Government & Politics

Government & Politics
8:00 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Kane Pressed on Timeline of Sandusky Case Review

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is being pressed for answers on when she’ll wrap up an investigation of the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach and convicted child molester.

The internal review began a year ago when Kane hired an outside deputy attorney general, Geoff Moulton, to helm the investigation. Kane told the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday that releasing findings will take more time, since document recovery and scheduling interviews have slowed down the review.

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Government & Politics
5:51 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

PA House Speaker Says He Won’t Run For Re-Election

Pennsylvania’s state House Speaker says he won’t run for re-election this year, after 27 years serving in the Legislature.

Sam Smith, a 14-term Republican legacy from Punxsutawney, said he just stopped enjoying the job.

“I wasn’t putting 100 percent into it, in the sense that I used to always say – no matter how bad and crazy things were around here – I could say, ‘Yeah but I still really enjoy my work, I really love the fights, the battles, the political wrangling that goes on,’” Smith said. “You need to really want to be doing it.”

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Government & Politics
5:09 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

ICA Approves City Budget Proposal Changes, Doles Out Gaming Funds to Pensions

The state board that oversees the city of Pittsburgh’s finances has given its approval to changes made to the proposed city budget by Mayor Bill Peduto.

The Peduto administration had until the end of March to present final changes to the budget but has done so early.

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Election 2014
3:32 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Off to the Races: Candidates Can Get Petitions Tuesday

Current and would-be politicians will be downloading ballot petition forms starting Tuesday as they prepare to run in the May primary. 

Candidates and their supporters can begin collecting signatures next week and then have a little less than a month to get the required number, which changes depending on the office being sought.  At least six candidates have said they plan to run in the Democratic primary for governor.

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Government & Politics
3:15 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

PA Budget Chief Defends Governor's Spending Plan

Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget secretary has started three weeks of budget hearings by defending the use of revenue predictions built into a proposed $29.4 billion spending plan.

Charles Zogby acknowledges the budget proposal rests, in part, on reducing the state’s payments into the two public pension systems — something that still requires action by the Legislature.

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Education
3:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

State Dems Take Issue With Corbett's Education Funding Proposal

State Democratic lawmakers are taking issue with how Gov. Tom Corbett is proposing to increase funding for public education.

The governor proposed a $240 million block grant which would come with spending restrictions and be doled out according to a formula.

But Chester County Sen. Andy Dinniman, ranking Democrat on the chamber’s education committee, said the formula differs from the one used under an existing block grant.

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Veterans
3:30 am
Mon February 10, 2014

VA Honors Veteran Patients with 'National Salute' Events

The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is celebrating its annual "National Salute to Veteran Patients," a week-long series of events that applaud veterans' sacrifices and draws attention to those receiving medical care.

In Pittsburgh, the VA will hold events at both its University Drive campus in Oakland and H.J. Heinz campus in O'Hara Township.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Sun February 9, 2014

Bipartisan Casey, Collins Bill Aims to Spur Small Business Growth in US

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are pushing for passage of a bill they said would boost the economy and create jobs.

The Small Business Tax Certainty and Growth Act aims to make it easier for small businesses to start, invest in capital and hire workers, but most importantly, Casey said it would mean more stability.

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Government & Politics
3:19 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

PA Farm Bureau Commends the Corbett's Budget Proposal

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is commending the governor’s budget proposal for increasing funding to two programs key to the state’s leading industry.

Spokesman Mark O’Neill welcomes the proposed 9 percent increase, or roughly $2 million, to the Department of Agriculture’s general operations, which he says has seen cuts for the last several years.

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City Government
7:40 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Peduto's Personnel Restructuring Plan Comes To Council

City Council dug into the nitty gritty of Mayor Bill Peduto’s personnel restructuring plan in their committee meeting Wednesday.

Matt Barron, Peduto’s policy advisor, was on hand to explain the changes and answer questions from council. Not every change went over well, but the mayor’s plan to add a second grants officer to the Department of Finance was receive with enthusiasm. Barron said this position would be specifically charged with seeking out new grants for which the city could apply.

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City Government
7:26 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Mayor, Council Renew City's Commitment to Summer Youth Employment Program

Councilman Ricky Burgess has spent the last few months hammering away at his fellow legislators with regard to the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:43 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Breaking Down Corbett's Budget Proposal

Governor Tom Corbett giving his fourth budget address Tuesday, calling for more than $900 million in additional state spending over the current fiscal year.
Credit pa.gov

Governor Tom Corbett delivered his fourth budget address Tuesday, calling for more than $900 million in additional state spending over the current fiscal year.

A sizable portion of Corbett's roughly three percent increase in state spending would go to education. Is this year's version of the governor's budget really the "pivot point" that Budget Secretary Charles Zogby is calling it?

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review capitol reporter Brad Bumsted points out that the budget has supporters and critics. Senator Tim Pawlenty showed support for the budget plan by declaring the latest speech as the best budget speech of Corbett's tenure. But how does Corbett plan on completing this budget plan without raising taxes?

According to Bumsted, “his budget director says its by anticipating 4% revenue growth with a number of one-time fixes and continuing fixes. But some of the things he is counting on requires approval outside of his control."

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Public Safety
3:30 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Senator to Introduce 'Rocco's Law' After Fallen K-9 Officer

Legislation that would strengthen the penalties against killing or torturing a law enforcement animal might not have saved K-9 Officer Rocco’s life, but one lawmaker hopes it could save other K-9 officers such as Mt. Lebanon Police Department’s “Snieper.”

That is the goal of state Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) who said he saw how valuable the canines are when he visited Officer Snieper and his handler, Officer Ben Himan Monday.

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City Government
4:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Pittsburgh's Municipal Bond Rating Continues to Improve

A decade ago, the city of Pittsburgh’s municipal bonds were a risky investment.

That’s a far cry from where the city is today, says Scott Kunka, director of finance for the city of Pittsburgh.

“Back in 2004, the city was essentially in junk bond grade, non-investment, and that was the year the city declared distressed status for Act 47,” said Kunka. “We’ve made about 12 to 13 increases in our credit rating over the last seven years, so it’s been a slow but steady rise.”

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State Budget
3:24 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Pennsylvania Lottery Looks to Expand Into Keno Games

Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t talk about gambling in his budget address Tuesday, but his proposed budget includes $20 million in new revenue from the expansion of the Pennsylvania Lottery into Keno games.

Elizabeth Brassell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Lottery and Department of Revenue, said the introduction of Keno could be achieved through regulatory, rather than legislative means.

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Early Childhood Education
12:20 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Corbett Proposes an Additional $10 Million for PA's Pre-K Program

Gov. Tom Corbett Tuesday announced an additional $10 million in funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts.

“Every child in this state should be, ready to learn, ready to grow, ready to succeed, and my budget sets an agenda in that spirit,” Corbett said.

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State Government
11:56 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Corbett Looks to Spend More, Relying on Unresolved Items

Gov. Tom Corbett makes his budget proposal to state lawmakers Tuesday.
Credit pa.gov

Gov. Tom Corbett delivered his fourth budget address midday Tuesday, calling for more than $900 million in additional state spending over the current fiscal year.

A good chunk of Corbett’s proposed roughly 3 percent increase in state spending would go to education. About $300 million more would go toward a new block grant for schools, special education and early learning programs, and higher education scholarships.

The proposal also calls for continuing the phase out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax on business holdings, erasing the levy by 2016.

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State Pensions
8:01 am
Tue February 4, 2014

PA Auditor General to Governor: Fully Fund Pensions, Cut Corporate Tax Breaks

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said at a news conference Monday that he’ll soon begin an audit of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

DePasquale said he’s looking for subsidies and tax breaks for corporations that don’t positively impact middle class job growth. He said the state should eliminate such subsidies and tax credits before touching “one dime” of public employee pension funds.

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Government & Politics
2:57 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Allentown Mayor Pawlowski Exits Gubernatorial Race

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has ended his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

In so doing, he’s trumpeting his support for Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord.

Pawlowski said he hopes the now seven-person field thins to minimize any intra-party bickering that he says would make it more likely that incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett secures a second term.

He says his decision comes down to money.

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Government & Politics
7:45 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Revenge Porn Bill Faces Uncertain Future in PA House

The chairman of a state House committee says he’d like to move a proposal this spring to criminalize what’s been called "revenge porn."

The measure would make it a crime to post nude images of someone online with intent to harass the person pictured.

It has passed in the Senate, though its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Judy Schwank of Berks County, said she’s not sure how speedily the bill could advance in the House.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Application Process Underway for Small Games in Bars

Applications are now being accepted for new the new Tavern Gaming License, made possible by Act 90. The law allows certain liquor licensees, such as bars and taverns, to operate small games of chance

“The new law is very specific,” said PLCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedman. “It allows pull-tab games, daily drawing and tavern raffles, games that must be, in part, for a charitable or public purpose.”

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Government & Politics
9:28 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Lawmaker Says Bill to Prevent Child Abuse in Schools Mothballed by PA House

A state senator is urging his House colleagues to get moving on a proposal to prevent child abuse in Pennsylvania schools.

Philadelphia Democrat Tony Williams says his measure aims to stop what’s called “passing the trash” — allowing people accused of child sexual abuse to relocate to another school without their new employer being aware of their history.

He says his bill would require more thorough background checks, and make school districts exchange any records they have on prospective hires.

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Election 2014
4:52 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Newcomer Runs in 3rd PA Congressional District

A 26-year-old political newcomer is hoping to swing the 3rd Congressional District in Pennsylvania back into the Democratic column.

Dan LaVallee officially announced his campaign Friday with a Youtube posting and then began a tour of the northern portion of the district that stretches from Cranberry to Erie.

“To me it’s about getting to everyone in our area figuring what we can do to move forward,” said LaValle.

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Open Data
8:26 am
Fri January 31, 2014

City Council Hears Open Data Ordinance Testimony

Pittsburghers might get the opportunity to know a lot more about city government.

City Council heard testimony Thursday on Natalia Rudiak’s legislation to establish an open data ordinance for the city of Pittsburgh.

The ordinance would make information available online to the public -- ranging from city services to infrastructure.

Matt Barron, Mayor Bill Peduto’s Policy Manager, said staff members in city government don’t currently have access to a lot of data, and it makes their jobs difficult.

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Government & Politics
2:46 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

PA Democrats Outline Priorities Ahead of Governor’s Budget Address

From left to right: Senators Matt Smith, Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana outline 2014-15 Democratic budget priorities.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Less than one week before Gov. Tom Corbett delivers his annual budget address, Pennsylvania Democrats fanned out across the commonwealth announcing their spending priorities.

They are calling on Corbett to focus on five main areas: education, Medicaid expansion, human service programs, jobs and development, and increasing the minimum wage.

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