Politics & Government

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

Andrew Hamik / AP

Republicans have been keeping a close eye on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, and one Pennsylvania congressmen said the speakers seem to be disconnected from the concerns of voters, especially those in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep Keith Rothfus, who represents the commonwealth's 12th District, said Democrats have failed to address "a world that is on fire with disruption across the planet and a lack of American leadership.”

Rothfus said there is also not enough attention being paid to Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is planning an audit of how money’s being managed in Pennsylvania’s two biggest employee retirement systems.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Republican nominee for state attorney general is drawing sharp lines between himself and current office-holder, Kathleen Kane.

In a speech Monday, State Senator John Rafferty, a former deputy attorney general, touted himself as the only candidate who won’t use the office as a political stepping stone.

“I’m unique in that fashion,” Rafferty said. “I’m one of the few attorney generals and the only candidate that has said I’m staying…That’s how important I believe this office is.”

Barbara Hafer, Former PA Treasurer, Indicted

Jul 22, 2016
Paul Vathis / AP

  Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury.

This makes her the third state treasurer to face federal charges in three decades.

Hafer is accused on two counts of making false statements to FBI and IRS agents during a corruption investigation in May.

She was allegedly concealing $500,000 in consulting fees paid to her by companies that did business with the Treasury Department while Hafer was in office. 

Scott 412 Foto / flickr

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he became addicted to watching the Republican National Convention this week. He described falling asleep on his couch watching the late night shows and cable news.

“I’ve been watching conventions since I was in second grade,” Peduto said. “I can’t think of a convention that I actually became compulsively obsessed with watching.”

S&P Report Shows Good And Bad News For PA Finances

Jul 22, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After Pennsylvania went two days without a revenue plan last week, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings put its credit on its “CreditWatch" list.

Inclusion on the list signifies a state in danger of an imminent credit downgrade.

The commonwealth made it off the list this week, after the budget was balanced.

Mary Altaffer / AP

The Republican National Convention wraps up in Cleveland tonight with speeches from prominent republicans, religious leaders, business moguls and presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Katie McGinty said she has been struck by the negative tone of the gathering.

Christopher Ena / AP Images

Pittsburgh native Shelly Culbertson describes a journey through six countries seeking to understand how the Arab Spring shaped the Middle East in her book "The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East." She joins us in studio to discuss her journey and where the Arab Spring nations stand today.  

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state is making strides on developing its new medical marijuana program.

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said, since the commonwealth’s legalization of medical marijuana in April, her department has been working constantly to build the program.

Wikipedia

When Presidents take office, they swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. A new book edited by Ken Gormley, the recently-appointed president of Duquesne University, looks at how past presidents have interpreted the Constitution.

Office of the Governor

In contrast to last year to last year’s nine month impasse, Pennsylvania legislators and Governor Tom Wolf have reached an agreement on the state budget less than two weeks after the July 1st deadline.

Governor Wolf attributed this partly to the momentum built up by passing medical marijuana, liquor reform, and a new education funding formula.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The city is moving forward after the plan to turn the former Hunt Armory in Shadyside into an indoor ice rink was withdrawn this week.

The developer, Krasta Properties, said bank lenders declined to invest in the facility after it couldn’t secure leases with any health care companies for sports medicine ventures.  

City Councilman Dan Gilman said there are still plenty of development options for the building, which takes up an entire city block in Shadyside.

Megan Fair / 90.5 WESA

A large, three-story structure in Allegheny West where college students used to learn how to paint and sculpt would become the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's temporary training facility under a bill given tentative approval by City Council this week.

If the bill becomes law after a final vote Tuesday, the city would pay the Community College of Allegheny County as much as $2.1 million to rent its former visual arts building for police training over the next three to six years.

PA Budget Becomes Law; Some Lawmakers Cry Foul

Jul 12, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state officially has a budget.

The $31.5 billion spending plan went into effect at midnight on Monday, without Governor Tom Wolf’s signature. But negotiations still aren’t finished on the revenue plan to back it up.

Deadline notwithstanding, lawmakers did seem to have a productive day of talks on the spending plan.

Senate GOP spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher called the progress “encouraging.” She said it seems likely a vote could come soon.

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

 

"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?"

Espen Sorvik / flickr

Pigovian taxes, such as Philadelphia's new soda tax, create very mixed reactions among consumers. University of Pittsburgh Katz Business School professor Cait Lamberton explained an individual's’ view of the issue depends on their perception of how certain personal behaviors impact the whole community.

Tobacco Opponents Tout Cigarette Tax Benefits

Jul 11, 2016
fried dough / flickr

Anti-tobacco advocates from the American Cancer Society are calling on state lawmakers to levy an increased cigarette tax as part of the 2017 budget.

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll let a roughly $31 billion spending bill become law without his signature, even though lawmakers are struggling to figure out how to pay for some of it.

dmva.pa.gov

An audit of the commonwealth’s veteran affairs program has turned up preventable admissions delays in state homes for elderly vets.

Over nearly two years, investigators found admission to the six veterans’ homes could range anywhere from one day, to 443 days, depending on location.

The homes are located in Chester, Lackawanna, Erie, Allegheny, Philadelphia and Blair counties.

Medill DC / Flickr

Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator watched his anti-sanctuary city legislation come up short on Wednesday.

Republican Pat Toomey’s proposal is seen by some as largely a byproduct of running for office in an election year dominated by partisan issues. 

The measure would have cut off certain federal funding to cities, like Philadelphia, where jails and police don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

In the past, Toomey was best known for his fiscal conservatism.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

With little news of progress on the 2017 state budget coming out of Harrisburg, school advocates around the state are crossing their fingers a resolution comes soon.

If not, Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said state-funded institutions will be in bad shape come fall.

Robinson said schools used up a lot of resources during last year’s nine-month budget impasse.

Kelly DeLay / flickr

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland is still two weeks away, but local citizens are already preparing for it.

Peretz Partensky / flickr

Last month’s shootings at an Orlando nightclub reignited the debate over gun control. Here in the commonwealth, gun advocates feel money can be saved by doing away with the background check system. By leaving this up to the federal government, gun opponents feel public safety could be at risk if this is left up to the federal government. We’ll address the issue with Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Fourth of July celebrations were punctuated by gunfire on Monday, as four people were shot downtown following the fireworks. Mayor Bill Peduto attributed it in part to the ease with which young people are able to obtain guns.

Googlemaps

Residents of Allentown and the South Side Slopes are about one week away from seeing a former hillside dump site given special status as Pittsburgh’s newest greenway.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Despite a Wednesday deadline, Pennsylvania is still without a budget. The State House and Senate have agreed to a $31.6 billion spending plan, but Gov.Tom Wolf has refused to sign it without an accompanying revenue plan.  

 

 

Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

Jun 30, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

On the heels of the sit-in staged by Democrats in the House of Representatives last week, one Pennsylvania Congressman took to the steps of Pittsburgh's City-County Building on Wednesday to renew calls for lawmakers to hold a vote on proposed gun reforms.

Julio Cortez / AP Images

The deadline for Pennsylvania's 2016-17 budget is Friday and a compromise is looking more likely this year than last. We'll ask Majority Leader Dave Reed what's included in this year's budget and how negotiations are different in this session.

President Obama says he agrees with Donald Trump on one thing: There are "parallels" between the U.S. election and the United Kingdom's dramatic vote to leave the European Union.

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