Katie Meyer

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

State House lawmakers have completed their final session in a two-week series of Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence.

They were inspired by the call for tougher gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people.

Despite some agreement on the importance of the issue, lawmakers are struggling mightily with solutions.

They tangled over one proposal after another, from expanding background checks, to arming teachers, to mandating schools install metal detectors, to banning AR-15 style weapons

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than a month after the Mariner East 1 pipeline was shut down over safety concerns, representatives for Sunoco say they’ve found no problems, and that they’re looking forward to getting the natural gas liquids pipeline running again.

But state officials say they’re not making any decisions to put the Mariner East 1 back in service yet.

Problems with the pipeline began late last year when a rash of sinkholes began opening up nearby. In early March, the state Public Utility Commission ordered that it be shut down.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawyers for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have filed an appeal to a federal court decision that the Republican must personally pay more than $29,000 for legal fees in a high-profile redistricting case.

The GOP lawmaker officially has 14 days to pay—but his chief counsel said he has no intention of doing so.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House lawmakers voted to create work requirements for able-bodied people to get Medicaid coverage.

Such requirements weren’t federally permitted for Medicaid until the Trump administration changed the policy several months ago.

Pennsylvania’s state police force is reviewing its interactions with the federal immigration and customs enforcement, in the wake of a series of investigative reports questioning the legality of troopers using traffic stops to detain people in the country illegally.

Marc Levy / AP

Governor Tom Wolf and a number of legislators are pushing for a slew of changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The call comes in the wake of a few victories for reform advocates, but in the face of opposition from a significant portion of the legislature’s GOP majority.

On the agenda are eight initiatives, including standardizing bail across counties, pumping more money into public defense, providing a clean slate for old misdemeanors, and a second phase of Justice Reinvestment initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state legislature has moved two bills that would create work requirements and otherwise tighten regulations for Pennsylvanians getting state benefits.

As committee debate on the measures stretched more than two hours, protesters in wheelchairs crowded the hearing room.

They were from the Philadelphia chapter of ADAPT, a national disability rights organization. And though the protesters in wheelchairs wouldn’t likely be the ones losing benefits under the proposed restrictions, organizer Nancy Salandra said she’s concerned nonetheless.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Trump appointee Linda McMahon made stops in the midstate Tuesday to promote efforts the Small Business Administration is making to pump money to business owners.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Democrat Conor Lamb’s victory over Republican Rick Saccone in last month’s special congressional election was seen as a positive sign for Democrats.

But it’s also a sign that in many working-class pockets of Pennsylvania, unions still hold considerable sway.

Rick Bloomingdale, president of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, said the group is working with local unions to focus on a handful of races heading into this year’s midterm elections.

Lamb’s new race for the 17th Congressional District under the redrawn map is at the top of the pile.

AP

While he was working on the US Constitution, James Madison realized there was a pretty fundamental part of state governments that seemed useless to regulate.

Catalina Jaramillo / WHYY

An environmental group is criticizing Pennsylvania for its high numbers of Clean Water Act violations.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

A new poll shows Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democrats are in a strong position ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

It found 43 percent of voters in the Franklin and Marshall College survey believe Governor Tom Wolf is doing an “excellent” or “good” job in office, compared with 38 percent in a similar poll in September.

The boost came primarily from Democrats and Independents.

F&M’s Berwood Yost said it could be due to a lot of things.

For one, it might be disapproval of President Donald Trump—who has a steady 30 percent approval rating in the poll.

Matt Rourke / AP

A crowded field of Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor met for a debate Monday as they attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Mike Stack.

Though Stack himself was busy presiding over the Senate and was notably absent, his four-year tenure was a central topic.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant run separately from one another in primaries, and pair off for the general election.

That can lead to odd couplings—including the current one between Stack and Governor Tom Wolf.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As an elementary school choir sang inside the Capitol rotunda on Friday, a group of men and women clad in military fatigues, carrying walkie talkies and AR-15s, gathered just outside.

“We live in a society where we give lazy kids who come in eighth place trophies,” shouted one man, who left before giving his name. “Alright? It’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental problem.”

Christian Yingling wore a patch on his camouflage jacket declaring him part of the Pennsylvania Lightfoot Militia.

He’s from Westmoreland County, and on most days, works as a machinist.

Michael Rubinkam / AP

Lawyers for state Representative Tarah Toohil have released additional abuse allegations against a fellow GOP lawmaker--along with portions of a House investigation into the matter.

Michael Rubinkam / AP

Representative Tarah Toohil has alleged that fellow Republican Representative Nick Miccarelli threatened to kill her and otherwise abused her during and after a relationship in 2012.

90.5 WESA

A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers and environmental advocates are trying to lower the lead levels in schools.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state House has moved to change the commonwealth’s constitution and drastically reduce the size of the legislature.

However, there’s no guarantee voters will see the amendment on their ballots come election day.

Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the country—and for years, lawmakers have sought to change that.

Supporters of the proposal say cutting the number of representatives would make government more efficient—and probably save money.

And, bill sponsor Jerry Knowles noted, the ultimate decision will be up to voters. 

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

Abuse allegations against Delaware County Representative Nick Miccarelli have put state Capitol law enforcement in a somewhat unprecedented situation.

Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer and L&P’s The Caucus reported that two women who dated Miccarelli accused him repeated abuse.

Late last week, one of those women went public.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

A fraught redistricting battle in Pennsylvania has taken a small step forward.

A panel of three federal judges heard arguments Friday in a case over whether the commonwealth’s Supreme Court violated the federal constitution when it redrew congressional maps last month.

Both the plaintiffs and defendants acknowledged, the case doesn’t have any direct precedent.

Lawyers for two Republican state Senate leaders and eight GOP congressmen contended that the state court usurped the legislature’s power.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican state lawmakers wrapped up three weeks of annual budget hearings by tearing into Governor Tom Wolf’s administration for several hours straight.

 

The crime, as they see it?

 

Making what the GOP alleges is an unconstitutional deal to close this fiscal year’s budget deficit.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

As more states begin creating work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients, calls to do the same in Pennsylvania are building.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to figure out a better way to pay for state police.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The battle over how to handle Pennsylvania’s congressional maps has even political families divided.

 

Former governor Dick Thornburgh has filed a brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing a new congressional map drawn by the state Supreme Court should be invalidated.

 

But the governor’s son, David, has called that map an “improvement” on the old one.

 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A bipartisan group of state senators is plotting another attempt at legislation that has become something of a white whale in Pennsylvania — overhauling the property tax system.

They’re reviving a bill that failed to pass the chamber by a single vote in 2015.

Pennsylvania’s property taxes largely pay for public schools, as well as local government expenses.

Heather Ainsworth / AP

In their final week of annual budget hearings, state lawmakers are trying to evaluate how last year’s sweeping gambling overhaul—designed to balance a shaky revenue plan—is affecting state finances.

 

The introduction of a new class of mini-casinos and remote video gaming terminals is the biggest expansion Pennsylvania’s gambling industry has seen since it was legalized well over a decade ago.

 

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

Two women recently accused state Representative Nick Miccarelli of repeated domestic violence.

In one incident, he allegedly brandished a gun while driving with one of the women, and threatened to kill them both.

Chris Knight / AP

Pennsylvania’s three candidates for the Republican nomination for governor are vying to distinguish themselves to voters as the May 15 primary election draws closer.

Rich Copeland / WITF

Pennsylvania’s newly redrawn 10th Congressional District—which now encompasses both Harrisburg and York—is getting a new candidate.

 

Christina Hartman, who lost a high-profile congressional race to Republican Lloyd Smucker in 2016, is jumping into the 10th after leaving her Lancaster County district.

 

Hartman said the days since Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court redrew the congressional map have been tumultuous.

 

AP Photo

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that killed 17 people, Pennsylvania US Senator Pat Toomey was among a number of lawmakers who met with President Trump Wednesday to discuss new gun control measures.

The second-term Republican's main proposal is a measure that would expand background checks for firearm purchases to include sales online and at gun shows.

The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin; a version was first introduced after 2012's Sandy Hook shooting, and narrowly defeated.

Pages