Politics & Government

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

Wolf Signs Bill Allowing Wine To Be Sold In Grocery Stores, Internet

Jun 8, 2016
Bradley C Bower / AP

 

A new law gives Pennsylvania consumers many more options about where to purchase their favorite varieties of wine.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Philadelphia will use the grant, from the nonprofit Living Cities, to improve racial equality in its government operations. The city will focus on workforce development for people between ages 16 to 24.

That seems like a big task for a small sum.

Joseph Kaczmarek / AP

  Attorney General Kathleen Kane's longest-serving press secretary left after handling what he called "an unfolding series of crises that were just never-ending."

Chuck Ardo, a $10,000-a-month contract employee, was Kane's seventh spokesperson since she took office in 2013. His last day was Tuesday.

The tipping point, he said, came after he gave a routine office tour to a reporter.

Matt Rourke / AP

  Local organizations are denouncing the energy policy plan put forth by Donald Trump at a North Dakota oil and gas industry meeting Thursday afternoon.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Lawyers for Attorney General Kathleen Kane have refiled a motion to throw out her criminal charges after an earlier motion was thrown out on a technicality.

Kane's lawyers made the filing Thursday in Montgomery County court.

Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchik-Alloy had given Kane's lawyers 10 days to refile it after saying an April 26 filing didn't adhere to rules of criminal procedure.

Jessica Kourkounis / NewsWorks

 

More than 53,000 people in Pennsylvania live in government-assisted nursing homes, hospitals or institutions. But in a new plan, the state Department of Human Services said it's hoping to move a lot of those people to apartments or homes.

User m01229 / Flickr

In Pennsylvania, it's illegal to hunt on a Sunday. The hunting ban has its roots in the state’s “blue laws," which date back to the late 17th century outlawing certain activities on Sundays.

A new bill sponsored by Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny, Westmoreland) would allow hunters to take part in their sport any day of the week, including Sunday.

Bob Gaffney / Flickr

Pennsylvanians with aging family members are underutilizing many of the state’s assistance programs, Department of Aging officials said.

Secretary Teresa Osborne said the department could be doing more to inform the public.

“While we’re doing an okay job of it, we need to do better,” she said. “So, what better opportunities are we going to take advantage of in order to ensure that the services and support that are available to older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers are known before somebody is in a crisis mode?”

Jessica Kourkounis

 

The advocacy group Public Interest Law Center says the commonwealth's own data point to the need for at least $3.2 billion in added state funding.

When the state's bipartisan basic education funding commission published its report last year, it came up with a new formula for distributing new state education dollars. The formula acknowledges that districts face added burdens, for instance, when educating students in poverty, or those still learning English.

Governor Wolf Calls For Reimagining Of Pennsylvania Cities

May 16, 2016
Keystone Crossroads

How does a man who has spent his life in a town of fewer than 1,400 people become a big fan of cities? Well, he becomes a businessman — and then the governor.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Harrisburg has a corruption problem. The current trial against former mayor Stephen Reed, who is fighting 449 counts of theft, bribery and racketeering that he accumulated during his nearly three decades of public service, is only the latest example of a public official misbehaving in our state's capital.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are criticizing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for fining ride-sharing company Uber $11.4 million.

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An interim leader started work Monday at Pittsburgh’s state financial oversight board, taking over for an outgoing director who’s currently under investigation for the loss or destruction of fiscal records.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh remains on a fairly solid financial footing, according to a new report from the city controller's office, adding about $16 million to its coffers in 2015.

But Controller Michael Lamb said obligatory spending -- such as pensions, employee benefits and long-term debt -- still accounts for almost half of the city's yearly budget.

“It’s hard to make ends meet and do the things you need to do as a city when 46 percent of your budget is taken right out on those three items,” Lamb said.

Right-Wing Group Chalks Up More Election Wins

May 2, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 An advocacy group focused on bankrolling conservative candidates for the state Legislature is flexing its muscles after the Pennsylvania primary.

The Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as CAP, has run afoul of top Republican lawmakers for its “purist” views opposing organized labor and eschewing lawmaker perks, like pensions. But being likened to dictators hasn’t slowed CAP down.  

Matt Rourke / AP File Photo

The state’s top fiscal watchdog says another budget impasse would lead to a “backdoor tax increase” in Pennsylvania.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday that if lawmakers and the governor allow another lengthy budget stalemate to take place without “dealing” with the state’s projected structural deficit, the commonwealth will receive another credit downgrade, hiking the cost of borrowing.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Well, of course. But it's been a long time.

Pennsylvania has become a fairly solid blue state since then-candidate George H. W. Bush won the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, but that didn’t stop GOP hopeful Donald Trump from winning a substantial number of votes on Tuesday.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Two lawyers from Pennsylvania's Montgomery County will face off in November to replace Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Democratic contender Stephen A. Zappala, who won 74 percent of his home county but only 37 percent of the state overall, said he goes back to work Wednesday as Allegheny County District Attorney.

"We’re not going to win this race," Zappala said, conceding. "We’ve got too much ground to make up. I’ve called the commissioner, and I’ve congratulated him on what happened tonight."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Democrats in Pennsylvania chose their party establishment's choice for a U.S. Senate candidate and rejected an ex-congressman who six years ago nearly won the office.

Katie McGinty, who spent more than a decade as a state and federal environmental policy official, got millions of dollars from the party and its allies that helped her side heavily outspend her rivals. She received endorsements from top Democrats, from President Barack Obama on down.

Trump, Clinton Take Presidential Primary In Pennsylvania

Apr 26, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

New York businessman Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, pulling in support from a majority of men and women, high-income and low-income earners and voters from cities, suburbs and rural areas.

Hillary Clinton defeated rival Bernie Sanders, taking another step in her march to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Dawn Endico / Flickr

Electronic ballots or paper ballots? Voters in Washington County today will use both.

Counties across the commonwealth have been scrambling to adhere to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision last week that ordered the reinstatement of Joseph Vodvarka to the Democratic primary ballot in the U.S. Senate contest.

Mel Evans / AP

Attention will shift from the campaign trail to the voting booths as Pennsylvanians cast ballots on presidential primary contests and races for Congress and state offices on Tuesday.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Bernie Sanders addressed a crowd of more than 8,000 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Thursday, March 30, 2016. 

This is the full, unedited recording.

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BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you, Pittsburgh! (audience chants Bernie-Bernie-Bernie)

What a turnout, thank you so much.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

    

Hillary Clinton addressed a crowd of about 2,000 at Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. 

This is the full, unedited recording: 

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HILLARY CLINTON: 

Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.  (audience chants "Hillary")

Keith Srakocic / AP

Ted Cruz addressed a crowd of around 1,000 at Gateway High School in Monroeville on Saturday, April 23, 2016.

This is the full, unedited recording.

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TED CRUZ:

God bless the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (audience cheers)

And let me say something that is profoundly painful for someone who grew up as a fan of the Houston Oilers. God bless the Pittsburgh Steelers. (audience cheers)

Megan Harris, Keith Srakocic / 90.5 WESA, AP

 

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich, as well as Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are all campaigning in Pennsylvania ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made his first Pittsburgh-area campaign stop Saturday, becoming the last major presidential candidate to stroll through the Steel City ahead of Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

Darron Cummings / AP

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz will make his first Pittsburgh stump Saturday in Monroeville.

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County prosecutors executed search warrants Wednesday as part of an investigation into a state-created authority appointed to oversee Pittsburgh's failing finances a dozen years ago.

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