The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2016 Philadelphia Presidential Election

Election 2016 Presidential

Clockwise: Josh Shapiro, Hillary Clinton, Pat Toomey, John Rafferty, Donald Trump and Katie McGinty. | Photos by the AP, Donald Derosa under a Creative Commons license, Wikimedia Commons and via Rafferty.

Only two days left.

The most unbelievable election of our lifetimes is, mercifully, coming to an end. The vast majority of you know whether you’re voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. (To those of you who don’t, we have a simple message: ?!?!?!?!) But even political junkies have found it difficult to focus on anything outside of the Black Mirror episode we’re currently inhabiting, er, the presidential race. Worry not. We’ve studied the other elections in Philadelphia so that you don’t have to. They include a Senate race that could determine whether the ninth seat on the Supreme Court stays open, a battle to replace Kathleen Kane, and lots of legislative campaigns. You’ll also be asked a ballot question that’s pretty darn shady.

This is not your typical voter’s guide: It’s the straight-up honest truth about each of the candidates’ pros and cons. Here are your choices.

The offices:

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State Legislators Approve Bill Limiting Police Transparency in Pennsylvania, catnap72, catnap72

Last week, we told you about three controversial bills being fast-tracked through the Pennsylvania legislature.

One of them, a bill that would limit police transparency, is perhaps the most controversial of the three given national dialogue surrounding fatal and contentious police shootings of unarmed minorities – mostly black men. Read more »

Tom Wolf’s Crash Course in State Government

Signs: Jeff Fusco; Wolf: James Robinson/ Press.

Signs: Jeff Fusco; Wolf: James Robinson/ Press.

In late July — on the day Donald Trump was nominated for president — Governor Tom Wolf drove from Harrisburg to a strip mall in Johnstown to talk about addiction.

Fighting addiction to prescription drugs and heroin has become one of Wolf’s signature issues, and his administration has designated 45 Centers of Excellence that will receive funding to attack the problem “holistically,” which is a word the governor uses often. In this case, it means giving help to addicts to overcome whatever is wrong with their lives, to solve the problems that led to abusing drugs in the first place. It’s a far-reaching plan. Read more »

Harrisburg Outraged After Trump Calls City a “War Zone”

City of Harrisburg / Donald Trump split photo

Harrisburg photo by kev72 (license); Trump photo by Michael Vadon (license)

Donald Trump has had a busy week. But even with all of that going on, he also appeared at a rally in Mechanicsburg, just eight miles west of Harrisburg. And a protester was “roughed up” at it, per a video circulating online. Sounds like a Trump rally!

Yesterday, the Donald spoke about Harrisburg at a rally in Northern Virginia. He said, when driving through the city, it “looked like a war zone.” Read more »

A Pennsylvania Representative Just Introduced a “Blue Lives Matter” Bill

Blue Lives Matter Bill

Courtesy of Representative Frank Burns

Pennsylvania Representative Frank Burns, a Cambria County Democrat, has introduced a “Blue Lives Matter” bill that would prompt crimes committed against law enforcement and corrections officers to be considered hate crimes.

That means his bill would add the category of “law enforcement officer” alongside the state’s currently covered categories of race, color, religion and national origin.

“Law enforcement personnel have been singled out for attacks across the country, just because they wear the uniform, most recently in Dallas where five police officers tragically lost their lives,” Burns said in a statement.

If the bill were to pass, Pennsylvania would become the second state in the country to protect police officers in its hate crime statue, according to the Washington Post. Louisiana passed a similar bill in May.

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Wolf: Pennsylvania Budget Will Become Law Without My Signature


Governor Tom Wolf announced on Sunday night that an appropriations bill approved by the state House and Senate would become law without his signature.

Late last month, the legislature agreed to a $31.6 billion spending plan. Wolf said at the time that he supported the plan, which provides additional funding for basic education and programs aimed at battling opiate addiction, but wouldn’t sign it until the legislature specified how the plan will be funded.

Throughout this year’s budget process, Wolf has identified investments in education and addiction programs as his priorities, along with approving a balanced budget that matches all spending with stable revenue. So far, the legislature has not agreed on a revenue package.  Read more »

State House and Senate Send Spending Bill to Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf's hopes of ending Pennsylvania's 99-day-old state budget impasse were dashed Wednesday when nine of his fellow Democrats joined all House Republicans to vote against his revised plan to raise billions in income and gas drilling taxes.

Tom Wolf | Photo: Matt Rourke, AP

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted Thursday evening to adopt a spending bill for the next fiscal year, with hours to spare before the midnight deadline. The bill was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday. Governor Tom Wolf said he will sign the bill, but only after lawmakers finalize a plan on how to finance it.  Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2016 Pennsylvania Budget Battle

Clockwise: House Speaker Mike Turzai, Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. | PUT PHOTO CREDIT HERE

Clockwise: House Speaker Mike Turzai, Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. | Photos by Matt Rourke and Chris Knight/AP

It’s budget season once again in Harrisburg. Or more accurately, it’s still budget season. Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican leaders in the state House and Senate have been negotiating—and failing to negotiate—over taxes and spending since Wolf laid out his first budget proposal in early 2015.

It took more than a year after the governor gave his first budget address for an actual spending plan to become law, and that only happened without Wolf’s signature. Lawmakers passed last year’s budget nine months after the June 2015 deadline, the longest budget delay in modern Pennsylvania history. And by the time it was settled, Wolf had already proposed his budget for the next year.

Now the due date for a new financial plan is fast approaching. Will state lawmakers meet the deadline? Or will they blow it like last year, leaving school districts and nonprofits across the state in the lurch? Here’s everything you need to know: Read more »

Pa. Legislators Want to Put Golf Courses, Water Slides in State Parks

Two state representatives want to give Pennsylvania’s parks a makeover.

Pa. Representatives Brian Ellis and Jim Christiana are supporting bills that would allow for Pennsylvania’s award-winning state parks to open up to private golf courses, hotels, restaurants, amusement parks and water slides, among other facilities.

Ellis recently introduced a bill that would amend the 1995 Conservation and Natural Resources Act to allow development of such amenities. The bill would also establish a Public-Private State Park Partnership Board to oversee the projects.

Christiana’s proposed legislation would create the Arnold Palmer Trails Program, which would oversee construction of four in-park golf courses adhering to “the golf course design philosophy of Arnold Palmer.” Christiana wishes to obtain a license for use of the Latrobe golfer’s name.

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Pa. House Votes for Abortion Ban After 20 Weeks


Governor Tom Wolf at a press conference in April.

The state House approved a fast-tracked bill Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, which now heads to the Senate, passed with bipartisan support.

Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement yesterday that he would veto the controversial bill if it reached his desk. Wolf referred to a press conference earlier this year at which he spoke about the bill alongside women’s rights advocates.

“This legislation would be a step backwards for women and for Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in the statement. “If it passes the house, I urge the Senate to reject it. If this legislation reaches my desk, I will veto it. This is a bad bill for Pennsylvania and we cannot afford to allow it to go forward.”

The bill, which is sponsored by Warren County Republican Kathy Rapp, could potentially imprison doctors who perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of medical emergencies. Abortions are currently banned after 24 weeks.

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