Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State legislators approved multiple bills targeting opioid restrictions among the flurry of final pre-election activity. While Governor Tom Wolf said the four bills restricting opioid analgesic prescribing and improving doctor education shows that progress is being made, he said that “by no means are we across the finish line.”

Andrew Harnik / AP

Hillary Clinton will make another pre-election campaign stop in Pittsburgh this Friday. 

A press release from her campaign did not specify a time or location.

"At a public event, Clinton will lay out the high stakes of this election for Pennsylvanians as well as her vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," it read.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence focused on three key issues at a rally in Westmoreland County on Tuesday: security at home and abroad, growing the economy and U.S. Supreme Court nominations.

The Indiana governor graced the Westmoreland Community College mid-afternoon amid crowds of more than 800 people chanting “lock her up” and “drain the swamp.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With one week until Election Day, Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey made an appearance at an empty Downtown Pittsburgh apartment to drum up support among millennials.

The apartment, located above Proper Brick Oven & Tap Room on 7th Street, attracted a few dozen supporters – about half appeared to be millennial aged.

Among Toomey’s young potential supporters was University of Pittsburgh student Joey Pickens. Though originally from Maryland, Pickens is registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

Priory Fine Pastries / Facebook

People express their political support in many ways, be it yard signs, T-shirts or even by painting their homes.

One local bakery has provided another option: cookies.

Priory Fine Pastries unveiled sugar cookies Tuesday bearing printed images of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump priced at $1.25 each.

Google Maps/ 90.5 WESA

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in an appeal that could decide whether Pittsburgh police officers have to live in the city.

In 2012, the state legislature passed Act 195, which said a municipality may require officers to live in city limits. The previous statute said cities shall have a residency requirement.

A year later, Pittsburgh voters passed a referendum requiring residency.

The Fraternal Order of Police argued residency falls under the category of “working conditions” and is subject to collective bargaining.

McGinty, Toomey Spar Over How To Deal With Gun Violence

Nov 1, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

Following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey won praise from Democrats by putting his name on a bill, the Toomey-Manchin amendment, which would have required a background check on all gun sales.

“I worked with my colleagues. I actually wrote my own bill,” Toomey said. “I worked with (Maine Senator) Susan Collins who had a bi-partisan bill. There were only a handful of Republican votes for it, but I was one of them.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Dana Ash, 59, of Morningside has voted in every presidential election of the last 40 years. She said she considers herself an Independent and has voted for Republicans in congressional, state and local races, but never in presidential races. This year is no different.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

It takes 10 full-time employees, a supervisor and some temp workers several months to ready the voting machines for Election Day.

 

“The logistics of getting this all together, it’s amazing,” said Mark Wolosik, Allegheny County Election Division Manager.

 

Delivery of nearly 4,700 voting machines to 850 different polling places today begins today, but the work started just days after the April primary.

 

Economy A Major Focus In Toomey-McGinty Battle

Oct 31, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

During the 1992 presidential campaign, James Carville, a Bill Clinton campaign strategist, succinctly summarized voter concerns: “It’s the economy, stupid!"

Twenty-five years later, the candidates in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race have taken that advice to heart. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Former President Bill Clinton spoke to a group of about 200 supporters in Aliquippa, Pa. Friday morning, promising that his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, would create tangible changes for communities he called “left out and left behind.”

“We can’t grow enough manufacturing jobs for everybody,” Clinton said. “We have to have the small business economy coming back and she’s the only person to do it.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In 1916, Montana’s Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. A century later, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the first female candidate to lead a major party’s ticket. And with two weeks left until Election day, she’s leading in the polls.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

City officials are looking for ways to fill a $10 million hole in the 2017 budget after the state Supreme Court declared a uniform casino tax unconstitutional.

The court struck down the provision that sent millions of dollars to host municipalities – either 2 percent of a casino’s slot revenues or $10 million, whichever was more money.  The court gave the legislature 120 days to fix the law.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Social justice advocates worry misinformation is preventing formerly incarcerated men and women from casting their ballot.

PA’s Voting Machines Are So Old, They Can’t Be Hacked

Oct 26, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

For weeks, we've been hearing about whether a cyberattack could somehow interfere with the upcoming presidential election results.

Different types of voting machines are used on Election Day throughout the area, and some are more vulnerable.

"I don't think a large-scale attack is likely," Henry Carter, an assistant professor at Villanova University, said. His expertise centers on cybersecurity and cryptology.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

School district enrollment levels have dramatically shifted in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years.

John Minchillo / AP

Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty at Chatham University on Tuesday.

Alan Levine / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate has approved legislation that would allow beer distributors to sell beer for off-site consumption in any amount, including six-packs and growlers.

The bill, approved Monday, would let manufacturers ship up to 192 ounces of beer to consumers each month.

Consumers would also be able to buy mixed drinks at the state's sporting venues that currently sell beer.

The legislation now heads to the state House of Representatives.

A spokesman for Wolf was non-committal Monday night on whether the governor would sign the bill.

Via Wikipedia, Katie McGinty

Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race this year will likely set a new record for spending, as outside groups pour money into the contest hoping to influence the control of the Senate.

Ed Ivanushkin / flickr

Many people may not realize how little of a charitable donation goes toward fighting the cause at hand.

State Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) found this to be a problem for some his constituents who were solicited by charities seeking donations to fight cancer. In some cases, as little as less than 1 percent of money raised goes toward aid.  

(L-R) Sara D. Davis, Alex Wong / Getty Images, via NPR

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is heading to Pennsylvania for campaign stops on both ends of the state.

He's holding two rallies Friday — at 4 p.m. at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, and at 7:30 p.m. at the Newtown Athletic Club outside Philadelphia.

90.5 WESA

Earlier this month, we spoke to a handful of families from across the Pittsburgh region about the upcoming election. We checked in with them after the third and final presidential debate to hear what they were thinking as we move toward Nov. 8.  

Elaine Thompson / AP

As the 2016 legislative session gets down to the wire in Pennsylvania, lawmakers are rushing bills large and small.

One of the measures that made it through the House Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday would make it illegal to tax plastic shopping bags in Pennsylvania.

The measure will likely face pushback from Democrats.

Bucks County Republican Frank Farry is sponsoring the bill and argues that bag taxes—which have become more popular in recent years—could compromise jobs.

via WITF

 

The first debate is set of a hotly contested Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race that could decide whether the GOP hangs onto its Senate majority.

Republican incumbent Pat Toomey will square off against Democratic challenger Katie McGinty today.

The hour-long debate will be taped at 1 p.m. at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and broadcast at 7 p.m.

It will be made available to stations in other media markets across the state.

Differences over national security, tax policy, gun rights, abortion and immigration are prominent issues in the race.

Joshua Rappeneker / flickr

The Centers for Disease Control found that 15 percent of mothers of newborns suffer from postpartum depression, which could lead to slower physical growth and mental development for their child.

“And those are just the [mothers] that seek help or admit that they have a problem,” said Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington, Greene). “There is such a stigma to moms with post-partum depression and a lot of them don’t even know what they have.”

Marcus Charleston / WESA

Higher fees and more enforcement were among the recommendations made by the Pittsburgh City Controller’s office following a performance audit of the residential parking permit program.

“People generally feel that it is a good program,” said Controller Michael Lamb.  “Particularly when you live in one of those areas that are impacted by a lot of nonresident parking.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Rutherfords are a family not easily pigeonholed.

They live in a modest home in Bethel Park. Dad, Kurt, 46, works in the Medicaid division at UPMC. Mom, Leslie, 44, stays home to take care of the house and manage their three kids’ busy schedules.

Four months ago, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Depasquale released a scathing interim report on the operations of the state’s child abuse reporting hotline. 

On Wednesday, he praised recent improvements to the ChildLine but then released eight more findings and 24 new recommendations.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Now that Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2017 budget has been approved by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority Board, there are other hurdles to be cleared before it becomes law. They include coming up with at least $10 million in gaming revenue to balance the budget. In his monthly conversation with Mayor Peduto, 90.5 WESA’s Paul Guggenheimer dives into that topic and other aspects of his spending plan.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity

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