An-Li Herring

Government & Accountability Reporter

An-Li became a reporter while completing her law degree at Stanford. In law school, she wrote about housing affordability, criminal justice and economic development, among other topics. She also served as the intern to NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, helping Ms. Totenberg to cover the U.S. Supreme Court and other legal matters. Originally from Pittsburgh, An-Li interned with the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before joining 90.5 WESA in August 2017.

She can be reached at 412-315-6767 or at aherring@wesa.fm.

Emily Previti / Keystone Crossroads

Pennsylvania’s law governing legal name changes was up for debate before the state’s Commonwealth Court in Pittsburgh Thursday. Three transgender women have challenged a provision of the statute that bars people from changing their names if they have been convicted of serious felonies.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

The defendant in the trial for a 2016 mass shooting was acquitted of all counts Friday. Attorneys for Cheron Shelton argued he was not responsible for the attack that left five adults, including a pregnant woman, dead.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

It remains unclear why the U.S. Department of Justice has apparently tapped federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh to review material from President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Licensed mental health providers may soon be barred from providing so-called conversion therapy to LGBTQ youth in Allegheny County. In a 13-2 vote Tuesday, Allegheny County Council approved a measure to prohibit the treatment for minors.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A proposal to create a countywide police review board could have better prospects this year after Allegheny County Council blocked the idea during its last session. But at a meeting of council's Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday, Democratic councilor Liv Bennett said the bill must change first.

90.5 WESA

The trial got underway Monday in the case involving a 2016 mass shooting in Wilkinsburg, with attorneys for defendant Cheron Shelton arguing that he “played no role” in the attack.

90.5 WESA

Voters could get a chance to set term limits for Allegheny County councilors, while also freeing them up to run for other elected positions. Council’s Government Reform Committee will weigh both possibilities when it discusses two proposed ballot questions on Wednesday.

Paul Sancya / AP

The steel industry has largely applauded a forthcoming trade pact between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, but it remains to be seen how the deal will shake out for domestic steelmakers.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

As promised, Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton re-introduced a measure Tuesday to create a countywide police review board. The legislation was among the first proposals council took up this year.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Council President Pat Catena rewarded his allies when he named committee chairs Thursday –and along the way he put two first-time progressive councilors, Bethany Hallam and Liv Bennett, in position to advance key items on their agenda. 

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's legislature has been controlled by Republicans for nearly a decade, but progressive organizers hope to shift the balance of power in this year’s election.

WESA

In a story about local population decline that officials are actually celebrating, the average daily population in the Allegheny County Jail has fallen 7 percent since late 2017, according to a report the county released this week.

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Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey was one of just three U.S. Senators to oppose a major new trade deal in a Senate committee meeting Tuesday. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement, and on Tuesday the Senate finance committee voted 25-3 to send it to the full chamber.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council is often overlooked. After all, its main responsibilities typically consist of routine matters like approving budgets and political appointees named by the county executive. But that pattern could change after three new members are sworn in Thursday.

Steven Senne / AP

The U.S. government declared this year that 20 counties in western Pennsylvania have effectively ended veteran homelessness.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

To hold jobs like accountant, nurse or funeral director, Pennsylvanians must first obtain a license. Licensing boards today can automatically deny certification to those with criminal records. But last week the state House voted 193 to 4 to change that policy, in a bill similar to one the Senate passed in November.

Scott Detrow / STATEIMPACT PENNSYLVANIA

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushed back Thursday against calls from some Democratic presidential candidates to ban fracking, saying that policy would ‘devastate’ the economies of states like Pennsylvania.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Legislation to decriminalize marijuana under federal law has gotten some traction in Congress, with a U.S. House committee passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, or MORE, Act in November. But the bill, introduced by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, is not expected to become law.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day,” Pittsburgh attorney Catia Kossovsky said with a laugh.

The day was January 4, 2018. And then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced he would let prosecutors crack down on the medical marijuana industry, undoing Obama-era guidelines that generally left states to enforce their own marijuana laws.

90.5 WESA

A grand jury alleges that inmates housed at the Allegheny County Jail enlisted lawyers’ help in a drug smuggling operation. In a report eleased by the county district attorney’s office Friday, the grand jury recounted five incidents in which inmates coordinated with people outside the jail to arrange deliveries of synthetic cannabinoids.

Mark Tenally / AP

Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb, of Mt. Lebanon, said Thursday that he will vote to ratify a reworked trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The congressman joined others in his party, as well as Western Pennsylvania’s Republican members of the House, in adding his support to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, of Mt. Lebanon, said Thursday he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump. House Democrats announced Tuesday that they would bring two articles of impeachment against the president, charging him with abuse of power in the Ukraine affair and obstruction of Congress.

Susan Walsh / AP

An updated trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada garnered generally positive reaction from organized labor Tuesday. But western Pennsylvania’s Democratic congressmen, Mike Doyle and Conor Lamb – who enjoy strong support from unions – have yet to offer their opinions.

Patrick Doyle / 90.5 WESA

A bill that would reform probation in Pennsylvania passed a House committee Monday – but only after it was scaled back so extensively that the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its support for the measure.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Two Allegheny County Council bills that would address so-called "conversion therapy" for minors likely won't get a vote this year. On Wednesday, council’s Health and Human Services Committee canceled a meeting to discuss the bills, which had been scheduled for later in the day. Councilors said no action is expected before the end of the year's legislative session, which would effectively kill the measures unless reintroduced next year.

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Eighty percent of students at the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh have previously been incarcerated, and according to the Homewood-based nonprofit, about 30 percent of them are homeless at any given time.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Legally, it’s a lot easier to get married than divorced. After all, while getting married usually doesn’t require hiring a lawyer, a divorce often does. And paying thousands of dollars for legal help is not an option for some.

Courtesy of Camera Bartolotta's legislative office

Pennsylvania lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pursued changes to the criminal-justice system. Republican state Senator Camera Bartolotta, of Washington County, has emerged as a leader in this effort. But when she was elected in 2014, she had little inkling that she would play such a role.

Mary Altaffer / AP

Pennsylvanians who want to get jobs as nurses, funeral directors or hairdressers must first be licensed. For some, that requirement makes it impossible to enter certain professions. Under current law, licensing boards can deny certification automatically to those who have been convicted of a felony, or of a misdemeanor relevant to the occupation.

KARLY DOMB SADOF / AP

Pennsylvania state police are expected to tell the state Supreme Court in arguments Tuesday that their policy for monitoring social media should remain secret. But the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania argues that state’s open records law requires police to publish the guidelines for how police track online activity.

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