Politics & Government

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

Alex Brandon / AP

A roundup of some of the most popular, but completely untrue, headlines of the week. None of these stories are legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:

NOT REAL: Trump Is Furious After Discovering Gov't Waste

House To Hold Session Amid Swirling Budget Disagreements

Jul 21, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives prepared to return to Harrisburg for an unusual weekend session amid a three-week stalemate with the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf over how to resolve a gaping hole in state government's $32 billion budget plan.

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it is also replacing the public side.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has warned that Republican efforts to cap Medicaid funding would cost the state billions of dollars, and that might impact senior citizens in nursing homes.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Advocates are pushing for a citizen’s commission to review Allegheny County’s election practices and technology.

Allegheny County’s current machines are 11 years old, and there’s no immediate plan to replace them. The approximately 4,700 machines were purchased in 2006, when the Help America Vote Act made billions in federal funds available for such purchases.

Senators Return To Capitol, But Budget Deal Remains Elusive

Jul 18, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania senators returned to the Capitol on Monday but with no agreements in sight on the 17th day of a stalemate on elements of the state government's threadbare budget that, by all projections, will lack the tax collections to sustain it for an entire year.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last week let a nearly $32 billion budget bill become law without his signature, even though budget negotiators say it is about $1.5 billion out of balance. Held up in the Legislature are measures to deliver approximately $600 million to Penn State, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln and Penn.

Treasurer: Pennsylvania Could Run Out Of Cash

Jul 18, 2017
AP file photo

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella is warning that state might be unable to pay all its bills in a matter of weeks if the budget standoff in Harrisburg isn't resolved.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is attending a three-day boot camp this week, but he’s not doing calisthenics or running obstacle courses.

Peduto's attending the first ever Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a boot camp in New York for 40 mayors from around the world to learn about best practices in city government. According to Peduto, it consists of three 12-hour days of classes led by experts from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard’s School of Business and Kennedy School of Government.

Budget Deadlock Politics Are First Debate In Governor's Race

Jul 17, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Call it the first act of the governor's race.

The slow-motion arc of Pennsylvania's budget negotiations — with a backdrop of a huge deficit, potential credit downgrade and two-week-old deadlock — has served as a sort of first debate stage for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the would-be contenders hoping to contest Wolf's re-election bid next year.

It is an early opportunity to boost their candidacies, and hurt an opponent, in a setting being watched closely by insiders.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

In a public hearing this week, dozens of advocates spoke to Pittsburgh City Council about what legal distinction would come from declaring itself a "Sanctuary City" legislation. Pittsburgh is not a sanctuary city, and Councilman Dan Gilman has said that label doesn't matter as much as the city's actions.

NPR's guide to the winners and losers from the GOP's newest effort to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Matt Rourke / AP

After vetoing a similar measure last year, Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign recently passed legislation that substantially changes the Office of State Inspector General.

The office was created in 1987 by Gov. Robert Casey through an executive order. Since then, it has grown to more than 300 employees and bill sponsor Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster County) said it needs to be codified to make sure a future governor does not eliminate the office.

Matt Rourke / AP

Nearly two weeks after the state budget deadline, House and Senate members and Governor Tom Wolf do not have an agreement on a revenue plan to fund for it. 

Wolf let the unbalanced spending plan become law Monday night, a decision that puts Pennsylvania in a sort of constitutional no-man’s-land for the second year in a row.

Around the Capitol there’s no clear consensus on whether the state’s allowed to handle its budget this way—or if there are any consequences for doing so.

Ally Rugierri / 90.5 WESA

The Peduto administration unveiled the city’s first EcoInnovation District plan Tuesday, focusing on the Uptown and West Oakland neighborhoods.

Wolf Says He's Optimistic, Insists He's Doing The 'Right Thing'

Jul 12, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he's optimistic about getting a good budget agreement and that his administration is acting legally in its handling of an unbalanced budget.

Wolf maintained Wednesday that his administration is doing the "right thing" and that an agreement is close. Wednesday is the 12th day of a budget stalemate, and neither Wolf nor top lawmakers are saying when or how talks will resume after negotiations with House GOP leaders collapsed earlier this week.

Screengrab by WESA

Christopher Wray, President Trump’s nominee for FBI Director, faces the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for his confirmation hearing. Wray would replace James Comey, whom Trump fired in May. Wray served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush and currently works on white-collar crime at an international law firm. Given Comey's dismissal and ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election and potential ties to the Trump campaign, senators are expected to press Wray on his independence and integrity.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

For the fourth week in a row, Pittsburgh City Council will not discuss a pair of lead-related bills at its committee meeting this week.

Kathy Willens / AP, file

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted images of emails regarding his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer on Tuesday. An intermediary said he could connect Trump Jr. with people who had information "that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]... and would be very useful to your father." Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting, which former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner also attended in June 2016.

Weekly Toomey Protests Could Give Democrats A Boost In 2018

Jul 11, 2017
Emma Lee / WHYY

Almost every week, Terry Baraldi uses her Medicare card to get a discounted $1 train ride from her home in Landsdowne, Delaware County, to Center City.

Evan Vucci / AP

Several congressional districts around Philadelphia are shaping up as battlegrounds in the mid-term elections next year.

The often-quoted Cook Political Report just changed its outlook for one of them, the 6th District held by Republican Ryan Costello, from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican," giving the incumbent a more narrow advantage in his re-election battle.

The 6th is one of a ring of districts in the Pennsylvania suburbs that the National Democratic Campaign Committee is targeting next year.

Matt Rourke / AP

Governor Tom Wolf has allowed an incomplete state budget to become law without his signature after a marathon negotiating session yielded no agreements between his administration and GOP leaders.

Susan Walsh / AP

Somerset County Commission Chair Gerald Walker said when he got a call from the White House saying he and all the other county commissioners in the state would be invited to a July 13 meeting at the White House, he thought it might be a joke.

“You have to wonder if that’s the real deal when you just get a phone call like that out of the blue,” Walker said.

When the printed invitation arrived in the mail a few days later, he knew it was real.

NPR

This week, Republicans in Congress will try to rally votes behind a bill that proposes major changes to the way Americans get health care and how much they pay. In Pennsylvania, millions could be affected. Use this Q&A to explore how the bill would affect you.

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Gov. Wolf To Let Unbalanced Spending Bill Become Law

Jul 10, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

*UPDATED: July 10, 2017 at 5:10 p.m. 

For the second straight year, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will let a state budget bill become law despite the fact that it is badly out of balance as he presses Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature to approve a tax package big enough to avoid a credit downgrade.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Lawmakers are still struggling to reach consensus on how to pay for the state budget. One of the most likely ways they’ll get money to fill a more than $2 billion hole is by borrowing against a state fund created by a 1998 multi-state settlement with tobacco companies.

But the American Lung Association is up in arms against the proposal—saying it’ll probably divert vital resources away from state anti-smoking programs.

Govenor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The clock is ticking for Pennsylvania lawmakers to find more than $2 billion to balance the state's budget. No agreements were reported Monday, three days after .

House GOP Leader: No Agreements In Pennsylvania Budget Talks

Jul 6, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The Republican leader in the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives says there haven't been any agreements reached in a six-day-old budget stalemate over the state's deficit-ridden finances.

Majority Leader Dave Reed told House GOP members in a Thursday memo that he's also opposed to a "broad-based" tax increase and favors trying to raise money by expanding casino-style gambling and further privatizing the sale of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The last month of the fiscal year was a decent one for Pennsylvania, revenue-wise, with returns coming in slightly higher than expected. But it comes at the end of a year of unexpectedly dismal earnings.

The commonwealth ended 2016-17 with its revenues over a billion dollars below projections. Its expectations for the new fiscal year are more modest.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Aaron Anthony, his wife Lauren Kokai, two-year-old daughter Adelaide, and their long-haired cat Cyrus recently moved into a single family home in Anthony’s hometown, Shaler. It’s just north of Pittsburgh, along the Allegheny River.

“A hidden gem,” Kokai said. “There’s lots of kids running around, rugrats on bikes.”

Katie Meyer / WITF

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s live TV town hall got off to a raucous start Wednesday, with advocacy groups from across the state showing up outside the Harrisburg studio to criticize the Republican for his support of the Senate GOP’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill.

Toomey spent much of the hour-long event defending the bill, which he helped author.

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