Government & Politics

Government
7:50 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Reported Crimes in Pennsylvania Decreased in 2011

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The overall number of crimes in the commonwealth dropped .7 percent in 2011, while violent crimes declined .9 percent and were at their lowest rate since 2003. The data comes from crimes reported to the State Police through the Uniform Crime Reporting System.

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Government
6:37 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

State Makes New Offers in Court to Move Voter ID Forward

At a court hearing Tuesday, Pennsylvania state officials once again produced an 11th-hour attempt to salvage a new law requiring all voters to show a particular kind of photo ID at the polls this November.

A senior Department of Transportation official, Kurt Myers, testified in Commonwealth Court that a newly streamlined process for get a voting-only photo ID card from the state was finalized Monday night in an effort to satisfy a week-old Supreme Court decision. The new process was supposed to become effective Tuesday morning.

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Government
6:25 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Labor Calls For Passage of Renewable Tax Credit

Ryan Motel was furloughed this year from his job making turbine parts at a Gamesa plant in Ebensburg Pennsylvania when demand for the company’s product slipped.  In all 73 workers from that plant and 165 Gamesa workers in Pennsylvania were sent home.  While Motel said the company did not tell him directly that the slowdown was a result of congress not taking action on the renewable electricity production tax credit, he said “[Gamesa] beat around the bush, that’s what it was.”

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Government
2:00 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Pittsburgh Office Slow in Processing Veterans' Disabilities Claims

For more than two years, former Marine gunnery sergeant Matt Hannan has waited for a ruling on whether he is entitled to disability payments for PTSD.

The 35-year-old New Kensington resident said he filed the claim with the Veterans Benefits Administration before he was medically discharged in 2010, following 15 years of service and two tours of duty in Iraq. “Everytime I try to get an answer, I get no answer,” he said.

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Government
1:45 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Rendell Gives Mock Praise to Turzai

The state’s former governor is sweeping through Harrisburg to offer some mocking praise to the state House Majority Leader for a now-famous comment made in June.

On the eve of the state’s voter ID law’s second hearing in Commonwealth Court, Ed Rendell said it’s obvious the law was not passed to prevent voter fraud.

For that clarity, said the former governor, Pennsylvanians can thank the top Republican in the state House.

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Government
7:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Medical Assistance Redetermination Process Frustrates Workers and Recipients; Produces Churn

Eva Bednar’s 44-year-old son Andrew is an epileptic, he has been diagnosed with intermitent explosive disorder and he is borderline intellectually disabled.  This summer he was one of thousands of adults who the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare cut from its medical assistance program for the poor and disabled.

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Government
1:35 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Former Pennsylvania Governor Sings Praise For House Majority Leader

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On the eve of the state’s Voter ID law’s second hearing in Commonwealth Court, Ed Rendell said it is obvious the law was not passed to prevent voter fraud. The former governor also said Pennsylvanians should be grateful of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai for comments he made about the Voter ID law last June.

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Government
10:07 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

City Council Holds Information Gathering Session on Strip District Development

Stakeholders met in Pittsburgh Council chambers Monday to try and answer questions posed by council members about the proposed “Riverfront Landing” development by Buncher Co. in the Strip District.

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Government
6:44 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Open House for Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

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Women and minority business owners can receive some tips on how to better compete for government contracts.

Allegheny County’s Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) will host its ninth annual Open House tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Liberty Room of the Human Services Building at One Smithfield Street downtown.  

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Government
2:34 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

NRC Meets with Nuclear Plant Owners

Senior management from FirstEnergy Operating Co. (FENOC) will sit down with officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NEC) Wednesday to discuss the performance of the company’s three nuclear power plants.

FENOC currently operates three plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio including Beaver Valley in Shippingport.

Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said they periodically meet with companies running nuclear power plants to discuss issues such as expectations of performance and the commission’s activities at the plants.

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Government
12:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Senators Argue Payday Loans In PA

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So-called payday loans are not legal in Pennsylvania, but a bill passed by the state House to allow them is now getting a vigorous hearing in the Senate.

Kerry Smith, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said there is no great clamoring for short-term loans in the commonwealth. 

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Government
12:24 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

AG Candidates Spar Over Independence

Three candidates vying for the role of the state’s top fiscal watchdog have faced off in a debate in which independence and political ambitions were strong themes.

The major party candidates – Republican John Maher and Democrat Eugene DePasquale – are both running for re-election to their state House seats while each has a simultaneous bid for Auditor General.

Enter the Libertarian, self-appointed thorn-in-side to the two-party system.

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Government
9:00 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Major Changes Proposed In Child Welfare Practices

A state lawmaker is calling for changes in local child welfare practices, which could save the commonwealth money by moving children out of costly foster care and institutions. Meantime, child welfare advocates are asking to clarify legislation about the process of placing and counseling children.

The two measures aim to involve family members in the placement of children who receive services from Pennsylvania’s county child welfare offices.  Both bills would impose new rules about searching for next of kin and meeting with a child’s extended family.

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Government
7:14 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

State Cracks Down on PSSA Cheating

Pennsylvania’s Education Secretary says student progress on statewide tests this year declined, but the drop can be chalked up to a crackdown on cheating by educators.

The data shows 76 percent of students throughout the commonwealth tested at or above grade level in math, and 72 percent met or surpassed grade level standards for reading. Secretary Ron Tomalis says the data set from this year’s test scores is the first to accurately show student achievement in Pennsylvania schools, without the contaminating effect of falsified tests.

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Government
8:05 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Poll Shows Romney and Obama Neck and Neck in Pennsylvania

A new survey released by Susquehanna Polling and Research has President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania by only one percent.  Conducted between September 15th and 17th the poll shows Mr. Obama with 48 percent of the vote compared to Governor Romney’s 47 percent.  The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.

The survey, conducted for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, polled a random sample of 800 likely voters. Respondents who said they were not likely to vote were taken out of the results.

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Government
6:05 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Dowd Legislation Would Allow Pittsburgh Fracking

In 2010, Pittsburgh adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning drilling companies from extracting natural gas within the city using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking.” Now, one council member who previously voted for the ban might be changing his stance.

Councilman Patrick Dowd voted for the ban two years ago along with the remainder of Pittsburgh council. Though the ban has yet to be lifted, Dowd today unveiled four zoning bills that would permit natural gas drilling within Pittsburgh city limits.

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Government
5:08 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Allegheny County to Provide Voter IDs Through CCAC, Kane Centers

Allegheny County will provide residents with valid photo identification now required to vote under state law.

As the court battle continues over Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced Thursday that the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) and the Kane Regional Centers will distribute photo IDs to registered voters in Allegheny County.

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Government
7:35 am
Thu September 20, 2012

City Council Approves Plan to Create City Archives Commission

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to give preliminary approval to a bill that would create a Commission on City Archives.
The legislation is up for a final vote on Tuesday.

Sponsoring Councilman Patrick Dowd said the commission would be tasked with establishing a standard practice for archiving across all city departments, which currently have disparate and unofficial policies for storing old government files.  Dowd described the basement of one city building as a multi-story warehouse for "cages and cages" of dusty maps and papers.

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Government
6:59 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Public Hearing Ordered for City Billboard Tax Proposal

Pittsburgh City Council has ordered a public hearing on a proposal to put a ten percent tax on the cost of advertising on billboards.

Council chambers today entertained an animated discussion of the merits and drawbacks of such a tax with members apparently split on the issue.

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Government
6:52 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Better Communications Needed In Emergency Response Network

Emergency responders testified before state lawmakers in Pittsburgh today about proposed changes to Title 35, which is a 34-year old state law covering emergency preparedness.

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Government
5:51 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Settlement In Snow Death Lawsuit

More than two-and-a-half years after a Hazelwood man died while waiting for an ambulance, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have reached a tentative agreement to settle a lawsuit.  That’s according to the attorney for the family of 50-year old Curtis Mitchell who died from complications of heart disease February 7, 2010.

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Government
3:24 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Presidential Adviser Speaks on “Smart” Deficit Reduction and Trade with China

The Director of the National Economic Council said it is unfair for China to offer subsidies to auto plants in certain provinces because such sponsorship of automotive exports is suppressing manufacturing in the United States.

Gene Sperling, one of President Obama’s top advisers spoke at Carnegie Mellon University today about the direction of U.S. economic development.  Sperling was a guest on  WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh  and discussed trade issues with China and deficit reduction.

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Government
7:35 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Task Force Wants to Stop Death Penalty...Temporarily

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A state Senate task force has sent a request to Governor Tom Corbett requesting a temporary halt to capital punishment until the group’s studies are comprehensive and complete.

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Government
6:27 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

PA High Court Vacates Commonwealth Court Ruling on Voter ID

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sent back to Commonwealth Court a request for an injunction against the state's Voter ID law.  In doing so, the justices vacated the decision by Commonwealth Court that upheld the law that plaintiffs claimed would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters who would have difficulty getting the proper photo identification to be presented at polling places.

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Government
3:14 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Voter ID Gets Easier for Native Pennsylvanians

For registered voters born in Pennsylvania, getting a photo ID card to cast a ballot in November is about to get a little easier.

Native Pennsylvanians who need to confirm their birth certificates using the state’s records will soon be able to do so with one visit to a PennDOT licensing center.

Zack Stalberg, president of the voter advocacy group the Committee of Seventy, said state agencies have eliminated the need for Pennsylvania-born voters to make second trips once their birth records are verified.

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