Politics & Government

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

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.

Steven Senne / AP

Democratic presidential hopefuls -- and their spouses -- have added more campaign stops in Pennsylvania ahead of next week's April 26 primary.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Republican John Kasich became the latest presidential candidate to make a stop in the Steel City with a quick appearance in Market Square on Tuesday.

John Minchillo / AP

 

Four of the five presidential candidates will campaign in Pennsylvania this week, just days ahead of the state's April 26 primary election.

On Tuesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will make a nighttime visit to Philadelphia while Ohio Gov. John Kasich will make an afternoon stop at the Original Oyster House in downtown Pittsburgh. They're seeking the Republican nomination.

David Amsler / Flickr

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is backing new proposals to give a person’s low-level criminal offenses a limited shelf life in Pennsylvania.

Plans in the House and Senate would automatically seal low-level criminal records in Pennsylvania after a person has had no criminal activity for five to 10 years. The legislation builds on a plan enacted into law this year to let people with minor offenses ask a judge to seal their criminal records.

Nadya Peek / Flickr

The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the April 26 primary is Tuesday, and Chris Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College, said he expects more absentee voters than in previous years.

“That’s not surprising given that the primary season this year is actually relevant on both the Democratic and Republican sides,” said Borick. “There’s actual competition this year.”

In the 2012 Pennsylvania presidential primary, there were 280,000 absentee ballots cast, according to the state Bureau of Elections. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

  Donald Trump addressed a crowd of more than 8,000 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

The following segment may contain language from the audience that may be inappropriate to younger or more sensitive listeners.

This is the full, unedited recording.

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Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

At least 80 police officers from multiple agencies were called Downtown to control hundreds of protesters outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center during Donald Trump’s campaign stop Wednesday night.

“It could have gone better, but it wasn’t police who made it escalate and I feel good about that,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay said. “The officers showed restraint.”

Two officers were injured by pepper spray, one in a minor scuffle and another was kicked in the hand, according to police. McLay was initially unsure if any officers used mace.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

  Presidential progeny Chelsea Clinton stopped by her mother’s Democratic campaign office in East Liberty early Wednesday.

The younger Clinton met supporters and volunteers at the office. She said Clinton’s work with early childhood education programs and women’s rights will be critical to the fate of future generations.

“It is important that we have a president that knows how to stand up for our values,” Clinton said. “And knows how to make government work on behalf of our values when in office and when not in office.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Supporters started lining up around noon outside of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland Wednesday to see Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump is the first Republican candidate to visit the Steel City and started his visit by taping a one-hour Fox News special

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay said about 60 officers were on patrol in Oakland.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

If you had $50,000 to improve your community, what would you do? Would you invest in infrastructure, build a park or fund a non-profit organization? Or might you try something a little more creative?

The Knight Cities Challenge pushes urban thinkers to do just that: think creatively about how to engage their community. There are 26 Knight Cities around the country, including Philadelphia and State College, and anyone in those cities can submit a project to the challenge. The winners, announced Tuesday, get a portion of $5 million.

George Yost Coffin / Wikimedia Commons

As Pennsylvania’s government faces a budget deficit of well more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year, one legislator is teaming up with a Harrisburg think tank to call for changes to income tax rates.

According to state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia) and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the three proposals hashed out Monday would close the state’s “structural” budget deficit by shifting the income tax burden from low- and middle-income residents to the wealthiest Pennsylvanians.

House OKs Retroactive Abuse Case Limits

Apr 12, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

A long-sought measure to retroactively change the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases has been queued up for a final vote in the state House. 

The proposal would erase the statute of limitations in criminal cases of child sex abuse going forward, and extend the limit for civil cases from the victim’s 30th birthday to when he or she turns 50.

Julie Jacobson / AP

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Trump will tape a one hour special with Sean Hannity for Fox News at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.

The free event is first come, first served for the general public. It starts at 5:30 p.m., and doors open at 2:30 p.m. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City residents and employees can now turn to their smart phones to report suspected incidents of misuse of city tax dollars.

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb’s office celebrated a new mobile application Thursday as an extension of a hotline launched in 2013. Lamb said, so far, 50 allegations have been reported.

The city is responsible for employees servicing every neighborhood. Lamb said the app is an opportunity for people in those areas to report what they notice – the things the controller’s office can't always see.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told Pittsburghers on Wednesday she wants to create clean energy jobs, repair aging infrastructure and give students better options for financing their educations.

More than 2,000 packed the Skibo Gymnasium at Carnegie Mellon University after hours waiting in the chilly afternoon sun. 

House Mulls Major Changes To Child Sex Abuse Law

Apr 6, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The state House is poised to consider major changes to the statutes of limitations on child sex abuse cases in Pennsylvania, one month after the release of a grand jury’s findings that the clergy of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese covered up child sex abuse allegations for decades.

The bill, passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would eliminate the time limit for bringing criminal charges in a child sex abuse case. It expands the timeframe for bringing civil suits, giving victims until they’re 50 years old, instead of 30.

senatorcosta.com

Pennsylvania state Senators Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana, both Allegheny County Democrats, are calling for Pittsburgh’s Intergovernmental Cooperative Authority board to immediately dismiss Executive Director Henry Sciortino, in the wake of a criminal investigation.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has opened a criminal investigation into the financial oversight board. 

Bill To Limit Pennsylvania Abortions Voted Out Of Committee

Apr 4, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Republican-crafted bill that would place new limits on abortion is out of a Pennsylvania legislative committee days after the amendments to the Abortion Control Act were introduced.

Court Upholds Total Population Count In Electoral Districts

Apr 4, 2016
supremecourt.gov

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can count everyone, not just eligible voters, in deciding how to draw electoral districts.

The justices turned back a challenge from Texas voters that could have dramatically altered political district boundaries and disproportionately affected the nation's growing Latino population.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

There are two county-wide uniformed public safety forces in Allegheny County, the county police department and county sheriff’s deputies. 

While most of their efforts are separate, there are a few spots of overlap.

“So that raises the question, does Allegheny County need two police departments?” said Allegheny County Government Reform Commission member Jim Nowalk,

A report by the commission, released Tuesday, includes a call for the formation of a taskforce to review the possibility of a merger.

Attorney General Candidates Run On Reform

Apr 1, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state has an entire agency dedicated, at least in part, to the men and women who have served in the military.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs boasts 22,000 military and civilian personnel. It manages veterans homes and administers a variety of veteran benefits and outreach initiatives.

But for Joe Peters, Republican candidate for state attorney general, “it’s simply not enough.”

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

When the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter Commission was formed in 1997, the members decided it was time to move away from having three full-time commissioners running the county, and instead it was time to have a single full-time executive and a 15-member county council. 

“I think right now, we have a citizens council and I don’t want to make it a career thing, like a state legislature or Pittsburgh City Council,” said Allegheny County Council Member Charles Martoni who was also a member of the first council in 2000. “I think it works pretty well the way it is.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

For 13 years, Allegheny County has had a five-member accountability, conduct and ethics commission, and in that time it has never launched an investigation of its own. Not because its members have been remise in their duties, but because the commission does not have that power. 

That would change if the Allegheny County Government Review Commission had anything to say about it.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With 23 recommendations and more than 60 pages of explanations and supporting documents, the residents of Allegheny County have a lot to deal with now that the Government Review Commission has released its report.

“The whole idea of self government is to improve as much as we possibly can on a daily, weekly, yearly basis. So, I think our commission can be very helpful and be a guide to (Allegheny County) council and the (County) executive,” Mark Forester, the Allegheny County Government Review Commission chair said.

Kamran Jebreili / AP

 

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Pittsburgh next week to address campus sexual assault.

Biden's speech at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday will be the first in a multi-city tour as part of the White House's "It's On Us" campaign.

Listen Live:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The financial oversight authority created by the state legislature now has a full five-member board. For several months, the board was down to two members.

The city is currently suing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for withholding gambling tax revenue when, the city said, the board had open seats and no legal right to withhold the money. For months, the board was down to two members until Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Jay Costa and Rep. Frank Dermody appointed members in the last month.

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