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Pennsylvania lawmakers pass new limits on fireworks as July Fourth nears

HARRISBURG - State lawmakers gave their final approval to new restrictions on fireworks Friday but the rules will not be in place as July Fourth weekend fireworks light up Pennsylvania skies.The House voted 163-37 to send the legislation to the desk of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, whose spokeswoman said he plans to review it.

The law would take effect in two months.The bill would let municipalities restrict the use of fireworks to 10 a.m.-10 p.m. except during July 2-4 and Dec.

31, when they can be used until 1 a.m. The law allows their use on those holidays and over the Memorial and Labor Day weekends.MORE LOCAL HEADLINESThere are also more severe penalties for improper sales or illegal use.Those who plan to set them off will have to give nearby livestock owners or managers three days’ notice before fireworks can be used near an animal housing facility.

Local governments now have explicit authority to ban them if there is not a place to use them safely.A 2017 law greatly liberalized the sale of fireworks in Pennsylvania but also has generated complaints from neighbors. Firefighters say it has resulted in more fires and fire deaths.Until the 2017 law change, fireworks in Pennsylvania were largely limited to sparklers and similar novelties.

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Tom Wolf - Divided court explains choice of new Pennsylvania congressional map - - state Pennsylvania - city Harrisburg, state Pennsylvania
Divided court explains choice of new Pennsylvania congressional map
HARRISBURG, Pa. - All seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices issued opinions Wednesday regarding their 4-3 vote last month to pick a new map of the state's congressional districts, disclosing the majority relied partially on how fair the various proposals would be to the two major parties."We conclude that consideration of partisan fairness, when selecting a plan among several that meet traditional core criteria, is necessary to ensure that a congressional plan is reflective of and responsive to the partisan preferences of the commonwealth's voters," wrote Chief Justice Max Baer, joined by three fellow Democrats.He said tools that evaluate partisan fairness can help "avoid vote dilution based on political affiliation."The majority also rejected the argument that the 17 districts, each with nearly 765,000 voters, could not vary by as much as two voters apiece, as does the map they picked.After Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican majority state House and Senate deadlocked on drawing new lines for 17 congressional districts, reflecting the loss of a seat in the 2020 census, the job was left to the courts.The state's population increases over the past decade have been concentrated in the southeast, a stronghold for Democrats, while losses have occurred in the more rural and Republican areas of Pennsylvania's northern tier and western counties.A Republican Commonwealth Court judge, Patricia McCullough, recommended the justices go with the GOP-favored map that Wolf had vetoed.