This week in Pa. his­tory

The Citizens' Voice - - Capitol Watch -

5 YEARS AGO Cor­bett con­sid­ers gun show bans

Gov. Tom Cor­bett sug­gested in a pub­lic ra­dio in­ter­view in early Jan­uary 2013 that he would con­sider ban­ning gun shows on pub­lic prop­erty such as the Penn­syl­va­nia Farm Show in Har­ris­burg.

The Repub­li­can gover­nor’s re­marks came amid a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about gun vi­o­lence fol­low­ing the De­cem­ber 2012 shoot­ing at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in Newtown, Con­necti­cut.

Cor­bett was asked by a listener whether he had con­sid­ered such a ban.

“It’s a good thing to raise, and I will give a thought to it,” he said on WITF’s “Smart Talk.”

Cor­bett had made up his mind by the end of the day.

“There would be no rea­son to ban (gun shows) on pub­lic prop­erty, such as the Farm Show build­ing, as they are le­git­i­mate busi­ness own­ers con­duct­ing busi­ness,” a spokes­woman said.

10 YEARS AGO Re­ports: Pa. bun­gled 9/11 cash

Penn­syl­va­nia’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency was found to be ill-pre­pared to man­age the more than $400 mil­lion in fed­eral money that had be­gun flow­ing into the state since Sept. 11, 2001, re­ports pub­li­cized in Jan­uary 2008 found.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­porter Marc Levy wrote that the re­ports found “record-keep­ing has been so in­ad­e­quate that state emer­gency of­fi­cials, who must ap­prove lo­cal re­quests for the money, can­not say whether equip­ment that has been pur­chased is still in use or where it is.”

The re­ports were pre­pared by the state Leg­isla­tive Bud­get and Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, the Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral of the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and a pri­vate firm, James Lee Witt As­so­ci­ates of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

The state’s new di­rec­tor of emer­gency man­age­ment, Gen. Robert P. French, did not dis­pute the find­ings. But he told Levy he was con­fi­dent lo­cal emer­gency re­sponse of­fi­cials have, in gen­eral, put the money to good use in spite of over­sight fail­ures at the state level.

15 YEARS AGO Capi­tol evac­u­ated on open­ing day

Gov. Mark Sch­weiker, who had taken over for Tom Ridge 15 months ear­lier, praised the Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s work as he ad­dressed 227 newly swornin law­mak­ers dur­ing a joint ses­sion of the House and Se­nate in Jan­uary 2003.

In­com­ing Gov. Ed Ren­dell and the Leg­is­la­ture were prepar­ing to take on med­i­cal mal­prac­tice re­forms and a promised spe­cial ses­sion on the Demo­cratic gover­nor’s plan to re­duce lo­cal prop­erty taxes while sharply in­creas­ing state fund­ing for pub­lic schools.

The open­ing day, though, was dis­rupted when a se­ries of fire alarms went off and the Capi­tol was briefly evac­u­ated, sus­pi­ciously in­ter­rupt­ing a House de­bate over an at­tempt by Rep. Gre­gory Vi­tali to change House rules to pro­hibit law­mak­ers from us­ing leg­isla­tive ac­counts to pay for tele­vi­sion ads or hire out­side tele­mar­keters to con­tact con­stituents.

The first alarm was at­trib­uted to smoke em­a­nat­ing from Sterno cans — used by cater­ers in the build­ing — af­ter the flames were ex­tin­guished.

A sub­se­quent alarm re­sulted from two mal­func­tion­ing hoses on steam pumps in the Capi­tol East Wing’s heat­ing sys­tem.

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