Pa. State Police Will Carry Anti-Overdose Drug

Gov. Tom Wolf formally announced today that Pennsylvania State Police will start carrying a drug that helps reverse heroin overdoses.

Naloxone — also known as Narcan — will be carried in hopes of reversing an ugly trend: Heroin and opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, reportedly killing as many as 2,400 people in the state in 2013. Read more »

Governor Wolf Draws Up Petition for LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill in Pennsylvania

wolf lgbt

The worrisome passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has elicited a lot of responses in people—from calls to ban travel to the state to outright protests. Yesterday, lawmakers in Harrisburg sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf, asking him to take a stand against RFRA, and today he has responded by drawing up a petition calling on PA legislators to support a law that would protect Pennsylvanians from ever being subjected to a discriminatory religious freedom law. As you may have heard, we live in a state where it is legal to fire someone or kick someone out of their home or a place of business for being gay. Wolf has said he would sign a bill protecting LGBT people from discrimination, but, unfortunately, no such bill exists.

Last year’s legislative session saw the introduction of House and Senate bills 300, which would protect LGBT people in the state of Pennsylvania from discrimination. Even though the bills had support on both sides of the party lines, the session ended without any definitive votes being cast. So far, this year’s session hasn’t seen any such bills, which is why Wolf is calling on lawmakers to get the ball rolling.

In an email sent out Thursday morning, he wrote:

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Governor Wolf Urged to Do More in Response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act [Updated]

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

UPDATE: A representative from Wolf’s office, responded to the original article with this statement: “What happened in Indiana is wrong, and Governor Wolf knows we need to advance equality right here in Pennsylvania. Indiana’s actions should serve as a call for Pennsylvania to pass non-discrimination legislation right now. All people—regardless of sexual orientation—should be treated equally under Pennsylvania law. This fundamental right is essential, and it is the very principle on which our Commonwealth was founded by William Penn, who envisioned a Pennsylvania that is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. Now is the time for real progress.”

ORIGINAL: Members of Pennsylvania’s LGBT Equality Caucus in Harrisburg hand-delivered a letter to Governor Tom Wolf this afternoon in response to the anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana.

The letter, signed by Senators Daylin Leach, Vincent Hughes and Larry Farnese and Representative Dan Frankel, urges Wolf to “to stand with the people of Indiana and the nation in making it clear that this sort of law is unacceptable.”

Until an online town hall event yesterday, Wolf hadn’t spoken publicly about RFRA. At that event he said that he has “continued to support equal protection for people in the LGBT community in Pennsylvania,” and called equal protection “absolutely essential.”

Words are one thing, but the LGBT Equality Caucus is asking for action. In the closing paragraphs of their letter, they write “While many of our municipalities have passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances, many of our citizens still have no legal protection against the sort of bigotry that results in people being denied service by private companies. We urge you to redouble your efforts to work with the legislature to pass an [LGBT anti-discrimination] bill that you have already said you will sign.”

Read the full letter below.

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Council to Nutter: Find Your $105 Million Somewhere Else

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

Close, but no cigar, Mayor Michael Nutter.

That was the general message from Council members at their hearing Tuesday on Nutter’s five-year fiscal plan, the first budget hearing of the season.

Lawmakers said they expect to provide additional money to the city’s cash-starved school district, but not in the way the mayor has suggested. In response to a request from school officials for an extra $103 million, Nutter has proposed raising property taxes by 9 percent in order to send slightly more than that, $105 million, to the district.

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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 »

PA’s Wealthy School Districts Get Way More Local Cash Than Poor Ones

School District of Philadelphia

School districts across Pennsylvania have felt the impact of state budget cuts and the expiration of federal stimulus dollars over the past few years.

But the money woes of the high-poverty Philadelphia School District have been so extreme that they’ve garnered national attention: Some city schools lack such basics as full-time guidance counselors and nurses.

A new analysis shows that, despite the fact that low-income students come to class with greater needs than their better-off peers, Pennsylvania and its municipalities actually spend less per pupil in the poorest districts than in the richest ones. Way less, actually. According to the Washington Post, “In Pennsylvania, per-pupil spending in the poorest school districts is 33 percent lower than per-pupil spending in the wealthiest school districts.”

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The Brief: The 5 Council At-Large Candidates With the Best Signatures Game

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

A candidate has the opportunity to flex some muscle while collecting signatures for nominating petitions.

You only need to gather 1,000 legit signatures to get on the May 19th primary ballot for citywide office — but if a candidate amasses significantly more than that, they can theoretically inoculate themselves from a legal challenge and show the city that they’ve got a good ground operation. (Again, at least in theory. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady led the pack in signatures among mayoral candidates during the 2007 campaign, only to lose in the primary.)

March 17th is the deadline to file a legal challenge against a candidate over their nominating petitions. We told you how many signatures the mayoral hopefuls collected. What about the candidates in the second-most interesting race in town, the Democratic City Council At-Large tussle?

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