Politics & Government

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

Emily Previti / Keystone Crossroads

A provision of the budget package making its way through Pennsylvania's Legislature would put the state in line with a federal tax change letting corporations immediately expense 100 percent of a qualifying capital purchase.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has taken a significant step toward finishing the commonwealth’s $32.7 billion budget plan ahead of next week’s deadline—passing the measure on to the Senate in a near-unanimous vote.

The deal is on track to be the first on-time budget of Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure.

The proposal was negotiated by House and Senate leaders and the governor, and until this week, the process happened almost entirely behind closed doors.

Democrats across Pennsylvania have a new party leader.  Nancy Patton Mills was elected Saturday as chairwoman of the State Democratic Committee as candidates are gearing up for critical races for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress and the state legislature.

$32.7B Budget Package Speeds Toward Pennsylvania House Vote

Jun 20, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Key elements of a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania's approaching fiscal year are heading toward a state House vote.

The no-new-taxes spending package unveiled just a day earlier is scheduled for a House vote Wednesday after Republican majority leaders negotiated it behind closed doors with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. It still requires Senate approval.

Both photos by Matt Rourke / AP

A fundraising visit by Vice President Mike Pence has sparked a health care debate in Pennsylvania's race for governor.

Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY

Roughly 1,000 people, many carrying signs and pushing kids in strollers, descended on Rittenhouse Square Tuesday night, to protest a federal immigration policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Coordinated on Facebook by the Youth Caucus of America and seven other groups, the gathering drew from a wide swath of the Philadelphia region.

Elaine Thompson / AP

A Pennsylvania House committee is advancing legislation to more aggressively take firearms from people who have a domestic violence restraining order against them or who are deemed dangerous by a judge.

The House Judiciary Committee passed several firearms-related bills Tuesday. Their fate in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is unclear.

House Votes For Pair Of Workplace Sexual Misconduct Studies

Jun 19, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

 State lawmakers voted Monday to commission a pair of studies about sexual misconduct in the workplace, including in state government, although critics said they would prefer to take more direct action to address the problem.

90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania might have its state budget—or at least part of it—done by the end of this week.

Rank and file members don't have much information yet. But if all goes to plan, Republican leaders say a proposal could make it through the House by the end of this week, and the Senate at the beginning of next—well ahead of the June 30th deadline.

“Very confident we’ll be able to advance a final product at the end of this week into next week,” Senate GOP Appropriations Chair Pat Browne said.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner supports raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, but not as high as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed.

During a campaign stop in Robinson Friday, he said Wolf’s proposal to increase it to $12 an hour goes too far.

Instead, Wagner favors a wage in the $8.75 to $9.50 range. At that level, Wagner said, there’s less risk that employers in the service sector will replace workers with automation.

Republicans Move To Remake Court After Gerrymandering Case

Jun 18, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Democratic majority threw out the Republican-drawn map of congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander, Republicans raised talk of impeaching Democratic justices.

Wolf Heads Into June With Big Cash Lead Over Wagner

Jun 16, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf began June with a nearly 10-to-1 cash advantage over Republican challenger Scott Wagner in Wolf's bid for a second term in November, according to new campaign finance reports filed ahead of Thursday evening's deadline.

Lucy Perkins / WESA


Local Democrats have been recently running for office even in conservative Pittsburgh suburbs where the party's committee seats have been vacant for decades.

David Zalubowski / AP

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Scranton on Friday, but much of his half-hour speech to about 150 local, state and federal law enforcement officials was directed at another city, about 120 miles south.

Matt Rourke / AP

When Senators passed a proposal this week aimed at creating a citizen’s commission to draw Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, they tacked on an amendment that would fundamentally change the state’s appellate courts by electing judges based on regional district, instead of statewide.

It’s not a unique concept for state courts to be arranged that way.

However, Pennsylvania’s specific form of judicial election-by-district is significantly less common than supporters have indicated.

Katie Meyer / WITF

When Senators passed a proposal  this week aimed at creating a citizen's commission to draw Pennsylvania's congressional maps, they tacked on an amendment  that would fundamentally change the state's appellate courts by electing judges based on regional district, instead of statewide.

Photo by Sylvia Rhor

Veteran Pittsburgh editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers has been terminated from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- the latest controversy to engulf the paper's editorial page.

Matt Rourke / AP

Five months ahead of the general election, a new survey from Franklin and Marshall College shows Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a considerable lead over Republican challenger Scott Wagner.

F&M pollster Terry Madonna said in order to gage a governor’s likely reelection success, he often pits them against former incumbents.

At an equivalent point in his first term, former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, who won reelection, was about even with Wolf.

Tom Corbett, a Republican who didn’t get a second term, polled well below.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Several advocacy groups are pulling their support for a redistricting bill making its way through the state legislature. On Tuesday, Republicans in the state Senate added an amendment to Senate Bill 22 that would transform the way state judges are elected in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After hours of debate, the state Senate has amended a high-profile redistricting overhaul, and is on track to send it to the House Wednesday.

The bill has transformed dramatically since its inception—alienating some Democratic supporters along the way.

Effects Of Supreme Court Voter Roll Decision Appear Limited

Jun 12, 2018
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has cleared the way for states to take a tougher approach to maintaining their voter rolls, but will they?

Ohio plans to resume its process for removing inactive voters after it was affirmed in Monday's 5-4 ruling. It takes a particularly aggressive approach that appears to be an outlier among states.

Few appear eager to follow.

"Our law has been on the books. It hasn't changed, and it isn't changing," said Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Few concrete details are leaking out of Senate lawmakers’ feverish negotiations on a sweeping bill to overhaul the commonwealth’s redistricting process.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Auditor General is launching a review of Pennsylvania’s voting and registration process, following up on concerns Russians attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the review will focus on the security of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors—or SURE—system, which tracks registration data on the state and county level.

He noted, there’s no evidence foreign hackers successfully breached Pennsylvania’s voting and registration systems.

Matt Rourke / AP

The speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives didn't look very far to find a new member of the board for the system of state-owned universities: he appointed himself.

Speaker Mike Turzai said Monday that he was honored to join the 20-member Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors.

The Allegheny County Republican says he wants to help ensure the schools are preparing students for jobs that are available and to help resist proposals to increase tuition, room or board.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's election-year message to members of the business community revolved Monday around Pennsylvania's improved job growth and his accomplishments with a Republican-controlled Legislature.

Office of the Governor

Pennsylvania's minimum wage has been stagnant at the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour for the last 10 years, which is at least $1 less than every neighboring state.

Nancy Patton Mills, who hopes to be chosen as the next chair of the state Democratic Committee next week, suffered a rebuke in her own home county on Saturday: Despite the support of Gov. Tom Wolf and other top Democrats, she lost the race for Allegheny County Democratic chair to Eileen Kelly by a two-to-one margin.

Wagner Campaign

This week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner focused some of his energy on an unlikely target: grass.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

After more than a year of on-and-off negotiation, the state Senate has moved a congressional redistricting overhaul to the floor of the full chamber.

Courtesy of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

During his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Pittsburgh attorney and judicial nominee David Porter faced intense scrutiny from Democrats. They expressed concern about Porter’s reported ties to conservative groups as well as his past criticisms of the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade.

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