News

Pittsburgh Diocese Settles Suit Over Birth Control Mandate

Oct 17, 2017
Andrew Rush / AP Images

The Pittsburgh and Erie Roman Catholic dioceses have settled lawsuits seeking to overturn an Affordable Care Act mandate that would have forced them to provide contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs or services as part of their employee health care plans.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

A licensed grower and processor of medical marijuana in western Pennsylvania is the first with state approval to begin operating.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration said Tuesday that the Department of Health has approved Cresco Yeltrah to begin growing and processing medical marijuana at its Jefferson County location. That makes it the first facility to be deemed fully operational in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students with developmental disabilities are learning job skills at a new Homestead café that opened Monday.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House and Senate are back in session after taking time off following the collapse of budget negotiations earlier this month.

There’s no concrete strategy moving forward.

But some lawmakers say they hope opposition to Governor Tom Wolf’s unilateral budget-balancing plan will eventually spur the body into action.

Wolf has announced that he intends to bring the state’s books in line by borrowing against liquor control board revenues, leasing out the state Farm Show complex, and not passing funding for state related universities.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers might be close to a bipartisan agreement that gets a natural gas severance tax to the House floor.

Similar efforts have failed repeatedly over the last several years—and as recently as this month. But a slightly friendlier committee might make this time different.

Most House severance tax bills end up in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which is stacked with conservative Republicans who tend to oppose tax hikes or new taxes.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

This week is Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s last in Congress. The embattled politician is resigning with one year left in his term, meaning Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District must hold a special election to fill the vacancy.

Megan Farmer / KUOW


  Pittsburgh is among the cities competing to land Amazon’s second headquarters and that has many people wondering what could happen if the company actually picked their city. To get some answers, we turned to our fellow NPR member station, KUOW in Seattle, home to Amazon’s first headquarters.

Patrick Sison / AP

Beaver County announced Monday it is suing for millions of dollars in damages from opioid manufacturers,  drug distributors and physicians.

The civil suit claims 23 drug companies and doctors led consumers to believe that opioids were not addictive and the county spent taxpayer dollars responding to hundreds of deaths and overdoses.

Wolf Blames Trump, Congress For Spiking Health Coverage Cost

Oct 16, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is blaming President Donald Trump for a sharp increase in the cost of health insurance that'll take effect next year for residents who buy individual plans.

Wolf's administration released the approved 2018 rates Monday, saying the average increase will be just over 30 percent. Wolf's office said the increase would've been less than 8 percent if Trump hadn't halted cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers or created uncertainty around the fate of the individual mandate.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Pennsylvania judge said Monday he will announce later this week whether to grant former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky a new trial or throw out child sexual abuse convictions against him.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh research center devoted to the works of a theologian, who later became a Catholic cardinal, has finished the first part of a project to digitize his manuscripts.

Archivists in Birmingham, England worked for four years to take high-quality images of John Henry Newman’s unpublished writings on theology, education and philosophy. It will take another year to upload the nearly 30 terabytes of material to a website operated by the Pittsburgh-based National Institute for Newman Studies in Oakland.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

A fifth Democrat, and eighth candidate overall, has announced his run for a southwestern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by GOP Congressman Tim Murphy.

Conor Lamb announced his candidacy Saturday. He recently resigned as an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh and is the nephew of Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb. This will be the first run for public office by 33-year-old Conor Lamb.

Murphy is resigning effective Oct. 21 after the anti-abortion lawmaker urged his former mistress to get an abortion.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

There are two more people entering the field vying to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in 2019.

Former state Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff will seek the Democratic Party's nomination, and U.S. Army veteran Andrew Lewis will seek the Republican nomination.

The 66-year-old Wolff is also a fifth-generation dairy farmer in Columbia County and served on the World Trade Organization's agriculture technical committee. The 30-year-old Lewis helps run a family construction services firm in Dauphin County and ran unsuccessfully for state Senate last year.

Pennsylvania Explores New Territory In Budget Fight

Oct 16, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's deficit-riddled finances are in new territory, as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf assembles a package to balance the state's budget without involvement from a Republican-controlled Legislature riven by ideological and provincial disputes.

Maria Scapellato / 90.5 WESA

The Greenfield Bridge, a vital artery between Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood and Schenley Park, re-opened this weekend.

When workers imploded the old bridge in late 2015, approximately 19,000 vehicles that used it daily had to find other routes, resulting in traffic congestion in parts of Oakland and Squirrel Hill.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Nearly 200 residents filled the auditorium of Propel Hazelwood last week for the first community meeting of the Greater Hazelwood Neighborhood Plan.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a mild Tuesday evening in October, a 12-and-under soccer team from Elliott breaks from the huddle before a match. Tonight, they’re playing on a grass field at Beechview’s Alton Park.

Coach Alex Foulds paces on the sideline as the game progresses, constantly communicating instructions to players on the field. "Clear it out!" he shouts to his team. "Help him out!"

In Seattle, Amazon Is A Low-Key Presence And A Powerful Influence

Oct 16, 2017
Megan Farmer / KUOW

Pittsburgh is among the cities competing to land Amazon’s second headquarters and that has many people wondering what could happen if the company actually picked their city. To get some answers, we turned to our fellow NPR member station, KUOW in Seattle, home to Amazon’s first headquarters.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro says he's joining his counterparts in at least a dozen states to sue the Trump administration over its decision to stop paying cost-sharing subsidies to insurers.

Parents of Freed Afghanistan Hostage Angry At Son-In-Law

Oct 13, 2017
Youtube

The parents of an American woman freed with her family after five years of captivity say they are elated, but also angry at their son-in law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania's leading hospital association and advocates for the poor all reacted strongly Friday to a move by the Trump administration to stop paying cost-sharing subsidies that have helped lower the price of health insurance policies sold through the Healthcare.gov marketplace.

Kim Dinh / The Merton Center

On Thursday, more than 50 public transit riders sent hundreds of postcards to state representative and Port Authority board member Dom Costa, urging him to oppose plans to possibly allow police enforcement of ticketing systems on public transit.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s last large riverfront property, Almono, got a new name today: it will now be called Hazelwood Green.

The Regional Industrial Development Corporation, or RIDC, owns the site’s old mill building, Mill 19. RIDC’s Senior Vice President for Development Tim White said RIDC is negotiating a lease with the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute, or ARM, to be Mill 19’s first tenant.

Cliff Owen / AP

 

It’s been less than a week since U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) announced he’s resigning from Congress, and the field for a special election to fill his seat is already highly contested. Murphy was forced to resign amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which the anti-abortion lawmaker allegedly urged his mistress to get an abortion.

Mel Evans / AP

 State Treasurer Joe Torsella has decided to authorize a five-day, $700 million loan to keep Pennsylvania from missing Medicaid payments while its general fund runs low.

The move is politically fraught.

For two months, Torsella, a Democrat, refused to lend money until the legislature passed a plan that would balance the state's finances.

Now, Governor Tom Wolf is taking unilateral steps to try and bring the three-months-late budget in line. But critics of Torsella and Wolf say not enough has actually changed to justify the shift in position.

Provided photo from Rosana Guernica

More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many residents of the island are still struggling to gain access to clean drinking water, electricity and lifesaving medicines.

Jonathan Alvarsson / flickr

Pennsylvania's auditor general says a survey of nearly 1,000 school districts and municipalities finds that most do not employ a cyber security professional or consult with one.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania Treasury is extending a five-day, $700 million credit line to tide over the state government's deficit-ridden finances.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Technology alone won’t prepare people to build careers or pursue education in a rapidly changing economy.

That was the message from Google executives and state and local officials who gathered at the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters Thursday to announce new online tools and more than $1 billion in funding for nonprofits that seek to close gaps in education and the labor market nationwide.

Lawsuits Around Climate Change Are On The Rise

Oct 12, 2017
Matt Wade / flickr

 

This week the Environmental Protection Agency announced it’s repealing the Clean Power Plan. That’s the Obama era rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants in order to fight climate change. The Clean Power Plan never took effect because more than two dozen states sued, arguing the EPA overstepped its legal authority. The Supreme Court had been looking into those claims.

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