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.

With Net Neutrality Decision, This Model Could Offer More Broadband Choices For Rural Customers

Opponents of Thursday’s FCC decision to roll back net neutrality rules are concerned about the effect on broadband internet access, especially in rural areas. Bringing broadband to these areas can be expensive. For the last couple years, the FCC had regulated the internet as a utility. Now, that’s changed and some fear providers won’t have the incentive to bring better access to rural areas. One solution could be open access networks. These supply the infrastructure for broadband internet; things like fiber are laid down.

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Steuben County Pursues Legal Action Against Big Pharma Over Opioid Epidemic

Steuben County plans to join the chorus of municipalities filing lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. The county legislature gave the unanimous go-ahead to pursue the lawsuit on Monday. Steuben is targeting major pharmaceutical companies and large prescribers. Large prescribers could mean places like hospital systems.  The decision came after the public urged legal action at forums in Bath, Corning and Hornell. The county population is relatively small, but still had 16 overdose deaths last year.  “The number is staggering in comparison to what we were looking at even five years ago.

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Sen. Gillibrand Rebukes Criticism For Clinton Comments, Says Harrassment Culture Needs to Change

US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing to change the sexual harassment culture in Washington. In an interview last week with the New York Times, Gillibrand said President Clinton should have resigned over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky 20 years ago. Gillibrand’s been criticized for waiting until now to make the comments. Philippe Reines, an ex-Hillary Clinton advisor, called Gillibrand a “hypocrite” on Twitter. Reines said the Senator shouldn’t have taken campaign contributions if she felt so strongly about Clinton’s affair. During a visit to Broome County on Monday, Gillibrand said Reines' comments were wrong, but didn’t focus much on the criticism.