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This Week in PA Politics 9/29

Corbett exudes confidence in front of business-friendly crowd. In the first of three scheduled gubernatorial debates, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett came out aggressively against Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, attempting to make up ground in the polls that have him behind by double-digit margins.  Corbett benefited from the pro-business crowd in Hershey, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports, but he also exceeded expectations by appearing candid and experienced compared to political newcomer Wolf. 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh likewise analyzed the debate.

Bill to protect pregnant women proposed by Pittsburgh city council. Councilman Dan Gillman and Councilwoman Deborah Gross introduced a bill that would protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination, 90.5 WESA’s Liz Reid reports. The bill would make sure that pregnant women’s needs are accommodated for by employers.  

$2-per-pack cigarette tax signed by the Governor. In an effort to help the financially beleaguered Philadelphia public school district, the state House and Senate passed a $2 tax on packs of cigarettes, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. The tax is designed to help the school district deal with its $81 million deficit, and comes during an ongoing battle in the city over education funding.

Medical marijuana bill receives widespread support in state Senate. Medical marijuana legislation is moving much faster than many had expected. In a resounding show of support, the state Senate voted 43 to 7 to approve a medical marijuana bill that would cover edibles, pills and oils – none of which can be smoked – reports 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson. The bill is headed to the House where support is not nearly as strong.

Wolf out-fundraises Corbett in cycle 4. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf out-fundraised incumbent Governor Tom Corbett by more than $1.5 million, 90.5 WESA’s Vincent Smith reports. Even with a large $4 million donation from the Republican Governors’ Association, Corbett was not able to catch Wolf’s impressive campaign efforts. Corbett did outspend Wolf in this last quarter.

Measure to cut down on drug-related overdoses reaches Governor’s desk. A bill that passed in both the Pennsylvania state House and Senate would eliminate punishments for those who report overdoses to police, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. Governor Corbett is expected to sign the measure.

Pennsylvania tops all other states in television ad spending, report says. No other state has spent more on statehouse campaign ads than Pennsylvania, reported the Associated Press. Since the beginning of the campaign season back in 2013, $37.8 million has been spent on around 56,000 television ads, which is more than both Texas and Florida.

State Senator Ferlo makes argument for hate crime legislation. After the recent attack of 2 gay men in downtown Philadelphia, State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) pushed for more stringent hate crime legislation while also admitting that he himself is a gay man, Kate Giammarise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Both candid and emphatic, Ferlo discussed how the issue was a personal one for him and that although he is not running for re-election he hopes to push the cause in Harrisburg. 

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