Government & Politics

Government
8:20 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Local Hospitals Will Lose Federal Subsidies

Hospitals provide care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. That care comes at a high cost. For years, the federal government has helped offset that cost. Now, with the Affordable Care Act, those payments will be reduced. 

More than 70,000 people a year pass through the Emergency Room doors of UPMC Mercy in Uptown. They come via helicopter or ambulance. They drive themselves or are driven by others. And Will Cook, the president of UPMC Mercy, says many just walk in.

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Government
11:19 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

PA Mayors Urge Congress Not to Cut Funding For Cities

As President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders try to reach an agreement on revenues and spending cuts to avoid going over the "fiscal cliff," mayors across Pennsylvania are urging Congress to avoid large funding cuts for cities in the commonwealth.

“If the federal deficit reduction plan does not include significant new revenues, cities, and counties, and school districts all across Pennsylvania and across the country unfortunately will bear the significant burden of those reductions,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

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Government
11:15 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Pittsburghers Call on Casey to Stand with Middle Class – Raise Taxes for Wealthy

As talk of avoiding the fiscal cliff continues in Washington, a group of local labor leaders and community activists took to the streets of Pittsburgh to call on Senator Bob Casey to make good on his promise to “stand with the middle class.” Members of advocacy group One Pittsburgh spoke with Casey shortly after his re-election and said they were told he would.

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Government
5:48 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Parking Meter Enforcement: 6 PM or 10 PM?

Nearing the end of the year...facing a deadline over parking in the city of Pittsburgh.....sound familiar?  

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Government
5:35 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Corbett Not Pushing For Right-to-Work

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he doesn't see a strong will to make Pennsylvania a "right-to-work" state, a key issue for conservatives as fellow industrial state Michigan is poised to become the 24th state to pass such a law.

The Republican governor told a radio interviewer Monday the lack of momentum has to do with local and state politics, but he didn't elaborate or say whether he'd support such legislation.

Right-to-work bills prohibit requirements that employees join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Free Clinic Busy; Expects to Stay Busy Even With Affordable Care Act

As Annette Fetchko walks the corridors of Catholic Charities’ health clinic in downtown Pittsburgh the head administrator greets everyone she sees. There are doctors, nurses, pharmacists - and there are patients – all hues, shapes and sizes and from all over southwestern Pennsylvania. They’re here for medical care.

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Fight Over Voter ID Far From Done

State Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) assures he is not against the Voter ID law, but does have some ideas for improvement. In a letter to Governor Tom Corbett, he suggests state offices serve as intermediaries to make the process of obtaining a valid voter ID easier.

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Government
9:03 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Auditor General Elect Speaks Out on Lottery Plans

The state’s Auditor General-elect has joined Democratic colleagues in protesting the governor’s effort to put a private company in charge of the Pennsylvania Lottery. Eugene DePasquale said Thursday he won’t make a habit of speaking out about issues before he’s sworn in next month as the state’s top fiscal watchdog, but he said he felt compelled to raise his concerns since the deadline is fast approaching for the state to close a deal to privatize the Lottery.

“We should be able to take the time to make sure it’s a good deal for everyone, not just one company,” said DePasquale.

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Government
12:40 pm
Sat December 8, 2012

All PA Ballots Counted, Kathleen Kane the Big Winner

All 67 Pennsylvania counties have certified their vote totals from the Nov. 6 election.

The totals reported Friday by state elections officials show 5,742,040 Pennsylvanians cast ballots for president.

Democrat Barack Obama received 2,990,274 votes, or 52 percent, while Republican Mitt Romney claimed 2,680,434, or 47 percent. The Libertarian and Green party candidates each received less than 1 percent of the vote.

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Government
5:27 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Private Parties or Secret Government Society?

For one weekend every December, the Commonwealth experiences a great migration of its political insiders to New York City for a slew of parties and fundraisers.  But the annual gathering known as the Pennsylvania Society isn’t the clandestine meeting of elites some make it out to be.  

Democratic strategist Larry Ceisler, who hosts one of the weekend’s many soirees, argues for the party as a great political equalizer. 

He said the 114th annual gathering is actually an exercise in good government, because of the accessibility of elected officials. 

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Government
8:57 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Auditor Wagner Blasts Cyber Charter Funding Formula

With just days to go before leaving office, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner is taking one last swipe at the way school districts pay cyber charter schools to educate their students.

Using an audit of the state’s largest cyber charter school, PA Cyber, Wagner chastised the PA Secretary of Education and the state legislature for not limiting the amount of money that must be sent to the charter school.

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Government
7:46 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Corbett: Tough to Govern Without "WAMs"

Talk Radio News Service

Gov. Corbett campaigned for office on a promise. But now he says it’s come back to bite him – and his legislative agenda. He’s sworn off the kind of grants that used to grease squeaky wheels in the state House and Senate.

They’re known as WAMs, short for “walking around money,” and they’ve been the subject of criticism that lawmakers request them from the governor to buy political support in their districts.

In a recent interview with reporters last week, Corbett acknowledged how effective they can be...

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Government
7:06 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Observation Deck at African Painted Dog Exhibit at Pittsburgh Zoo to be Removed

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala toured the African painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium Thursday.  He and the zoo have decided to remove the observation deck at the exhibit.

The platform in question is the one from which 2-year-old Maddox Derkosh fell last month. The boy, who had vision issues, leaned forward and fell into the exhibit after his mother lifted him onto a wooden rail overlooking the dogs' enclosure. Zappala announced last week the boy’s mother won't be prosecuted, calling the incident a "tragic accident."

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Government
5:45 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Ready, Set, Mail- Post Office Issues Guidelines

The U.S. Post Office is gearing up for its busiest day of the year as Pittsburghers get ready to mail Christmas cards, gifts, pictures, and even fruit cakes.

USPS spokesman Tad Kelley said they’ve seen a 13% increase in shipping this year along with their usual holiday season uptick.  He links that increase to the Priority Mail Flat Rate option where customers can send whatever they can fit into a Post Office provided box.  The package finds its destination in 2-3 days.

But the real rush is coming Monday.

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Government
4:19 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Smoke and Suspicious Package Closes Portion of Pittsburgh International

<strong> UPDATED 4:15pm 12/06/12 <strong/>

The “D” concourse at Pittsburgh International Airport was closed for a few hours this morning as the Allegheny County bomb squad and county fire marshal investigated a suspicious package.

Airport spokesperson Joann Jenny said the Airport Authority received an emergency call at 7:30 Thursday morning that there was smoke around gate D80. 

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Government
12:23 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Is the 2013 Allegheny County Millage Rate Right?

It's a tricky bit of business to set a millage rate in any circumstance, according to one Allegheny County Council Member, but the county's court-ordered property reassessment has injected even more guesswork into the process for 2013.

On Tuesday, County Council approved a $799 million operating budget with a millage rate of 4.73. Council reduced the millage rate nearly 17 percent from the current level of 5.69 based on a web of estimates and projections tied to the reassessment. 

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Government
12:08 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Corbett Budget Sec. Says State is Working to Avoid More Cuts

The state is on-track to complete its current fiscal year with a surplus. But it’s the coming budget year Governor Corbett’s budget secretary is worried about.

Set aside, for a moment, the fact that the commonwealth has no clue what will happen with the so-called fiscal cliff. Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said at his mid-year budget briefing that he’s still expecting to get less federal funding.

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Government
2:42 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Dozens Demand UPMC Start Paying Property Taxes

At a public hearing before Allegheny County Council on Wednesday night, scores of residents thronged the County Courthouse to testify that they believe UPMC should no longer be considered exempt from property taxes.

UPMC was there to contest that notion, reminding Council that it performs millions of dollars worth of charity work each year and employs 36,000 residents of Allegheny County alone.

The large regional health system would have to pay out tens of millions of dollars to 21 local taxing bodies if the property tax exemption were to be lifted.

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Government
8:37 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Castor: "Corbett Unable to Fulfill Promises;" Considers a Challenge

Just about halfway through his first term in office, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett could be getting a challenge for reelection--from within his own party.

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Government
7:59 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

County Gets $44 and $21 Million Bids for Airport Shale

A pair of well-known energy companies have submitted multi-million dollar bids for the right to drill into the Marcellus Shale under Pittsburgh International Airport.  It’s the second time the Allegheny County Airport Authority went out for bids for the more than 9,000 acres available at the Allegheny County and Pittsburgh International airports.

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Government
1:17 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Capitol Christmas Tree Moves Outside

The state Christmas tree has been lit on the Capitol steps, a return to the commonwealth’s holiday tradition of the symbol of the holidays outdoors.

Despite carolers’ best efforts, the weather outside was far from frightful – the temperature hovered just below 60 degrees at the time of the tree lighting Tuesday.  Three machines spewing artificial snow and foam whirred to life to conjure up a more wintry mood.

Gov. Corbett joked with Harrisburg Catholic Bishop Joseph McFadden about the balmy evening.

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Government
1:13 am
Wed December 5, 2012

County Council Passes 2013 Budget, Cuts Controller Funding

Allegheny County Council passed a $799 million operating budget for 2013 on Tuesday night. The spending plan includes a deep funding cut to the County Controller's office, though the cut was not as large as originally proposed by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The budget legislation passed on a 13-1 vote, with Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh as the only dissenter. The councilwoman said she voted against the plan because she did not want to cut funds for Controller Chelsa Wagner's office, and because she thought the plan could be more streamlined.

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Government
9:05 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

No More Winner-Take-All for PA's Electoral College?

It’s been nearly a month since the election and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is taking a second run at changing the way Pennsylvania awards its electoral votes.

Pileggi said he’d introduce a bill next year to allocate them based on a candidate’s percentage of the popular vote.

He sponsored a similar proposal last fall, and spokesman Erik Arneson said some thought that was suspicious timing.

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Government
8:46 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Casey Holds Fiscal Cliff Hearing: Don't Break Promises

Senator Bob Casey

The Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress will convene Thursday to search for a way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and the chairman, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) says he thinks a solution can be found. 

Casey said the first step is for the Republican-led House to pass a middle-class tax cut that allows income tax rates on the nation’s top earners to increase.  “Most people who are making a lot of money understand that we have a big debt and deficit and they want to help us,” said Casey.

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Government
1:10 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Toomey Returns to Ideas in Super Committee

The state’s junior U.S. Senator is working on attracting bipartisan support for a plan to avert the fiscal cliff.

Republican Pat Toomey said the framework is based on what he proposed while serving on the so-called congressional “super committee” to reduce the national deficit last year. That panel failed to reach a consensus, which triggered the 2013 automatic spending cuts and tax hikes involved in the fiscal cliff. But Toomey said he’s pushing for his super committee proposal once more.

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