Government & Politics

Government & Politics news from 90.5 WESA.

United Steelworkers Back President

Apr 13, 2012

With the election season upon us, United Steelworkers (USW) members and union officials gathered in downtown Pittsburgh at the USW headquarters today to reaffirm their support for President Obama and his economic policies.

USW President Leo Gerard said a month after Mr. Obama took office the economy lost 700,000 jobs with the steel industry losing 100,000 in less than eight months.

He said the President deserves credit for turning the economy around.

Attorney General Candidates Differ on Ultrasound Requirement for Abortion

Apr 13, 2012

Legislation that would require women undergoing abortions to first receive ultrasounds has become an issue in the state's attorney general race, despite the fact that the bill is currently stalled in the House.

Santorum’s Decision Could Impact Down-Ticket Races

Apr 11, 2012

With Rick Santorum out of the presidential race, Pennsylvania Republicans have lost the biggest get-out-the-vote rallying cry they had. Now party leaders are wondering what will happen to the other races facing Pennsylvania Republican voters.

"This was the marquee election on the ballot," said Muhlenberg College political science professor Christopher Borick. "For the marginal voter who would be interested in that race and not very interested in anything else, the likelihood that they show up is going to be lower."

Council Hears about Public Transit Cuts

Apr 10, 2012

Political and transit leaders today warned Pittsburgh Council about the dangers of another round of service cuts.

According to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) will be facing a huge service reduction this September due to a $64 million deficit.

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Apr 10, 2012

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum kicked off his presidential campaign in Somerset, Pennsylvania last June and has brought it to an end just a few miles to the east in Gettysburg.

"While this presidential race for us is over for me — and we will suspend our campaign today — we are not done fighting. We will continue to fight," said Santorum.

Municipalities to Challenge Act 13

Apr 10, 2012

A Commonwealth Court judge will hear a request tomorrow by seven Pennsylvania municipalities seeking an immediate injunction against the state's new Marcellus Shale law, Act 13.

South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, Peters, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson Townships in Washington County, and Yardley and Nockamixin in Bucks County claim that Act 13 unconstitutionally strips the power of the local governments to control their land and zoning. The land use provisions of the law are to take effect April 14.

Pennsylvania Gearing Up for Primaries

Apr 9, 2012

With Pennsylvania's April 24 primary election drawing near, the commonwealth's top elections official is traveling the state trying to motivate residents to cast ballots, especially younger voters.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 58.5 percent of citizens ages 18 to 24 were registered to vote, and nearly half of them did so in 2008. The younger age group was the only category to show a significant increase in turnout.

Push to End Pennsylvania Property Taxes Gets New Life

Apr 9, 2012

State lawmakers will make another attempt to get rid of property taxes statewide.

A Republican-proposed bill would do away with the real estate taxes by funding school districts through sales and income taxes. The income and sales tax rates would be increased by about one percent each, an arrangement that Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks County.) said is a more fair way to fund schools.

Romney Calls Obama An “Anti-Energy President"

Apr 6, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted President Obama's energy policies during a campaign appearance in Marcellus Shale country.

Speaking at a Wyoming County company that supplies water for natural gas drilling, Romney called Mr. Obama an "anti-energy president." Romney pointed out states have typically taken the lead on regulating hydraulic fracturing.

Presidential Campaigns Pick Up Steam In Pennsylvania

Apr 6, 2012

The presidential candidates are staking their claims on campaign headquarters in Pennsylvania, with the primary less than 20 days away.

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney breezed through Harrisburg to christen his capital city campaign headquarters and visited with a rope line of supporters.

"I understand there's not enough room for everybody to come inside. The roof is going to crush if you come down. So thanks for coming down, so thanks for coming down. Wish you could come inside. You could hear me speak for an hour or two," Romney said.

The Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously approved a bill to help reform the Commonwealth's juvenile justice system. The legislation requires children to have a lawyer present at their hearings. If they do not have one, counsel will be provided for them.

First Step Toward Trimming Pennsylvania Legislature

Apr 5, 2012

State House members have approved a bill that could eventually eliminate 50 seats in their own chamber and 12 seats in the state Senate.

Both Democrats and Republicans voiced opposition to the proposal in a floor debate that stretched on for three days. They say cutting the number of House lawmakers from 203 to 153 will mean constituents have a harder time getting a hold of their representatives.

House Republicans Sue Over Education Funding Law

Apr 4, 2012

Two state House lawmakers are preparing to file a lawsuit against the commonwealth to force a change in education funding. They say the rules behind which districts get a bigger piece of the pie are unfair to areas that have experienced huge population growth.

The lawsuit is centered on a state law that in 1991 made it illegal for any school district to get less state money than it got the year before.

Many of the people eating at Bob's Diner in Carnegie weren't expecting to see a presidential candidate on Wednesday, but several said they were pleasantly surprised to see Rick Santorum there, eating breakfast and chatting with customers.

The state House Finance Committee has passed a corporate tax reform package that will attempt to close a loophole, but opponents warn the method will hurt the state if it becomes law.

"Multi-state companies can send money to other states with lower tax rates, or no taxes, and in that way avoid paying taxes in Pennsylvania," said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

State Lawmakers Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin

Apr 4, 2012

More than a month after the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Pennsylvania lawmakers are joining in the nationwide wave of demonstrations calling for an investigation into the shooter.

House and Senate lawmakers have donned hoodies on the state Capitol steps to show their outrage. Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) says Martin's death is symptomatic of systemic discrimination.

Santorum to Stay in Race – Vows to Win Pennsylvania

Apr 4, 2012

Despite a three-way loss in primary races on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told a crowd gathered in Marshall Township that he's not backing down. The former Pennsylvania Senator appealed to supporters in his home state, and said he's confident he can catch up in the delegate count.

"We have now reached a point where it's half time," said Santorum. "Half the delegates in the process have been selected, and who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for strong second half?"

Senate Democrats Introduce Budget Proposal

Apr 3, 2012

When Pennsylvania lawmakers return from their Easter and primary election recess, the emphasis will be on the state budget.

Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a $27.1 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. It holds the line on taxes and closes a projected deficit of $700 million, in part by trimming appropriations to the 14 state-owned universities by 20%, and cutting funding to the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and Temple by 30%.

DeWeese Says Goodbye

Apr 3, 2012

Former Pennsylvania House leader Bill DeWeese (D-Greene County) had his last hurrah on the chamber floor Tuesday after being found guilty on corruption charges for requiring staff members to work on election campaigns as part of their state paid jobs.

DeWeese took the podium, outlining the three parts of his farewell address to the House: gratitude, humility, and friendship.

During his speech, DeWeese said the House should be more about partnership than partisanship in the future. He acknowledged he has played the partisan role.

New Poll Shows Santorum's Lead Slipping

Apr 3, 2012

The latest poll in the run-up to Pennsylvania's April 24 primary shows Rick Santorum with a smaller lead over Mitt Romney among Republicans in the state compared to two weeks ago.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows the former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator has a 41% to 35% edge over Romney, down from a nearly 14-point lead in that university's March 20 poll. This survey focuses only on Republicans who are likely to vote in the primary.

Santorum Begins Push for Pennsylvania Primary Win

Apr 3, 2012

The Pennsylvania Republican Presidential Primary is still three weeks away but Rick Santorum is starting what's expected to be a concentrated campaign effort in his native state.

The court-ordered reassessment process for Allegheny County has been fraught with confusion and anger, with vocal opponents saying their property values jumped up to 300% in some cases, while comparable neighboring properties increased modestly or not at all. Some elderly residents worry that drastically increased property values will, in essence, tax them out of their homes.

To address that, Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana has introduced a bill that would enable the county council or citizens to eliminate property taxes altogether.

Rookie Lawmaker Wants to End Legislative Road-Naming

Apr 2, 2012

A freshman state House lawmaker is calling on his colleagues to spend less time naming roads and bridges.

Representative Warren Kampf (R-Chester) said when he first arrived in the General Assembly he was amazed by the number of bills House and Senate members pass to put plaques on structures and roadways throughout the commonwealth.

"It didn't strike me as a core function for the General Assembly," he said.

He said that shouldn't fall under the legislature's duties, although he said he's not dismissing the naming process.

The U.S. is ranked 71st in the world for the number of women in elected office. A Thursday afternoon panel at Duquesne University examined the role of women in politics and activism.

The vote on whether the city of Pittsburgh should require institutions with whom they invest to reinvest into the community will wait another week.

City Council discussed the legislation Wednesday but Councilman Bruce Kraus, in addition to others, motioned to hold the vote for an opportunity to discuss the policy with members of the city's law department, the city controller, and representatives from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Romney and Santorum Neck and Neck Heading into Primary

Mar 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Primary “Counts” in 2012

Mar 26, 2012

The April 24th Pennsylvania primary is less than one month away and, unlike most years, it could actually play an important role in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Front-runner Mitt Romney is still far from gathering the number of delegates needed to avoid a brokered convention, and both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are hoping to make sure he never gets to the magic number of 1,144 delegates. Despite the high interest in the race in Pennsylvania, it is still unclear if it will be much of a contest.

Gingrich, Santorum Make Campaign Stop in Pennsylvania

Mar 25, 2012

Nationally, Republicans may be turning up the heat on the party to unite around Mitt Romney as the GOP's presidential nominee.

But not at this year's Pennsylvania Leadership Conference of staunch conservatives in Cumberland County, where candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich touted their Republican values.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania US Senator, took a moment to dismiss criticism that losing his reelection in 2006 makes his electability doubtful.

Pennsylvania Readies for Primary

Mar 23, 2012

Monday is the final day for Pennsylvanians to register to vote for the primary election. On April 24th voters can cast ballots for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representatives, state attorney general, auditor general, treasurer, state legislators, and delegates to Republican and Democratic national conventions.

Voters in the primary will be asked to show a photo ID, but it will only be required of first time voters. A voter ID will be required when voting in this November's general election.

Perzel Sentenced in BonusGate Scandal

Mar 21, 2012

John Perzel, the self-professed architect of a state House Republican scheme to pay for political campaign computer software with taxpayer dollars was sentenced today to up to five years in prison. The former state House Speaker was also ordered to pay $1 million in restitution, as well as thousands in fines.

Perzel, from Philadelphia, pleaded guilty last fall to charges of theft, conspiracy, and conflict of interest.

Chief Deputy state Attorney General Frank Fina said his decision to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors made his sentence lighter.