Politics & Government

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

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state legislature has moved two bills that would create work requirements and otherwise tighten regulations for Pennsylvanians getting state benefits.

As committee debate on the measures stretched more than two hours, protesters in wheelchairs crowded the hearing room.

They were from the Philadelphia chapter of ADAPT, a national disability rights organization. And though the protesters in wheelchairs wouldn’t likely be the ones losing benefits under the proposed restrictions, organizer Nancy Salandra said she’s concerned nonetheless.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta raised nearly $1.3 million in the first three months of 2018 for his campaign to contest Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey's re-election bid in Pennsylvania.

Barletta's campaign said Monday it had about $1.6 million in the bank as of March 31. That compares with the $10 million-plus that Casey's campaign said it had after raising $2.2 million in the period.

Barletta spent about half of the amount he raised during the quarter, while Casey spent about 40 percent of what he raised.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

According to the office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), 100,000 children in the commonwealth are raised by their grandparents. This is due in part to drug addiction, which can leave some parents unable to take care of their kids.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee is kicking off days of hearings on gun violence and public safety in the wake of February's school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla.

Monday's hearing was the first of at least five scheduled to let House members who wish to come before the committee and advocate for changes to Pennsylvania's laws.

More than two dozen lawmakers were scheduled to testify at hearings stretching into next week.

Primary Approaches For Senate GOP Hopefuls, With No Debates

Apr 6, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

Pennsylvania's two Republican U.S. Senate candidates came as close to each other as they've been in public, speaking separately at the state's largest annual gathering of conservatives.

TV Ad Opens Up New Line Of Attack In GOP Gubernatorial Race

Apr 5, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango is opening up a new line of attack against Republican rival Scott Wagner, airing a TV ad that digs into Wagner's business dealings, child support case and violations in his waste-hauling business.

Mango's campaign said the 30-second ad began airing Wednesday on stations in Pennsylvania's six media markets.

Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says the Democrat is backing a package of forthcoming legislation that's designed to improve protections in Pennsylvania against workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

Wolf's announcement Thursday with Democratic lawmakers comes amid revelations of misconduct allegations against several lawmakers and state agreements to pay more than $3 million to settle sexual misconduct claims over the past decade.

Penn National Snares Its 4th Casino License In Pennsylvania

Apr 4, 2018
Heather Ainsworth / AP

Penn National Gaming is the sole and winning bidder for a fifth new mini-casino license authorized by Pennsylvania, potentially giving the company a state-leading fourth casino.

Penn National won Wednesday's auction by submitting a bid just $3 over the $7.5 million minimum.

A Penn National spokesman says the company hasn't picked a specific location yet. But the general location Penn National identified seems to ensure it'll be built in southern Berks County, either in the city of Reading, its suburbs or along a section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr


In January, Gov. Tom Wolf addressed the blight of opioid addiction by issuing a statewide disaster declaration. But those declarations, which are more commonly used for natural catastrophes, expire after 90 days. On Tuesday, Wolf said he intends to renew it.

Wolf Extends Fundraising Lead Over 3 Republicans In Primary

Apr 4, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Millions more dollars poured into the Pennsylvania governor's race in 2018, as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf extended his fundraising lead over the three Republican candidates vying for the party's nomination to challenge him, according to reports filed at the state's Tuesday deadline.

Wolf reported more than $14.7 million in the bank for November's general election, or $8.5 million more than his nearest rival, Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County, who made millions in the waste-hauling industry.

Kathleen Davis / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of Pittsburgh’s city employees will be eligible to take paid "safe" leave starting July 3.

Under an executive order announced by Mayor Bill Peduto on Tuesday, the policy aims to accommodate workers who face intimate partner violence and need to find safe housing, file Protection from Abuse orders and obtain necessary care.

 

The directive notes that many must take time off work to meet these needs.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Republican gubernatorial candidate, State Sen. Scott Wagner recently sent supporters an alarming email, pointing out that the Washington Times reported that a lawsuit claims 100,000 non-citizens are registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

Is that possible?

Maybe, maybe not. But the origin of the figure and how it found its way into the public debate is an interesting tale.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Democrat Conor Lamb’s victory over Republican Rick Saccone in last month’s special congressional election was seen as a positive sign for Democrats.

But it’s also a sign that in many working-class pockets of Pennsylvania, unions still hold considerable sway.

Rick Bloomingdale, president of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, said the group is working with local unions to focus on a handful of races heading into this year’s midterm elections.

Lamb’s new race for the 17th Congressional District under the redrawn map is at the top of the pile.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's incumbent governor raised nearly $5 million for his re-election during the first three months of the year, leaving him with more than $14.7 million in the bank for the election that's now seven months away.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's campaign said Monday he took in $4.96 million between Jan. 1 and March 26.

His campaign says 91 percent of his donations were of $250 or less, and nine out of 10 donors live in Pennsylvania.

Wolf spent more than $32 million, including about $10 million of his own money, in winning the governorship in 2014.

How Would PA’s U.S. House Delegation React If Mueller Is Fired?

Apr 2, 2018
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

 

President Donald Trump's recent public criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election has raised concerns he may be laying the groundwork to derail the probe.

AP

While he was working on the US Constitution, James Madison realized there was a pretty fundamental part of state governments that seemed useless to regulate.

Marijuana-Friendly States, Including PA, Want Meeting With Sessions

Mar 30, 2018
David Goldman / AP

Pennsylvania, California and other marijuana-friendly states are seeking a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hopes of resolving the conflict between federal and state laws that has left the nation's cannabis industry in legal limbo.

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, even as 29 states have legalized pot in some form.

State treasurers from California, Oregon, Illinois and Pennsylvania told Sessions in a letter Thursday that businesses and banks need greater clarity on how federal law enforcement will respond to the growing legalization trend.

GOP's Congressional Stronghold Is Democrats' Source Of Hope

Mar 29, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A longtime congressional stronghold for Republicans, Pennsylvania is emerging in dramatic fashion as a source of hope for Democrats in their quest to take control of the U.S. House in November's mid-term elections.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor is staying on the ballot after a judge rejected a claim that he falsely listed his mother's home as his residence on election records when he actually lives in a state-owned mansion at Fort Indiantown Gap.

A Commonwealth Court judge on Wednesday sided with Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, saying his actions show his intent to make his mother's Philadelphia home his residence.

PA Legislature Has Long History Of Inaction On Redistricting Reform Bills

Mar 29, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Now that legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s new court-drawn congressional map have been rejected, state lawmakers have turned their attention to the typical process by which the state reapportions congressional districts every decade.

But some stakeholders are skeptical about whether any current proposals will ever make it to a vote.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

A new poll shows Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democrats are in a strong position ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

It found 43 percent of voters in the Franklin and Marshall College survey believe Governor Tom Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in office, compared with 38 percent in a similar poll in September.

The boost came primarily from Democrats and Independents.

F&M’s Berwood Yost said it could be due to a lot of things.

For one, it might be disapproval of President Donald Trump—who has a steady 30 percent approval rating in the poll.

Matt Rourke / AP

A crowded field of Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor met for a debate Monday as they attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Mike Stack.

Though Stack himself was busy presiding over the Senate and was notably absent, his four-year tenure was a central topic.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant run separately from one another in primaries, and pair off for the general election.

That can lead to odd couplings—including the current one between Stack and Governor Tom Wolf.

Report: Democrats Would Need Huge Wave To Win U.S. House

Mar 27, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A report released Monday suggests Democrats might have to temper their enthusiasm about climbing back to power during this year's midterm elections.

To win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats would need a tremendous electoral wave not seen in more than 40 years to overcome Republican advantages from gerrymandered districts in key states, according to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Matt Rourke / AP

There are still lots of unresolved questions following reports earlier this month that data collection firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to millions of Facebook users’ personal data.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Monday from his Pittsburgh office that he and 36 fellow state attorneys general would address that doubt head on.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's Democratic governor wants legislation to let people register to vote on the day of elections and loosen the state's strict rules for absentee ballots.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday everyone who gets a license from the state Department of Transportation or signs up for a public service should be automatically registered to vote, unless they specifically opt out.

Wolf's wish list from the Republican-controlled Legislature also includes limits on how much donors can contribute to political candidates and improvements to how donations are reported.

CBS News / 60 Minutes via AP

Less than 24 hours after Stormy Daniels appeared on the television show 60 Minutes, a local strip club announced the adult film star would headline a different stage.

According to general manager Thom Naylor, Blush Gentlemen’s Club and Sports Bar in the Cultural District will host Daniels on May 2 and 3. She’s booked to perform four shows and meet and greet with fans.

Another Key Redistricting Case Goes In Front Of High Court

Mar 26, 2018
supremecourt.gov

The Supreme Court has already heard a major case about political line-drawing that has the potential to reshape American politics. Now, before even deciding that one, the court is taking up another similar case.

Zach Gibson / AP

A Republican Pennsylvania congressman has announced that he will not seek re-election, boosting Democratic hopes of winning his House seat.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello announced on Sunday that he would not be running, ending weeks of speculation about his future.

During an appearance on MSNBC, the second-term congressman called it "the most difficult decision" he's ever had to make and said it was due to a number of factors including the state's new congressional map.

Chris Carlson / AP

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said Sunday that students who have rallied for gun control should instead learn CPR or find their own way to prevent a school shooting.

"How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that," the Republican said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Democrats Banking On Suburban Discontent In 2018

Mar 23, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

From the old steel communities around Pittsburgh to the lakefront communities of Chicagoland, Republicans are facing an increasingly clear reality: They've got trouble in the suburbs.

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