HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Pennsylvania’s state police force is reviewing its interactions with the federal immigration and customs enforcement, in the wake of a series of investigative reports questioning the legality of troopers using traffic stops to detain people in the country illegally. It’s still not clear how law enforcement agency will change their procedures, or when. An investigation by ProPublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer found the Philadelphia Immigration and Customs Enforcement office–which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia–arrests more undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions than any other ICE office in the country. Unlike police in many other states, Pennsylvania state troopers don’t have official partnerships with ICE –nor do they have limits on questioning people about their legal status. It’s largely up to individual troopers to decide whether to question people about their immigration status or contact ICE agents.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and a number of legislators are advocating for a slew of changes to the state’s criminal justice system. The call comes in the wake of a few victories for reform advocates, but in the face of opposition from a significant portion of the legislature’s GOP majority. On the agenda are eight initiatives, including standardizing bail across counties, pumping more money into public defense, providing a clean slate for old misdemeanors, and a second phase of Justice Reinvestment initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism. Some of those, like the clean slate bill, are already moving through the legislature and have garnered bipartisan support. “These reforms would save us precious time and money spent incarcerating people who are better-served through programs and services–people who simply don’t belong in prison,” Wolf said at a press conference outside the Dauphin County Judicial Center.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Pennsylvania has struggled for a decade to pass balanced state budgets, and this year was no exception. A funding plan finally made it to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk four months after it was due, though like all his previous budgets, Wolf let it become law without a signature. Many fiscal watchdogs say it doesn’t do much to address the commonwealth’s underlying issues anyway. Off the bat, lawmakers were at a disadvantage when creating it. Revenue had come in more than a billion dollars less than expected the year before, and all told, they were on the hook to fill a $2.2 billion hole.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is deciding whether Governor Tom Wolf overstepped his authority with an executive order letting the state organize home healthcare workers under a union-like structure. A lower court already decided against the governor once. But lawyers for the Wolf administration argue the governor’s directive merely gives workers an option to voice their concerns. The 2015 order–one of Wolf’s first in office–targets independent workers who care for elderly and disabled people in their homes. It has them pick representatives to meet with the state human services secretary about issues like pay and benefits. It also gives their contact information to representative groups, which opponents say could facilitate future organizing.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf has already been vocal about his opposition to the American Health Care Act–the Affordable Care Act replacement written and passed by Congressional Republicans. But this week, he put it in writing. Wolf sent a letter to the Trump administration detailing how the AHCA’s already complicating the state’s budgeting process and could derail its efforts battling the opioid crisis. The letter is addressed to Jared Kushner, who’s the Trump administration’s point person on the national opioid epidemic. In it, Wolf argued the AHCA would be a blow to state programs that help people addicted to opioids, because it lets states treat drug problems as preexisting conditions that don’t require coverage. But he also noted that regardless of the resolution, the ongoing federal uproar healthcare is making it near-impossible right now to budget for healthcare costs on the state level. “I’m always thinking about what I might do from a contingent point of view, and there are a lot of different options.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is backpedaling remarks he made today about embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane, according to the Associated Press. Wolf has called for Kane’s resignation since August, when she was indicted on perjury and other criminal counts. Wolf said in an interview on WITF that if the state Senate votes to remove Kane from her position, he’d have to go along with their decision. “They seem to think they have that power, and if they vote that, evidently then that’s what my job has to be,” he said. Now Wolf says he misspoke and isn’t sure what the constitution requires.