Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Alex Brandon / AP

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey believes that presidents should not be allowed to unilaterally ban fracking -- and in the wake of Democratic promises to do just that, recently introduced a Senate resolution emphasizing that point.

Talks On Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Heat Up Before Deadline

21 hours ago
Matt Rourke / AP

Discussions toward raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage for the first time since 2009 are heating up, in part to get Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to abandon an effort to extend overtime pay eligibility to thousands of workers. 

Friends of Devlin

Bridgeville businessman and veteran Devlin Robinson hopes to challenge state Senator Pam Iovino in the 37th state Senate District next year, a match-up that would represent a kind of alternate-universe version of the election fight many Republicans hoped to have this past spring.

Matt Rourke / AP

Governor Tom Wolf said he was surprised when, late Tuesday evening, he began hearing reports that the FBI is conducting a corruption investigation into the permits his administration issued for construction of a major natural gas pipeline.

Wolf, a Democrat, addressed the situation for the first time Wednesday afternoon, saying he is not aware of any wrongdoing.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald outlines his goals for a final term; Pennsylvania communities raise a glass to the state’s beer industry; and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project is hosting one of the “Exonerated Five” in Pittsburgh tonight to honor the wrongfully convicted. 

County Resists Pennsylvania’s Push For New Voting Machines

Nov 13, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

A Pennsylvania county is signaling that it won’t go along with Gov. Tom Wolf’s insistence that counties buy new voting systems as a security measure in 2020’s election, when the state is expected to be a premier presidential battleground.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The U.S. House of Representatives is holding open hearings in its impeachment inquiry into President Trump. All hearings will be streamed through this video player as they are live.

FBI Eyes How Pennsylvania Approved Pipeline

Nov 12, 2019
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The FBI has begun a corruption investigation into how Gov. Tom Wolf's administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline project to carry highly volatile natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania, The Associated Press has learned.

Courtesy of Heidelbaugh for Attorney General

Pittsburgh-area attorney Heather Heidelbaugh announced Tuesday that she will run for Pennsylvania Attorney General next year. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Detroit trial of an elected official from Pittsburgh is off to a slow start because of a snowstorm.

Seven Solutions For Pennsylvania’s Problems At The Polls

Nov 12, 2019
Ed Mahon / PA Post

Paper jams, long lines, incorrect results: Some voters and elections officials encountered problems last week as 35 counties rolled out new voting machines.

York County officials issued a public apology Tuesday evening after voters complained of delays and other problems with the county’s new $1.4 million paper-ballot system.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

Seven people who work or have worked for Pennsylvania’s state government are suing in hopes of getting back union dues they paid.

The suit was filed by the same nonprofits who brought last year’s landmark Janus case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled public sector unions can’t take dues from non-members.

Until recently, lead plaintiff David Schaszberger was a statistical analyst in Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

An elected official from Pittsburgh scheduled for trial Tuesday in Michigan says she is confident she will be cleared of wrongdoing in an altercation at a Detroit hotel earlier this year.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, who was overwhelmingly re-elected to a third term last week, faces felony resisting and obstructing police and misdemeanor disorderly conduct counts in Wayne County Court in the March incident.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey, is trying to head off some of the big environmental promises ​that a few Democratic Presidential candidates are making. 

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board, which regulates all the wine and spirits sales in the commonwealth, is touting its contributions to state coffers.

Its annual report shows it set its highest-ever sales record last year—$2.67 billion.

The board kicked more than $185 million of that back to the commonwealth’s general fund, and even more in taxes. It wasn’t the highest contribution in recent years, but it is in line with the legislature’s increasing tendency to rely on the PLCB for cash.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Democrat Stephen Zappala won Tuesday’s election for Allegheny County District Attorney thanks to a strong showing in the suburbs. But campaigners for independent challenger Lisa Middleman say they are redrawing the political map. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Candidates from each party are holding onto leads for the pair of open Pennsylvania Superior Court seats while officials are finishing up the vote count from Tuesday's election.

Philadelphia Judge Dan McCaffery, a Democrat, was leading the four-candidate field early Wednesday, and Republican prosecutor Megan King from Chester County was running about 30,000 votes ahead of the third-place candidate.

Their respective parties are claiming wins for McCaffery and King, although The Associated Press has not called the race.

Bret Hartman / AP

Pennsylvania voters gave Marsy’s Law an overwhelming victory in the 2019 general election.

With more than 70 percent of precincts reporting results late Tuesday night, the proposed amendment, which aims to protect crime victims’ rights by adding existing laws to the state constitution, had support from more than 73 percent of voters.

But the victory may only be temporary. Thanks to a last-minute lawsuit, Marsy’s Law is in legal limbo.

Pennsylvania Settling Close Races For Judge, County Control

Nov 6, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania's municipal elections Tuesday featured two statewide appellate judge seats, as well as some potential firsts in local races as most counties debuted new voting systems.

Ballots were still being counted at about 11:30 p.m. in many closely watched contests across Pennsylvania amid complaints of long voter waits in some of the 45 of 67 counties using new voting systems.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Democrats extended their dominance of Allegheny County government last night. The party picked up one seat in the fifteen-member county council, when Tom Duerr beat Sue Means in the heart of the South Hills suburbs by roughly 20 percentage points.


Supporters of a city of Pittsburgh ballot initiative to pay for park improvements with a property tax hike declared victory Tuesday night. With all but a handful of voting districts reporting in, the measure appeared to have won the approval of just over half of city voters.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Democrat Stephen Zappala will remain Allegheny County District Attorney after winning a comfortable victory against Independent Lisa Middleman in Tuesday’s election.


Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will have just one new face in 2020, after Bobby Wilson won a three-way race in Council District 1 Tuesday night. Wilson bested independent challenger Chris Rosselot by a margin of nearly two-to-one according to unofficial vote totals. Malcolm Jarrett, of the Socialist Workers Party, finished a distant third.

Pennsylvania To Settle Close Races For Judge, County Control

Nov 5, 2019
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania's municipal elections Tuesday will feature two statewide appellate judge seats, as well as some potential firsts in local races.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On statewide ballots, Republicans and Democrats are vying for two open seats on the statewide appellate Superior Court. The 15-seat court handles civil and criminal appeals from Pennsylvania's county courts.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Voters are taking to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes on a number of local issues and races.

Court Rules Marsy's Law Votes Won't Be Counted

Nov 4, 2019
Bret Hartman / AP Images for Marsy'sLawForAll.org

Pennsylvania's highest court is telling state elections officials not to tally or certify the results of a referendum on a victims' rights constitutional amendment. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

President Trump promised that his tariffs on imported steel would revitalize U.S. steel producers, but the policy has had the opposite effect for some mills in Western Pennsylvania. In the steel town of Farrell, for example, workers at NLMK USA are living through drastic work reductions.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris is poised to leave office at the end of the year, but before she does, she will gain the distinction of being the defendant in a key test of the city's campaign-finance rules.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

District 9 has been the focus of conversation when it comes to issues like gentrification and affordable housing. Currently, the district is led by 12-year incumbent Councilor Ricky Burgess. But now, he has challengers who say that while the district is improving, long-time residents are being left out by the district's much-anticipated improvements.

Pelosi Comes to Pennsylvania As Dems Try To Fix 2016 Errors

Nov 1, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak at a first annual Pennsylvania Democratic Party dinner fundraiser, three years after Donald Trump's victory in the state stunned Democrats into trying to fix what went wrong in 2016's presidential election.

Friday's dinner is part of what state Democrats are doing to prepare for 2020 and beyond in the presidential battleground.

The party is employing perhaps its largest field staff ever in an off-year election to build relationships with local candidates and activists, including progressive groups that sprung up after Trump's victory.