Episode 51: Meek Mill and more


Marc Levy of the Associated Press and Liz Navratil of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette join us for a roundup of a whole bunch of initiatives kicking around the Capitol

That includes a move to expand background checks for gun purchases, and a hearing on creating an independent citizens’ commission for redistricting. Plus, we’ll recap a recent debate between the three GOP candidates for governor.

And in related news, rapper Meek Mill was released from a Pennsylvania prison this week. His controversial sentence began in November, when he was arrested for violating a parole stemming from a more than decade-old weapon and drug possession conviction.

The case called attention to what many say is a systemic problem with Pennsylvania’s judicial system. We’ll discuss a push in state government to change that, and whether it’ll get past a conservative legislature.

Episode 50: Philly soda tax / Capitol roundup


When Philadelphia wanted to combat obesity and reduce its impact on health care early last year, it turned to a controversial measure: the soda tax.

Since then, the 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax has inspired equally passionate support and opposition.

Detractors of additional food, beverage and container taxes say they result in job loss, harm communities and adversely impact lower income families.

Proponents, meanwhile, cite health benefits, and say the additional tax revenue is an investment in neighborhoods and public education.

More than a year after its implementation, Philadelphia’s tax is now coming back to the fore in Harrisburg, as a number of lawmakers move to kill it, plus prevent any new levies on food, beverages and food containers. Allegheny County Republican Mark Mustio, the lead sponsor of that legislation, joins Smart Talk to explain why he thinks the tax is such a bad idea.

And representing the other point of view is Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a Greater Philadelphia child advocacy organization. Cooper believes the tax is doing a world of good for the Philly community and the programs that serve it.

In other news, this week was a busy one in the state Capitol. With WITF State Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer hosting, Capitolwire Bureau Chief Chris Comisac stops by to discuss the major events: including the House passing contentious bills on abortion and Medicaid work requirements, new rules for medical marijuana, some inter-legislator tension, and much more.

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Chris Comisac


Episode 49: TV ad-pocalypse

On this week’s podcast, we catch up on a slew of nasty ads that have been circulating on TV—a sign the GOP gubernatorial primary is heating up.

Paul Mango and Scott Wagner are taking turns calling each other liberal and (in Mango’s case) “violent,” a slumlord,” and a “deadbeat dad.” Paula Knudsen and Brad Bumsted of The Caucus and John Micek of PennLive join us to discuss why those unusually personal attacks are happening, and what they may do for the two candidates’ prospects.

Plus, we recap the latest on sexual harassment in the legislature, as well as a potentially ill-fated push to overhaul Pennsylvania’s justice system.

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