Pennsylvania General Assembly

Government & Politics
7:54 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Municipal Police Lobbying For Radar Guns

There are only six session days left on the calendar this session for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and municipal police are lobbying for a set of bills that would allow them to use radar guns.

Senate Bill 1340 and House Bill 1272 would allow all police officers in the state to use the devices, not just state troopers, who have been using radar for more than 50 years. Neither has received a vote.

Municipal police departments have multiple options when it comes to catching speeders.

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Government & Politics
6:39 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

City, County and Law Enforcement Officials Hear Case for Keeping Crime Lab Funded

Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams (left) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald testify on the importance of the county crime lab in front of a joint legislative hearing on funding.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Crime Lab is a full lab that performs a wealth crime-related tasks, such as DNA testing and crime scene analysis, but it’s funding has been cut by the state in recent years.

If the lab continues to receive no state funding, it’s in danger of closing. On Tuesday, a joint legislative hearing heard from a list of speakers about why the lab should be a funding priority. Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams said, for starters, it’s a one-of-a-kind facility.

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Bill in PA House Would Make It Illegal for Cities to Set Minimum Wage, Require Sick Leave

It’s not uncommon for individual municipalities to set a minimum wage that is higher than the state- and federally-mandated rate. As of Jan. 1, San Franciscans are making at least $10.55 an hour, compared to the California minimum wage of $8.

Now, state representative Seth Grove (R-York) wants to make that kind of municipal legislation illegal in Pennsylvania.

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Higher Education
3:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

State Senators Unveil Legislation to Reform Penn State Board

The Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees would be decreased from 30 voting members to 23 under legislation unveiled by state Sens. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne County) and John Corman (R-Centre County).

Yudichak said, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the school is facing its greatest challenge.

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Stranger Stalking Legislation
4:34 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

'Sarah’s Amendment' Faces Vote in Harrisburg

About 60 percent of stalking victims aren't currently able to obtain a restraining order in Pennsylvania, according to numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Under current law, PA victims can only obtain one if their stalker is a relative or someone they dated.

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Communications
6:10 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Report: Phone Deregulation Bill Would Hurt Rural Broadband Access

While people continue to drop landlines in favor of cell phones, especially in urban areas, many households in rural areas still rely on landline service.

Pennsylvania House Bill 1608 would allow phone companies to stop offering landline service if at least two other companies offer services in the area. A report from the Keystone Research Center states such a move would be harmful in rural areas.

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Government & Politics
4:48 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

PA House Bill Would Require Schools to Display 'In God We Trust'

A bill that would require all public school buildings in Pennsylvania to display the national motto, “In God we trust,” passed in the House Education committee Wednesday morning.

Republican Rick Saccone, who represents parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, is the bill’s sponsor. He said the bill is meant to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. mint printing the motto on our nation’s currency.

Saccone called the tale of how the motto got onto the currency “a Pennsylvania story.”

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Environment & Energy
3:00 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Package of Marcellus Shale Bills Still Up in the Air in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania General Assembly gaveled into session this week after a long summer break, and on the agenda are items related to the use of natural gas from Marcellus Shale.

But the package of bills aimed at expanding use of the resource has some environmental groups concerned.

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Transportation
3:30 am
Fri August 30, 2013

State Lawmaker Suggests Using Shale Funds for Bridges

On the heels of PennDOT’s announcement that it is weight restricting 1,000 bridges statewide, one state lawmaker is proposing to take revenue from natural gas development and use it for bridge repairs.

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Government & Politics
2:15 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

State Lawmakers Focus on Refuse Worker Safety

Members of the Joint Senate and House Democratic Policy Committee hear testimony on the safety concerns of refuse workers. Trash and recyclable collector is one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

When people hear the term “dangerous jobs,” the top occupations that come to mind may be fireman or police officer, but one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States is that of a refuse worker.

Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, several recent articles list refuse and recyclable materials collector as the fourth most dangerous job in the country.  

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Unemployment
3:30 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Bill Redirects Money from Unemployment Tax to Unemployment Fund Administrative Services

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that is aimed at filling a hole in the unemployment compensation fund left by a cut in federal dollars.

House Bill 26 will provide the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry funding from the employee UC tax.

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Pennyslvania
3:33 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Up for Vote in PA Senate Committee

A vote is looming in a state Senate committee on legislation to potentially expand Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under the 2010 federal health care law.

“I cannot say enough about the importance for those individuals who don’t have health insurance, who are working every day, about a half a million people in Pennsylvania, how significant it could be for their lives, and for all of us,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-PA-7.)

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Cities
2:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Senate Panel Examines Futures of Cities Large and Small

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee met in Pittsburgh to examine the challenges faced by cities of all sizes in the commonwealth.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Cities throughout Pennsylvania, regardless of size, are facing similar issues such as blight, aging infrastructure and unsustainable pension systems. To learn more about the future of municipalities, the state Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee held a hearing Wednesday to better assess needs.

The first person to address the committee was Pittsburgh’s 8th District City Councilman and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Peduto. He said there are four main issues facing the city: pensions, economic development, education, and infrastructure and transportation.

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Pennyslvania
2:56 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

State Senate Hearing Focused on Changes to Voting Procedure, Registration

The state Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on changes to voting procedures and voter registration.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday to hear from the public and other elected officials on proposed changes to voting in the commonwealth. State lawmakers are considering measures that would allow for online voter registration and expand early voting.

“Also same-day voter registration, so you can just go to the poll, register to vote, and then vote on that particular day,” said Sen. Matt Smith (D-37). “No fault absentee voting would allow people to get their absentee ballot and then send it back in to their local county division of elections.”

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General Assembly
4:10 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Legislative Audit Finds More Spent, Less Stashed, and Few Recommendations Heeded

The annual audit report on the General Assembly’s internal finances shows lawmakers spent nearly $307 million last fiscal year and have continued a number of practices that auditors discourage.

Auditors are making some familiar recommendations to the General Assembly about how it manages its money. Legislative staff say 36 checkbooks are scattered throughout General Assembly offices. Auditors found they were riddled with errors, and at least one of them was used to pay an employee’s parking ticket.

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Pennsylvania General Assembly
3:49 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Bill Would Allow Municipalities to Create Stormwater Authorities

A bill approved in the Pennsylvania Senate would allow local governments to enter into stormwater authorities.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Ted Erickson (R-PA-26), said municipal leaders are looking for tools to help them respond to the rising costs of stormwater management.

“After the last round of flooding we had about a year ago, it became evident that we needed to plan on a watershed basis, which means you have to cross municipal boundaries," Erickson said. "So if you had an authority that did that, it would be extremely helpful."

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Pennsylvania General Assembly
3:30 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Bill Would Provide Paid Family Leave to New Parents in Pennsylvania

A bill to be introduced in Harrisburg would allow parents of newborn children to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

“This is a policy that’s in effect in almost the entire industrialized world and in a number of states in America as well," said sponsor Sen. Daylin Leach. "It’s a standard benefit of employment.”

The bill would only apply to companies with more than 20 employees and to employees who work more than 20 hours per week. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but that is not an option for many low-income workers.

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