Mike Turzai

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr


When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf brings his message on combating the opioid epidemic to a joint session of the state legislature Wednesday, he will be speaking to a group that for the most part is already aware of the issue.

“They’re all fed up with this,” said State Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene, Washington) of her constituents.  “It’s a scourge and they know that we have to all stand together and try every angle we possibly can.”

Last year, more than 3,000 Pennsylvanians died of an opioid overdose including 424 in Allegheny County.

Matt Rourke / AP


Last June, nearly 200 members of the state House of Representatives and Gov. Tom Wolf pushed for a special legislative session to address the opioid crisis that has killed more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians in the past two years.

House Speaker Mike Turzai stood inside the Capitol rotunda just a few months ago.

"We will be asking the Governor to give this heightened attention by calling the General Assembly into special session," he said.

 Liquor Reforms
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A Wegmans supermarket in Cumberland County has become the first such store in the state to sell wine. And the inaugural bottle was purchased by none other than Governor Tom Wolf.

Wolf was joined by state House Speaker Mike Turzai, as well as members of the Liquor Control Board and other lawmakers.

Turzai played a significant role in supporting the state’s liquor expansion, which went into effect early last month.

He says the change was a long time coming — it’s been commonly called the commonwealth's biggest liquor reform since prohibition. 

Nonbelievers Sue Over Pennsylvania House's Opening Prayers

Aug 25, 2016
Ken Marshall / Flickr

A group of people who don't believe in God are challenging the way prayers are handled before sessions of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Harrisburg federal court says nonbelievers are treated like a disfavored minority who can be discriminated against, and that House officials denied their requests to make an opening invocation.

Five people and three organizations are suing House Speaker Mike Turzai, the parliamentarian and five lawmakers.

Matt Rourke / AP


A grocery store in Pennsylvania has become the first since Prohibition to sell wine in the state.

A Giant Eagle store in Robinson Township will sell wine beginning Friday. Only state-owned liquor stores had been allowed to sell wine since the nationwide constitutional ban on alcohol that lasted from 1920 to 1933.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports store officials and Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai plan a ceremonial Champagne toast to mark the occasion.

After Nine Months, Budget Battles Come To An End

Mar 24, 2016
Chris Knight / AP Images

Nearly nine months into the fiscal year, Pennsylvania's budget impasse will end this week. Governor Wolf has said he will allow a roughly six billion dollar supplemental funding plan to become law, but without his signature. "I cannot in good conscience attach my name to a budget that simply doesn't add up," said the Governor who insists the budget is unbalanced, exacerbating a nearly two billion dollar structural deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1. We'll talk with Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai about the governor's decision and the end of the 2015-2016 budget impasse.

Top Aide Leaving Wolf Administration

Feb 19, 2016
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

John Hanger, a top policy adviser and rhetorical brawler for Governor Tom Wolf, is stepping down from his post, the administration announced Friday.

Hanger said he’s leaving the governor’s office to spend more time with his family in Massachusetts, where his wife has worked since 2010. Keeping two homes and a demanding job, he said, have worn on him.

“My back is giving out,” said Hanger. “I’m not the kind of person, frankly, that can throttle back very well.”

PA Governor Says 'It’s Time To Stop Negotiating'

Dec 15, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf and conservative House Republicans are clashing over a state budget now five and a half months late.

The House’s speaker, Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is demanding changes to a budget proposal passed by the Senate a week ago. His caucus says the $30.8 billion plan spends far too much money.

But Wolf said he won’t stray from the Senate’s proposal, the result of a tentative deal reached before Thanksgiving.

“It’s time to stop negotiating,” Wolf said. “Let’s get a budget. I want a budget.”

The top House Republican says he'll try to override the governor's budget veto if negotiations don't starting yielding consensus.

"We have to look at overriding if we're not going to have a substantive discussion," said House Speaker Mike Turzai, during his appearance at the Harrisburg Press Club luncheon on Monday.

Turzai said an override should be the "goal" of the GOP-controlled Legislature, though he's not sure if such a move would have the votes to pass.

AP Photo/Chris Knight

The war of rhetoric has begun in earnest in Harrisburg over the state budget. This week, the Republican controlled House and Senate approved a balanced $30 billion budget that was quickly vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday.

Wolf, who is a Democrat, said the budget is based on gimmicks and lacks fiscal integrity.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania legislators are again trying to reduce the size of the state House of Representatives and Senate, with a pair of bills that would be the first steps toward amending the state constitution.

House Bill 153 proposed to reduce the House of Representatives from 203 members to 153, while House Bill 384 would shrink the Senate from 50 to 37 seats.

JMR_Photography / flickr

A proposal to sell off most of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor system and its wholesale distribution network moved ahead with a vote on the Legislature on Monday, although its prospects to become law remain uncertain.

The state House Liquor Control Committee voted 15-to-10 to advance a Republican-backed proposal that was very similar to a bill that passed the House but stalled in Senate during the last legislative session.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly will go back into session Jan. 20 with new leadership at the helm. But much of the committee leadership is from outside of the Pittsburgh area. Of the 23 House committees, only two Republicans from the southwestern corner of the state are committee chairs.

“Committee chairs are very important positions,” said House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny). “It is driven by seniority. The chairs in both parties are the most senior folks.”

Republicans in Harrisburg are still floating the idea of trying to take advantage of a quirk in the state constitution that separates the swearing in of the Legislature and the governor by more than two weeks. 

Shakeup In PA Senate GOP Leadership

Nov 12, 2014

State Senate Republicans have a new majority leader for the first time in eight years.

Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) will lead the 30-member caucus for the next two-year legislative session along with Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, who was re-elected to his post Wednesday.

Corman ousted Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-CHester), who had been criticized for not advancing conservative policies, and who many say has clashed with Scarnati.

A once popular issue is now falling into the background, especially in the upcoming gubernatorial general election: the privatization of liquor.

Back in January of 2013, Governor Tom Corbett proposed changing Pennsylvania’s liquor laws and joining the already “48 other states,” whose sale and control of wine and spirits rests in the hands of the private market. Utah is the only other state with controls similar to Pennsylvcania's.

The largest retail state liquor store in Pennsylvania opened Thursday – but not everyone is excited.

The expanded store, located on Penn Circle South in East Liberty, is a remodeled and refurbished version of the previous Fine Wines & Good Spirits Store.

At 17,674 square feet, it’s 35 percent larger than its predecessor.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) aimed to make the store environmentally responsible by using LED lighting and offering to sell reusable shopping bags made from 60 percent recycled materials.

Small Games to Expand to Bars in PA

Nov 27, 2013

Supporters of compromise legislation that expands small games of chance in Pennsylvania believe everyone is a winner, including the state’s coffers.

Gov. Tom Corbett Wednesday signed legislation that eases reporting requirements by private clubs — such as Elks and Moose Lodges, VFWs, American Legion Halls and fire departments — but now permits taverns to operate small games of chance including raffles and pull-tabs.

With a unanimous vote, lawmakers in Harrisburg have taken the unusual step of lowering the state’s ability to borrow money.  The House and Senate approved a bill this week that reduces Pennsylvania’s debt ceiling from $4.05 billion to $3.45 billion. 

“Under Governor Rendell the debt limit was increased five times and we felt we needed to reduce our debt service payments and reduce our overall debt,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny). 

The leader of the state House Republicans plans to seek a floor vote on a transportation funding proposal passed by the Senate last May.

Majority Leader Mike Turzai doesn't support the $2.5 billion proposal, but he notes that since Democrats are clamoring for it and the governor has noted his support for it, the measure should be brought to a vote.

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 Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to privatize the state’s liquor stores is taking shape in the form of legislation.  A plan was introduced in Harrisburg Tuesday that if nothing else will begin another round of debate.