Katie Meyer

Carolyn Kaster / AP, file

Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative, Thomas Caltagirone, has confirmed he’s running for a 22nd term.

The news comes as he faces backlash for agreeing to settle a sexual harassment case against him for almost a quarter-million taxpayer dollars.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The United States Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed.

Matt Rourke / AP

One of Governor Tom Wolf's potential gubernatorial rivals is taking issue with a 90-day emergency declaration he issued in response to mounting opioid overdose deaths.

Matt Rourke / AP

House Republican Leader Dave Reed, who has represented part of Indiana County for 15 years, is considering running for Congress.

Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers on the Agriculture Committee took advantage of the Farm Show’s presence in Harrisburg this week, and convened in a back room of the complex to discuss their top priorities with Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.  

One of their primary focuses didn’t have to do with farming, exactly; rather, with making sure rural communities aren’t held back by bad internet access.

In cities and suburbs, high speed broadband internet is typically a given.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As new details emerge on at least $1.5 million Pennsylvania has spent to settle sexual harassment cases over the last eight years, calls are increasing for the state to change its policies.

But a number of lawmaker are struggling to find solutions that will work for every situation.

The latest report—from the Associated Press—concerns a $900,000 sexual harassment settlement the state paid in a 2016 case that involved a Department of Revenue administrator.

Other recent stories have revealed similar settlements involving elected officials.

Matt Rourke / AP

In a rare interview, former Republican Governor Tom Corbett has returned to one of the issues that dogged him late in his lone term in office—the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

Corbett told Radio PA “mistakes were made” in the handling of the situation.

In the aftermath of Corbett’s loss to Democrat Tom Wolf, it was a common theory that the Republican’s seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees had hurt him politically.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Republican Party is starting its monthlong series of meetings with candidates for governor and other top offices to decide who it will endorse next month.

It’s still anyone’s guess who the party will back, or even whether members will tap a gubernatorial candidate at all.

In the meantime, endorsements are rolling in from other organizations across the state.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture / AP

The Pennsylvania Farm Show opens this weekend and after months of planning, its centerpiece has been revealed — a sculpture made from 1,200 pounds of butter.

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.

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.”

Jennifer Peltz / AP

Pennsylvanians have started receiving identification cards to get medication through the commonwealth's new medical marijuana program.

Matt Rourke / AP

Congress has adjourned for the year without fully finishing its spending plan—holding off a government shutdown by passing a few months of stopgap funding.

It includes some money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program—something the deadlock had called into serious question.

But Pennsylvania officials say that doesn’t help much.

In the days leading up to the stopgap agreement, they had warned the program would have to end sometime early next year if federal lawmakers didn’t act.

The agreement hands down $3 billion to states.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

 On the heels of recent Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stories on alleged sexual harassment by state lawmakers, a number of officials are calling for a change.

Matt Rourke / AP

Fights over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has states trying to figure out how long their programs can hold out without getting more money.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has issued a temporary injunction that bars the Trump administration from letting health care providers deny women coverage for contraceptives.

Now, the state Attorney General says the next steps are up to the federal government.

In October, Trump rolled back an Obama Administration policy requiring employers cover birth control prescriptions for free—calling it a “substantial religious burden.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After several years of shaky finances, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration says Pennsylvania’s fiscal health is now the best it has been since the Great Recession.

In his annual mid-year briefing, Budget Secretary Randy Albright said his office is predicting a roughly $30 million surplus at the end of this fiscal year—enough to start putting some money back into the commonwealth’s long-neglected rainy-day fund.

90.5 WESA

The state Senate Education Committee is making a mid-session personnel change—switching out one Republican senator for another.

Erie County Republican Senator Dan Laughlin is officially moving from the Education Committee to the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee.

His replacement has been announced as Rich Alloway, a fellow Republican from Franklin County.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state legislature has approved a bill that would make Pennsylvania’s abortion laws among the most restrictive in the country.

But this is likely the end of the road for the measure—at least this session.

Governor Wolf will veto the bill, and its supporters don’t appear to have quite enough sway to override it.

Senate Bill 3 would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks, except in a medical emergency. The current limit is 24 weeks.

Matt Rourke / AP

This is the last scheduled session week for state lawmakers this year, and they’re working long days to try and push through several bills that are either time-sensitive, or political priorities.

A few of the measures on the agenda have been a long time coming.

A compromise bill to restore a temporary cash stream to the state unemployment compensation program has been in the works since nearly 500 workers were laid off a year ago over funding concerns.

It has passed the House, and is now on its way through the Senate.

Jim Mone / AP

A contentious proposal to let students use state money to pay for private school is getting another chance to make it onto the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 2 would create education savings accounts—a similar concept to private school vouchers—that would let students in the lowest-performing public schools use the money the state would have spent on their education for alternative school options, as well as related expenses like textbooks.

Matt Rourke / AP

 A bill to expand Pennsylvania's pension forfeiture laws is gaining traction after stalling out last legislative session.

Matt Rourke / AP

A rating agency has deemed Pennsylvania’s credit stable.

That’s an improvement from several months ago, when the commonwealth received a downgrade from a different agency in the midst of an extended budget impasse.

But it doesn’t mean the fiscal woes are over.

Even though Fitch Ratings’ has taken Pennsylvania off its Rating Watch Negative list, it still has a negative outlook. 

Fitch analyst Eric Kim said while the commonwealth has a healthy amount of fiscal flexibility, is has almost no reserves, and recent budgets have included little recurring revenue.

Matt Rourke / AP

A conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker is doubling down on comments he made suggesting a fellow lawmaker might be gay for touching him on the arm.

The incident occurred Tuesday in the House State Government Committee between chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, and minority chair Matthew Bradford, D-Montgomery.

During a discussion on a land use bill, Bradford briefly touched Metcalfe’s arm while making a point.

Julie Jacobson / AP, file

Two hundred Pennsylvania municipalities have already opted out of hosting a new miniature casino.

The option is part of a gambling expansion lawmakers passed at the end of October, which was designed to raise revenue to help fix the commonwealth’s chronically underfunded budget.

Municipalities have until January to decide whether they want to play host to a mini-casino, and more are expected to opt out this month.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has kicked forward a proposal to outlaw automatic deductions from state workers’ paychecks for union dues that contribute to political activity.

Supporters call it a “paycheck protection” bill.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

In September, a report from the state auditor general’s office declared Pennsylvania’s child welfare system “broken.”

Now, lawmakers have begun considering how to improve it. 

The first committee hearing on the report focused largely on how to keep qualified case workers on the job.

On average, those employees don’t make a huge salary. The audit showed the average entry level pay is just over $30,000 per year.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that might be why some counties see up to half of their case workers quit within in a year.

Matt Rourke / AP

A bill narrowing the window to get an abortion in Pennsylvania could be on a fast track to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk sometime soon.

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