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Friday, December 21, 2012

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Dec. 21

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Today of course marks the onset of a new millennium, an era in which we can now access untapped reserves of spiritual power, and be more in touch with the cosmos and our place within it. And yet the Steelers are still only 7-7. On the other hand, the forecast is for snow, so you can count on plenty of end-times hysteria on your local TV news, at least.

From the left-of-center Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a look at how President Obama's to allow tax cuts to expire would affect all 67 state counties. The answer: not much -- especially in the "red" counties that voted Republican. In more than half of Pennsylvania counties -- the vast majority of them rural -- fewer than 1 taxpayer in 100 would have to pay higher taxes. The areas with the highest concentration of wealthy taxpayers -- Allegheny, Philadelphia and its surroundings -- voted for the President.

The state's new, stricter "Megan's Law" requirements go into effect ... and Channel 11 is there!

The Post-Gazette takes a look at how state politicians are reacting to talk of gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Suffice it to say that we're a little short on profiles in courage, though Sen. Pat Toomey generously allows that he will "consider" legislation making it harder for "deranged individuals" to get firearms. I'll have a bit more on this later today, but it's also worth noting that Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett received a lot of help from the NRA during their 2010 political campaigns.

Speaking of Corbett, he's on the defensive over a story we first noted here yesterday: that he accepted free travel perks from a businessman with ties to the natural-gas industry last year, and initially failed to report them.

In brighter Tom Corbett news, his PennDOT Secretary, Barry Schoch, is pushing back on rural legislators who say the state spends too much on mass transit. Schoch observes that the state subsidizes rural roads to a greater extent. This space has made sport of Corbett appointees in the past, but by all accounts -- and by the evidence of his own candid appearances in Pittsburgh -- Schoch seems like a stand-up guy.

While details are scare, it looks like it may be expensive for Allegheny County employees to renew their insurance coverage with Highmark. The stage is being set for yet another brouhaha between Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

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