HARRISBURG — With a deadline only hours away, the Pennsylvania Legislature is holding a rare weekend session in an effort to approve bills that are integral to the state budget.
The issue of publicly funded, privately run charter schools is the source of at least two disagreements as lawmakers struggle to finish before the current budget expires at midnight.
The House convened Saturday morning and almost immediately got into a debate over whether a proposed new teacher evaluation system should apply to charter-school teachers as well as public school teachers. Democrats said there's no such provision in the education bill under consideration.
On Friday night, lawmakers recessed after House and Senate leaders of the Republican majority failed to agree on a separate bill to give the state more power over charter schools.
Storms cut power to thousands in western Pa.
PITTSBURGH — Intense thunderstorms that swept through western Pennsylvania overnight have left thousands of customers without power.
West Penn Power reported Saturday morning that 11,260 customers in Fayette County were without power, as were 7,121 customers in Washington County and 3,751 in Greene County.
Bob Coblentz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the storms caused damage "pretty much everywhere."
He called the storm a "derecho" — a straight-line windstorm more common in the Midwest.
Missing boy found dead at bottom of Philly pool
PHILADELPHIA — Police say a missing north Philadelphia boy has been found dead in at the bottom of a pool he had visited earlier in the day with a group of other children.
A police spokeswoman said early Saturday that the body of 7-year-old Isear Jeffcoat was found at the bottom of the pool in the East Oak Lane section of the city. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers earlier sought help from the public in finding the boy, who was with a group of children taken to the pool Friday by day care workers. He was reported missing at about 3 p.m. Friday.
Police said the boy's body was "not easily visible" at the bottom of the murky pool. They said "no foul play is suspected in this tragedy."
Girl, 2, found dead in NE Pa. backyard pool
MOOSIC — Authorities in northeastern Pennsylvania say a 2-year-old girl was found dead in a backyard pool.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune says Amina Hodzic had been staying with relatives next door to her Moosic home.
Patrolman Tom Jenkins said the girl wandered away as dinner was being prepared Friday evening and was later found in the pool.
Lackawanna County emergency officials were called just before 7:30 p.m. Friday. The girl was pronounced dead at about 9 p.m. Friday at Geisinger Community Medical Center.
Penguins re-sign D Matt Niskanen to 2-year deal
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Matt Niskanen have agreed to two-year, $4.3 million deal that will keep him with the team until 2014.
The 25-year-old Niskanen had four goals and 17 assists in 75 games last season with Pittsburgh and had a plus-nine rating. Niskanen joined the Penguins in 2010-11 in the same trade that brought forward James Neal to the team.
Niskanen has proven to be a deft penalty killer for the Penguins and is considered a key part of the blue line after the team shipped Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix last week.