State Government

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A bill to loosen pandemic restrictions on bars and restaurants is on its way to the Pennsylvania governor, who has threatened to veto it. Lawmakers on Wednesday passed the measure, which would end a requirement that customers buy food when they purchase alcohol. It would allow people to be served drinks at bars.  The bill would also permit taverns and restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, or more if they can meet state and federal social distancing standards or erect appropriate barriers.

Wolf Vetoes School Sports Bill; Override Attempt Planned

Sep 21, 2020
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would give school districts the sole ability to make decisions on sports, including whether and how many spectators to allow. Lawmakers are planning to vote to try to override Wolf's veto. Legislation that cleared the House and Senate would have empower schools to make their own rules about the number of spectators permitted at games. Wolf says his gathering limits of no more than 25 people indoors and 250 people outdoors should apply to youth sports to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania will pay the cost of postage for voters to mail-in ballots in November’s general election. Officials said Friday that Gov. Tom Wolf's administration plans to use money from federal emergency coronavirus aid to foot the bill. It could run several million dollars to cover 55 cents for millions of ballots. Wolf has made paying for postage a priority as the coronavirus pandemic has unexpectedly fueled high interest in voting by mail.

Top Pa. State Senator Joe Scarnati Won't Run Again

Feb 12, 2020
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati tells The Associated Press he will not seek re-election. Scarnati made the announcement Wednesday night. The 58-year-old is a fifth-term Republican senator from Jefferson County in northwestern Pennsylvania. He says he wrestled with the decision but thought it was the right time to step down after 14 years in a job steering a Republican majority through turbulent elections and fights in the Capitol. Scarnati rose quickly, becoming Senate president in 2007 with the endorsement of his predecessor after just six years in the chamber.

What Will Climate Change Cost Pennsylvania?

Nov 13, 2019
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania’s auditor general, Eugene DePasqule, is attempting to quantify what climate change will cost Pennsylvania.

Governor Wolf Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana

Sep 25, 2019
Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is now in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, saying Wednesday that most of the state's residents support it and that the state has a wealth of knowledge from the experience in other states to guide it.
Wolf, a second-term Democrat, packaged his announcement with a call to the Republican-controlled Legislature to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and allow the expungement of past convictions of nonviolent and small marijuana-related crimes.

Pa. House Approves Budget Bill After Stiff Criticism By Democrats

Jun 25, 2019
Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's House of Representatives passed the main bill in a just-unveiled $34 billion compromise budget plan on Tuesday, despite hard criticism by rank-and-file Democrats that included a floor fight over whether they could criticize the package for lacking a minimum wage increase.
Democrats also bitterly protested the bill's defunding of a Depression-era cash assistance program for the poor, a Republican demand that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf also opposes in a budget package that he otherwise supports.

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's Republican Party chairman is stepping down following a published report that he had traded sexually charged text messages with a Philadelphia City Council candidate and also sent her an explicit photo of himself.
Val DiGiorgio's resignation was announced Tuesday by the state GOP.
In a letter to party officials, the 51-year-old DiGiorgio says the report by The Philadelphia Inquirer contains "gross mischaracterizations" of what he said were "mutual consensual communications."

Pennsylvania Gun Violence Activists Set Sights On New Bill

Apr 8, 2019
Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Fresh from a victory in Pennsylvania last fall, anti-gun violence advocates are turning their attention to legislation to empower family members or police to seek the immediate, if temporary, seizure of someone's firearms.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America went to the state Capitol on Monday to press the case for the bill, sometimes called a "red flag" bill in other states.
Under it, someone who is deemed to represent a danger of suicide or a serious threat to another person could be the subject of an "extreme risk protection order."

Bellwether Pa. Senate Election Won By Democrat

Apr 3, 2019
Michael M. Santiago / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

MT. LEBANON, Pa. (AP) — Democrats claimed victory Tuesday after a two-month campaign for a vacant state Senate seat in politically divided suburban Pittsburgh where the sides tested some national themes ahead of 2020's presidential election in a critical battleground state narrowly won by President Donald Trump.
The seat had been largely controlled by Republicans the past half-century, but the district is viewed as increasingly friendly to Democrats in territory that party strategists now view as something of a bellwether.

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania is joining 19 other states in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's move to restrict taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined the lawsuit filed Tuesday in an Oregon federal court challenging what critics call the "gag rule."
Shapiro, a Democrat, says it imposes unlawful and unethical restrictions on health care professionals. The state of California sued separately, as did the American Medical Association and Planned Parenthood.

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf rolled out a second-term proposal Wednesday to vault Pennsylvania's minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation after similar first-term proposals by the Democrat fell flat in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Wolf wants to take the hourly minimum to $12 this year, putting Pennsylvania in line with the highest state minimum wages, according to federal data. Pennsylvania also would join a handful of states by eliminating its tipped wage minimum, now $2.83, under legislation being introduced with Wolf's support.

Katie Meyer / Katie Meyer

 (Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania’s House and Senate swore in their newly-elected members on New Year’s Day and are now gearing up to start a two-year legislative session.

As the Capitol flooded with lawmakers’ friends, families, and supporters, legislative leaders spoke on the floor about their priorities for the new session.

In the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Jake Corman advocated bipartisan efficiency, telling members it
“doesn’t matter what we’re for, doesn’t matter what we want to do. If we don’t get it done, we’ve failed.”

Wanting To Get Things Done, Wolf Prepares For Second Term

Dec 31, 2018
AP / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf, who introduced himself at his first inauguration as an unconventional governor and then unveiled an ambitious blueprint to transform Pennsylvania's tax structure, is returning for a second term with big plans, although with perhaps a more sober view of what is possible.
Wolf, a Democrat, faced huge Republican legislative majorities throughout his first term, and will again face substantial Republican majorities as he hopes to nail down second-term achievements, including on stalled first-term priorities.

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — For the Pennsylvania Senate, the election didn't necessarily end at 8:00 p.m. on November 6.
The chamber's Republican majority is questioning the residency qualifications of a newly elected Democrat who flipped a Republican-held Pittsburgh-area seat by a mere 793 votes, injecting tension into a normally quiet December between legislative sessions.

Stephanie Borowicz speaks with a constituent in Centre County while canvassing
Tyler Olson / WPSU

With Mike Hanna Sr.’s retirement, voters in the 76th state house district are about to choose a new representative for the first time since 1990. They’re faced with a choice between two very different candidates.

Hanna’s son, Mike Hanna Jr., ran unopposed in the 76th district’s Democratic primary. Stephanie Borowicz, a former teacher who lives in McElhattan and ran unsuccessfully against Hanna Sr. in 2016, passed through the Republican primary without a challenger.

Photo: AP (Matt Rourke, file photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former elected Pennsylvania state treasurer was sentenced Tuesday to 2½ years in federal prison for trying to squeeze campaign cash from a law firm and a property management firm during his failed 2014 bid for governor.