Government & Politics

City Government
1:59 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Pittsburgh's 138th City Council Sworn In

Pittsburgh City Council chambers overflowed with elected officials, city employees, community leaders, friends and family as the newly elected and re-elected members of the 138th City Council were sworn in.

Natalia Rudiak, Theresa Kail-Smith and Daniel Lavelle all won re-election in their districts in November, while Bill Peduto’s former chief of staff, Dan Gilman, took over the new Mayor’s seat on Council.

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Government & Politics
10:58 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Corbett Optimistic Legislative Support for Lottery Privatization is Growing

Gov. Tom Corbett is optimistic that legislative support for privatizing the state lottery is growing.

For the first time in more than a year, the Corbett administration has no obligation to a British firm that bid on a deal to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The bid from Camelot Global Services expired at the end of 2013.

But Corbett says state lawmakers are still in talks over legislation to allow lottery privatization.

"Nothing’s public," he said. "There’s more discussion and I think there’s more look at getting more funds into Pennsylvania.

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Peduto to be Inaugurated as Mayor of Pittsburgh

Bill Peduto is congratulated by supporters during his election night victory. He's holding a broom because he wants to make a "clean sweep" of city government.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Bill Peduto takes the oath of office Monday afternoon in Heinz Hall as Pittsburgh's 60th mayor. The ceremony had been planned for outside City Hall but was moved because of concern over frigid temperatures. 

The inauguration is a ticketed event and only a very limited number of seats will be available to the general public. 

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City Government
3:30 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Gilman Says He Won't be a 'Rubber Stamp' for Former Boss Peduto

As Bill Peduto is sworn in as mayor of Pittsburgh, his former chief of staff will move into his old City Council seat.

Dan Gilman won the District 8 seat in a landslide victory in November, clinching 89 percent of the vote.

District 8 includes Shadyside, Squirrel Hill North and North Oakland. Gilman, who worked with Peduto for eight years, says the relative safety and economic stability in his district will free him up to focus on other parts of the city.

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Once a Promising Political Novice, Mayor Ravenstahl Leaves Office ... And Politics?

Outgoing Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced on March 1, 2013 that he would not seek reelection, after a tenure marked with a mix of triumphs and stumbles.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was quietly sworn into office following the 2006 death of Mayor Bob O’Connor, the 26-year-old City Council president became the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city. 

Headlines around the time included the following: “Hope surrounds new Pittsburgh mayor, 26” and he made several national television appearances, including a spot on "The Late Show with David Letterman." But as he heads out of office, the last months of his tenure included headlines such as “Luke Ravenstahl Maintains Low Profile Amid Federal Probe.”

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City in Transition
3:30 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Who Will Be The Next Council President?

The first order of business after City Council swears in its newly elected members Jan. 6 is to choose a new president who will run the council for the next two years. The semi-annual election is always fraught with back room deals and unlikely alliances.

“That vote won’t be decided until five minutes before that meeting,” said Jim Motznik, former Pittsburgh City Councilman (2001-2010) and current District Municipal Court Justice.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Councilwoman Deb Gross Hopes to Manage Growth in East End

Pittsburgh’s newest City Council representative, Deb Gross, won out against four other candidates in a special election, after District 7 representative Patrick Dowd vacated his seat in July.

Gross took her seat at the beginning of December, one of the busiest times of the year for the council.

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Capital Punishment
3:30 am
Thu January 2, 2014

PA Task Force Delays Deadline For Possible Death Penalty Reforms

Thirty-two states, including Pennsylvania, have the death penalty. Since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment,  Rhode Island (1984),  New York (2007), New Jersey (2007),  New Mexico (2009) Connecticut (2012), and Maryland (2013)  have abolished it. But the repeal in the last three states was not retroactive so they still have prisoners on death row.  Massachusetts' death penalty statute was nullified in 1984 by court rulings.

Could Pennsylvania become the next state to abolish capital punishment?

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Pennsylvania
11:54 am
Wed January 1, 2014

PA Natural Gas Advisory Committee Scheduled To Meet Again

Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Advisory Committee (NGAC) is supposed to discuss the role of state forest land in energy production — it just hasn’t done it yet.

The commonwealth has already leased about 385,400 acres of forest land for natural gas extraction, according to a report released by the DCNR in October.

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Government & Politics
3:30 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Proposal Would Let Teachers in PA Carry Guns on the Job

School shootings across the country have prompted studies on school safety in Pennsylvania, calls to boost security budgets and, now, legislation to allow school staff to carry firearms is on the table.

A year ago, top lawmakers and the Corbett administration said they didn't want to talk about arming teachers in a bid to deter gun violence in schools, but that's exactly the debate state Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) wants to have.

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City in Transition
11:54 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Peduto Gets 'Roadmap to Build the Next Pittsburgh'

Bill Peduto will be inaugurated Monday as Pittsburgh’s 60th mayor, and he takes office with a 5-inch thick binder with 1,100 pages of recommendations from citizens on how to improve the city.

Some 1,200 residents comprising 47 subcommittees delivered their reports and recommendations Monday evening to the mayor-elect and his management team.

“The response was overwhelming,” said Kevin Acklin, chairman of the transition committee and the incoming chief of staff for Peduto. According to Acklin the subcommittees began work Nov. 30 and made about 50 separate recommendations.

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Government & Politics
10:04 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Corbett Administration Expects Foxconn Site Search to Begin in January

The Corbett administration expects the New Year to kick off plans by electronics manufacturer Foxconn to increase its presence in Pennsylvania.

The Taiwanese supplier of products by Apple, Sony, and Dell will likely start the year looking for a plant location.

Steve Kratz, spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development, said though Foxconn already has a small facility in Harrisburg, the new plant’s location hasn’t been decided.

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State Lottery
3:49 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

PA Ends Pursuit of Hiring British Lottery Firm

The Corbett administration will not extend a British firm’s bid to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Camelot Global Services’ bid to take over management of the lottery will expire Dec. 31.

The bid has been extended numerous times since the company’s deal with the commonwealth, originally announced in January, entered a limbo-like state after being rejected by the state’s attorney general.

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City In Transition
3:30 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Bill Peduto Reflects on 12 Years on Pittsburgh City Council

Bill Peduto’s 12-year tenure as a Pittsburgh City Councilman comes to a close this week. As he transitions into his role as the city’s 59th Mayor, he said he’s most proud of his role in bringing the city back from the brink of financial ruin.

Pittsburgh entered Act 47 oversight less than two years after Peduto took over his District 8 council seat.

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

Conservative Think Tank Offers Tips for New Pittsburgh Mayor

In 2005 and again in 2009, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank, put together a list of recommendations for Pittsburgh’s new Mayor. With Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto set to take the reins in 2014, those recommendations have been updated and re-released.

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Taxes
3:30 am
Mon December 30, 2013

New Law Aims to Decrease Tax Liens in PA

Tax liens in the commonwealth total more than $1 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

A new law aims to address that issue by allowing municipalities throughout the commonwealth to place a lien on other properties owned by a delinquent property taxpayer.

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Government & Politics
10:13 am
Fri December 27, 2013

PA's Minimum Wage Becomes Campaign Fodder For Gubernatorial Candidates

Recent rumblings over the Pennsylvania minimum wage may foreshadow a flashpoint in the gubernatorial election.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, has expressed uneasiness with the idea of raising the state’s 7.25 dollar wage.

"I’m not going to go into details right now," he said. "I’ve made a statement on that before and I’m going to stay by that."

He told the Times-Leader of Wilkes-Barre he’s concerned raising the wage may put a damper on Pennsylvania’s economy.

Government & Politics
10:04 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Work Remains for PA Lawmakers on Child Protection Legislation

Work still remains for state lawmakers on child protection legislation, in spite of the slew of bills signed by the governor last week.

The 10 proposals are the result of more than a year of work to tighten up the state’s child protection laws.

Central to the effort was a proposal to re-write the state’s legal definition of child abuse to make it less vague.

But Bucks County District Attorney Dave Heckler says there’s more to come.

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Government & Politics
8:13 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Corbett Administration Considers Re-Bidding Lottery Privatization Deal

The British firm that's been waiting on its bid to privatize certain functions of the Pennsylvania Lottery may soon have some competition.

The Corbett administration is considering starting the bid process over for the plan, now that state lawmakers are considering legislation to pave the way to outsource the management of the lottery.

Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to do it without their approval has been in limbo ever since it was struck down by the attorney general last February.

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College Savings
3:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Need a Last-Minute Gift Idea? PA Treasurer McCord Suggests Donating to a 529

While many holiday gift givers will be heading out to the stores Monday and Tuesday for a few last-minute gifts, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord is offering another solution: give to a loved one’s college fund.

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Natural Gas Drilling
4:04 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

PA High Court Strikes Down Zoning Limits on Drilling

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday struck down portions of a law that stripped some of the powers municipalities have to decide where the natural gas industry can operate — portions that the industry had sought from Gov. Tom Corbett and lawmakers.

The justices ruled the 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted the power of municipalities, although the 4-to-2 majority disagreed as to why it was unconstitutional.

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Pennsylvania
3:43 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Corbett Inks Post-Sandusky PA Child-Abuse Bills

Pennsylvania enacted its first new laws Wednesday in the Legislature's wide-ranging response to the Jerry Sandusky and Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse scandals, a step that expands the nearly 20-year-old playbook for how caseworkers and investigators can handle reports of child abuse.

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Government & Politics
10:30 am
Thu December 19, 2013

PA Budget Chief Warns of $1.4 Billion Budget Shortfall Next Fiscal Year

The governor’s budget secretary is warning if the current financial picture holds, the commonwealth could face up to a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.

Charles Zogby said the budget deficit is due largely to rising personnel costs like health care and pensions.

But a reduction in federal funds for medical assistance and cost increases in the state’s prisons system are also contributing to the gap.

Zogby said the Corbett administration is still trying to avoid cuts.

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Government & Politics
4:26 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Corbett Backs Gay Rights Bill On Discrimination

Gov. Tom Corbett is supporting a measure to ban the discrimination of Pennsylvanians based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposal would update the commonwealth’s anti-discrimination law to include what supporters call basic protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.

The governor insists he’s not changing his stance on the issue, claiming it’s the first time he’s had any kind of position.

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Government & Politics
4:10 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

One Year After Sandyhook, Mental Health Overhaul Offered

US Congressman Tim Murphy
Credit Tim Murphy / murphy.house.gov

The shootings and Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. focused the nation’s attention on mental health care but now that the tragedy is a year behind us, debate on the subject has waned.

However, U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) is hoping to throw it back into the spotlight with a bill he is calling the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.

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