Jim O'Toole looks at the state issues and thousands of municipal government seats up for debate in 2013, starting with speculation that outgoing auditor general Jack Wagner could challenge Pgh Mayor Luke Ravensthal as an independent:
Adhering to the message discipline he has demonstrated for years in discussing the contest, Mr. Wagner said Friday that he is still interested in the race but won't make up his mind until after he leaves his Harrisburg post in mid-January. Mr. Wagner also said he cannot rule out the possibility that he could run as an independent in the general election. That's the route former Mayor Dick Caliguiri took in his 1977 victory over Tom Foerster, who was running with the Democratic endorsement.
Largely in reaction to that race, the Legislature changed the law to make it more difficult for a major party candidate to skip his or her primary to pursue a similar run. If Mr. Wagner were to follow the independent route -- and he emphasizes that his focus remains on the Democratic primary -- he would have to drop his Democratic Party voter registration by April 22, the last day to register before the May 21 primary. He or any other independent would have until Aug. 1 to file nomination papers to appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
He would have to collect at least 895 signatures to qualify for the ballot -- a number derived from 2 percent of the vote total of the last citywide election winner.
Laura Olson looks at privatizing the state lottery system benefitting older Pennsylvanians:
Brian Duke, who heads the Department of Aging, said the need for new approaches can be seen in the state's growing older population. About 2.7 million Pennsylvanians are over age 60, a figure expected to rise to 3.6 million by 2025 or 2030.
Waiting lists for older-adult services also have begun to grow more quickly, from a prior rate of 1,300 people per year to now adding nearly that many residents within a single quarter, Mr. Duke said.
"This is not just a bump in the road. This is going to be a trend that will stay with us," he said, noting that 75 percent of the aging department's budget comes from lottery proceeds.