News

Pablo Martinez Montsivais / AP

Congressman Bill Shuster, a southwestern Pennsylvania Republican, has announced he’s not seeking reelection after 17 years in office.

His seat now joins a lengthening list of vacancies that could help make Pennsylvania one of the most important states in November’s congressional elections.

With Shuster’s departure, four of the commonwealth’s 13 Republican-held seats stand open.

Matt Slocum / AP

The beleaguered Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is under review for the second time in less than two years.

Bobby Caina Calvan / AP Photo

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control unveiled a series of anti-smoking ads intended to shock viewers called "Tips From Former Smokers" -- they showed graphic images of former smokers and the lifelong effects the habit left on their bodies. The CDC has said the campaign increased quit attempts in the United States.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to keep more Pittsburgh college grads in the region, a state initiative is offering tax credits to startups to make wages more competitive.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum has an annual operating budget of around $5 million, and a newly created position "director of advancement" will be tasked with increasing revenue and diversifying where those dollars come from.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Bill Peduto marked the beginning of his second term as mayor of Pittsburgh at an inauguration ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland Wednesday. In a speech, he emphasized his goal to make Pittsburgh “a city for all” that encourages economic development while also preserving existing communities.

While economic growth has come with concerns about housing affordability and access to jobs and good schools, Peduto said, the city’s resiliency with the rise and fall of the steel industry shows it has the capacity to solve these problems.

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Construction On Sunoco Gas Pipeline

Jan 3, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania environmental officials ordered Sunoco on Wednesday to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline across the southern part of the state, citing a series of spills and leaks of drilling fluid and other "egregious and willful violations" of state law that have plagued the $2.5 billion project.

David Zalubowski / AP

More than 10,000 Pennsylvanians have registered so far to receive a medical marijuana card.

But they are finding out that they can’t receive medical cannabis and still be able to legally purchase a firearm. That’s because under federal law all types of marijuana, including medical cannabis, are prohibited.

Canon-McMillan School District

Computer programming might sound like an advanced skill, but at the Canon-McMillan School District south of Pittsburgh, students are beginning to learn how to code right when they start elementary school.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state judge has allowed a lawsuit over budgeting practices to proceed.

The suit alleges top elected officials have violated the Pennsylvania constitution in the last two years by passing budgets without fully funding them, and borrowing money to pay off a previous year’s debt.

Two years ago, a spending plan passed just after the June deadline, but it took lawmakers weeks to finalize how to pay for it.

The situation reoccurred last year, with the deadlock stretching four months.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawmakers won’t truly start their 2018 session until late this month. But they’re already laying out legislative agendas for the new year.

Many of the top priorities aren’t much different from last year’s.

Democrats and Republicans all named job creation among their primary goals.

House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton also said his caucus is particularly focused on raising the minimum wage.

“Pennsylvania is an outlier,” he said. “Certainly, in the northeastern part of the country, we are the only state that has not raised a minimum wage.”

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

A local nonprofit is offering free water filters to Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers, while working to educate Pittsburgh-area residents on preventing lead exposure.

Two Pennsylvania Officials Resign Amid Misconduct Complaints

Jan 2, 2018
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Two Pennsylvania government officials have resigned in recent days amid allegations by women of misconduct in the workplace.

 Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf confirmed state Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay stepped down Sunday. Senate security chief Justin Ferrante resigned Friday.

Pennlive reported Solobay quit after the paper tried to contact him for a story on a 2011 complaint that he slapped a female Senate aide on her rear-end when he was a state senator.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Glade Run Lake is frozen over right now, its 50-plus acres of water transformed into a broad, snowy plain set amid the rolling hills of Butler County.

Oddly, though, tree branches are reaching up through the frigid water and breaking the icy surface like gnarled, blackened fingers.

The trees are holdouts from when the man-made fishing lake was completely drained. In 2011, the state’s Fish and Boat Commission decided Glade Run Lake’s 56-year-old spillway was too badly deteriorated to be reliable. Fearing a flood downstream, the agency drained the lake that summer.

Most Big Public Colleges Don't Track Suicides

Jan 2, 2018
Beth J. Harpaz / AP

Most of the largest U.S. public universities do not track suicides among their students, despite making investments in prevention at a time of surging demand for mental health services.

Tabulating student suicides comes with its own set of challenges and problems. But without that data, prevention advocates say, schools have no way to measure their success and can overlook trends that could offer insight to help them save lives.

Damian Devorganes / AP

The rate of early cancer diagnosis was higher in some states that expanded Medicaid compared to other that did not.

4-Way Gubernatorial Primary Tests GOP’s Endorsement Mettle

Jan 2, 2018
Photos via AP, screengran from Laura Ellsworth for Governor

For the four Republicans who hope to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid next year, the first playoff game before the May 15 primary election will be the state party's endorsement.

That endorsement vote, scheduled for Feb. 10, could determine who stays in the primary race and who gets to brag that they won the endorsement while drawing upon the financial benefits of the party's backing.

Should the party be unable or unwilling to endorse, it would be the first time in 40 years.

Feds Employ Data-Driven Early Warning System In Opioid Fight

Jan 2, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The pain clinic tucked into the corner of a low-slung suburban strip mall was an open secret.

Frederic Bisson / Flickr

Starting this year, neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh are expected to get more surveillance cameras and gunshot detection devices, also known as ShotSpotter.

 

The city’s 2018 budget includes funding for a 30 percent expansion of an existing camera network over the next three years, and there are plans to deploy ShotSpotter over an additional 14.5 square miles.

 

Melissa Majchrzak / US Speedskating

Two Pittsburgh short track speed skaters are on the national Team USA training team, with one qualifying to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will bid farewell to two of its own Tuesday. Council member Natalia Rudiak is stepping down after deciding not to run for a third term, and Council member Dan Gilman is leaving to become chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto.

Courtesy of Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Pigeon, Piggie, Elephant and Knuffle Bunny will soon make their way to the Steel City. Popular children’s author Mo Willems is collaborating with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on a new installation called The Pigeon Comes to Pittsburgh: A Mo Willems Exhibit.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Over the course of 2017, the long-discussed development of a 28-acre parcel in the Lower Hill District moved one step closer to realization.

After months of negotiation, the Penguins organization—which holds exclusive development rights to the land—the city, Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority agreed to new development terms in December.

Just how long the site has been on its way to shovels in the ground is measured best in decades rather than years.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Once a month, kids pull up chairs in front of a wall full of cats in kennels who are waiting to be adopted. The children introduce themselves, and they begin to read.

They read stories about zoo animals and tales of heroes on long journeys in far off places. Some older kids catch the cats up on novels they’ve been reading before they launch into the book.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Loretta Kinger started going to the Jewish Community Center, or JCC, in Squirrel Hill 17 years ago. Her sister had recently died, after battling cancer for just two months, and Kinger, 85, said she didn’t know where to go.

 

That all changed at the JCC, where Kinger now has lunch nearly every day.

 

“It gives you a chance to be social with other people. You make a lot of friends. And it makes you feel like you belong someplace,” Kinger said.

Muslim Women's Association of Pittsburgh

A new retail storefront is the latest effort by the Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh to empower women and support its mission.

No Proof Congressional Map Is Unconstitutional, Judge Says

Dec 29, 2017
Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons

Democratic voters suing to invalidate the current map of Pennsylvania's congressional districts haven't proven that it violates the state constitution by unfairly favoring Republican candidates, a judge said Friday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh police officer is under investigation for using a taser on a downtown pizza shop employee allegedly as a joke in October.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show is right around the corner, and for many attendees a visit to the food court will be at the top of the agenda.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

It’s been a eventful news year in the Steel City, from hospital booms to repeated flush and boil orders to President Trump's impact on Pennsylvania.

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