Tuesday July 7, 2020

Bird of Paradise by Judy Bliss Spaeth

TODAY CHANCE OF AFTERNOON THUNDERSTORMS OTHERWISE MOSTLY SUNNY HIGH OF 91.

PARTLY CLOUCY TONIGHT LOW OF 66

CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS TOMORROW OTHERWISE PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A HIGH OF 90

A LOW  IN THE MID 60s. THURSDAY CLOUDY WITH AFTERNOON SHOWERS POSSIBLE A HIGH AGAIN OF 90 AND AN OVERNIGHT LOW OF 66.

Legislation changing way high court judges are elected is proposed….Virus cases continue to creep up in region, but deaths across state are down….Two vehicles stolen from Coudersport dealership…..Ridgway state police investigate worthless check for more than $4,000…..https://soundcloud.com/user-159792485/black-forest-broadcasting-podcast-july-7-2020

Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) circulated a co-sponsorship memo announcing his intent to re-introduce legislation that would guarantee that the diversity of Pennsylvania and the uniqueness of its various regions would be more accurately reflected in the election of appellate judges.

Aument’s legislation, which would require approval of Pennsylvania’s voters, would divide the Commonwealth into nine (9) Commonwealth Court districts, fifteen (15) Superior Court districts, and seven (7) Supreme Court districts.

The judicial districts would be drawn following the redistricting principles found in the Pennsylvania Constitution, requiring populations as equal as possible in each district with compact and contiguous geographic boundaries, and would comport with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. It would also be consistent with any future Constitutional amendments to reform redistricting, such as the effort to establish an independent redistricting commission in Senate Bill 22.

Importantly, candidates for appellate seats would be required to reside in the district they would represent on the court.

Aument said the need to reintroduce this proposal now was further highlighted by the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion on House Resolution 836, in which the Court denied the General Assembly’s power to overturn Governor Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration. While Aument supported the passage of House Resolution 836 in the Senate, the Supreme Court’s decision effectively affirmed the legitimacy of the emergency disaster declaration, ensuring all aspects of it – including executive orders and guidance to businesses, individuals, and schools – remain in place until the Governor decides Pennsylvania is no longer in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 global pandemic or the General Assembly can produce a supermajority to override him.“

Aument noted that a cursory review of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court and Commonwealth Court judge compliment in 2018 when this proposal was first developed shows that more than half of all the members of those courts were from only two of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, which only represent 21% of the state’s population.

He also pointed out that five of the seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices, or over two-thirds of the justices, were from Allegheny or Philadelphia counties, leaving 79% of the state’s population unrepresented on Pennsylvania’s highest court.

Taken together, only 15 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties were home to a Pennsylvania appellate court judge.

 

In order to promote greater diversity and fairness in judicial service, eleven other states (Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) select judges and justices for either some or all of their appellate courts through the use of regional judicial district elections.

Aument’s legislation is designed to preserve the right of the people to select their judges and justices, and to ensure fair and equal representation in Pennsylvania’s judicial branch.

The House companion to Aument’s legislation, House Bill 196 sponsored by Representative Russ Diamond (R-102), passed the House in December 2019 and is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate State Government Committee. Both the Senate and House version of this legislation propose fair judicial district reform by amending the Pennsylvania Constitution, the process for which requires final approval from Pennsylvania voters before a new amendment can be ratified.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., July 6, that there are 450 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 90,304. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19. The number of cases in the Black Forest Broadcasting Service Area continues to creep up. Cameron County has 4 cases; Elk, 20; McKean 20; Potter, 17 and Tioga 27.

There are 6,754 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of one new death reported. County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the department’s website.

Mask wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are 634 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 743,020 patients who have tested negative to date. Pennsylvania has a 78% recovery rate.

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 17,933 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,351 cases among employees, for a total of 21,284 at 709 distinct facilities in 52 counties. McKean County now has one case in a nursing home or personal care home.  Out of the total deaths, 4,593 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 6,824 of THE total cases are in health care workers.

State police  at Coudersport are investigating a theft by deception  occurring last week at Kightlinger Motors. Two vehicles a 2008 Ford ZPM9420  and a 2016 Johnson Corp. XLR118 were taken last Wednesday morning.

State Police at Ridgway are continuing to investigate a theft by bad checks occurring a couple of months ago. Troopers claim a 41 year old man from Penfield wrote a worthless check to M and B services on Squab  Hollow Road in Fox Township Elk County on March 16 in the amount of $4,618.08. The check was returned for non sufficient funds and the suspect has not yet made it good. The investigation is continuing.

An Erie driver escaped injury in  a one vehicle crash occurring last Thursday night on Pine Hill Road in Stewardson  Township Potter County. Troopers say Mason Fillak  was driving a Buick Century at a high speed when it went off road after he swerved to miss a deer.  The car went out off  the road  and struck an  embankment along the eastern side.

A hit and run occurring July 4 on West Main Street in Galeton is under investigation by state police. An unknown vehicle, while backing out of the Dollar General parking lot  hit a legally parked Chevrolet Camaro. The driver left the scene without notifying the other driver or police.