Energy - July 20, 2012

Rep. Michael Gerber no seeking re-election

Rep. Michael Gerber (D – Montgomery) has announced that he will not be seeking re-election in November.  He has served the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since being elected in 2004.  He has accepted a position at Franklin Square Capital Partners in Philadelphia, PA and his new job starts on August 20.  Rep. Gerber has promised to fulfill his legislative duties through the end of this term and has noted that there is still time for both a Democrat and Republican to get on the ballot for the November election.

State to reveal new voter ID cards

The Pennsylvania Department of State will be rolling out a new photo identification card that will make it easier for voters to fulfill the new voter ID law requirements.  Since the law has been passed there has been much debate about the law itself and an accurate number of registered voters that do not have the proper identification to vote in the upcoming election. 

Some voters have found the process to obtain an ID cumbersome and this new card is intended to make that process easier.  Currently, to acquire a non-driver ID card, a Pennsylvania resident must provide one of the following: a Social Security card, birth certificate with a raised seal, certificate of US citizenship or naturalization, or a valid passport AND proof of residency.  Some voters may have trouble locating certain documents and others find the process of actually getting to a PennDOT center to be burdensome, due to geographic location or physical disabilities; additionally, some centers in rural areas also have limited hours and days of operation.

The card will made available at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation centers and details have yet to be released on the new ID or the specifics for getting one.  Officials said those elements were still being worked out.  

Whooping cough cases on the rise in US

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that whooping cough is on the rise in the US.  The CDC has 18,000 reported cases of whooping cough this year.  That is more than twice that number reported last year at this time.  The number of cases reported is rising at an epidemic rate; if that rate continues, the number of cases reported is on target to be the highest since 1959.  The increasing number of cases may be a sign that there is an issue with the vaccine and its effectiveness. 

Washington state and Wisconsin have seen the highest reported numbers, with more than 3,000 cases each.  While whooping cough has been on the rise over the last few years, the rapid increase this year may be attributed to several factors.  Health officials are considering everything from better detection and reporting, to the evolution of the bacteria, to the inadequacy of the vaccine itself.  Although vaccination rates a good for kids, who are most at risk, the peaks every three to five years in whooping cough cases have very high in recent years.  That factor leads experts to believe that the vaccine may not be as effective as it once was. Health officials are asking adults to a get a booster shot as soon as possible, especially pregnant women and adults that are around children.