Politics & Government

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

Keith Srakocic / AP

In the wake of the officer-involved death of Antwon Rose last month, state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) said he plans to introduce legislation to improve police training on cultural awareness and use-of-force. 

Casey, Wolf Press Feds For Details On Immigrant Children

Jul 3, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pressed the Trump administration Tuesday for information about immigrant children being held in the state, separated from their families at the border after entering the country illegally.

In a letter sent to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Wolf and Casey, both Democrats, asked for answers on how many unaccompanied immigrant children are being held in Pennsylvania, where precisely they are living and what plans there are to reunite them with their parents.

90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are being sued in federal court over a budget provision to fold a medical malpractice insurer and its assets into the state Insurance Department.

It’s the latest development in the commonwealth’s repeated attempts to take $200 million from the group’s surplus.

This is the third time the Joint Underwriting Association has sued the state—insisting its funds are separate from the commonwealth’s. Its employees don’t receive state benefits, and it’s not housed in a state building.

Courtesy of Friends of Turahn Jenkins

Former public defender Turahn Jenkins of Churchill will run against Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala in 2019, when the 20-year Democratic incumbent is up for reelection.

 

A Democrat, Jenkins announced his candidacy to scores of people who filled a rainy Freedom Corner in the Hill District early Monday evening.

 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was charged with homicide for shooting black teenager Antwon Rose just last week, and he's already facing a civil suit. 

Wolf Puts Tax Plans Far Behind Him As He Seeks A 2nd Term

Jul 1, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gone is the governor who had ambitious plans to overhaul Pennsylvania's tax structure and pump billions more into the state treasury to fix deficits and public school funding disparities. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat running for a second term, doesn't talk about that anymore.

"Who's talking about raising taxes?" he questioned a TV reporter last month who asked Wolf about the prospect of raising taxes this year.

Allegheny County Democratic Committee / via Facebook

Democratic committee leaders gather Saturday to decide who will be the next face of the party in Pittsburgh. And among the three candidates is a controversial ward chair who has faced repeated allegations of domestic violence.

 

Kevin Quigley, of Brighton Heights, is a fixture in local Democratic politics -- he chairs his community’s 27th Ward Democratic Committee and currently serves as the city committee's vice-chair. Once a public-works official for former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, he's now employed by County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the minimum wage for a second time for Pennsylvania government employees and contractors under his jurisdiction.

Wolf on Thursday signed an executive order increasing it to $12 an hour starting Sunday. It orders an annual boost of 50 cents-an-hour until it reaches $15 in 2024.

The administration says wages will rise immediately for 879 employees. Wolf raised the minimum wage to $10.15 in 2016, which was expected to benefit a few hundred state employees.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf has signed a bill to wipe clean criminal records for certain low-level offenders if they go a decade without any other convictions.

The so-called “Clean Slate” measure has garnered bipartisan support. Notably, Wolf and his gubernatorial challenger Scott Wagner agreed on the measure while the Republican was in the Senate.

Under the new law, people who serve a year or more in prison can petition courts to have their records sealed after 10 years, as long as they’ve made all their court-mandated payments.

401(K) 2012/Flickr

A provision in the new state budget is seeking to end a two-year legal battle between lawmakers looking for cash to shore up their spending plan, and a medical malpractice insurer the state created in the 1970s.

Lawmakers Leave State Capitol For Summer With Bills Dangling

Jun 27, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Of all the bills that stalled this week in Pennsylvania's Capitol, perhaps the most remarkable is the derailing of a measure designed to force people with a domestic violence conviction or restraining order against them to forfeit their firearms more quickly.

Wayne Parry / AP

More regulations are being released for Pennsylvania’s fledgling sports betting industry.

Pennsylvania Unions Vow To Do Job, Despite Loss In Courts

Jun 27, 2018
Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pennsylvania labor unions are vowing to keep doing their job representing workers in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that government workers can't be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining.

PA One Of 17 States Suing Trump Administration Over Family Separations

Jun 27, 2018
Patrick Semansky / AP

Seventeen states, including Washington, New York and California, sued President Donald Trump's administration Tuesday in an effort to force officials to reunite migrant families who have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Katie Meyer / WESA/WITF

A group of frustrated activists spent Tuesday afternoon holding a sit-in at the reception room outside Governor Tom Wolf's office, trying to convince him to call a special legislative session to overhaul Pennsylvania's redistricting process.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

An anti-gerrymandering advocacy group wants Gov. Tom Wolf to call a special session urging lawmakers to pass a resolution to amend the state constitution and create a citizens' redistricting commission.

The group, March On Harrisburg, said Tuesday that it's delivering a letter to the Democratic governor. Wolf's office had no immediate comment. Lawmakers left the Capitol on Monday, with no plans to return this summer.

Left undone is a resolution to create a citizens' commission that's designed to draw legislative and congressional boundaries free of political interference.

Matt Rourke / AP

After a final Monday session to tie up loose ends, the state House of Representatives has recessed for the summer until further notice, leaving some high-profile bills still-unfinished.

One of the measures in question would make it harder for domestic abusers to possess weapons. Another that would overhaul the commonwealth’s redistricting process.

The domestic violence bill has bipartisan support, and would require people under protection from abuse orders turn over their weapons more quickly, plus make those weapons harder to reclaim.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

About 100 people protested in front of Pittsburgh’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Monday, rallying against President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. They then marched to the Hot Metal Bridge, blocking traffic for about 45 minutes.

Barletta Backs Trump in Immigration Debate Twists And Turns

Jun 25, 2018
Susan Walsh / AP

Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta says separating adults from children is one of many bad things that come from illegal immigration, and supports changing the law to let the government keep children and families in custody longer.

Death Penalty Study Recommends Changes Amid Wolf Moratorium

Jun 25, 2018
Kiichiro Sato / AP

A study released Monday suggested a number of changes to the death penalty system in Pennsylvania, including setting up a publicly funded agency to provide legal representation in capital cases.

The long-awaited report by the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment said the state should make its lethal injection protocol public and use "an appropriate and effective drug" to execute people humanely.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

For the first time in Gov. Tom Wolf’s tenure, he has signed a budget. And after three years of protracted negotiations, the election year plan is finished well ahead of its June 30 deadline.

The modest, compromise measure spends $32.7 billion—a roughly two percent increase over last year.

New spending goes mostly to public schools, pensions, prisons and human services—including about $800 million in one-time funding for Medicaid that was moved off-budget, which will have to be filled in again next year.

Republicans cheered the lack of new taxes.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus, running for reelection in one of the most closely watched House races in the country, got a boost from Vice President Mike Pence Saturday afternoon.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

For the first time in Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure, he has signed a budget on time. And after three years of protracted negotiations, the election year plan is finished well ahead of its June 30th deadline.

The modest, compromise measure spends $32.7 billion—a roughly two percent increase over last year.

New spending goes mostly to public schools, pensions, prisons and human services—including about $800 million in one-time funding for Medicaid that was moved off-budget, which will have to be filled in again next year.

Republicans cheered the lack of new taxes.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

 


One message rang clear through the cries of protesters this week after a police officer shot a black teenager: Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala needs to go.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Efforts to overhaul the state’s redistricting process are faltering.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Vice President Mike Pence is heading to Pittsburgh to throw his support behind third-term Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus's congressional campaign.

Pence will participate in an event at the airport for Rothfus, who's facing a tough challenge in November from Democrat Conor Lamb. The event is expected to begin at noon. 

$32.7B Spending Plan Heads To Pennsylvania Governor's Desk

Jun 22, 2018
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The main appropriations bill in a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania's approaching fiscal year is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk, more than a week early.

Andrew Harnik / AP

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is suing the Trump administration over its family-separation policy for undocumented immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to again consider the legality of new congressional district boundaries imposed earlier this year by the state's highest court in a gerrymandering case.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's Senate is rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the number of its seats, but it's putting the onus back on the state House of Representatives to decide whether voters should get the question of shrinking it.

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