Politics & Government

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

A new bill in the state House would require every school district in Pennsylvania to test for radon and inform parents of the results.

Antonio Licon / WESA

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont - whose upstart 2016 campaign shook up the Democratic primary - returned to Pittsburgh Sunday, bringing a familiar, if updated, message that called for a wholesale remaking of the country’s economic and political underpinnings.  

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has launched a new website that allows visitors to see how and where the city's budget is spent. 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

A prosecutor refused to approve criminal charges Friday against Pittsburgh's mayor and six City Council members over the passage of firearms restrictions that gun rights advocates say are blatant and deliberate violations of state law.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

At a preliminary hearing in Detroit Thursday, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner was bound over for trial on one felony count of resisting and obstructing the police and disorderly conduct. In state trial court Judge Ronald Giles, however, dismissed a second felony count for resisting and obstructing the police, meaning prosecutors did not have probable cause to file the charge.

Matt Rourke / AP

A bill aimed at saving two of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants from early retirement is getting an expectedly mixed reception in the state Senate.

The first committee hearing on the measure Wednesday saw nuclear and natural gas proponents clash over how to make Pennsylvania’s energy markets fair.

The proposal would recognize Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants as carbon-free energy, and add them to the commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.

Robert Kania, a Port Authority of Allegheny County board member and Republican donor, is registering Americans Against Socialism with state election officials – four months after 90.5 WESA first reported on the group’s failure to disclose its activities, and within a day of a Washington D.C. activist group’s call for an investigation of the matter.

Despite the move, Gov. Tom Wolf removed him from the transit agency's board Thursday afternoon.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Thanks to a bipartisan vote from the Senate State Government Committee on Tuesday, a bill aimed at changing how Pennsylvania draws House, Senate, and congressional maps is getting another shot.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

After months of debate, hearings and protest, Pittsburgh's controversial gun legislation is officially on the books. Mayor Bill Peduto signed gun control bills which, if allowed to go into effect, would ban the use of some kinds of weaponry within city limits. But the city may well have to win a legal standoff with gun-rights advocates before that can happen. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

A package of bills at the center of a heated debate about gun control in Pittsburgh is expected to become law today. Mayor Bill Peduto tells The Confluence he'll sign the bills at noon today. 

90.5 WESA

Last fall, mysterious political yard signs popped up in the Pittsburgh area asking voters to “Vote Against Socialism! Write in: Dom Costa” for state representative. 

Pennsylvania Gun Violence Activists Set Sights On New Bill

Apr 8, 2019
Ariel Worthy / WESA

​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.

Bernie Sanders Planning Rally In Pittsburgh

Apr 8, 2019
Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a campaign swing Monday that will take him to three Great Lakes region states that are a key part of the Democratic strategy to rebuild a "blue wall" and defeat President Donald Trump.

Bradley C. Bower / AP

In an unusual move, Pennsylvania's treasurer is calling on a state Senator to resign.

Treasurer Joe Torsella doesn't often weigh in on contentious political matters unless they have something to do with state finances. But in a statement, he said fellow Democrat Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County has shown a troubling pattern of "lashing out" against people who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

After 2016 Loss, PA Democrats Know They Need White Male Voters

Apr 8, 2019
Keith Srakocic / AP

When he moved to Pennsylvania about five years ago, it was a coin toss which party Brian Heitman would register with.

No longer.

Since Donald Trump's election in 2016, Heitman, who is 42 and white, has become a reliable Democrat. Last week, he voted for the Democratic candidate in a special state Senate election in Pittsburgh's affluent southern suburbs.

"A decade ago I probably wouldn't have even noticed this election was happening," Heitman said, "but I'm making a point in voting in every one I can nowadays."

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey wants state and local law enforcement to know when someone buying a gun doesn’t pass a criminal background check.

Eric Gay / AP

When Franklin and Marshall College first started polling Pennsylvanians about legalizing marijuana in 2006, only 22 percent of respondents said they were in favor.

Creating A Fairer Map: Redistricting Reform Panel Kicks Off Public Input Tour

Apr 5, 2019
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania will redraw its congressional and legislative districts after the 2020 census - and there's a renewed push to change the rules before that happens.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Just a few weeks ago, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler voted for a nonbinding resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report to be made public. But on Wednesday, Reschenthaler and other Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against a committee measure to subpoena the report.

Courtesy the Iovino campaign

State Senator-elect Pam Iovino’s Tuesday-night special election win over Republican D. Raja won’t attract the same attention Conor Lamb’s did when he was elected to Congress last year.

But both Democrats triumphed in the southern and western suburbs of Pittsburgh, prevailing over Republican attacks based heavily on national issues.


President Donald Trump and other GOP officials have recently rekindled their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

The Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval Tuesday to gun restrictions proposed after last year's synagogue massacre, inviting a legal challenge by gun-rights activists who have long tangled with the city over firearms.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA (left) Courtesty of the Iovino campaign (right)

Democrat Pam Iovino has won the special election in state Senate District 37, riding a tide of support from unions and Democratic officials to beat Republican D. Raja. 

Michelle R. Smith / AP

There is exactly one year left before the 2020 census, and Pennsylvania officials said Monday, they’re taking steps to try and help the federal government count everyone.

Secretary Of State Talks Immigration, Venezuela At War College

Apr 1, 2019
Andrew Harnik / AP

At the U.S. Army War College, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told military officers from the U.S. and its allies they need to be ready to face emerging threats. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Residents in the airport area and South Hills will vote in a special election Tuesday, choosing a state Senator in the 37th district to replace Guy Reschenthaler, who went to Congress earlier this year. The winner will represent them through the end of 2020 -- and the race itself may shape many other election contests that year.

Matt Rourke / AP

Two state representatives are setting the stage for a push to change Pennsylvania’s laws governing sexual abuse.

Courtesy of Allegheny County

Governor Tom Wolf has nominated Allegheny County's Chief Public Defender, Elliot Howsie, for an appointment to the Common Pleas Court, according to a statement from Howsie’s judicial campaign.

Teresa Crawford / AP

On March 12, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed a groundbreaking anti-discrimination ordinance to bar discrimination against pregnant women and their partners. The measure had moved quickly – Council passed it two weeks after its introduction – despite providing a significant expansion to existing protections for workers. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania's first law of 2019 expands the list of crimes that would result in a convicted public official or government employee being stripped of their public pension.