Politics & Government

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

PA Dept. of Health

The state website where people can order birth and death records was recently offline for nearly a full week because someone made unauthorized changes to the site.

No data breach was reported, and no one’s records have been compromised, however.

The Office of Administration declined to comment beyond confirming the outage last month for emergency maintenance, and saying they’re working with law enforcement.

But Republican state Representative John Lawrence of Chester County said he’s gotten a little more information.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for a summit today in in Helsinki, Finland. This is the first stand-alone summit between the two leaders, and comes just days after an American grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The two leaders are holding a news conference following their meetings.

Keith Srakocic / AP

In one of the country's most closely-watched House Races, western Pennsylvania incumbents Keith Rothfus and Conor Lamb appear to be on even ground financially. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made a pair of stops in Pittsburgh on Sunday, praising progressive candidates at both the American Federation of Teachers National convention and an appearance with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who is running for lieutenant governor. 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to some 3,000 educators at the American Federation of Labor conference in Downtown Pittsburgh this morning, portraying the labor movement’s struggles as a proof of its importance.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Hillary Clinton pulled few punches in a fiery 25-minute address to the American Federation of Teachers in Downtown Pittsburgh mid-morning Friday.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania continues to hold a big advantage in fundraising over Republican challenger Lou Barletta with four months until November's general election.

Federal Prosecutors To Focus On Synthetic Opioids In PA, Seven Other States

Jul 13, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania and seven other states with high drug overdose death rates will pursue even seemingly small synthetic opioid cases under a program announced  by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Wagner, Wolf Tangle Over Politics Of Funding Public Schools

Jul 12, 2018
Chris Knight / AP

Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for governor, on Thursday accused Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of proposing a policy that would result in deep funding cuts to certain school districts, a claim that Wolf called absurd while pointing to his record of winning more education funding across Pennsylvania.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Senator Bernie Sanders will visit Pittsburgh this weekend. He'll speak at the American Federation of Teachers convention, and campaign with Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, John Fetterman.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state of Pennsylvania is investing an additional $10 million into an apprenticeship and job training program called PAsmart. The initiative is meant to strengthen the commonwealth's middle class and increase the amount of skilled workers in the economy, to ultimately attract more industry.

PAsmart will distribute this money through competitive grants to places such as chambers of commerce, post-secondary institutions and labor organizations.

Gov. Tom Wolf says there are currently 16,000 registered apprentices in the commonwealth.

Heather Kresge / Democratic Socialists of America

The state Republican Party is launching a new strategy for this fall's congressional elections: making and distributing lists of which Democrats support socialized programs, among other things.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision halting unions' ability to compel public sector employees to pay fees, pro-union state lawmakers are trying to come up with a rebuttal.

So far, House and Senate Democrats have launched bills that would let public sector workers form unions by simple majorities--an easier system than the one in place now.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Bernie Sanders is making his second campaign swing through Pennsylvania in two-and-a-half months, campaigning for the Democratic Party's nominee for lieutenant governor, John Fetterman.

Sunday's event is in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Vermont senator is making a three-state swing that's also taking him to Minnesota on Friday and Wisconsin on Saturday. Sanders lost Pennsylvania's presidential primary in 2016 to the party's eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

David Zalubowski / AP

It’s now up to Common Pleas Senior Judge Terrence O’Brien whether to order the city and Allegheny County to release details of their bid to lure Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2, to Pittsburgh. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It’s not easy to watch, or listen to, the video recording that captured an East Pittsburgh police officer shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose last month.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Amid mounting pressure to increase oversight of municipal police forces, the Allegheny County Council took an initial step in creating a county-wide civilian police review board. On Tuesday, it voted 8-6 to hold up to four public meetings on how to form such a board.

Twice A Supreme Court Runner-Up, PA's Thomas Hardiman Is Back At Work

Jul 10, 2018
Cliff Owen / AP

Judge Thomas Hardiman was in the Washington area Monday, but it was for a meeting on court cybersecurity — not for a prime-time introduction as President Donald Trump's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Keith Srakocic / AP

A district attorney in Pennsylvania says should Roe v. Wade be overturned, he would not prosecute any women or medical professionals for seeking or performing safe abortion services.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala says there's concern that approval of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could result in the landmark decision's reversal.

If it is overturned, abortion laws would revert to the states.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney met Monday evening with a group of immigrant advocates, as well as members of a protest encampment decrying the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and calling on the city to end its data-sharing contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) says he'll vote against any Supreme Court nominee President Donald Trump chooses to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He called the system Trump is using to pick the nominee -- mining from a pre-chosen pool of 25 conservative candidates -- "corrupt."

"It's a flawed system," Casey said. "If the President changes the system and opens it up to more people, then it's a different story."

Cliff Owen / AP

A look at the four judges thought to be President Donald Trump's top contenders to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court:

NAME: Amy Coney Barrett

AGE-BIRTHDATE: 46, Jan. 28, 1972

BIRTHPLACE: New Orleans.

EDUCATION: B.A., Rhodes College, 1994; J.D., Notre Dame Law School, 1997.

CURRENT JOB: Since 2017: Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Courtesy of Friends of Turahn Jenkins

Turahn Jenkins announced his bid to challenge Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala on July 2. Less than a week later, some of the progressive activists who initially supported him are calling on him to withdraw, citing Jenkins' ties to a church with deeply conservative views on abortion and homosexuality.

Cliff Owen / AP

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Philadelphia later this month to host a fundraiser for Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Lou Barletta.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Earlier this week, Peoples Natural Gas announced that it would partner with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to provide clean water to Pittsburgh, and unveiled a model for a state-of-the-art water treatment facility to be situated on riverfront property in O'Hara Township.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner spent much of his first town hall Thursday night hammering Democratic Governor Tom Wolf on his refusal, so far, to commit to debating him. 

It was a day full of one-upmanship between Wolf and Wagner’s campaigns—with both candidates deploying their running mates to counter each other’s talking points ahead of the event.

Independent Commission Will Probe Pennsylvania Voting System

Jul 5, 2018
Brad Larrison / WHYY

Cybersecurity specialists at the University of Pittsburgh have formed an independent panel to study ways to protect Pennsylvania’s voting system from hackers.

Tim Lambert / WITF

A proposal to retroactively extend the statute of limitations in child abuse cases in Pennsylvania is getting renewed blowback from national Catholic organizations.

Rick Hinshaw, a spokesman for the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said his group is always tracking bills that aim to make it harder to sue the church for old abuse cases beyond the statute of limitations.

The one they’ve had on their radar for a while in Pennsylvania is championed by Democratic Representative Mark Rozzi of Berks County.

Cliff Owen / AP

A Pittsburgh-based judge is reportedly in the running to be Trump’s next pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. If chosen, federal appeals court judge Thomas Hardiman, 52, would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

State House of Representatives

In a surprise announcement made the afternoon before the Fourth of July holiday, state Rep. Hal English, R-Hampton, said he's withdrawing from the November election. 

Allegheny County Republicans can replace him on the fall ballot, but for now Democrat Betsy Monroe is the only candidate in the race. 

"I'm speechless," Monroe said, after a five-second pause, when notified that her rival was withdrawing. "I'm as surprised as anyone." 

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