PA Officials: Budget Constraints Limit Care For Mentally Ill Inmates

KEYSTONE CROSSWORDS – Following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation in 2014, the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, demanding changes to provide better care for mentally ill inmates. DOC settled in 2015, and three years later, the state says it no longer uses solitary confinement as prevalently. “We no longer utilize the same level of segregation that we did prior to the reports and the investigations,” said Lynn Patrone, DOC’s mental health advocate. She said the department is working to meet the requirement that the settlement put forward to divert inmates into treatment instead of solitary confinement. Patrone said even when the misconduct of inmates with mental illness results in solitary confinement, they are offered 20 hours of out-of-cell activities per week.

Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Lawsuit Over Royalty Payments Advances

A lawsuit is moving forward by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office alleging natural gas companies didn’t pay royalties to landowners as they’d promised. Bradford County Common Pleas Court Judge Kenneth Brown denied the preliminary objections raised by the defendants, Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko Petroleum. The lawsuit, filed in 2015, accuses the companies of violating the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, by promising landowners royalty money they never paid. You can read the full story here.

Calls For Change Mount After Harassment Allegations Against Pennsylvania Lawmakers

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — On the heels of recent Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stories on alleged sexual harassment by state lawmakers, a number of officials are calling for a change. The latest story concerns 40-year veteran lawmaker Thomas Caltagirone, a Berks County Democrat. The House Democratic caucus paid a quarter million taxpayer dollars to settle a harassment complaint a staffer made against him. A non-disclosure agreement kept the whole thing under wraps. A few weeks before that was reported, fellow House Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky, of Delaware County, said a different news story made her realize the settlements were happening and being kept secret.

Hershey Company Making Healthier Snacks With Latest Acquisition

(Harrisburg) — The Hershey Company is making a move to gain a stronger foothold in the “better for you” snacking market. It’s the chocolate-maker’s second non-candy acquisition in the last three years. Hershey has agreed to pay $1.6 billion for Texas-based Amplify Snack Brands, which makes healthy snacks like Skinny Pop popcorn and Oatmega protein bars. Read full story here. 

PA Officials Scramble To Plan For Possible CHIP Shutdown

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Fights over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has states trying to figure out how long their programs can hold out without getting more money. Pennsylvania is no exception. The commonwealth’s CHIP program will be lucky to last until March if federal lawmakers don’t act soon. CHIP funding expired at the end of September. And a measure that would extend it for five more years is wrapped up in partisan gridlock in Congress over an end-of-year spending bill.