Tom Wolf

Kiichiro Sato / AP

Legislation to allow PennDOT to issue REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses is about to be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, but that doesn't mean the ID in your pocket will truly be compliant with the federal standards.

As of June 7, non-compliant IDs will no longer be accepted for admittance into federal and nuclear facilities. TSA officials will stop accepting them for air travel as of Jan. 22, 2018.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for a bill designed to comply with federal identification standards for people who want to fly or enter federal facilities.

The House passed the Real ID bill 190-1, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he will sign it.

The measure gives residents the option to obtain a driver's license or other ID that meets the rules of a 2005 federal law enacted in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Residents would also be allowed to get a noncompliant, traditional driver's license or ID.

governor.pa.gov

Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll nominate his insurance commissioner, Teresa Miller, to lead a new agency overseeing public health and human services programs.

Wolf said Tuesday that Miller would lead the proposed Department of Health and Human Services. It would be created by combining the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Turzai Says He'll Keep Speaker's Job If He Runs For Governor

May 23, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai says he won't step down from his position atop the Republican-controlled chamber should he get into the race to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid next year.

The Allegheny County Republican spoke Monday at the Pennsylvania Press Club, and says he hasn't heard anyone ask Wolf resign to run for governor.

He says he's seriously considering running. He says he's working on a number of issues in the Capitol right now and is looking toward Labor Day as an appropriate time to announce his candidacy.

iStock / WITF

As Philadelphia heads for a record year of drug overdose deaths, a task force is proposing a series of actions, from combatting stigma to considering allowing safe sites where drug users could inject heroin.

Mayor Jim Kenney was joined by Governor Tom Wolf in outlining the task force's findings Friday.

Kenney convened the 23-member group in January to focus on developing a plan to combat the city's opioid epidemic.

David Goldman / AP

Pittsburgh's primary is set, but election season is just getting underway. Politcal reporters Kevin Zwick of the Greensburg Tribune-Review and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have more.

Katie Meyer / WITF

The first wave of employees has been called back to work in the state’s unemployment compensation call centers, with more follow next week.

The move comes a week after the legislature passed a measure to temporarily restore the UC system’s funding. But many of the roughly 500 employees laid off last year over funding disputes are still out of a job.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Leaning heavily on his military credentials, Pine Township resident Paul Mango last night announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2018. The West Point graduate and former principal at the business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company became the second Republican to declare his candidacy, joining State Senator Scott Wagner of York County in the race.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

For the first time, shoppers at farmers markets around the region can grab some whiskey with their watermelon. Due to a 2016 change in state laws, distilleries, breweries and meaderies are able to sell their products in Pennsylvania farmers markets and food expos.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack "billed taxpayers for $34,000 worth of groceries, two leather cuff link boxes, flags and thousands of dollars of candy and snack bars while living at his state-operated mansion and collecting a $162,373 salary." 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Gov. Tom Wolf / 90.5 WESA

It’s been more than three weeks since it was revealed that the state Office of Inspector General was investigating Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack about allegations of abuse of staff.

On April 11, Stack acknowledged the investigation for what he called “staffing issues.”

In a rare, if not unprecedented move, it was Gov. Tom Wolf who ordered the investigation.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania is on track to have medical cannabis on dispensary shelves come next April, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.

However, the legally permissible forms of medical marijuana might be more varied than originally thought.

The law, as passed, allows medical cannabis in pills, oils, topical treatments and liquids. 

“There is no THC in (those) forms of the marijuana,” Wolf said. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the part the creates a high.

George Widman / AP

At least four Pennsylvania cities are urging state Senators to reject a bill that would prevent municipalities from banning plastic shopping bags or imposing fees to curb their use.

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, York and Erie say that single-use plastic shopping bags are environmentally damaging, and increase waste-disposal costs for cities around the Commonwealth. They also argue that the bill, HB1071, would infringe on cities’ rights to run their own affairs.

Mike Groll / AP

A state House panel is considering a plan to help fill significant budget gaps that have been left open for gambling revenue.

The Gaming Committee held a public hearing Monday on a longstanding proposal to legalize video gambling terminals in bars and other businesses.

The bill being discussed is House Bill 1010, which would allow up to 35,000 terminals in bars, social clubs, and other such businesses.

Proponents say it could earn $100 million in its first year, and $500 million annually once it’s fully implemented.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

It’s been a good news, bad news year for the arts when it comes to the state budget debate. 

The budgets proposed by both Gov. Tom Wolf and the House Republican Caucus keep funding for the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts at $9.6 million, as well as $2 million for museums.

However, both budget proposals move the funding out of the general budget where it has traditionally resided.

The governor’s plan funds the arts and other line items through the issuance of bonds. But the Republican Caucus rejected that proposal.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf and state Treasurer Joe Torsella say they have a way to cut down on Pennsylvania’s mountainous pension costs: change investment strategies to cut down on fees to outside money managers.

Spokespeople for the state’s two biggest pension funds say they’re open to considering the idea, though they note, they’ve already been doing it to some extent.

The fees Pennsylvania pays to outside investors are among the highest in the country. In 2015, they made up almost $600 million of the money spent by the systems for retired state and public school employees.

Is The Nation's Only Lt. Governor Mansion Worth Its Cost?

Apr 26, 2017
Pennsylvania Department of General Services

Nestled on a wooded hillside at Fort Indiantown Gap is a one-of-a-kind home - and it comes with a one-of-a-kind price tag to taxpayers.

The 2,400-square-foot Lieutenant Governor's residence off Fisher Avenue in East Hanover Township may be the only residence that any state provides to its second in command.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A GOP-proposed bill currently sitting in the state House is raising questions about who should be responsible for keeping Pennsylvania students safe.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After long months of partisan debate over funding for Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation program, the legislature has passed a fix—of sorts.

Rogelio Solis / AP

The Senate Education Committee has advanced a bill that would give schools in Pennsylvania the option of allowing teachers and other staff to carry concealed guns.

Supporters say it’s a matter of letting schools make the safety decisions that fit them best, while opponents call it irresponsible and unnecessary.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House Republicans are attempting to chart a new course for liquor sales in Pennsylvania, pushing a traditionally state-run system further and further toward privatization.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Several House committees held the latest in a string of hearings Monday about Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to consolidate four state agencies.

Many lawmakers expressed the same concerns they’ve been voicing for weeks—they want more details before they make any decisions.

The combination of the departments of Drugs and Alcohol, Aging, Human Services, and Health is considered the biggest agency merger the commonwealth has ever done.

Indiana County Republican Cris Dush voiced a common complaint—that it’s all moving way too fast.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Rangers and personnel at Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and forests will soon be equipped with the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would provide its officers with the medication, used to help minimize opioid-related fatalities.

 

“We’re losing over 10 people every day to this disaster,” Wolf said. “This is an epidemic that affects everybody in Pennsylvania – all across the state. Rural areas, rich and poor, men and women. It affects everybody.”

 

Daveynin / Flickr

The House GOP-led budget proposal—which passed on to the Senate last week—has drawn criticism from legislative Democrats, and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf for its austere tax cuts.

But it’s also seeing pushback from a more bipartisan group: the Pennsylvania County Commissioners Association.

For the last few budget cycles, state funding has stayed largely flat for a number of county-level programs—including probation services, behavioral health services, and the multi-use Human Services Development Fund.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

One of the more contentious parts of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal is a bid to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

It’s currently $7.25—the lowest the federal government allows.

Associated Press

The state House has passed a bill to keep certain drug and violent crime offenders in prison longer.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Eight weeks after Governor Tom Wolf unveiled a $32.3 billion budget proposal for the new fiscal year, the Republican-controlled state House Tuesday approved its own version, a $31.5 billion spending plan.

The GOP plan was introduced Monday and was approved quickly along party lines with four Republicans joining all Democrats in voting “no.”  The Republican budget includes no tax hikes and cuts $800 million from Wolf’s proposal.

The governor called the Republican version “an opening conversation.”

Pennsylvania House GOP Plan Doubles Down On Spending

Apr 4, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

House Republicans on Monday unveiled a $31.5 billion no-new-taxes budget proposal for Pennsylvania government that would add politically touchy cutbacks to a relatively austere plan floated by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf as the state grapples with a huge deficit.

The plan left many questions unanswered, including how it would fill a projected $3 billion deficit without a tax increase, and how it would find such significant savings in two of the costliest services in state government, prisons and health care for the poor.

Matt Rourke / AP

The 2018 gubernatorial election is still well over a year away. But already, Republicans are announcing intentions to contest Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf’s bid for reelection.

It’s likely that GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai—long rumored to be interested in higher office—will soon be among them.

Pittsburgh-based political agency Cold Spark Media has confirmed it’s working with the Allegheny County Republican. Mark Harris, a partner with the agency acting as Turzai’s strategist, said the politician may explore a run more seriously after the state budget is finished.

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