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Politics & Government

This Week in PA Politics 11/24

The investigation into Lewd emails continues. Chief Justice Ron Castille said the investigation into the almost 4,000 pornographic emails sent amongst members of the Attorney General’s office is still ongoing, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. Aside from Justice Seamus McCaffery, all other state Supreme Court justices have been “exonerated,” but many other state employees implicated in the email ring have been fired or have resigned.

State panel submits suggestions on how to protect vulnerable seniors. As baby boomers age more safeguards need to be put in place to protect them, a state panel contends. 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports that the panel, which included lawyers, prosecutors, judges, advocates and program administrators, came up with 130 suggestions to protect seniors, including ethics training for legal guardians and funding for legal aid to low-income seniors. The panel’s suggestions also led to the creation of a new Office of Elder Justice in the state court system.

Wolf’s transition team almost complete. Governor-elect Tom Wolf announced more members of his transition team, including a former U.S. attorney who worked in Gov. Bob Casey's administration and Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. The team will conduct a “top-to-bottom review of state government” to prepare the incoming administration; Shapiro will be in charge of assessing the state's fiscal situation and budget.

Heavy price tag to replace possibly “unreliable” voting systems in PA. Pennsylvania’s primary use of push-button electronic machines and electronic touch-screen machines has a serious drawback, namely the lack of a paper trail, election experts say. 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports that replacing these systems could be very costly, however, with a $30 million price tag for Philadelphia alone and another $15-20 million for Allegheny County.

Plans to reopen state health centers not ready for implementation. Despite lame-duck governor Tom Corbett’s past efforts to close rural and small town health centers in favor of mobile nurses, the state Supreme Court deemed those actions illegal. As a result, many of the health centers that closed need to reopen, but it is unclear how that will be done, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. The Supreme Court ruled that closing the health centers violated a 1996 law that required the facilities to stay open and provide certain services.

DePasquale calls for an ending of hedge fund reliance for public pensions. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale would like to see public pensions rely less on hedge funds, especially when considering the $40 billion debt tied to state pensions, WHYY Newsworks Aaron Moselle reports. DePasquale claims that the state could save $30 million a year from reducing the fees owed to hedge funds. Eric Boehm of PA Independent looks deep into the numbers and their implication for taxpayers.

State legislators have not ruled out final session with lame-duck Corbett. In the two weeks that separate the swearing in of new state lawmakers and the swearing in of the new governor, a possible “micro-session” could take place with the new Republican majorities and Governor Corbett, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. Wilson describes the micro-session as uncertain and possibly “tricky” to manage, but it could be a great opportunity for House and Senate Republicans to work with a governor of their own party.

Wolf plans to find money to fund education. Writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Karen Langley reports Governor-elect Tom Wolf plans to find the money to boost funding for education despite the sizeable state deficit and the Republican-controlled legislature. Wolf said he is also looking to enact a severance tax on natural gas drillers, but all is predicated on his relationship with the state House and Senate.

Shuster renamed House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair. After gliding to victory in Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district, Congressman Bill Shuster was renamed chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mike Pound of Early Returns reports