Government & Politics

Government
4:12 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

PA Atty. Gen. Candidates Battle over Independence and Experience

It was independence versus experience as the Republican and Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania Attorney General tried to define the race on their own terms in Monday’s debate in Harisburg.  It was the only face-to-face meeting of Republican David Freed and Democrat Kathleen Kane during the campaign.  Libertarian Marakay Rogers was not part of the event.

For Kane, questions inevitably led to claims of independence.  The former Lackawanna County prosecutor said she stands on her own.

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Government
8:35 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Toomey: PA's Lack of Early Voting is Reason for Few Romney Visits

Pennsylvania has been on the sidelines for the last several weeks when it comes to the presidential candidates and their TV advertising dollars.  However, Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator says that's because it's too soon to focus on the commonwealth because it doesn’t allow early voting. 

Pat Toomey (R-PA) says he thinks the Romney campaign is watching Pennsylvania very closely, but he suggests the GOP presidential nominee doesn’t yet have to start campaigning in earnest in the commonwealth.  

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Government
8:35 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Local Foundation Funds Efforts So Women Benefit from PA's Health Exchange

A Pittsburgh area foundation want to make sure women benefit from coverage policies in the state health care exchange as well as from job opportunities that will come from establishing the exchange.

The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania is providing a half million dollars to organizations who will then lobby and work with regulators at the state or federal level on the creation of the exchanges which are part of the Affordable Health Care Act.

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Government
8:03 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Pittsburgh Will Argue Monday for Removal from Act 47 Financial Oversight

Pittsburgh is well-prepared to argue next week for its removal from state financial oversight, according to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

At a Monday afternoon meeting in the City Council Chamber, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will hear why the city's administration believes Pittsburgh should be removed from Act 47 fiscal oversight. DCED Secretary Alan Walker will make the final decision on the city's fiscal independence.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Research Center Denounces New State Tax Credit Proposal

The left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PennBPC) is criticizing a new tax credit proposal passed out of the state legislature last week, saying it allows companies to "pocket" income tax withholdings of new employees with little accountability.

House Bill 2626 would create the "Promoting Employment across Pennsylvania" (PEP) program. The initiative is meant to spur job creation by allowing qualifying companies to keep new employees' income tax withholdings, which normally would go to the state.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

PA Vehicle Code Gets a Size Update

Pending changes to the state’s vehicle code would allow your vehicle to be a foot-and-a-half wider, as long as it’s a piece of farm equipment.

The state’s vehicle code is about to receive the first husbandry-related updates it’s had in decades – allowing farming equipment on the roads to be up to 16 feet wide. Changes to the vehicle code would also make it legal to drive such equipment longer distances – trucks and other larger vehicles could go as far as 50 miles on the open road, up from just 25 miles under the old code.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Voter ID Causes Absentee Voting Problems

Most of the provisions of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law have been blocked for the November election, but what’s left is creating headaches for some voters trying to get absentee ballots.

Before the voter ID law was passed, voters had only to provide name, address, and birth date to get their absentee ballots. Now, voters must provide either their driver license number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

One Young World Leaves Pittsburgh

More than 1,200 young adults are heading home today after spending the last four days in Pittsburgh searching for solutions to some of the world’s most perplexing problems.  But local organizers wanted to make sure the One Young World delegates also had plenty of time to learn about the city. 

After returning to Pittsburgh from the 2011 One Young World Summit in Zurich Switzerland where she served as a delegate, Leigh Halverson decided that when the 2012 summit came to Pittsburgh, local residents needed to have more opportunities to engage one-on-one with the delegates.

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Government
11:04 am
Sun October 21, 2012

Top 10 Campaign Givers in PA hit $9 Million

Ten wealthy Pennsylvanians, including a husband supporting his wife for political office and a gay man seeking equality, contributed nearly $9 million to their favorite candidates and issues since 2011.

PublicSource, working with the Investigative News Network, identified the 10 biggest campaign contributors in the state using state and federal campaign databases.

In Pennsylvania, those numbers can lag by months because they are received as written reports and entered by hand. Most states receive reports of campaign contributions electronically.

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Government
11:57 pm
Sat October 20, 2012

Ryan Touts Coal, Assaults Obama Energy Plan

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 people at a commercial hanger near the Pittsburgh International Airport Saturday, saying the country couldn't afford "four more years" of the Barack Obama administration's energy policies.  The Congressman repeatedly mentioned the importance of coal mining during the event in an effort to support his point.

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Government
12:53 pm
Sat October 20, 2012

New Voter ID Suit Asks State to Stop Spreading Misinformation

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion asking the court to order the state to stop spreading what the ACLU believes are misleading messages over whether voters must show photo identification on Election Day.  The motion also calls for the state to clearly broadcast the message that a photo ID isn't required.

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Government
7:51 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Mayor Ravenstahl Supports National Immigration Reform

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed a pledge Friday saying he supports national immigration reform.

The mayor said the reforms would increase the tax base, increase business and add diversity to the city.  Ravenstahl signed the pledge at a meeting of the nonprofit group Vibrant Pittsburgh, which believes "a more diverse and talented workforce means a more vibrant future for the Pittsburgh region meeting."

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Government
7:32 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

ALCOSAN Told by Ratepayers to Go Green

A long line of speakers formed inside the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) boardroom this morning as ratepayers waited their turn to ask the authority’s executive director to find a “greener” solution to the region’s sewage overflow problems.  Earlier this year ALCOSAN released a draft wet weather plan that would, when implemented, end sewage overflows during heavy rains.

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Government
5:25 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

One Young World Mural Sends Snapshot to the Future

When the hundreds of teens and twenty-somethings in Pittsburgh for the One Young World Summit head for home Monday, more than just money will be left behind.  A mural celebrating the event has been installed on a building at the corner of Market Street and the Boulevard of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh. 

Kyle Hollbrook is the artist behind the mural.  He says he and his organization, Moving the Lives of Kids, jumped at the chance to do the work. He approached the work with the idea of capturing the event as a snapshot in time.

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Government
11:29 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Sandusky Asks for Overturn of Convictons

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky asked a judge on Thursday to overturn his child sexual abuse convictions and grant him a new trial, claiming his lawyers lacked sufficient time to prepare and the statute of limitations for some charges had expired.

Sandusky's lawyers made the filing at the courthouse in Bellefonte where he was sentenced two weeks ago to 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of abusing 10 boys, some on Penn State's campus in State College.

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Government
11:23 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Legislature Acts On Juvenile Sentencing; Not on Transportation, Charter Schools

Pennsylvania lawmakers have ended the 2011-12 legislative session and won't return to vote on any bills after the November 6 election.  The House and Senate gave approval to several bills but took no final action on many others including charter school reform, funding for special education, and property tax reform. 

Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) said it was ridiculous that the legislature had to rush to get things done when there are so many days left in the year.

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Government
7:15 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

State Senate Goes After Go Between Gun Buyers

The state Senate has unanimously passed legislation that makes it a crime to buy guns for people who cannot legally obtain them, a practice known as "straw purchasing."

House Bill 898 would create a five to ten year sentence for anyone who has been convicted previously of making a “straw purchase.” The bill now heads to the governor's desk.

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Government
3:24 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Affordable Care Act Requirement Will Not be Met in PA

A state-run health insurance exchange is unlikely to be ready for a scheduled January 2014 rollout, Pennsylvania's top insurance regulator said Wednesday.

Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine said development of the online exchange — a key element of the federal Affordable Care Act — has stalled because too many questions about its cost and other operational details remain unanswered by the federal government.

"We want to make smart, informed decisions for Pennsylvanians," he said "We're not going to rush headlong into this and make poor choices."

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Government
9:38 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Lethal Injections Could Be Blocked In Pennsylvania If Witnesses Not Allowed Full Access

A federal judge is considering whether to grant a request to block executions in Pennsylvania unless the state agrees to provide full access to witnesses. Two newspapers, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Harrisburg Patriot-News, have challenged the commonwealth’s policy of shielding parts of the execution process.

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Government
8:15 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Act 13 and Zoning Goes Before State Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday over challenges to a new law that regulates the state's booming natural gas industry.

Representatives of seven municipalities said the law takes away all power to control gas drilling operations through local zoning.

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Government
7:11 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Recruit a Gang Member, Go to Jail

A statewide effort to combat gang activity and recruitment moved forward yesterday after the House approved a bill that would implement tougher sentencing on those convicted of gang-related crimes. The Senate has already given its approval so it is now on the governor's desk.

Senator John Yudichak (R-Luzerne) said gang activity is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

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Government
6:43 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Should Local Property Taxes be Replaced with Higher Income, Sales Taxes?

A special committee of the Pennsylvania state House will issue tax reform recommendations late this fall, revisiting a list of decades-old ideas on how to eliminate local property taxes by increasing the statewide income tax or sales tax.

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Government
6:35 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

$1.6M Fed Grant Gives Push to 2 Pittsburgh Projects

A total of $1.6 million will give a boost to two different Pittsburgh neighborhood development projects that supporters say will provide substantial boosts to the micro economies.  The Office of Community Services has awarded $789,000 to the Hill House Economic Development Corporation to advance construction of the Hill District’s Shop N’ Save on Centre Avenue. The remainder of the funds will go to transforming East Liberty’s former YMCA building into a five-story hotel equipped with a fitness center, coffee shop and retail stores.

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Government
10:26 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

30 PA Municipalities Have Lost/Stolen Handgun Reporting Laws; None Enforced

Representatives of anti-violence groups came together in Pittsburgh City Council Chamber Tuesday to discuss gun violence prevention tactics. The consensus: thirty Pennsylvania cities and towns need to start enforcing the laws they've passed to require that owners report the loss or theft of a handgun to police, regardless of their fears of lawsuits.

Wilkinsburg Councilwoman Eve Goodman said she thinks many municipalities are reluctant to start enforcing the laws because the National Rifle Association could sue.

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Government
7:37 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Judge McDaniel Recognized By Governor's Office for Domestic Violence Work

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel was presented with the Governor’s Victim Service Pathfinder Award on Tuesday. At the event she was praised as having been instrumental in changing the way the courts treat domestic violence victims and prosecute perpetrators.

Cheered on by her peers in the legal community and members of the health and victim services community, Judge Donna Jo McDaniel accepted the award from the governor’s office.

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