Politics & Government

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

#PA18 Live Blog: District 18 Special Election

Mar 13, 2018
Sarah Kovash/Keith Srakocic / 90.5 WESA/AP

Follow 90.5 WESA's live blog throughout the day for continuing coverage of the District 18 special election. 

PA House Election Hits Final Day Of Campaign In Close Race

Mar 12, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The final day of campaigning Monday before votes are cast in Western Pennsylvania's closely watched congressional election drew a visit by Donald Trump Jr. and lots of door-knocking all over the southwestern district where polls show a close race.

PA Internet News Service

Governor Tom Wolf proposed an ethics reform package Monday that includes a complete gift ban for elected and new campaign finance laws that would strengthen money disclosure requirements for candidates.

Wolf is also proposing that if lawmakers don't pass a budget by the annual July 1 deadline, pay will be suspended for himself, lawmakers and their top aides. This deadline has been missed by state lawmakers the last three years.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's governor wants to ban gifts to all elected state officials and to suspend pay for himself, lawmakers and their top aides when they have not fully enacted a budget by the annual deadline.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a first-term Democrat seeking re-election, will outline a government reform proposal on Monday that also includes better campaign finance disclosure and a requirement that lawmakers provide receipts when seeking reimbursement for expenses.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

A fraught redistricting battle in Pennsylvania has taken a small step forward.

A panel of three federal judges heard arguments Friday in a case over whether the commonwealth’s Supreme Court violated the federal constitution when it redrew congressional maps last month.

Both the plaintiffs and defendants acknowledged, the case doesn’t have any direct precedent.

Lawyers for two Republican state Senate leaders and eight GOP congressmen contended that the state court usurped the legislature’s power.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in the special election to fill the empty seat in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District south of Pittsburgh.

Trump: Don't Fall For Democrat Lamb's Moderate Talk

Mar 10, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

President Donald Trump told western Pennsylvania voters Saturday night that his new tariffs were saving the steel industry and urged them to send a Republican to the House so he can keep delivering those kinds of results.

The president lent his weight to Republican Rick Saccone in the final days of a surprisingly competitive special election outside Pittsburgh that could reverberate nationally ahead of the November midterm elections.

Ahead Of Trump Visit, GOP Struggles With Campaign Basics

Mar 10, 2018
An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

There is no sign of Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone on Sherwood Drive.

Just days before western Pennsylvania's special election, his campaign informed some residents that he may knock on doors that morning in this critical GOP stronghold. It's almost 11 a.m., and they're still waiting.

"He was supposed to stop by today," 68-year-old Republican John Debich says, scanning the empty streets of suburban Greensburg from his front porch. "It's the second time we've been avoided."

Pennsylvania Democrats See Surge Of Legislative Candidates

Mar 9, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Democrats hoping to claw their way out of a deep minority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives got some good news this week when their candidates filed petitions to get on the ballot in 180 of the chamber's 203 districts.

The flood-the-zone strategy, inspired in part by a surprising showing for their party in Virginia in November, is designed to put more of the chamber in play and ramp up pressure on Republicans to defend their 121-82 majority.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA


Just days away from the March 13 special congressional election between Republican Rick Saccone (Elizabeth) and Democrat Conor Lamb (Mt. Lebanon), volunteers are knocking doors, calling voters and distributing campaign literature in an effort to get out the vote in the 18th District south of Pittsburgh.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican state lawmakers wrapped up three weeks of annual budget hearings by tearing into Governor Tom Wolf’s administration for several hours straight.

 

The crime, as they see it?

 

Making what the GOP alleges is an unconstitutional deal to close this fiscal year’s budget deficit.

 

White House Gears Up Campaigning For District 18 Special Election

Mar 8, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

Fighting to stave off another special election embarrassment, the White House is strengthening its final-days offensive in western Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As more states begin creating work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients, calls to do the same in Pennsylvania are building.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to figure out a better way to pay for state police.

Pennsylvania Republican Rick Saccone Wants To Be Trump's 'Wingman'

Mar 8, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The Republican congressional candidate running in Pennsylvania's special election next week wants to be President Donald Trump's "wingman."

Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone embraced Trump as he faced reporters on Wednesday. He noted that the Republican president has been getting "beat up" recently.

Saccone said: "He needs help. He needs wingmen down there. I'm an old Air Force guy. I want to be one of his wingmen to help him implement that agenda."

Alex Brandon / AP

State elections officials say Democrat Bob Casey and three Republicans filed petitions before Pennsylvania's deadline to get on the primary ballot for U.S. Senate.

The Republicans who filed by Tuesday night's deadline were U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, state Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver County and perennial candidate Joe Vodvarka of suburban Pittsburgh.

Tom Wolf / Flickr

Three weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead, there seems to be some momentum for action on gun reform bills in Congress and in the legislatures of states, including Florida and Pennsylvania.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvanians won't be lacking for choice when they select general election candidates for lieutenant governor.

Pennsylvania's state elections officials reported receiving paperwork from seven Democrats and five Republicans by Tuesday night's deadline.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The battle over how to handle Pennsylvania’s congressional maps has even political families divided.

 

Former governor Dick Thornburgh has filed a brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing a new congressional map drawn by the state Supreme Court should be invalidated.

 

But the governor’s son, David, has called that map an “improvement” on the old one.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A bipartisan group of state senators is plotting another attempt at legislation that has become something of a white whale in Pennsylvania — overhauling the property tax system.

They’re reviving a bill that failed to pass the chamber by a single vote in 2015.

Pennsylvania’s property taxes largely pay for public schools, as well as local government expenses.

Biden Makes Appeal To Unions While Stumping For Lamb In Pittsburgh

Mar 7, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The fight for the hearts and minds of America's labor unions is raging in western Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden has suddenly stopped smiling.

In the midst of a speech to boost Democrat Conor Lamb ahead of next week's special election, the former vice president shifts to his decades-long relationship with organized labor, which is now under attack.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Erika Strassburger made history Tuesday night as the first woman elected to represent Pittsburghers living in Oakland, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze on Pittsburgh’s City Council with 64 percent of the vote.

Republicans' Debate Exposes Big Differences In School Policy

Mar 6, 2018
Chris Knight / AP

A debate question about public school funding in Pennsylvania exposed big differences in how the three candidates for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would approach it.

Wolf Says New Map Should Be Used For Congressional Elections

Mar 6, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's governor told the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday it would cost millions of dollars and confuse voters if the justices stop current plans to hold congressional elections this year based on a new district map imposed last month by the state Supreme Court.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

In their final week of annual budget hearings, state lawmakers are trying to evaluate how last year’s sweeping gambling overhaul—designed to balance a shaky revenue plan—is affecting state finances.

 

The introduction of a new class of mini-casinos and remote video gaming terminals is the biggest expansion Pennsylvania’s gambling industry has seen since it was legalized well over a decade ago.

 

Jacqueline Larma / AP

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators want state law enforcement to be alerted when someone who isn't allowed to buy a gun tries to purchase one.

House Races Are In Full Swing, But Layered With Uncertainty

Mar 5, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's congressional races are in full swing, while Republicans are waging legal battles in federal courts in an effort to block a new map of 18 districts imposed by the state Supreme Court.

That has added a layer of uncertainly to fields of candidates that already went through upheaval when the state's high court redrew boundaries last month, putting the homes of some congressional hopefuls into different districts or forcing them to rethink their candidacy.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Democrat Conor Lamb (Mt. Lebanon Township) and Republican Rick Saccone (Elizabeth Township) doubled down on their respective messages, and launched sharp criticism at one another, ahead of the March 13 special election to fill the empty House seat in Pennsylvania’s 18th District.

Trump Plans Return To Pennsylvania Amid Close US House Race

Mar 3, 2018
AP

Democrat Conor Lamb is pounding Republican Rick Saccone in fundraising ahead of a special election in Pennsylvania for a vacant U.S. House seat, as President Donald Trump plans a pre-election rally in a contest viewed as a gauge of Republican strength before 2018's midterm elections.

Mike Stewart / AP

The school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead catalyzed a series of actions this week as Dick's Sporting Goods, WalMart, L.L. Bean, REI and Kroger joined the growing chorus of companies restricting weapon sales or rescinding NRA member perks and discounts.

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