Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Voters will weigh in on their party’s pick for governor, U.S. Senate in May primary election

Matt Rourke

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Primary elections are a month away, and while some races are sparse, others have become crowded fields
(0:00 - 7:08)

Four weeks from today Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls and select the party nominee to run in key races, including governor and U.S. Senate.

In the primary campaign for governor, there’s a crowded field of nine Republican candidates, while the Democratic ticket only has one: Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“If you talk to Republican Party leaders, one of the detriments is that [state senator] Doug Mastriano might win,” says Chris Potter, WESA’s Government and Accountability editor. “There's a real concern among party leaders that Mastriano, who was on hand for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, who's never really gotten too much above 20% in polling, but in a field of nine candidates, that could well be enough.”

When it comes to more competitive races, such as the races for U.S. Senate and Congress, Potter says Democratic candidates are largely aiming to distinguish themselves either as grassroots progressives, or pragmatic decision makers.

That’s the case, says Potter, of Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s bid for Pat Toomey’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

“He has generated a lot of grassroots campaign contributions. It's really on the strength of those small dollar online donations that he has this big fundraising advantage.”

More information about the upcoming election can be found in WESA’s voter guide.

Cybersecurity risks on autonomous robots used in hospitals
(7:13 - 12:51)

Hospitals are looking to autonomous robots to assist with tasks such as transporting medication or linens. But, as with any piece of technology, it could be vulnerable to hackers.

WESA’s Kiley Koscinski reports that researchers at cybersecurity startup Cynerio found five vulnerabilities in Aethon TUG robots, which are currently in use at UPMC facilities. These potential exposures could allow hackers to infiltrate and control these machines.

Koscinski explains these robots are configured to a particular hospital, so if a hacker did gain access, the consequences can vary. Vulnerabilities identified by Cynerio include ones that might allow hackers to access camera feeds and device data.

“The robots use the internet to communicate with each other, and with the base server where commands come from, that tell the robot to, you know, turn left here or open the door there. And accessing that base server is what led to the uncovering of these vulnerabilities,” Koscinski explains.

There is no evidence that these robots have been hacked, but Cynerio researchers stress that a breach is possible. UPMC says their robots were not connected to the internet.

To general local revenue, Pittsburgh’s Film Office hopes the legislature increases the state’s film tax credit
(12:56 - 22:30)

The state Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing tomorrow in Pittsburgh on Pennsylvania’s Film Tax Credit Program, which incentivizes film and television productions to operate in the state.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, will be testifying.

Keezer says the state legislature has kept the tax credit program at the $70 million mark, although the highest amount it’s ever been was $75 million. Keezer hopes the tax credit limit is increased to $125 million.

“It's just not enough funds to keep the industry moving,” says Keezer of the current limit. ““Without the incentives there is no work, and the incentives are driving the work. Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA, we're in the top five locations of places for them to film, but the moment we run out of money, they go other places.”

Tomorrow’s testimony will be livestreamed.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Recent Episodes Of The Confluence