Government & Politics

City Government
1:16 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

With Council Approval, Red Light Cameras Are Coming to Pittsburgh

Pittsburghers who have a habit of cutting it close when driving through yellow lights may want to make some adjustments.

City Council passed a bill Tuesday to install automated red light enforcement systems, also known as “red light cameras,” at the city’s most dangerous intersections.

Councilman and Mayor-elect Bill Peduto said he was supportive of the legislation, and that he had introduced a similar bill several years ago.

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Government & Politics
10:21 am
Tue December 10, 2013

PA Lottery Proposal Likely On Hold Until After the Holidays

The leader of the Senate Republicans says chances are slim lawmakers could pass legislation to expand the lottery and pave the way for its privatization before the holiday break.

Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said the plan, hatched in part to generate revenue ahead of a tough budget year and in part to enact a property tax freeze for seniors, still lacks consensus among GOP lawmakers.

He said it deals with two issues.

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Government & Politics
3:00 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Moms Demand Action Group to Remember Sandy Hook

A national firearm safety organization is calling on Congress to enact comprehensive background checks for gun purchases on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Leading up to Dec. 14, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will host a “week of action” to honor the 26 lives lost in Newtown, Conn. and bring what the organization is calling “common-sense reforms” to the nation’s gun laws.

Each day of the week, participants will take part in “daily calls to action.”

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Military
12:26 pm
Sun December 8, 2013

As Armed Forces Scale Back, PA Young People Often Disappointed

Recruiters for the U.S. Marines canvass shopping plazas, high schools and job fairs for potential soldiers.
Credit Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

An all-honors student and varsity soccer player, Luc LaChance could have had his pick of colleges when he left Slippery Rock High School in Butler County.

Instead, he chose to enlist with the U.S. Marines, where he will be trained as an infantryman — what the 17-year-old describes as “the common soldier.”

Eric Enslow, a 25-year-old Shaler Township resident with a master’s degree, joined the Navy after an exhaustive search for teaching jobs in Southwest Pennsylvania. His choice in the military was an intelligence job, which he was denied because of student-loan debt.

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Government & Politics
4:20 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Doyle Supports Bill To Strengthen Social Security

About one in five senior citizens in the U.S. relies on Social Security as the sole source of income and proposed funding cuts could put them in danger.

Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) announced today his support of the Strengthening Social Security Act, which would increase benefits by about $70 a month.

The bill, introduced in September by California Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, would increase Cost of Live Adjustments (COLA) and extend the Social Security trust fund by slowly eliminating the payroll tax cap.

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Government & Politics
3:58 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Corbett’s Alternative to Medicaid Expansion in PA Released Online

The Corbett administration has made its alternative proposal to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion available to the public.

It’s one step closer to receiving federal review of a plan that would allow hundreds of thousands of people to enroll in private health insurance plans subsidized with federal funds.

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Harrisburg
11:23 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Christmas Trees Lit at the State Capitol

The state Capitol Christmas trees have been lit, one inside, and another outside the Capitol building.
Credit Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

The Christmas trees at the state Capitol have been lit and will be on display until early January.               

First Lady Susan Corbett and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard pressed the button to turn on 800 energy-saving lights, but the cue came from two kids standing on either side of Governor Corbett.

"For the next few weeks in the month of December, hopefully we will act a little kinder towards each other, a little gentler towards each other, and, obviously, hopefully a little more generous towards one another," the governor said.

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City Government
7:58 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Does City's Tech Team Have the Resources to Implement Peduto's Data-Driven Approach?

Mayor-elect Bill Peduto and his team have repeatedly said they want to implement a data-driven approach to governance, but in Tuesday’s budget hearing, questions arose as to whether City Information Systems, or CIS, has the resources to provide the kind of data the future mayor will need.

CIS is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, including, but not limited to, network administration, website development and maintenance, software development, voice and data communications and operating the 311 response center.

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Government & Politics
5:10 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

State Lawmakers Call for Gambling Study

The state Senate is calling for a legislative study of gambling in Pennsylvania.

The request is coming from Republican Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County.

"The resolution came about as we continue to watch our gaming revenues go flat and in some instances decline month of over month from last year."

Scarnati says he’s watched warily as neighboring states introduce and expand gambling, increasing the regional competition for dollars.

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City Government
7:47 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Urban Redevelopment Authority Facing Massive Cuts in 2014

Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is facing massive cuts under Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s proposed 2014 budget.

At a City Council budget hearing on Tuesday, Robert Rubenstein, acting executive director of the URA, said he was disappointed with the proposed budget’s $2.2 million cut to the authority’s budget.

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Government & Politics
5:55 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

State Lawmakers Mull Removing Some Constraints on Furloughing School Employees

State lawmakers are considering changing the constraints on when and how school districts can furlough teachers.

School districts now can only temporarily lay off employees under one of four scenarios, none of which is economic.

Legislation debated by the state House Education Committee would allow furloughs stemming from financial straits, but the bill considered would also decouple such decisions from teachers’ seniority.  

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:37 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Ambassador Peter Tomsen on a Regional Way Forward for Afghanistan

Peter Tomsen will be speaking at a conference titled, “Afghanistan: A Regional Way Forward” at the University of Pittsburgh this Thursday and Friday.
Credit World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

As the year draws to a close, many Americans are looking forward to 2014, the year we're scheduled to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in US history.

But many questions remain about the roles the global community and Afghanistan’s neighboring nations will play in the years to come.

US Ambassador Peter Tomsen, a University of Pittsburgh alumni, returns to Pittsburgh this week to try to address those questions.

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Government & Politics
4:31 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Pittsburgh Public Works Doesn’t Know What Equipment It Has, Audit Shows

When auditors from the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office went to Public Works storage yards this summer, they found some equipment was missing, but they also found equipment that was not on any list.

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb said he does not think there was any criminal intent. Instead, he thinks it was just a matter of not properly using the right management systems.

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Government & Politics
3:41 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Lawmakers Advance Bill Banning Sale of Electronic Cigarettes to Minors

A state Senate committee has advanced a plan to treat electronic cigarettes no differently than tobacco cigarettes.

E-cigarettes produce no smoke, just a vapor that delivers nicotine to the user.

A proposal is before the state Senate to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in Pennsylvania, just as the sale of tobacco cigarettes to anyone younger than 18 is prohibited.  

Republican state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf of Montgomery County says Pennsylvania lawmakers wouldn’t be the first to take up this issue.  

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City in Transition
3:23 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council Delays Early Retirement Vote

At the request of the Peduto transition team, the Pittsburgh City Council opted Tuesday to wait at least another week before voting on an early retirement offer. Debate last week indicated that the vote would have been close and that there were still several unresolved issues.

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Government & Politics
7:11 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Are Pittsburghers More Civic-Minded Than The Average American?

People living in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area are significantly more likely to contact their public officials, attend public meetings, volunteer and join community groups than the average American.

That’s according to a new report, called the Pittsburgh Civic Health Index from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and the National Conference on Citizenship.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:40 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Jockeying Begins For the Role of City Council President

Current City Council President, Darlene Harris
Credit pittsburghpa.gov

As Bill Peduto gets set to take over the mayor's office, in Pittsburgh City Council the jockeying to overtake Darlene Harris as president has begun.

Pittsburgh City Paper editor Chris Potter says in his opinion, the three likely candidates would be Harris, Ricky Burgess and Bruce Kraus.

While both Burgess and Kraus bring more diversity to a position that has been predominantly heterosexual and white, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Nafari Vanaski says the focus should be on their credentials, not just the fact that they represent minority groups.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Lawmakers Take Aim at Bill That Changed the Way Unemployment is Calculated, Paid

Initially touted as making the state’s Unemployment Compensation Fund solvent, Act 60 was passed in 2012 and implemented at the beginning of 2013. A provision in the Unemployment Compensation Solvency legislation changed the way unemployment compensation is calculated and paid to workers.

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Peduto Could Shift Millions in Taxes to Schools

Every year, the city of Pittsburgh collects about $10 million in taxes that many members of the Pittsburgh Public School Board feel is rightfully the district’s. 

Now, Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto says he might be willing to send the cash back to the district, but only if the city’s nonprofit sector steps up with a few dollars of its own.

“It has never come up for discussion,” Peduto said, “but that has to happen in conjunction with a long-term commitment from the major nonprofits, because we don’t have enough money to just open up our budget and give anybody money.”

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Hunting
1:56 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

Monday Marks Start of Deer Season in PA

Some 750,000 hunters will be out and about across the state Monday for the start of deer season.

According to the state Game Commission, the number of hunters has held steady over the past few years.

Spokesman Travis Lau said about 60 percent of the harvest for the entire season is expected to be killed on opening day.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Fri November 29, 2013

With Funding Plan in Place, PennDOT Reconsidering Weight Restrictions for Bridges

PennDOT is reconsidering the weight restrictions placed on structurally deficient bridges in August.

The restrictions came as a result of the Legislature’s failure to approve additional transportation funding over the summer.

But with a funding plan now in place for road and bridge work, PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt says the department can start re-evaluating bridge postings.

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Government & Politics
4:02 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Small Games to Expand to Bars in PA

Supporters of compromise legislation that expands small games of chance in Pennsylvania believe everyone is a winner, including the state’s coffers.

Gov. Tom Corbett Wednesday signed legislation that eases reporting requirements by private clubs — such as Elks and Moose Lodges, VFWs, American Legion Halls and fire departments — but now permits taverns to operate small games of chance including raffles and pull-tabs.

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Government & Politics
1:29 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

PA Insurance Commissioner Tries to Ease Consumer Confusion Surrounding ACA

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been marked with website difficulties and confusion for some consumers. Some of that confusion surrounds whether some people can keep their current health insurance plans.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine’s office is working with insurance companies asking them to either delay cancelations or help policyholders enroll in ACA compliant plans.

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City Government
3:33 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Budget Director: City Needs $20 Million in Additional Revenue

City Council Monday held a hearing with Budget Director Bill Urbanic. The takeway: The city is doing OK, but it could do better. Urbanic said the city’s margin between revenues and expenditures is “razor thin.”

“We’ve addressed many of the underlying problems in the last few years, with the help of Act 47 oversight,” Urbanic said. “The 2014 budget shows we’re staying balanced, as usual, but revenue is still going to be an issue, now and into the near future. We need at least $20 million annually.”

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City Government
10:21 am
Tue November 26, 2013

East Liberty's Penn Circle Streets Likely to be Renamed

A proposal to rename the four streets that make up Penn Circle was introduced in City Council Monday.

Justin Miller, a senior planner with the Pittsburgh City Planning Department, says the change has been a long time coming.

“Two legs of Penn Circle have already been converted to two-way traffic," he said. "It doesn’t function as a circle anymore. In the near future, we’ve got a project to convert the other two parts of Penn Circle, Penn Circle North and West, also to two-way traffic.”

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