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PA Voters Could Step Toward Property Tax Elimination

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- When Pennsylvanians go to the polls next Tuesday, they'll have a rare opportunity to vote to change the state constitution.  They'll decide via ballot measure whether to make property tax elimination an option. However, it would only be the first step in a long process. Property tax rates largely depend on how much school districts and local governments decide to exempt from taxation. Right now, state law lets them exclude up to 50 percent of an area's median home value. The ballot measure would increase that cap to 100 percent--so jurisdictions could opt to totally eliminate property taxes.

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15 Statewide Court Seats Open In Pennsylvania Election

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Tuesday's election may be in an off-year, but that doesn't mean it won't have statewide implications.  The highest-profile race is for a seat on the state Supreme Court, and seats are also open on the Superior and Commonwealth courts. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court leans heavily Democratic right now, with a 5 to 2 majority. The Republican candidate, Sallie Mundy, currently holds one of those seats and is seeking a full 10-year term. She was appointed as an interim justice by Governor Tom Wolf last year. Her opponent is Democrat Dwayne Woodruff--a Pittsburgh family court judge and former NFL player with the Steelers.

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PA Treasurer Authorizes Major Loan To Cover State Expenses

HARRISBURG (WSKG) - The state Treasury has authorized a major $1.8 billion loan to keep Pennsylvania's general fund from running out of money.  It comes just in time for the commonwealth to make major public school payments. Over the last several years, it became routine for the Treasury to extend large loans early in the fiscal year, because the bulk of state revenues have tended to come in later months. But this year, Treasurer Joe Torsella refused to follow suit until the state budget was finished--calling it irresponsible to do so. The Senate and Governor Tom Wolf supported the decision to delay the loan, though House Republicans didn't.  Wolf still hasn't confirmed whether he'll sign the legislature's now-complete revenue plan, but Torsella said he's comfortable lending the money based on the administration's promises to manage funds responsibly. In a statement, Torsella said because of the "unusual events surrounding this year's budget," the Treasury opted to add provisions to the loan that would "secure Treasury's investment, and provide alternatives if circumstances change."

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PA House Passes Final Budget; Ball In Governor’s Court

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state House has sent a gambling expansion bill to Governor Tom Wolf's desk--effectively finishing the budget they've labored over this entire fiscal year, four months past the due date.  The long, complex measure prompted hours of debate over the course of two days. It significantly broadens Pennsylvania's 13-year-old gaming industry. Gambling in airports and over the internet will now be legal. Truck stops across the commonwealth can install video gaming terminals--or VGTs--and up to 10 new miniature casinos are authorized. Lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass similar bills in recent years.

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Raucous Meeting Leaves PA Lawmakers At-Odds Over Illegal Voting

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- State representatives are trying to figure out how to stop voter registration glitches that have allowed over 500 non-citizens to vote in state and national elections since 2000.  That was the focus of a state government committee hearing Wednesday. But after dissolving into partisan shouting matches several times, lawmakers left the session saying they don't agree on how to handle the situation--or even how serious it is. Over the last 17 years, roughly 93 million ballots have been cast in Pennsylvania. At least 544 of them came from non-US citizens who were in the country legally, according to the Department of State. That's roughly one out of every 172,000.

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PA’s State Budget Could Be Finished Today

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- After almost four months of false starts and negotiation breakdowns, the state legislature has passed most of a plan to fund Pennsylvania's budget--almost entirely through borrowing and internal transfers. Lawmakers say the end is finally in sight. However, the House still has to pass a gambling expansion bill, which they'll resume debating at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, after running out the clock late Wednesday night. The final proposed funding package is essentially the same as one the House passed last week. And Senate GOP Leader Jake Corman said that's with good reason.

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Once Again, Lawmakers Push To Expand PA’s Hate Crime Protections

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvania's hate crimes law protects people on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. But it doesn't include several other categories--like ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.  Some lawmakers have been trying to change that--but not everyone is on-board. The commonwealth's hate crimes law didn't always exclude protections for sexual orientation, disabilities, or gender identity. From 2002 to 2008, it protected an expanded number of groups. But then it was declared unconstitutional for violating the state's one-subject rule--a technicality.

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Once Again, Lawmakers Push To Expand PA’s Hate Crime Protections

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvania's hate crimes law protects people on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. But it doesn't include several other categories--like ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.  Some lawmakers have been trying to change that--but not everyone is on-board. The commonwealth's hate crimes law didn't always exclude protections for sexual orientation, disabilities, or gender identity. From 2002 to 2008, it protected an expanded number of groups. But then it was declared unconstitutional for violating the state's one-subject rule--a technicality.

d5e66b40-9ba9-4847-8f75-1187503c1276

Once Again, Lawmakers Push To Expand PA’s Hate Crime Protections

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Pennsylvania's hate crimes law protects people on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. But it doesn't include several other categories--like ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.  Some lawmakers have been trying to change that--but not everyone is on-board. The commonwealth's hate crimes law didn't always exclude protections for sexual orientation, disabilities, or gender identity. From 2002 to 2008, it protected an expanded number of groups. But then it was declared unconstitutional for violating the state's one-subject rule--a technicality.