Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - May 26, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania
Sports: Penn Cambria high jumper wins PIM gold Life: Centre County gardens open for visitors today DIAltoona Mirror
© Copyright 2001SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2001
House, Senate agree on tax
By Curt Anderson
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators reached a final agreement Friday night on a 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut package that would give individual taxpayers a refund of up to $300 this year and married couples up to $600.
In a statement, President Bush said the agreement means “American taxpayers will have more money in their pockets to save and invest and the economy will receive a well-deserved shot in the arm. Tax relief is the centerpiece of our American agenda, and I look forward to signing it into law.”
A blend of Bush’s tax proposals and earlier versions passed separately by the House and Senate, the compromise carves out a new IO percent bottom tax rate for the first $6,000 of an individual’s income, $12,000 for a married couple.
Most other rates would be cut by 3 percentage points. The top 39.6 percent rate would drop to 35 percent. The rate cuts will be phased in over six years, but the first installment will take effect July I.
Republican leaders said they planned to reconvene the House around midnight to debate the final bill. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, predicted the House would vote final passage on it between 3 and 4 a.m. today. The Senate planned to reconvene later today to act on it.
The deal was reached by four lawmakers who met all day Friday in a second-floor Capitol room. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas of California and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa represented the Republicans, Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and John Breaux of Louisiana represented the Democrats.
Other provisions of the plan would double the $500 child tax credit gradually by 2010 and allow people to gradually increase their contributions to IRAs from $2,000 to $5,000 and to 401(k) plans from $10,500 to $15,000.
The estate tax would be repealed by 2010 with exemptions rising from $675,000 now to $3.5 million over time.
Individual taxpayers would get up to a $300 refund this year. Single parents would get up to $500 and married couples up to $600.
Local judge teaches other nations about U.S. court system
” **■. ,
Above: Federal court Judge D. Brooks Smith poses outside the Kremlin in Moscow during his trip. Below: Smith (right) is presented with a steel statue of Don Quixote by Russian Supreme Court Justice Stanislaw A. Razumov.
By Phil Ray
IOHNSTOWN - The picture
I shows what could be any
S county courthouse. The courtroom has paneled walls and bright lights. But there’s one jarring element — to one side of the courtroom, where the jury normally sits, is a cage.
The photograph is just one memento U.S. District Judge D. Brooks Smith brought home this week from a working vacation in Russia. He was there as part of an American Bar Association project to spread principles of American justice to nations once considered bastions of tyranny.
So far, Smith said, “It is meaningful work.”
The cage in the Russian courtroom holds a suspect on trial while his case is heard by a judge. In contrast, in Smith’s courtroom in Johnstown, a suspect on trial sits with his attorney. There must be no hint to the jury that the suspect is in custody or that he might be a criminal with a prior record. There’s no cage and no prison garb.
Even the marshals and courthouse security are in street clothes, normally suits.
Sterilizing lights are installed in many cages in Russian courtrooms to keep tuberculosis from spreading from the prisoner to the cage and into the courtroom because “the conditions of Russian prisons are abominable,” Smith said.
A statue of Don Quixote represents another part of Smith’s journey. Smith spent three days in the steel city of Chelyabinsk, about 1,200 miles east of Moscow near the Ural Mountains and Siberia.
There Smith instructed 60 Russian judges on American judicial staples such as guilty pleas and juries. In Russia, even when a suspect admits guilt, a trial still is held to show that guilt, Smith said.
One of his jobs was to explain how guilty pleas are taken. Smith held a mock guilty-plea session to show the judges how to streamline the system.
It may seem reasonable that an emerging justice system such as Russia’s would want to adopt trial by jury as part of its new criminal procedures code.
In fact, Russia has a history of trial by jury dating back to czarist Russia. Also, the jury system is being tested in eight of Russia’s 89 oblasts, or states.
Please see Justice/Page A6
DA duel may play out again in the fall
■ Challenger Robert Donaldson wins the Democratic write-in vote in the May 15 primary election.
By Phil Ray
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman may have pushed challenger Robert Donaldson off the fall Republican ballot, but Donaldson isn’t finished.
The close race for the Republican nomination for DA could be played out again in the fall because Donaldson — who lost to incumbent Gorman on the GOP ticket — won the write-in contest for the Democratic nomination.
Donaldson’s name will not automatically go on the ballot as the Democratic nominee. He must inform the county board of elections if he intends to accept the nomination.
He also must do what any potential candidate for
office does — file a loyalty oath, said Janice Blair, county director of elections.
Donaldson, contacted Friday, said he was surprised by his 421 to 398 victory over Gorman on the Democratic primary ballot. He said he will take a few weeks to decide if he will oppose Gorman in the fall.
“I am humbled by this victory,’
Donaldson said. “I need to take some time with my family and my team to think about this and pray about this.”
Gorman was out of town Friday and not available for comment, but a key member of his campaign committee, assistant district attorney Wade Kagarise, said Gorman is aware of the situation.
“Dave’s campaign is pleased we won the Republican nomination. ... Our campaign focused our resources and money to get the Republican nomination,” Kagarise said.
Gorman encouraged his Democratic friends to write in his name, but he did not have an organized sticker campaign for the nomination.
“We didn’t [go after the Democratic nomination! because we needed to concentrate the resources we had on what we knew would be a tough campaign,” Kagarise said.
Gorman won the Republican nomination 8,976 to 7,880, according to the official tally.
Blair said Friday afternoon that the official count for the May 15 primary election was concluded after six days of deliberations by a five-person returns board. The reason for the lengthy recount was because of the large number of write-ins across a large number of offices.
More than 4,000 write-in votes were cast by Blair County voters.
Please see DA/Page A6
DonaldsonPOMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
Bishop Guilfoyle High School kicked off the area’s graduations during a ceremony Friday night at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
For more information on BG’s graduates, please see Page A6.
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Mirror photo by Jason Sipes
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Local lawmaker says Bush s plat for energy will gouge consumer
By Robert Igoe am will keeD ave ofSOoercent higher prices if of the president’s energy I
By Robert Igoe
HARRISBURG - While Capitol Hill debates President Bush’s energy plan, one local legislator has a plan of his own.
And any similarities between state Rep. Camille “Bud” George’s plan and the president’s is strictly a coincidence.
“The biggest energy crisis Pennsylvania faces is an energy outage by its leaders,” said George, D-Houtzdale.
“Innovation and energy sparked right here, right no\*. and not a conservation of effort,
will keep Pennsylvania powered, producing and protected.” George criticized the president’s plan as relying on bad information and miscalculations.
For example, George said that despite what Bush has said, competition among energy providers has not created a better market for Pennsylvanians, whom George says face an aver
age of 50 percent higher prices if they switch providers.
“Instead of promoting the false promises of deregulation, the president should be pushing for an investigation of the outrageous price increases in the wholesale market for electricity,” George said.
“Communities across Pennsylvania that buy bulk power for resale to residents risk being hammered by price increases, and I don’t see how that is any different from the debacle in California.
“I fear for the future if the rest
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of the president’s energy plan is based on similar misinformation.”
Many Republicans, however, beg to differ, saying that the president’s plan is a sound one.
They are urging voters to log onto a new Web site, www. bushenergy.com, which they say tells the real facts about the energy situation.
“After eight years of neglect, we now have a sound energy policy,” Republican State Committee Chairman Alan Novak said.
Please see Energy/Page A6
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