PHILADELPHIA — As a judge scrutinizes whether Pennsylvania's new photo ID law should stand, people are still confronting long lines and ill-informed clerks at driver license centers.
Stories from people who have traveled a long road to get a valid photo ID continued to emerge Wednesday, just a day after a Commonwealth Court judge warned he may issue an injunction.
John Coleman faced a two-plus hour wait Wednesday to get a photo ID at one downtown Philadelphia center. Another man, Patrick DiGiacomo, left after being told it'd be three hours.
Tunizia Brown says she's been to a Philadelphia center three times, and got an ID only after persuading a clerk to doublecheck that she's registered to vote.
Testimony resumes Thursday. A decision is due by Tuesday.
State says 12,000 voter ID cards issued so far
STATE COLLEGE — The state's top election official says nearly 12,000 new identification cards have been issued by the commonwealth to residents seeking to comply with a tough new Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show photo ID.
Secretary of Commonwealth Carol Aichele said Wednesday that most of those cards are non-driver voter identification cards. Aichele estimates about 100,000 of the 9.6 million eligible voters in Pennsylvania don't have the most common form of identification — a driver's license.
The state has been pressing ahead with implementing the guideline even with the new law still under scrutiny in the courts.
Aichele spoke Wednesday at Penn State University, where she praised the school's efforts to add expiration dates to student ID cards — a change that makes the cards a valid ID at the polls.
4 teens commit suicide in 1 week in Luzerne County
WILKES-BARRE — Police and school officials are imploring students to ask for help after four students have killed themselves in one northeastern Pennsylvania county in a single week.
Four teens ranging in age from 13 to 16 have killed themselves in a one week span in Luzerne County. A 15-year-old Pittston Area School District sophomore killed herself Monday night. Hours later a 13-year-old from Hazleton was found dead.
A second Pittston student, 16, killed himself on Friday and a Greater Nanticoke Area eighth-grader killed himself Sept. 18.
Authorities say the suicides don't appear to be related to bullying despite hearsay claims to the contrary from students.
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis says students or anyone else having problems should call a suicide hotline or the Luzerne County Help Line.
Report criticizes gas drilling enforcement
PITTSBURGH — A new report says that Pennsylvania regulators aren't inspecting tens of thousands of oil and gas wells even once a year. But state officials say they're inspecting most new Marcellus Shale wells, and that's the right place to focus.
The report issued Tuesday by Earthworks, a Washington D.C. non-profit, found that more than 66,000 active wells weren't inspected by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2011.
DEP spokeswoman Katherine Gresh says the agency inspected 78 percent of newer Marcellus shale wells in 2011, and that older conventional wells rarely have problems. She also notes that DEP has increased the number of oil and gas inspectors and staff.
Earthworks says that still means almost a quarter of new Marcellus wells aren't inspected immediately, and that other states have similar problems.
Trial ordered for man in officer crash death
PHILADELPHIA — A man charged with killing a Philadelphia police officer in a drunken, wrong-way crash has been bound over for trial on charges including murder and vehicular homicide.
John Leck Jr. was ordered to stand trial after prosecutors presented videos, witnesses and expert testimony on the July 8 crash that killed Officer Brian Lorenzo.
Defense attorney Michael Parlow says his client "feels terrible" about the crash but was merely drunk and not maliciously trying to hurt anyone when his Audi A6 fatally struck Lorenzo as the officer returned home after a shift.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports a state trooper testified the Levittown man drove the wrong way on Interstate 95 for about 1½ miles, passing 52 backward signs and 9 traffic control devices, like roadway arrows.
Executions rarely reason for leaving state's death row
HARRISBURG — Two-hundred Pennsylvania convicts are sentenced to die, but they're less likely to be executed than to be removed from death row for other reasons.
State Corrections Department spokeswoman Sue McNaughton, who has kept records on death-row prisoners since 1985, said Wednesday 184 inmates have left death row in that time. That's an average of about seven per year.
The largest proportion — 133 inmates — were resentenced to life imprisonment. That's what condemned killer Terrance Williams is seeking in court and from the governor as Williams' Oct. 3 execution date draws near.
McNaughton says 12 other former death-row inmates were resentenced to other penalties and nine death sentences were vacated.
Twenty-four death-row inmates died of natural causes, three committed suicide and three were executed.
Philly says it's working with developer over lot
PHILADELPHIA — A battle over a vacant lot in Philadelphia may be coming to an end.
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and developer Ori Feibush are working on a license agreement over the city-owned parcel next to Feibush's new coffee shop.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter says Wednesday that Feibush's OCF Realty would use the space and take responsibility for its care and safety until it's sold.
Spokesman Mark McDonald says that's the goal but there's no formal agreement just yet.
Feibush says he spent at least $20,000 of his own money and turned the trash-strewn lot into a spot for customers of his cafe.
City officials were irked. They said Feibush shouldn't have made improvements on property he doesn't own or rent.
Feibush didn't immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
Biletnikoff honored by hometown high school
ERIE — Former Oakland Raiders receiver and Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff has been honored by the high school he attended in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The Erie Times-News reports Wednesday that Biletnikoff was honored by Central Tech High School in Erie. The 69-year-old Biletnikoff graduated from the school in 1961 when it was known as Tech Memorial High School.
Biletnikoff, who now lives in Roseville, Calif., was in Erie as part of the Hometown Hall of Famers, a program through the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Co. that seeks to reunite Hall members with their home towns.
Biletnikoff was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988 after a 14-year career with the Raiders from 1965 to 1978.
Central Tech's football field is named for Biletnikoff.