Supreme Court Strikes Down Casino Tax
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's highest court is striking down the tax that casinos pay their host communities, potentially devastating local budgets around the state.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that effect of a "local share assessment" is unconstitutional because it treats the state's 12 casinos unequally.
A state Senate Republican spokeswoman says the move could have "far-reaching" effects. The court says it is staying its decision for four months to give the state Legislature time to come up with a solution.
Mount Airy Casino in northeastern Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains had argued that it violates the state constitution by imposing a heavier tax burden on lower performing casinos.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board says some $140 million was paid in the last fiscal year to counties and municipalities, including the $10 million host fee paid by some casinos.
3 Dead After Train Smashes Into Rail Station
HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) - A commuter train crashed into a rail station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour, causing serious damage, death and injuries.
TV footage and photos from the scene this morning show damage to the rail car and extensive structural damage to the Hoboken station.
Radio station WFAN anchor John Minko told New York radio station WINS that the train "went right through the barriers and into the reception area."
Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken, which is directly across the Hudson River from New York City.
A transit spokeswoman reports more than 100 have been injured,some critically. Media reports indicate at three people were killed. (photo: AP)
Two Students, Teacher Wounded
TOWNVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Authorities say a volunteer firefighter stopped a teenager who shot three people outside a South Carolina elementary school after killing his father at home.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper says the shooter wounded two students and a teacher Wednesday afternoon outside rural Townville Elementary but was apprehended before he could get inside the building.
Skipper says firefighter Jamie Brock "just took him down." Brock is a 30-year veteran of the Townville Volunteer Fire Department just down the road from the school and arrived before other officers responding to a 911 call from the school.
Deputies arrived minutes later.
Authorities say they don't yet know a motive for the shooting and they weren't sure if the students and teacher were targeted.
Baby Found In Trash
NORTH BELLE VERNON, Pa. (AP) - A prosecutor is investigating after authorities found a newborn baby in a trash bin of a gas station restroom in western Pennsylvania.
But Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck on Thursday says he can't speak to the details or the focus of the investigation, other than to confirm the baby was found Saturday afternoon at a BP station in North Belle Vernon.
A woman is believed to have given birth to the baby in the station's restroom. The baby was found when paramedics called to assist the woman looked in the trash bin.
The baby was nearly full-term and is expected to be survived.
Peck and other authorities haven't released the name of the mother or the child, which was being monitored in a hospital.
No charges have been filed.
Wolf's Plan To Combat Addiction
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf hkas addressed a joint session of the state House and Senate as he presses for action on a package of legislation designed to combat opioid and heroin addiction.
In Wolf's address Wednesday, he says he and lawmakers are going to take a stand against the vicious disease of opioid addiction. The address comes as lawmakers' fall voting session winds down. He says 10 people die from drug overdoses in Pennsylvania daily.
Wolf is seeking passage of bills to require prescribers to check a prescription drug monitoring database every time they prescribe opioids and limit opioid prescriptions to emergency room patients to seven days.
The limitation on emergency prescriptions is a narrower version of what passed in Massachusetts, where lawmakers limited all doctors to a seven-day limit.
Obama Will Attend Peres Funeral
JERUSALEM (AP) - The body of Israel's ninth president, Shimon Peres, is lying in state in the plaza of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Peres died Wednesday from complications following a stroke. He was 93. Israelis will pay their respects throughout the day. The White House says President Barack Obama will lead a delegation to Jerusalem for Peres' Friday funeral.
Congress Approves Spending Plan
WASHINGTON (AP) - Worried about being sacked in November, Congress has averted a weekend shutdown by punting. A hybrid budget extension will keep the government operating through Dec. 9. It contains long-delayed funding for experts battling the spread of the Zika virus. Passage allows lawmakers to rush back home for final campaign pushes.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says Congress has created a "dangerous precedent" with the override of his veto of a measure that would allow families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for its alleged backing of the attackers. Fifteen of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals. The White House says the law could allow American diplomats, officials and service members to be sued in foreign courts.
Gas Companies Lose Drilling Ruling
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's highest court is blocking industry-friendly provisions of a major 2012 state law designed to modernize natural gas drilling regulations. It's the latest in a string of court decisions striking down key portions of the law.
Four of the court's six justices Wednesday struck down provisions that a lawyer for municipalities described as "gifts" to the gas industry.
Lawyer Jordan Yeager says the ruling means the industry has to play by the same set of rules as everybody else.
The justices upheld a lower court's 2014 ruling that state regulators cannot review how local zoning restrictions affect the natural gas industry, or punish municipalities whose restrictions are more stringent than the state's.
The justices also blocked limits on what doctors can reveal about the proprietary content of hydraulic fracturing solutions that patients may have come into contact with.
Senators Demand Investigation Of Mylan
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senators are asking the Justice Department to investigate whether pharmaceutical company Mylan acted illegally when it classified its life-saving EpiPen as a generic drug and qualified for lower rebate payments to states. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and two other senators have sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and suggested the company may have gamed the system to divert millions of dollars from taxpayers. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch has come under fire in Congress as the price of the emergency allergy shots has skyrocketed in recent years. The list price of EpiPens has grown to $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007.
Wells Fargo CEO Faces More Questions
WASHINGTON (AP) - Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has told lawmakers the bank is expanding its review back to 2009 as it tries to stem a scandal over sales practices.
Stumpf reiterated that he was "deeply sorry," as he spoke this morning before the House Financial Services Committee.
As at the Senate Banking Committee last week, representatives on both side of the aisle expressed outrage.
Stumpf cited the compensation he must return and noted new leadership at the retail bank business and the accelerated elimination of sales goals. He also said no executives above the branch manager level appeared to be aware of the misconduct.
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $185 million to settle allegations that the bank's workers opened millions of accounts without customers' permission to reach aggressive sales targets. (photo: CNBC)
Congressmam Murphy Helps Save Man
Congressman Tim Murphy was waiting for an elevator in the House Rayburn Building Wednesday afternoon and when the doors of the elevator opened, a man was unresponsive on the floor. Murphy and an aide started CPR while a Capitol police officer responded with a defibrillator. The man soon started breathing. Murphy and his aides were described as "shaken" but praying for the man's recovery.
Tribune-Review Will Stop Print Edition
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper plans to stop its print edition Nov. 30 and offer an online-only publication in a reorganization that will also require 106 layoffs, its publisher announced Wednesday. The moves mean Pittsburghers will again have only one daily print newspaper, something the Trib’s former owner, the late billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, sought to avoid. Trib Total Media will continue publishing two daily print editions for the suburbs, the Greensburg-based Westmoreland edition of the Tribune-Review and the Tarentum-based Valley News Dispatch edition. The Pittsburgh Trib’s daily circulation was just under 33,500 while the Sunday paper was just shy of 40,000, said Jennifer Bertetto, president and CEO of Trib Total Media.
Clinton Kicks Off Early Voting In Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hillary Clinton is kicking off early voting in Iowa today with a major effort to boost support in the battleground state.
The Democratic presidential candidate will deliver a speech in Des Moines focusing on the childcare challenges faced by middle class families, according to a campaign aide.
Clinton backers also plan to host events in 10 Iowa cities today.
Organizing early voting was a key piece of President Barack Obama's strategy four years ago. More than 4 in ten Iowa voters cast ballots before Election Day in 2012.
Trump Defends Miss Universe Remarks
WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump says he saved former Miss Universe Alicia Machado's job by shaming her into losing weight. Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly Wednesday night that he "saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight." Trump says he said, "'Don't do that, let her try and lose the weight.'" Machado says that Trump humiliated her by inviting reporters to her gym sessions and calling her "Miss Piggy." But Trump says he deserves thanks."I helped somebody and this is what you get for helping somebody," he says.
He adds that she and other girls knew what they were getting into, adding, "It's a beauty contest."
Two Sisters Die On Vacation
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota man says his family has been given little information on how his two sisters died while vacationing on a tropical African island.
The bodies of 37-year-old Annie Korkki and 42-year-old Robin Korkki were found in their resort villa last week on the island of Seychelles off Africa's east coast in the Indian Ocean.
Their brother, Chris Korkki, of Lakeville, says the family has learned nothing through official channels about his sisters' deaths. Their bodies were found Sept. 22 at the Maia Luxury Resort.
Korkki tells the Star Tribune that his mother and brother have traveled to Seychelles to press officials for answers. He says his mother has also been talking with the U.S. Embassy.
Robin Korkki lived in Chicago. Annie Korkki lived in Denver.