Politics

evans.house.gov

Four out of Pennsylvania’s five Democratic congressmen have declared they’re sitting out President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

They join a growing contingent of more than 50 Democrats opting out of Trump’s ceremony.

One after another this week, Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans and Bob Brady of Philadelphia, and Mike Doyle of Pittsburgh variously expressed opposition to Trump’s rhetoric and policies, and support for Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.

Lewis prominently tangled with Trump over his own inauguration boycott.

Chris Knight / AP

The three top state row officers—all Democrats—have taken their oaths of office in separate ceremonies.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is beginning his second term, while Treasurer Joe Torsella and Attorney General Josh Shapiro are new to their respective offices.

Thanks in large part to the last elected Attorney General—Kathleen Kane, who has been convicted of perjury and obstruction—Shapiro’s election to the office has had the highest profile.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The state House has passed a resolution that makes significant changes to its ethics rules.

Scott Petri, a Bucks County Republican and former chair of the Ethics Committee, said the updates have been in the works for the past two years and provide some very necessary clarification. 

He also said it’s conceivable the new rules could have prevented a recent debacle surrounding Democratic Representative Leslie Acosta.

She secretly pleaded guilty to embezzlement in March, kept her seat and then finally resigned on Tuesday after being reelected.

Matt Rourke / flickr

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says her nine-count perjury and obstruction conviction should be overturned because of trial errors and overlapping charges.

Kane has been sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail but remains free while she appeals the August conviction.

Her lawyer in a filing Tuesday challenges the use of a special prosecutor to investigate the leak of grand jury material. The jury found that Kane orchestrated the leak to embarrass a rival.

Katie Meyer / WITF

New members have officially been sworn into the Pennsylvania legislature.

The first day of the new session saw further entrenchment of Harrisburg’s partisan divide. Republicans shored up their majorities in the House and Senate, where they’ve often clashed with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

Now, lawmakers are turning their attention to legislative priorities in the new session.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Though Republicans boosted their stronghold in the state legislature as they were sworn into office Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he's used to working in a bi-partisan manner. 

Republicans now have a veto proof majority in the Senate, 34-16, and increased their margin to 39 seats in the House, 121-82.

Wolf said he doesn’t believe the stronger GOP grip on the legislature will affect his upcoming budget, nor has it forced him to adjust his priorities.

Lawmakers Begin New Session With Old Leaders Again At Helm

Jan 3, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are back in session with leadership teams largely unchanged from the two-year session that concluded in November.

The oath of office was administered Tuesday for members in both chambers, including 22 new representatives and six freshmen senators.

Republicans are again in firm majority control of both chambers, 121 to 82 in the House and 34 to 16 in the Senate.

Republican Rep. Mike Turzai was re-elected House speaker, while Republican Sen. Joe Scarnati is again the Senate's president pro tempore.

Matt Rourke / AP

The 2017 legislative session has yet to begin, but some lawmakers are already making plans for the new year, and casino-related laws are among those at the top of the list.

A closed-door meeting on Jan. 3 has been planned between lawmakers and representatives from all of the state’s 12 casinos.

When it was passed this summer, the state’s operating budget included $100 million in new gambling revenue, but no bill was ever passed to provide the money.

Demonstrators Greet Pennsylvania Electors At Capitol

Dec 19, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

More than 200 demonstrators are on the steps of Pennsylvania's Capitol to greet members of the state's 58th Electoral College, with the faint hope that they'll persuade them not to vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

The demonstrators were waving signs and chanting in 25-degree weather Monday morning as delegates began arriving at the state Capitol to cast the state's electoral votes for president. Monday's ceremony starts at noon in the state House of Representatives' chamber.

Gov. Wolf Eliminating 'Thousands' Of Unfilled State Jobs

Dec 16, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says he's eliminating thousands of unfilled positions in state government as the state faces a large budget deficit.

The Wolf administration told cabinet agencies in a Friday memo obtained by The Associated Press that it is effectively limiting the size of the state workforce to the number of positions now filled.

Wolf's press secretary, Jeff Sheridan, says the decision will affect thousands of positions. But he says he doesn't have a precise number or know how much money will be saved.

GOP Eyes Big State Government Changes In Lean Budget Year

Dec 14, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State officials warned Wednesday Pennsylvania faces a projected $600 million shortfall for its current budget year, while one of the Legislature's top Republicans suggested sweeping structural changes to state government may be needed to solve the latest fiscal jam.

The projected shortfall in the state government's $31.5 billion budget is very bad fiscal news for budget makers who have struggled to address a persistent post-recession deficit that has damaged the state's credit rating.

Gerry Broome / AP

 

As the Green Party pushes for election recounts in key states, leaders of Pennsylvania's Republican Party have expressed concerns the delays could ultimately hold up President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

But, those fears now appear to be eased — a lawyer for the state GOP has said he's confident Pennsylvania's results will be validated on time.

States are federally required to settle controversies surrounding the appointment of their electors on Dec. 13. Otherwise, their electoral votes may not be deemed valid by Congress.

Brad Larrison / for NewsWorks

 

A Philadelphia judge has refused the request of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein to do a digital audit of a small fraction of the city's voting machines.

It's the latest setback for Stein's recount effort in Pennsylvania.

Stein's gotten nowhere trying to get a statewide recount of the presidential vote aside from a few instances where individual voters petitioned for recounts in their home precincts. That happened for about 4 percent of Philadelphia's polling places,

Gerry Broome / AP

President-elect Donald Trump has toured the country, celebrating his victory. NPR transcribed and fact-checked his speech in North Carolina Tuesday. 

Loading...

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's governor is cleaning up dozens of what he calls outdated and unneeded executive orders that he inherited from seven previous governors.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced he was rescinding 46 of them, some that were established about three decades ago. Six were signed in the past decade.

Wolf says many of them involve entities that no longer exist.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Green Party supporters were in Harrisburg on Monday to vocally back Jill Stein’s quest for a presidential vote recount in the commonwealth.

Stein, the Green Party candidate, has now filed suit in both federal and Philadelphia city courts.

David Amsler / Flickr

Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner is filing a Right-to-Know request over the layoffs of several hundred state employees.

The York County lawmaker is being blamed by Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and union leaders for being a major cause of the layoffs.

But Wagner contends that Wolf is at fault.

At the end of the 2016 legislative session last month, the GOP-led Senate decided not to vote on a funding bill for the state’s unemployment compensation program.

Green Party Asks U.S. Court To Order Pennsylvania Recount

Dec 5, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

 

Calling Pennsylvania's election system "a national disgrace," Green Party-backed lawyers asked a federal judge on Monday to order a recount of the state's Nov. 8 presidential election result, won by Republican Donald Trump.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Election officials in Philadelphia will conduct a recount Friday of the presidential vote in 75 of the city's 1,686 precincts, in response to petitions filed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

But at a hearing Thursday morning, the city's election board turned down the Stein campaign's request to open up voting machines and look for digital evidence of hacking.

Philadelphia is one of several Pennsylvania counties where partial recounts are happening, the result of precinct-level recount petitions from several hundred voters recruited by the Stein campaign.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

 

Planned Parenthood says it added more than 800 volunteers in Pennsylvania since Donald Trump won the presidential election three weeks ago.

The organization says it usually gets about 20 to 25 new volunteers in a month.

"The outpouring of support that we've seen over the last two weeks is like nothing I have seen in my 12-and-a-half years with Planned Parenthood. It is unprecedented," said Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Executive Director Sari Stevens.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a yearlong review of more than 6 million emails sent in and out of the state Attorney General’s office, interim AG Bruce Beemer said Tuesday that there’s no evidence any of the emails would have impacted the fairness of the justice system.

“There is no evidence that prosecutors engaged in improper communication or contact with judges in this commonwealth that have affected the administration of justice or the outcome of cases,” he said.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives held leadership elections Tuesday in preparation for the impending end of the legislative session. Republican leaders new and old said they're looking forward to having their largest majority in decades next session.

Most of the major changes in the House's majority GOP leadership are due to retirements—the chamber's appropriations chair William Adolf, of Delaware County, is stepping down, as is Susquehanna County Caucus Chair Sandra Major.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

Theresa Cygrymus looked around the hall at Prince of Peace Parish, a Catholic Church on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and shook her head.

“It’s already nine o’clock, usually we have stuff cooking already," she said. 

Cygrymus knows the drill. At 78, she’s been volunteering for the church all her life. On a Saturday in late October, Cygrymus and a church group called The Christian Mothers were preparing to churn out hundreds of dozens of pierogis to sell. All the money they make supports the church and its outreach.

Paul Guggenheimer / 90.5 WESA

The results of last week’s election left many political leaders stunned and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was no exception. Not only was Fitzgerald disappointed to see Hillary Clinton lose after strongly supporting her campaign, he was surprised to see Pennsylvania go into the win column for a Republican for the first time since 1988.

Googlemaps

Two York County School of Technology High School students face disciplinary action after they carried a Donald Trump campaign sign while “white power” was chanted as they walked through the school’s halls Wednesday. 

Renie Mezzanotti, the school's communications and outreach coordinator, said the incident happened while students were walking into the school at the beginning of the day and administrators were quick to squash the issue.

Trump Clinches Presidency In Major Upset

Nov 9, 2016
Charles Krupa / AP

 

President-elect Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton congratulated him on his victory.

Shortly before clinching the election, the Republican scored an important victory in the presidential battleground of Pennsylvania, capturing a state critical to Democrats' White House hopes.

Matt Slocum / AP

 

 

Democrat Josh Shapiro became Pennsylvania's next Attorney General in a close win over Republican opponent John Rafferty.

 

Shapiro, of Abington, is the chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and was a member of the State House from 2005-12. Rafferty, of Lower Providence, spent three years as a deputy attorney general from 1988-91 and has served in the state Senate for 16 years.

 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Republican Sen. Keith Rothfus of Sewickley won Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District, defeating Democrat Erin McClelland of Harrison.

Rothfus, the incumbent, focused much of his campaign on growing the economy and helping veterans. The two-term congressman said he would fight for a simpler tax code and few intrusions from the federal government into the operations of businesses.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey says he has voted for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, revealing his choice after saying for months that he hadn't been persuaded.

Toomey said after voting Tuesday night near his Allentown-area home that it was a tough call for him.

Translation Help At The Polls: What's Required And How It Works

Nov 8, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

There are requirements at polling places, but help doesn't reach everyone who needs it.

Elections have been hectic for Cesar Liriano for most of the nine years he's lived in the city of Lebanon. Presidential elections are craziest, but he's busy during the lower-turnout local and gubernatorials, too.

"Normally, I get up at 5 o'clock every day, doesn't matter elections or not," Liriano says. "I go down as soon to the polls as soon as they open, I go and vote with my wife, and then I get prepared to be running from one poll to the other."

Pages