Politics & Government

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

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The General Assembly has passed a second version of a measure designed to fix a hole in Pennsylvania’s sex offender law.

The issue dates back to a state Supreme Court ruling last year.

Justices ruled the state couldn’t impose punishments on offenders whose crimes had happened before those penalties were enacted.

That had a potential side-effect of knocking more than 10 thousand offenders off the registry, according to state police.

Keith Srakocic / AP

State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler won't know until November whether he will be a Congressman, but already a top Republican has expressed interest in replacing him in Harrisburg.

Alex Brandon / AP

As he completes his sixth week in office, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D - Mt. Lebanon) is straddling the partisan divide with two votes on bank rules.

 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania voters chose Republican and Democrat nominees for U.S Senate, 18 seats in the U.S. House,  governor and lieutenant governor, plus half the state Senate and the entire state House.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The number of women in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Allegheny County will likely triple after November’s general election—from one to three. That’s because Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee upset longtime Democrat incumbents Dom Costa and his cousin Paul Costa in the May 15 primary election. 

PA Lawmakers Advance Redistricting Reforms As June Deadline Looms

May 23, 2018
Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania lawmakers have advanced a bill that would change the state’s constitution to put its congressional district map in the hands of a citizen commission, one whose 11 members would be chosen by elected officials.

Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania / Facebook

The Trump administration is considering policy changes that would cut government funding to health clinics that either provide abortions, or refer patients to clinics that do.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Crowds of students and activists flooded Harrisburg Tuesday, calling for changes to help halt school shootings.

Mary Wilson / WITF

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is throwing his weight behind a few measures that have, of late, been more commonly championed by Democrats.

The top Republican official, of Cameron County, said in a wide-ranging speech Monday that he wants to see the redistricting process overhauled, and also switch the commonwealth to open primaries.

Scarnati made it clear, his anger over the state Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate and redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional map hasn’t abated.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that businesses can prohibit their workers from banding together in disputes over pay and conditions in the workplace, a decision that affects an estimated 25 million non-unionized employees nationwide.

Matt Rourke / AP

With the state House and Senate both back in Harrisburg, lawmakers are turning their attention to a number of gun control and school safety bills.

The effort comes in the wake of a Texas school shooting that killed ten last week—the nation’s largest since the Florida shooting that killed seventeen in February.

When House lawmakers finish up a series of public hearings on gun control, House GOP Spokesman Steve Miskin said a number of stalled bills will start moving—likely in the “first week or two in June.”

Not All GOP Candidates Want Trump To Stump

May 21, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

He is the Republican Party's most powerful political weapon. Yet as the GOP fights to defend its delicate House and Senate majorities, President Donald Trump is not welcome everywhere.

AP

State House Republicans are increasing Representative Nick Miccarelli's punishment after deciding his actions constitute retaliation against two women who accused him of physical and sexual abuse--fellow GOP representative Tarah Toohil and another woman who has remained anonymous.

However, they're not moving to expel Miccarelli.

And meanwhile, in a memo detailing the latest sanctions, House GOP leaders included a pointed message to the Democrats in the chamber.

Rep. Barletta Faces Skeptics In PA Senate Race

May 20, 2018
Susan Walsh / AP

Long before he got into politics, Lou Barletta was an aspiring professional baseball player who, he says, flunked a tryout with Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds because he couldn't hit a curveball.

Now that he's challenging two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in the fall election, Barletta will need to hit a lot of curveballs, politically speaking.

Official Congressional Portrait

On Friday Congressman Keith Rothfus, a conservative Republican from Sewickley, joined Democrats in voting down a farm bill that would have imposed new limits on food benefits.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Kerry Cannon, 31, of Bethel Park, works the salad bar at an Eat n' Park restaurant, a job she said she enjoys. She has Down syndrome, and said she has a good life. 

YouTube

The race for governor is only a few days in, but the negative ads are already starting.

Only minutes after Scott Wagner clinched the Republican nomination for governor, the Wolf campaign sent out a press release calling the York County Senator “the worst of Harrisburg.”

They also released an ad deriding Wagner as a bully, and included footage of various speeches in which he used violent-sounding metaphors.

Election Hacking Puts Focus On Paperless Voting Machines

May 17, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes.

Governor Tom Wolf / Twitter

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack lost his bid for the same office in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, marking the first time in the nearly 50 years since the office has required reelection that an incumbent has fallen short.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman beat four other Philadelphia-area Democrats, including Stack. 

Bibiana Boerio for Congress / YouTube

Republicans got most of the attention in Tuesday’s primary in the 14th Congressional District, where state Senator Guy Reschenthaler scored an 11-point victory over state Representative Rick Saccone. But Democrat Bibiana Boerio of Unity Township won by an even larger margin – 19 points – in a primary that featured a total of four candidates.

 

Democratic Socialists of America / Facebook

There's a word repeated over and over again Tuesday night at the election parties for candidates Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato

"People," Lee said. "We brought people out."

Women Win U.S. House Primaries, GOP Makes Picks For Gov, Senate

May 16, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania Republicans picked a tough-talking state senator and a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump to be their party's nominees for governor and U.S. Senate, as a big splash in U.S. House primaries made it more likely that women will break the all-male hold on Pennsylvania's congressional delegation.

scanlonforcongress.com

Mary Gay Scanlon has won a 10-way Democratic primary in a southeastern Pennsylvania congressional district that's likely to flip to the Democrats following a court-ordered redrawing of the state's political maps.

She will face Republican Pearl Kim in November's general election. The 5th Congressional District, which now leans Democratic, has an open seat following the resignation of Rep. Pat Meehan amid allegations he used taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment allegations by a former aide.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

First-time candidate Sara Innamorato declared victory over a five-term incumbent in the Democratic primary for House District 21.

PA Senate

State Senator Guy Reschenthaler avenged a loss last fall to state Rep. Rick Saccone, handily winning his party's nomination in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District by a margin of over 10 percent.

 

"We have all won tonight," Reschenthaler told supporters at a VFW hall in Peters Township."You were with me from the beginning to the end, and I'm going to be with you well into the future."

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

John Fetterman solidly beat our four other Democratic candidates in the primary for lieutenant governor, including the incumbent, Mike Stack.

When the race was called, Fetterman had nearly 40 percent of the votes. Fellow Democrat Nina Ahmad was the closest behind him with roughly 22 percent of the vote.

He will face the Republican candidate Jeff Bartos in November.

After pointing out that his kids were up way past their bedtime, he thanked all his supporters who came to his watch party at Superior Motors in Braddock.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican Scott Wagner will face off against Gov. Tom Wolf this fall for the top office in Harrisburg.

Trump Supporter Barletta Wins GOP Nod To Take On Sen. Casey

May 15, 2018
Susan Walsh / AP

Four-term U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who first got national notice as a small-city mayor for his attempted crackdown on illegal immigration, on Tuesday won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

Barletta had paid little attention to his Republican rival, state Rep. Jim Christiana, during the primary campaign. Instead, he focused his attacks on the candidate he hopes to unseat in the fall, two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.

Summer Lee for PA

Summer Lee of Swissvale has won the Democratic primary as a newcomer to the 34th State House District in a wide victory against incumbent Paul Costa.

 

It’s a win for local progressives who have set their sights on unseating Democrats they say have become listless from multiple terms in office.

 

Joseph Kaczmarek / AP

Days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, about 25 Democrats gathered for a meeting a few blocks away from the border of two recently reshaped congressional districts in North Philadelphia.

On a table with campaign literature, flyers that said, “re-elect Congressman Dwight Evans” were neatly tucked away and replaced with others that support Congressman Brendan Boyle.

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