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.

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.

Courtesy of Heidelbaugh for Attorney General

Pittsburgh-area attorney Heather Heidelbaugh announced Tuesday that she will run for Pennsylvania Attorney General next year. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Democrat Stephen Zappala won Tuesday’s election for Allegheny County District Attorney thanks to a strong showing in the suburbs. But campaigners for independent challenger Lisa Middleman say they are redrawing the political map. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Democrat Stephen Zappala will remain Allegheny County District Attorney after winning a comfortable victory against Independent Lisa Middleman in Tuesday’s election.

 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter will not go on trial before October 2020. U.S. District Judge Donnetta Ambrose said Thursday that proceedings will start sometime after the Jewish high holidays next fall.

 

Bret Hartman / AP

When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next Tuesday, they’ll be asked to vote on a victims’ rights amendment to the state constitution. But a Commonwealth Court judge has barred state elections officials from counting votes on the measure, called Marsy’s Law – at least for now.

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People with criminal histories can explore options for erasing their records at a clinic in Homewood Saturday. The Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office will host the event, at the Carnegie Library of Homewood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

90.5 WESA

A new study from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania finds that the use of cash bail in Allegheny County dropped by about 9 percent between early 2018 and early 2019. But the civil liberties group says too many people await trial behind bars simply because they can't afford to post bond.

Federal prosecutors announced in August that they will pursue the death penalty against the man accused of killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue last October. They argued in a court filing that one reason the attack was especially nefarious was because it stemmed from the defendant's hatred for Jews.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Federal prosecutors announced in August that they will pursue the death penalty against the man accused of killing 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue last October. They argued in a court filing that one reason the attack was especially nefarious was because it stemmed from the defendant’s hatred for Jews.

Courtesy of Christine Allen, Michael Freedman, and Tom Duerr

Allegheny County Council often doesn't attract much attention, but lately it’s been consumed by debates over police oversight and LGBTQ identity. So far, councilors have been tied down by ideological divisions. But contested elections in three of county council’s 15 districts next month could change council's direction next year.

KEITH SRAKOCIC / AP

A long-delayed proposal to create a public registry of oil and gas leases in Allegheny County still faces hurdles after county councilors met to discuss it Tuesday. The bill would require landholders to report where they lease property for fracking and oil drilling.

Carolyn Kaster / 90.5 WESA

The Rankin Police Department will hand over night patrols to the Pennsylvania State Police next month. Rankin will still have its own police force, but Mayor M. Nicholas Glova said Tuesday that the borough has struggled to keep enough officers to provide round-the-clock coverage.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Four local teens were each jailed for up to 15 months despite alibi evidence that proved their innocence, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report Sunday. And on Monday, the independent candidate for Allegheny County District Attorney, Lisa Middleman, blasted Democratic incumbent Stephen Zappala for mishandling the case.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

A fight at a North Side gas station has become an issue in the race for Allegheny County District Attorney. Independent challenger Lisa Middleman is critical of incumbent Democrat Stephen Zappala for not bringing more serious charges against three male defendants.

Sara D. Davis / AP Images for U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

job fair at Heinz Field Thursday will help veterans, military spouses, National Guard members, and reservists find work.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Wednesday that the law would not allow him to charge three men with felony offenses for allegedly assaulting two black women at a gas station.

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