Researchers Rush To Answer Questions About Newly-Legal Hemp Crops

HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) – Alyssa Collins said she has been fielding around five phone calls every day from people with questions about hemp–and that’s not even counting the emails. Collins directs Penn State’s Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Lancaster County, where researchers are part of a multi-state, USDA-supported study into different varieties of hemp that can be used for food and fiber. Pennsylvania approved more than 300 permits to farm industrial hemp this growing season, after Congress loosened restrictions on the crop last year. Hemp was long banned because of its relationship to marijuana, but it does not have enough of the psychoactive compound THC to produce a high. So now, researchers like Collins are trying to clear up uncertainties about the crop.

PA Auditor General Continues Child Welfare Review With Look At Obscure Agency

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is launching a review of a little-known government agency that hears appeals to cases of child abuse and neglect. The review is a continuation of DePasquale’s work focusing on the commonwealth’s child welfare system. A 2016 audit found the state’s hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect was so understaffed, tens of thousands of calls went unanswered.

Immigrant Rights Group Claims Victory In PA’s Midterm

READING, PA (WITF) — An advocacy group for Latino and immigrant rights in Pennsylvania is claiming victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The crowd at the Make the Road Action in PA offices in Reading burst into song at the news Democrats were projected to hold on to the governor’s office and a U.S. Senate seat. “Venceremos,” they sang, “we will win.”

PA Officials Warn Of Possible West Nile Outbreak

HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) — The state Department of Environmental Protection is warning against a possible outbreak of West Nile Virus. Secretary Patrick McDonnell said 2018 has been a perfect year for mosquitoes that carry the disease, with a wet spring and mostly-dry summer.

Opioid Crisis Central In Northern PA Congressional Race

HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) — Pennsylvania’s drug overdose rate is more than twice the national average. The opioid crisis is a focal point in the primary elections for the 12th Congressional District, which includes Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder and Union counties.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Rose In PA Last Year, Report Shows

Anti-Semitic incidents have risen significantly in the commonwealth for the second straight year. A report from the Anti-Defamation League shows they rose in four of the last five years after declining between 2008 and 2012. The ADL’s Nancy Baron-Baer says it’s a troubling trend.