Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Congressional portraits

How much election-year drama is Allegheny County seeing? Enough that the League of Women Voters could practically put on its own miniseries this month.

Matt Rourke

In the only scheduled debate of the gubernatorial race Monday night, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and former GOP state Senator Scott Wagner worked to stake out their positions on the issues that will likely define their campaigns over the next month.

However, the topics they discussed—and often the candidates themselves—frequently took a backseat to the moderator: Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Democrat Lindsey Williams is running for state Senate – an office that, in an ordinary year, would generate little more than local interest. But this is 2018, a time when Democrats are investing unprecedented energy in the midterm elections, and Williams just got the backing of a former President of the United States.

Time Running Out In Effort To Cut Number Of State Lawmakers

Oct 1, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A proposal that's kicked around the Capitol for years to shrink the number of state lawmakers in Pennsylvania may not be dead, but it's at least on life support.

The latest blow came during a committee meeting last week, when Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, was able to get the bill amended — yet again — to restore a provision that would also cut the size of the Senate.

The Senate-House divide on the issue has plagued efforts to amend the constitution to cut the House from 203 to 151 and the Senate from 50 to 38.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Registered voters in Allegheny County can expect a question on the ballot this November about a small raise in property taxes to support after-school, early learning and nutrition programs for county kids.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Paid parental leave, medical coverage for gender affirmation surgery and a $15 an hour minimum wage are among the workforce improvements recommended Friday in an executive order by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

Office of Conor Lamb

The November election is less than two months away, but it was still summertime for Democrats gathered at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers headquarters in the city’s South Side in mid-September.

Matt Rourke / AP

After extensive debate, the state House passed a bill Wednesday that would make it harder for domestic abusers to possess guns.

Ford & Kavanaugh Testify Before Senate Judiciary

Sep 27, 2018
James Doyle / NPR

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her in high school, Christine Blasey Ford, are testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Watch the proceeding live.

Matt Rourke / AP

Philadelphia's mayor has proposed increasing the minimum wage for city workers and employees of city contractors to $15 an hour by July 2022.

City workers currently make a minimum wage of $12.20 an hour. The statewide minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The mayor's proposal announced Wednesday would raise the minimum wage yearly over the next four years, starting with a July 2019 increase to $13.25. That would be followed by $13.75 in 2020 and $14.25 in 2021.

Matt Rourke / AP

A group examining election security in Pennsylvania urged Congress and state lawmakers Tuesday to speed up the funding required to replace voting machines, noting most lack a paper record needed to check for fraud and errors.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security released interim recommendations and said the estimated $125 million to replace all machines statewide was "a relative bargain."

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The state House has passed a major bill aimed at making it easier for victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers.

The measure’s fate now rests with the Senate, and leaders say they have no intention of passing it without significant changes.

Both chambers agree on the proposal’s basic features.

It would get rid of the statute of limitations on all child sex abuse cases and extend the cap for victims to file civil suits against institutions.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Tom Hanks took the stage in at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening to try and get young Pennsylvanians excited about the upcoming election. And he urged the audience to bring a friend on Election Day.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh wants to allocate nearly $44,000 in its 2019 budget to on-site childcare, which would be provided for those who attend public meetings throughout the year. It will also be available to city employees during 15 days that schools are closed and city offices are open.

In its proposal the city outlines spending $568 million on operating expenses, which include public safety, street paving and personnel costs. 

ROD WADDINGTON / Flickr

The state House is expected to pass a proposal Tuesday making it harder for domestic abusers to possess weapons.

It could be the first significant gun-related bill the chamber gets across the finish line after dozens of attempts this session.

The measure in question would require people under protection from abuse orders turn over their weapons more quickly, and make those weapons harder to reclaim.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The state House has approved an amendment that would open a two-year window for child sex abuse victims to sue in cases on which the statute of limitations has run out.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

About 100 people gathered in front of the City County Building in downtown Pittsburgh Monday afternoon in support of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who said Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. The rally was part of a national walkout organized by women's rights groups including Time's Up and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

The state House and Senate are returning to the Capitol after months of recess, and according to their voting agendas, there are a lot of bills that could get votes.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Peduto administration released its 2019 capital and operating budget proposals late Friday evening, as part of its obligation to submit spending plans to the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority ahead of the formal introduction to City Council in November.

Obama Turns Focus On Pennsylvania, Hopes To Boost Democrats

Sep 21, 2018
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Barack Obama was turning his political attention Friday to a state that Donald Trump won as the former president prepared to campaign Friday in Philadelphia with two leading Pennsylvania Democrats running for re-election, Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

In the Nov. 6 contests, Democrats are trying to oust Republicans in four U.S. House districts and more than a dozen state legislative seats in the Philadelphia area alone. Obama twice carried Pennsylvania in his presidential races, and Democrats hope the state can help them retake control of Congress from the GOP.

Barletta Tries To Wake Up Sleepy Senate Race With Attack Ad

Sep 21, 2018
Carolyn Kaster / AP

Lou Barletta is trying to wake up Pennsylvania's sleepy U.S. Senate race.

Barletta, a four-term Republican congressman, began airing his first TV attack ad of the general election campaign Friday, accusing two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of being ineffective and asleep on the job.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Democrat running against State House Speaker Mike Turzai says the Republican isn’t taking domestic violence legislation seriously.

Chris Knight / AP

An Oxford University professor tasked with tracking spending in Pennsylvania’s pension system has concluded that the commonwealth’s two largest public funds have underreported billions of dollars they paid to private investors.

The review was undertaken at the behest of a commission of lawmakers and state officials, who are trying to find ways to ease the massive debt these funds are carrying.

Between them, the State Employees Retirement System and Public School Employees Retirement System manage about $80 billion.

Matt Rourke / AP

Susquehanna County is the first Pennsylvania county to buy a voting system under new security standards by Gov. Tom Wolf's administration.

City of Pittsburgh

Details of a social benefits package for the city's OnePGH resilience strategy should be public by mid-October, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Wednesday.

Releasing Tax Returns An Issue Again – In Governor’s Races

Sep 20, 2018
Jacqueline Larma, Matt Rourke / AP

The candidate had just chided the media minutes earlier for not being tougher on his opponent when the moderator asked him what might be his least favorite campaign question: Why won't you release your tax returns?

It wasn't a scene from the 2016 presidential race. Rather, it was from this year's campaign for governor in Pennsylvania, where the Republican challenger who has made millions from his trash-hauling business has refused to release his tax returns.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Will the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh turn this election year into a nightmare for Republicans?

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Wolf administration is calling on state lawmakers to pass a number of bills that have gone stagnant in the legislature. They're all related to giving more protections to victims of abuse.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler pitched his candidacy to voters in North Huntingdon on Tuesday. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner on Tuesday accused public officials, and Democrats in particular, of failing to combat urban poverty.

Wagner told a Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia event at the downtown Pyramid Club that he would establish a low-interest loan fund through community banks for people wanting to start a business and partner with firms like Uber and Lyft if necessary to make mass transportation more accessible.

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