Politics

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

Divided America: Diverse Millennials Are No Voting Monolith

Aug 23, 2016
Brennan Linsley / AP

 

The oldest millennials — nearing 20 when airplanes slammed into New York City's Twin Towers — are old enough to remember the relative economic prosperity of the 1990s, and when a different Clinton was running for president. 

AP

Pennsylvania has a long history as an important swing state in presidential elections. But over the last decade, approximately, political shifts have kept the state swinging left again and again—Republicans haven’t won Pennsylvania since 1988.

Nevertheless, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting hard for Keystone State votes this year.

According to Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania has been like “fool’s gold” for Republicans in recent years: tantalizing, but just out of reach.

Clinton, Trump Battle In The Field

Aug 18, 2016
Bastiaan Slabbers / NewsWorks

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a voter registration rally Tuesday, packing several hundred supporters into the gym at West Philadelphia High School.

Looking ahead 85 days, Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are beginning to focus on the field effort they hope will help them win Pennsylvania on Nov. 8.

Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool

With Kathleen Kane stepping down as state attorney general after her felony conviction, the focus is now turning to how to restore public confidence in the scandal-ridden office.

Kane’s former first deputy Bruce Castor is taking over the AG duties for the time-being.

He said his first priority is to move the office forward.

“It’s what I’ve been trying to address since I got here, and that’s restore confidence in the public in the work that the Office of the Attorney General does,” Castor said.

Misty Johnson / Flickr

Pennsylvania plans to use a $250,000 federal grant to spend more than a year studying options for paid family leave programs.

The grant comes from money the federal Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau awarded to several states and cities to look into how paid family leave impacts workers and businesses.

Department of Labor and Industry Secretary, Kathy Manderino, said the state doesn’t yet have concrete plans for what it will do with the data. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s credit rating has improved, though only slightly, with Moody’s Investor Service upgrading the commonwealth’s financial outlook from negative to stable.

Since 2014, Moody’s rating of Pennsylvania’s credit has been a relatively mediocre AA3.

Dan Seymour, Moody’s lead analyst for Pennsylvania, said that’s relatively low for a state.

Hillary Clinton's recent surge in the polls is being fueled in part by a demographic that President Obama lost handily four years ago — white, college-educated voters.

"In over a half-century, no Democratic presidential candidate has carried white voters with a college degree," said Michelle Diggles, a senior political analyst with the center-left think tank Third Way, who described the split between the white working class and whites with a college degree as "the most underreported story of this year."

Polls show that the idea of building a wall across the southern border remains unpopular with the general public and especially in the U.S. borderlands.

But not everyone living near the international divide opposes a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. Donald Trump has a small, zealous following along the southern frontier.

Art Gentile / Bucks County Courier Times via AP, Pool

  A political consultant for Attorney General Kathleen Kane says her security agents took him to a parking garage, seized his phone, wallet and keys and searched him for a recording device before he had lunch with Kane at a luxury hotel.

Consultant Josh Morrow is testifying Thursday at Kane's perjury and obstruction trial. The first-term Democrat is accused of leaking grand jury files to the press to embarrass a rival.

Matt Rourke / AP

Donald Trump’s poll numbers are down in Pennsylvania—he currently trails opponent Hillary Clinton by nearly nine points in a recent state average.

But that’s not just bad news for Trump.

In election years, down-ballot races are always affected by the presidential contest. This year’s Senate contest between Democrat Katie McGinty and Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is no exception.

Wes Leckrone, who teaches political science at Widener University, said he is predicting Trump won’t win Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to save $150 million in state money by this fiscal year has exceeded its goal, netting a total of $156 million in efficiencies.

Now the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency has a new, more ambitious plan for the next three years. GO-TIME is aiming to increase those efficiencies to $500 million by fiscal year 2020.

GO-TIME Director Sharon Ward said much of the money saved will come from 154 programs that were already part of the initial initiative.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

When the state budget passed earlier this month, a lot attention focused on whether there was enough revenue to pay for it.

But one part was largely overlooked—the more than $100 million it included in tax credits.

They are basically a tax refund given to certain taxpayers chosen by the state.

Marc Stier, director of the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the allocation is significant: the industries and companies that receive the breaks are the ones the state’s trying to bolster.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Hillary Clinton's top surrogates are taking aim at rival Donald Trump for criticizing the bereaved mother of a Muslim Army captain, a comment that sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine expressed shock that the GOP nominee would attack Ghazala Khan for not speaking during her husband's address to the Democratic convention.

Barbara Hafer, Former PA Treasurer, Indicted

Jul 22, 2016
Paul Vathis / AP

  Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Barbara Hafer was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury.

This makes her the third state treasurer to face federal charges in three decades.

Hafer is accused on two counts of making false statements to FBI and IRS agents during a corruption investigation in May.

She was allegedly concealing $500,000 in consulting fees paid to her by companies that did business with the Treasury Department while Hafer was in office. 

Tobacco Opponents Tout Cigarette Tax Benefits

Jul 11, 2016
fried dough / flickr

Anti-tobacco advocates from the American Cancer Society are calling on state lawmakers to levy an increased cigarette tax as part of the 2017 budget.

Medill DC / Flickr

Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator watched his anti-sanctuary city legislation come up short on Wednesday.

Republican Pat Toomey’s proposal is seen by some as largely a byproduct of running for office in an election year dominated by partisan issues. 

The measure would have cut off certain federal funding to cities, like Philadelphia, where jails and police don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

In the past, Toomey was best known for his fiscal conservatism.

Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

Jun 30, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

Trump Takes On Trade Deals In Pennsylvania Speech

Jun 28, 2016
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Republican Donald Trump took aim at U.S. free trade deals in a speech delivered in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday that painted his likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as a champion of the kind of globalization that has pushed manufacturing jobs overseas.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  After a nine-month-long standoff over last year’s state budget, Pennsylvania lawmakers seem committed to getting a verdict out quickly this year. But there is still little information from the Capitol on what exactly the budget contains, and advocates from across the commonwealth are concerned the speed will come at the expense of quality.

Ralliers with the campaign Pennsylvania’s Choice congregated in the Capitol rotunda Monday to push for more spending in education, human services, and the environment.

pahouse.gov

The mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month spurred the national discussion on gun control yet again.

U.S. Senate Democrats led a successful filibuster and in Allegheny County, two of the nine state representatives are pushing legislation on the issue, Democrats Jake Wheatly and Ed Gainey.

Bill Maher / Facebook

Bill Maher, who has been hosting “Real Time with Bill Maher" for 13 years on HBO, joins us by phone. Maher started his career as a standup comedian and still performs at least fifty dates a year. He’ll be in Pittsburgh on Friday, July 8 at Heinz Hall. We'll ask him about politics, religion and all of the things people aren't supposed to discuss.  

Michael Lopreste imagines it would be easier if he had the sort of job that allowed him to simply walk away from a co-worker's political diatribe. But as sales manager of a high-end furniture chain, he often can't afford to.

"Being in sales, we're kind of this captive audience," Lopreste says. "You know, you want to make the client feel at ease, you want to make them feel important, you want to be able to have a good rapport with them. And a lot of times that manifests itself by being able to mirror back what they're saying, or perfecting the nod and smile."

Governor Wolf Calls For Reimagining Of Pennsylvania Cities

May 16, 2016
Keystone Crossroads

How does a man who has spent his life in a town of fewer than 1,400 people become a big fan of cities? Well, he becomes a businessman — and then the governor.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Well, of course. But it's been a long time.

Pennsylvania has become a fairly solid blue state since then-candidate George H. W. Bush won the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, but that didn’t stop GOP hopeful Donald Trump from winning a substantial number of votes on Tuesday.

Trump, Clinton Take Presidential Primary In Pennsylvania

Apr 26, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

New York businessman Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, pulling in support from a majority of men and women, high-income and low-income earners and voters from cities, suburbs and rural areas.

Hillary Clinton defeated rival Bernie Sanders, taking another step in her march to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Republican John Kasich became the latest presidential candidate to make a stop in the Steel City with a quick appearance in Market Square on Tuesday.

Court Upholds Total Population Count In Electoral Districts

Apr 4, 2016
supremecourt.gov

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can count everyone, not just eligible voters, in deciding how to draw electoral districts.

The justices turned back a challenge from Texas voters that could have dramatically altered political district boundaries and disproportionately affected the nation's growing Latino population.

Attorney General Candidates Run On Reform

Apr 1, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state has an entire agency dedicated, at least in part, to the men and women who have served in the military.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs boasts 22,000 military and civilian personnel. It manages veterans homes and administers a variety of veteran benefits and outreach initiatives.

But for Joe Peters, Republican candidate for state attorney general, “it’s simply not enough.”

Wolf’s Budget Finale Leaves Some Loose Ends

Mar 23, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

 

The state spending stalemate is ending, but lawmakers could face some unfinished budget business.

While Governor Tom Wolf will let the rest of a state budget take effect, he’s vetoing companion legislation known as the fiscal code.

The fiscal code is often referred to as the budget’s instruction manual. Wolf’s office said this one had directions the governor didn’t appreciate – like wiping out new gas drilling regulations and authorizing borrowing to reimburse school construction costs (the governor said the debt service will be too expensive at this point).  

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