Rise in racist propaganda on college campuses/Child Abuse


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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, March 30, 2018:

White supremacist groups are recruiting on college campuses more than ever before. Pennsylvania ranked third, behind only Texas and California, among states that have been targeted with white supremacist propaganda.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism, the amount of white supremacist propaganda on university campuses has increased by 258% between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2017. The ADL has recorded 346 incidents of hate propaganda spread throughout 216 campuses across 44 states and Washington D.C. That includes 18 campuses in Pennsylvania including: the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Drexel, Elizabethtown College, Kutztown, Millersville, Penn State, Pittsburgh and York College. The ADL says a group called Identity Evropa is the main culprit, accounting for 158 of the 346 incidents nation-wide, but other groups are also responsible.

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk are Mark Potok, the former senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and Dr. Frederika Schmitt, a sociologist and criminologist from Millersville University who focuses on inequality.

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Dr. Frederika Schmitt, Millersville University

Also, 4,416 blue ribbon flags and 46 black flags will be planted at the State Capitol this weekend.  It’s a solemn reminder of the number of children who were victims of child abuse and who died from abuse in Pennsylvania in 2016.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  On Friday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Angela Liddle, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance and Terry Clark, Administrator with the York County Office of Children, Youth and Families to discuss what can be done to keep kids safe.

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Host Scott Lamar, Angela Liddle, Terry Clark


F&M/StateImpact PA poll — climate change, guns, politics

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, March 29, 2018:

So what are Pennsylvanians thinking and saying about the hot-button issues of our time?  The just-released Franklin and Marshall/StateImpact Pennsylvania poll indicates most voters believe Pennsylvania is on the right track for the future.  That’s the first time since 2009 that those polled chose that option over the state was on the wrong track.

That would seem to be good news for incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf who is runng for re-election.  The poll shows 43% of registered voters think Wolf is doing an excellent or good job — which is up five points since September.

WITF’s StateImpact Pennsylvania — that reports on the state’s energy economy — had several questions in the poll.  Among the results are a majority of Pennsylvania climate change is causing problems right now, 55% think the potential environment risks outweigh the potential economic benefits of natural gas drilling and more than two-thirds want to see the state prioritize availability of renewable energy.

Appearing on the program is Berwood Yost, Director, Floyd Institute’s Center for Opinion Research and Director, Floyd Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Adjunct Instructor of Government, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster.

Battling Opioids: A Project of Pennsylvania Public Media

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, March 28, 2018:

A crisis of unprecedented proportions is killing 10 to 16 Pennsylvanians every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that number is rising every year.

In the twelve-month period ending in May 2017, a staggering 5,260 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses. To put this number into perspective, that is nearly five times as many people than were killed in vehicle crashes on Pennsylvania roadways during the same year.

Pennsylvania’s drug overdose rate is more than twice the national average and it continues to rise.

In January, Governor Tom Wolf issued a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania’s “heroin and opioid epidemic.”

Against this backdrop, Pennsylvania’s Public Media is collaborating efforts to produce programming that focuses on the opioid crisis and the impact it is having.

WITF kicks of Battling Opioids: A Project of Pennsylvania Public Media on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

WITF President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko appears on Wednesday’s program to describe the project and what’s it’s intended to do.

As part of the project, all seven of Pennsylvania’s public television stations will air Broken: Women • Families • Opioids Thursday night at 9.

Beth Dolinar is the documentary producer and she’ll be on Smart Talk to discuss the film and the implications of the opioid crisis on women and their families.

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Documentary producer Beth Dolinar

Keira McGuire is a producer with WITF Public Media’s Emmy award winning news and information series, Health SmartFront Line of the Opioid Crisis, will air Thursday, at 8 p.m. on WITF-TV, and she’ll be Smart Talk Wednesday to highlight first responders on the front line of the epidemic.

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Keira McGuire, Matthew Null

Finally, while the number of overdose deaths indicates the crisis continues to grow, what do the people who work and treat those addicted to opioids, but are still living, see?  Matthew Null, the Referral Development Manager for the Central Region of Gaudenzia tells us on Smart Talk.

IFO says severance tax may cost landowners

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Photo by Scott LaMar, WITF

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, March 27, 2018:

A severance tax on natural gas pumped from the ground in Pennsylvania has often been suggested as a cure — or at least a contribution — toward solving the state’s fiscal woes. During the decade that natural gas has been drilled in the state’s Marcellus Shale, estimates of how much tax revenue the wells could generate have ranged between $100 million and a billion dollars.

Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t have a severance tax devoted to natural gas.  However, as opponents of a tax point out, the state does impose an impact fee, designed to pay for expenses resulting from drilling and transportation of gas.  Severance tax opponents have often claimed it would reduce the number of jobs in the gas industry and perhaps even drive drillers to other states.

But it was a bit of a surprise when Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office published a report last week that said a severance tax could cost landowners receiving royalties from gas drillers tens of millions of dollars in the form of post-production costs — something that is already costing some landowners a lot of money.

The Wolf Administration disputes the IFO’s findings — saying the severance tax proposal by the governor prohibits companies from deducting tax money from royalty payments.

StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to explain what it all means for the future of a severance tax.

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StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick

Large landowners have reduced property taxes, put the burden on local PA taxpayers

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 26, 2018:

Large landowners are taking advantage of a law that was developed during the 1970s environmental awareness movement that allows them big discounts on property taxes.

Act 319, also known as Clean and Green, offered discounted property taxes to farms and other undeveloped tracts based on the idea it would keep them from selling the land to builders.

Originally meant for mom-and-pop farmers, Clean and Green is being used by millionaires with estates, golf courses, quarries and other non-agriculture businesses that qualify for its discount on property taxes. The discount results in lost revenue for schools, counties and municipalities that are ultimately paid by higher property tax bills for other people and businesses in the community.

The total amount of money the law provided in assessment discounts has sky-rocketed from $1.9 billion in 1994-95 to $16.7 billion in 2016-17, a 779% increase.

Joining Smart Talk on Monday are Riley Yates and Steve Esack, reporters for The Allentown Morning Call who wrote an in-depth article detailing the law: Clean and Green: Pennsylvania taxpayers pick up the tab left by large landowners

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Steve Esack, The Allentown Morning Call


Mental/substance disorder prevention/Woman who experienced school shooting marches

Nearly one in every five Americans meets the criteria for a mental health or substance use disorder. A government agency review found nearly that 20 percent of young people experience an emotional, mental, or behavioral disorder. For the nation’s poor and those living in foster care, the risk for mental health problems is even greater. It is estimated that fifty percent of children and youth in the child welfare system have mental health disorders.


Understanding the risk and protective factors are one way to identify mental health problems before they take over a life.  A risk factor is something that may help create a problem, while protective factors may help prevent them.

Common risk factors include family history, traumatic events, substance abuse and neglect.  Protective factors include a person’s access to services, a healthy lifestyle, and supportive family relationships.

Mental wellness advocates believe that education and early intervention are the best way to affect the risk factors for young people and prevent suicide.

It’s the topic of Friday’s Smart Talk.

Appearing on the program are Sharon Engdahl, Executive Director of The American Mental Wellness Association and The Mental Wellness Awareness Association. The AMWA is the umbrella organization which unites individuals and organizations together as one voice for mental wellness in the United States.  Also Michael Houser, Vice President of School Youth Programs with RC21X and MyBrain 365.

Is your info safe on social media?

Is the personal information on your social media accounts safe?  Are you protected against those who would collect data from your accounts and maybe sell it to a third party, that could know what you like and don’t like and send advertising or news to try to influence you?

The answer is probably no. Psychosocial profiling aggregates massive amounts of data collected by large social media companies and uses that data to infer various predictive attributes, such as your politics or the products you prefer.

There are accusations this week that the company Cambridge Analytica got the personal data of 50 million Facebook users improperly and used that information to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Many are asking how that can happen or do I have any privacy on Facebook?  Some have gone as far as quitting Facebook altogether.

We answer those questions and others on Thursday’s Smart Talk with Andrew Hacker, Cyber Security Expert in Residence at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and owner of two companies.

Getting offenders on the right path/Health poll including gun attitudes

There are about two million people incarcerated in federal, state and local prisons in the U.S.. The majority of them will be released one day and will return to a challenging world.

Among the challenges is getting and holding a job. The odds of an ex-offender breaking the law and being sent back to prison go up if the ex-offender can’t work. But many employers don’t want to hire ex-offenders. As a result, a job is often one of the highest hurdles for ex-offenders.

There are others as well like finding a place to live or maintaining healthy relationships.

The Capital Region Ex-Offenders Support Coalition provides services and resources to those who have criminal records and have been in prison. We’ll hear from the Coalition on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Joining us are Darrel Reinford, Executive Director of Christian Churches United in Harrisburg, Alice Anne Frost, CEO of the program It’s About Change and Vladimir Beaufils, President and CEO of Sound Community Solutions.

Also, about seven out of ten Pennsylvanians would like to see gun laws made more strict with over nine out of ten favoring a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun purchasers. Those were just two of the findings of Muhlenberg College’s annual Public Health Program survey of Pennsylvanians on public health issues.

Other results show most support retaining the Affordable Care Act or doing more with it, a majority say they would be comfortable confiding in family or friends if they experiencing symptoms of a mental illness and most know someone who is addicted to heroin or another opiate.

Dr. Christopher Borick, Muhlenberg College, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion joins us to discuss the findings.

Supreme Court upholds PA Congressional map/Felons not allowed to have guns hunting?/MLK50 events

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, March 20, 2018:

The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by Pennsylvania Republicans Monday that upholds a new map of the state’s Congressional districts drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

WITF’s Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk with details.

Hunting is one of Pennsylvania’s favorite pasttimes.  The state has almost a million licensed hunters. But as an investigation in the York Daily Record found, under current state law there is no background check required to confirm that it is legal for licensed hunters to possess a gun.

Federal law makes it illegal for people with any felony and some misdemeanor convictions to possess a gun. However, there is no record cross-check in Pennsylvania to identify these criminal convictions and as a result, there are convicted felons hunting with firearms.

The Daily Record stories show the situation can put game wardens in danger and may have set the conditions for the 2010 shooting death of Wildlife Conservation officer David Grove.

York Daily Record reporters Maddie Crocenzi and Ed Mahon are on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss their investigation into the loop hole.

April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Dauphin County is among many places throughout the country that will honor Dr. King with a series of special events in March and April.  It’s titled MLK50: A Time to Remember the Dream.

MLK50 co-chairs Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste and Gloria Martin-Roberts discuss Dr. King’s legacy and the community activities on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.

PSBA on opposition to property tax elimination bill/Embattled Fish and Boat Commission Direector John Arway

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 19, 2018:

It’s well-documented that property taxes are one of the most disliked taxes in Pennsylvania and it’s been that way for a long time.  There have been numerous efforts over the past four decades to eliminate or at least reform property taxes.

Republican State Senator David Argall of Schuylkill County appeared on Smart Talk Tuesday to discuss a bill that would do away with property taxes and make up the revenue with higher income and sales taxes and expand the items subject to sales tax.

Not everyone is on board with the plan though. There are school districts that don’t want the state to have more control over their funding and think the property tax is reliable.

John Callahan of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association makes their case on Monday’s Smart Talk.

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John Callahan, Pennsylvania School Board Association

The cost of a fishing license in Pennsylvania is $21 dollars. It hasn’t changed since 2005.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which stocks fish, cares for public waters and maintains hatcheries, dams and other infrastructure is funded by money from fishing licenses and the federal government.

Commission Executive Director John Arway proposed a six dollar increase for the cost of a fishing license for one year and then a price hike of three percent every year for four years.  Arway said without the license increase, hatcheries would have to close and there would be fewer trout stocked in streams.  He also designated streams where fewer trout would be stocked and they happened to be in the districts of legislators who oppose the license increase.

Now those lawmakers want to set a term limit on the executive director of the Fish and Boat Commission to eight years. Arway is completing his eighth year.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to explain why the Commission needs more money and possibly losing his job.

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John Arway, The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission