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Millions of Pennsylvanians are paying for an outdated vehicle emissions testing program in counties that already meet federal air quality standards. As chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee, I believe the time to change that is long overdue.

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The American calendar is filled with days, weeks and months set aside to draw attention to a wide variety of worthy causes and issues. Often there are several such observances going on at once. A great many of these are worthy of respect and deserve note, but the sheer number of them can make it difficult for people to focus on those that are most important.

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The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species that has emerged as a destructive pest in Pennsylvania since its arrival in the southeastern part of the state about five years ago. The insect, described as “a large, colorful planthopper,” is a threat to $18 billion in state agriculture — tree fruit, timber, hops and especially grapes. The lanternfly wreaks havoc by sucking “the sap from valuable trees and vines, weakening them,” The Associated Press reported in a Sept. 26 article that appeared on LancasterOnline.

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Local news starts with us. Newspapers have been the foundation of real news for over 300 years. While the delivery of the product has transitioned from black ink on newsprint, to the internet, to smartphone applications and social media outlets, no other industry is as firmly rooted in the foundation of our nation, or our communities, as the free press.

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Friction over people parking in bike lanes to attend weekend worship services while cyclists struggle to safely navigate the same streets is a good reminder of the unprecedented, competing, and growing demands on Center City’s constrained and finite transportation infrastructure. And like other street fights, this one can’t be resolved in a vacuum. It’s also a good reminder of the need for wider-ranging conversations — among constituencies, the City Council, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority — to make a good-faith cooperative effort to tackle the many mobility challenges in the heart of Philadelphia, where fiscal and geographical limitations force us to make the most of what we’ve already got.

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“An East Hempfield Township man who was charged last year for his part in a fentanyl-laced heroin bust that involved $50,000 worth of the drug” has been sentenced to six to 30 years in prison, LancasterOnline staff reported Aug. 13. Meanwhile, authorities stated that “a Lancaster County Drug Task Force bust of a Manheim man resulted in the seizure of 220 bags of fentanyl,” LancasterOnline reported Aug. 23. Finally, The Associated Press reported recently that law enforcement officials in Virginia took down a multistate drug ring that was in possession of “enough cheap fentanyl from China to kill 14 million people.” Let’s start with a fentanyl primer, as many of us must educate ourselves on this drug and its immense dangers.

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The media’s latest hot take is that Republicans — in particular the dastardly Senator Mitch McConnell — are blocking bipartisan legislation to protect the nation’s elections. Reality, as usual, is more complicated. Consider the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, or the Safe Act, which the Democratic House passed in June.

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The way we produce, consume and discard food is no longer sustainable. That much is clear from the newly released UN climate change report which warns that we must rethink how we produce our food — and quickly — to avoid the most devastating impacts of global food production, including massive deforestation, staggering biodiversity loss and accelerating climate change.

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The mishandling and misuse of consumer data has become one of the defining issues of the digital age. And so recent actions against the credit bureau Equifax and the social media giant Facebook were seen as a significant opportunity to set a course toward more meaningful accountability, security and privacy.

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There was little for anyone to be proud of in the Pennsylvania statehouse last Wednesday: Not Republican senators, whose attempts to bully though a benefits-cutting measure were crass, craven and cruel; not Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who let the proceedings run off the rails; and especially not Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, whose efforts to shout down a fellow lawmaker were as churlish and childish a display as are likely to be found among elected officials.

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It’s the heart of the travel season, when we jump into our vehicles and take off on day trips and vacations. Today, we don’t need much more than our smartphones and apps to go wherever we want and find places to stay, eat and refuel.

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It's really hard to believe it's been roughly 55 years now that I have been interviewing people for stories for newspapers and other tabloids. Sometimes it was one a day, and other times more. In any case, if one were to figure it out mathematically, that would total somewhere around 20,000 times, give or take weekends, holidays and days off.

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Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chad Amond, a Derry Township native, threw out the ceremonial first pitch during Westmoreland County Chamber Night on Wednesday, July 3, at PNC Park, when the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the Chicago Cubs.

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Of all the days of the year, the 4th of July stands out probably on top of my list extending all the way back to my elementary school years. Seems a bit funny when I think about it. Here I am 75 and that holiday left such a mark on me that I still think about the memories I made with my family each year on July 4 when I was a kid.

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