Katie Meyer

Matt Rourke / AP

A top state lawmaker wants to break down the walls keeping unaffiliated voters from participating in Pennsylvania’s primaries.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is saying he’s concerned closed primaries are making both parties more extreme.

Under the commonwealth’s current election law, only registered Democrats and Republicans can cast ballots for their own parties’ races.

Scarnati’s proposal wouldn’t let third parties into the process, but it would let unaffiliated voters pick a major party candidate to support.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

After a rash of incidents that saw prison staff sickened by unknown substances and prompted a 12-day lockdown, Pennsylvania's Corrections Department has changed many of its rules related to inmate privileges--including where and how they're allowed to get books.

Every year, the families and friends of those killed on Flight 93 gather near the spot where the United Airlines jetliner went down, and read the names of their lost loved ones.

Keith Srakocic / AP

On Sept. 11, 2001, four planes crashed: two in New York City, one outside Washington D.C., and one in a remote Pennsylvania field.

That last plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was diverted from its likely target by its passengers and crew. All 40 were killed.

Now their loved ones have dedicated the final piece of a memorial commemorating them: the Tower of Voices.

The newest and last feature of the Flight 93 National Memorial is 93 feet tall, and designed to hold 40 massive wind chimes.

Lisa Wardle / WITF

Tuesday will mark 17 years since United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a remote, Somerset County field.

Jaqueline Larma / AP, file

Pennsylvania’s 25 state prisons are in their seventh day of lockdown over concerns that powerful drugs are being sent into the facilities and getting staff sick.

Marc Levy / AP

As Pennsylvania’s statewide prison lockdown enters its third day, officers and staff are busy with intense training sessions on how to safely handle the powerful, synthetic drugs that keep finding their way inside via mail and other measures.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections unexpectedly locked down the entire state prison system after a sudden rash of illnesses among employees, thought to be caused by accidental exposure to synthetic drugs.

The move may be unprecedented in the commonwealth—though it’s not the only state grappling with illnesses related to unknown substances.  

The lockdown came the same day 29 people at an Ohio prison were treated for accidental drug exposure, and the same week five inmates in Arkansas died of suspected overdoses.

Ted S. Warren / AP

After years of dragging its heels, Pennsylvania’s on its way to compliance with the federal Real ID law.

On Monday, the Department of Transportation said soon everyone in the state will be able to pre-apply for new IDs.

Matt Rourke / AP

GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is walking back a few comments he has made at recent campaign stops.

Wagner says he’s not against gay marriage, and has no intention to collude with the Russian government to win the election.

At an Erie town hall this week, a campaign tracker recorded Wagner appearing ready to consider supporting legislation to stop recognizing same-sex marriages.

“I would have to give that consideration,” he said in response to a question. “I don’t have the answer tonight, but I can follow up with you.”

Matt Rourke / AP

Amid the fallout from the massive grand jury investigation into sex abuse by Pennsylvania clergy, victim advocates and others are waiting to see how state lawmakers will respond.

Early responses indicate some of the most significant reforms will still face roadblocks.

Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat who says a priest raped him when he was a teenager, has spent several years pushing bills to extend or eliminate Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations on sexual abuse.

Manel Balce Ceneta / AP

A coalition of activists intent on shutting down the Berks County Residential Center is trying to convince Governor Tom Wolf to take more extreme action on the issue.

All summer, they’ve held regular rallies at the state Capitol in an effort to drive their point home. And at the latest one on Monday they renewed their call for Wolf to issue an Emergency Removal Order.

Berks is one of three facilities operated by the federal government to hold undocumented migrant families. The smallest of the three—and the only one not in Texas—it has a maximum capacity under 100 people.

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

A long-awaited grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania was released Tuesday in an interim redacted form. The report detailed decades of alleged misconduct and cover-ups in six of the state's eight Roman Catholic dioceses.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

As midterms approach, Republicans and Democrats around the country are looking at special election results for clues on how their candidates will do in November.

A new Associated Press analysis shows Democrats, so far, have an enthusiasm advantage.

And in Pennsylvania, Democrats are trying to capitalize on that.

There have been ten special elections since Donald Trump became president. The final one before the midterms was last Tuesday in Ohio.

Charles Krupa / AP

As Pennsylvania’s Democratic Socialists get ready to have some of their own in the state House next legislative session, they’re also looking to broaden their coalition.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state agency has said it’s willing to let Pennsylvania’s capitol keep its uncommonly high taxes through 2020—the latest development in a battle between the city and state over how it’ll pay its bills after losing its “distressed municipality” status.

The city, however, is hoping it gets to keep its special taxing authority permanently.

The new tax option comes in the latest version of Harrisburg’s Act 47 exit plan, delivered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After a year of campaigning and months of legislative debate, it’s likely too late for state lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process before the next map-redrawing gets underway in 2021.

So now, reform advocates are exploring alternative options.

Critics of the map-drawing methods for congressional and state legislative districts have spent months insisting state lawmakers have too much power over the process—and saying that leads to political gerrymandering and incumbent protection.  

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Wolf administration is touting a new approach to coordinating with schools on the district level around the state.

Julio Cortez / AP

 

The release of a long-awaited grand jury report on sexual abuse by Pennsylvania’s Catholic clergy has been delayed once again.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator is going toe to toe with President Donald Trump on tariffs.

Republican Pat Toomey, a staunch free trade advocate, held a roundtable discussion in Harrisburg on Tuesday to hear a range of business owners and advocates speak on how the President’s recent spate of tariffs and ensuing trade wars have impacted them.

Marc Levy / AP

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lou Barletta is on a bus tour across the commonwealth with his golden retriever, Reilly.

The Luzerne County congressman is hoping it turns the tide of his disappointing fundraising numbers.

As of their most recent campaign filings from late June, Barletta has about $1.5 million on-hand, while opponent Bob Casey has nearly $10 million.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Republican gubernatorial nominee is updating his rhetoric on climate change.

Matt Rourke / AP

With three months until midterm elections, Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate hopeful Lou Barletta has found himself trailing his incumbent opponent—both in polls and in dollars.

Now, the Luzerne County representative is leaning into one resource he can count on: the support of President Donald Trump.

On Thursday night, Trump rolled through northeast Pennsylvania to lend his voice to the cause.

Matt Rourke / AP

More than 100 scrubs-clad nurses filled the Capitol rotunda Tuesday in an effort to convince lawmakers they’re overworked, and the state needs to do something about it.

They brought with them more than 10,000 signatures from around the state supporting legislation that would create minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.

PA House of Representatives / legis.state.pa.gov

A Democratic state representative is circulating a proposal that has prompted some concern from domestic violence advocates.

Representative Kevin Haggerty’s measure would require drug and alcohol tests for certain people who file for Protection from Abuse orders.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state commission is trying to figure out how to cut costs in Pennsylvania’s two largest, heavily-indebted pension funds.

Depending on what numbers you use, the State Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System have between about $66 and $89 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Basically, the money needed to pay thousands of pensions isn’t there.

That’s nothing new. But what is new is a commission of lawmakers and state officials who are working to come up with a plan to pay down the debt.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Ahead of the legislature’s return to Harrisburg this fall, Representative Todd Stephens is spending his summer trying to get fellow conservatives on board with a modest gun control proposal.

The Montgomery County Republican introduced his extreme risk protection, or “red flag” bill in February, in the wake of a mass school shooting in Florida.

Five states have similar laws in effect, and Stephens said around thirty more are considering them.

The version in Pennsylvania’s statehouse hasn’t moved much since its introduction.

Julio Cortez / AP

The state Supreme Court has ordered  the release of a heavily redacted grand jury investigation into sexual abuse of children at the hands of clergy in six of Pennsylvania's eight Catholic dioceses.

The Wyse Choice / via AP

State officials say the rain that drenched much of Pennsylvania this week is tapering off.

Martin Meissner / AP

The Wolf administration is voicing concerns that the federal government will reduce states’ abilities to use a vehicle emission standard that’s tougher than the federal one.

Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states that abides by California’s separate standards. Under Barack Obama’s administration, federal emission targets for vehicles were ramped up to match the West Coast state’s more aggressive ones.

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