Politics & Government

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

Governor Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visited Point Park University Thursday afternoon to seek public input on creating a less partisan congressional map. 

Cliff Owen / AP

Vice President Mike Pence is coming to help raise money in a congressional election in southwestern Pennsylvania widely viewed as a test of whether Republicans can stave off Democratic gains this year.

Pence is scheduled to appear Friday at a rally and fundraiser for Rick Saccone. He's a 59-year-old Republican state representative and retired Air Force intelligence officer running in the March 13 special election to replace Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last year in a scandal.

Keith Srakocic / AP

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order for the state legislature to draw a new congressional map has raised conflict of interest questions for at least six state lawmakers running for U.S. Congress.

The State Senate decided Wednesday that members of the chamber who are candidates are allowed to vote on legislation related to the first step of the map-making process.

So far, State Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) is the only member of the Senate committed to running.

Matt Rourke / AP

Top Senate republicans are refusing to hand over congressional district data to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Philly Congressman Brady Won't Seek Another Term

Jan 31, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia will not seek another term in Congress, giving up the seat he's held for two decades, his office said Wednesday.

Brady revealed the news to reporters and Democratic Party ward leaders in Philadelphia, his hometown and the city where he has been the longtime Democratic Party leader.

Mango, Wagner Put Millions In Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Run

Jan 31, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidates Paul Mango and Scott Wagner are donating heavily to their campaigns, putting up millions of dollars for the right to challenge Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in the November election.

Wednesday is the deadline for campaigns to report how they raised and spent money last year.

Mango, a former health care systems consultant, reports $5.5 million in the bank as of Dec. 31 after spending $2.9 million. Mango gave himself $6.7 million and reported a $1 million loan from a private equity executive.

Matt Rourke / AP

A week into the three-week period the state Supreme Court allotted lawmakers to redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, not much concrete progress has been made.

Liam James Doyle / NPR

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, seen as a rising political star with a famous last name, will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union. In announcing their decision, Democratic leaders in Congress called Kennedy a "relentless fighter for working Americans." Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general and New York senator who was assassinated in 1968. He is also the great nephew of both the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late president John F. Kennedy.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President Trump is delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, which will be followed by a response from the Democratic Party.

Nati Harnik / AP

The Senate on Monday rejected legislation designed to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a vote that put vulnerable Democrats on the record on the issue during an election year.

The vote was 51-46, short of the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill. Three Democratic-senators up for re-election in conservative states voted to advance the legislation: Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with most Democrats to reject it.

Emily Previti / Keystone Crossroads

After a year marked by lower-than expected income and intractable budget problems, Pennsylvania’s finances appear to be on an upswing. 

Drawing New Congressional Districts Gets Off To Slow Start

Jan 30, 2018
WHYY

 There are a few signs of progress, a week into the three-week period established by the state Supreme Court for lawmakers to produce a replacement congressional district map.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday the federal government will use Pittsburgh-area expertise to step up its fight against opioid-related crimes online.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

A leading environmental advocate in Pennsylvania's Legislature said he'll run for Congress to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Democratic state Rep. Greg Vitali of Delaware County announced Monday that he'll seek the party's nomination in a 7th District criticized as one of the nation's most gerrymandered districts.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Sunday afternoon, the four candidates for the empty District 8 City Council seat, formerly held by councilman Dan Gilman, debated at Chatham University. 

Republicans Seeing Lion’s Share Of Turnover In Legislature

Jan 29, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Retirements and other departures are poised to hit Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature particularly hard this year, as most of those who have already announced they are leaving belong to the GOP.

Rep. Meehan, Accused Of Harassing Former Aide, Won’t Seek Re-Election

Jan 26, 2018
Jacqueline Martin / AP

A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide's sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money informed party and campaign officials Thursday that he will not seek re-election, a decision that came as party officials had begun to search for a replacement candidate.

The complaint by a former aide three decades younger than U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan came to light Jan. 20 in a New York Times report, citing unnamed people. The accuser's lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, called the allegations "well-grounded" and a "serious sexual harassment claim."

Heather Ainsworth / AP

To date, Pennsylvania is earning significantly more money than expected from bids on its new mini-casino licenses.

Two winning bids have been submitted so far.

Penn National spent just over $50 million to develop a spot in York County two weeks ago — and Stadium Casino LLC followed this week with a more-than $40 million bid to build in Westmoreland County.

With eight bids to go, the state has already made $90 million of the $100 million it earmarked in the state budget.

Pennsylvania GOP Take Gerrymandering Case To U.S. High Court

Jan 25, 2018
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Pennsylvania's top Republican lawmakers asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to stop an order by the state's highest court in a gerrymandering case that threw out the boundaries of its 18 congressional districts and ordered them redrawn within three weeks.

Republicans who control Pennsylvania's Legislature wrote that the state Supreme Court justices unconstitutionally usurped the authority of lawmakers to create congressional districts and they asked the nation's high court to put the decision on hold while it considers their claims.

Keystone Crossroads

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision to toss out the commonwealth’s Republican-created congressional boundaries has thrown a wrench in some campaigns.

Jacqueline Martin / AP

Republicans are taking a wait-and-see attitude after a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide's sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money said he saw her as a "soul mate."

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said Wednesday on CNN's "New Day" that she first wants to see the results of an Ethics Committee investigation into U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Republican Party officials also remained quiet Wednesday on whether they support Meehan.

Matt Rourke / AP

The U.S. Agriculture Department is laying out its preferences for a new farm bill—a massive plan that accounts for almost a half-trillion dollars in spending over five years.

 

Secretary Sonny Perdue spent Wednesday in Pennsylvania, explaining the four-page skeleton proposal to groups that included farmers, state officials, and nutrition benefit recipients.  

 

Keystone Crossroads

In the wake of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to declare the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional, lawmakers are starting the redrawing process before the Feb. 15 deadline.

Matt Rourke / AP

This could be the year Pennsylvanians vote whether to amend the constitution and shrink the state House of Representatives by a quarter.

Firm Wins Right To Build Mini-Casino In Westmoreland County

Jan 24, 2018
Heather Ainsworth / AP

A company that's building a casino in Philadelphia has won the right to put up a mini-casino across Pennsylvania in Westmoreland County in the second auction of licenses newly authorized by the state.

Baltimore-based developer Cordish Cos. submitted a winning bid Wednesday of $40.1 million. The area it selected includes Greensburg, southeast of Pittsburgh, and Cordish is considering building an entertainment district around the casino. Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to three casinos, although this would be Westmoreland County's first.

Matt Rourke / AP

State House Majority Leader Dave Reed is officially running for congress—becoming the second top Republican in the chamber to seek higher office this year.

He’s aiming to grab the sprawling southwestern 9th District seat held by retiring republican Bill Shuster. But his decision comes at a time when that district—and all the others in Pennsylvania—are facing a somewhat uncertain future.

On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled the state congressional maps unconstitutional, and ordered the legislature and governor to submit new ones by Feb. 15.

Courtesy of Friends of Austin Davis

Democrat Austin Davis is the new state representative for Pennsylvania’s 35th House District in the Mon Valley. On Tuesday, Davis defeated Republican Fawn Walker Montgomery to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Marc Gergely last fall.

Courtesy of Friends for Austin Davis and Committee to Elect V. Fawn Walker

A Democrat won a special election Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of a Pennsylvania House member who stepped down after pleading guilty to charges related to an illegal gambling machine operation.

Austin Davis defeated Republican Fawn Walker-Montgomery in the race to represent a district in the Monongahela Valley, south of Pittsburgh.

The seat became vacant in November, after eight-term Democratic Rep. Marc Gergely stepped down as he was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest for misdemeanor conspiracy and campaign violation counts. Felony charges were withdrawn.

CMU Economics Prof Grilled By Democrats During Fed Confirmation Hearing

Jan 23, 2018
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Federal Reserve board nominee Marvin Goodfriend said Tuesday he supports the Fed's political independence and its dual goals of achieving stable prices and low unemployment. But those assurances did not seem to satisfy Democrats who say Goodfriend's past policy positions are at odds with his current views.

Goodfriend, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, faced tough questioning from Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee during his confirmation hearing. He won the backing of Republicans who spoke favorably of his conservative views.

Bill To Trim About One-Quarter Of State House Districts Advances

Jan 23, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

A move to let voters decide whether to cut about a quarter of the 203 districts in the Pennsylvania House passed a key hurdle Tuesday, raising the prospect it could go before the electorate for final approval later this year.

The 14-10 vote by the House State Government Committee, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed, clears the way for a vote by the full House in the coming months.

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