Government & Politics

Government
9:35 am
Sun October 7, 2012

Proposal To Eliminate Safety & Emissions Tests For New Vehicles

Legislation in the state Senate intended to save Pennsylvania drivers approximately $50 million a year is drawing criticism from some inspections stations.  Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria) successfully amended the bill so that safety inspections and emission tests would be waived for the first two years and 10 years respectively after the purchase of a new vehicle.

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Government
12:29 pm
Sat October 6, 2012

City Drops Appeal Opening Door to St. Nick's Demolition

The demolition of the historic St Nicholas church on Rt. 28 can go forward now that the city of Pittsburgh has withdrawn an appeal.

In July, a judge ordered that St. Nicholas Parish could raze the 110-year-old church, which the city and a group of community activists considers historic. That order called on the city to issues a certificate of economic hardship that would allow the parish to obtain a demolition permit.  The city appealed that decision.

This week the city withdrew its appeal, meaning the demolition can go forward.

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Government
6:53 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Medicaid Co-Pay For Families With Disabled Kids Rescinded

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has decided to delay implementation of the co-pay program that would have applied to parents of some children with physical, intellectual and mental disabilities.

The co-pay did kick in this month for families with a disabled child on Medicaid earning 200 percent above the federal poverty level. These families, who previously had services paid for by the state, would have had to pay a fee on every service their child receives. It would have affected 48,000 families. 

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Government
6:36 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Pennsylvania Won't List Bats as Endangered For Now

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The Pennsylvania Game Commission has announced that it's not moving forward at this time on regulatory changes to protect three species of cave-dwelling bats, whose numbers have declined drastically due to the fungus known as White Nose Syndrome:  the northern long-eared bat (99% decline), the tri-colored bat (98% decline), and the little brown bat (99% decline).

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Government
5:05 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

House Resolution Singles Out Outspoken Groups

A coalition of human service organizations gathered under the banner of Better Choices for Pennsylvania claim they have been singled out by the state for being vocal in the debate over state funding for human services. A House Resolution ordered a legislative committee to conduct an financial audit of a specific list of service providers.

Stephen Drachler, chair of Better Choices for Pennsylvania, believes this resolution is all about perception.

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Government
7:35 am
Fri October 5, 2012

State Lawmaker Wants Federal Investigation into Handling of Sandusky Case

A Democratic-led effort to debate whether to have federal authorities look into how the Jerry Sandusky investigation was handled caused the abrupt end to Wednesday’s House session. The resolution would urge the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the way then state Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office handled the Sandusky situation.

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Government
7:38 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Terrance Williams Waits for New Sentencing

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold a stay of execution for Terrance Williams doesn’t mean the convicted murderer is off death row.  But lawyers aren’t yet sure when or if a new date will be set to put Williams to death. 

Lawyers were racing the clock in the case of Williams the minute his death warrant was signed in early August, setting an October third execution.

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Government
6:54 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Shell Agrees to Pay for Lost Tax Revenue

The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company is proposing to compensate Beaver County for tax revenue lost when it builds a billion-dollar petrochemical facility, known as an ethane cracker, on tax-free land.

County Commissioner Tony Amadio said Shell’s operations would be located in a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ), land that is exempt from taxes for 22 years.

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Government
4:21 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Groups File Lawsuit Against Department of Public Welfare

Several advocacy groups have joined together to file a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare challenging Act 80, which among other things, eliminated monthly general assistance cash grants of $205 a month.  Before the change, there were 68,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who received that benefit.

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Government
9:10 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Terrance Williams' Execution On Hold

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has refused to overturn the stay of execution for death row inmate Terrance Williams.  The state asked for an emergency appeal of the lower court stay because the death warrant for Williams was set to run out at midnight Wednesday.  

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Government
7:51 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

U.S. Exports Touted as an Economic, Jobs, and Diplomacy Booster

As part of the “Made in America Manufacturing Tour,” U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez visited Carnegie Mellon University Wednesday, outlining the role United States exports play in strengthening the economy. He said thanks to technology, there has been a fundamental shift in the way businesses operate.

“Years ago the competition for business here in Pittsburgh or in my hometown of Tampa was just across town, now it is across the world and it’s critical that American businesses compete on a global scale.”

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Government
6:39 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Committee Proposes New City Council Districts

A committee using the 2010 Census to redraw the nine Pittsburgh City Council Districts has submitted its final proposal to Council, conceding a large population disparity among some districts in order to maintain two black-majority Council territories.

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Government
6:09 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Pennsylvania Career Coach: New Online Tool

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Career Coach Wrap_1.mp3

Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry has rolled out a new online tool aimed at helping students and job seekers make lasting career choices and making sure they get the right training.  

Pennsylvania Career Coach provides information about growth careers, like Marcellus Shale, STEM occupations, and green sector jobs, according to Labor and Industry press secretary Sara Goulet.  

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Government
9:29 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Voter ID Advertisements to Continue Despite Injunction

A Commonwealth Court judge ruled Tuesday that the state must put its new voter identification requirement on hold until after the November election, but the judge also told the state to continue advertising the law — an order that opponents say will cause confusion in the general election.

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Government
9:08 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Senate Takes Up Anti-Gang Bill

The Pennsylvania State Senate will vote on HB 1121 Wednesday, according to Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne County) who amended two of his proposals into the original legislation.

The bill would define criminal gang activity, call on the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to toughen penalties to those involved in gangs, and make it illegal to recruit new members into a gang.

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Government
7:38 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Opinions Abound on Voter ID Ruling

Elected officials and organizations interested in the future of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law are weighing in on Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s ruling on a request to force the state to hold off on the implementation of the law.  The judge decided Tuesday that a valid photo ID does not have to be shown at the polls in November but that the law will be in effect for 2013 elections.  The law’s constitutional validity is still to be decided by the courts.

PA Governor Tom Corbett:

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Government
7:27 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Armed Security, Metal Detectors among the Changes Proposed for UPMC Medical Facilities

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala is recommending a number of security upgrades following the March 8, 2012 shooting at Western Psych, and a report released this week by OSHA on the incident. While the shooting was an isolated incident, Zappala said his recommendations extend to all UPMC facilities in Oakland.

“An issue as far as I was concerned, which is not negotiable, was that there would be an armed presence, uniformed or otherwise, on these campuses,” he said.

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Government
2:09 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Judge Halts PA's Voter ID Law

A judge postponed Pennsylvania's controversial voter identification requirement on Tuesday, ordering the state not to enforce it in this year's presidential election.

The decision by Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson on the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID could be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The law could go into full effect next year, under Simpson's ruling.

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Government
10:59 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Allegheny County Issues First New Voter IDs through CCAC

Update (Oct. 2, 2012 4:45pm): Following the judge’s ruling to put on hold the implementation of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law until after the November election, Allegheny County suspended the issuance of voter-only IDs at CCAC campuses and Kane Regional Centers. According to Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs, any ID’s issued in the first day and a half of the program will remain valid until November of 2017.

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Government
10:03 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Area Jobless Rate Rises

Unemployment in the seven county Pittsburgh labor market rose two tenths of a percentage point in August.  The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) reports the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased to 7.3% in August from July's 7.1%.

In the region, Butler County had the lowest jobless rate at 6.7%, unchanged from the previous month; Fayette County had the highest at 9.4%, up one tenth of a percentage point. Allegheny County's unemployment rate held steady in August at 7.1%.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon October 1, 2012

New Medicaid Co-Pay

A new Medicaid co-pay will require some parents of disabled children to pay out of pocket for services. While The Department of Public Welfare calls the amount a “fair share” some parents say it will infringe on their ability to provide care to their children.

Parents of some children in Pennsylvania with physical, intellectual and mental disabilities will have a new concern going forward – finding the money to pay for services that up until now, were paid for by the state.

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Government
5:42 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Greene Get DPW Block Grants

Four southwestern Pennsylvania counties are among the 20 that will be allowed more flexibility when it comes to using Department of Public Welfare dollars.  Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Greene counties have been chosen to be part of the block grant pilot program.

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Government
11:43 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Judge Suggests Striking Part of Voter ID Law

A judge considering a challenge to a politically charged Pennsylvania law that requires voters to show photo identification suggested Thursday he may strike part of it so that someone who doesn't have a valid ID at the polls can cast a provisional ballot that will still count without getting one.

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Government
9:00 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Peduto Readies for Mayoral Run

Pittsburgh City Councilor Bill Peduto announced over Twitter today that he has filed paperwork needed to be eligible in the 2013 mayoral race.

Peduto is serving his third term on City Council representing District 8, which includes the neighborhoods of Bloomfield, Oakland, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, East Liberty, and Point Breeze.

He said his first donor was Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald gave the campaign $8,000.

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Government
7:34 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Judge To Decide On Voter ID Case By Tuesday

The final day of the second hearing in Commonwealth Court on the Voter ID law saw testimony from witnesses called by lawyers challenging the law. 

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