com/commentary/yes-the-u-s-constitution-could-be-improved-the-process-in-this-pa-house-resolution-isnt-a-path-forward-opinion/

Business

Giant Eagle to end use of plastic grocery bags by 2025
https://www.post-gazette.com/business/money/2019/12/17/Giant-Eagle-plastic-grocery-bags-kroger-wolf-GetGo-Sustainable-Pittsburgh/stories/201912160109

Pa’s biggest marijuana dispensary chain removes Standard Farms products from shelves
https://www.inquirer.com/business/weed/standard-farms-marijuana-pennsylvania-stink-skunks-20191217.html

Giant Eagle to get rid of plastic grocery bags, straws by 2025
https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/giant-eagle-to-get-rid-of-plastic-grocery-bags-straws-by-2025/

Marijuana dispensary plans approved in Harrisburg despite community concerns
https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/12/marijuana-dispensary-plans-approved-in-harrisburg-despite-community-concerns.html

Catholic Church

Pope removes shroud of secrecy from clergy sex abuse cases
https://www.inquirer.com/news/nation-world/pope-francis-abolishes-pontifical-secrecy-vatican-20191217.html

Grand jury account of priest is released
https://www.post-gazette.com/news/faith-religion/2019/12/17/sexual-abuse-Catholic-Grand-jury-account-priest/stories/201912170191

Crime/Punishment

Pennsylvania crime rates drop 45 percent over last 20 years
https://www.timesonline.com/news/20191217/pennsylvania-crime-rates-drop-45-percent-over-last-20-years

Paul Manafort is in stable condition after being hospitalized, his attorney says
https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2019/12/17/Paul-Manafort-hospitalized-cardiac-event-prison-ex-Trump-campaign/stories/201912170211

‘I learned a … painful lesson’: State Sen. Pat Browne’s former treasurer sentenced for stealing nearly $600,000 from campaign
https://www.mcall.com/news/police/mc-nws-pa-senator-pat-browne-treasurer-sentenced-theft-from-campaign-20191217-t4ggxfg7bjcfxnhzru5pzbqg2a-story.html

Education

Kiski Area improves performance, diversity in Advanced Placement courses
https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/kiski-area-improves-performance-diversity-in-advanced-placement-courses/

PIAA forcing Aliquippa football up to Class 4A next season; Quips set to appeal
https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/high-school-football/2019/12/17/aliquippa-quips-mike-warfield-brandon-ledonne-melissa-mertz-piaa-wpial-football/stories/201912170157

White teacher sues Woodland Hills alleging racial discrimination
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/white-teacher-sues-woodland-hills-alleging-racial-discrimination/

Plum teacher suspended, facing charges of burglarizing neighbor’s home with wife
https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2019/12/17/Plum-teacher-Michael-Verrico-Heather-suspended-facing-charges-burglarizing-neighbor-home/stories/201912170111

Single moms in college have ‘a lot to juggle’ and a new report says they need more help
https://www.inquirer.com/education/single-mom-college-west-chester-report-20191218.html

King’s renames Public Square building following $1 million donation
https://www.timesleader.com/news/766202/kings-renames-public-square-building-following-1-million-donation

LCCC to sell four radio frequencies
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/lccc-to-sell-four-radio-frequencies-1.2572687

Elections/Politics

Wegman claims background makes him the best for congressional seat
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/wegman-claims-background-makes-him-the-best-for-congressional-seat-1.2572691

Gaming

Sportsbooks score $316M in wagers
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/sportsbooks-score-316m-in-wagers-1.2572725

Health Care

A crisis in care: Geriatric medicine lags behind needs
https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2019/12/18/A-crisis-in-care-Geriatric-medicine-lags-behind-needs/stories/201912060059

Allegheny County sees 66% increase in flu cases over past week
https://triblive.com/local/regional/allegheny-county-sees-66-increase-in-flu-cases-state-report-says/

Local News

Scranton will appeal court ruling in Act 511 case; officials say Act 47 exit still on schedule
https://www.thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-will-appeal-court-ruling-in-act-511-case-officials-say-act-47-exit-still-on-schedule-1.2572374

Scranton likely to seek firm to collect city’s delinquent trash fees
https://www.thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-likely-to-seek-firm-to-collect-city-s-delinquent-trash-fees-1.2572524

Incoming Scranton city council mulls meeting schedule change, committee assignments
https://www.thetimes-tribune.com/news/incoming-scranton-city-council-mulls-meeting-schedule-change-committee-assignments-1.2572792

Courtright, feds dispute amount of loss in his corruption case
https://www.thetimes-tribune.com/news/courtright-feds-dispute-amount-of-loss-in-his-corruption-case-1.2572529

‘We realize the buck stops here:’ Kennett Township officials explain how an ex-employee stole millions
https://www.inquirer.com/news/lisa-moore-kennett-township-fraud-theft-32-million-20191218.html

New Hope named 6th best Christmas town in US
https://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20191217/new-hope-named-6th-best-christmas-town-in-us

Christmas Village gridlock in northwestern Berks County keeps locals home, strains tourists
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/christmas-village-gridlock-in-northwestern-berks-county-keeps-locals-home/article_788ce32a-20e0-11ea-aa8a-7f84fab8bb65.html

Reading Water Area Authority passes 2020 budget without raising rates
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/local/reading-water-area-authority-passes-budget-without-raising-rates/article_4a9882be-2124-11ea-9b89-a3a425c1192d.html

New Kensington residents won’t pay more with new garbage hauler
https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/new-kensington-residents-wont-pay-more-with-new-garbage-hauler/

Harrison Township wants to tackle blight with $500,000 grant
https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/harrison-township-wants-to-tackle-blight-with-500000-grant/

Westmoreland County tax hike, first in 15 years, on the table
https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/westmoreland-county-tax-hike-first-in-15-years-being-eyed-by-officials/

Trafford offers grant for facade improvements – but not for naked mannequins
https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/trafford-offers-grant-for-facade-improvements-but-not-for-naked-mannequins/

Luzerne County Manager Pedri reviews 2019 developments in annual forum
https://www.timesleader.com/news/766210/luzerne-county-manager-pedri-reviews-2019-developments-in-annual-forum

Pedri: County had a good year overall
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/pedri-county-had-a-good-year-overall-1.2572723

Northeast Revenue to continue collecting levee fees
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/northeast-revenue-to-continue-collecting-levee-fees-1.2572681

National News

Hayden Fry, a legendary Iowa football coach, dies at 90
https://www.post-gazette.com/sports/other-colleges/2019/12/17/Hayden-Fry-Iowa-legendary-football-coach-dies-90/stories/201912170208

Philly

Asbestos is shutting down another Philadelphia school
https://www.inquirer.com/education/franklin-learning-center-asbestos-closed-20191217.html

Mother recounts shooting of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera as accused killer is held for trial
https://www.inquirer.com/news/nikolette-rivera-2-year-old-shot-tayvon-thomas-freddie-perez-20191217.html

As crime plagues Philly, Mayor Kenney must prioritize law and order for new police commissioner | Opinion
https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/police-commissioner-mayor-kenney-philadelphia-larry-krasner-bill-mcswain-20191217.html

FedEx driver shot in attempted robbery in Northeast Philly, suspect dead
https://www.inquirer.com/news/fedex-shot-unruh-lawndale-northeast-philadelphia-20191218.html

AK-47 gunman pleads guilty in federal court in 2018 shooting of West Philly beer deli owner
https://www.inquirer.com/news/ak-47-gunman-jovaun-patterson-guilty-plea-federal-court-us-attorney-william-mcswain-district-attorney-larry-krasner-20191217.html

Pro-impeachment rally takes place in Philly on eve of House vote
https://www.inquirer.com/politics/nation/impeachment-rally-philadelphia-trump-house-vote-20191217.html

Philly’s oldest black-owned bookstore doesn’t need to compete with Amazon
https://www.inquirer.com/news/hakims-bookstore-west-philadelphia-yvonne-blake-african-american-culture-fb-dawud-hakim-20191217.html

Philly’s spending more, but it’s in line with other big cities
https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia-spending-increases-recession-pew-study-20191217.html

After Temple student’s TikTok controversy, the university clashes with reality | Opinion
https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/temple-student-tik-tok-north-philly-response-20191217.html

Malcolm Jenkins says candidates to run Philly police ‘are already hiding’
https://www.witf.org/2019/12/18/malcolm-jenkins-says-candidates-to-run-philly-police-are-already-hiding/

Pitt

URA to pay the state up to $1 million as part of Hunt Armory ice rink redevelopment
https://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2019/12/17/Hunt-Armory-Mosites-Shadyside-URA/stories/201912170182

Allegheny County controller suggests surplus hotel tax money to fund transit, city parks
https://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2019/12/17/Allegheny-County-controller-suggests-surplus-hotel-tax-money-to-fund-transit-city-parks/stories/201912170168

One woman in critical condition after shooting in Penn Hills
https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2019/12/17/Police-investigating-shooting-woman-Penn-Hills-critical-condition/stories/201912170205

Pittsburgh Zoo’s blind northern elephant seal ‘Coolio’ dies
https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2019/12/17/Pittsburgh-Zoo-s-blind-Northern-Elephant-Seal-Coolio-dies/stories/201912170180

City budget approved but may have short shelf life
https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2019/12/17/City-council-budget-may-have-short-shelf-life/stories/201912170092

Pittsburgh’s $608 million budget includes no tax increase
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburghs-608-million-budget-includes-no-tax-increase/

Pittsburgh ranks as 4th best city to celebrate Christmas
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-ranks-as-4th-best-city-to-celebrate-christmas/

Pittsburgh residents voice concerns over proposed Shadyside development
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/pittsburgh-residents-voice-concerns-over-proposed-shadyside-development/

Lyft offering free rides to the unemployed around Pittsburgh through February
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/lyft-offering-free-rides-to-the-unemployed-around-pittsburgh-through-february/

State News

Sainthood cause launched for Erie woman
https://www.post-gazette.com/news/faith-religion/2019/12/17/Sainthood-cause-launched-Gertrude-Barber-Erie-pioneer-special-needs-education/stories/201912160150

‘Free Maddie.’ A 6-year-old girl held at Berks immigrant detention center for months sparks a rallying cry.
https://www.inquirer.com/news/berks-detention-center-wolf-casey-maddie-aldea-20191218.html

Pa. rule to tackle air pollution from oil and gas wells advances
https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2019/12/17/Pennsylvania-DEP-methane-VOC-rule-existing-oil-and-gas-wells-Marcellus-shale/stories/201912170126

Game commission: Reducing deer population not likely to stem spread of Lyme disease
https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/game-commission-reducing-deer-population-not-likely-to-stem-spread-of-lyme-disease/

Lebanon County grain farmer is avid proponent of land preservation
https://www.readingeagle.com/berks-country/lebanon-county-grain-farmer-is-avid-proponent-of-land-preservation/article_52c0325c-8141-5d7a-a868-6705f0110679.html

PUC: Compare electricity rates
https://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-business/2019/12/puc-compare-electricity-rates/

Transportation

Funding approved to upgrade traffic signals on Sans Souci Parkway
https://www.timesleader.com/news/766176/funding-approved-to-upgrade-traffic-signals-on-sans-souci-parkway

State grants fund traffic light upgrades in Salem, Latrobe
https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/state-grants-fund-traffic-signal-upgrades-in-salem-latrobe/

Tarentum, other communities receive more than $700K for traffic safety projects
https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/tarentum-other-communities-receive-more-than-700000-for-traffic-safety-projects/

Reading receives PennDOT grant to upgrade 51 traffic signals
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/reading-receives-penndot-grant-to-upgrade-traffic-signals/article_13ea5d6a-210f-11ea-b612-7b2da47962d5.html

PEMA, Berks communities work together to handle accidents on I-78
https://www.readingeagle.com/news/local/pema-berks-communities-work-together-to-handle-accidents-on-i/article_76b808d6-2135-11ea-a4a1-03c27adaa680.html

Washington

Here’s what to expect from Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation in today’s impeachment vote
https://www.mcall.com/news/pennsylvania/capitol-ideas/mc-nws-pa-house-votes-trump-impeachment-20191218-muyctpwzsjhobpmfad7mqchuna-story.html

Honk for impeachment: Horns blow at rallies across Western Pa.
https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2019/12/17/Honk-for-impeachment-horns-blow-at-rally-in-Mt-Lebanon/stories/201912170192

Protesters call for Trump’s impeachment outside Conor Lamb’s office in Mt. Lebanon
https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/protesters-call-for-trumps-impeachment-outside-conor-lambs-office-in-mt-lebanon/

Westmoreland County impeachment rally draws more than 100
https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/westmoreland-county-impeachment-rally-draws-more-than-100/

Protests held across US ahead of House vote today
https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/protests-held-across-us-ahead-of-house-vote-today-1.2572731

Activists gather at Pa. Capitol to call on Congress to impeach Trump
https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/12/activists-gather-at-pa-capitol-to-call-on-congress-to-impeach-trump.html

Delco protesters at Philly rally call for Trump’s impeachment
https://www.delcotimes.com/news/local/delco-protesters-at-philly-rally-call-for-trump-s-impeachment/article_64477f88-20f4-11ea-9082-9b9222bf90c3.html

Trump foes, friends rally in West Chester on eve of impeachment
https://www.dailylocal.com/news/trump-foes-friends-rally-in-west-chester-on-eve-of/article_2cf98e98-210f-11ea-b057-4773229efc48.html

Bill addresses pay disparity at Tobyhanna Army Depot
https://www.poconorecord.com/news/20191217/bill-addresses-pay-disparity-at-tobyhanna-army-depot

Congress reaches deal to prop up coal miners’ pension fund
https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2019/12/17/United-Mine-Workers-America-coal-workers-pension-retirement-Joe-Manchin/stories/201912160143

‘We’ve got serious issues’: Inside Jeff Van Drew’s impeachment-fueled defection to the GOP
https://www.inquirer.com/news/jeff-van-drew-party-switch-trump-impeachment-20191218.html