WESA Local News

Matt Rourke / AP

 A bill to expand Pennsylvania's pension forfeiture laws is gaining traction after stalling out last legislative session.

Toby Talbot / AP

As part of the effort to fight opioid addiction, Pennsylvania state Sen. Jay Costa (D - Forest Hills) has proposed a bill that would allow courts to send people to substance abuse treatment at the request of family members.

Trump Administration Coal Plan Could Have Big Impact On Pennsylvania

Dec 8, 2017
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Trump administration’s plan to prop up money-losing coal and nuclear plants could have a big impact on how Pennsylvanians get their electricity. Federal regulators will now decide what to do with it.

Frank Victores / AP

 

In Monday night’s contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was taken off field during the first quarter with a back injury that reportedly caused him to momentarily lose feeling below the waist. The game was called “vicious” by many, but others, including Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, say that violence is normal for AFC North football.

Judge Ponders Reinstated Charges In Penn State Frat Death Case

Dec 8, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A prosecutor Thursday used a press release to sharply criticize a judge hearing the case against former Penn State fraternity members charged in a pledge's drinking death. Defense attorneys accused her of violating rules of professional conduct.

"While this case may be unusual and novel in complexity and number of defendants, the court has an obligation to handle it properly and be fair to both sides," Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller wrote in a statement. "To date, it has failed miserably."

Matt Rourke / AP

A rating agency has deemed Pennsylvania’s credit stable.

That’s an improvement from several months ago, when the commonwealth received a downgrade from a different agency in the midst of an extended budget impasse.

But it doesn’t mean the fiscal woes are over.

Even though Fitch Ratings’ has taken Pennsylvania off its Rating Watch Negative list, it still has a negative outlook. 

Fitch analyst Eric Kim said while the commonwealth has a healthy amount of fiscal flexibility, is has almost no reserves, and recent budgets have included little recurring revenue.

Can Your Ceramic Cookware Give You Lead Poisoning?

Dec 8, 2017

Crockpots — ceramic slow cookers that coax chili into tender perfection — can make home cooks wax poetic. A Google search of "I love my crockpot" turns up well over a million matches, including testimonials about their flexibility, ease and affordability. But there's another search that also gets a lot of results: "crock pots and lead poisoning."

Compelling Closing Arguments Bring Federal Trial Over PA Gerrymandering To An End

Dec 8, 2017
Keystone Crossroads

The federal trial over Pennsylvania’s congressional district map wrapped up in a Philadelphia courtroom on Thursday with a string of stirring closing arguments before a three-judge panel.

During four days of deliberations, a group of more than 20 Pennsylvania voters challenged the way Republican lawmakers drew the state’s congressional districts in 2011, asserting a gerrymandering scheme that violates the U.S. Constitution.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

As a young black man, playwright Nathan James often felt like he had to mask his emotions. The Pittsburgh native returns to the August Wilson Center this week to perform his one man play “Growing Pains.” 90.5 WESA’s Virginia Alvino Young recently spoke with James about his show, which looks at how and where we grow up impacts who we become. 


Beth Shaaban / provided

University of Pittsburgh organizer Beth Shaaban said unionizing graduate students is more important now than ever in light of the proposed tax bill in Congress.  

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen demonstrators gathered outside a Verizon store in downtown Pittsburgh on Thursday, chatting slogans like “Ho-Ho, Hey-Hey, Net Neutrality is here to stay” and “Pai, Pai, Stop the Lies.” 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Details of Pittsburgh’s Amazon headquarters proposal won’t be released to the public because the city signed non-disclosure agreements with private developers.

This Age Of Humans That We're Living In? It Has A Name: Anthropocene

Dec 7, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

As visitors enter a new exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, they’re asked for their opinion.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

UPDATED: 4: 27 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.

Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, is stepping down in January.

In a letter to Peduto dated Dec. 7, Acklin called the position “a dream job” and told the Mayor it had “been an honor to work alongside you these past four years to rebuild a city government that our residents deserve.”

Read Acklin's full resignation letter here

Scientists Call On US To Allow Research On Pot Meds For Pets

Dec 7, 2017
David Zalubowski / AP

Dr. Byron Maas surveys a supply of marijuana products for dogs that lines a shelf in his veterinary clinic. They're selling well.

Matt Rourke / AP

A conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker is doubling down on comments he made suggesting a fellow lawmaker might be gay for touching him on the arm.

The incident occurred Tuesday in the House State Government Committee between chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, and minority chair Matthew Bradford, D-Montgomery.

During a discussion on a land use bill, Bradford briefly touched Metcalfe’s arm while making a point.

PA, States Sue EPA For Missing Ozone Deadline

Dec 7, 2017
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states suing the EPA for failing to enforce on an important air pollution regulation.

Julie Jacobson / AP, file

Two hundred Pennsylvania municipalities have already opted out of hosting a new miniature casino.

The option is part of a gambling expansion lawmakers passed at the end of October, which was designed to raise revenue to help fix the commonwealth’s chronically underfunded budget.

Municipalities have until January to decide whether they want to play host to a mini-casino, and more are expected to opt out this month.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

Republican-penned legislation in Pennsylvania to prohibit coverage for gender or sex reassignment surgery and services under taxpayer-paid insurance programs is on ice after lawmakers realized their own health insurance covers it.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jesse Topper, said Wednesday he decided to pull the bill from the House's debate calendar a day earlier so he could find out more about the coverage.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmental officials in Pennsylvania have long focused on cleaning up the most hazardous old mines, but they plan to start addressing other abandoned mining sites that pose fewer public health dangers.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

A former Pennsylvania lawmaker who served prison time for corruption has won his appeal to get his $20,000-a-month pension restored.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported Tuesday the State Employees' Retirement System board voted 6-5 to return former Democratic State Sen. Robert Mellow's pension.

GOP Lawmaker's 'I Don't Like Men' Comment Stirs Protest

Dec 6, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

An outspoken and conservative Pennsylvania state lawmaker has stirred calls to resign or be demoted after he interrupted a committee meeting to accost his Democratic counterpart for touching his arm and suggest the man might be gay.

*UPDATED: This story was updated at 7:20 a.m., Dec. 7, 2017. 

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday called Rep. Daryl Metcalfe's comments offensive and discriminatory, and said it is "part of a disturbing pattern of behavior."

Keith Srakocic / AP

University of Pittsburgh police have issued a warning about a stalking suspect.

In a campus alert, police say they have received several complaints about Daniel Dintino approaching females on or near the campus and making them feel uncomfortable.

Dintino was released on bail after he was arrested on Monday on an outstanding theft warrant.

Police fear he may have returned to campus after he was warned not to.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has kicked forward a proposal to outlaw automatic deductions from state workers’ paychecks for union dues that contribute to political activity.

Supporters call it a “paycheck protection” bill.

Katie Blackley / WESA

 

The city of Pittsburgh is preparing to defend two laws that would impact local workers – one requiring private employers to offer paid sick leave, and another creating new training requirements for security officers in many city buildings.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decide to hear cases challenging the laws early next year. 

So far, the city has lost in lower courts because, the courts found, it does not have the authority to impose these regulations on businesses.

 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The open enrollment period for people buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace ends next Friday.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In the last several weeks, instances of sexual harassment and even assault have been revealed in Hollywood, in the media and in Congress.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

Many recipes for holiday treats have been passed down through the generations, in dog-eared cookbooks or on tattered, chocolate-stained scraps of paper. But the Gluten Free Goat Bakery in Garfield is using the power of artificial intelligence, developed by Google, to add a little more spice to a holiday snack. 

Timeline: The Saga Of Meek Mill And How He Ended Up In Jail

Dec 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Meek Mill's imprisonment on a probation violation has set off a flurry of legal appeals, criticism of the criminal justice system, newspaper opinion pieces, rallies, billboards and bus ads. A look at how the 30-year-old Philadelphia rapper, whose "Dreams Worth More Than Money" won a Billboard award for top rap album last year, ended up in a Pennsylvania prison roughly a decade after his 2007 arrest:

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HOW DID ALL THIS START?

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