PA Promise rally to push for less student loan debt.

Hannah Pollock- Assistant News Editor: The Slate

Students are invited to attend a rally for funding of Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education colleges at the Harrisburg’s Capitol building to make their voices heard by legislators. 

The Pennsylvania Promise rally will be held at 11 a.m. on March 27.

In an email, Kathryn Morton, communications director of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), invited students who believe higher education should be affordable to the rally. 

“The rally will focus on the burden of student debt, and APSCUF supports legislation that eases the burden of student debt,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Promise focuses on decreasing the amount of debt with which students are leaving college. The Pennsylvania Promise believes that the threat of student debt is keeping some students from attending college, according to an APSCUF press release.

“Pennsylvania students are leaving college with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and who knows how many students are simply not going to college because they cannot afford it,” the Pennsylvania Promise website states.

Pennsylvania was ranked 50th out of 50 states in higher education by U.S. News in 2018 due to the amount of student debt, as well as the amount of tuition and fees. 

The advocacy event plans to give students a platform to interact with legislators in order to create changes to the current funding of higher education in Pennsylvania, according to an APSCUF press release. 

Free transportation and lunch is available for interested students, faculty and coaches through APSCUF. For more information, contact the Shippensburg University APSCUF chapter at (717) 477-1791 or visit Wright Hall Room 103.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Promise, visit

From Shippensburg University- The Slate

Rising tuition, declining enrollment prompt state universities to request more funding

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) ABC 27- Rising tuition and declining enrollment have led the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to request more money in the state budget, but not everyone is on board. 

The state has continued to increase funding over the last four years, but the state university system says it's not enough, and neither is the proposal for next year.

"Our request was for $505 million, which would be a $37 million increase over what we're getting now," PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

But Governor Tom Wolf proposed to give about $480 million.

This week, the university system made its case to legislators that it needs more.

"Back in 2010, we received a $90 million cut," said Marshall. "Even with that increase, we still would be below where we were prior to when the recession began."

Less funding means cutting costs and higher tuition. 

The effects of that have shown in enrollment.

In 2010, enrollment at state universities was almost 120,000 students. This year, it's about 98,000.

"We need to repurpose those institutions," said Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster). "Some institutions might need to be closed down."

Martin says the state shouldn't consider any increases until the system gets revamped, which is in the works.

"We have institutions that are on accreditation probation currently that are not meeting academic standards and are facing huge fines," said Martin.

"We're in the midst of redesigning the system right now, the entire system," said Marshall.

The state system says Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the country in funding to higher education. 

The Department of Education says the governor will continue to work to keep state universities successful.

"The budget process, it's long," said Eric Levis, press secretary for the Department of Education. "It's a complicated process. The governor has continued to fund higher education. When he came into office, he made education his top priority."

The budget is finalized by the end of June, and tuition gets decided in July.

Weekend Update

SHIPPENSBURG Twp.- It was an abnormally loud weekend in Shippensburg as Saturday night and Sunday night the Shippensburg Fire Departments responded to multiple calls throughout the township. This also culminated with the large police presence in the township made for an interesting pair.

Both on and off campus Shippensburg University Police as well as Township and Pennsylvania State Police, continued on their crackdown of DUI stoppages as safety violations for the second consecutive weekend. This was seen as both marked and unmarked units were patrolling campus, King Street, Earl Street and Richard Avenue. It was estimated that over 100 citations were issued for car stereos being too loud, too many people in the vehicle, and several arrests were made in connection with other crimes reported in the township.

At approximately 12:30am Saturday, West End Fire and Rescue (Shippensburg) and Vigilant Hose Co. (Shippensburg) were dispatched to 39 N Earl Street for a report of a residential structure fire. SUPD and State Police also responded, and upon arrival of the fire department deemed the incident a good intent call as it was steam from a dryer vent in the front of the house causing the “smoke”. SUPD, SFD and PSP were all cleared within a half an hour.

Late Sunday night, while winds gusted to 65mph in Shippensburg, the Shippensburg Fire Departments responded to multiple calls for trees down, wires arcing or even on fire, and several Carbon Monoxide incidents. These calls were all cleared within minutes when utilities controllers arrived and secured the area.

Around Midnight, West End Fire and Rescue as well as Vigilant Hose Co and C.V. Hose from Shippensburg were called to 2 East King Street to the Shippensburg Select Diner for a possible working commercial building fire. Units from West End arrived within 3 minutes of the initial 911 call and deemed the fire under control and it was a malfunctioning ventilation system due to debris blocking the inflow caused from the winds. Units were made available within 25 minutes of being dispatched.

Shippensburg Township reminds you to clear debris from roadways and to not drive through wires that have fallen on the ground as they may still be live. Also report any live wires down immediately by calling 911 and the electric company.



Driver in Shippensburg Hit & Run Arrested

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa.– UPDATE (February 19) FOX 43: Police have arrested the driver in a hit & run incident that left two parked vehicles totaled.

Thanh Q Ly, 36, is facing accidents involving damage to unattended vehicle or property, reckless driving, and immediate notice of accident to police department charges.

The striking vehicle, a black Land Rover SUV, was located in Ly’s driveway on Hollar Ave. in Shippensburg.

It had significant front end damage.

Ly admitted to police that he was the one driving the vehicle when it struck the two parked cars and fled because he was scared.

Now, he is facing charges.

PREVIOUSLY: Police are searching for an SUV with heavy front right and right side damage following a hit-and-run incident that left two parked vehicles totaled.

On February 17 around 11:25 p.m., a black Land Rover SUV was driving eastbound on E. King St. and stayed straight at the curve just after King & Prince Street and struck two unoccupied parked vehicles, totaling both.

After the crash, the driver fled north on Route 11 towards the intersection of King St. and Walnut Bottom Road.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Shippensburg Police at 717-532-7361 or via the tip form on the website.

Court Rule Change Would Create Health Care Crisis, House Majority Policy Committee Learns

2/14/2019 HARRISBURG – Seeking to prevent a health care crisis in Pennsylvania, physicians, administrators, attorneys and industry professionals told members of the House Majority Policy Committee during a public hearing in Harrisburg today that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court must not change a rule dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits.

“There is a pending proposal that would reverse progress that has been made to ensure access for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of ZIP codes, to quality health care,” said Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest). “This proposed action has the potential to cripple the state’s health care industry and break the valued bond between a patient and his or her doctor. This could put health care into a crisis situation. This hearing is designed to raise awareness of the issue in an attempt to let the court know how harmful this decision could be.”

The court is currently considering whether to unilaterally repeal a rule that prevents medical malpractice plaintiffs from filing civil lawsuits in counties with more favorable jury payouts, namely Philadelphia. The rule was initially adopted as part of a series of reforms – developed by all three branches of government in 2002 and 2003 – to help stabilize the insurance market. This was necessary to alleviate skyrocketing and unavailable malpractice insurance, particularly in high-risk specialties such as obstetrics, orthopedics and neurosurgery.

Since the rule was implemented in the early 2000s, medical malpractice insurance rates stabilized, keeping doctors practicing in Pennsylvania and alleviating a shortage of physicians and specialists. In fact, the average number of medical malpractice cases filed statewide since the high of 2,094 in 2002 is 1,599. According to Kevin Cottone, law partner at White and Williams, LLP, annual medical malpractice filings have remained fairly consistent since 2009.

“The reduction in filings demonstrates that the tort reform measures enacted more than 15 years ago by the Legislature and the Supreme Court are working. Nothing in the data indicates that requiring plaintiffs to bring suit in the county in which the medical malpractice claim arose deprives alleged victims of access to the courts,” Cottone added.

Those who testified also agreed that it continues to make logical sense that the county in which the alleged action took place should be the one where a case is filed, instead of a jurisdiction with no real connection to the alleged harm.

Cottone argued that in an era of ever-consolidating health care systems, physicians who practice in any part of the state could easily be dragged to Philadelphia or any other remote location because of any type of business affiliation. That leads to inherent unfairness within the system.

All at the hearing agreed that doctors’ insurance premiums would skyrocket, and that would pose undue hardships on physicians, health care facilities and ultimately, patients – risking access to care.

Since word of the proposed repeal was made public in December, Noah Karn of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania said his organization and others have sought out guidance on how a repeal would impact insurance rates. He reported that preliminary findings indicate a repeal of the current rule would cause a significant increase in medical malpractice premiums, especially in urban and suburban markets, with high-end specialists being most directly impacted.

“This proposed venue rule change could threaten patient access to quality physician care,” said Dr. Danae Powers, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. “The increased cost may place providers and hospitals under greater financial strain. The concern is that many rural hospitals, already struggling to remain solvent, will be further threatened with closure. We must learn from history. We have stabilized the situation. Let’s not destabilize it again.”

The hearing also included written remarks from an emergency physician with more than 40 years of experience.

“If this proposed rule change is adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the cost of malpractice premiums would again continue to rise, indirectly causing patients to pay higher medical costs, and it would impact recruitment of physicians in non-urban areas,” wrote Harry Kintzi, M.D. “There would be an increase in malpractice filings, and only the trial attorneys along with a few plaintiffs would benefit to the detriment of most patients, doctors and the health care system. I believe the current laws were enacted in good faith for the betterment of all patients and the health care system in Pennsylvania. Please leave the current [rule] in place.”

Hospitals, which pay many physicians’ premiums, also face the higher costs. According to Mark Zolfaghari with St. Luke’s University Health Network, the rule change would cost more than $50 million per year. The increases in premiums would be absorbed through increased health care costs.

He also explained that the rule change could also reverse or halt educational and health care partnerships, such as the one St. Luke’s has with Temple University in Philadelphia, or the recruitment of physicians in high-risk specialists or underserved areas.

Not only would physician and hospitals face the consequences, but so would the long-term care community.

“For the last 10 years, the long-term care sector has been under attack from predatory, out-of-state law firms who have come here from other states with one goal in mind: to file hundreds of lawsuits against providers. Big or small, national chain or a single facility, they don’t care — everybody is a target,” said Diane Johnson, regional director of Operations for HCR ManorCare, a national long-term care and rehabilitation company that currently operates 42 skilled nursing facilities and 10 memory care facilities. “The threat of a jackpot award, even for a frivolous claim, is very much a ‘dark cloud’ that hangs over our sector and affects the way we operate.”

She also noted that for every Medicaid resident they care for, nearly $2,000 of each patient’s care rate each year is used to help pay to defend the barrage of frivolous lawsuits. That health care sector spent more than $100 million Medicaid dollars to help pay litigation costs and liability insurance last year alone.

Also testifying at today’s hearing at the state Capitol was Christopher Addis, M.D., Penn Medicine/Lancaster General Health, and written remarks were submitted by David O’Gurek, M.D, president of Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians; Daniel Durst, Esq., Chief Rules Committees Counsel, Civil Procedural Rules Committee; and Cynthia Buchman of Good Shepherd Hospital in Allentown. Additionally, letters to the court have been submitted by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), along with Judiciary Chairman Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin).

In part, the letter submitted by Turzai and Cutler asked the court to preserve the rule: “Doing so would preserve a significant piece of a multi-branch public policy effort that has a 15-year track record of success in keeping the practice of medicine affordable and accessible throughout our Commonwealth. The current rule struck a proper constitutional balance between the branches, and we will use the powers delegated to us as we stand behind the medical professionals who want to provide the best quality of care at affordable rates.”

Oberlander emphasized that residents can do their part to ensure their voices are heard by visiting and sharing with the court how such a rule change could impact their health care.

Representative Donna Oberlander

63rd District

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton


Oberlander Thanks Surpreme Court for Delaying Venue Rule Change

Oberlander Thanks Supreme Court for Delaying Venue Rule Change

2/14/2019 HARRISBURG – House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) today thanked Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for holding off on its consideration of a proposal to repeal the current rule that prevents venue shopping in medical malpractice cases. The adoption of the proposal would negatively impact access to health care statewide. Their decision came soon after Oberlander concluded a public hearing today.

In a letter to House leaders, Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), the Supreme Court noted it would wait for a report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee regarding the impact of the proposal.

“I am happy to see that the Supreme Court is doing its due diligence and taking into consideration all of the many viewpoints we have heard over the past few weeks to save our health care,” said Oberlander. “As we have seen by the attention this issue has attracted since December, residents’ health care could be put at great risk, and I’m glad that the Supreme Court is taking this matter so seriously. Because this rule change could have such an impact, we may revisit the venue issue in the future.”

Earlier today, Oberlander and the House Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing with physicians, attorneys and health care providers regarding a proposal to the Supreme Court that would repeal a court rule prohibiting venue shopping. This pending proposal would reverse progress that has been made to ensure health care access for all Pennsylvanians. This hearing raised further awareness of the issue in an attempt to let the court know how harmful this decision could be.

Specifically, the Policy Committee learned the reduction in filings demonstrates that the tort reform measures enacted more than 15 years ago by the Legislature and the Supreme Court are working. Those who testified also agreed that it continues to make logical sense that the county in which the alleged action took place should be the one where a case is filed, instead of a jurisdiction with no real connection to the alleged harm. All at the hearing agreed that doctors’ insurance premiums would skyrocket, and that would pose undue hardships on physicians, health care facilities and ultimately, patients – risking access to care.

In spite of the letter, residents are encouraged to continue sending their comments to the court by visiting

Representative Donna Oberlander

63rd District

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton


Cutler Applauds Court for Reviewing Venue Shopping Rule

Cutler Applauds Court for Reviewing Venue Shopping Rule - Important step in saving our health care

2/14/2019 HARRISBURG – House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) issued the following statement after Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor told House leadership the court would hold off on changing venue rules regarding medical malpractice cases until a further review of the rule’s impact could be completed.

“I want to thank Chief Justice Saylor, and the rest of the court, for making the right decision to see the extended impact of venue shopping on our state’s health care system. I was working in a hospital in the early 2000s when lawyers could maneuver malpractice cases to Philadelphia courts, all but guaranteeing vastly higher payouts and at much higher volumes than the rest of the Commonwealth. As a result, premiums for medical malpractice insurance skyrocketed for all doctors, regardless of whether they practiced in Philadelphia or not. The out-of-control insurance costs led to a crisis, causing doctors of all specialties to make hard decisions about whether to stay in our state or close their practices. The impact was especially hard on rural communities like parts of the 100th district.

“There is no need to return to those days. Today, doctors can operate confidently and fairly, serving the communities that rely on them, and victims of medical malpractice can still file suit in the county where the alleged wrongdoing occurred.

“I want to applaud the work done by our caucus, the House Republican Policy Committee, and our Senate colleagues to draw attention to this important issue and assure all Pennsylvanians we remain committed to saving our health care.”

Representative Bryan Cutler

100th Legislative District

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Mike Straub


Sonney, Committee Members to Unveil Career and Technical Education Package

State Representative Curt Sonney and PA House Committee Members to Unveil Career and Technical Education Package.

Representative Sonney (R-Erie), chairman of the House Education Committee, will host a press conference to unveil a bipartisan package of eight bills designed to improve career and technical education (CTE) in Pennsylvania. The bills are the result of a report issued by the former Select Subcomittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness.

Bills in the Package Include:

  • House Bill 265- which would expand the online database of articulation agreements

  • House Bill 297- which would deal with career information and recruitment

  • House Bill 334- which would deal with the commission for agricultural education excellence, the use of course credits and the classification of program codes.

  • House Bill 552- which would create a CTE investment incentive program; including tax credits for contributions to support CTE programs and enrollment expansion programs

Shippensburg Pumpkin-Smasher Arrested at Walmart

   (CY)-Pennsylvania State Police say a Shippensburg man was under the influence of alcohol and other substances when he began smashing pumpkins in the Walmart located at 100 South Conestoga Drive in Shippensburg on Thursday evening.  Officials have not yet released the 26-year-old suspect’s name.

The suspect damaged a motorized-wheelchair and assaulted a store employee before he was tackled by Walmart customers. The total damage is being estimated at a value of at least $250.

Troopers took the suspect into custody and later transported him to UPMC- Pinnacle Carlisle for an evaluation. State Police say charges are pending.

By: Calleb Yurish