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Friday, September 21, 2012

Heads Up: Morning Headlines for Sept. 21

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Story of the day: Democrats strike back! As we first reported here yesterday, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald plans to issue voter IDs through the county's community college and Kane health centers. Turns out that Montgomery County, out Philadelphia way, is doing much the same thing. Can Philadelphia be far behind? The best part is hearing state officials grouse about how this all is legal, but not really in accord with the intentions of the law. Of course not -- the intention of the law was to prevent Democrats from voting!

You may have missed it, but yesterday Republicans in the Senate killed a bill to help returning military veterans find work at home. Republicans cited budget rules as the reason, and among those voting to kill the measure, of course, was PA's own Pat Toomey. That earned him a scathing condemnation from Rachel Maddow, since Toomey was one of four GOP Senators who managed to get his own language inserted into the bill before voting against it. Let's watch:

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(By way of explanation, Toomey's office had some stuff to say about budgetary concerns.)

Speaking of veterans, our friends at nonprofit journalism center PublicSource report that vets in this region have among the longest waits in the country for disability claims. It takes 10 months to get a claim for disability benefits adjudicated here, as compared to less than 9 months elsewhere in the country. PublicSource traces the backlogs to: the influx of soldiers returning from the "war on terror"; increasingly complicated battlefield injuries; and Bush Administration-era changes that added to the Pittsburgh office's burden.

The state Senate is once again considering a bill that would open the door to high-interest payday loans -- under the guise of regulating them. Here's a blistering take on why that's a bad idea.

To borrow a line from an old UPMC ad, "The shitstorm continues." UPMC is arguing in court that insurance giant Highmark is conspiring to "destroy UPMC as a negotiating entity." (Boooo Highmark! UPMC is supposed to destroy you as a negotiating entity, duh!) In the meantime, Highmark is hatching plans to build a "medical mall" in the North Hills. It'll feature a pharmacy and doctor's offices, along with cancer-treatment centers, urgent-care and surgical facilities. Ironically, though, they are apparently not planning to include a Piercing Pagoda.

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