pa government

Romans, Booty And Sailors: All Part Of The History Of Pensions

Apr 14, 2015

As we were reporting on the problem of unfunded pensions in Pennsylvania, it occurred to us to ask: How did pensions come about, anyway? Who ever thought to let people retire and keep paying them after they’ve stopped working? And is the problem of underfunded pensions a recent phenomenon?

Check out the full story here.

Irina Zhorov / WESA

There are many reasons why municipal pension funds in the Commonwealth are struggling (though, in actual dollars, they’re doing better than the state pension funds). Many funds lost money in market downturns, like the one in 2008, and have not been able to recover. Systemic issues make funding municipal pensions, especially for smaller jurisdictions, inefficient. But there are also factors affecting pension funds that municipalities actually have control over.

PA Medical Marijuana Plan Faces A Skeptical House

Apr 9, 2015
Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / flickr

A series of hearings in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are making one thing clear: medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania is no done deal.

michael feagans / flickr

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has sacked one of her top deputies. Kane’s office says James Barker was fired as part of a larger restructuring.

PANationalGuard / flickr

A Pennsylvania state senator says he hopes to revive an expired state law that created a process for investigation the sitting attorney general. Pennsylvania had such a law briefly, but it expired in 2003, and lawmakers never renewed it. 

governortomwolf / flickr

A venture-capitalist with a penchant for helping minority-owned businesses is Governor Tom Wolf’s pick to step in as Pennsylvania state treasurer.

Pöllö / Wikimedia Commons

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says a newly-authorized system to track powerful painkillers and other drugs won’t arrive on schedule.

Murky Path Ahead As PA Budget Hearings Wrap Up

Apr 3, 2015
Maguis & David / flickr

Pennsylvania House and Senate lawmakers have concluded routine budget hearings, leaving little room for compromise on the spending plan presented by Governor Tom Wolf last month.

Cheltenham Democrats / flickr

The legislative task force studying Pennsylvania’s death penalty is once again pushing back its deadline. The panel was supposed to finish its work in December 2013, but it has repeatedly extended its timeline. Now, the agency putting together a final report says it might need until next year.

Mary Wilson

For weeks, GOP lawmakers have been braying at Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal to reduce property taxes, saying it doesn’t go far enough.

Krystlan Olszanski / Flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's corrections secretary is scheduling two executions, but a death penalty moratorium imposed by the governor two months ago means it's not likely anyone will be put to death in the near future.
Secretary John Wetzel signed notices of execution Thursday that call for Albert Perez and Lance Arrington to be put to death on April 17.
The announcement comes two months after Governor Tom Wolf announced the moratorium, saying he had concerns about the state's system of capital punishment.

New York State Assembly Majority/via Facebook

When New York legislators vote on seven new Board of Regents members on March 10, they’ll act out a vision that dates back to 1784. That’s when the state formed its Board of Regents, which supervises almost every facet of school instruction.

New York chose an unusual method for selecting new Regents: a vote by both houses of the legislature, with no input from the governor.

Widener University / flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvania lawmakers to approve $4 billion in higher taxes and new taxes to help boost school aid and shift education funding away from local property taxes.

Courtesy of Tom Wolf / flickr

Governor Wolf made taxing natural gas drillers the centerpiece of his campaign, and as he prepares to give his first state budget address Tuesday  the issue has once again taken center stage in Harrisburg. Click here for the full story.

jasontromm / Flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge is ruling that Pennsylvania's capital city cannot enforce three gun control ordinances.

Widener University / flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is planning to announce proposals for economic development and tax reform. Details are being kept under wraps, but the Democrat is expected to address a group of Lehigh Valley business leaders at an event in Bethlehem on Wednesday.

Courtesy of Tom Wolf / flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The top prosecutor in Pennsylvania's largest city is challenging Gov. Tom Wolf's death penalty moratorium, telling the state's highest court that the action was illegal and unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. It comes five days after Wolf said he would issue reprieves at least until he receives a report from a legislative commission that has been studying the issue since 2011.

Cheltenham Democrats / flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — It's been a hard fall for Rob McCord.

He announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor in September 2013, fresh off his re-election as state treasurer. Less than a year-and-a-half later, McCord is out of public office after being beaten soundly in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He also is facing possible prison time in a campaign finance case.

michael feagans / flickr

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is in a curious situation.

Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf made good on a campaign promise Wednesday and proposed a severance tax on natural gas drilling. Speaking in an elementary school classroom in Thorndale, Chester County, Wolf said the “lion’s share” of the revenue will go to hiking overall funding for public education. 

Matt Richmond / WSKGNews

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania state environmental regulators have released a study on radiation levels in oil and gas industry wastewater and byproducts that they say shows little potential for radiation exposure to workers and the public, but recommends follow-up study.

Widener University / flickr

Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has announced his picks for the state’s two top environmental posts. Both nominees have extensive backgrounds in environmental causes and government.

Wolf is tapping Cindy Dunn, who heads the statewide environmental advocacy group PennFuture, to lead the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Dunn was previously a deputy secretary for DCNR during the Rendell and Corbett administrations.

Widener University / flickr

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has added two more names to his list of top advisers.

The Democrat said Thursday he's nominating Pedro Cortes for a second stint as secretary of state, a job that includes overseeing Pennsylvania's elections. Cortes served in the post for seven years during the Rendell administration - longer than any of his predecessors - and was the first Latino to hold the post.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is looking into whether some Marcellus Shale gas companies are shortchanging the state on royalty money.

The agency manages gas drilling on public forest land and currently has 117 active leases with about 18 different companies.

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) - Operators of the Susquehanna nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania say they have disconnected Unit One from the regional power grid after finding a small water leak inside the containment structure.
PPL officials said Saturday that the leak was "well within the plants limits for continued safe operation" but the unit was removed from the grid as a precaution to allow completion of repairs and assure reliability during high-demand winter months.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a 150-thousand dollar grant to a natural gas industry group to study the effects of drilling. The money was put into last year's state budget for independent research.
The grant recipient is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit partnership between industry and academia called the Shale Alliance for Energy Research, also known as SAFER PA. Its board has three representatives from Pennsylvania universities and five members from the oil and gas industry.

DEP awarded the grant on a non-competitive basis—meaning it didn’t shop around for other proposals. Barry Kauffman finds the deal concerning.

Severance Tax In PA's Environmental Future

Dec 8, 2014
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / The Allegheny Front

This week, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf took questions on the state's budget crisis. The Allegheny Front also asked Wolf about his proposal to create a severance tax on well drilling.

Inside the Capitol, packs of children and tourists traipse through the building snapping selfies with the big state Christmas tree. But elsewhere, in and around Harrisburg, state government’s preparing for another bearded man to arrive after Santa.

A half-hour away in the tony suburb of York, Wolf's hometown, the conversation got a little Scroogish.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - While one New York advocacy group has honored a Pennsylvania congressman for his legislation to overhaul mental health treatment nationally, others say it would violate patients' civil rights.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican and former psychology professor from Pittsburgh, says his bill would provide treatment for many of the 11 million Americans with severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression who don't get it.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When members of Pennsylvania’s largest gas industry trade group got together for their annual conference last week they were a bit worried.


Anyone paying attention to voter polls or listening to the rhetoric coming out of Harrisburg knows there is the very real possibility of two major changes for the gas industry— a new Democrat in the governor’s mansion and a new tax on gas production.

On Public Land, A Gas Company Takes Private Control

Aug 13, 2014

A Pennsylvania court will soon decide if more natural gas leasing can occur in the state’s public forests.

So far, much of the debate has focused on impacts to plants and animals.

But some gas companies have been blocking people from accessing public roads and forests.

To read the rest of the story, visit the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.