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Episode 46: Small races writ large

Pennsylvania had an election this week. Though it was only a special election to replace a resigned congressman in a single district, it received wall-to-wall national coverage. Like several other small or special contests this year and last, PA18 is seen as a signifier of how well democrats will do in this year’s midterms. Also, … Continue reading "Episode 46: Small races writ large"


Episode 45: Guns, guns, guns

In the wake of the Florida shooting that killed 17 people, lawmakers around the country have been grappling with how—or if—to reform gun laws. Pennsylvania’s own US Senator Pat Toomey found himself in the thick of the conversation this week as he proposed moderate gun reforms to President Donald Trump, and was then immediately undercut … Continue reading "Episode 45: Guns, guns, guns"


Episode 44: Let’s sue the court

In a little bit of a departure, this show was recorded live as an episode of Smart Talk, WITF’s morning radio show, on Thursday, February 23. We’re cross-posting because it covers all the important redistricting news we would have discussed on the podcast anyway, and who wants to be redundant? WITF’s Scott LaMar, Emily Previti, … Continue reading "Episode 44: Let’s sue the court"


Episode 43: What does ‘fair’ even mean?

It’s been almost a month since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the commonwealth’s 2011 congressional map an unconstitutional Republican gerrymander and ordered lawmakers to redraw it in time for the 2018 election. And as the February 19 deadline approaches for the justices to select a replacement, the contentious saga might be coming to an end. … Continue reading "Episode 43: What does ‘fair’ even mean?"


Episode 42: Making it up as they go along

By the time you listen to this podcast, there’s a good chance that things will look a bit different. All week, we’ve been waiting to see what the state legislature will do to respond to the state Supreme Court’s declaration that Pennsylvania’s congressional maps are unconstitutional, and justices’ subsequent order for lawmakers to redraw them … Continue reading "Episode 42: Making it up as they go along"


Episode 41: More fights about redistricting

Yes, this is the third podcast in a row that has focused on the fallout from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declaring the state’s congressional maps unconstitutional. And yes, we still have a lot more to say about it. This week saw more volleys back and forth between legislative republicans and the court, and perhaps most … Continue reading "Episode 41: More fights about redistricting"


Episode 40: Unconstitutional maps, uncertain future

Today’s podcast was recorded live as an episode of Smart Talk, WITF’s morning show. That means it’s twice as long, and features listener calls and emails. It features Keystone Crossroads’ Emily Previti and Marc Levy of the Associated Press, who help us break down the biggest issue in Pennsylvania (and one of the biggest issues … Continue reading "Episode 40: Unconstitutional maps, uncertain future"


Episode 39: Redistricting, races, and the return of the legislature

Lawmakers have been on vacation from Harrisburg for over a month, but next week they’ll return to start off their 2018 session. Jason Gottesman of the PLS Reporter and City and State PA joins us to run down a list of their top priorities—from overhauling the tax code to shrinking the state House. But before … Continue reading "Episode 39: Redistricting, races, and the return of the legislature"


Episode 38: Farm Show fever

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing, and we had planned to do a very Farm Show-centric episode. But as someone probably once said, state politics operates on its own mystical schedule, so lots of other unexpected stuff happened this week as well. Therefore, Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer columnist John Baer and Paula … Continue reading "Episode 38: Farm Show fever"


Episode 37: Frozen pipe(line construction)

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection made an unexpected decision to halt construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline, a massive $2.5 billion Sunoco project that’s intended to eventually link the Marcellus Shale gas formation in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia—a distance of 350 miles. Over the course … Continue reading "Episode 37: Frozen pipe(line construction)"


Episode 36: Happy holidays, time to talk about harassment

Over the last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have published two stories on sexual harassment that have caused some uproar. One reported complaints of chronic sexually-tinged misconduct by Montgomery County Democratic Senator Daylin Leach. And another uncovered a secret quarter-million-dollar settlement on a sexual harassment complaint against longtime Berks … Continue reading "Episode 36: Happy holidays, time to talk about harassment"


Episode 35: Holiday bedlam

This was the legislature’s last session week of the year, and they made the most of it. Dozens of bills were passed between chambers and onto the governor, including a contentious abortion restriction measure, GOP-backed proposals to change the budgeting process, and funding reauthorization for the state’s CHIP and unemployment compensation programs. There were also … Continue reading "Episode 35: Holiday bedlam"


Episode 34: Why we need to talk more about gerrymandering

Over the last month or so, WITF and other public media stations have been rolling out a series of stories in collaboration with PennLive about the weird ways Pennsylvania draws its electoral maps. Reporting these stories has taken us across the state, from coal mines to cornfields to cities to suburbs to random nursing homes. … Continue reading "Episode 34: Why we need to talk more about gerrymandering"


Episode 33: Political games

This week’s episode was recorded live for WITF’s morning show, Smart Talk. It’s about twice as long as usual, plus features calls from listeners. With the year winding down, lawmakers are still entrenched in talks on a few major bills. Marc Levy of the Associated Press and the Morning Call’s Steve Esack join us in … Continue reading "Episode 33: Political games"


Episode 32: Health scares, campaigns, gerrymanders and salamanders

Angela Couloumbis of the Philly Inquirer stops by to review a week that may not have seen much significant legislative action, but certainly made up for it in scattershot news items. First up, Tom Ridge (former governor, Vietnam veteran and the country’s first Homeland Security Secretary) had a sudden heart attack this week and, as … Continue reading "Episode 32: Health scares, campaigns, gerrymanders and salamanders"


Episode 31: How to kill a bill (and more)

For years, Democrats and moderate Republicans in Pennsylvania’s legislature have been trying to pass a severance tax on natural gas drillers. They’ve never been successful, and—particularly in the House—attempted legislation has rarely made it out of committee. Right now, a measure is actually poised to make it to the House floor; it just needs leaders … Continue reading "Episode 31: How to kill a bill (and more)"


Episode 30: Loose ends and looming deadlines

Now that the state budget is basically done, what’s next? PennLive’s Charlie Thompson and the AP’s Marc Levy sit down to discuss the remaining unfinished business in the fiscal picture—namely, the details of expected revenue from borrowing and gaming expansions. We also delve into the ethical questions that are now plaguing reauthorization of Pennsylvania’s CHIP … Continue reading "Episode 30: Loose ends and looming deadlines"


Episode 29: Not with a bang, but a whimper

It’s probably a little much to reference T.S. Eliot in a podcast title. But dealing as we are with a budget balanced on a borrowing-based plan that none of its makers even like, it does feel appropriate. This week, after four months of trying, the House and Senate successfully got an entire $2.2 billion revenue … Continue reading "Episode 29: Not with a bang, but a whimper"


Episode 28: We all hate it. Let’s vote for it.

This week, a budget plan based almost entirely on borrowing and internal fund transfers was mostly passed by the House, and Senate leaders indicated they’re going to give it serious consideration. Even the Republican authors of the plan admit, they don’t like it much. So why, then, does everyone seem so resigned to passing it? … Continue reading "Episode 28: We all hate it. Let’s vote for it."


Episode 27: What happens next? It’s anyone’s guess.

State Treasurer Joe Torsella stepped back into the political fray this week when he authorized a short-term loan to get the commonwealth’s general fund through a few lean days. That move comes after he spent about two months refusing to authorize a loan on the grounds that the budget wasn’t balanced. It technically still isn’t, … Continue reading "Episode 27: What happens next? It’s anyone’s guess."


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