PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 21 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will co-host a weekly radio program from 11 a.m. to noon every Thursday on radio station WTTM, 1680 AM. The program, entitled "Voices from the Inside," will focus on the state's prison system and reducing crime. McClinton will be joined by co-hosts state Rep. Leslie Acosta, D-Phila., Esteban Cabrera and author Hugh Taft-Morales. "I am excited to have this opportunity to discuss our criminal justice system," McClinton said. "This new program will offer a voice to those currently incarcerated and will promote the sharing of ideas between prisoners and us on the outside. Thanks to Rep. Acosta, who developed the idea and invited me to participate in such a meaningful program. "By meeting those currently in prison, I hope that the listeners will understand the need for changes and improvements in our current system. We need to establish more humane methods to house our prisoners and work with them so they can be rehabilitated and can return to society and contribute. We waste so much money incarcerating those who have committed minor offenses and by locking them up for extended periods of time, we make it harder for them to blend back in to society and hold a meaningful job. "Additionally, we will be discussing community programs which may reduce violence and crime." The program will air live at 11 a.m. every Thursday on 1680 AM, and it can also Read more
FOLSOM, March 27 – State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, will host a PennDOT Town Hall with state Transportation Department Secretary Leslie Richards, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at Rutledge Borough Hall, 212 Unity Terrace. “This is a unique opportunity for residents to hear directly from the Secretary of PennDOT about local road and bridge improvement projects, as well as the department’s priorities moving forward,” Krueger-Braneky said. “My office receives quite a few questions relating to PennDOT and our roads. I look forward to directly addressing constituents' concerns with Secretary Richards Thursday evening.” For more information about the town hall, please call Krueger-Braneky’s office at 610-534-6880. Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 27 – The House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today at the University of Pittsburgh to continue its exploration of implementing a fee for municipalities to cover the cost of the Pennsylvania State Police providing local police coverage, according to Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Municipalities throughout the state have relied on the State Police to provide their local coverage free-of-charge and now more than half of the State Police’s budget is going toward this coverage. With the General Assembly and Governor Wolf putting a cap on using the Motor License Fund in last year’s fiscal code, it is important that these municipalities pay their fair share so that the State Police have the funds needed to provide that coverage, without asking the rest of the state to continue to subsidize their policing costs,” Sturla explained. In Pennsylvania, 22 percent of the state’s population live in municipalities with no local, full-time police coverage and 6 percent live in municipalities that have only a part-time police force. The remaining 72 percent pay for their own local full-time police coverage, essentially subsidizing “ free” police protection for the rest of the population. Testifiers included Dan Cessna, District 11 executive, PennDOT; Marita Kelley, deputy director, Governor’s Center for Local Government Services; Lt. Col. Stephen Bucar, deputy Read more
HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Pittsburgh, announced today that he will host a House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss impacts of a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 29 at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, QiT Center, 26 th Floor, Centre City Tower, 650 Smithfield St., Pittsburgh. The current hearing agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel One: Leesa Allen , deputy secretary for Medical Assistance programs, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Dr. Loren Robinson , deputy secretary for health promotion and disease prevention, Pennsylvania Department of Health Jessica Altman , chief of staff, Pennsylvania Insurance Department 11 a.m. Panel Two: Erika Fricke , health policy director, Allies for Children B.J. Leber , president and CEO, Adagio Health Susan Friedberg Kalson , CEO, Squirrel Hill Health Center Carmen Alexander , senior operations manager, New Voices Pittsburgh 11:50 a.m. Panel Three: Cassie Narkevic , health insurance enrollment counselor, Consumer Health Coalition Kristy Trautman , executive director, FISA Foundation AJ Harper , president, Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania 12:30 p.m. Panel Four: Christie Hudson, clinical social work/therapist Dr. Liz Cuevas , internist, AGH Internal Read more
HARRISBURG, March 23 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Pittsburgh, announced today that he will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing to discuss establishing uniform towing regulations statewide. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 28 at the Sharpsburg Borough Building, Council Chambers, 1611 Main St., Pittsburgh. Costa said topics will include responding to and towing from crash scenes as well as insurance industry concerns. The current agenda is: 2:00 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 2:10 p.m. Panel from National Insurance Crime Bureau Tim Lynch , director of government affairs John McCall , special agent, Mid-Atlantic Region 2:40 p.m. Panel from City of Pittsburgh: Chief Scott Schubert , Bureau of Police Lieutenant Ed Cunningham , Bureau of Police Sergeant Rich Begenwald , Auto Theft Unit, Bureau of Police Councilman Dan Gilman , Pittsburgh City Council District 8 3:20 p.m. Steven Wheeler , executive director, Pa. Auto Theft Prevention Authority 3:50 p.m. John Halbleib , owner, Halbleib Automotive & D-Maxx Automotive 4:20 p.m. Closing Remarks MEDIA COVERAGE IS ENCOURAGED. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 24 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., joined state House Democrats for a news conference Wednesday urging the U.S. House to vote against repealing the federal Affordable Care Act. “A repeal of the ACA will have real consequences for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” she said. “One potential consequence would be a return to a high uninsured rate that would drive up the cost of uncompensated care, and that is something that Pennsylvania is unprepared for. This will force the cost onto hospitals and other health care providers.” Since the passage of the ACA, more than 6.1. million Pennsylvanians benefit from access to free preventive care services, 5.4 million cannot be denied health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition, and 4.5 million are no longer subject to annual and lifetime limits that used to be placed on covered benefits. These protections benefit all Pennsylvanians and are not limited to those who receive coverage through the Medicaid expansion or a plan purchased on the exchange. The ACA has also helped drive down Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate to its lowest point ever: 6.4 percent for adults and 4.1 percent for children. Before the law was passed, more than 10 percent of Pennsylvanians did not have insurance. “Our society functions more efficiently and more effectively when we have a healthy workforce,” DeLissio said. “As a former CEO of four different Read more
HARRISBURG, March 7 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, Democratic chairman of the House Human Services Committee, announced the committee will host a public hearing on the Air Bridge crisis in Philadelphia. It will take place 11 a.m. Thursday, March 16 at the social services organization Concilio, 141 E. Hunting Park Ave., Philadelphia, 19124. Cruz said the Air Bridge program is where cities in Puerto Rico are sending heroin addicts to American cities, including Philadelphia, without any consideration of living conditions or effective treatment options. “Unfortunately, these people end up in unregulated treatment centers or wherever there is space and do not receive the services they need,” Cruz said. “As a result of mistreatment, these people end up running away from the facility and becoming homeless with a serious drug problem.” Cruz said he will be introducing legislation in an attempt to address Air Bridge. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 24 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, provided the following statement about the Republican "Trumpcare" bill that was expected to get a U.S. House vote today: "Whatever happens today with the Trumpcare bill, we already know what a disaster it would be for Pennsylvania. Statewide, 1.1 million people would lose their health coverage, and others would pay much higher costs for essential benefits like maternity care. If you vote for that, it's time to stop calling yourself 'pro-life.' "Republicans have had seven years to come up with something better than the Affordable Care Act. If they were as serious about health care as they are about more tax breaks for the wealthy, they would work with Democrats to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act, such as a public option that would provide more choice and competition to rein in costs for patients." Frankel provided these facts on gains from the Affordable Care Act that are at risk from the Republican health care bill: 715,000 people gained coverage through the ACA's Medicaid expansion, including almost 60,000 people in Allegheny County. Pennsylvania currently has the lowest uninsured rate in the state's history - 6.4 percent overall and a 4.1 percent uninsured rate for children. 124,000 people with a substance-use disorder were able to gain access to drug and alcohol services. Importantly for jobs in the Pittsburgh Read more
YARDLEY, March 24 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, will present a legislative briefing on autism and intellectual disabilities to constituents at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 1, at the Newtown Theater, 120 N. State St., Newtown. “As a member of the House Human Services Committee and the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Caucus, I believe it is my responsibility to inform my constituents on state programs available to assist individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities,” Warren said. “We will be discussing CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program; PA ABLE, the state's savings plan for those with disabilities; Medical Assistance; and other available assistance to these individuals and their families.” Following the briefing the Newtown Theater will offer a sensory-friendly performance intended for special needs children and their families. For more information on the briefing, contact Warren’s district office by calling (215) 493-5420. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 24 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., plans to introduce a bill to reform special elections for the Pennsylvania legislature. "Like last Tuesday's election in Philadelphia, these special elections are often low-turnout, and they can put someone in a state House or Senate seat for most of a two- or four-year term. We need to make sure they are conducted the right way – that Pennsylvania legislators are elected, not selected," Rabb said. "I'm encouraged that this bill has already garnered bipartisan interest." "Under current law, a candidate for a special election is nominated by a process in accordance with their respective political party rules. Unfortunately, such processes often discourage broad candidate recruitment, vetting and input or review from committee people and the voters they were elected to serve," Rabb said. "To remedy this issue, my proposal would establish transparency and public integrity in the special election process for senators and representatives in the General Assembly." Under Rabb's bill, people interested in running in a special election would be required to: File their candidacy with the political party in each county of the legislative district; Pay a filing fee; and Prepare, or publicly opt out of preparing, a short video announcing their candidacy which would be posted on the Department of State’s website and made available to the Pennsylvania Read more
EBENSBURG, March 24 – Seizing the opportunity to remind folks that he favors stiffer animal abuse penalties, state Rep. Frank Burns will host his annual Pet Food Drive from April 1 through 30 at his four offices and in participating 72 nd Legislative District schools. Burns, D-Cambria, noted that April is an opportune time to start the drive, as it is “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” month. He is asking residents to donate non-perishable pet food items, either in the classrooms of participating schools or at one of his four constituent service offices: 535 Fairfield Ave., Lower Yoder Township, Johnstown, 15906; 119 S. Center St., Ebensburg, 15931; 112-A Munster Road, Portage, 15946; or Patton Senior Center, 405 Park Ave., 16668 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays). In addition to schools, Burns is coordinating this drive with a local animal protection organization. As in years past, Burns will arrange for school pickup and delivery of the items to that county organization. “Residents of the 72 nd Legislative District have always shown great support for this effort – we literally get truckloads of donated pet food items from the schools – and I’m confident that they’ll do so again,” Burns said. “This cause is something that’s near and dear to all of our hearts.” Burns also noted he has been a staunch advocate of toughening the commonwealth’s animal abuse penalties, Read more
YORK, March 23 – In celebration of Women’s History Month and to promote area entrepreneurship, state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, will host a roundtable featuring women business leaders and offer resources for starting a business. The roundtable will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday, March 31 at Hill-Evans’ district office, Suite 3, 53 E. North St., 17401. The panel will feature constituents who are business leaders and owners in the district, including: Joan Mummert, president/CEO of the York History Center Toni Calderone, co-owner of Tutoni’s Restaurant Alexandria Keener, co-owner of My Girlfriend’s Wardrobe Joanne Ekeledo, owner of Grace Manor Bed & Breakfast In addition to offering information on state resources for opening a business and a chance to network, panel discussions will aid existing business owners in mentoring new entrepreneurs. “If you are interested in opening a business, improving yours or helping others, I hope to see you there,” Hill-Evans said. Light drinks and refreshments will be offered. For more information, those interested can visit Hill-Evans’ office or call (717) 848-9595. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 23 – Philadelphia state Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Stephen Kinsey today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to stop-and-go establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "This is an opportunity to address this issue head on. Bringing everyone together under one roof allows concerns to be addressed and provides an avenue for all of us to be part of the solution," Fitzgerald said. "I remain committed to working with local and state agencies and organizations to reverse the negative trend of consequences associated with the nuisance establishments that are taking advantage of the state's liquor laws." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. "Overwhelmingly, this boils down to a public safety issue. The residents of northwest Philadelphia, south Philadelphia, northeast Philadelphia and the entire city deserve to live their lives without the problems caused by stop-and-go issues," Kinsey said. "I am encouraged by the actions taken today to ensure that we continue the conversation on how we can answer the public's call to provide them with the best quality of life as possible." Among the testifiers were Inspector Anthony L. Washington, Northwest Police Division commanding officer and personnel from Pennsylvania State Police Read more
BETHLEHEM, March 23 – State Rep. Dan McNeill and Sen. Lisa Boscola will hold their annual Spring Senior Fair on April 7 at the Westgate Mall. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 23 – Siding with the belief that their premature release could spur vigilante-style behavior and unfairly tarnish reputations, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, voted this week to temporarily delay divulging police officer names in shooting or serious injury cases . Burns voted in favor of H.B. 27 , which would create a 30-day cooling off period before the names of any law enforcement officers involved in a firearm-discharge or use-of-force incident while on duty could be publicly released. However, under the legislation supported by Burns, the names could be released sooner, provided the official investigation into such an incident is concluded. “In these inflammatory times, we’ve seen one too many cases where a partial video, lying witnesses or incomplete information prompt a social media rush to judgement, which is disproven once all the facts are in,” Burns said. “If our legal motto is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, that right must extend to members of law enforcement.” Burns last year voted in favor of an identical bill (H.B. 1538), which passed the House 151-32 and also passed the Senate, only to be vetoed by the governor. This time around, he co-sponsored H.B. 27 even though it was introduced by a Republican, and the measure passed the House with even more support, 157-39. “It’s no secret that opposition to this bill is coming mostly from big-city legislators,” Burns Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, is calling attention to the value of the Meals on Wheels program in Pennsylvania as the program faces proposed cuts in President Donald Trump's budget. The state House today adopted Boyle's H.R. 175 , designating March 22, 2017 as March for Meals Day in Pennsylvania. March for Meals is the annual campaign the Meals on Wheels Association of America sponsors to raise awareness of senior hunger. "Research indicates that 10.2 million seniors across the country, and nearly 320,000 seniors here in Pennsylvania, face the threat of hunger," Boyle said. "Now, more than ever, we must remind ourselves of the importance of Meals on Wheels, which could be headed for the budget chopping block in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration in defending cuts to the program made claims that Meals on Wheels is 'just not showing any results' and the program 'sounds great…but doesn’t work.'" "But the truth is – Meals on Wheels has shown some great results here in Pennsylvania, and across the country. In fact, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Illinois, programs like Meals on Wheels improve the quality of life for seniors. "According to the study, Meals on Wheels is showing results by offering an effective and vital nutritional and health program for seniors. And Meals on Wheels is showing results by helping to offset Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – A resolution authored by state Reps. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York Township) that denounces recent anti-Semitic activity in Pennsylvania and across the country was adopted unanimously today by the House. “The threats, vandalism and attacks on the Jewish community in York, across the Commonwealth and across the nation are unacceptable and must not be tolerated,” said Phillips-Hill. “In reacting to these acts of violence, we must realize the ability we have to create a better future. As elected officials, we can set the tone for the next generation in our actions.” House Resolution 161 condemns the bomb threats that were called into Jewish Community centers (including one in York) and the desecration of more than 100 tombstones at the Mt. Carmel cemetery in northeast Philadelphia. It also calls for the use of these incidents as an impetus for educating young people and adults throughout Pennsylvania about understanding and appreciating all people in our communities. “I have been encouraged by the outpouring of support from people in my district and throughout the state following the criminal vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery,” Solomon added. “We stand together in condemning these acts of hate and calling for cultural sensitivity training to ensure they never happen again.” A corresponding piece of legislation authored by state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) is Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, welcomed a new poll out today that shows strong, bipartisan support among Pennsylvanians for criminal justice reform. "People make mistakes, but everyone deserves the right to demonstrate that they’ve learned from that mistake and are willing to change their ways," Harris said. "That’s one of the reasons why over 88 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans in the state agree that it doesn’t matter how long people are in jail, it matters that they don’t commit a crime when they return back to their communities. We need to take action and work on legislation that will improve public safety and put people back to work." Harris also welcomed the news that more than half the state Senate is co-sponsoring "Clean Slate" legislation being introduced by Sens. Scott Wagner, R-York, and Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware. Harris and Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, are seeking House co-sponsors for the legislation, which would automatically seal the records for certain nonviolent offenses if the person hasn't committed another crime. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing low-level, non-violent misdemeanors. Harris said the new legislation he's advocating would improve on Act 5, which requires former offenders to petition the court. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss fee schedules for municipalities that do not have local police forces and currently receive free coverage from the Pennsylvania State Police. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, March 27 at the University of Pittsburgh, William Pitt Union, Assembly Room, 3959 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh. A Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report released today estimated that the state police was overfunded by $222.2 million for patrol services from the Motor License Fund in fiscal year 2015-16. The state police received $755 million from this fund due to increased costs for covering municipalities that do not have local police. The current hearing agenda is: 2:00 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 2:10 p.m. Panel One: Dan Cessna , District 11 executive, PennDOT Marita Kelley , deputy director, Governor’s Center for Local Government Services Lt. Col. Stephen Bucar , deputy commissioner of staff, PA State Police 2:50 p.m. Joe Kovel , president, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association 3:10 p.m. Elam Herr , assistant executive director/government affairs, PA State Association of Township Supervisors 3:40 p.m. Panel from Shaler Township: Tom McElhone , Commissioner Tim Rogers , Manager 4:10 p.m. Abe Amoros , PA Legislative Director, LiUNA! – Mid-Atlantic Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today saw his H.R. 138 , designating April as “Limb Loss Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania, receive unanimous House approval. Before the vote, Matzie informed his colleagues that nearly 2 million U.S. residents live with an amputation, while another 28 million are at risk for one. “The primary causes of the 500 amputations that occur each day in our country are vascular disease, trauma and cancer,” Matzie said. “However, the general public is largely unaware of the physical, emotional and financial challenges faced by amputees and their families. Today, we voted to raise awareness of their plight.” Matzie said that according to the Amputee Coalition of America, the U.S. amputee population is projected to more than double by the year 2050 to 3.6 million. He added that the estimated cost to U.S. private and public insurance agencies is at least $12 billion annually. Video of Rep. Matzie’s floor remarks is available here . Read more
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