Government & Politics

Government & Politics
8:20 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Ranks High in Electric Utility Choice

Pennsylvania has earned top grades from an independent reviewer for having several electricity supply options available to residents and businesses.

In the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS), the commonwealth had the highest number of electricity suppliers offering rates to residential consumers, and ranked fourth in terms of choices for commercial and industrial customers. The yearly report is issued by an arm of Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC, a consulting and capital investment firm promoting the energy industries.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:43 am
Thu December 27, 2012

Officials Want a Deadline for Highmark, WPAHS Merger Negotiations

A group of public officials and community group leaders has asked the state's insurance commissioner to speed up the process of merger negotiations between health insurer Highmark and the West Penn Allegheny Health System by instating a deadline to file an affiliation agreement.

Dated Tuesday, the letter from State Senator Jim Ferlo and 15 other signatories suggests that the likelihood of a merger between Highmark and WPAHS is diminishing as time continues to pass with no agreement.

Read more
Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Casey Calls For More Pressure on Pakistan

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are responsible for more than 60 percent of U.S. troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan, and Pennsylvania’s senior senator wants to help stem the flow of the raw materials used to make the bombs.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D) chaired a meeting of the Foreign Relations Committee’s Near-East, South and Central Asian Affairs Sub Committee this month where those who gave testimony called on the U.S. government to put more pressure on the Pakistan government to work harder to make sure calcium ammonium nitrate does not cross over into Afghanistan.

Read more
Government & Politics
5:52 pm
Tue December 25, 2012

Pittsburgh's Popular "Love Your Block" Program is Back

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says applications are available for the city’s spring 2013 Love Your Block grant award program.

The program gives up to 30 organizations $1,000 to purchase supplies and equipment necessary to implement a neighborhood block project that utilizes community volunteers.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:43 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Comfort Campaign for Fallen Officers

Pennsylvania State Police on duty over the holidays this year will be keeping an eye on the streets for problems, and scanning windows for comfort in the form of a lone blue light.  

Project Blue Light began in 1988 to honor police officers killed in the line of duty. This year the State Police saw that number increase by one, when Trooper Blake Coble died in October after his patrol car was hit by a tractor trailer running a stop sign.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:14 am
Mon December 24, 2012

B-PEP Wants Black Male on Citizen Police Review Board

Pittsburgh Council has sent to the mayor the names of two residents to be considered to fill the open seat on the Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB), the panel that investigates Pittsburghers' allegations of police misconduct.

Council's nominees are Maurice Dickey and Karen McLellan; both are retired Pittsburgh police officers. The seat must be held by a law enforcement professional.   There's been no response from the mayor's office on which one, if either, he will accept.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:14 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Senior Rent/Property Tax Rebate Deadline Looms

The deadline for Pennsylvania seniors to apply for rent and property tax rebates is just days away and lawmakers are reminding eligible citizens to take action.
The deadline comes at the end of business December 31st.  The rebate program, is open to Pennsylvania homeowners and renters who are 65 and older; widows and widowers 50 and older; and people with disabilities 18 and older with incomes of $35,000 a year or less for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. 
Only half of a resident’s social security income counts toward the total household income.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:14 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Altmire Leaves Congress, Won't Miss Partisanship

U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) leaves office January 3 at noon when the 113th Congress begins.  "I feel very good about my six years in the House," said Altmire who was defeated in the April Democratic primary by fellow incumbent Mark Critz in the redrawn 12th district.  Critz then lost the November election to Republican Keith Rothfus.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:10 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Property Tax And Rent Rebate Application Deadline Nears

The last day to apply for 2011 property tax or rent rebates is approaching, and no claims will be taken after December 31.

The rebate program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery, and provides rebates for Pennsylvania citizens age 65 and older, widows and widowers 50 and older, and for adults 18 and over with disabilities. Those who are eligible have to count half of their social security income toward their total household income.

State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said the application is free.

Read more
Government & Politics
11:39 am
Sun December 23, 2012

US Sen. Calls on SBA to Help with NHL Lockout Impact

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is hoping the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will take notice of the economic impact being felt by entrepreneurs as the National Hockey League lockout continues.  Casey has sent a letter to SBA Administrator Karen Mills asking that her office be ready to help.

“I respectfully request that that you work with the small businesses in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that are being harmed by the NHL lockout and provide them with the guidance and tools to get through this challenging climate,” said Casey in the letter.

Read more
Government & Politics
11:14 am
Sun December 23, 2012

Push To Change PA's Electoral Rules Already On

Even before 2012 is over, Dominic Pileggi is advocating a change in the way Pennsylvania will count its votes in the next presidential election.

The state Senate Republican leader caused a stir last fall when he proposed abandoning the method 48 states currently use to award their Electoral College votes: the statewide election winner gets all the electoral votes.

Read more
Government & Politics
6:59 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

While Touting Transparency, Corbett Declines to Explain Free Vacation

Governor Tom Corbett is reluctant to answer questions about a free vacation he took to Rhode Island, paid for by a friend who does business with the natural gas industry. His comments came at a press conference to promote a new government transparency website.

To read more visit StateImpact Pennsylvania's website.

Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

New Website Takes Guesswork Out of State Finances, Employees

Ever wonder where your tax dollars go, or how much money the state is making?  That's one reason why the commonwealth is putting more government information online. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced the launch of a new website that will disclose an abundance of government information that under previous law was inaccessible unless a right-to-know request was filed.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:27 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Corbett: Mental Health Programs Should be Part of Newtown Response

Gov. Corbett said Thursday that lawmakers should study available mental illness services, not gun control, when looking for ways to prevent future acts of senseless violence.

The shooting deaths of 26 women and children in Newtown, Connecticut a week ago prompted a small flurry of promises from state lawmakers in Pennsylvania to push for more restrictions on firearm sales and a ban on assault weapons.

But Gov. Corbett says the attention to gun control is misplaced.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:55 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Mayor Cuts Ribbon For "Promise Park" In Hill District

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was joined by students from Pittsburgh’s Weil PreK-5 as well as other residents of the Hill District, to open the City’s newest Green Up project called The Promise Park.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:50 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

PA Lottery Deal Might Get Hearing

Word came this week that the Corbett administration is considering extending the deadline of the private bid on the Pennsylvania Lottery, meaning a decision wouldn’t be due by the end of the year.

On Thursday, Governor Corbett says his office is thinking about holding a hearing on the matter.

The recent cracks in the administration’s resolve to lease the Lottery come amid steady streams of criticism over the pending deal.

Read more
Government & Politics
4:13 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Secretary of Aging Defends Lottery Negotiations

Plans to lease the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private company have been met with rebukes from Democrats and a lawsuit whose petitioners include the union that represents some Lottery employees.

Amid the swirl of criticism suggesting plans to privatize the Lottery have been secretive, the state’s Secretary of Aging, Brian Duke, is defending the process and the pending deal itself. He said during an appearance on witf’s Radio Smart Talk that it’s reasonable to search for opportunities to increase profits through privatization.

Read more
Government & Politics
9:12 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Health Exchange - What Comes Next

Governor Tom Corbett announced in mid-December that Pennsylvania will not be running its own health-exchange. The online marketplace for health insurance is a crucial component of the Affordable Care Act. The exchange is scheduled to be open for enrollment by October 2013 and will be effective in January of 2014.

Read more
Government & Politics
9:12 am
Thu December 20, 2012

A Push to Change Department of Public Welfare's Name

Pennsylvania is the last state in the country to have a “Department of Public Welfare.” Idaho comes close- it has a “Department of Health and Welfare,” but the rest of the 48 states have made the transition to names like “Department of Human Services,” “Department of Children and Families,” or “Department of Human Resources.”

The word “welfare” is burdened with negative associations, but there was a time when welfare meant something positive and wholesome.

Read more
Government & Politics
9:06 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

City/County Financial Collaboration Advancing Despite Some Difficulties

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) pushed for years for the City of Pittsburgh to upgrade its information technology systems, so it could better cooperate with the county.

The ongoing effort between the city and county to collaborate on financial management and functional consolidation seems to be paying off.

Read more
Government & Politics
8:03 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

City Controller: Fire Bureau Pays Too Much in Overtime

In his first audit of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, City Controller Michael Lamb has found that the department exceeded its budget for overtime pay in 2010 and 2011, and the 2012.  So-called "premium pay" came in at an oversized $11.5 million.

Read more
Government & Politics
6:11 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Dems: Act 47 Needs to be Updated

90.5 WESA

Democrats in the state Senate have unfurled a long list of legislative proposals that could help the state’s many cash-strapped municipalities.

The challenges facing the municipalities in or verging on financial collapse are well-known to lawmakers, who held hearings earlier this year on the shortcomings in the state’s Act 47 program, written more than 25 years ago to help communities on the brink.

“We know the problems,” said Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna). “It’s not like it’s some mystery to us. We know what these problems are.”

Read more
Government & Politics
3:54 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Connecticut Shooting: "One Time Too Many"

"I was brought to the edge of tears," said Tim Stevens, co-convener of the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, as he recalled hearing the news of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.  

Read more
Government & Politics
8:48 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Council Votes to Retain 6:00 Parking Meter Cutoff

After a long and rather heated debate, the Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to another six months of free parking after 6:00pm. 

Under a deal reached two years ago, the city was to have extended meter enforcement from 6:00pm until 10:00pm in seven neighborhoods.  It did extend enforcement for a short period of time, but council rolled back the hours midway through 2012.  That roll back was to have expired Dec 31st, however council today once again extended the roll back until June 30th. 

Read more
Government & Politics
12:18 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Newtown Killings Prompt Vows to Revisit PA's Gun Laws

90.5 WESA

The shooting deaths of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut are already spurring some state lawmakers to call for new gun safety legislation. All but the House Republicans have confirmed the shootings are likely to prompt discussion of Pennsylvania’s gun policies.

Read more

Pages