Embattled State Police Nominee Gets Democratic Support

State Sen. Vincent Hughes has thrown his support behind Gov. Tom Wolf’s embattled nominee to lead the Pennsylvania State Police.

Hughes endorsed Marcus Brown Wednesday, after reports that Brown had received a racist letter opposing his candidacy for the job. Opponents have complained that, as acting director of the agency, Brown has worn the state police uniform even though he didn’t graduate from the agency’s academy. Brown’s predecessor typically wore a suit on the job. Read more »

Wolf Holds Firm on State Police Nomination

tom-wolf-budget-940x540

Gov. Tom Wolf is holding firm in backing Marcus Brown’s nomination to head the Pennsylvania State Police, despite opposition from Republicans and the troopers themselves.

The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association on Monday gave Brown a vote of no-confidnce, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Wolf gave no signs of budging on the issue.

“Again, as I said over the weekend, I nominated him because of his strong background,” Wolf said. “He was a beat cop in Baltimore, he was head of the state police in Maryland and I think he’s a good choice. He has a great background and I would like to see him confirmed.” Read more »

Bill Would Make it a Crime to Look at Porn on Pa. State Computers, Phones

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Last year’s porn scandal helped cost one Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice his job and ended or damaged the careers of many other men inside the state’s top law circles — but the fallout may not be over.

State Rep. John Payne on Friday introduced a bill that would criminalize the use of state-owned computers and cell phones to look at pornography. Violations would constitute a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.) Read more »

Two Stats That Show Harrisburg Is Stacking the Deck Against Philly Schools

Dear Sen. Jake Corman:

I’ve been thinking about you lately. Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled to see you displace local favorite Dom Pileggi as the majority leader in the Pennsylvania Senate. But you’ve been on my mind ever since you did an interview with NewsWorks and said something kind of nice about Philadelphia.

“As a Republican, we’ve made a living over the years picking on Philadelphia. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” you said. “But we’re as successful as they are. If Philadelphia is a tremendous, thriving city full of opportunity and cultural advances that communities from around the state and around the country want to come see, that’s good for everybody in the state.”

It was so surprising to hear a Pennsylvania legislator say something nice about Philly that I made a big joke of it here at Phillymag.com. But as the legislative year has gotten under way, it’s occurred to me that you might mean what you say — and that you might just be the man to help lead Pennsylvania Republicans down the path of helping the Philadelphia school district finally succeed and thrive — provided you understand exactly the problem that ails it.

And the problem is the poverty. Read more »

State Senator: Ban Powdered Alcohol in Pennsylvania

palcohol copyLast month, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board decided it would not sell powdered alcohol products in its Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. “While we have not been approached to sell any powdered alcohol products, we wanted to clearly state our position proactively on this particular form of alcohol,” PLCB Chairman Skip Brion said in a release.

Now a state senator wants to ban powdered alcohol in the state entirely. Earlier this week, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen introduced legislation that would do such a thing.

“‘Palcohol’ is marketed as a lighter and easier-to-transport alternative than liquid alcohol. However, that also makes it much easier to conceal, consume, and be acquired by minors,” Kitchen said in a release. “This is a tasteless, odorless product and it is virtually unrecognizable from liquid alcohol. That it can be sprinkled over food or hidden in just about any container makes it too easy for our children to abuse.” Read more »

What Tom Wolf Wants in His Big, Bold Budget — and What He’s Likely to Get

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Tom Wolf‘s budget “contains the most ambitious and bold set of proposals in modern history.”

That’s according to Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College who has been watching state budget battles for the past 35 years. Wolf wants to boost educating spending, raise some taxes, cut other taxes, and increase the minimum wage.

We asked Madonna what parts of Wolf’s budget could realistically pass in the GOP-controlled state legislature, and what’ll likely end up dying. Let’s break this down point by point:

Read more »

School Funding Suit Against State Advances Despite Promises From Wolf

It’s time for Pennsylvania’s courts to force the state legislature to properly fund state schools, attorneys representing a coalition of money-hungry school districts argued today before the Commonwealth Court at Harrisburg.

“We argued today in court the schoolchildren of Pennsylvania have an enforceable right to be heard,” said Maura McInerney, an attorney for the Education Law Center, which helped bring the case. She spoke during a conference call after the court appearance. “The court,” she said, “has a vital role to play in enforcing the state constitution.” Read more »

Is Pennsylvania Ready for Automatic, Universal Voter Registration?

State Sen. Vincent Hughes say he is introducing a bill to pay homage to civil rights activists who tried to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge in 1965.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes say he is introducing a bill to pay homage to civil rights activists who tried to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge in 1965.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes traveled to Selma, Alabama this past weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement in which police brutally beat non-violent activists. The events led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Hughes, a Philadelphia Democrat, says he is now introducing legislation that would implement universal voter registration across Pennsylvania in order to honor those who demonstrated in 1965.

Read more »

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