Politics & Government

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

Ex-Treasurer Gets Prison In Campaign Donor Extortion Case

Aug 28, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

A former elected Pennsylvania state treasurer was sentenced Tuesday to 2½ years in federal prison for trying to squeeze campaign cash from a law firm and a property management firm during his failed 2014 bid for governor.

Brad Larrison for WHYY

Pennsylvania is seeing an uptick in voter registration with the number of registered voters up 4 percent since the 2014 midterm elections.

And registered voters under 35 now outnumber those 65 and older, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The election of Donald Trump has energized many younger people on both ends of the political spectrum, according to several organizations.

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Following the grand jury report on the alleged widespread clergy abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church, state lawmakers are pushing for reforms. 

Wagner Says Wolf Wants To 'Run Out The Clock' On Answers

Aug 27, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is criticizing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for avoiding debates before the Nov. 6 election.

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.

90.5 WESA

Since the start of last year, The Associated Press has tallied at least 75 state lawmakers who have faced public allegations or repercussions over sexual misconduct claims. Most of those cases became public since the #MeToo movement gained momentum in October, though some of the incidents allegedly occurred several years ago.

Here is a look at those lawmakers who have resigned or been expelled, faced other repercussions such as the loss of party or committee leadership positions, or had accusations made against them:

RESIGNED OR REMOVED FROM OFFICE

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he plans to investigate if the state's child abuse hotline followed through on his office's recommendations to hire more staff. It's part of a plan announced Thursday to revisit nine previously audited state agencies.

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.”

Wolf Says 'No' To All But One Debate In Governor's Race

Aug 23, 2018
Chris Pizello / Invision via AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is agreeing to participate in just one debate before the November election with his Republican rival, an event to be moderated by "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.

State Prisons Make Changes After Staff Mysteriously Sickened

Aug 23, 2018
Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania's state prison system is tightening security and revamping procedures after 18 staff members were treated at hospitals for exposure to a yet-unidentified substance at three prisons earlier this month.

Courtesy of Bruce Ledewitz

For the next month, motorists on Interstate 86 in the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania will see a billboard with the statement: “Tax Cuts Threaten Social Security.”

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

It’s move-in week at the University of Pittsburgh, and while college students settle into their dorm rooms, NextGen Pennsylvania wants to register them to vote.

Court Upholds Wolf Order Organizing Home Health Care Workers

Aug 22, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's highest court ruled Tuesday that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf did not exceed his authority when he set up a process to give some union rights to home-based workers who care for elderly and disabled people.

The state Supreme Court, divided 5-2 along party lines, ruled that Wolf's 2015 executive order formalized a voluntary system to obtain information and discuss issues and did not impinge on the Legislature's prerogative.

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.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

General assistance, a state-funded cash program created to help Pennsylvania’s poorest residents, will start issuing benefits again next month, six years after lawmakers voted to eliminate it.

The Department of Human Services, which will oversee the program, is in the process of updating its internal systems and training staff, said spokesman Colin Day.

A form of welfare, the mandated program provided $205 a month to people with no other income.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Warning: This story contains dog puns.

 

 


It’s the dog days of summer, and both Republicans and Democrats are embracing pet causes to win voters.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and his Republican challenger, Congressman Lou Barletta, each touted their support of blue-collar workers in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

Lavish Court Spending In Poor West Virginia Triggers Scandal

Aug 14, 2018
John Raby / AP

A $42,000 antique desk. A $32,000 blue suede sectional sofa. A $7,500 inlaid wooden floor map of West Virginia's 55 counties.

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.

Casey, Barletta Spar Over Medicare Vote

Aug 13, 2018
Screenshot/Bob Casey for Senate

In a new campaign ad, Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey attacks his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta for his vote seven years ago to restructure the Medicare program. Barletta's campaign says the ad is repeating a proven lie.

Jason Eppink / flickr

Pennsylvania plans to restore general assistance cash payments this fall for poor or disabled Pennsylvanians following a state Supreme Court decision.

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.

Cliff Owen / AP

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect the chair of the Democratic National Committee to be so excited after seeing his party lose a closely watched special election. 

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.  

Instead Of Tax Cuts, GOP Candidates Motivate With Anxiety

Aug 9, 2018
Kristi Boyd / Office of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

There's a border crisis in Pennsylvania. The radical left is surging in New Jersey. And Nancy Pelosi is a threat to New York.

Republican candidates in the nation's premier midterm battlegrounds have embraced a central message in their fight to maintain the House majority this fall — and it has little to do with the surging economy or the sweeping tax cuts that the GOP celebrated as a once-in-a-generation achievement just eight months ago.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Senator Bob Casey was in suburban Pittsburgh Wednesday morning to advocate for protecting health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Casey was joined by health care providers and patients with pre-existing conditions at the Squirrel Hill Health Center in Brentwood, Pa.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pennsylvania Republican Party wants an investigation into a promotion by Fayette County Democrats at the recent county fair to get people to register as Democrats or change party affiliation.

The GOP says the offer of Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia and a one-night stay at a western Pennsylvania resort violated the state Elections Code .

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.

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