Pa. Legislature approves $90M for new voting machines; bill would end straight party voting

Charles Thompson | June 27, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

In a flurry of pre-summer recess action, the General Assembly gave final approval Thursday to a bill that calls for the state to borrow up to $90 million to help counties defray the cost of buying new voting machines.

But that bill also would end the time-honored option of casting a straight-party vote.

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Term limits: Proposal would end career politicians serving in Pa. Legislature

Jan Murphy | Thursday, March 14, 2019, Harrisburg Patriot News

A freshman lawmaker is leading the charge on a government reform effort to let voters decide whether to bring an end to politicians making a career out of serving in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin County, is proposing a constitutional amendment that would limit lawmakers to serving in their elective office for no more than 12 consecutive years.

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More Democrats, more women – but the GOP still rules in Pa. Legislature

Angela Couloumbis | January 1, 2019, The Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s Legislature kicked off its two-year session Tuesday with celebratory receptions and swearing-in ceremonies, all devoid of the tension that could quickly settle over its dealings with the Wolf administration.

The “new” Legislature will include more women and more Democrats. But Republicans will still hold firm majorities in both chambers — and their ranks will be more conservative, as the “blue wave” in this past November’s election wiped out many of the more moderate GOP lawmakers from the Philadelphia suburbs.

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The final countdown: Bills awaiting action as Pa. Legislature’s 2017-18 session winds to a close

Jan Murphy | Friday, September 21, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

Hundreds of bills have been introduced in the 2017-18 legislative session, but fewer than 200 have become laws so far.

As the General Assembly enters the final stretch of scheduled voting days in the session, a number of weighty and significant pieces of legislation remain sitting in the hopper awaiting action.

It’s hard to predict what, if anything, lawmakers will send to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for enactment before they move to close the books on another legislative session.

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A reluctant Pa. legislature settles in for a map-making cram session

Charles Thompson | Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Harrisburg Patriot News

Backed into a corner after weeks of hand-to-hand legal combat, majority Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature are reluctantly setting about drawing a new Congressional map.

Top Senate and House staffers said Tuesday their leaders have resigned themselves to try to comply with a Jan. 22 state Supreme Court order that ruled the current boundaries of Pennsylvania’s 18 U.S. House districts unconstitutional due to extreme partisan gerrymandering.

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Pa. Legislature exits 2017 with flurry of votes, defeats

Wednesday, December 13, 2017, The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Legislature finished for the year on Wednesday after passing veto-bound abortion restrictions, while anti-union legislation sought by top Republicans failed and legislation to tax Marcellus shale natural gas production remained in limbo.

The GOP-controlled House and Senate each adjourned until January after a flurry of votes and a relatively spectacular showdown on the House floor between 25 rank-and-file Republicans and House GOP leaders over a Marcellus shale bill that has been effectively filibustered for weeks by opponents.

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Pressure mounting on lawmakers to identify a long-term unemployment compensation funding solution

Jan Murphy | Monday, October 2, 2017, Harrisburg Patriot News

The clock is ticking on state lawmakers to put in place a long-term funding fix to help make Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system fully functional again before the next big wave of jobless claims hits.

The $15 million bridge funding approved in April enabled the system to hire back nearly 200 of the 521 state Department of Labor & Industry workers who were laid off last December when state funding to help underwrite the system dried up.

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Budget impasse could impact Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, including Pitt and Penn State

Bill Schackner and Liz Navratil | July 19, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

State Senate and House Democratic caucus leaders chided the Republican House leadership late Wednesday over the Commonwealth’s continuing budget impasse and its potential impact on Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities.

State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities have become “pawns,” their appropriations totaling more than half a billion dollars held up by the stalemate.

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Budget mess may mean ‘real trouble soon,’ Pa. treasurer warns

Liz Navratil & Angela Couloumbis | Thursday, July 13, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG — State Treasurer Joe Torsella warned Thursday that the commonwealth could run out of money to pay its bills by the end of August unless the legislature quickly passes a responsible revenue package to balance its budget.

That’s alarmingly early in the year, said Torsella, who said he also fears that the state’s cash-flow problems could last for a worrisome eight straight months.

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