Politics

Matt Rourke / AP

Republicans easily won a special election to retain a seat in the state House of Representatives in a GOP-leaning district in central Pennsylvania.

Republican David Rowe won Tuesday's special election in parts of Union and Snyder counties by a nearly two-to-one margin over Democrat Jennifer Rager-Kay.

The former incumbent, Republican Rep. Fred Keller, was elected to Congress. With Rowe's victory, Republicans will have a 110-93 majority over Democrats in the state House.

PA Dems, Some In GOP Criticize Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Tweets

Jul 16, 2019
Andrew Harnik / AP

Most Democratic House members from Pennsylvania were quick to publicly condemn President Donald Trump’s statements that four progressive Democratic congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawmakers are on track to give Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf even more money than he asked for to fund voting machine improvements.

However, it will come with conditions.

Many of Pennsylvania's voting machines only record votes electronically. That makes it almost impossible to double-check tallies, and led to the commonwealth settling a lawsuit last year that accused it of being susceptible to election tampering.

There's no evidence tampering happened.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

House Republicans have begun moving the main spending bill for next year’s state budget, and it seems likely the Senate and governor will support it.

The plan passed the chamber’s appropriations committee with minimal debate Monday, setting the stage for what leaders hope will be a smooth final week of negotiations.

The budget is due before the fiscal year ends July 1.

The $33.99 billion general appropriations bill increases basic K-12 education spending by $160 million. Governor Tom Wolf had initially asked for $200 million.

Courtesy of the Friends of Lisa Middleman

Long-time Allegheny County public defender Lisa Middleman said Monday that she plans to run as an independent for district attorney in November.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

State lawmakers now have the official report on the money Pennsylvania netted this fiscal year.

As expected, there’s a surplus.

But it won’t go nearly as far as some officials have hoped.

Pennsylvania Has A Surplus, And Lots Of Budget Patches, Too

Jun 17, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

In Pennsylvania, good fiscal times may not necessarily mean good fiscal condition.

The rage in the state Capitol right now is the surplus that state government rolled up in the almost-ended fiscal year, helped by unexpectedly strong corporate and sales tax collections.

That news alone is fueling requests from a legion of lobbyists with pet projects, but the momentary surplus has not necessarily changed views from the outside that Pennsylvania is a state with tall fiscal challenges.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf is telling demonstrators that he'll fight Republican resistance to a Depression-era program in his budget proposal that provides a $200-a-month cash benefit for the poor who are disabled or otherwise unable to work.

Wolf, a Democrat, spoke with demonstrators from the Poor People's Campaign who showed up at his Mount Wolf home Thursday afternoon.

Demonstrators urged him to veto any spending package from the Republican-controlled Legislature that eliminates it.

Lawmakers Report $83K In Travel On Annual Ethics Disclosures

May 28, 2019
Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania state lawmakers' newly filed ethics forms show they accepted more than $83,000 in free trips last year and collected a variety of gifts, booze and free meals.

Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the alarm over the impact Chinese tariffs are having on Pennsylvania’s farmers.

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel may have boosted the domestic steel industry, but China’s retaliatory tariffs on American crops have hurt exports from Pennsylvania farms.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

For the second year in a row, House lawmakers have voted for a bill that would punish doctors who perform abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis.

Pennsylvania Primary Features A Couple High-Profile Matchups

May 13, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's primary election will decide nominees or officeholders for several high-profile offices, including mayor of the nation's sixth largest city and one of the state's 18 members of the U.S. House.

Pennsylvania's primary election is May 21.

It features primary elections for Philadelphia mayor and two statewide appellate court seats. It also features special elections to fill three open seats in the Legislature and one in Congress.

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PHILADELPHIA MAYOR

PA Lawmaker Vows To 'Do Better' After Abortion Clinic Video

May 8, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker who has drawn criticism for a recording of himself berating a woman who was protesting abortion outside a Philadelphia clinic promised Tuesday to "do better."

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's governor is commuting life sentences of three inmates, bringing his total to eight, more than any of the state's governors over the past quarter century.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

When Michael Pollack first began lobbying for state lawmakers to stop accepting gifts, he said he was met with “a lot of hostility.”

“When you go in and you tell a legislator that what they’re doing day in and day out is wrong, that kind of rocks their worldview,” he said. “They wake up in the morning and they look in the mirror and they tell themselves a story to get through the day, and that story does not involve them doing something terribly wrong.”

PA House of Representatives

A Southeastern Pennsylvania lawmaker who opposes the Mariner East 2 pipeline is being criticized by unions that represent pipeline workers, and others, for a tweet one fellow House member called a "poor choice of words."

Matt Rourke / AP

A longstanding effort to change how Pennsylvania picks judges for its three high courts is diverging into two paths: selection based on merit, and election by regional district.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

It's just over three weeks before the May primary, and some candidates for city office are facing off with Pittsburgh's Ethics Hearing Board, though they may not all face the board in person. 

Matt Rourke / AP

By the end of the week, the state House is hoping to pass every proposal included in last year's grand jury report on decades of child abuse within the Roman Catholic church.

Tom MacDonald/WHYY

The state House swore in its first-ever Muslim woman on Monday.

Movita Johnson-Harrell won her Philadelphia seat in a special election earlier this month. A mother and grandmother, she arrived in Harrisburg with 55 guests, more than half of whom she said were fellow Muslims.

But she said her first day in office was marred by an “offensive” invocation before her induction.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democrats are claiming victory in special elections to fill two vacant Pennsylvania state House seats.

Movita Johnson-Harrell claimed victory Tuesday night in the election to a west Philadelphia seat, while Bridget Malloy Kosierowski claimed victory in a Scranton-area district.

Both seats were occupied most recently by Democrats, Lackawanna County Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich and Philadelphia Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

With 253 members in the House and Senate combined, Pennsylvania has the largest full-time legislature in the nation.

Its lawmakers are also the third-highest-paid, behind just New York and California.

Mel Evans / AP

Members of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed their favored candidates at the South Side’s IBEW Local #5 Sunday, casting ballots during a marathon session of glad-handing and eating donuts and other treats provided by candidates.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Candidates running for office in the city of Pittsburgh were required to file their first campaign-finance reports of the 2019 primary season on Friday. And if there’s one lesson to be drawn, it’s that it still pays to be an incumbent. That may be especially true in District 9, where Leon Ford, who was one of the most visible challengers to an incumbent, appears to be keeping a far lower profile.

Paul Sakuma / AP

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has proposed a tax on violent video games as a way to pay for increased security at public schools throughout the state.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republicans in Pennsylvania's Senate have been paying the legal bills of the chamber's ex-security chief in lawsuits by two women accusing him of harassing them while on the job as Senate security guards.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati's office has approved at least $23,355 to cover the legal bills of former security director Justin Ferrante, according to a report published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, LNP and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Courtesy of Clarion University

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's internal review found all 14 state-owned universities are facing fiscal challenges and ever-declining enrollment.

Daniel Greenstein, the new chancellor of PASSHE, says those concerns track with schools across the country. As student needs and interests evolve, state-run universities will have to adapt, he says, potentially downsizing, eliminating majors or refocusing efforts in specific programs better able to cater to Pennsylvania's future workforce.

Matt Rourke / AP

As the 2019 legislative session dawns, a new slate of committee chairs is taking over in the state House.

These chairs—all Republicans, as they control the House—have considerable sway on the legislation the chamber considers. They decide which bills are granted debate, ergo, which ones make it to the floor for votes.

It is difficult for lawmakers in opposition to circumvent committees.

One of the biggest questions ahead of committee assignment announcements was where Butler County Republican Daryl Metcalfe would be placed.

Bruised GOP Considers Trump's Pennsylvania Chances In 2020

Jan 2, 2019
Darron Cummings / AP

Democratic energy in the perennial battleground state of Pennsylvania is raising questions about President Donald Trump's ability to replicate his stunning 2016 win in a state Republicans hadn't carried for nearly two decades.

Lawmakers Sworn In At Start Of 2-Year General Assembly Term

Jan 2, 2019
Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pennsylvania lawmakers took the oath of office Tuesday, convening in the state Capitol on New Year's Day under a state constitutional mandate they meet on the first Tuesday of the year.

Forty-two House members and seven senators were sworn in for the first time after winning elections in November.

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