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Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

2 hours ago
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

Rafael Sato / flickr

As the legislature grapples with budget details including education funding, Governor Tom Wolf has already signed into law a new formula for distributing state education money. The formula is used to decide how much each district gets but how does it work? We’ll ask Keystone Crossroads reporter Kevin McCorry and Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

Join the conversation live between 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Flickr user Shaine Hatch

The state of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh announced a new partnership aimed at helping stem the tide of opioid addiction, county by county.

“It doesn’t matter where you go in the commonwealth, in southwestern PA, in urban PA, rural Pennsylvania and suburban Pennsylvania. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what zip code you come from, too many lives are being taken by heroin and opioids,” said Josh Shapiro, head of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which is funding the new center.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board voted against a motion to rescind newly hired Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract Wednesday night after a month of scrutiny over discrepancies in his resume.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

On the heels of the sit-in staged by Democrats in the House of Representatives last week, one Pennsylvania Congressman took to the steps of Pittsburgh's City-County Building on Wednesday to renew calls for lawmakers to hold a vote on proposed gun reforms.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The Fab Lab at the Carnegie Science Center is using its 3-D printer to make prosthetic hands. The “e-Nable the Future” program allowed visitors to take part in a workshop utilizing this technology. Essential Pittsburgh producer Marcus Charleston attended the workshop.

PA House Majority Leader Confident About Budget Negotiations

23 hours ago
Julio Cortez / AP Images

The deadline for Pennsylvania's 2016-17 budget is Friday and a compromise is looking more likely this year than last. We'll ask Majority Leader Dave Reed what's included in this year's budget and how negotiations are different in this session.

Uber / uber.com

Imagine it’s the future and you’re riding down the road in your autonomous vehicle when suddenly it starts to downpour. Your vehicle wakes you up, says they don’t feel comfortable driving in the conditions and hand you the wheel. That responsible robotic action is one of the thoughts behind a recent workshop that examined how engineers can create safe and controlled artificial intelligence technologies. William Scherlis, director of the Institute for Software Research in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, recently returned from Washington D.C. and joins us to talk about the concept and the dialogue at the workshop.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are making tiny strides -- no, really -- that could revolutionize the solar industry.

Paul Leu runs a lab at the university where students work with the tiny particles called nanotubes.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Transportation Group's trademark yellow taxis will largely become a thing of the past as the company shifts resources toward its fledgling taxi service, zTrip, officials announced this week.

Though Pittsburgh Transportation Group will continue to operate about 10 yellow taxis at airport and hotel stands around Pittsburgh to prevent another company from taking over the brand, most of the company's 325-vehicle fleet will be painted gray and marked with the zTrip logo by mid-September.

"It's the end of an era," President Jamie Campolongo said.

State Sen. Jay Costa

  Pittsburgh’s state-appointed financial oversight board could be required to adhere to much stricter transparency requirements under a reform bill unanimously passed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

Trump Takes On Trade Deals In Pennsylvania Speech

Jun 28, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

Republican Donald Trump took aim at U.S. free trade deals in a speech delivered in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday that painted his likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as a champion of the kind of globalization that has pushed manufacturing jobs overseas.

Pittsburgh Lawyer Cited As Part Of SCOTUS Abortion Decision

Jun 28, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP Images

Elements of a Texas abortion law were struck down Monday by the Supreme Court. Among the provisions in the case was a requirement that abortion clinics must meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers as well as a mandate that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges to a hospital no more than 30 miles away. Now that the Court has struck down the provisions, what could this mean for Pennsylvania, who is also debating parts of its abortion laws? We’ll ask Susan Frietsche, she’s a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project here in Western Pennsylvania.

Weeds Worthy Of Your Salad Or Stir Fry

Jun 28, 2016
Don Schuetze / flickr

Weeds are often viewed as pests to be met with weed whackers and herbicides, but certified herbalist Lindsey Praksti of Compass Rose Herbals has other suggestions. While weeds may be a pest to a garden or yard, some have nutritious qualities and are worthy of joining your salad or stir fry.

Alex Brandon / AP Images

The United States Supreme Court ended its current term on Monday with some important decisions, but University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris said the most important event of the term was not an opinion at all.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  After a nine-month-long standoff over last year’s state budget, Pennsylvania lawmakers seem committed to getting a verdict out quickly this year. But there is still little information from the Capitol on what exactly the budget contains, and advocates from across the commonwealth are concerned the speed will come at the expense of quality.

Ralliers with the campaign Pennsylvania’s Choice congregated in the Capitol rotunda Monday to push for more spending in education, human services, and the environment.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Bright bursts of color splattered concrete floors, canvas-covered walls and the gray sweatpants of former Pittsburgh Steeler Baron Batch at his Point Breeze art studio on Monday.

Gov. Tom Wolf Administration

  Local historians are creating an online database chronicling Pittsburgh’s disability history.

The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium was created to centralize legislation, photos, videos and equipment belonging to state agencies. It’ll also provide information and a tool for advocacy groups, organizers said.  

Matt Rourke / AP Images

In contrast to last year’s lengthy impasse, Pennsylvania lawmakers and Governor Tom Wolf appear to be close to an on-schedule budget deal. State Senator Jay Costa says neither party wants a repeat of 2015 and joins us to talk about what can be found in this recent budget, including pension reform, gambling tax changes and education funding formula changes.

'Grand Dame' of Pennsylvania Paved Path For Women In Politics

Jun 27, 2016
Library of Congress Archives

The Democratic National Convention is set to take place next month in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton is the presumptive democratic presidential nominee. However she won’t be the first woman to receive a nomination at a major political presidential convention. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos will tell us about the Pittsburgher who earned this honor.

Ryan Deto / City Paper

Last week the Supreme Court's 4-4 vote left in place a Texas federal judge's order that has prevented President Obama from granting deportation relief to more than 4 million who are parents of U.S. citizens. One of them is Martin-Esqivel-Hernandez who was taken recently from his Pittsburgh home to prison and faces deportation to Mexico. We'll talk with City Paper reporter Ryan Deto, who recently wrote a cover story about this case, and Guillermo Perez head of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and part of the campaign to release Martin Esquivel-Hernandez from detention..

CJ Dawson Photography

 

  Early-stage companies need cash. The state is helping them get it, by giving them tax credits they can sell.

On Thursday, the Department of Community and Economic Development spoke to about 35 people, many of them early stage tech company CEOs, about the Keystone Innovation Zone program. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The National Forest Service wants to know how many and what kinds of trees line Pittsburgh streets and hillsides.

Though forest service officials have spent nearly 90 years collecting data on tree populations throughout the country’s rural forests, it only started collecting urban tree data in 2014.

David Davies / flickr

The selection of the next Pittsburgh Public School superintendent has brought practices regarding executive searches to the forefront. Recently, PPS board members launched an investigation claims by Anthony Hamlet, who was tapped to lead the district. Media outlets allege he’d falsified some of the information on his resume and in a speech.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Memories Sportsman Shop & Taxidermy Studio has occupied the same small storefront in Sharpsburg since 1990. Owner Sam Stelitano said since the mass shooting at an Orlando night club, he's seen more customers walk through his door.

Tony Urbanek, 46, is a regular at the store. He said he bought his first gun for self-protection when he was young.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

For some receiving treatment for cancer, Mrs. Claus doesn’t just visit at Christmas.

“Our mission statement is to bring comfort, hope, encouragement and love to the (person) who has been recently diagnosed with cancer,” said Jeana Watenpool, founder of the Mrs. Claus Club of the North Hills.

The Mrs. Claus Club, which delivers gifts minus the sleigh year-round, has given out more than 500 comfort baskets since it was formed seven years ago. In the last seven months alone it has delivered more than 70 baskets. 

Hydro / flickr

Gun violence is the leading cause of mortality among young black men and the county needs to treat it as a public health issue, according to Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

How do we help to prevent this?” Hacker asked. “And how do we help communities to heal because the impact of this kind of violence is really like post-traumatic stress in many of our communities.”

She found an ally in the local Christian community.

Flickr user TheKarenD

Black Americans with the heart condition atrial fibrillation are nearly twice as likely to suffer stroke, heart failure and coronary heart disease as their white counterparts, according to a new study from University of Pittsburgh professor Jared Magnani.

The finding is based on data from a 30-year study of more than 15,000 people in four communities: Forsyth County, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; suburbs northwest of Minneapolis, Minn. and Washington County, Md.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Children have encountered a curious pair of miniature doors in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Birds for decades.

“People were constantly turning those doorknobs,” said Becca Shreckengast, the museum’s director of exhibition experience. “They are very attractive doors. They are small, hobbit-sized doors, child-sized doors, so there was already this built-in mystery, like, ‘Why is there this little door?’”

Eddie Palmieri

Pittsburgh Jazz Live International, the city’s annual summer jazz festival begins this Friday with international artists scheduled to perform. For members of the region's fast growing Hispanic community, the chance to see their musical culture represented can be a powerful experience.

Ron Alvarado, chairman of the Pittsburgh Metro Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said, “it galvanizes us as a community.”

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