Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's December Jobless Rate Rises, Payrolls Shrink

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rose in December for the fourth straight month, as payrolls shrank and the labor force hit another record high.

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Politics & Government

Rob Mercuri Campaign

Rob Mercuri is a relative newcomer to politics, but he can already claim a leg up on many more seasoned politicos: While insiders and journalists spent much of their week trying to figure out what state House Speaker Mike Turzai was planning to announce this Thursday, Mercuri already knew Turzai would not run for office again.

A day after Turzai said he was stepping down, in fact, Mercuri announced his campaign for Turzai’s House seat – with Turzai’s endorsement.

Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday that he will ask lawmakers for an extra $40 million-plus to help improve services for the vulnerable, including children and the elderly, and expand direct care services to more disabled people who are on a waiting list.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Speaker of the state House Mike Turzai, a key figure in western Pennsylvania Republican politics for the past two decades, announced Thursday that he will not run for re-election this year and hopes to find work in the private sector. 

Matt Rourke / AP

State House Speaker Mike Tuzai has scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning, amid rumors that he plans to resign.

Turzai’s office did not provide details on what the top House Republican will discuss Thursday, and the speaker declined repeated requests for comments about his plans. But lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers in the state Capitol say they’ve heard credible rumors he is stepping down.

Science, Health & Tech

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security are teaming up to address bias in the region's automated decision making tools. The 22-person Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms was announced Wednesday, and is charged with forming guidelines and best practices for municipal algorithms.

Closed hospital and empty parking lot.
Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The door to the emergency room at the Ellwood City Medical Center is locked. 

Identity & Justice

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences / Carnegie Mellon University

On today's program: Students share how poetry gives voice to their experiences; PA voters get introspective about their media diets; what it takes to cut energy use in state-owned buildings; and a new memoir explores the taboo subject of abuse in queer relationships.

Patrick Doyle / 90.5 WESA

Some of the last big changes Pennsylvania made to its juvenile justice system came almost a decade ago, after the “kids for cash” scandal in which judges in Luzerne County took bribes for keeping minors in private detention facilities.

Education

Governor To Seek School Construction Aid Amid Health Issues

Jan 24, 2020
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

With budget season approaching, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is developing a plan to help deal with aging school buildings plagued by environmental problems, including lead paint and asbestos insulation, his office said.

Tony Dejak / AP

A bill that could radically reshape Pennsylvania’s cyber education landscape received a public hearing Tuesday in the House Education Committee, inspiring strong reactions from advocates and lawmakers.

Good Question!

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

When Driving Pittsburgh’s Major Roadways Was ‘An Experience,’ Complete With Picnic Stops

Allegheny River Boulevard hugs the southern bank of its namesake waterway, carrying travelers between Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood to the borough of Oakmont. But the road includes distinct architectural features that make it different from others.

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Development & Transportation

PWSA

Update: The flush and boil advisory has been lifted as of Wednesday, January 22. PWSA advises residents who have not run their water in recent days to flush their taps for at least one minute before using water for cooking or drinking.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has issued a flush and boil advisory for the Crafton Heights, Elliott, Esplen, Ridgemont, and Westwood neighborhoods.

Sabrina Bodon / 90.5 WESA

Water company Aqua America will acquire Peoples Gas for $4.3 billion, after state regulators approved the merger on Thursday. By February the two companies will do business under the new name “Essential Utilities, Inc.” 

Arts, Sports, & Culture

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

These days artists have plenty of ways to put their work out there. Some, for instance, do pretty well with online sales.

Still, there’s nothing like exhibiting work in real life.

Tori Hirsch found that out a year ago, when a few of her oil paintings were exhibited as part of “Owning,” a three-person show staged as part of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s, or GPAC’s, Art on the Walls series.

Andrew Harnik / AP

 

On today's program: A White House correspondent shares tales from the road; what we’ve learned from five years of local coal mining data; a sportsbook expert estimates just how involved Pennsylvanians will be ahead of Super Bowl LIV; and how Pittsburgh plans to celebrate the Chinese New Year as the threat of disease plagues provinces abroad.

Environment & Energy

Trump Administration Rescinds Protections For Streams And Wetlands

Jan 24, 2020

The Trump administration announced it’s finalizing a rollback of a major Obama Era rule that clarified which waterways can be regulated by the Clean Water Act.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled to uphold a legal principle that allows drillers to drain oil and natural gas from outside their property lines.

The court overturned a 2018 decision by the lower Superior Court on Wednesday that said the “rule of capture" does not cover hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of extracting natural gas from underground rock.

Economy & Business

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate rose in December for the fourth straight month, as payrolls shrank and the labor force hit another record high. 

Local Headlines

Keith Srakocic / AP

A college senior who aspired to be a research psychologist was struck and killed by a bus in Pittsburgh over the weekend, authorities said.

Barbara Como, 20, of Chester Springs was struck by the Port Authority bus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh shortly after noon Saturday, the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said. She was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where she was pronounced dead.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A gun buyback held in Homewood Monday distributed $5,000 in less than one hour, according to organizers.

Food & Drink

Rachel McDevitt / WITF

The 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off this weekend.

National & International

A flurry of qualifying polls released Sunday has put tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang back on the Democratic debate stage.

Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the Feb. 7 debate in Manchester, N.H., which is just four days ahead of the primary there.

See Molly Wood At The Science Center

From Tech Champion to Tech Dynasty: Pittsburgh's Next Moves

Join us for lunch at the Carnegie Science Center with Marketplace Tech's Molly Wood, Jan. 30.

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