In the Region

Philly port bans employee gifts

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) has adopted a ban on gifts for its employees, as Gov. Wolf requested last month of board members and leadership of 25 independent state boards, commissions, and agencies. The PRPA is an independent state agency responsible for the Port of Philadelphia. The PRPA at a board meeting earlier this month also changed its process for awarding legal work, and will seek "requests for qualifications," or bids, from local law firms that are on an approved list. Firms not on the list can ask to be considered, said Gregory Iannarelli, the agency's chief counsel. Gov. Wolf on Tuesday commended the "PRPA's actions following my lead to ban gifts and make the process of contracting outside legal work more transparent." - Linda Loyd

PPL Electric files for rate hike

PPL Electric Utilities on Tuesday filed for a $167.5 million rate increase that would boost the monthly bill for a typical residential customer from $147.31 to $157.50, or about 6.9 percent. The Allentown utility, which serves 1.4 million customers, last filed for a rate increase three years ago with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. If the PUC approves the current request, it would take effect Jan. 1. - Andrew Maykuth

AC $40M loan term extended

The Christie administration extended the term of a $40 million loan to Atlantic City that was due Tuesday, a move that was expected because the city's highly publicized financial woes have locked it out of the capital markets. Atlantic City now has until the end of June to repay the money borrowed in December to help the city pay its bills after a steep decline in property-tax revenues caused by casinos' successful appeals for lower assessments. Kevin Lavin, Atlantic City's emergency manager appointed by Gov. Christie in January, said last week that by June he expected to have detailed proposals on how to close Atlantic City's projected $101 million budget gap for this year. In addition, the projected deficit for the Atlantic City School District is $47.1 million. Among the moves that Lavin will consider is the deferral of payments on Atlantic City's nearly $400 million in debt, including the $40 million loan and school district debt. - Harold Brubaker

Ambulance fraud means prison

The co-owner of a Bucks County ambulance company received a six-year prison term after pleading guilty to health-care fraud, conspiracy, and paying kickbacks, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said. Nazariy Kmet, 37, of Jamison, was also president of Life Support Corp., which transported Medicare recipients to dialysis centers by ambulance even though they could have gotten there by less costly means and got Medicare to pay for the trips by falsifying records, the U.S. Attorney said. U.S. District Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro also ordered Kmet to pay restitution of $1.9 million to Medicare and $150,939 to Highmark. - Harold Brubaker

Another new Revel bidder

A billionaire Manhattan developer and veteran New Jersey real estate executive have entered the pursuit of Atlantic City's former Revel Casino Hotel. A court filing Tuesday by former business tenants at the casino says New York's Howard Milstein and New Jersey's Carl Goldberg plan an $88 million bid for Revel. That would top the current $82 million bid by Florida developer Glenn Straub, which is due to be considered Thursday by a bankruptcy judge. The filing asserts the Milstein group has agreed with the tenants to not seek cancellation of their leases if they buy the casino - AP


Home prices rise slightly

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 4.6 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier, S&P said Tuesday. That is up from growth of 4.4 percent in December. Few Americans have listed their homes for sale, and the tight supply has kept prices higher. The increases have eclipsed earnings, making it more difficult for buyers to save for a down payment and afford a monthly mortgage. The modest wage gains have diminished the boost that robust hiring and low mortgage rates should provide the housing market during the spring buying season. - AP

Kraft kids slogan dropped

A program to put a dietitian group's "Kids Eat Right" logo on Kraft Singles has reached an early expiration date. Kraft Foods and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics decided to end the partnership because "misperceptions are overshadowing the campaign," Kraft said in a statement. The decision comes after the New York Times reported that a petition by dietitians called for an end to the partnership, saying putting the logo on packages amounted to an endorsement of the cheese product. The petition called for transparency about the terms of the deal that allowed Kraft to use the logo. - AP

Drugs and executions

In a move that could heighten the hurdles faced by states attempting to execute prisoners, a leading association for U.S. pharmacists has officially discouraged its members from providing drugs for use in lethal injections. The policy adopted by American Pharmacists Association delegates at their annual meeting Monday makes an ethical stand against providing such drugs, saying they run contrary to the role of pharmacists as health-care providers. The association lacks legal authority to bar its more than 62,000 members from selling execution drugs, but its policies set pharmacists' ethical standards. Pharmacists joined doctors in having national associations with ethics codes that restrict credentialed members from participating in executions. - AP