Government & Politics

Government
7:18 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

City, County Get Ready- Eastern PA Reacts

School closures, event cancelations and the postponement of Halloween activities are the first indications that the megastorm swirling over Pennsylvania is having an impact on southwestern Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Public School District and several suburban districts have cancled class for Tuesday.  Municipalities throughout the region including Pittsburgh have put off trick-or-treating until Saturday when the weather will be more conducive to young ghosts and goblins traipsing trough the neighborhood looking for sweets.

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Government
12:27 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

PA Prepares for Storm, Impact on Pittsburgh Unclear

In Eastern Pennsylvania schools are closed, transit services are shutting down and shelters are opened in anticipation of the dangerous winds and flooding promised by Hurricane Sandy.  In southwestern Pennsylvania local officials are on alert but it is still unclear what the megastorm will mean to the region.

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Government
12:11 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Correction Reform Legislation Passed As Result Of Bipartisan Efforts

Pennsylvania is expected to save approximately $300 million as a result of a bipartisan effort to pass corrections reform legislation. The final component of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) redirects and increases funding for non-violent offender programs while reducing spending on and the number of inmates in state prisons.

The reinvestment portion of the reform was unanimously passed in the Senate and House in the last days of the 2012 session. The first half of the JRI was passed in July 2012. Both have been signed by the governor.

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Government
12:06 am
Mon October 29, 2012

New State Law Meant to Curtail Human Trafficking

In 60 days, Pennsylvania bars, restaurants, massage and nail parlors, and other venues will be required to prominently display a human trafficking hotline number, thanks to a new state law signed last week by Governor Tom Corbett.

Sponsoring state Senator Daylin Leach said many victims of human trafficking are forced into labor or prostitution, most often at these sorts of establishments. Leach said the bill is meant to throw a lifeline to those victims of human trafficking who may feel hopeless.

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Government
12:06 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Is Pittsburgh No Longer "Financially Distressed?"

Update 10:10 a.m.

Due to the severe weather from Hurricane Sandy that's expected to hit the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has postponed the hearing scheduled for 4 o'clock this afternoon in the City Council Chamber on removal of the city of Pittsburgh from Act 47 oversight and lifting of the "financially distressed" designation.

"In light of the declaration of a state of emergency for PA and the danger posed by the pending storm, we are postponing today's Act 47 hearing in Pittsburgh."

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Government
10:00 am
Sun October 28, 2012

County Jail Gets $1.2 Million to Reduce Return Customers

As Allegheny County moves into its third year of a three-year program aimed at reducing recidivism rates, it has learned that it will have more money than it expected to support the effort.  The U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act Demonstration Program has increased its grant for the Allegheny County Reentry Initiative to $1.2 million, an increase of $370,000 over last year. 

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Government
7:57 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Voter I.D Issues Continue

Last week, the  people who brought the protracted legal challenge to the voter I.D law took issue with the state again.

They asked a judge to order the state to stop misleading ads and correct false messages to make sure voters know they don’t need photo ID to vote in November.

They specifically mention outdated mailings and misleading robocalls planned for the very near future.

The judge has given the state a chance to respond, with its deadline one week before Election Day.

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Government
5:18 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Casey, Smith Spar But Barely Scratch Surface

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey tried to paint his Republican challenger Tom Smith as someone who would worsen partisanship in Congress, while Smith contended he knows better than Casey how to improve the economy, as the two candidates largely stuck to rehearsed scripts in their first and only debate Friday.

The hour-long debate broke little ground in their campaign discussion, and a panel of questioners from WPVI-TV in Philadelphia tried several times to ask questions that would produce more in-depth information.

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Government
3:18 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Statewide Team Formed to Fight Methadone Abuse

Deaths from methadone overdose increased six-fold between 1999 and 2009 according to Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) who sponsored legislation recently signed by the governor, which creates a Methadone Death and Incident Review Team with the goal of reducing deaths and injuries.

The team would review all fatalities in the state where methadone is the primary or secondary cause of death and track methadone-related incidents that cause serious injuries.  That could include sales of methadone outside of a methadone clinic.

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Government
11:47 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Sandusky Questions to Corbett Have Become "Personal"

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Wilson Wrap_Sandusky.mp3

Governor Corbett is again finding himself having to defend the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case by the state Attorney General’s office.

The handling of the case was most recently questioned by the Democratic candidate for state Attorney General. 

Saying the criticism becomes personal after a while, Governor Corbett asked, where’s the evidence of a conspiracy?

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Government
8:40 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

For the 8,500 Local Kids Left Behind, Prison Takes its Toll

Bullying, trust issues, poverty—those are some of the problems that can affect a child whose parent is incarcerated.

The results come from a report released today by a Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation (PCGF) initiative examining how parental incarceration impacts a child.

According to the report, 2.7 million children in the U.S., including 100,000 in Pennsylvania, have a parent or parents in prison.  In Allegheny County, there are 8,500 children who are separated from one or both parents because of imprisonment.

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Government
6:13 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

State Takes Election Complaints Online

Registered Pennsylvania voters who see suspect behavior on Election Day or encounter unhelpful poll workers will be able to submit their complaints online for the first time this year.

The Department of State has developed a new section on its website to make it easier to lodge a complaint. But the state’s website is only a clearinghouse for voter beefs.

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Government
8:18 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Lost Your Medicaid Benefits? You Might Get Them Back

On Friday, the Department of Public Welfare will send out around one hundred thousand letters to Medicaid recipients in Pennsylvania who lost their benefits in the past year telling them they might want to consider reapplying.  They might even get some of their debts covered.

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Government
5:14 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Without Appeal, Mt. Pleasant to Get Gas Fee

The Mount Pleasant Township man who filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has withdrawn his complaint opening the door for the state to send out more than a half million dollars in Marcellus Shale impact fees to the township. Tony Pawlosky had appealed to the commission arguing that the township’s zoning ordinance did not comply with Pennsylvania ACT 13, which regulates gas drilling in the state.

PUC spokesperson Jennifer Kocher said the $511,855.78 check will be sent out within the next 10 days.

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Government
11:32 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Public Schools Wants to be More Competitive, Fiscally Responsible

In a wide-ranging discussion of education Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council members heard about the Pittsburgh Public School District's goal of being more financially frugal and more competitive with its private counterparts.

PPS Executive Director of Strategic Priorities Cate Reed said the district's administration needs a five-year plan that would help the district be more thrifty with waning allocations from the state government.

"We need to embark on that vision, envisioning what a 21st Century educational delivery model looks like in an urban school system," said Reed.

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Government
8:17 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Sen. Casey Makes Rare Campaign Stop

Republicans and Democrats alike have been criticizing Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator for his lack of public appearances in the run-up to the November sixth election.  Now, with the election just two weeks away and polls showing an ever-tightening race, Democrat Bob Casey has hit the campaign trail with a stop in Hershey.

Casey met with union workers and later discussed how he contrasts with his Republican opponent, Tom Smith.  He said there is a stark contrast when it comes to Medicare benefits. 

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Government
7:44 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Minority Businesses Want Revisions to City Contracting Practices

Minority contractors told Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday that the city is not doing enough to give women- and minority-owned businesses equal access to city contract opportunities.

The public hearing stemmed from an August report from City Controller Michael Lamb, which found that Pittsburgh's Equal Opportunity Review Commission (EORC) is failing to report exactly how much city money is paid to "Minority Business Enterprise/Women Business Enterprise" (MBE/WBE) companies.

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Government
4:15 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Drowning and Gassing Cats & Dogs Would Be Illegal

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Gassing Dogs Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Legislation prohibiting the use of  drowning and carbon-monoxide gassing to euthanize cats, dogs and other animals in Pennsylvania awaits Governor Corbett's signature. 

State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) first introduced the bill in March 2011, and again in October 2011 with provisions from House members.   Pennsylvania would be with 20th state to adopt a ban on animal gas chambers and individual gassing or drowning of animals.

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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

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
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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