Skip Navigation

PA Post’s questions for the new year

Secure elections, Erie's community college dreams, criminal justice reform, and more

  • Joseph Darius Jaafari/PA Post
Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Stein wants Pennsylvania to block Philadelphia from using new touchscreen machines it's buying ahead of 2020's elections and is threatening court action if it doesn't do so promptly.

AP Photo / Matt Rourke

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Stein wants Pennsylvania to block Philadelphia from using new touchscreen machines it's buying ahead of 2020's elections and is threatening court action if it doesn't do so promptly.

Happy Friday, Contexters. We’re less than a week away from a new year and a new decade. To mark the occasion, we’ve published two stories looking ahead to 2020. You’ll find links to those below. We’re also curious to know what you want us to write about next year. You can use our Listening Post feature to share your ideas about where we should go or ways in which you think your community could benefit from more coverage. We’re also planning more listening sessions across the state so we can meet with all kinds of Pennsylvanians in person. As always, thank you for reading! — Joseph Darius Jaafari, staff writer
Jill Stein

AP Photo / Matt Rourke

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Stein filed a lawsuit in the wake of the 2016 election that is changing how every Pennsylvanian votes. She’s still pushing for changes that could upset voting plans in three key counties in 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • How Pa. conducts elections changed a lot in 2019 and is set to change more in the new year. Today, PA Post published a story by Emily Previti in which she lays out four questions that need to be answered to avert problems at the polls in 2020. And yes, a lot of it has to do with a particular voting machine model called the ExpressVote XL and a lawsuit brought by the former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. But also concerning for elections officials statewide is the expansion of absentee voting and the extended registration deadline. Are counties ready to deal with those two changes? Read Emily’s story here. (Related: WHYY has a story on the push to get more young voters in Philly to the polls in 2020.)

  • Ed Mahon has racked up quite some mileage on the company car this past year going back and forth to Erie, Pa. While there, he’s done extensive reporting on the city’s attempt to get a community college put in place. And there’s a good reason for it: it’s one of the largest cities without a community college in place. And in an area that is in desperate need of educational and economic revival, a community college is in high demand. But will they ever get one? That’s one of the questions he asks in his list of “20 Questions for Pa. Politics in 2020,” along with questions about the state’s ability to pass gun reform laws, such as a “red flag” law, which he also has been covering.

  • It’s been an incredibly productive and busy year for legislators attempting to address criminal justice reform in the state. The issue is likely to be a central point in Pa. over the next year and into the 2020 elections as almost every presidential candidate has a plan to address mass incarceration. Even President Donald Trump has signed major reforms into law and has more proposals to fix mass incarceration, a first for a Republican president since the Reagan tough-on-crime years.

  • In  Pa., we’re going to see a lot more talk from bipartisan groups and activists on parole and probation reform; It’s one of the few things Republicans and Democrats can agree on in the state. But there are other things that we at PA Post will be keeping an eye on, such as prison gerrymandering legislation and diversionary courts, which have become popular alternatives to prison time. Read my roundup on the most impactful criminal justice stories of 2019 in Pa. There also are some national stories in there that are worth your attention.

  • Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has a big piece on problems with the probation “detainers” in Pa: “Detainers are one way that probation, designed to keep people out of jail, often ends up doing the opposite in Pennsylvania, where the overall rate of correctional control is the second-highest in the nation. It’s a system that’s largely unchecked by law or state court rules, allowing probation officers and judges to impose their own versions of justice, and leaving those under supervision in a state of constant fear and uncertainty.”

Best of the rest

Marc Levy / AP Photo

Survivors of child sexual abuse hug in the Pennsylvania Capitol while awaiting legislation to respond to a landmark state grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 in Harrisburg, Pa.  (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

  • Payments to religious abuse victims: After the Catholic church created its own victims’ compensation funds for allegations of sexual abuse by priests in Pa., there have been close to $84 million in payouts, according to a review done by the Associated Press. The average disbursement exceeds $148,000, which is only a fraction of what many victims would get had they taken their cases to court. That total number of payouts is bound to get even higher as seven of the eight diocese in the state sift through a backlog of claims.

  • Keller steps down: Another Pa. Republican legislator announced they will not seek re-election next year. State Rep. Mark Keller from Perry County said yesterday that he will end his 14-year career at the end of his current term. Last week, two other long-time Republican statehouse leaders — Reps. Marcia Hahn of Northampton and Justin Simmons of Lehigh — announced their retirements. Simmons’s decision could be a key district for Democrats hoping to regain a majority in the House..

  • The full picture: Is the public getting an accurate portrayal of the violence happening in Pa.’s schools? Submissions to the state’s annual Safe Schools Report might not provide a full picture, according to legal experts who spoke to PennLive on this year’s report. In multiple examples, multiple incidents were lumped together as one event, while some arrests or violent incidents weren’t included, at all. One lawyer told PennLive that the reason could very well be because there is no oversight into how schools label or give out information.

  • Cartwright’s district a “toss up”: U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat representing Lackawanna, Pike and Wayne counties, might face a tough election next year, as his district was labeled a “toss up” by the Cook Report, an independent political news site that tracks election and campaign data. Cartwright voted for both impeachment articles against President Donald Trump last week, and his GOP rivals say that those votes could cost him his seat.


Subscribe to The Contextour weekday newsletter

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Uncategorized

The Context can't happen without your support