December 30, 2014

PA Supreme Court Enhances Protection Of Client Funds Invested By Attorneys

Attorneys investing funds for clients will be subject to stricter standards of accountability under new rules adopted Tuesday by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
The changes, which enhance accountability when attorneys invest client funds, take effect in 60 days.
“The integrity of our legal system depends a great deal on the professionalism and accountability of attorneys,” said Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille. “These new rules serve as a reminder that attorneys are obligated to live up to the trust people put in them by working diligently and honestly or face serious consequences.”
Among the important rule changes is the addition of a new Rule of Professional Conduct that prohibits a lawyer from brokering, selling or offering to place an investment for a client unless the attorney is licensed to do so, and as long as he or she does not have disqualifying financial interests in the transaction.
Other key provisions require that financial records be more accessible to the attorney disciplinary bodies examining alleged misappropriation of trust accounts, and streamline the investigative procedures.
The rule amendments also promote the prompt and complete disengagement from the practice of law by a suspended or disbarred attorney found to have stolen or mishandled client funds.
A working group of representatives of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court helped shape and recommend the changes with public input. The work followed a number of high-profile incidents, including cases in which millions of dollars in losses were incurred by attorney’s investing client funds.
Although existing rules already provide for the suspension or disbarment of an attorney for misappropriating client funds, many clients are not fully compensated for their losses. Amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement made today aim to curb such losses.
Victims may file claims with the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security for reimbursable losses from a dishonest attorney. However, some claimants are not fully compensated because the maximum payout is capped at $100,000.
Pennsylvania has more than 65,000 attorneys engaged in the active practice of law. Less than one percent of those attorneys are involved in misconduct investment claims.
Click Here for a copy of the Order.  Click Here for a copy of the Rule.

Liquor Control Board Releases Retail Year In Review Report

The Liquor Control Board Monday released the 2013-14 Retail Year in Review, a detailed analysis of wine and spirits sales at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in Pennsylvania.
According to the report, Allegheny County had more than $271 million in wine and spirits sales – about 13.7 percent of statewide dollar sales and an increase of more than $11 million from the 2012-13 retail year.
The rest of the top five counties in Pennsylvania in RY13-14 were: Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks and Chester counties. Combined, they accounted for almost half of all dollar sales at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in Pennsylvania.
All 67 Pennsylvania counties are ranked based on aggregate dollar sales at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in that county. Juniata, Snyder and Potter counties had the largest year-over-year percentage change based on dollar sales.
"The Retail Year in Review is one of the most interesting publications we produce because it shows what consumers are buying and where they're buying it," said PLCB Chairman Joseph E. Brion. "By tracking consumer tastes across Pennsylvania and beverage alcohol industry trends, the PLCB can continue to provide the best products at competitive prices in all 600-plus Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores."
The Retail Year in Review shows that Pennsylvania consumers bought slightly more spirits products than wine products, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.
The top-selling product categories in RY13-14 were Vodka, Bourbon, Flavored Vodka, Spiced Rum and U.S. Chardonnay. While the number-one selling product in terms of dollar sales was Jack Daniel's Black Label Whiskey, the product with the most growth was Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. Sales of its 750mL bottles grew by 231 percent, and sales of its 1.75L bottles increased by 1,711 percent, however the 1.75L was not available for all of RY2012-13.
Some of the other highlights of the Retail Year in Review include:
-- The top-selling market categories and brands
-- The top 100 brands based on unit sales
-- The top 100 items based on dollar sales
-- Stores ranked by dollar sales
-- Highest sales days of the week and months of the year
A copy of the report is available online.

Tuesday NewsClips

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December 26, 2014

Dec. 29 PA Environment Digest Now Available

Dec. 29 PA Environment Digest Now Available.  Click Here To Print Entire Digest.

117 Stories About Hundreds Of PA Environmental Stewards Honored In 2014
Here are 117 stories from the PA Environment Digest about hundreds of individuals, businesses, farmers, schools, local governments, students of all ages, nonprofit groups and organizations just like you honored for doing great things to protect and restore our environment in every corner of the Commonwealth during 2014.  Will we find YOU on this list in 2015? 

DEP Fines Vantage $999,900 For Landslide, Other Problems At Greene County Well Pad
The Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced it has signed a Consent Order and Agreement with Vantage Energy Appalachia, LLC, fining the company $999,900 for more than a dozen violations of environmental regulations stemming from a landslide and illegal waste disposal at their Porter Street well pad in Franklin Township, Greene County, earlier this year. 

DEP: $800,000 Settlement Against Tennessee Gas Pipeline For Violations In 4 Counties
The Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced a settlement with Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, LLC for multiple violations of the Clean Streams Law during the construction of a natural gas pipeline in 2011 and 2012 through four counties in northeast and northcentral Pennsylvania.

DEP Publishes 2015 Schedule Of Advisory Committee, Board Meetings
The Department of Environmental Protection published notice of the 2015 schedule of meetings for advisory committees and boards under its jurisdiction in the December 27 PA Bulletin starting on page 8057.

State Parks Marking New Year With First Day Hikes Across Pennsylvania
Helping visitors ring in 2015 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature’s winter beauty, the Bureau of State Parks again will sponsor free, guided hikes in 22 state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.

PA Environmental Council Launches The PEC Channel, Takes Its Website To Next Level
Davitt Woodwell, President and CEO of the PA Environmental Council, this week announced the launch of the organization’s new website he called The PEC Channel to help fulfill the group’s mission to protect and restore the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy through partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals.

Friday NewsClips

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December 22, 2014

Community Colleges Offer 44 Additional Programs In 2014-15 School Year

Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are offering 44 new programs in the 2014-15 academic year, offering a wide range of credentials including certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in wide-ranging fields.
Among them are new life sciences, mechatronics, unmanned aerial technology and culinary arts programs.
“As the largest public provider of higher education in Pennsylvania, our community colleges are important components in Pennsylvania’s continued workforce development,” says Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the PA Commission for Community Colleges. “By regularly evaluating local needs and creating new programs, our colleges are helping to create solid jobs and foster innovation in Pennsylvania’s higher education landscape.”
The decision to create new programs at community colleges is not undertaken lightly. It is a multi-step process that accounts for local labor market data; demand in high-priority occupations; student interest; equipment, facility and faculty needs; college strategic plans; and the needs of local employers.
Many colleges consult with advisory councils comprised of employers in varying industries. Ultimately, the decision to add new programs rests in the hands of the Board of Trustees at each individual community college.
This is a continuous, ongoing process: many new programs are in the planning stages for addition to course offerings for the 2015-16 academic year. Because the course offerings are managed on a local level, community colleges are able to nimbly respond to needs of their local communities.
The adaptations of colleges to community needs do not only apply to new programs, but the reinstatement of programs placed on hold. At two colleges, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology, offered by both Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Penn Highlands) and Reading Area Community College (RACC) has been reinstated after being placed on hold in 2011 due to the recession.
The adaptations of colleges to community needs do not only apply to new programs, but the reinstatement of programs placed on hold. At two colleges, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology, offered by both Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Penn Highlands) and Reading Area Community College (RACC) has been reinstated after being placed on hold in 2011 due to the recession.
The Colleges have revived their partnerships with FirstEnergy Corp’s Pennsylvania utilities (Penelec, Met-Ed, West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power) to offer award-winning program to train the next generation of utility substation workers. The programs combine hands-on utility skills at Penelec’s training facilities with academic coursework on the Penn Highlands and RACC campuses.
A full list of new programs is available online.

Monday NewsClips

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