Episode 48: A perfect storm for change

Pennsylvania’s not a state that changes course easily. But over the past few months of redistricting chaos, not to mention wider, national unrest over guns and sexual assault, the commonwealth has seemed on the brink of some major shifts.

That’s what John Baer is hypothesizing, anyway.

The longtime columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer joins us to discuss why he thinks the battle over Pennsylvania’s congressional districts might be the catalyst needed to complete long-gestating initiatives to reform the judiciary and the redistricting process.

Plus, we’ll discuss how all these factors may be playing into the November election.

Episode 47: Dang property taxes!


The Morning Call’s Steve Esack recently co-authored a series investigating Pennsylvania’s little-discussed Clean and Green program, which essentially shifts property tax burdens off large landowners and onto regular homeowners—particularly in rural areas. (You should read it).

We’ll discuss why the heck this policy exists, and how the billions and billions of dollars it functionally reroutes play into the commonwealth’s already-fraught property tax landscape. Plus, we’ll answer a bunch of questions WITF listeners and readers have submitted over the past few weeks.

Steve and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Liz Navratil also recap a number of new developments in two of Pennsylvania’s highest-profile stories of the moment: the ongoing battle over the state’s redrawn congressional map, a lawmaker’s domestic violence allegations against a fellow caucus member.

Episode 46: Small races writ large

Pennsylvania had an election this week.

Though it was only a special election to replace a resigned congressman in a single district, it received wall-to-wall national coverage. Like several other small or special contests this year and last, PA18 is seen as a signifier of how well democrats will do in this year’s midterms.

Also, for better or worse, it’s seen as a referendum on President Trump.

The AP’s Marc Levy joins us for a look at what we can actually take from Democrat Conor Lamb’s (apparent) victory in a district that was seen as safe for Republicans. We’ll discuss why the commonwealth’s voters are unique, which outcomes might actually translate to future elections, and why the race had much more to do with unions than it did Donald Trump.

Plus, we’ll recap the other major thing that happened this week: state Rep. Tarah Toohil has gotten a restraining order against fellow GOP Rep. Nick Miccarelli, after alleging he abused her when the two dated. It’s a situation that—as far as anybody has been able to figure out—is totally unprecedented.

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Episode 45: Guns, guns, guns

In the wake of the Florida shooting that killed 17 people, lawmakers around the country have been grappling with how—or if—to reform gun laws.

Pennsylvania’s own US Senator Pat Toomey found himself in the thick of the conversation this week as he proposed moderate gun reforms to President Donald Trump, and was then immediately undercut as the president suddenly sided with Democrats on the issue.

PennLive Opinion Editor John Micek joins us to unpack the slew of gun proposals floating around, plus recap a debate he moderated between Pennsylvania’s three GOP candidates for governor.

And bringing another angle to the gun story is Paula Knudsen of L&P’s The Caucus.

She and colleague Brad Bumsted recently wrote about the general nonchalance lawmakers and other state employees appear to have about concealed weapons being carried in the state Capitol building—and the concerns some people have raised about that.