New Voter ID Requirements?

Auditor General Candidates to Debate

Three candidates vying to become the commonwealth’s fiscal watchdog will debate in suburban Harrisburg this Friday.  The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) and Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association (PLCA) have teamed up to host the debate at the Widener School of Law. 

Democrat Eugene DePasquale, Republican John Maher and Libertarian Betsy Summers are all confirmed.  There is no incumbent in the race as Auditor General Jack Wagner is currently wrapping up his second and final term.  

The public is invited to the debate, which will take place in room A180 of the Law School Administration Building.  Doors open at 6pm, and the debate begins at 7pm on Friday, September 21st.  If you can’t make it in person, the event will be broadcast live on PCN TV.

Charity Ride Nets $150,000 for Children’s Hospitals

Mother Nature delivered a picture-perfect early fall weekend for the 100-mile bike ride from Gettysburg to Annville.  What’s now called the “Scarnati/Cawley 100” began four years ago when Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) was serving as both the President Pro Tem of the Senate and Lt. Governor.  He now co-hosts the charity ride with current Lt. Governor Jim Cawley. 

This year’s event brought in $150,000 dollars in donations.  To date, the annual events have raised over a half-million dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. 

Joe Scarnati

Joe Scarnati

“I’m the father of three children and my oldest daughter says spent considerable time at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh,” says Scarnati says on an institution he holds dear.  “There is really very special care that it takes for a sick kid.” 

The ride is open to everybody.  About 60-riders participated over the weekend, including Scarnati and Pennsylvania’s Second Lady Suzanne Cawley.   “I’m a little bit sore today, but my 50-year-old body is recovering well,” Scarnati told Radio PA as he summed up a rewarding weekend.

Jerry Sandusky is currently locked up in the Centre County Correctional Facility. He will appeal the conviction.

Sandusky Sentencing Date Set

Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse in late June.  Today, nearly three months later, Specially Presiding Judge John Cleland has scheduled a 9am hearing on October 9th to determine whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator.  Immediately following that hearing, Sandusky will be sentenced at the Centre County Courthouse.  Given the number of counts and the seriousness of the crimes, it is expected that the 68-year-old Sandusky will spend the rest of his life behind bars.   Since his conviction, Sandusky has maintained his innocence from inside the county lockup.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 09.14.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul, along with the Pennsylvania Cable Network, take you into a session of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Philadelphia, where you will hear arguments on two major cases: Voter ID and state legislative redistricting. Governor Tom Corbett also weighs in on the latest developments regarding the Voter ID bill he signed into law this year.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


High Court Hears Voter ID Arguments, Decision Pending

Six months after it was signed into law, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was hearing arguments over the state’s controversial new Voter ID law in its Philadelphia chambers.  The entire session was broadcast live, statewide via PCN TV

The appellants’ lawyer David Gersch argued that the new photo identification requirements violate Pennsylvanians’ right to vote by disenfranchising many and burdening others.  “On Election Day, if Act 18 is not enjoined, then voters will be faced with the serious threat of losing the right to vote,” Gersch argued.  “By contract, if the injunction is entered, the harm to the Commonwealth is negligible.”

Gersch contends Voter ID is no mere election regulation because it does not guarantee that all qualified electors will be able to get the identification they need to cast a ballot.  Gersch did, however, acknowledge that all Voter ID laws are not necessarily unconstitutional.  “The vice is not requiring photo identification; the vice is in requiring photo identification that people do not have, and have a hard time getting.”      

The appellants are seeking a preliminary injunction so that the status quo remains in place through the November 6th General Election.  A full trial on the merits of the statute would then be held at a later date. 

A Commonwealth Court judge has already denied the preliminary injunction, writing in his opinion that he sees no reason why Pennsylvania voters need be disenfranchised. 

The state’s lawyers stressed the findings of the lower court throughout their arguments, stating that the plaintiffs failed to show either that they will succeed on the merits of their claims or that they would suffer irreparable harm.  Attorney John Knorr also pointed out that all of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit have either obtained a valid photo ID or have the means to do so.  “They couldn’t come up with one plaintiff, one actual human being, who would be harmed by this statute.” 

“Mr. Gersch said we should have a process in place so that everybody has the chance to get this ID, and we have that,” Knorr told the court as he praised the efforts of PennDOT and the Department of State. 

A panel of six justices must decide the law’s fate with just over 50 days to go until the election.  With one justice currently suspended, the court is comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats.  In the event of a deadlock, the Commonwealth Court decision would be upheld and the new photo ID requirements would be in place on Election Day.

Ask the Governor Returns on October 3rd

Our next taping with Governor Tom Corbett is coming up on Wednesday, October 3rd. Please go to the “Ask the Governor” section of to submit your question or comment for Governor Corbett. Please keep your questions or comments brief. Radio PA News Director Brad Christman reviews all questions before deciding whether or not to forward them to the Governor’s office for a reply during our program.

In the meantime, keep checking back for important news updates and more video with Governor Corbett.

Voter-ID Arguments Begin

History is being made as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opens its session today with arguments for and against Pennsylvania’s new Voter-ID law. In addition to considering a case that is receiving national attention, the high court is allowing its proceedings to be aired on live television on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Billing themselves as the oldest Supreme Court in the nation, dating back more than 300 years, PA’s justices are considering two major cases today: Voter-ID and the state legislative boundaries which were drawn, and then redrawn, during the redistricting process of 2011-2012. The Court overturned a previous legislative map in January, leaving this year’s elections to maps drawn in 2001.

Under the Voter-ID law, also known as Act 18, voters are required to present a valid photo ID at the polls before voting. Critics say it puts an undue burden on segments of the voting population. If the law is upheld, it will be in effect for the November 6th election.

Today’s session is also unusual in that one of the 7 Justices, Republican Joan Orie Melvin, has had to step aside to fight corruption charges. That leaves the court split 3-3 along assumed party lines, opening the door for a possible tie ruling. In that event, the Commonwealth Court ruling that refused to issue an injunction to block Voter-ID would stand.

PCN will be airing arguments in both cases throughout the day. The Supreme Court is meeting in Philadelphia for today’s session.


PA Supreme Court to Hear Voter ID Arguments

Nearly a month after a Commonwealth Court judge rejected Voter ID opponents’ plea for a preliminary injunction, the state Supreme Court is prepping to hear oral arguments on appeal.  Governor Tom Corbett has read Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson’s opinion, calling it well-reasoned.  “His opinion would have to be in error for [the Supreme Court] to overturn it,” Corbett said on Radio PA’s Ask the Governor program. 

With one justice currently suspended, the high court is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans.  Corbett believes they will make their decision based on the law, not partisanship.  “That being said, as you know, if it’s three to three… then the opinion of Judge Simpson stands,” Corbett explained. 

PCN will provide live coverage of Thursday’s session in Philadelphia per a recent broadcast agreement with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

As the state presses forward with voter education efforts and implementation of the Voter ID law, the NAACP is working to get people the photo IDs required to vote on Election Day through of series of statewide Voter ID clinics.  “We try to help work through all the questions, provide the answers,” says Pennsylvania Civic Engagement Coordinator John Jordan. 

Jordan says about 75% of the people who attend the clinics actually have a form of photo ID that meets the law’s requirements, but they are happy to identify and assist the other 25%.  The NAACP opposes the Voter ID law and is participating in the lawsuit, but Jordan says the group’s outreach efforts will continue as long as necessary. 

Complete details on what types of ID are to be accepted under the new law, and how to obtain one for free, can be found online. 

Gov. Corbett sees no reason for confusion this November.  “It has been in the newspapers, it has been on the radio, it has been on television, it has been on the Internet.  If you don’t know that you need to show up with photo ID, than I don’t know where you’ve been.”

Marcellus Shale

Impact Fee Raises More than First Estimated

Most well drillers in the Marcellus Shale region have met the September 1st deadline for Pennsylvania’s new natural gas impact fee. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has collected almost 198 million dollars from drillers, and estimates the final number will be closer to 206 million when remaining fees have been paid.

PUC Spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher says about 4% of drillers have not paid.  Most are smaller operations and some are disputing whether their production levels meet the threshold for the fee.  The final resolution of those disputes could affect the final amount collected.

The PUC hopes some drillers who have not paid may not have been fully aware of the deadlines for the new fee.  The commission is in the process of reminding them that the fee is due.

The legislature had projected 180 million in the first year of the fee.  60% of the money will be split among counties and municipalities hosting gas wells; the rest will be divided among state agencies that deal with drilling impacts.

Of the nearly 45-hundred wells that were affected by the impact fee, about 419 were vertical  and the rest horizontally drilled and subject to a higher fee.