Toomey presses for a bulwark against a future fracking ban

HARRISBURG (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is seeking passage of a measure that’s squarely aimed at several Democratic presidential candidates and designed to prevent a president from banning hydraulic fracturing.

Toomey said Friday his new resolution makes it clear that Congress believes a president doesn’t have the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Toomey’s resolution is in response to an all-out prohibition on the controversial natural gas extraction process that’s backed by two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The prospect of banning fracking is dividing Democrats and their traditional allies in organized labor in what’s shaping up as a premier battleground state in next year’s presidential election.

Pennsylvania is also the nation’s No. 2 natural gas state, behind Texas.

Wetzel comments prompt new hearing on prison closure

HARRISBURG (AP) — People urging Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration not to close Retreat State Prison will get a second chance to be heard after a microphone picked up Corrections Secretary John Wetzel during a public hearing whispering to a deputy that he was only pretending to pay attention.

The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre reports that Wolf’s administration scheduled a second hearing Nov. 21. Retreat is near Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Wetzel’s comments last month prompted several area lawmakers to urge Wolf to fire him.

Wolf’s administration in August announced its plan to close Retreat as money-saving move as the inmate population declines and costs rise.

Retreat has about 400 employees and 1,100 beds. Retreat’s original buildings date back to the 19th century and it has the fewest beds of Pennsylvania’s 25 state prisons.

Court rules in favor of warden seizing camera

HARRISBURG (AP) — A Pennsylvania appeals court says a game warden had the right to seize a wildlife camera without a warrant during an investigation into illegal elk feeding in Elk County.

A three-judge Commonwealth Court panel on Friday overturned a county judge’s ruling that a Game Commission wildlife conservation officer acted improperly in taking the camera.

The opinion says the officer warned 53-year-old Keith Robert Laskovich in 2016 not to feed elk at his hunting camp adjacent to a state game land, then seized the camera the following year.

The warden later got a search warrant for the camera’s memory card and charged Laskovich with illegally feeding elk.

A judge threw out the evidence, but the appeals court says the camera was in plain view so the seizure didn’t violate privacy rights.

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