Smart Talk Wednesday; Pennsylvania’s 12-year transportation plan

Transportation issues and infrastructure impact every Pennsylvanian, every day.

It is a complex system that influences our state’s economy through revenue sources, the availability of consumer goods, access to jobs and industry, and critical economic development.

Planning for transportation improvements is a 12-year program window that is updated every two years. The state recently approved and updated a new plan that includes improvements to roads, bridges, transit systems, airports and railroads. No project can move forward if it is not included in the 12-year program. View the 12-Year Program Process Interactive Infographic to learn how projects are planned and programmed by the State Transportation Commission.

The plan also “anticipates” that funding for the improvements will be available and the bill is enormous at $64.8 billion over the next 12 years.

Appearing on Smart Talk to offer perspective and details on the process and plan are Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Yassmin Gramian, Deputy Secretary for Planning Larry Shifflet and the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commissioner Ronald Drnevich.



Smart Talk Tuesday: 9th District Congressman Dan Meuser; Sickle cell awareness

WITF’s Election 2020 coverage on Smart Talk continues Tuesday with candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives and statewide offices.

Joining us on Tuesday’s program is Republican Dan Meuser, the incumbent Congressman in the 9th Congressional District.

The 9th district is made up of Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Montour, and Schuylkill Counties, as well as parts of Berks, Luzerne, and Northumberland Counties.

Congressman Meuser is running against Democrat Gary Wegman.

These conversations with candidates are designed to give voters an opportunity to hear where candidates stand on the issues before this fall’s election.

Also, September is national sickle cell awareness month.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to take on an abnormal sickle shape, which can result in a range of health challenges including severe pain, clogged arteries and a heightened risk of stroke. The disease affects approximately 100,000 Americans and is particularly common among those with African, Arab, Asian, Black, Caucasian, Greek, Indian, Italian, or Latino ancestry.

Joining us on the program are Joseph Robinson, Executive Director of the South-Central Pennsylvania Sickle Cell Council, Dr. Gayle Smink, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Penn State Hershey and director of the children’s Sickle Cell Anemia program at Penn State Hershey, and Dr. Lewis Hsu, Vice Chief Medical Officer of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and Director of the Pediatric Sickle Cell Program, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Smart Talk Monday: F&M poll on presidential race, other issues; Summer Read authors Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

The September 2020 Franklin and Marshall College Poll finds that Pennsylvania voters support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump, are in favor of wearing masks to mitigate COVID-19 by a substantial margin, and support legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Those are just a few of the findings in a poll that ask voters’ opinions on an extensive number of issues.

Franklin and Marshall political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna is on Monday’s Smart Talk with more results and analysis of what they mean.

Also, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, author and philanthropist Sheryl Sandberg joined with psychologist and university professor Adam Grant to write the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy after Sandberg’s husband died unexpectedly.

The book is WITF’s Summer Read for 2020.

Sandberg and Grant join us on Monday’s Smart Talk.

WITF invites readers across central Pennsylvania to A Summer Read: Beyond the Pages, a virtual special event with Sandberg and Grant on Tuesday, September 29 LIVE at 7pm (EST) on WITF’s YouTube channel. Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis will moderate a discussion and audience Q&A with the authors, as they share personal stories, talk about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks. This free event is open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

Register to Attend

Smart Talk Friday: 12th Congressional District Democrat Lee Griffin

WITF’s Election 2020 coverage on Smart Talk continues Friday as we’re joined by Democrat Lee Griffin, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 12th Congressional District.

The 12th District is the largest in the state and also one of the most rural.

It encompasses Perry, Juniata, Mifflin, Union, Bradford, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming counties and portions of Centre and Northumberland Counties.

Incumbent Republican Congressman Fred Keller is also on the ballot.

As a reminder to our listeners, these conversations with candidates are designed to explore where the candidates stand on issues so that voters have information to assist them when decided which candidates they will vote for.

These conversations are happening earlier than in past election years because so many voters are voting by mail.

Smart Talk Thursday: Why doesn’t the non-voter vote?; Surprise medical bills

A little more than 60 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the last presidential election in 2016.

Minnesota had the highest voter turnout at about 75 percent and Hawaii had the lowest at 43 percent. In Pennsylvania, more than 63 percent voted for a presidential candidate.

With the exception of just a couple of elections, voter participation has been going down since 1960.

So, why are so many Americans not voting?

A pair of Susquehanna University political science professors have conducted research on that question.

Rolfe Peterson, Ph.D., and Nick Clark, Ph.D., identified four types of non-voters and four reasons for not voting. Non-voters were broken down into the apathetic, the obstructed, the incapable and the conditional non-voter.

Dr. Peterson and Dr. Clark appear on Thursday’s Smart Talk to provide details of their research and how to get more people to vote.

Also on Smart Talk, have you ever received a large medical bill that you didn’t expect? One that maybe you though your health isnurance covered but didn’t?

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we discuss a campaign to eliminate surprise medical bills.

Patrick Keenan, Director of Policy for the Pennsylvania Health Access Network joins us.

Smart Talk Wednesday: Restaurant/bars want restrictions loosened

A coalition of central Pennsylvania restaurant and bar owners are encouraging lawmakers to support a bill that would make changes to Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest coronavirus mitigation restrictions.

Earlier this week, the establishments were allowed to host half as many customers as normal inside their businesses — if they certify with the state.

The bars and restaurant owners say the rules are onerous and is still costing them business and many may not survive.

They are asking that restaurant operations and private events be restored to a minimum of 50% capacity with continued social distancing and health barriers, eliminate the requirement that a meal must be purchased to get an alcoholic beverage, allow for bar seating with social distancing and health barriers.

Two restaurant owners appear on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to explain why they’re seeking the changes.


Smart Talk Tuesday: Dem Congressional candidate Eugene DePasquale; Green Treasurer candidate Tim Runkle

Tuesday’s Smart Talk includes conversations with two candidates for office this fall.

Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District race is one of the amostly closely watched in the nation this year. That’s because Democrats think they have an opportunity to flip the district.

The 10th District is made up of all of Dauphin County and portions of York and Cumberland Counties.

Democrat Eugene DePasquale is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to describe where he stands on the issues.

DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s current Auditor General and a former state representative, is competing against incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Perry.

Also, Green Party candidate for Pennsylvania Treasurer, Timothy Runkle is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk as well.

Runkle is on the ballot with incumbent Democratic Treasurer Joe Torsella, Republican Stacy Garrity and Libertarian Joe Soloski (website unavailable).

Smart Talk Monday: Conversation with Congressional candidate Wegman (D), and illegal dumping a problem throughout Pa.

The general election is a little more than a month away.

Smart Talk‘s Election 2020 coverage begins with a conversation with Democratic candidate Dr. Gary Wegman DDS, who is running for Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District. The 9th District includes Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon County, Montour, and Schuylkill Counties, as well as parts of Berks, Luzerne, and Northumberland Counties. The conversation will focus on where the candidate stands on the issues.

Democratic Candidate Gary Wegman is running for Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional district.

Litter along Pennsylvania highways and in rural communities is a persistent problem that mars the state’s natural beauty and costs taxpayers millions of dollars.

A Pennsylvania Litter Research Study published in February by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimated there were 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads.

During the Pandemic, illegal dumping in rural areas has become increasingly problematic, too.

Appearing on Smart Talk Monday to highlight the problem are Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Natasha Fackler, PennDOT Policy Director and Shannon Reiter, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President.

To report illegal dumping visit Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President.


Smart Talk Friday: Pitt researchers find new antibody that may prevent and treat COVID; HS football begins; POW/MIA Remembrance Day

Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh/UPMC say they have discovered antibodies that may be able prevent and treat COVID-19.

The antibodies have worked in laboratory animals but human trials may not begin until early next year.

We’ll learn more on Friday’s Smart Talk from UPMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Goldman, MD.

Meanwhile, on a typical Friday night in the fall, high school football stadiums would be packed with students and fans rooting on their hometown teams. Of course, 2020 is anything but typical with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting every aspect of our lives, but especially those that involve crowds gathering.

Even though Gov. Tom Wolf recommended against schools competing in sporting events until 2021, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association decided to move ahead with sports.

Some sports have already begun their seasons, but Friday night many high school football teams will take the field for the first time this year.

A federal judge struck down the governor’s mitigation orders this week which included crowds of no more 250 people outdoors.

Will there be fans at games?

PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Nash Mertz is on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss fall sports.

Also, Friday is POW/MIA Remembrance Day. “You Are Not Forgotten” – that’s the central phrase behind the POW/MIA remembrance movement which honors America’s prisoners of war, those who are still missing in action and their families.

More than 140,000 American service men and women were held as prisoners of war during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and in conflicts since 1991.

Another 83,000 are still missing from those wars.

On Friday’s Smart Talk, we hear from Tom Engkilterra, Regional Coordinator with The National League of POW/MIA Families and League of Families member, Major Ashlock, whose brother Carlos Ashlock is MIA in Vietnam.

Smart Talk: Criminalization of Black girls; Pa. joining Greenhouse Gas Initiative?

WITF-TV will air a feature length documentary Thursday night that investigates the cultural practices, beliefs and policies that impact Black girls in America’s schools.

PUSHOUT: THE CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACK GIRLS IN SCHOOLS underscores the challenges Black girls face with insight from experts across the country who have worked extensively in the field of social justice, gender equality and educational equity.

While the challenges facing Black boys in this country have garnered national attention, absent from that conversation was how girls of color, particularly Black girls, are being impacted. PUSHOUT addresses that crisis.

Smart Talk invited three women with insight into what young black girls face in central Pennsylvania, and how by bringing attention to the issues might help bring change.

Appearing on Smart Talk Thursday are Jenni Chavis, Attorney, Chavis Law Firm, Sabina Grant-Spencer, Ph.D., Ed.D., Assistant Principal, Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus, and Ericka Pinckney, Ph.D., Independent Contractor and Associate Clinical Director – Human Service Organization.

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools airs Thursday on WITF-TV at 8 p.m.

Also, Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board voted earlier this week to take another step toward the state possibly becoming part of the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. That could mean caps on emissions and credits being sold on carbon allowances.

StateImpact PA reporter Rachel McDevitt is on Thursday’s Smart Talk to explain.