Government & Politics

Government
2:00 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Human Service Block Grant Fight Grows in Pennsylvania

A budget tussle in Harrisburg is heating up over the fate of seven county-run human services programs that serve people with intellectual disabilities and substance abuse problems. Both the funding method and the amount of state assistance are at issue.

An original 20% cut for the human services programs became a 10% cut after budget negotiators used improving revenue reports to persuade Governor Tom Corbett to soften his earlier proposal.

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Government
8:45 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Democrats Continue Fight for Education Funding

In the final days of state budget negotiations, state House Democrats aren't letting up on their push for an increase in public schools funding.

Democratic Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County and James Roebuck of Philadelphia headed to the governor's office today to lobby the Corbett administration to earmark more money for public education. They had petitions containing some 15,000 signatures, but they were met at the door by Education Secretary Ron Tomalis and that was as far as they were able to get.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Senate Set To Vote On Corrections Reform

The state Senate is expected to give its approval today to prison reform legislation, which is receiving bipartisan support.

Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said SB100 is a "solid step" toward improving the corrections system in Pennsylvania and includes ideas proposed by his caucus, "including increased programming for short term nonviolent offenders to help effectuate their timely release back into the community, aggressively utilizing alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders and increasing the use of treatment programs," Costa said.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

State Budget Likely To Be Approved This Week

State lawmakers this week are expected to approve a $27.7 billion budget for the new fiscal year that begins Sunday, July 1.

In his February budget address, Governor Tom Corbett outlined a $27.14 billion spending plan, but after closed-door discussions with Republican legislative leaders, he agreed to come up to the $27.66 billion level proposed by the Senate. Some of the addition $500 million would go to reducing the governor's proposed cuts to education.

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Government
7:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Proposed Legislation Blocks Employers Asking For Passwords

Companies in Pennsylvania could be barred from digging into their workers' social media profiles. A state House proposal sponsored by Representative Jesse White (D-Washington) would ban employers from requesting passwords to sites like Facebook and Twitter as a condition of employment.

"They can't ask you in a job interview about your religious orientation, about your sexual orientation, those sorts of things, because they're not allowed to use them as a basis for employment," White said.

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Government
4:49 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Council ‘Investigates’ Tax-Exempt Status of City Nonprofits

City Council President Darlene Harris said she is investigating whether the city could legally challenge the tax-exempt status of large nonprofits in Pittsburgh.

If organizations like Highmark, UPMC and city universities don't measure up to state nonprofit criteria, Pittsburgh could stand to gain tens of millions of dollars more in revenue from real estate and payroll taxes that are currently waived.

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Government
8:45 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Privatizing LCB Dead For Now

The leading Democrat on the state House Liquor Control Committee said it's time to talk about modernization and not privatization when it comes to the commonwealth's liquor and beer sales.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) has conceded the privatization issue is off the table until at least the fall because he doesn't have enough votes. Speaking with reporters as a budget meeting between Governor Tom Corbett and legislative leaders broke up, Turzai said legislators need to focus now on passage of a state budget.

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Government
7:00 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Rendell Says America's Leaders Aren't Willing To Take Risks

Ed Rendell's resumé is impressive: eight years as the District Attorney of Philadelphia, eight years as Mayor of Philadelphia, and eight years as Governor of Pennsylvania. Toss in a stint as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and you have a long career in government and politics.

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Government
8:40 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

DeFazio: Voter ID Requirement Forces Allegheny County to Break Federal Law

Allegheny County's Board of Elections will likely vote in favor of a lawsuit against the state's new voter ID law. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats on the board are hoping to strike down a law that requires photo identification to be presented before Pennsylvanians can vote. However, the board's lone Republican said the lawsuit is redundant, expensive, and politically motivated.

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Government
1:41 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Finalized State Budget Quickly Approaching Deadline

With the new fiscal year starting July 1, budget talks are quietly continuing in Harrisburg, with state House and Senate GOP leaders saying they're still working on a joint proposal for the governor. Republicans say though Governor Corbett has been saying he'd like to spend "less" than what the legislature's proposed, he only recently identified how much less.

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Government
1:30 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Liquor Store Privatization Bill Sputters in House

A plan to sell off the state's roughly 600 wine and spirits stores has the support of the governor, but it's still stalling in the House.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said his bill's not dead, but he won't say whether the votes are there to pass it.

"It's scheduled to run on Monday," said Turzai.

It isn't the first Monday the plan has been brought up on the House floor. A week ago, debate went on for hours before leaders finally pulled the plug. The proposal wasn't brought up at all for the rest of the week.

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Government
2:45 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

State House Proposal To Reform Pensions For Some State Employees

House Republicans have unveiled their own proposals to change state worker pension in Pennsylvania just weeks after their counterparts in the Senate introduced a pension reform plan.

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Government
8:33 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Actor Kal Penn Talks with Pittsburgh Young Professionals

President Barack Obama incited a lot of excitement among young voters in 2008, but at a young professionals round table in downtown Pittsburgh Tuesday, a worry about voter apathy was expressed. Actor and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Kal Penn spoke to the small group and asked for input on what the Obama campaign can do to energize young voters. He said the president has been a tireless proponent of issues important to young people, while Republicans have been focused on other issues.

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Government
6:38 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

PA Republicans say Romney has a Good Chance

The 2012 Presidential Election campaign is intensifying in Pennsylvania.

President Barack Obama will appear this evening at 8:00 o'clock at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to raise money for the Obama Victory Fund Campaign, a joint fundraising committee of the Obama re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

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Government
5:25 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

State Lawmaker Says Port Authority will get No State Help Until Legacy Costs are Addressed

Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign legislation that takes away the Port Authority of Allegheny County's ability to review applications to provide bus service in the county. Interested parties would still have to get approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and live under that entity's regulations.

The Senate last week approved House Bill 10, which the lower chamber passed in the fall.

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Government
8:30 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Commission Okays New Redistricting Map For Pennsylvania House & Senate

The five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission this afternoon approved a second plan to redraw the legislative districts in the commonwealth.

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Government
7:30 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Management Contracted Out

The Board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) selected Veolia Water North America to provide Executive Management services to the Authority for twelve months with a possible six-month extension.

Jim Good will serve as the PWSA's Executive Director and fill the 18-month vacancy left by the resignation of Michael Kenney in 2010. Another Veolia executive, Doug Amos, will serve as Study Manager for PWSA.

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Government
7:00 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Secretary Of The Air Force Visits 911th Airlift Wing

The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, visited the 911th Airlift Wing Thursday to meet with senior and civic leaders who lobbied him to keep the base open. While there he thanked the airmen for their contributions to national security and continuing focus on their mission.

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Government
6:30 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Governor Corbett Holding Private Budget Meetings With Republicans

Budget talks continue in Harrisburg among legislative leaders and the governor. However, those negotiations are happening behind closed doors and without the input of Democrats. Gov. Tom Corbett has not avoided the fact that budget talks have been a Republicans-only affair so far.

"This, it has to be passed by a majority. The Republicans are in the majority in both houses. The discussions that the Democrats have put out there is that they want to continue to spend and at least I have the Republicans trying to save money in some areas," Corbett explained.

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Government
2:50 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

House Lawmakers Approve So-Called Payday Loan Regulations

The lending industry calls them small-dollar loans. Opponents call them payday loans. State House lawmakers approved a measure to regulate and expand the short term loan industry in the commonwealth.

Such loans tend to be issued with a two-week payback period, and they often come with high interest and fees. The small loans tend to be taken out for a couple weeks at a time, and they often come with high interest rates and fees.

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Government
9:25 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Committee Passes Bill to Change County Weights & Measures Oversight

A committee of Allegheny County Council has given an affirmative recommendation to a bill that would transfer the Weights & Measures Division from the Controller's office to the administration. The bill now heads to the full Council for a final vote.

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Government
7:00 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Seek to Sever Ties with Companies that Do Business with Iran

State Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) and Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) have introduced legislation aimed at breaking financial ties with companies that do business with Iran. Stack's Senate Bill 1543 and Frankel's House Bill 2427 would specifically go after businesses with direct investment in Iran's energy sector and bar them from bidding on Pennsylvania state contracts.

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Government
7:00 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Orie Sentenced to Up to 10 Years in Prison in Corruption Case

Former Pennsylvania Senator Jane Orie has been sentenced to serve between 2 and a half to 10 years in prison. The Republican from McCandless was convicted in March of using her legislative staff to do campaign work, and for forging documents to cover up the criminal activity.

The judge will decide within the next 30 days what monetary penalty Orie must pay. That number could go as high as $2 million in legal fees and restitution to the state.

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Government
8:20 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Republican Lawmakers To Propose Joint Spending Plan Next Week

Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania state legislature are meeting with Governor Tom Corbett early next week to present a joint spending plan with the intention of passing a budget in mid-June. Procedurally, it falls to the state House to make changes to the Senate's $27.7 billion budget plan, which contains a half-million dollars more than what the governor proposed.

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Government
9:47 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Struggle for County Weights & Measures Office Continues

It seems Allegheny County Council is the rope in a political tug-of-war between the County Executive and the County Controller. A pending Council vote will determine which office will have command of the county's Weights & Measures Division.

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