Katie Meyer

Heather Ainsworth / AP

Pennsylvania is starting the lengthy process of making far-reaching expansions to its gambling industry.

Among the law’s major provisions are legalization of video gaming terminals—or VGTs—in truck stops, and licensing of 10 new miniature casinos.

Counties can opt not to allow VGTs, and municipalities can do the same for mini-casinos.

State Gaming Control Board Spokesman Doug Harbach said those moves have to happen by December 29 and 31, respectively, but they haven’t heard from anyone yet.

Matt Rourke / AP

With the state budget wrapped up, lawmakers can turn their attention to a few fast approaching deadlines--including the renewal of funding for unemployment compensation.  

Matt Rourke / AP

After a tumultuous budget process that saw state lawmakers pass a plan they couldn’t fully pay for, many are looking into changing how the system works entirely.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Tuesday’s election may be in an off-year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have statewide implications.

The highest-profile race is for a seat on the state Supreme Court, and seats are also open on the Superior and Commonwealth courts.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court leans heavily Democratic right now, with a 5 to 2 majority.

The Republican candidate, Sallie Mundy, currently holds one of those seats and is seeking a full 10-year term. She was appointed as an interim justice by Governor Tom Wolf last year.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next Tuesday, they’ll have a rare opportunity to vote to change the state constitution.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

One of the biggest parts of the budget plan that Governor Tom Wolf has now mostly signed into law is $1.5 billion worth of borrowing.

But Wolf said Monday it’s not yet set in stone where that money will come from.

The legislature’s plan called for borrowing from the Tobacco Settlement Fund—which gets yearly payments from a settlement states made with tobacco companies in the late 1990s.

But while he was waiting for lawmakers to pass it, Wolf came up with his own approach — deciding to borrow the money against future revenue from the state-run liquor industry.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf has signed the majority of the revenue plan passed by the legislature last week —four months past the deadline.

But he hasn’t signed the public school code yet, and in a briefing Monday, appeared to leave open the possibility of vetoing it.

The rest of the revenue package fills a $2.2 billion hole in the $32 billion budget.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Treasury has authorized a major $1.8 billion loan to keep Pennsylvania's general fund from running out of money.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s state House has sent a gambling expansion bill to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk — effectively finishing the budget lawmakers have labored over this entire fiscal year, four months past the due date.

The long, complex measure prompted hours of debate over the course of two days.

It significantly broadens Pennsylvania’s 13-year-old gaming industry.

Gambling in airports and over the internet will now be legal. Truck stops across the commonwealth will be able to install video gaming terminals — or VGTs — and up to 10 new miniature casinos are authorized.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After almost four months of false starts and negotiation breakdowns, the state legislature has passed most of a plan to fund Pennsylvania’s budget—almost entirely through borrowing and internal transfers.

Matt Rourke / AP

State representatives are trying to figure out how to stop voter registration glitches that have allowed over 500 non-citizens to vote in state and national elections since 2000.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law protects people on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. But it doesn’t include several other categories—like ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.

Some lawmakers have been trying to change that—but not everyone is on-board.

The commonwealth’s hate crimes law didn’t always exclude protections for sexual orientation, disabilities, or gender identity. From 2002 to 2008, it protected an expanded number of groups.

Matt Rourke / AP

The legislature is crawling closer to finishing its four-months-late state budget—with the House and Senate both saying they’re aiming to finalize a plan based mostly on borrowing this week.

“It’s been a long three months, so hopefully there’s more optimism than there was for most of the time,” House Republican Leader Dave Reed said.

“But,” he added, “we’ll wait and see.”

So far, the legislature has sent the governor its fiscal code, which implements the overall budget, and which Wolf said he still has to review.

Eric Risberg / AP

A Senate committee has moved a bill to reauthorize Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program—or CHIP.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

This week the state Senate is expected to consider a budget proposal that’s already been approved by the House, and leaders say the borrowing-heavy plan might be the only avenue to finding consensus.

But disagreements remain on a key component of the revenue package: how to expand gambling.

Many House members have long wanted to legalize remote video gaming terminals—or VGTs— in bars and taverns. They argue illegal terminals already exist, and should be regulated.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has now sent the Senate most of the revenue components necessary to finish Pennsylvania’s budget—more than three months behind schedule.

Senate leaders say they’ll make a good-faith effort to pass them, despite their flaws.

But the budget’s completion might still hinge on whether the chambers can agree on a gambling expansion.

The main component of the House proposal is a $1.5 billion in borrowing against the state’s Tobacco Settlement fund. That money would be paid back with interest over 20 years.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

State House lawmakers have moved a bill onto the floor calling for a severance tax on natural gas drilling.

It's a big step for Democrats and moderate Republicans, who have pushed the tax for years. But there's a good chance the measure will languish without a vote for the foreseeable future.

It would create a tax on the volume of gas taken from the ground, on top of an existing fee for new wells drilled.

Its sponsor, moderate Bucks County Representative Gene DiGirolamo, estimated annual revenue between $200 million and $250 million, depending on gas prices.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Some state lawmakers are trying to get restitution for what they see as bad U.S. Federal Reserve policies during the recovery of the housing market.

The ask? Around $20 billion dollars.

The state Treasury would be required to lobby the federal government for those funds under a resolution that recently passed committee in the House.

The practice at the core of the resolution is quantitative easing, or QE.

Matt Rourke / AP

House lawmakers narrowly passed part of a proposal Tuesday night to finish Pennsylvania’s overdue state budget—their first significant action since talks melted down two weeks ago.

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.

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.

Alex Brandon / AP

President Donald Trump took to the midstate Wednesday to pitch his tax plan to a cheering crowd of blue-collar workers and conservative Pennsylvania politicians.

He’s selling the proposal as one that would boost the middle class and small businesses—though many opponents say it would be a better deal for the rich. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that the Treasury is loaning money to cover the commonwealth’s short-term expenses—including upcoming payments to public schools.

That was news to Treasurer Joe Torsella, who said the loan still isn’t authorized and won’t be until Wolf provides more details on how he plans to balance the state budget.

The loan in question has been a point of political tension.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State lawmakers are grappling with the implications of Governor Tom Wolf’s unexpected decision to balance part of the state budget himself by borrowing against the liquor industry.

House and Senate members are currently trying to figure out whether Wolf’s allowed to do that. And meanwhile, the commonwealth’s short-term cash-flow issues still aren’t resolved.

House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said while most of his caucus prefers borrowing $1.2 billion against Liquor Control Board profits over tax increases, they’re still not sold on the idea.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Days after negotiations to balance Pennsylvania’s late budget collapsed completely, lawmakers, the governor, and their staffers are still trading barbs over social media—and in more formal ways, too.

Nearly 80 House Republicans have signed a petition demanding Wolf issue approval letters to businesses for tax credits that go toward scholarships. The money is past-due under state law.

Both the Republicans and Democratic Wolf administration blame the problem on budget discord.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In the midst of this week’s budget negotiation meltdown, House Republicans have managed to slide a piece of priority legislation through their chamber and on to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s desk.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The latest push to finish Pennsylvania’s late, unbalanced budget has melted down.

After several false starts, talks between House Democrats and Republicans dissolved into fights Wednesday over who’s at fault for the chamber’s inability to find consensus on a tax package.

Daveynin / Flickr

After extensive closed negotiations, a House committee moved a plan to close part of the $2.2 billion gap in Pennsylvania’s overdue budget Tuesday evening.

Mike Stewart / AP

Several state lawmakers are introducing legislation to help people deal with situations in which their personal information is compromised.

The move comes after a massive security breach at credit reporting agency Equifax affected millions of Pennsylvanians.

The breach is the largest in the country’s history.

In the Pennsylvania alone, more than 5 million people had information compromised—about three quarters of the commonwealth’s adult population.

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