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 of this posting, remains in critical condition. We discuss what he means to PA politics, as well as the outpouring of support he’s received from across the country.

We also dig into a new report on next year’s (not great) budget prognosis, talk about Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai’s newly-announced gubernatorial campaign, and explain the latest legal twists in the commonwealth’s unfolding gerrymandering cases.

Plus, lest we forget, we’ll take a serious look at the latest dispute to grip the Capitol: which semi-aquatic creature deserves to be named state amphibian?

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 to call it to a vote. But the situation is more complicated than it sounds—in part because since it passed last month, over 300 amendments have been filed to the bill.

Capitolwire’s Carley Mossbrook has spent the last two weeks combing through all of them. She joins us to explain why many involve topics that aren’t remotely related to oil and gas taxation—including abortion, dredging bodies of water, and pensions.

Plus, Carley and Liz Navratil of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette discuss this week’s elections, and rehash Republican Senator Scott Wagner’s decision to name a running mate in his fledgling gubernatorial campaign.

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 program, as well as a fast-approaching deadline to fix the commonwealth’s unemployment compensation funding stream.