Episode 7: DNC bonuses raise eyebrows, ire

Remember the Democratic National Convention? The event that saw Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination happened nearly a year ago, but controversy related to how the DNC host committee spent state dollars is just now hitting the state Capitol.

Charlie Thompson of PennLive helps break down the dispute on this week’s podcast.

Plus, we discuss local primary elections, the latest person to declare candidacy for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, and what in the world the legislature might do when they return to session next week.

Episode 6: Not compact, and definitely not contiguous: how PA draws districts

Have you suddenly started hearing the word “gerrymandering” a whole lot?

Well, there’s a good reason.

With redistricting-related bills now sitting in both the state House and Senate, activists pushing for a constitutional amendment to change Pennsylvania’s legislative redistricting process have been out in force to raise awareness.

PennLive’s Wallace McKelvey and the Philly Inquirer’s Angela Coloumbus join us on the podcast this week to explain how Pennsylvania’s exquisitely gerrymandered districts came to be, and to discuss the many, many ways this political tactic impacts every level of state politics.

Tune in for that, as well as updates on some other legislation currently crawling through the chambers.

Episode 5: The revenue shortfall grows, again

The legislature may not have been in session this week, but Harrisburg still saw some budget-related action. A new revenue report came out, and brought with it the unwelcome news that this fiscal year’s budget shortfall is even bigger than previously predicted.

On a rainy Friday, we head down the street from the Capitol to Little Amps coffee shop to talk about what it all means. This episode features John Baer, longtime Harrisburg reporter and regular columnist for Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

We also discuss Pennsylvania’s shifting population and demographics, as well as some gubernatorial campaign trail controversy featuring York County Senator Scott Wagner.

Episode 4: Let’s talk about pensions

In the fourth episode of State House Sound Bites, we’re back in the Capitol’s neighborhood coffee shop to talk about one of Pennsylvania’s more stubborn dilemmas: pensions. More specifically, the roughly $70 billion unfunded pension liability.

Capitolwire’s Chris Comisac and the Morning Call’s Steve Esack help make some sense of recent pension-related headlines, and contextualize where the legislature currently stands on the perennial issue.

We’ll also recap a legislative week that included a climactic audit report on the state unemployment compensation system, passage of a raft of liquor expansion bills that face an uncertain future, and an emotional debate over Planned Parenthood funding.

Episode 3: Schools, guns, liquor, marijuana and helicopters

Episode 3 of WITF’s State House Sound Bites podcast (recorded the morning of April 21) covers a hectic week in Harrisburg. The House and Senate were both in session, working to get several large pieces of legislation out of committee and onto the floor.

So which bills should you be paying attention to? Listen in for a detailed rundown of the most consequential developments, including the state’s longstanding deadlock over charter school regulations, a controversial proposal to let permitted teachers carry guns in school, the House GOP’s sustained push for liquor privatization, the one-year anniversary of medical marijuana legalization, and plenty more.

WITF’s Katie Meyer unpacks it all with two veteran bureau chiefs–PennLive’s Jan Murphy, and Robert Swift of the Times Shamrock newspapers.

Episode 2: The saga of Mike Stack and an unusual investigation

The second episode of the State House Sound Bites podcast, recorded on April 14, recaps an off-session week at the Capitol that might have been quiet, were it not for a peculiar controversy that suddenly engulfed Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack.

The former Democratic state senator from Philadelphia, who’s second in line for the governorship, made headlines when news broke that the office of the Inspector General is investigating whether Stack–and his wife–have mistreated their state-provided staff and state police security detail. Who ordered that investigation? None other than Stack’s boss, Governor Tom Wolf.

We’ll talk to the reporter who broke the story, Brad Bumsted of LNP’s The Caucus, about how he uncovered the quiet investigation and what details he’s turned up since. PennLive’s Wallace McKelvey joins us for a recap of Stack’s awkward apology press conference, and an analysis of what this unprecedented situation means politically for Stack and the governor. We’ll also review some other odds and ends kicking around in Harrisburg while the legislature’s away.

Episode 1: What’s in that new House GOP budget?

Our first episode, recorded on April 6, features the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Karen Langley, the Associated Press’ Marc Levy, and the Allentown Morning Call’s Steve Esack. Tune in to catch up on the House’s most recent week in session, with discussion on an early GOP budget proposal, ongoing efforts to cut corrections and human services costs, and a slew of other bills brewing under the dome.