Unredacted video, pay hikes, 'forever chemicals,' bail business, sworn oath, smallpox scare, and Lake Erie's 100-year parasite war. It's Thursday.
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PAY RAISE: Pennsylvania state lawmakers, judges, and top executive branch officials are due for big, inflation-driven pay hikes in 2022. For many of the positions, this is the biggest increase in three decades, the AP reports. The highest paid role, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, will get a salary bump of more than $12,000 to almost $234,000. The pay increase applies to more than 1,300 positions in total.
CHEMICAL CAPS: A Wolf administration push to further limit two forms of highly toxic "forever chemicals" in drinking water cleared a key regulatory hurdle this week, StateImpact reports. Approved by the state's Environmental Quality Board, the proposal would significantly lower the acceptable limit for two forms of toxic PFAS in all 3,117 of the state's water systems. Another regulatory board still needs to sign off.
BAIL BUSTERS: A fast-moving bill in Harrisburg would "virtually destroy" community bail funds in Pennsylvania by requiring licenses and fixed locations for the nonprofit groups. City Paper reports there are eight nonprofit bail funds statewide, with the ACLU warning all would essentially be eliminated if House Bill 2046 becomes law. Capital-Star reports a top bail industry advocate is lobbying lawmakers to pass the measure.
MILITIA MEN: WITF spoke to some of the dozens of Pennsylvania police officers and state constables who joined the far-right Oath Keepers militia. One, a Berks County constable, defended the group, which came under heightened scrutiny after the U.S. Capitol siege. Others, including Middlesex Township Police Officer Joseph Hallisey, gave their reasons for leaving. Hallisey said leadership "started going off the rails."
VIRAL LOAD: Frozen vials labeled "smallpox" — the deadly virus eradicated through mass vaccinations 40 years ago — were discovered by a Montgomery County lab worker in a vaccine research facility's freezer, CNN reports. The CDC says the vials appear intact and "there is no indication anyone was exposed." The CDC and FBI are investigating.
IN OTHER NEWS
HAZING 'TRIALS': Multiple students have been suspended and at least one expelled following a reported hazing incident at Tamaqua Area High School. WNEP reports the school board is expecting disciplinary hearings for the football players, who would "go on trial" before board members.
SEA CHANGE: It's been 100 years since the parasitic invaders known as sea lamprey made their way into the Great Lakes, decimating fish populations for decades before scientists figured out how to stop the predators from spawning, TribLIVE reports.
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P I T D S O I L C U U
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