Saturday, April 18, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 6:35 PM
Elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus parade along Ocean Drive on January 9, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. The elephants were part of a sneak peek performance for the kick off of the opening of the circus at the American Airlines Arena on January 10-21, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Last week Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus made national headlines when it announced it would phase out the use of elephants in its shows by 2018.

Now a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to go even further.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery)  said he plans to introduce a bill to ban all animals in traveling circuses, saying that such exhibitions are inhumane for other animals as well.

Amy Worden @ 6:35 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 4:17 PM

City leaders were elated about Gov. Wolf's budget proposal on Tuesday, saying it will help restore the health of the cash-strapped school district and reduce the wage tax burden for workers.

"The budget is incredible in its substance and priorities," said Mayor Michael Nutter, at a news conference following Wolf's budget address in Harrisburg."It's a bold approach for Pennsylvania."

Under Wolf's plan Philadelphia schools would receive an additional $160 million, while the city's wage tax would fall from 3.9 to 3.48 percent in 2017 (for nonresidents it would drop from 3.49 to 3.11 percent.)

Amy Worden @ 4:17 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 3:26 PM

The Wolf administration is restoring more than two dozen public health nursing positions eliminated under the Corbett administration.

The move comes almost four months after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Corbett administration to reverse course on its plan to eliminate 26 nurse consultant positions - half of the statewide total - and close 26 state health centers, mostly in rural parts of the state.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling and that these nurses have been allowed back to work to deliver critical health care services," said Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan. "And, we are looking forward to working with the legislature and health care professionals to ensure these essential services are available to families across the Commonwealth moving forward.”

Amy Worden @ 3:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 26, 2015, 3:24 PM

Two weeks ago Gov. Wolf promised his team would do its part to trim the $2.3 billion deficit through government cost savings.

On Thursday he said his administration had identified $109 million in projected savings across government agencies.

Earlier this month Wolf announced the creation of the Governor's Office of Transformation, Innovation, Modernization and Efficiency (GO-TIME) and tasked its leaders with finding $150 million in savings. 

“Since the launch of GO-TIME, agencies and state employees have submitted 157 ideas to make government work more efficiently,” said Wolf. “I’m heartened to know that so many people and leaders across departments share our commitment to creating a government that works.”
Amy Worden @ 3:24 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2015, 4:39 PM

The battle over leadership of the Office of Open Records heads back to court next month with the ousted director seeking reinstatement as Gov. Wolf petitions to install his own director.

Erik Arneson, appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett before he left office, was fired by Wolf two days after the inauguration last month, says the issue facing Commonwealth Court is bigger than his job.

At issue is whether the director is an at-will employee of the sitting governor, or an independent arbiter whose six-year term overlaps changes in administration.

Amy Worden @ 4:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2015, 6:18 PM

      To get her case out,  Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has launched a new website - www.truthaboutkathleenkane.com.

      The site, which went up Friday, was designed by her spokesman, onetime Clinton lawyer Lanny J. Davis, and is meant to rally public support for Kane as she faces a crucial moment in her career. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March in Philadelphia on Kane’s move to shut down a grand jury investigation that resulted in a recommendation she face criminal charges for allegedly leaking secret information. Her detractors say she put the information out surreptitiously to embarrass a critic. Kane said she released information legally as part of her stance in favor of “transparency.”

Angela Couloumbis @ 6:18 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2015, 7:51 PM
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane has hired two new attorneys to represent her in the leak investigation fight, bringing the number of lawyers on her team to six.

Kane has hired two attorneys from the Pittsburgh law firm of Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd, which boasts of specializing in “appellate advocacy,” among other areas of law.

For those who may not have heard, Kane is asking the state Supreme Court to throw out criminal charges that a statewide grand jury recommended against her late last year. Kane is contending that the special prosecutor in the case did not have the authority to investigate her office for an alleged leak of confidential information. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 11 in Philadelphia.

Angela Couloumbis @ 7:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 12:53 PM

With new governors and party changes comes new staff but until now top aides were all but guaranteed an eight-year run with their administration.

The historic ouster of Republican Gov. Corbett in November left many staff members  wondering where they'd go after January 20.

Amy Worden @ 12:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based right in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.



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