HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – An Oxford University professor tasked with tracking spending in Pennsylvania’s pension system has concluded that the commonwealth’s two largest public funds have underreported billions of dollars they paid to private investors.
TRANSFORMING HEALTH – A proposed bill that would require insurers to pay for telemedicine services is drawing widespread support from health care providers and opposition from some in the health insurance industry.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — As Pennsylvania’s statewide prison lockdown enters its third day, officers and staff are busy with intense training sessions on how to safely handle the powerful, synthetic drugs that keep finding their way inside via mail and other measures.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections unexpectedly locked down the entire state prison system after a sudden rash of illnesses among employees, thought to be caused by accidental exposure to synthetic drugs.
TRANSFORMING HEALTH:- Rural hospitals see an average of 10 percent more Medicare and Medicaid patients than elsewhere, according to Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania. Those insurers pay less than commercial insurance. Rural hospitals also have a higher rate of patients who have no means of payment. (Stock image)
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS — Following the grand jury report on the alleged widespread clergy abuse in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church, state lawmakers are pushing for reforms. State Representative Scott Conklin, D-Centre, introduced two new bills on Monday, which would demand greater accountability from religious organizations.
(Harrisburg) — A nationwide survey by the Associated Press has found not all states have followed through on attempts to develop new harassment and misconduct policies in the wake of the #MeToo movement
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Seven Pennsylvania casinos have sued the state over its new online lottery games. They’re arguing the games violate state law because they’re too similar to online casino games.
Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner has a plan to pump an additional $1 billion into public schools without raising taxes. He says he’d do four things to make that happen: privatize the sale of alcohol, lease its liquor wholesale system, slash corporate welfare “that has no positive economic impact,” and reform the welfare system.
TRANSFORMING HEALTH – The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance is requiring companies to put a consumer notice on short-term, limited duration health insurance plans indicating that they aren’t regulated and may not offer much of what people have come to expect from health insurance.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The state Supreme Court has upheld an executive order from Governor Tom Wolf to organize workers who care for elderly or disabled people in their homes under a union-like structure.
HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) – State lawmakers say they’re awaiting feedback from the state’s 500 school districts and 300 private school entities before they can disburse the first wave of funding to improve school safety. The funds are part of Act 44, a bipartisan bill signed into law in the months after the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – By including more pipelines in Pennsylvania’s one-call law and creating a more robust enforcement system, state officials hope to cut down on incidents where residents or excavators accidentally hit pipelines and cables when digging underground.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Governor Tom Wolf’s administration is calling for more federal oversight on the buildout of new natural gas pipelines, including how they can facilitate greenhouse gas emissions, disrupt forest ecosystems, and impact private property owners.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A conservative group is calling out lawmakers who they say tucked about $35 million in spending for specific local projects and causes into the state budget’s dense fiscal code.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Pennsylvania’s Auditor General says he’s expanding his review of the state voter registration infrastructure, after learning a Russian oligarch is a primary investor in the company that manages Maryland’s system.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The state Public Utility Commission is considering taking over jurisdiction of certain utilities from the federal government in an effort to boost efforts to bring high-speed broadband to underserved rural areas.
(Harrisburg) — Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day fund is now a little less barren. On the heels of a financially fruitful fiscal year, Governor Tom Wolf has announced the first significant transfer into the fund since 2007.
HARRISONBURG, PA (WSKG) — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court said late Friday that it won’t release a grand jury report on sexual abuse of children in six of the commonwealth’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are being sued in federal court over a budget provision to fold a medical malpractice insurer and its assets into the state Insurance Department.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS — Governor Tom Wolf called for a major change to the way Pennsylvania funds schools Friday, advocating for the state to distribute its largest pot of school money in a way that would benefit the majority of students in the state, but would likely cause deep cuts in many districts.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A provision in the new state budget is seeking to end a two-year legal battle between lawmakers looking for cash to shore up their spending plan, and a medical malpractice insurer the state created in the 1970s.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A long-awaited study out of the state General Assembly offered a scathing assessment of the state’s capital punishment system this week, saying the death penalty comes at a high cost to state taxpayers without deterring crime.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A group of frustrated activists spent Tuesday afternoon holding a sit-in at the reception room outside Governor Tom Wolf’s office, trying to convince him to call a special legislative session to overhaul Pennsylvania’s redistricting process.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – After a final Monday session to tie up loose ends, the state House of Representatives has recessed for the summer until further notice, leaving some high-profile bills still-unfinished.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Days after halting release of a sweeping grand jury report on child abuse by Pennsylvania Roman Catholic clergy, the commonwealth’s Supreme Court justices have offered more details on their decision.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — For the first time in Governor Tom Wolf’s tenure, he has signed a budget. And after three years of protracted negotiations, the election year plan is finished well ahead of its June 30th deadline.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Efforts to overhaul the state’s redistricting process are faltering. Earlier this month, the legislature looked like it might be on track to approve a sweeping plan to establish a citizen’s commission to draw the maps — plus change how Pennsylvania elects judges.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Local governments in Pennsylvania will receive $209,557,300 this year in impact fees levied on Marcellus Shale gas companies, marking the third highest total since the fees went into effect in 2012.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The state House has taken a significant step toward finishing the commonwealth’s $32.7 billion budget plan ahead of next week’s deadline–passing the measure on to the Senate in a near-unanimous vote.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Later this month, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro is expected to release findings from a two-year grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse and cover-up within six Catholic dioceses across the state.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A deal on Pennsylvania’s budget may be in the offing. On Tuesday, after considerable behind-the-scenes discussion, House lawmakers moved a compromise spending bill out of committee.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania conservation officials have released a plan to confront climate change on public land as flooding, wildfires and warmer bodies of water pose threats to wildlife, landscapes and recreation.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf is appealing the legislature to pass laws getting rid of 13 professional licensing requirements, including ones for barbers, cemetery brokers — i.e. people who sell grave plots — and auctioneers.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Ambulance providers in Pennsylvania are enthusiastic about a bill advancing in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to reimburse EMS for calls that don’t end in a hospital trip.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — When Senators passed a proposal this week aimed at creating a citizen’s commission to draw Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, they tacked on an amendment that would fundamentally change the state’s appellate courts by electing judges based on regional district, instead of statewide.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Five months ahead of the general election, a new survey from Franklin and Marshall College shows Democratic Governor Tom Wolf with a considerable lead over Republican challenger Scott Wagner.
(Harrisburg) — Democratic lawmakers are advocating a number of changes to Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws. The moves come in the wake of an allegedly racially-motivated incident at a York County Golf Course in late April.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts plan to ask for tax hikes this fiscal year and about half expect their finances to get worse, according to an annual census conducted by school administrators and business officials.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf has signed an executive order to change certain hiring practices in select state government jobs, in an effort to cut down on gender-based wage discrimination.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that municipalities may not issue permits for oil and gas development in areas that are zoned for non-industrial use — unless they first amend their zoning codes.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – On Tuesday, a state House bill that would overhaul congressional map-drawing was assigned to an unusual committee—circumventing a different panel where such proposals have repeatedly been struck down.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack has decided not to call a special election to fill a Senate vacancy left by former York County Republican Scott Wagner—who has resigned to focus on his gubernatorial bid.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Several groups intent on raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage are rallying in Harrisburg Thursday in an effort to nudge the General Assembly–once again–to consider raising pay for workers.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — On the heels of a US Supreme Court decision last month that opened the door to sports betting in all states, Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board is starting to release initial regulations for the new gambling market.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — With the commonwealth’s budget deadline a month away, negotiations haven’t begun in earnest. But talks are ongoing behind the scenes–and that means a familiar tug-of-war between Democrats trying to bolster state programs, and Republicans determined to limit spending.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is digging into its reserves to keep money flowing into a grant program for Pennsylvania college students in the coming fiscal year.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – A coalition of anti-fracking groups says Gov. Tom Wolf should pay more attention to the health impacts of fracking, and that he’s “turned his back” on people who say they’ve suffered from the state’s natural gas industry.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Some state police troopers are slated to start using body cameras later this year. So, to keep them and other officers across the commonwealth from running afoul of the law or damaging criminal cases, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has released a list of best practices.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA — State lawmakers have advanced a bill that would change the state’s constitution to put its congressional district map in the hands of an citizens’ commission, one whose 11 members would be chosen by elected officials.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — State House Republicans are increasing Representative Nick Miccarelli’s punishment after deciding his actions constitute retaliation against two women who accused him of physical and sexual abuse–fellow GOP representative Tarah Toohil and another woman who has remained anonymous.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – An environmental group says Governor Tom Wolf is ignoring a nearly year-old state Supreme Court ruling that prohibits him from using revenue from oil and gas drilling on state land for purposes other than conservation.
YORK, PA (WSKG) — It’s official: Pennsylvania’s contenders for governor are both York County millionaires. State Senator and trash-hauling businessman Scott Wagner won the Republican nomination for Governor Tuesday night–beating health systems consultant Paul Mango and lawyer Laura Ellsworth.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Pittsburgh attorney Laura Ellsworth, Pittsburgh businessman Paul Mango, and state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York County) are running for the Republican nomination to oppose Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – The State Ethics Commission is moving ahead with a full investigation of Governor Tom Wolf’s deputy chief of staff, Yesenia Bane. She is married to a natural gas industry lobbyist and is the subject of a formal complaint over her potential conflicts of interest.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Department of Environmental Protection fined Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners an additional $355,622 for drilling mud spills during construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – As state lawmakers prepare for budget negotiations, Governor Tom Wolf is once again trotting out a natural gas severance tax proposal in hopes of slipping it into the final deal.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — It’s almost time for lawmakers to start work on the state budget. But after several cycles of tortuous negotiations made more difficult by persistent revenue shortfalls, it looks like this year might be smoother sailing.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — In recent weeks, proponents of overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process with an independent citizens’ commission have been frustrated as their bills have been repeatedly gutted by the Republican majority in a prominent state House committee.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Pennsylvania is starting the process of replacing its voting machines. And at the state Farm Show complex this week, election administrators and the public got a chance to see what the new ones might look like.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A group of independent researchers has released a report recommending dramatic changes to Pennsylvania’s public higher education system–including consolidating or totally reorganizing the 14 state-owned universities.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — As part of their announced effort to curb sexual harassment and abuse in the legislature, and in Pennsylvania workplaces generally, a House committee has held a public hearing on the subject.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – More than 100 spills have occurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, and now, another troublesome spot has emerged in Delaware County outside Philadelphia.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A GOP-controlled state Senate committee is making slow, careful progress at changing Pennsylvania’s justice system to focus on reforming the convicted and reducing prison populations.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf is pushing the legislature to broaden firearm background checks–in particular, to close an exception for certain rifles, shotguns, and handguns sold at gun shows.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — State House lawmakers have voted to create work requirements for able-bodied people to get Medicaid coverage.Such requirements weren’t federally permitted for Medicaid until the Trump administration changed the policy several months ago.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Lawyers for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have filed an appeal to a federal court decision that the Republican must personally pay more than $29,000 for legal fees in a high-profile redistricting case.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Soon, medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania won’t just be limited to taking oil, pill, and liquid forms of the drug. Starting in late summer, they’ll be able to get marijuana in its dry leaf form– but will technically be limited to using it only in a vaporizer.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — State House lawmakers have passed a contentious bill that would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion for the sole reason that a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS — The state Attorney General’s office has launched a website where gun owners can check which states recognize Pennsylvania’s concealed carry permits — and which outside permits are recognized by the commonwealth.
More women than ever are running for Congress nationwide, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. That number is also staggering in Pennsylvania, a state with no female representatives in congress. In fact, the state has had few women in its congressional history. Adelina Lancianese reports.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA — Some Pennsylvania lawmakers want to impeach four of seven state Supreme Court justices for what they say was judicial overreach — after the court redrew the Commonwealth’s congressional map earlier this year.
HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf speaks in an undated photo. The governor has renewed the 90-day “disaster emergency” declaration for the opioid crisis, a move that he says allows the state government to cut through some rules and help people struggling with addiction.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania landowners for years have tried and failed to get the Legislature to protect royalties they receive from natural gas companies, but mineral owners in West Virginia just scored a victory.
HARRISBURG, PA (WITF) – As the opioid epidemic ravages communities, the state has partnered with University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and the Aetna Foundation to combat the crisis. The Wolf administration hopes to improve its recently launched “opioid data dashboard,” an online, public tool that provides county-level information on things like the number of people saved with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. Pitt’s role is to help interpret that data, while Aetna is providing a one-million dollar grant. Read full story here.
STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – On a recent afternoon, Ken Broadbent walked the aisles of his union’s “weld shop.” Behind orange plastic curtains that shield the eye-searing brightness of their torches, a few dozen apprentices practiced welding pipes together. Each will end up with about 700 hours of training.
A joint state senate hearing Tuesday was ostensibly about the broad topic of “pipeline safety,” but ended up focusing almost entirely on Sunoco’s embattled Mariner East project – a series of natural gas liquids pipelines spanning the southern portion of Pennsylvania.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf has launched an initiative to improve broadband access in rural Pennsylvania–and state lawmakers and other officials in underserved areas appear to be on board.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Within hours of one another on Monday afternoon, the US Supreme Court and a lower federal district court rejected Republican appeals against the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to redraw the state’s congressional map.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — As an elementary school choir sang inside the Capitol rotunda on Friday, a group of men and women clad in military fatigues, carrying walkie talkies and AR-15s, gathered just outside.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Lawyers for state Representative Tarah Toohil have released additional abuse allegations against a fellow GOP lawmaker—along with portions of a House investigation into the matter.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – A potentially unprecedented conflict is unfolding in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. After alleged abuse, one Republican lawmaker has been granted a restraining order against another.
HARRISBURG, PA, (WSKG) — State House Republicans have concluded an internal investigation into abuse allegations against one of their own. The case involving Representative Nick Miccarelli is an unusual one. Both of Miccarelli’s accusers work in the Capitol, and one is fellow Republican Representative Tarah Toohil. The investigation began more than a month ago, when the two women first filed their allegations. One, who has not come forward publicly, said he raped her.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Democrats have put together their largest slate of state House and Senate candidates in years. Come November, they’re hoping to start reversing Republicans’ massive majorities in both chambers.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The state House has moved to change the commonwealth’s constitution and drastically reduce the size of the legislature. However, there’s no guarantee voters will see the amendment on their ballots come election day.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A fraught redistricting battle in Pennsylvania has taken a small step forward. A panel of three federal judges heard arguments Friday in a case over whether the commonwealth’s Supreme Court violated the federal constitution when it redrew congressional maps last month.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to figure out a better way to pay for state police. Most of the department’s annual budget comes from the commonwealth’s Motor License Fund, which is supposed to pay for roads and bridges.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The battle over how to handle Pennsylvania’s congressional maps has even political families divided. Former governor Dick Thornburgh has filed a brief to the US Supreme Court arguing a new congressional map drawn by the state Supreme Court should be invalidated.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A bipartisan group of state senators is plotting another attempt at legislation that has become something of a white whale in Pennsylvania — overhauling the property tax system.
HARRISBURG, NY (WSKG) — In their final week of annual budget hearings, state lawmakers are trying to evaluate how last year’s sweeping gambling overhaul—designed to balance a shaky revenue plan—is affecting state finances.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Two women recently accused state Representative Nick Miccarelli of repeated domestic violence. In one incident, he allegedly brandished a gun while driving with one of the women, and threatened to kill them both.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Democratic congressional hopeful Laura Quick and two campaign staffers recently set up shop for the afternoon inside a Panera Bread not too far from her home in Palmyra, Lebanon County.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Over the last several months, Pennsylvania’s House and Senate have spent over $3.5 million on congressional redistricting. Part of that money was spent redrawing the congressional map in the wake of a state Supreme Court decision declaring it unconstitutional.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — State Senate Republicans and eight GOP congressmen have appealed to Pennsylvania’s Middle District Court to stop a new congressional map drawn by the state Supreme Court from going into effect.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — In a rare visit to Harrisburg, Republican US Senator Pat Toomey made clear his strong opposition to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to redraw the state’s congressional maps.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Republicans are attempting to circumvent the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the state’s congressional maps as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in favor of Republicans.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – In a decision which could have national ramifications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has enacted a new congressional district map that onlookers say is much more favorable to Democrats, replacing one the court overturned and deemed an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander last month.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – In a decision that could have national political ramifications, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to decide Monday where Pennsylvania’s congressional boundaries will fall for the next two election cycles.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — A monthlong debacle over redrawing Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional congressional maps is coming to an end. Today is the deadline the state Supreme Court gave itself to either pick new maps from a number of submissions, or draw its own.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Pennsylvania’s congressional map has been recognized nationally as having some of the starkest examples of gerrymandering in the country, prompting both a state and a federal lawsuit in 2017. A three-judge panel in the federal case upheld the map as drawn by Republicans in 2011. The state case compelled the Democratic-majority Pa. Supreme Court to strike it down as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. This ruling seems likely to alter the partisan tilt of the state’s congressional delegation, which has held a steady 13-5 Republican advantage.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — The deadline has come and gone to submit congressional map proposals that meet the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s new guidelines. When justices first declared the maps unconstitutional about four weeks ago, they ordered the GOP-controlled legislature and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to negotiate a compromise on new ones.
HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – Thursday is the final day for Governor Tom Wolf to submit a redrawn congressional map to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If any map is submitted, it almost certainly won’t be a compromise; talks between Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature have largely disintegrated.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Two top Democrats are retiring from the state House this year–and have more in common than just their high-ranking positions. Minority Appropriations Chair Joe Markosek and Minority Whip Mike Hanna both want their sons to take their place.
The proposed congressional district map from Pennsylvania GOP leaders seems to meet some of the key criteria laid out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It’s geographically more compact and divides significantly fewer counties and municipalities than the 2011 map.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is issuing a $12.6 million civil penalty against Sunoco Pipeline, LLP for permit violations related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.
Pennsylvania’s decision on Thursday to allow Sunoco to resume construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline after a month-long shutdown failed to convince critics that the company will do so with any more respect for environmental regulations than they say it has had since starting the project a year ago.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Republican leaders in Pennsylvania’s House and Senate said Thursday evening it is impossible for them to pass a new congressional map before the state Supreme Court’s Friday deadline. However, they do have a backup plan. It’s just not clear if it will work.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Friday is the court-imposed deadline for the Pennsylvania legislature to agree on a new congressional district map. But the legislature wasn’t in session Wednesday or Thursday this week, even though procedural rules would suggest they needed to be there to progress through the necessary parliamentary steps in time.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – In a full majority opinion released Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the state’s congressional district map deprives voters’ of their right to “free and equal” elections as protected by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — In the midst of a fraught battle over state congressional maps, and during an increasingly-heated midterm election year, Governor Tom Wolf has released his budget proposal for the 2018-19 fiscal year–the fourth and final one of his first term.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has denied the request for a stay on the ruling overturning Pennsylvania’s congressional district map. Republican lawmakers, who were sued for creating an unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional map, had turned to the nation’s top court after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s split decision in January.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Pennsylvania Republicans have lost what was likely their best shot at getting out of redrawing congressional maps, after the state Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional. GOP legislative leaders had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds the state court decision violated the US constitution. But Justice Samuel Alito declined to issue a stay. House Majority Leader Dave Reed said there may be nothing else opponents of the redistricting decision can do to change the situation. “I mean look, I think generally when the U.S. Supreme Court speaks, that tends to be the end of it,” he said.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Sandwiched in an office between an eyebrow threading salon and a gadget repair shop in South Philadelphia, congressional candidate Nina Ahmad has been closely studying the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down the state’s district map.
A senior staffer for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf asked the state’s chief environmental regulator not to send letters to Sunoco detailing problems with its permit applications for a controversial pipeline project until the governor was updated, according to text messages obtained through a lawsuit.
As state lawmakers keep looking for ways to plug an estimated billion-dollar hole in Pennsylvania’s budget, they are scrutinizing state agencies’ use of special funds, which include money to promote environmental programs.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — In the wake of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to declare the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional, lawmakers are starting the redrawing process before the February 15th deadline.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — This could be the year Pennsylvanians vote whether to amend the constitution and shrink the state House of Representatives by a quarter. The process started last session; this year, the same exact bill must pass the legislature again. If it moves fast enough, it could go out to voters as a referendum as soon as November. It has already passed the House State Government Committee on near-party lines–with most Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. However, it’s getting somewhat tangled up in ongoing disputes about legislative redistricting.
As state lawmakers continue to search for ways to plug an estimated billion-dollar budget hole, they are taking a renewed look at state agencies’ use of special funds, including money dedicated to environmental programs.
WASHINGTON DC (WSKG) — The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could change how online sales are taxed. It’s an issue that might sound a little familiar to Pennsylvanians–lawmakers tried to improve online sales tax collections in last year’s budget, as the state struggled to find enough revenue balance its books. The case is likely to come before the high court in April. Justices will decide whether to uphold a South Dakota decision maintaining a long-held standard: if a seller doesn’t have a physical location in a state, they don’t have to charge sales taxes there. It’s an issue that may have lost state and local governments around $13 billion last year, according to the Congressional Government Accountability Office.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is often considered one of the most gerrymandered in the United States, but is it unconstitutional? And if so, how do you fix it? Those are the central questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will weigh when hearing oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that has the potential to change the state’s political landscape. The case was initiated by 18 voters, all Democrats, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs claim Republican lawmakers, who drew the congressional map, violated their state constitutional rights, and are requesting the court to order the state legislature to draw a new map before the primary elections in May.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — As new details emerge on at least $1.5 million Pennsylvania has spent to settle sexual harassment cases over the last eight years, calls are increasing for the state to change its policies. But a number of lawmaker are struggling to find solutions that will work for every situation. The latest report–from the Associated Press–concerns a $900,000 sexual harassment settlement the state paid in a 2016 case that involved a Department of Revenue administrator. Other recent stories have revealed similar settlements involving elected officials. Even though all the cases involve shades of harassment, it can be very different to settle one with a lawmaker than with a regular state or legislative employee.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is outlining a plan for the new year that includes a request for more authority. The nonpartisan elected officer can’t investigate legislative spending or municipal authorities–despite years of pushes to allow it. DePasquale–a former House Democrat who’s now in his second term as auditor general–said Monday, a spate of recent revelations that the General Assembly has paid hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims is one of the reasons he wants the ability to audit them. “I guarantee you, 90 percent of the members–if not higher–had no idea that took place,” he said. “So if members didn’t know, imagine the outrage from taxpayers that that money was being used to settle those lawsuits.”
HARRISBURG (WSKG) – In a rare interview, former Republican Governor Tom Corbett has returned to one of the issues that dogged him late in his lone term in office–the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Corbett told Radio PA “mistakes were made” in the handling of the situation. In the aftermath of Corbett’s loss to Democrat Tom Wolf, it was a common theory that the Republican’s seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees had hurt him politically. The board voted to fire Paterno for under-reporting Sandusky’s abuse. Corbett said he certainly sees a connection.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Spurred by changes in the federal tax law, Pennsylvania business owners seem to have rushed to pay their state income taxes early in hopes of taking advantage of uncapped deductions on their 2017 federal returns. Matthew Knittel, director of the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office, says the commonwealth’s general fund revenue through the first half of the fiscal year came in $95 million above projections, a difference of 0.7 percent. He said the biggest increase had to do with business owners and those with capital gains paying taxes at the end of 2017 what would normally be due this month. “Individuals, due to the federal tax reform and the state and local deduction, paid their taxes a little earlier than they usually do. So we think some of the money we would have received in January was remitted in December of this year,” he said.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — The beleaguered Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is under review for the second time in less than two years. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale acknowledged, it’s unusual for him to audit an agency twice in such a short time. But he said he has “grave concerns” about the turnpike’s practice of repeatedly raising tolls, largely to pay for its $450 million-a-year obligation to PennDOT. It also pays hundreds of millions in debt-service on the money it borrows to make those payments. The money goes toward things like public transportation
“What we want to analyze is their belief…that despite the increase in tolls, they’ll have increased traffic,” DePasquale said.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A state judge has allowed a lawsuit over budgeting practices to proceed. The suit alleges top elected officials have violated the Pennsylvania constitution in the last two years by passing budgets without fully funding them, and borrowing money to pay off a previous year’s debt. Two years ago, a spending plan passed just after the June deadline, but it took lawmakers weeks to finalize how to pay for it. The situation reoccurred last year, with the deadlock stretching four months. Matt Brouillette, a conservative who runs the advocacy group Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs Inc., is one of the complainants in the case
He said he’s worried the state will continue to see bigger deficits and a continuing pattern of unbalanced budgets if the state’s practices aren’t better-policed.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Lawmakers won’t truly start their 2018 session until late this month. But they’re already laying out legislative agendas for the new year. Many of the top priorities aren’t much different from last year’s. Democrats and Republicans all named job creation among their primary goals. House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton also said his caucus is particularly focused on raising the minimum wage.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Fights over federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has states trying to figure out how long their programs can hold out without getting more money. Pennsylvania is no exception. The commonwealth’s CHIP program will be lucky to last until March if federal lawmakers don’t act soon. CHIP funding expired at the end of September. And a measure that would extend it for five more years is wrapped up in partisan gridlock in Congress over an end-of-year spending bill.
KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Many cities across Pennsylvania are struggling with outdated infrastructure, especially their water and sewer lines. In Pittsburgh this week, a water main break caused a safety advisory affecting 7,000 households. It’s the city’s third such warning this year. The broken 20-inch water main left some customers without water or with very low pressure, which means groundwater could infiltrate the pipes. In a precautionary measure, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority told affected customers to run their taps and then boil water before using it to drink or cook.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A newly published report shows state House Democrats have paid $600,000 in taxpayer money to settle complaints against four lawmakers over the last decade. Two of those were sexual harassment complaints–including one against 21-term Representative Thomas Caltagirone that cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars. According to documents obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the House Democratic Caucus paid $248,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint from one of Caltagirone’s staffers. It apparently involved years of physical and verbal harassment. The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Amid a flurry of end-of-year legislative activity, the state House passed a raft of six Republican-backed bills that could significantly change the way Pennsylvania puts together its budget. The proposals would largely come into play during impasses, like the ones the state has faced repeatedly in recent years. House GOP Leader Dave Reed said they’re borne out of frustration at budgets becoming law without the revenues to back them up, among other things. “It would just require that we actually have a budget be balanced constitutionally, as is required,” he said during floor debate. One bill would mandate an official revenue estimate be made when lawmakers enact their spending plan for the year.
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — After several years of shaky finances, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration says Pennsylvania’s fiscal health is now the best it has been since the Great Recession. In his annual mid-year briefing, Budget Secretary Randy Albright said his office is predicting a roughly $30 million surplus at the end of this fiscal year–enough to start putting some money back into the commonwealth’s long-neglected rainy-day fund. While that’s small relative to the state’s $32 billion operating budget, it’s better than the $1.5 billion shortfall lawmakers had to fill at the end of last fiscal year. The state’s Independent Fiscal Office–which is nonpartisan–agreed that this year will probably end with a surplus, estimating it would actually be a few tens of millions higher than the administration’s number. But when it comes to next year’s fiscal situation, the predictions diverge.
(Harrisburg) — Governor Tom Wolf has decided not to release the findings of an investigation into his lieutenant governor, fellow Democrat Mike Stack. Earlier this year, Wolf ordered the state inspector general’s office to look into allegations Stack and his wife had been verbally abusing their police detail and other staff. After the initial complaints, the governor stripped the lieutenant governor of his police detail and most of the staff in his state-provided residence. He said his concern at the time was “to make sure the employees…were safe and were not in a bad job situation.” But he said he’s not releasing the report because he doesn’t “think anything will be served by piling on top of that.”
HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Supporters of a natural gas severance tax attempted to circumvent state House Republican leaders late Tuesday night to push the issue back onto the floor. The motion to call the measure up as a special order of business came after a long day of votes on other major bills. It ultimately received popular support, but was just shy of the constit