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This Week in PA Politics 9/15

This Week in PA Politics

What the Governor’s race means for Medicaid qualifiers. In an ongoing back-and-forth that began even before the Department of Health and Human Services accepted Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA Medicaid plan, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports on the implications of a Wolf gubernatorial victory for those who would qualify for Corbett’s plan and a federal Medicaid expansion. Wolf has said that he will expand Medicaid. Corbett has since responded and said that by expanding Medicaid, and effectively dismantling his Healthy PA proposal, those who need health care coverage the most could go without while the state works out the specifics of the expansion.

Pennsylvania emergency truck services pairs with State Farm. A 2012 law, which allowed for public-private partnerships in Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure and services sector, is taking effect. The car insurance company State Farm is now sponsoring highway safety trucks around the state, reports 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson. Keep your eyes open for their logos on PennDOT’s lime-green trucks.

Medical Marijuana legislation talks set to begin this fall. In our last word from 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson, the state Senate is preparing for the possibility of a medical marijuana discussion and successive legislation if support is widespread. The idea is garnering bipartisan support, with Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester) and Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) voicing approval for a legislative push.

Two new polls differ on Wolf’s pre election advantage. A consensus that Democrat Tom Wolf is leading in the polls is certain. What is not certain is how big that lead, in fact, is. Nick Field from PoliticsPA reports Quinnipiac has the Democratic challenger up by a comfortable 24 points, while YouGov has Wolf’s lead at only 11 points. The two pollsters survey potential voters in different ways, perhaps explaining the large difference in the recent results.

Corbett vows to push pension reform if re-elected. Pension reform is an issue very near and dear to Governor Tom Corbett’s heart. He believes the economic burden associated with the state’s pension funds is crippling Pennsylvania’s economy and he even put off signing the state’s most recent budget because he believed the legislature was not properly handling the crisis. Now the Governor has come out and said that he would call a special session specifically for pension reform if he was re-elected, reports Ryan Fucci of PoliticsPA. He warns that if Democrat Tom Wolf is elected instead, “there will be nothing done about” rising pension costs.

PA-8 deemed “safe” for Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick. Rothenberg Political Report believes that the PA-8 race between incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick and Democratic challenger Kevin Strouse is a “safe” seat for the Republican party -- a change from the former diagnosis of the seat as a “lean Republican” district. PA-8 has been viewed as a swing seat and possible pickup for the Democratic party, but Rothenberg seems to see a Democratic victory as a longshot, reports Nick Field of PoliticsPA.

Alleged inappropriate emails could remain under wraps. As the investigation into inappropriate emails sent by state prosecutors continues, a media law counselor interviewed by Brad Bumsted of the Tribune Review said those emails will probably remain in state hands and not be made public. Although the prosecutors who are under investigation could very well be fired if convicted, Right to Know laws probably do not extend to emails, which are technically not “records.”

Common Core standards up for review through government website. Governor Tom Corbett’s growing disenchantment towards the Common Core standards has motivated him to launch a new website where comments and criticism of the standards can be posted. Jan Murphy of PennLive reports along with informing parents about the intricacies of the Core standards, the website comments will be used as discussion points for later public hearings on the Core curriculum.  Murphy points out that the standards are not going anywhere soon, but a dialogue about them is emerging.

Philadelphia parents sue state Department of Education. Citing a lack of attention paid to their complaints, parents whose children attend Philadelphia public schools are taking the issue to court. Eric Boehm of PA Independent describes the lawsuit as well as the issue over whether Governor Tom Corbett has cut education or if pensions and poor financial decisions are really to blame for the current education crisis in the state.

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