Jim Ferlo

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker made it public that he's gay while at a news conference with other Democrats to urge passage of legislation that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's hate crime law.

Tuesday's announcement by Allegheny County Sen. Jim Ferlo makes him the first sitting Pennsylvania state senator who is openly gay, and the third state lawmaker.

Ferlo isn't running again, and he'll leave the Senate on Nov. 30 after 12 years. Ferlo also notes that he's never denied being gay.

“Pop-up gardens” are stretching the intent of laws that regulate liquor catering permits, say some PA lawmakers.

Liquor license holders that cater to weddings, company celebrations, non-profit fundraisers, and other events rely on off-premise permits to serve alcohol at various locations. However, some Philadelphia liquor-license holders are taking advantage of these permits to set up semi-permanent bars dubbed “pop-up gardens” that sell liquor ten hours a day, seven days a week.

Special series: This week we're exploring legislative action taken recently in Harrisburg on important bills that were overshadowed by the passage of the state budget.

For the first time bill to legalize medical marijuana has made it out of committee, and some state Senate members are confident that they can get it passed soon.

Ferlo Calls for Fracking Moratorium in PA

Sep 18, 2013

When lawmakers return to Harrisburg next week they will be faced with a new proposal to put a moratorium on new permits for hydraulic fracturing. 

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) announced that he is introducing legislation during a news conference at the Allegheny County Courthouse Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1100 would also create a commission to analyze the agricultural, economic, environmental and social effects of Marcellus Shale drilling.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) doesn’t believe federal investigators will find anything substantial from documents they’ve subpoenaed last week from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Ferlo currently sits on the board of the URA.

The subpoena comes after board chairman Yarone Zober, and the mayor’s chief of staff, testified Tuesday before a federal grand jury believed to be investigating whether Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is involved in funding irregularities.

Ferlo said he’s not sure what investigators are looking to find.

Nearly 20,000 people can pack the Consol Energy Center for events today, but more than 60 years ago, thousands jammed the Hunt Armory in Shadyside to listen to President Harry Truman.

“There was so many events, this was basically the public large gathering place for so many historic events and recreational and cultural events with the city, not unlike the Syria Mosque and the arena itself,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny County).

What's Next for Pennsylvania Transportation?

Jun 24, 2013

A version of the Pennsylvania transportation funding bill passed last week is expected to be voted on in the State House of Representatives Tuesday.

But State Senator Jim Ferlo is concerned that the bill does not allocate enough money for infrastructure maintenance. He's also opposed to a provision that would allow partial privatization of select bus lines. State Senator Jim Ferlo talks about why he voted against the funding bill and legislation that would change the structure of the Port Authority of Allegheny County Transit board.

State Senate GOP leaders have presented a counter-offer to the state House's liquor privatization plan, though they admit they don't yet have the votes to pass it out of their chamber.

Tempers flared at the third and final state Senate hearing focused on the governor's liquor privatization proposal and related plans to change the way alcohol is bought and sold in Pennsylvania.

By the end, the committee's chairman was barely closer to nailing down the details of a proposal, saying a final plan should allow Pennsylvanians to buy alcohol in "more places," while phasing out the state wine and spirits stores, and without necessarily getting rid of the state-owned wholesale system.

At a Harrisburg rally yesterday, there were petitions signed by 100,000 people for Gov. Tom Corbett, and State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) announced he will introduce legislation calling for a temporary moratorium on any new Marcellus Shale gas drilling.  

Ferlo said with 10,000 wells operating, it's time to take a step back because evidence has grown of water contamination and air pollution, as well as adverse impacts on personal health property values and the state’s billion-dollar industries: agriculture and tourism. 

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Citing his long record of public service, a local state senator and four labor unions endorsed former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner for the Pittsburgh mayoral race.

On the steps of the City-County Building on Grant Street Wednesday morning, State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) announced his support for Wagner. Ferlo had filed nominating papers for the mayoral race but withdrew less than a week later.

Emily Farah / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced Wednesday the city will embark in a legal battle against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's nonprofit status.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court developed a nonprofit test as a result of the case Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth. An organization must act within the following five "HUP" test parameters in order to be considered a purely public charity:

1. Advances a charitable purpose
2. Donates or renders gratuitously a substantial portion of its services

Could Pennsylvania Become a Single Payer State?

Mar 19, 2013

State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) is once again trying to convert Pennsylvania’s healthcare system to a single payer one. Ferlo said he will reintroduce legislation that failed to come up for a vote in 2009.

Titled the Pennsylvania Family and Business Healthcare Security Act of 2013, the legislation was drawn up with the help of the non-profit single payer advocacy group Healthcare 4 All PA.

Liquor Sales in PA: Modernize or Privatize?

Mar 17, 2013
William Ward / Flickr

Many policy makers in the commonwealth are looking for ways to change the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. But not all agree on what changes need to be made. State Senator Jim Ferlo joins us to explain how he thinks the PLCB should be modernized.  And Matthew Brouillette, President and CEO of the public policy group, the Commonwealth Foundation explains his group's privatization approach, which the Corbett administration is in favor of. 

Pennsylvania state Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) has announced that he is withdrawing from the race for Pittsburgh mayor.

Ferlo's decision comes three days after he filed his nominating petitions to get on the May 21 Democratic primary.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Ferlo thanked supporters and acknowledged the challenge a mayoral run presented.

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

Hearings Begin on PA's $28.48B Budget

Feb 19, 2013

Two weeks after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett unveiled his $28.4 billion dollar budget proposal, state lawmakers are settling in for what could be a fight. Three weeks of House and Senate budget hearings began Tuesday in Harrisburg. 

Throughout the hearings, agency secretaries sit before the two chambers' appropriations committees to answer questions about their budgets.

Senator Jim Ferlo (D- Allegheny County) quickly set the tone for the hearings in his questioning of PA Budget Secretary Charles Zogby.