Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Courtesy of Friends for Austin Davis and Committee to Elect V. Fawn Walker

 

On Tuesday, voters in the Mon Valley will choose a new representative for Pennsylvania’s 35th Legislative District. Democrat Austin Davis, an aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, is competing against Republican Fawn Walker Montgomery, a former member of the McKeesport City Council.

 

Congressman Denies Misconduct Claim, Ethics Probe May Follow

5 hours ago
Jacqueline Martin / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an Ethics Committee investigation Saturday after the New York Times reported that U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a complaint that stemmed from his hostility toward a former aide who rejected his romantic overtures.

David Ake / AP

The federal government's partial shutdown is in effect due to lawmakers’ inability to agree on—among other things—extending DACA, the program that protects young immigrants in the country illegally. 

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

Marchers filled three city blocks in downtown Pittsburgh Sunday with signs that read “Grab ‘Em By The Midterms,” and simply, “Vote!”

Ellsworth Shows Independent Streak In GOP Candidates' Forum

Jan 20, 2018
An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A little-known lawyer from Pittsburgh showed an independent streak as the four Republican candidates vying for the nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November's election stood together in their third forum Saturday night.

Evan Vucci / AP

In two months, voters will choose a new congressman for Pennsylvania’s 18th District in a special election to replace Tim Murphy, who resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is seeking public comment on its initial plan for oversight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. The tentative implementation order would officially bring PWSA under PUC jurisdiction on April 1.

Carolyn Kaster / AP, file

Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative, Thomas Caltagirone, has confirmed he’s running for a 22nd term.

The news comes as he faces backlash for agreeing to settle a sexual harassment case against him for almost a quarter-million taxpayer dollars.

Matt Rourke / AP

 Gov. Tom Wolf's campaign says the Democrat is heading into his re-election year with just over $11 million in his campaign account, while Republicans head for what could be an expensive and bruising primary contest.

Evan Vucci / AP

The official purpose of President’s Donald Trump trip to the Pittsburgh-area today was to tout the GOP tax plan he recently signed into law. But it was also an opportunity to show support for the Republican competing in the special election for the 18th Congressional District south of the Steel City.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's treasurer says his office returned more than $254 million in unclaimed property to the rightful owner last year.

Democratic Treasurer Joe Torsella said Wednesday that last year's figure is an increase of 34 percent compared to 2016.

The Treasury Department gets millions in unclaimed property every year.

That includes dormant bank accounts, forgotten stock holdings, uncashed checks and leftover loot from inside safety deposit boxes.

WHYY

After hearing oral arguments Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to rule quickly on a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional district boundaries.

Trump To Speak In Pittsburgh Area, But Don't Call It A Campaign Trip

Jan 18, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump is tiptoeing around the first congressional election of the new year as he heads to southwestern Pennsylvania on Thursday to hail the Republican tax cuts he signed last year.

Emma Lee / WHYY

A fourth Republican wants to run for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.

Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner, announced Tuesday that he's running for the party's nomination, even though the 28-year-old won't meet the state's constitutional age threshold of 30 when the next lieutenant governor is sworn in in January 2019.

Gale couldn't serve until March 2019, when he turns 30.

Wolf To Seek OT Expansion Amid Federal Inaction

Jan 17, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf wants employers to boost wages for hundreds of thousands of the lowest-paid Pennsylvanians, and administration officials told The Associated Press that they will announce on Wednesday their pursuit of a new requirement to grant overtime pay to more salaried employees.

Wolf administration officials said they plan to introduce the proposed regulation in the coming weeks and seek its approval from a five-member agency board whose members are appointed by Wolf and top lawmakers from both parties.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The United States Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed.

Gerrymandering Case Sows Doubt In Big Year For House Races

Jan 16, 2018
Google Maps

Lots of people want to run for Congress in Pennsylvania this year, but they may not yet know which district they live in.

The prospect that the state Supreme Court could decide a high-profile gerrymandering case by ordering new boundaries for Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts, including one that has been described as looking like "Goofy kicking Donald Duck," is sowing uncertainty barely a month before candidates begin circulating petitions.

National attention is increasingly turning to the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, and the contest is poised to become the center of the political world Thursday, when President Donald Trump is expected to appear in North Fayette, in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, with Republican candidate Rick Saccone.

Alex Brandon / AP

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey reports that he's heading into his re-election year with $8.6 million in campaign cash, easily leading his rivals.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Two Philadelphia men sued Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation this week for automatically suspending their driver’s licenses when they were convicted of minor drug offenses.

Matt Rourke / AP

One of Governor Tom Wolf's potential gubernatorial rivals is taking issue with a 90-day emergency declaration he issued in response to mounting opioid overdose deaths.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

This week, 38 new trial judges in Pennsylvania are taking a key step on their way to the bench. As required by court rules, they have convened at Penn State University to complete a seven-day course of study designed specifically for first-time trial judges, often called “new judge school.”

Matt Rourke / AP

House Republican Leader Dave Reed, who has represented part of Indiana County for 15 years, is considering running for Congress.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto met Wednesday with the panel he selected to evaluate how to address problems at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Both parties agree that the most important issue to tackle is governance.

 

That means hiring a lawyer, said the panel’s chair, Jared Cohen.

 

“To work with us to figure out what kinds of contractual provisions and other legal amendments have to be made in order to make those governance changes,” he said. “It's fairly technical legal work.”

 

Map from the office of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack

Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit claiming Pennsylvania’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Top state Democrats chimed in Wednesday in an attempt to sway the court in favor of the plaintiffs.

In a press conference held in the capitol, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack offered an alternative map he referred to as the “Stack map.”

Brookings Institution

Released this week, The New Localism argues that cities and their surrounding communities have become the country’s problem solvers, especially as state and federal governments fail to act. In the book, co-authors Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak examine how local leaders are tackling issues ranging from economic and social inequities to environmental sustainability.

90.5 WESA’s An-Li Herring spoke with Katz about how Pittsburgh fits his model.

 

Greg Sciulli

As Wilkinsburg's first black female mayor, Marita Garrett, 31, says she wants to address visibility.

“Everyone should be represented at this level," said Garrett, who's served on the borough's council since 2014. "There shouldn’t be a one and only black woman mayor, there should be many others coming down the list, and also with other boroughs.”

Wilkinsburg, which has a population of nearly 16,000, is struggling with blight, attracting economic development and shaking its dangerous reputation. Allegheny County homicide data show there were two people killed there in 2017.

Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers on the Agriculture Committee took advantage of the Farm Show’s presence in Harrisburg this week, and convened in a back room of the complex to discuss their top priorities with Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.  

One of their primary focuses didn’t have to do with farming, exactly; rather, with making sure rural communities aren’t held back by bad internet access.

In cities and suburbs, high speed broadband internet is typically a given.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As new details emerge on at least $1.5 million Pennsylvania has spent to settle sexual harassment cases over the last eight years, calls are increasing for the state to change its policies.

But a number of lawmaker are struggling to find solutions that will work for every situation.

The latest report—from the Associated Press—concerns a $900,000 sexual harassment settlement the state paid in a 2016 case that involved a Department of Revenue administrator.

Other recent stories have revealed similar settlements involving elected officials.

Susan Walsh / AP

A former drug prosecutor who once ran for state attorney general is entering the field vying to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in 2019.

Joe Peters announced Monday that he'll seek the Republican Party's nomination to run for Pennsylvania's 11th District seat in Congress. The district stretches from Shippensburg in southcentral Pennsylvania some 140 miles to rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The primary election is May 15.

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