July 18, 2014
WANT TO open a bar in Pennsylvania and avoid the standard six-figure price tag for a liquor license? The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, through its extraordinarily lenient interpretation of the state liquor code, lets you do it for as little as $500. All it takes is a one-page application with none of the lengthy red tape and criminal background checks applicants normally face. The discount license is an unforeseen product of a 2012 liquor code amendment crafted by the Legislature to make it easier for licensees to cater one-day private events.
June 16, 2014 |
Hurricane season is starting slowly, and weather forecasters predict that El Niño may help spare us this year. But as Hurricane Sandy reminded our region, you never can predict when you'll be in bad luck's bull's-eye. So it's a good time to consider how to avoid another kind of harm: from a Swiss-cheese insurance policy. Some Sandy victims found, for instance, that if losses were caused by both wind and water, a term with a whale of a name - an "anti-concurrent-causation clause" - could help an insurer sidestep or lowball a claim.
March 18, 2014
IT'S LIKE A KID asking the teacher for more homework. When I heard that South Philly auto-body repairman Domenico Nigro wants more oversight and regulation by the city or state, that's what I thought. What business owner wants more government involvement in his or her affairs? The answer: One who cares about the safety of customers and other citizens. People who do heavy repair work on your car are not required to be certified to guarantee their competence. That just floors him. Nigro's wife, Victoria, is a hair stylist and is tested and certified by the state.
March 6, 2014 |
The ink is barely dry on the city's agreement to sell Philadelphia Gas Works for $1.86 billion to a Connecticut energy company, and critics are already seeing loopholes in promised customer protections. Under the purchase agreement announced Monday, UIL Holdings Corp. is required to maintain a three-year rate freeze and continue PGW's low-income subsidies. But advocates who have read the 87-page agreement say it appears to contain provisions that would allow the new owners to hedge those commitments.
August 5, 2013 |
Despite having one of the toughest pay-to-play laws in the nation to regulate the awarding of contracts in connection with campaign contributions, New Jersey also has one of the largest loopholes. Essentially, if local government agencies publicly bid a contract, pay-to-play rules, including strict donation limits, don't apply. But there's a loophole in that, too - if a local town has its own pay-to-play law - and that might be causing potential problems for Camden. Camden officials have said they did nothing wrong in appointing a politically connected auditing firm to audit the city's books this year after the firm earlier donated thousands of dollars to Mayor Dana L. Redd's reelection campaign and a related political action committee.
July 28, 2013 |
We may have our differences, but we heartily agree that our tax code is overly complicated and inefficient, and that we need to start controlling our skyrocketing national debt. Structural tax reform can address both problems. To that end, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.) are coming to Philadelphia on Monday. They head the Senate and House committees responsible for tax policy, and both are committed to reforming the tax code. They are visiting cities across the country seeking support and input for the overhaul from taxpayers and business owners.
July 19, 2013 |
HARRISBURG - On a scorching summer morning in a state known for its staunch defense of the Second Amendment, the mother of one of the victims in last year's shooting at a Connecticut school came to the Capitol to talk about gun laws. Francine Lobis Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son was among 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown in December, said she came not as an expert on policy or law, but as a mother with a credential no parent wants: "I have lost a child to gun violence.
June 5, 2013
By Pamela Lampitt Most New Jerseyans agree: It is absolutely critical to keep individuals suffering from serious mental illness from purchasing firearms. Stopping individuals with potentially dangerous mental illness from obtaining weapons is not just common sense; it is indispensable to protecting our communities from gun violence. But a glaring loophole in state law permits people with serious mental illnesses to easily pass through the background-check system and purchase firearms.
April 20, 2013
By Patrick Meehan Imagine yourself a victim of sexual assault. After finally summoning the courage to speak out and report your attacker to authorities, you're forced to relive the attack through months of depositions, testimony, and questioning by defense attorneys hoping to discredit you. Next, a jury returns a guilty verdict against your attacker. But then, weeks later, that verdict is suddenly and irreversibly overturned, without any justification or rationale. Your attacker is set free, and you're not even told why. That's exactly what happened to an American woman working in Italy.
February 12, 2013 |
SEVERAL Philadelphia gun owners with nonresident permits from Florida to carry a concealed weapon say that when state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced Friday that she was closing the so-called Florida gun loophole she also should have promised to look at why so many Philadelphians sought permits from Florida in the first place. "The only place that this seems to become an issue, which they are not saying, is in Philadelphia," said firearms instructor Richard Oliver. "It's just a Philly problem, because to get the Philadelphia permit is so crazy.