The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 22, 2013

State Capitol leaders report progress in transportation talks

HARRISBURG — A rare meeting of top Republican and Democratic legislative leaders created new hope for passage of a bill to fund transportation projects in Pennsylvania, negotiators said Tuesday as a soft deadline this week for movement of a bill was replaced by a November target date.

Five of the six leaders of both parties in the House and Senate met Monday in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, looking for a bipartisan agreement on what is the most closely watched issue before the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“I’m more optimistic,” said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “I mean, we’re talking and working together.”

Senate Republican leaders called the meeting to try to keep talks alive as the fall session ticks away and to ensure that any measure that is advanced by the more conservative House will be acceptable to senators, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said.

“We’ve allowed the House to have conversations to get to 102 votes and we haven’t interfered with those conversations,” Scarnati said. “But we want to be sure that whatever happens in the House will get a warm reception in the Senate.”

Setting aside Wednesday as a deadline to vote buys time for what is a top priority of Gov. Tom Corbett, major business groups and labor unions. After Wednesday, the Legislature’s next session day is Nov. 12.

In June, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to ramp up transportation spending $2.5 billion a year by raising taxes, fees and fines on motorists. However, since then, House Republican leaders have struggled to find substantial GOP support for a similar measure, unless it rolls back union-supported wage requirements on transportation projects.

House Speaker Sam Smith, who is leading House negotiations, said he has not changed his support for changing the state’s prevailing wage rules, and that changes are necessary to generate sufficient support within House Republican ranks.

“If that’s not a part of it, then I’m not a part of it,” said Smith, R-Jefferson.

However, House Minority Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, said Democrats will not be part of a deal that results in changes to the state’s prevailing wage law, which sets pay rates on public works projects.

Labor unions are split over whether to support any change in prevailing wage laws, and Scarnati said it will be harder to win votes from Democrats if labor unions are not unified in favor of a change.

Dave Thomas, an aide to Republican House Speaker Sam Smith, said the new plan is to work on a proposal that would be a mixture of the $2.5 billion-a-year bill that passed the state Senate in June and a less costly approach under consideration in the House.

On the spending side, Smith said he is considering a roughly $2.3 billion plan that raises a wholesale gas tax but removes a 12 cent-per-gallon tax paid at the pump. The tax and fee increases would be phased-in over several years, Smith said.

The legislation would boost the state’s spending on Pennsylvania’s transportation systems almost 50 percent while making the state’s fuel tax rates one of the nation’s highest.


Text Only
  • Loaded language

    Sometimes it’s the offhand remark that’s the most telling. Indeed, the way we Americans casually, often unthinkingly, incorporate gun metaphors into our everyday slang says a lot about how deeply embedded guns are in our culture and our politics, and how difficult it is to control or extract them. Consider this list, presented as bullet points — which are themselves so conventional, so central to the typography of mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations, that you can forget what their shape represents.

    April 20, 2014

  • Prize claim cost man $1,829

    WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website ( is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.

    April 19, 2014

  • Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers

    TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says

    SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”

    April 19, 2014

  • bonehunt20a.jpg 60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt

    It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule

    Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs

    ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

    April 19, 2014

  • State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy

    MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

    April 18, 2014

The Daily Marquee

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.