Politics & Government

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

Court Throws Out 2012 Welfare Law Over How Bill Was Enacted

2 hours ago
Carolyn Kaster / AP

A Pennsylvania law that ended state cash welfare benefits in 2012 and made other changes to human services programs was thrown out Wednesday over methods used to push it through the Legislature by Republican majorities.

The state Supreme Court unanimously struck down the multi-faceted legislation because its passage violated state constitutional requirements that bills be considered in each chamber for at least three session days before being voted out.

Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers—particularly the ones running for office—have spent the last month touting the fact they passed a budget ahead of schedule after a decade of regular impasses.

Their success wasn’t unusual this year—nearly every state passed an on-time budget thanks to strong revenues.

Late budgets have become routine in a number of states since the 2008 recession.

Alex Brandon / AP

In a 45-minute "tele-town hall" with Pennsylvanians Wednesday morning, Pat Toomey made clear -- again -- that he thought the Russians should pay a steep price for trying to shape the outcome of the 2016 election.

At the same time, however, he pushed back on suggestions that there be a cost for the man who won that election, President Donald Trump.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The June shooting death of  Antwon Rose, an unarmed black 17-year-old, by Michael Rosfeld, a white East Pittsburgh police officer, continues to have political, policy and policing repercussions.

In addition to protests large and small, as well as various community meetings since Rose's death:

Both photos by Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf and GOP challenger Scott Wagner have spent much of this month trying to paint one another as supporters of school funding cuts.

And both say the other camp is being misleading.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General says he’s expanding his review of the state voter registration infrastructure, after learning a Russian oligarch is a primary investor in the company that manages Maryland’s system.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

More than fifty people attended the East Pittsburgh council meeting tonight. They called on officials to institute police reforms and to fire Michael Rosfeld, the officer who shot and killed Antwon Rose last month

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

There has been renewed interest in police-community relations since the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose last month. Nearly 20 Democratic state lawmakers gathered in Wilkinsburg Tuesday for a three-hour hearing on the topic. They discussed a range of issues such as police use of force, diversity education for officers and how to increase public oversight of law enforcement.

Elise Amendola / AP

The state Public Utility Commission is considering taking over jurisdiction of certain utilities from the federal government in an effort to boost efforts to bring high-speed broadband to underserved rural areas.

The PUC said its main goal is resolving telephone pole disputes faster than the Federal Communications Commission can.

One of the main ways broadband gets to customers is through aerial wires on utility poles.

PA Dept. of Health

The state website where people can order birth and death records was recently offline for nearly a full week because someone made unauthorized changes to the site.

No data breach was reported, and no one’s records have been compromised, however.

The Office of Administration declined to comment beyond confirming the outage last month for emergency maintenance, and saying they’re working with law enforcement.

But Republican state Representative John Lawrence of Chester County said he’s gotten a little more information.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for a summit today in in Helsinki, Finland. This is the first stand-alone summit between the two leaders, and comes just days after an American grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The two leaders are holding a news conference following their meetings.

Keith Srakocic / AP

In one of the country's most closely-watched House Races, western Pennsylvania incumbents Keith Rothfus and Conor Lamb appear to be on even ground financially. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made a pair of stops in Pittsburgh on Sunday, praising progressive candidates at both the American Federation of Teachers National convention and an appearance with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who is running for lieutenant governor. 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to some 3,000 educators at the American Federation of Labor conference in Downtown Pittsburgh this morning, portraying the labor movement’s struggles as a proof of its importance.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Hillary Clinton pulled few punches in a fiery 25-minute address to the American Federation of Teachers in Downtown Pittsburgh mid-morning Friday.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania continues to hold a big advantage in fundraising over Republican challenger Lou Barletta with four months until November's general election.

Federal Prosecutors To Focus On Synthetic Opioids In PA, Seven Other States

Jul 13, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania and seven other states with high drug overdose death rates will pursue even seemingly small synthetic opioid cases under a program announced  by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Wagner, Wolf Tangle Over Politics Of Funding Public Schools

Jul 12, 2018
Chris Knight / AP

Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for governor, on Thursday accused Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of proposing a policy that would result in deep funding cuts to certain school districts, a claim that Wolf called absurd while pointing to his record of winning more education funding across Pennsylvania.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Senator Bernie Sanders will visit Pittsburgh this weekend. He'll speak at the American Federation of Teachers convention, and campaign with Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, John Fetterman.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state of Pennsylvania is investing an additional $10 million into an apprenticeship and job training program called PAsmart. The initiative is meant to strengthen the commonwealth's middle class and increase the amount of skilled workers in the economy, to ultimately attract more industry.

PAsmart will distribute this money through competitive grants to places such as chambers of commerce, post-secondary institutions and labor organizations.

Gov. Tom Wolf says there are currently 16,000 registered apprentices in the commonwealth.

Heather Kresge / Democratic Socialists of America

The state Republican Party is launching a new strategy for this fall's congressional elections: making and distributing lists of which Democrats support socialized programs, among other things.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision halting unions' ability to compel public sector employees to pay fees, pro-union state lawmakers are trying to come up with a rebuttal.

So far, House and Senate Democrats have launched bills that would let public sector workers form unions by simple majorities--an easier system than the one in place now.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Bernie Sanders is making his second campaign swing through Pennsylvania in two-and-a-half months, campaigning for the Democratic Party's nominee for lieutenant governor, John Fetterman.

Sunday's event is in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Vermont senator is making a three-state swing that's also taking him to Minnesota on Friday and Wisconsin on Saturday. Sanders lost Pennsylvania's presidential primary in 2016 to the party's eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

David Zalubowski / AP

It’s now up to Common Pleas Senior Judge Terrence O’Brien whether to order the city and Allegheny County to release details of their bid to lure Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2, to Pittsburgh. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It’s not easy to watch, or listen to, the video recording that captured an East Pittsburgh police officer shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose last month.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Amid mounting pressure to increase oversight of municipal police forces, the Allegheny County Council took an initial step in creating a county-wide civilian police review board. On Tuesday, it voted 8-6 to hold up to four public meetings on how to form such a board.

Twice A Supreme Court Runner-Up, PA's Thomas Hardiman Is Back At Work

Jul 10, 2018
Cliff Owen / AP

Judge Thomas Hardiman was in the Washington area Monday, but it was for a meeting on court cybersecurity — not for a prime-time introduction as President Donald Trump's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Keith Srakocic / AP

A district attorney in Pennsylvania says should Roe v. Wade be overturned, he would not prosecute any women or medical professionals for seeking or performing safe abortion services.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala says there's concern that approval of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could result in the landmark decision's reversal.

If it is overturned, abortion laws would revert to the states.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney met Monday evening with a group of immigrant advocates, as well as members of a protest encampment decrying the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and calling on the city to end its data-sharing contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) says he'll vote against any Supreme Court nominee President Donald Trump chooses to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He called the system Trump is using to pick the nominee -- mining from a pre-chosen pool of 25 conservative candidates -- "corrupt."

"It's a flawed system," Casey said. "If the President changes the system and opens it up to more people, then it's a different story."

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