Politics & Government

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

Marc Levy / AP

It’s been less than a week since U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) announced he’s resigning from Congress, and already three Republican state lawmakers have declared they will run for his seat.

State Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) declared Sunday that he’s suspending his U.S. Senate campaign to jump into the race. He joined state Sens. Kim Ward (R-Hempfield) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Jefferson Hills), who announced last week that they will run to replace Murphy.

Judge Races, Property Tax Issue Go Before Voters Next Month

Oct 9, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

A year ago, Pennsylvania voters were in the national spotlight and being fed a daily barrage of television ads for close presidential and U.S. Senate races.

PA Court Weighs Delaying Gerrymander Lawsuit Similar To Case Before US Supreme Court

Oct 6, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini heard arguments Wednesday over whether to stay a lawsuit over the state’s congressional district map until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a similar case out of Wisconsin.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In the midst of this week’s budget negotiation meltdown, House Republicans have managed to slide a piece of priority legislation through their chamber and on to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s desk.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

*UPDATED: Oct. 6, 2017 at 12:04pm

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced that Congressman Tim Murphy will resign effective October 21.

That significantly speeds up Murphy's departure timeline; on Wednesday, the Republican from Upper St. Clair said he would not seek re-election in 2018.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The latest push to finish Pennsylvania’s late, unbalanced budget has melted down.

After several false starts, talks between House Democrats and Republicans dissolved into fights Wednesday over who’s at fault for the chamber’s inability to find consensus on a tax package.

Cliff Owen / AP

Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania has announced plans to retire at the end of this term — amid tawdry revelations of an extramarital affair.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Since the latest Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed to garner enough support, uncertainty is growing for consumers and insurers as a new enrollment period is set to begin Nov. 1.

“Right now, states are finalizing rates for plans for 2018,” said Teresa Miller, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. “Without a bill to stabilize the market,  I think it's possible you could see companies exit the market entirely because they're just fed up with all of the uncertainty and still don't know what the rules for 2018 are.”

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

An anti-abortion congressman asked a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair to get an abortion when he thought she might be pregnant, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Daveynin / Flickr

After extensive closed negotiations, a House committee moved a plan to close part of the $2.2 billion gap in Pennsylvania’s overdue budget Tuesday evening.

Mike Stewart / AP

Several state lawmakers are introducing legislation to help people deal with situations in which their personal information is compromised.

The move comes after a massive security breach at credit reporting agency Equifax affected millions of Pennsylvanians.

The breach is the largest in the country’s history.

In the Pennsylvania alone, more than 5 million people had information compromised—about three quarters of the commonwealth’s adult population.

New Gerrymandering Suit Challenges PA Maps In Federal Court

Oct 4, 2017
govtrack.us

Five Pennsylvania voters challenged the state's Congressional boundaries in federal court Monday, charging they're gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

Pennsylvania's Congressional districts are regarded as some of the most gerrymandered in the nation, giving Republicans 13 of the state's 18 Congressional seats even though there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the Commonwealth.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a week of closed talks between legislative leaders and Governor Tom Wolf, the House and Senate are back in session together for the first time in months.

Leaders say they have a loose budget structure to work from now, though no one has officially agreed to anything.

The House hasn’t yet held official discussions with members about the framework, but the Senate did Monday afternoon.

Marc Levy / AP

A Republican state senator running for governor is on a recording telling a crowd that he's urged House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor to block a tax on Marcellus shale natural gas production to hurt Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election chances.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

GOP leaders say they’re optimistic they’ll have some kind of budget framework to present to members this week.

The House and Senate are both scheduled to convene Monday.

The potential deal comes after a week of closed negotiations between chamber leaders, as well as at least one rare in-person meeting with Governor Tom Wolf.

It’s unclear when or if major votes will happen.

But in a memo sent to GOP members, House Leader Dave Reed said it “might be a good idea to pack for a long week.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A spokesman for Pennsylvania House Republicans says recent talks to resolve the state's three-month-old budget stalemate have been productive, and there could be a breakthrough next week.

Caucus spokesman Steve Miskin said Thursday that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's engagement has been helpful.

He says details are still being worked out, but House GOP leaders hope to have a plan to present to their members next week.

The state Senate is also coming back to session in Harrisburg on Monday, another promising sign.

Evan Vucci / AP

Dozens of groups around Pennsylvania—united by their opposition to President Donald Trump -- are rallying under the loose coalition of PA Resist.

Organizers say they just held the largest so-called Day of Action yet in support of a broad pro-immigration platform.

Protesters turned out in nearly 20 cities across the commonwealth to call on their congressional representatives to support what’s being dubbed a “clean DREAM Act."

It's a proposal to protect young people brought into the country illegally, without immigration enforcement language tied to it.

Property Assessment Reform Bill Clears Pennsylvania House

Sep 28, 2017
Emily Previti/OpenStreetsMap

Pennsylvania counties can go decades without updating their property values due to relatively lax state laws, with results that are inequitable for taxpayers.

Keith Srakocic / AP

While Harrisburg is mired in balancing its overdue budget, employees in the state’s Unemployment Compensation program are getting concerned that a planned fix to their funding won’t come on time.

Hundreds of UC employees were laid off last year ago after funding wasn’t renewed over fears the program was ill-managed and cost too much.

It caused mass delays for people trying to claim unemployment benefits.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The time lag between when Equifax discovered the massive data breach and when it notified the public might be longer than the six weeks company officials have acknowledged.

“[That’s] why we hit them with another subpoena demanding information that will help us figure out the timetable,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

State House Democrats and a handful of Republicans are trying to figure out the best way to bring a natural gas severance tax up for a vote.

The group briefly tried to bring a bill to the floor Tuesday, but had to drop the effort because they were short on support.

The version of the severance tax under consideration has been sitting in the GOP-controlled House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since January.

The panel's leaders haven’t seemed inclined to act on it.

Wagner Gets Bannon's Stamp Of Approval In Governor's Race

Sep 26, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

President Donald Trump hasn't endorsed a candidate in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial election next year, but Scott Wagner might have something close to it: Steve Bannon's stamp of approval.

Bannon, the divisive ex-Trump strategist, urged a conservative gathering at a St. Louis hotel on Sunday to support the Republican state senator from York County.

Emily Cohen / for NewsWorks

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County may be an endangered species — a moderate Republican who makes a point of working with Democrats. 

In 2017, the Republican majority in both houses means controversial bills, most notably one to repeal the Affordable Care Act, can pass without a without a single Democratic vote.

Pennsylvania Official: Hackers Maybe Sought Voter Records

Sep 26, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania's top elections official said Monday that he thinks Russian hackers who tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the state's election systems had hoped to alter voter registration records to sow confusion and frustration right before last year's presidential election.

Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, however, said he otherwise has been given very little information by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the supposed attempts by Russian hackers, including how the hackers were connected to Russia, their method and the timing of their attempts.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

The fight over how to fund Pennsylvania’s overdue budget is boiling down to just a few points of contention -- including whether to impose a new tax on natural gas drillers.

Matt Rourke / AP

State Treasurer Joe Torsella has found himself at the center of contentious battles over funding Pennsylvania’s unbalanced budget and paying the commonwealth’s bills.

Last month, Torsella decided he wouldn’t loan money to cover short-term expenses until the budget is done. The state has since had to delay some payments

He maintains his decision was responsible.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Pennsylvania lawmakers fight over the details of a long-overdue budget funding plan, the commonwealth is having trouble covering short-term costs.

Michael Conroy / AP

Child advocates warn that Senate Republicans’ latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act could threaten child welfare funding. Cuts to Medicaid, advocates said, could force states and counties to divert limited child welfare dollars to cover the cost of health care to children in out-of-home placement.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Federal authorities told officials in Pennsylvania that Russian hackers unsuccessfully tried to access election systems in the state before last year's presidential election.

Pennsylvania Loses Billions Under GOP Bill, Analysts Say

Sep 22, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Independent analysts say Pennsylvania would be one of the hardest-hit states under Senate legislation that would take federal health care subsidies provided under President Barack Obama's 2010 law and redistribute it among states.

On Friday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf urged Pennsylvania's U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to reject the bill that's scheduled for a vote next week. Analysts including the Kaiser Family Foundation and Avalere Health say Pennsylvania would lose billions of federal health care dollars, while some other states would get billions in new federal dollars.

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