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Christen Smith

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Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania's General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.

Biden, Pence tout economics

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Biden and Pence’s dueling campaign trips this week highlighted the importance of Pennsylvania’s role in the 2020 presidential race.

More criminal justice reform on legislators minds

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New criminal justice reforms are designed to make it easier for drug offenders to turn their lives around, get jobs and become contributing member of society.

Supreme Court sides with Wolf

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The state’s highest court agreed that House Resolution 836 does not end the governor’s emergency order because it was never physically presented to him for a signature.

Lawmakers advance policing reforms

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Pennsylvania’s lawmakers advanced policing reforms this week to overhaul police hiring, training and use of force policies. The new legislation comes in...

Supreme Court to decide disaster issue

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The seven judge panel agreed Wednesday to hear the case after Wolf invoked “king’s bench” jurisdiction Friday for a quick ruling in his favor.

Lawmakers turn attention toward policing reforms

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Without a mandate, departments don’t have to turn over employment histories, with many fearing civil liability for doing so.

Emergency declaration headed to court

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Gov. Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania’s constitution clearly favors his side. Legislators claim it upholds their side. The issue will likely be settled in court.

COVID-19 disaster declaration extended

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The move will likely further strain the relationship between the Democratic administration and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate dead set on reopening the state’s economy faster than Wolf’s phased plan allows.

Turnpike goes cashless

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Tuesday it will permanently lay off about 500 employees and maintain cashless fare collections amid deep revenue losses.

State briefs: Revenue down, civil unrest

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In this list of state briefs, The Center Square reporter Cristin Smith talks about a drop in state tax revenues, the coronavirus and civil unrest.

Wolf disaster declaration

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“People have every right to speak out and demonstrate, but it’s unacceptable to take advantage of protests to incite violence, harm others and destroy property,” Wolf said.

Wolf to veto resolution

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Eight Democrats broke across party lines to support the measure, recognized as a quick-fire way to lift restrictions on economic activity as the pandemic wanes across the state.

No investigation into undisclosed COVID-19 diagnosis

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"While I understand their frustration and concern, a criminal investigation is not warranted based on our initial review," Shapiro said.

Lawmaker reveals COVID-19 diagnosis

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ep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, said he received the results on May 20 that indicated his flu-like symptoms were actually that of the novel coronavirus.

AG probes business waivers

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AG Eugene DePasquale said he’s heard from confused business owners frustrated by apparent inconsistencies in the state’s waiver decisions.

Universal testing for nursing homes

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In Franklin County, as of Monday, 9 of the county’s 15 COVID-19 deaths were nursing home residents. Most of those were at one facility, according to one local source.

Wolf threatens rogue counties

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Over the weekend, several counties in the central region of the state announced intentions to progress their local economies to the yellow phase of the governor’s plan without his blessing.

Pennsylvania counties go rogue

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Officials from several counties across central Pennsylvania said over the weekend they will likely lift pandemic restrictions against Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders.

Lawn, garden center waivers okayed by House

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Lawn and garden center waivers were state lawmakers latest effort to reopen more businesses, this time with bipartisan support. But the question...

AG audits business waiver process

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Senate Republicans have pushed – repeatedly – for the administration to publicize the list of waiver applicants after complaints about unfair and illogical denials flooded their district offices.

Sharp rise in COVID-19 deaths tied to reporting lags

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Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the 479 additional fatalities occurred over the last 10 days and added to the state’s tally from the electronic death-reporting system only this week.

Golf courses, private campgrounds reopen Friday

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The announcement follows last week’s guidance that construction sites also will resume operations Friday as the state looks toward loosening pandemic restrictions in less affected counties in the coming weeks.

Bills to reopen pass House

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The Center Square Pennsylvania’s House lawmakers moved forward Tuesday on several bills meant to reopen certain businesses, despite...

Wolf’s veto frustrates Republicans

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Wolf vetoed the plan after Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine warned the CISA list, in particular, was too broad to contain the pandemic in Pennsylvania, the fifth most impacted state in the country.

Wolf outlines ‘reopening plan’

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The beginning of the phased, regional reopening approach will depend upon as-yet-defined “quantifiable criteria.”

Business reopening plan passes Senate

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The chamber approved Senate Bills 327 and 613 along party lines after hours of debate. That debate centered on whether the administration’s current coronavirus mitigation strategy – while admittedly effective – goes too far, unnecessarily plunging more than 1.3 million residents into unemployment.

Business reopening plan approved by PA House

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The Center Square A business reopening plan approved by Pennsylvania lawmakers Tuesday is further fueling tensions with the Wolf...

It’s official: No school rest of academic year

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Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said a few months of review and enrichment by districts such as Chambersburg’s is not enough to make sure kids are prepared for the next academic year, however.

Pandemic recovery task force proposed

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Senate Bill 327 passed along party lines on a vote of 108-93 after Democrats levied, at times, hostile criticism against the majority party for congregating lawmakers in pursuit of what they called a partisan and unnecessary bill.

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Rescue at High Rock

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A 25-year-old woman who fell 75 feet from an overlook at High Rock has been rescued and is being airlifted to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Md.
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Biden, Pence tout economics

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Biden and Pence’s dueling campaign trips this week highlighted the importance of Pennsylvania’s role in the 2020 presidential race.