Politics

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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Officials, community leaders and advocates gathered downtown Monday to renew a commitment to protecting human rights on the 70th anniversary of Human Rights Day. But what does that commitment mean in a practical sense?

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

Gaps in medical resources across rural Pennsylvania can be challenging, even for nursing school recruiters hoping to ultimately fill the local workforce.

Pennsylvania State Lawmaker Gets Probation In Bribery Case

Nov 30, 2018
PA House of Representatives

A state representative convicted of taking $4,000 in bribes from a confidential informant received probation Friday from a judge who was critical of the undercover investigation that snared her.

Democratic Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to 23 months of probation and ordered to repay the money to the state attorney general's office.

Pennsylvania Commits To New Voting Machines, Election Audit

Nov 29, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is settling a vote-counting lawsuit stemming from the 2016 presidential election, in part by affirming a commitment it made previously to push Pennsylvania's counties to buy voting systems that leave a verifiable paper trail by 2020.

NASA/JPL-Caltech / NASA.gov

Mars, Pennsylvania wasn't named after the Red Planet, but it's fully embracing those celestial connections. 

AP Photo

Every year, politicians raise hundreds of millions of dollars to finance their campaigns. But insiders know that the money is used for far more than competing in elections.

Casey Dangles Potential For A Presidential Run In 2020

Nov 26, 2018
Alex Brandon / AP

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey had barely won a third term in office before the Pennsylvania Democrat began saying he's open to the idea of running for president in 2020.

Aimee Obidzinski / University of Pittsburgh

For some, Thanksgiving means it’s time to discuss politics with distant relatives. It can be especially difficult to talk about those topics across generations. But a father-daughter team at the University of Pittsburgh is teaching a class meant to encourage more civil discourse between age groups.

AP

In the wake of the midterm election, Democrats are now looking ahead to 2019 when they will officially regain control in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pennsylvania Democrats will send nine representatives to Congress, up from their current five-member delegation. 90.5 WESA's Lucy Perkins sat down with Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle to talk about his legislative goals and what he thought about the election results.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Infrastructure is more than roads, bridges and water lines. 

90.5 WESA

State Senators held their leadership elections this week, and both Republicans and Democrats chose to retain the same members for top positions.

Matt Rourke / AP

As Pennsylvania’s 2017-18 legislative session draws to a close, lawmakers are picking their leadership teams for the next two years.

House Democrats are seeing some of the biggest sea changes.

The midterm elections brought the caucus almost a dozen new seats, mostly in the collar counties around Philadelphia. And two longtime leaders are departing: Minority Whip Mike Hanna and Appropriations Committee Chair Joe Markosek, of Centre and Allegheny counties, respectively.

Matt Rourke / AP

A few of Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate races still aren’t finalized, but it appears legislative Democrats have picked up at least five new seats in the Senate, and 11 in the House.

Matt Rourke / AP

High voter turnout, a record number of female candidates and vastly different messaging between the two major parties loomed large over Tuesday's midterm contests. 

Democrats Win U.S. House Seats, Races For Governor, U.S. Senate

Nov 7, 2018
Associated Press/ Associated Press/Officer of Conor Lamb

Pennsylvania elected a state record four women to the U.S. House on Tuesday as Democrats smashed the state's all-male congressional delegation, picked up three seats in the chamber and ousted a three-term Republican.

Matt Rourke / AP

Voters in Pennsylvania have until Tuesday to apply for absentee ballots for the November 6th midterm election—and until Friday to send them in to their county elections board.

But more than 96,000 people have already voted absentee—a likely sign of higher-than average turnout.

Courtesy of City Theatre

 

The school-to-prison pipeline is the inspiration for a new show at Pittsburgh's City Theatre. Obie award-winning playwright Dominque Morisseau wrote PIPELINE to explore the disproportionate disciplining of minority students, which can put them on the pathway to eventual incarceration.

Google Maps

After several reports of stalking in Lawrenceville this summer, several groups came together to host a workshop explaining how bystanders can help curb harassment and assault.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A bill that could have reduced the size of the state House is dead.

This is the closest such a measure has come to passing in recent memory—but ultimately, not enough House members wanted to potentially axe their own seats.

The bill would have amended the state Constitution to shrink House membership from 203 to 151. For an amendment to succeed, it has to pass both legislative chambers in two consecutive sessions with the same language.

David Goldman / AP

 

Pope Francis announced Friday that he has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl from his post as Archbishop of the Diocese of Washington, D.C.

Matt Rourke / AP

In the waning days of the legislative session, House lawmakers are hurrying to push priority bills out of their chamber and on to the governor.

The latest bills queued up to likely become law include revamped graduation readiness standards and an anti-hazing measure.

The hazing bill has been in the works since March—about a year after Penn State Student Tim Piazza died following a hazing ritual at a campus fraternity.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

A bill that would end Pennsylvania’s frequent use of mandatory life-without-parole sentences has hit a wall in the state Senate.

The night before the bill was set to be voted out of committee, sponsor Sharif Street—a Democratic Senator from Philadelphia—got word it didn’t have enough support.

The committee didn’t ultimately hold a vote.

Time Running Out In Effort To Cut Number Of State Lawmakers

Oct 1, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A proposal that's kicked around the Capitol for years to shrink the number of state lawmakers in Pennsylvania may not be dead, but it's at least on life support.

The latest blow came during a committee meeting last week, when Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, was able to get the bill amended — yet again — to restore a provision that would also cut the size of the Senate.

The Senate-House divide on the issue has plagued efforts to amend the constitution to cut the House from 203 to 151 and the Senate from 50 to 38.

Matt Rourke / AP

A group examining election security in Pennsylvania urged Congress and state lawmakers Tuesday to speed up the funding required to replace voting machines, noting most lack a paper record needed to check for fraud and errors.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security released interim recommendations and said the estimated $125 million to replace all machines statewide was "a relative bargain."

Releasing Tax Returns An Issue Again – In Governor’s Races

Sep 20, 2018
Jacqueline Larma, Matt Rourke / AP

The candidate had just chided the media minutes earlier for not being tougher on his opponent when the moderator asked him what might be his least favorite campaign question: Why won't you release your tax returns?

It wasn't a scene from the 2016 presidential race. Rather, it was from this year's campaign for governor in Pennsylvania, where the Republican challenger who has made millions from his trash-hauling business has refused to release his tax returns.

Nonbelievers Win Suit Over Pennsylvania House Prayer Policy

Aug 31, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

A federal judge has halted the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' policy banning people who don't believe in God from giving the invocations made at the start of each day's legislative floor session.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner on Wednesday sided with atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists who challenged the policy that has limited the opening prayers to those who believe in God or a divine or higher power.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Just about two months from the Nov. 6 election, a new Franklin & Marshall College poll echoes previous surveys of Pennsylvania voters: Democratic voters are fired up, and the two candidates at the top of their ticket have comfortable leads over lesser-known Republican rivals.

Gov. Tom Wolf leads his Republican foe, trash-hauling company executive and former state Senator Scott Wagner, by a 52-to-35 percentage point margin among likely voters. Senator Bob Casey enjoys a similar, if somewhat smaller lead, over Congressman Lou Barletta, with a 47-to-34 margin.

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