Politics

Congressman Denies Misconduct Claim, Ethics Probe May Follow

Jan 22, 2018
Jacqueline Martin / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an Ethics Committee investigation Saturday after the New York Times reported that U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan used taxpayer money to settle a complaint that stemmed from his hostility toward a former aide who rejected his romantic overtures.

Ellsworth Shows Independent Streak In GOP Candidates' Forum

Jan 20, 2018
An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A little-known lawyer from Pittsburgh showed an independent streak as the four Republican candidates vying for the nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November's election stood together in their third forum Saturday night.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

One year after the inaugural Women’s March on Washington, activists across the country are getting ready to hit the streets again, including some in Pittsburgh. 

Carolyn Kaster / AP, file

Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative, Thomas Caltagirone, has confirmed he’s running for a 22nd term.

The news comes as he faces backlash for agreeing to settle a sexual harassment case against him for almost a quarter-million taxpayer dollars.

WHYY

After hearing oral arguments Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to rule quickly on a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional district boundaries.

Trump To Speak In Pittsburgh Area, But Don't Call It A Campaign Trip

Jan 18, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump is tiptoeing around the first congressional election of the new year as he heads to southwestern Pennsylvania on Thursday to hail the Republican tax cuts he signed last year.

Emma Lee / WHYY

A fourth Republican wants to run for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.

Joe Gale, a Montgomery County commissioner, announced Tuesday that he's running for the party's nomination, even though the 28-year-old won't meet the state's constitutional age threshold of 30 when the next lieutenant governor is sworn in in January 2019.

Gale couldn't serve until March 2019, when he turns 30.

Gerrymandering Case Sows Doubt In Big Year For House Races

Jan 16, 2018
Google Maps

Lots of people want to run for Congress in Pennsylvania this year, but they may not yet know which district they live in.

The prospect that the state Supreme Court could decide a high-profile gerrymandering case by ordering new boundaries for Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts, including one that has been described as looking like "Goofy kicking Donald Duck," is sowing uncertainty barely a month before candidates begin circulating petitions.

Matt Rourke / AP

State lawmakers on the Agriculture Committee took advantage of the Farm Show’s presence in Harrisburg this week, and convened in a back room of the complex to discuss their top priorities with Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.  

One of their primary focuses didn’t have to do with farming, exactly; rather, with making sure rural communities aren’t held back by bad internet access.

In cities and suburbs, high speed broadband internet is typically a given.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As new details emerge on at least $1.5 million Pennsylvania has spent to settle sexual harassment cases over the last eight years, calls are increasing for the state to change its policies.

But a number of lawmaker are struggling to find solutions that will work for every situation.

The latest report—from the Associated Press—concerns a $900,000 sexual harassment settlement the state paid in a 2016 case that involved a Department of Revenue administrator.

Other recent stories have revealed similar settlements involving elected officials.

Susan Walsh / AP

A former drug prosecutor who once ran for state attorney general is entering the field vying to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in 2019.

Joe Peters announced Monday that he'll seek the Republican Party's nomination to run for Pennsylvania's 11th District seat in Congress. The district stretches from Shippensburg in southcentral Pennsylvania some 140 miles to rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The primary election is May 15.

Pennsylvania Paid $900K Over Sex Misconduct

Jan 9, 2018
90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania has revealed it paid $900,000 in 2016 to settle a workplace sexual misconduct case, its biggest payout of that type to come to light in recent months.

The money was paid to a woman who accused her boss of molesting, harassing and threatening her while she worked for the Department of Revenue from 2011 to 2013.

Matt Rourke / AP

In a rare interview, former Republican Governor Tom Corbett has returned to one of the issues that dogged him late in his lone term in office—the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

Corbett told Radio PA “mistakes were made” in the handling of the situation.

In the aftermath of Corbett’s loss to Democrat Tom Wolf, it was a common theory that the Republican’s seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees had hurt him politically.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Voters will fill two vacancies in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on the same day as the spring primary.

Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai announced the May 15 special elections on Monday.

The Washington County seat was held until Dec. 31 by Democrat Brandon Neuman , who's been elected judge.

The Bucks County district was represented until Jan. 1 by Republican Scott Petri . He's now heading the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The parties will pick candidates.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Republican Party is starting its monthlong series of meetings with candidates for governor and other top offices to decide who it will endorse next month.

It’s still anyone’s guess who the party will back, or even whether members will tap a gubernatorial candidate at all.

In the meantime, endorsements are rolling in from other organizations across the state.

Pablo Martinez Montsivais / AP

Congressman Bill Shuster, a southwestern Pennsylvania Republican, has announced he’s not seeking reelection after 17 years in office.

His seat now joins a lengthening list of vacancies that could help make Pennsylvania one of the most important states in November’s congressional elections.

With Shuster’s departure, four of the commonwealth’s 13 Republican-held seats stand open.

State Agencies Fielded Hundreds Of Sex Misconduct Complaints

Jan 3, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania state government agencies fielded 339 reports of alleged sexual harassment over a recent five-year period, according to data released Tuesday.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state judge has allowed a lawsuit over budgeting practices to proceed.

The suit alleges top elected officials have violated the Pennsylvania constitution in the last two years by passing budgets without fully funding them, and borrowing money to pay off a previous year’s debt.

Two years ago, a spending plan passed just after the June deadline, but it took lawmakers weeks to finalize how to pay for it.

The situation reoccurred last year, with the deadlock stretching four months.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawmakers won’t truly start their 2018 session until late this month. But they’re already laying out legislative agendas for the new year.

Many of the top priorities aren’t much different from last year’s.

Democrats and Republicans all named job creation among their primary goals.

House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton also said his caucus is particularly focused on raising the minimum wage.

“Pennsylvania is an outlier,” he said. “Certainly, in the northeastern part of the country, we are the only state that has not raised a minimum wage.”

4-Way Gubernatorial Primary Tests GOP’s Endorsement Mettle

Jan 2, 2018
Photos via AP, screengran from Laura Ellsworth for Governor

For the four Republicans who hope to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid next year, the first playoff game before the May 15 primary election will be the state party's endorsement.

That endorsement vote, scheduled for Feb. 10, could determine who stays in the primary race and who gets to brag that they won the endorsement while drawing upon the financial benefits of the party's backing.

Should the party be unable or unwilling to endorse, it would be the first time in 40 years.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

It’s been a eventful news year in the Steel City, from hospital booms to repeated flush and boil orders to President Trump's impact on Pennsylvania.

Measures Of Gerrymandering — Real Or Bogus?

Dec 29, 2017
screengrab via youtube

As courts in Pennsylvania and around the country consider cases charging partisan political gerrymandering, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia recently assembled prominent experts and participants in the battles to talk about the political and constitutional issues.

Courts have long acknowledged gerrymandering exists, but they have lacked a reliable standard for measuring just how much of a political edge a particular legislative map gives to one party.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Another Republican is getting into the race for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.

Otto Voit, who ran unsuccessfully last year for state treasurer, announced Thursday that he'll seek the party's nomination in next year's election. The 60-year-old Voit is vice president of the Muhlenberg School Board in Berks County.

Emma Lee / WHYY

After abandoning plans to end the tax deduction for student loans, Republicans in the U.S. House are moving forward with a highly partisan proposal that would revamp the federal government’s student loan programs.

Dubbed the PROSPER Act, it’s intended to simplify the student loan process by consolidating some confusing government loan programs while also removing some regulations. The bill also calls for doing away with the decade-old Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that wipes out college debt for public servants after they put in 10 years on the job.

Matt Rourke / AP

Congress has adjourned for the year without fully finishing its spending plan—holding off a government shutdown by passing a few months of stopgap funding.

It includes some money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program—something the deadlock had called into serious question.

But Pennsylvania officials say that doesn’t help much.

In the days leading up to the stopgap agreement, they had warned the program would have to end sometime early next year if federal lawmakers didn’t act.

The agreement hands down $3 billion to states.

Screen grab / Triad Strategies/Vimeo

The governor on Friday named a new leader of the State Board of Education, a day after accepting the resignation of the longtime chairman following accusations he pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls more than 35 years ago.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said Karen Farmer White of Pittsburgh will step in immediately as the new chairwoman of the board, which develops education policies for the state. She has been on the board for two terms.

With The Path To End Property Tax Now Open, New Data Sets Stage For Policy Debate In PA

Dec 22, 2017
Jessica Kourkounis / for Keystone Crossroads

In the past month-and-a-half, Harrisburg’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office has released four research briefs or special reports.

Three of those four have been about property taxes, and they may soon factor into a major policy debate.

Carolyn Kaster / AP, file

A veteran Pennsylvania state representative insisted Wednesday he was innocent of any misconduct and said he does not plan to resign after reports the state paid a quarter-million dollars to settle his former aide's claim of sexual harassment.

Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, said in a written statement he was prohibited from discussing specifics of any employment-related settlement, but added that from the start he has denied all accusations.

LM Otero, AP File

Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation centers are getting a four-year, $115 million commitment from the state as Republican lawmakers pressure the Department of Labor and Industry to run the centers without state support after that.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Wednesday committing the money to upgrade the unemployment claims processing system and hire more employees.

The state spent nearly $180 million under a 2013 law designed to improve the system, but Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has said most of the money probably went to pay employees.

Matt Rourke / AP

Fights over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has states trying to figure out how long their programs can hold out without getting more money.

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