Pennsylvania Senate

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Republican State Senate Committee met with a group of school officials and school police officers from the western Pennsyvlania on Monday, to talk about what resources and support they need to keep schools safe.

Matt Rourke / AP

This could be the year Pennsylvanians vote whether to amend the constitution and shrink the state House of Representatives by a quarter.

Toby Talbot / AP

As part of the effort to fight opioid addiction, Pennsylvania state Sen. Jay Costa (D - Forest Hills) has proposed a bill that would allow courts to send people to substance abuse treatment at the request of family members.

Nell Redmond / AP

For a second straight year, the Pennsylvania Senate is advancing legislation to permit Pennsylvania's municipal police departments to use radar to catch speeders.

Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

Gov. Tom Wolf is urging the Pennsylvania legislature to make birth control coverage a mandate in the state after the Trump administration pledged to roll back Obama-era requirements that most employers cover birth control for employees through their health insurance.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

In the wake of Charlottesville, a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to extend what qualifies as a hate crime in the commonwealth.

House To Hold Session Amid Swirling Budget Disagreements

Jul 21, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives prepared to return to Harrisburg for an unusual weekend session amid a three-week stalemate with the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf over how to resolve a gaping hole in state government's $32 billion budget plan.

Sen. Judy Schwank

All kinds of signs can decorate a highway work zone. One local lawmaker wants to make sure at least one enforcing speed is taken more seriously.

Joseph LaQuatra, business manager of the Laborers’ Local No. 1058, which represents Pittsburgh highway workers, said signs for speed cameras make a difference. 

“All you see is break lights,” LaQuatra said, referring to drivers slowing down after spotting speed cameras in the 13 states where they're required. “People actually go the speed limit through the work zone. Up here (in Pennsylvania) … there’s no consequence.”

User m01229 / Flickr

In Pennsylvania, it's illegal to hunt on a Sunday. The hunting ban has its roots in the state’s “blue laws," which date back to the late 17th century outlawing certain activities on Sundays.

A new bill sponsored by Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny, Westmoreland) would allow hunters to take part in their sport any day of the week, including Sunday.

A Conversation With U.S. Senate Primary Candidate Katie McGinty

Apr 5, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

  President Obama and Vice-President Biden have thrown their support behind our guest Katie McGinty. She’s one of three candidates running in the U. S. Senate primary where the winner will go on to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey in November's election.   McGinty is looking to return to Washington where she was once a key environmental advisor in the Clinton administration.

Do Budget Talks Warrant An Outside Mediator?

Mar 14, 2016
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

State budget hearings for the governor’s most recent spending proposal have drawn to a close, but not without an unusual bit of advice from a House lawmaker.

Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-Philadelphia) said it’s time for legislative leaders and the governor’s office to bring in some outside help to end the budget impasse: a third-party mediator.

“I am calling for mediation,” said DeLissio, testifying to the final, sparsely attended budget hearing by the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. “I am concerned that things have been said that cannot be unsaid.”

Elizabeth Thomsen / via Flickr Creative Commons

Budget hearings got off to a testy start in the state Capitol as the Wolf administration defended the governor’s spending proposal on Monday, the first day of three weeks of scheduled hearings.

The Capitol hasn’t fully emerged from last year’s budget stalemate over taxes and spending, but lawmakers are launching into this year’s planning process, even if it’s not clear how the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature can meet in the middle.

Top Aide Leaving Wolf Administration

Feb 19, 2016
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

John Hanger, a top policy adviser and rhetorical brawler for Governor Tom Wolf, is stepping down from his post, the administration announced Friday.

Hanger said he’s leaving the governor’s office to spend more time with his family in Massachusetts, where his wife has worked since 2010. Keeping two homes and a demanding job, he said, have worn on him.

“My back is giving out,” said Hanger. “I’m not the kind of person, frankly, that can throttle back very well.”

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane gets to keep her job -- for now. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

  Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday laid out a new spending plan for lawmakers — even as they keep fighting over billions in the current budget.

PA Sees Exodus Of Veteran, Moderate State Lawmakers

Jan 14, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

One legacy of Pennsylvania’s 2015 budget gridlock may prove to be the wave of retirement announcements from longtime state lawmakers.

More than a dozen House and Senate members are calling it quits, most of them with more than a decade of service under their belts.

Their reasons vary.

“Let me put it this way: the impasse didn’t convince me to stay,” said Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery), elected in 2006.

“The art of compromise needs to be revisited in the Capitol,” Vereb said, “and I think the art of the deal – someone should read up on it.”

House GOP, On An Island, Readies Stopgap Budget

Dec 21, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Governor Tom Wolf warned House Republicans on Monday not to bother with a short-term budget, saying such a measure would receive his veto.  

The House GOP is charging ahead anyway, positioning an 11-month interim budget for a final vote this week before the Christmas holiday.  

The Senate is signaling it won’t approve the plan, and Governor Wolf removed any shadow of a doubt about his intentions when he wrote to House members and told them a partial budget plan would be swiftly rejected if it landed on his desk.  

Daveynin / Flickr

The state House has passed a measure supporters say would provide more protection to police officers who use their gun or any act of force while on the job.  

When someone is victimized in a crime, the court can order the offender to pay the victim restitution. But according to the Office of Pennsylvania Courts, many victims never receive that restitution.

“Only 12 percent of mandated restitution is dispersed to the victims, only 12 percent which is ridiculous because these people are owed their money. A lot of people just evade; they try to avoid their restitution and this is two more bills aimed at trying to collect it for victims,” said Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County).

Lawmakers met in Harrisburg Tuesday to announce the formation of a legislative group aimed at reforming the boundaries for Congressional districts.

The bipartisan, bicameral group cited a plethora of misshapen, poorly drawn district boundaries that they said pressure lawmakers to toe the party line at the expense of political compromise.

Democratic Sen. Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County considers himself Exhibit A. Maps were redrawn after his election, so the voters he now serves didn’t actually choose him – they inherited him.

The signs read “work zone...reduce speed," but some Pennsylvania drivers are failing to get the message.

Three state senators have introduced legislation aimed at creating safer work zones on highways within the commonwealth.

The bills would raise fines and place cameras within active construction zones, according Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).

Costa’s bill, specifically aimed at increasing fines and penalties, would require a one-year license suspension and $10,000 fine to any driver who kills a highway worker or first responder in a work zone.

National Institutes of Health / Flickr

Vaccines have garnered lots of national attention lately, due largely to a measles outbreak tied to Disneyland and an Illinois day care center.

In particular, more attention is being paid to anti-vaccination groups, those opposed to vaccines for reasons that are not religious or medical in nature.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is taking a strong stance against a bill making its way through Harrisburg that he says would “would hurt city taxpayers & hamstring efforts to cooperate with nonprofits.”

The state’s finance committee passed and sent to the Senate floor last week Senate Bill 4 , which would clarify the Purely Public Charity Act of 1997 to make the legislature the sole body to determine what qualifies an organization as a charity.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane Wednesday announced criminal charges against state Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia).

Washington is charged with one count of theft of services and one count of violation of the conflict of interest statute. The two felonies together carry a maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000.

“The evidence will show that Senator Washington pressured her staff into performing political activities using taxpayer dollars for her own personal benefit,” Kane said in a press release.

State Draws Attention to Deadly Birth Disorder

Feb 17, 2014

A rare disorder that gets little attention and even less funding now has an entire month to build awareness.

The Pennsylvania State Senate has dedicated February as Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna County) sponsored the resolution, which passed unanimously, to draw attention to the non-inheritable chromosomal condition that affects one in every 2,500 live female births.

Blake hopes this will give physicians and family members of those living with the disorder a chance to share information and personal stories with the public.