The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 20, 2013

Midday briefing: 2nd sex assault report made at Pittsburgh psych clinic

News from around the state

(Continued)

PITTSBURGH — State House set to take up liquor privatization bill

HARRISBURG — Consideration of a bill to privatize Pennsylvania's system of state-owned liquor stores is about to start in the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Harrisburg.

The House this afternoon is expected to take up a list of more than 100 amendments to the bill. A final vote cannot take place before Thursday.

The bill would give beer distributors first shot at 1,200 wine and spirit licenses and open grocery stores to wine sales. Also, the state wine and spirits stores would be phased out as the number of private operators grows.

On Monday, the House Liquor Committee backed the bill in a 14-10 vote, with no Democrats supporting it. Democratic caucus spokesman Bill Patton says the bill in its current form has no support among his party members.

Judge says drilling lawsuit is public record

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A western Pennsylvania judge says the public has the right to see a sealed settlement between gas drilling companies and a family that claimed the drilling operations damaged their health.

Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca ruled Wednesday that openness in the court system is more important than the interests of the companies.

Stephanie and Chris Hallowich initiated a case against Range Resources, MarkWest Energy Partners and Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream Partners in 2010. The dispute was settled in July, 2011 but the companies asked that the records be sealed, and another judge agreed.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Washington Observer-Reporter challenged that decision, and O'Dell-Seneca ruled in their favor.

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