State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Links: Act 47 turns 25, national GOP group revises Kane ad, Williams hearing continues today

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 24, 2012 7:54 AM

Thumbnail image for Harrisburg Capitol building with fountainThe Times-Tribune wishes a very happy birthday to the state’s Act 47 program for distressed municipalities – 25 years young this week. Lawmakers are looking to overhaul the program deemed a roach motel of municipalities – 27 have checked in, but only six have checked out:

It's been easier to help cities in Act 47 because of bad management than those facing structural problems like erosion of the tax base, testified Brian Jensen, executive director of PEL's southwest branch, at a legislative hearing last year.

"Act 47 has had success in addressing managerial distress, but has had relatively little success in addressing structural distress," he said.

The proposed remedies include setting a deadline for cities to exit Act 47, getting local businesses more involved in recovery plans and addressing how the distress of a geographic region affects the municipalities within it.

A television ad critical of Democratic candidate for Attorney General Kathleen Kane is getting the red pen before going back to the airwaves, reports the Post-Gazette:

The 30-second spot blasts Kathleen Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, saying that she reached weak plea deals in those local cases.

Ms. Kane's campaign fired back that the ad -- which the Republican State Leadership Committee so far has spent more than $550,000 to air on Philadelphia networks -- is wrong in stating that she prosecuted those particular cases.

They released documents indicating that the 2007 case of Charles Lake, who pleaded guilty to raping an 18-year-old, was handled by another assistant district attorney. Mr. Lake received a stiffer sentence than what prosecutors recommended, which the GOP group said showed her going "soft" against a rapist.

A hearing continues today in the case of Terrance Williams, whose lawyers are hoping won’t be executed, as scheduled, next Wednesday. The Patriot-News reports the complexities of the case are numerous – there is now testimony to suggest Williams was sexually abused by the men he killed as an 18-year-old in 1984, that jurors regret their decision in the first trial of Williams’ murder of a Philadelphia man, and that Williams’ legal defense in that case was inadequate.

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