Politics & Government

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

Trump Seeks To End Program For Older Jobless Americans

May 26, 2017
Laurie Kellman / AP

Nathan Singletary is beyond the traditional retirement age, but he's only just beginning a new career — helping other low-income, unemployed Americans over age 55 find jobs.

Kiichiro Sato / AP

Legislation to allow PennDOT to issue REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses is about to be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, but that doesn't mean the ID in your pocket will truly be compliant with the federal standards.

As of June 7, non-compliant IDs will no longer be accepted for admittance into federal and nuclear facilities. TSA officials will stop accepting them for air travel as of Jan. 22, 2018.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for a bill designed to comply with federal identification standards for people who want to fly or enter federal facilities.

The House passed the Real ID bill 190-1, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he will sign it.

The measure gives residents the option to obtain a driver's license or other ID that meets the rules of a 2005 federal law enacted in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Residents would also be allowed to get a noncompliant, traditional driver's license or ID.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

One day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, women, men and children marched in Washington, D.C. and in cities across the country, including Pittsburgh.

Women were encouraged to run for office at all levels: federal, state and local. But was that call to action taken to heart and was it reflected in the recently held Pennsylvania Primary?  

governor.pa.gov

Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll nominate his insurance commissioner, Teresa Miller, to lead a new agency overseeing public health and human services programs.

Wolf said Tuesday that Miller would lead the proposed Department of Health and Human Services. It would be created by combining the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

More than 30 ambassadors to the U.S. from around the world were in Pittsburgh this week, touring research laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. They also rubbed elbows with local luminaries at the Andy Warhol Museum, including Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Turzai Says He'll Keep Speaker's Job If He Runs For Governor

May 23, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai says he won't step down from his position atop the Republican-controlled chamber should he get into the race to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid next year.

The Allegheny County Republican spoke Monday at the Pennsylvania Press Club, and says he hasn't heard anyone ask Wolf resign to run for governor.

He says he's seriously considering running. He says he's working on a number of issues in the Capitol right now and is looking toward Labor Day as an appropriate time to announce his candidacy.

Gun Rights Rally Puts Concealed Weapons Rules In Crosshairs

May 22, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

Hundreds of gun rights supporters took their cause to the state Capitol on Monday, pushing for an agenda that includes looser rules for carrying concealed weapons.

A "Make the Second Amendment Great Again" rally in the Rotunda brought together state lawmakers, sheriffs and gun rights enthusiasts for what has become an annual event.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania says he won't run for governor, but may still decide to seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in 2018.

Kelly issued the brief statement Friday.

The 69-year-old Kelly says he'll make a final decision later this summer.

iStock / WITF

As Philadelphia heads for a record year of drug overdose deaths, a task force is proposing a series of actions, from combatting stigma to considering allowing safe sites where drug users could inject heroin.

Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Governor Tom Wolf in outlining the task force's findings Friday.

Kenney convened the 23-member group in January to focus on developing a plan to combat the city's opioid epidemic.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At the behest of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and top Republicans, the state Auditor General is launching a formal review of how the Democratic National Convention’s host committee spent state money.

The state gave the DNC committee a $10 million grant last summer to help fund its event, which was held in Philadelphia.

Ultimately, the committee—which is chaired by former Gov. Ed Rendell—ended up with a $4 million surplus. Among other things, that money was used to give bonuses to staff members.  

Lawmakers argue any extra money should have gone back to the state.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

  Among the supporters at Mayor Bill Peduto’s primary election night victory party was Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“We've had a good relationship for a long time,” Fitzgerald said.  “We talk all the time … we have a very similar outlook in how we try to govern.”

Fitzgerald has been county executive since January 2012, two years longer than Peduto has been mayor, and he's looking forward to continuing to work together. 

“It works better for the region when that happens,” Fitzgerald said.

Katie Meyer / WITF

The first wave of employees has been called back to work in the state’s unemployment compensation call centers, with more follow next week.

The move comes a week after the legislature passed a measure to temporarily restore the UC system’s funding. But many of the roughly 500 employees laid off last year over funding disputes are still out of a job.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Leaning heavily on his military credentials, Pine Township resident Paul Mango last night announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2018. The West Point graduate and former principal at the business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company became the second Republican to declare his candidacy, joining State Senator Scott Wagner of York County in the race.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Tuesday’s voter turn out of 17.2 percent in Allegheny County was slightly down from four years ago and about 6 percentage points down from eight years ago. 

How Pennsylvania City Mayors Fared In The Primaries

May 17, 2017
Emily Previti / Keystone Crossroads

Lancaster Councilwoman Danene Sorace won the city's Democratic nomination for mayor Tuesday, and will face Republican Cindy Stewart in the fall.

Urban areas tend to lean left. But the mayor's office in Lancaster has changed parties multiple times over the years.

So Sorace and her supporters say they have a legitimate contest ahead, despite an increase in Democratic voters and major improvements in Lancaster since outgoing Mayor Rick Gray took office. This also was Lancaster's first contested mayoral primary in at least 30 years and turnout was high.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto handily won the primary Tuesday night, after taking an early evening lead over opponents Darlene Harris and John Welch.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is looking for ways to reduce the recidivism rate among formerly incarcerated individuals in the commonwealth.

“When you have two out of every three prisoners recidivate, meaning they commit crimes once they’re released from prison and end up back in prison, I think it tells you we need a much smarter approach when dealing with these returning citizens,” Shapiro said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania primary voters are picking candidates for open seats on the state's appeals courts Tuesday, the only statewide contests on the spring primary ballot.

Eighteen people are running for Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, while the two major parties each have a single candidate for an opening on the state Supreme Court.

Five Democrats and five Republicans are competing for four nominations to serve on Superior Court, a busy mid-level appeals court that takes criminal, civil and family court appeals from counties.

Sarah Kovash

The 90.5 WESA newsroom will be offering continuously updating coverage from the polls and reporters in the field throughout the day. 

Embattled Allentown Mayor Seeks Re-Election Despite Federal Probe

May 15, 2017
Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

Providence, Rhode Island had Buddy Cianci. Bridgeport, Connecticut had Joe Ganim. Washington, D.C. had Marion Barry.

Will Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski join the list of mayors re-elected despite federal corruption charges?

Matt Rourke / AP

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack "billed taxpayers for $34,000 worth of groceries, two leather cuff link boxes, flags and thousands of dollars of candy and snack bars while living at his state-operated mansion and collecting a $162,373 salary." 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The three men who have held the seat of Allegheny County Executive are throwing their support behind a proposal to allow municipalities in the county to disincorporate and turn over operations to county officials.

A study out of the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh outlines a path for municipalities in Allegheny County to disincorporate that begins with local elected officials approving a referendum on disincorporation. If the voters approve, it would then be sent to the county council to accept the plan. 

Senate OKs Bill To Clear Way For More Police Body Cameras

May 10, 2017
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday seeks to clear legal hurdles for police departments to expand their officers' use of body cameras, and it gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers.

The bill, which passed 47-1 after brief comments on the Senate floor, would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including from dashboard and body cameras.

Google Maps

Around the state, advocates and frustrated Pennsylvanians are pushing lawmakers to change the rules governing how district lines are redrawn every 10 years.

The current process lets politicians the skew districts in their political favor—a process known as gerrymandering.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged there may be some merit to Democratic challenger Rev. John C. Welch's plan to limit lead in Pittsburgh's drinking water at a mayoral forum hosted by 90.5 WESA and The Incline on Tuesday.

Some Of PA's Wealthiest Communities Get State Police Coverage At No Cost

May 9, 2017
Gene Puskar / AP

About half of communities home to 21 percent of the state’s residents don’t have their own police force, instead relying on state troopers.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Activists across Pennsylvania planned protests Monday to express their disapproval of the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to appeal the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday, May 16, three candidates will be on the ballot to become the next mayor of the city of Pittsburgh. Voters will decide who will oversee city government for the next four years and who will serve as Pittsburgh's ambassador. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

When voters in Allegheny County go to the poles May 16, they will see the names of at least 14 candidates hoping to become a judge.

While it is often difficult for parties to find candidates to run for other offices, it is virtually never a problem to fill the slate with lawyers looking to earn a seat on the bench.

So why is that?

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