HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – American jobs should be for American workers, not people who are in our country illegally, said state Rep. Frank Burns, who is again championing a measure that would halt construction companies from hiring undocumented workers. “For years, I have demanded we crack down on companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants who are willing to work for less,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “If we are serious about stopping illegal immigration, then we must stop companies from hiring and exploiting illegal workers for profit.” Burns acknowledged that for generations immigrants have come to the United States in search of a job; however, he is also aware that illegal immigration is a constant drain on our country’s resources. According to a 2018 article in The New York Times, undocumented immigrant workers account for 15 percent of those employed in construction – or about 1.35 million workers nationally. “This bill is about saving Pennsylvania jobs by penalizing unscrupulous contractors who hire illegal workers in our state,” Burns said. “It’s time we hold corporate America accountable for profiting from illegal immigration. “Bottom line: E-verify works and has been working well for more than six years here in Pennsylvania. Construction companies must now comply or face stiff penalties, including the loss of their state-issued license.” The E-verify program, which is managed by Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today announced that the deadline for older adults and Pennsylvania residents with disabilities to apply for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2018 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, according to the Department of Revenue. “Seniors and people with disabilities are susceptible to foreclosures and evictions as a result of tax liens, which is why the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is so beneficial,” Cephas said. “The application deadline extension ensures that more residents in my district and across the commonwealth can have the opportunity to apply.” As of June 1, the department has received 432,411 applications, but will not be distributed until July 1, by law. After June 30, eligible applicants will receive rebates, distributed by direct deposit. “It’s highly recommended that eligible residents apply as soon as possible,” Cephas said. Cephas said claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible applicants can come to Cephas’ district office with their documents or obtain an application at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. In 2017, the Property Tax/ Rent Read more
Harrisburg, June 17, 2019 — State Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and Representative Eddie Day Pashinski (D – Luzerne) announced a $100,000 Historic Preservation Tax Credit today from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The tax credit will be used to rehabilitate the Spring Brook Water Supply Company building in the River Street Historical District for the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering program at King’s College. The project has an estimated construction expenditure of $4.6 million. “Public-private partnerships are the driving force behind the economic revitalization occurring in downtown Wilkes-Barre. As the engineering program continues to grow at King’s College, students will work toward their future goals while honoring the history of the Spring Brook Water Supply Company building,” said Senator John Yudichak. The Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, administered by DCED and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission since 2013, has invested more than $18 million to rehabilitate 105 historic buildings leveraging an estimated $1.5 billion in construction expenditures. “I’m pleased that this competitive tax credit has been allocated and will help King’s College preserve this beautiful building while advancing their Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, will host a free safety awareness program, “Controlling the Opioid Epidemic in our Aging and Disabled Populations,” from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 21 at the Greenville Senior Center in Riverside Park, 45 Alan Ave., Greenville. The program will feature a presentation by Special Agent Alan McGill of the Office of Attorney General, followed by a question-and-answer session. “It’s critically important to address opioid abuse among our seniors and individuals with disabilities who are among the less-recognized victims of this epidemic,” Longietti said. “The numbers show that even as opioid abuse decreased in younger groups from 2002 to 2014, it nearly doubled among those over 50. “The statistics also show that in 2016, one in three patients with a Medicare prescription drug plan received an opioid prescription. But the same Medicare programs that pay for these prescriptions often don’t provide coverage for drug addiction treatment. It’s my hope that this event will offer help and hope for seniors and their family members who are seeking answers.” Longietti said those interested in attending are encouraged to R.S.V.P. by contacting Carmella Ansinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 724-588-1005. Registration will be held before the event, at 12:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., is introducing legislation (H.B. 1643) that would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to develop a mandatory professional certification and poll watcher training program to be used by county election officials. “The only lawful requirement for a poll watcher is that they must be a registered voter in the county of the polling place and certified by their county board of elections, but there is no official training process. Insufficiently trained poll watchers can lead to chaos, disorder and disruption of an election,” Cruz said. “In fact, the haphazard training poll watchers do receive is from their candidate, a political party or organization which, in today’s political climate, could easily result in voter intimidation and suppression. We must do all we can to prevent that from happening.” Cruz’s legislation would establish a state mandated uniform training and certification procedure to be used by all 67 county election boards. It would also limit poll watchers to perform election activities in the district they permanently reside in. “Election tampering has been reported in many areas in our commonwealth, and nationally,” Cruz said. “It’s important that the basic American cornerstone of representative democracy- the right to vote- is protected at all costs.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – State Rep. Liz Hanbidge will soon introduce legislation to help Pennsylvanians who suffer from hearing loss by requiring Pennsylvania insurance companies to provide coverage for hearing aids. “The average cost of a hearing aid is $2,300, but that price tag can climb as high as $4,000,” said Hanbidge, D-Montgomery. “Hearing aids are only required to be covered for Medicaid recipients who are younger than 21, so that leaves others forced to pay for them out of pocket. That cost could deter many – especially seniors on fixed incomes – from seeking the help they need.” Through the Affordable Care Act, Americans have access to a core package of items and services deemed “essential health benefits” that must be covered by private insurance plans. Hanbidge’s legislation would require that private insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide coverage for the cost of hearing aids by adding them to the “essential health benefits” list. “More than a million Pennsylvanians live with hearing loss. This legislation addresses the health risks associated with hearing loss for the elderly, students and workers, and also improves the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians by helping to mitigate the cost of hearing aids,” Hanbidge said. Hanbidge also plans to introduce a resolution urging Congress to expand Medicaid coverage to include hearing aids for all Americans in need of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – The House today unanimously adopted a resolution commemorating 100 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Poland, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said he introduced H.R. 353 to honor both the strong relations between the countries and the rich Polish-American heritage shared by so many Pennsylvanians. “I’m thrilled that the House unanimously adopted my resolution commemorating a century of strong diplomatic relations between the United States and Poland,” Merski said. “Polish Americans – including more than 800,000 Poles and Americans of Polish ancestry who call Pennsylvania home – treasure the bond our countries share and the ways in which the United States and Poland have stood shoulder-to-shoulder through the decades as staunch supporters of democracy. “We are also deeply proud of the ways in which Polish-American customs and traditions have enriched life in Pennsylvania and of the many influences Polish Americans have had on science, the arts and industry in Pennsylvania.” Guests present for the vote on the resolution included Kamil Henne, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York; Deborah Majka, Honorary Consul of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Peter Obst, representative of the Poles in America Foundation; and Sylwia Czajkowska, Hanna Wewiora, and Michael Wewiora, secretary, treasurer, and member, respectively, of the Kosciuszko Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – Services that help victims of crime and domestic violence in the Lehigh Valley will be expanded and two local police departments will benefit from $1.89 million in grants, announced state Rep. Jeanne McNeill. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – Grants totaling $758,056 will enhance services for domestic abuse victims and at-risk youth, support county drug treatment programs, and fund an updated police recordkeeping system, announced state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. The funding comes from grants administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, acting on recommendations by various advisory committees. “I’m extremely pleased that our work to help secure this funding paid off,” Matzie said. “For our community to thrive, we all need to thrive, and that means recognizing that the consequences of violence, trauma and abuse go well beyond individual victims to impact families, neighborhoods and communities. These grants will go a long way toward restoring normal lives for residents who are endangered or at risk.” Matzie said the funding comes from five separate grants, including: $293,631 to the Women’s Center of Beaver County to support the center’s mission of providing support and services for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The grant comes from the 2019-20 Victims of Crime Act funding, overseen by the Victims Services Advisory Committee. $152,528 to The Bradley Center for the center’s Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools program in the Aliquippa School District. The program works to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and behavioral problems in Read more
SCRANTON, June 17 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Marty Flynn. Read more
The statewide funding through the PCCD is designated to help improve the justice system and to make communities safer for all citizens. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – Grants totaling $599,257 will fund Mercer County programs to help victims of domestic violence and child abuse, as well as those struggling with addiction, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D- Mercer, announced. The funding comes from grants administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. “I’m extremely pleased that our efforts to help secure this funding were successful,” said Longietti, who is a member of the At Risk Children and Families Caucus. “Our community’s strength lies not only in the achievements of our most successful residents, but in our ability to protect the most vulnerable among us. The funding approved by PCCD will give those whose lives have been turned upside down by violent crime, abuse or addiction a chance at a new future.” Longietti said three separate grants will fund the following projects: $349,969 to Aware Inc., to fund the Mercer Aware Supplemental Victim Services Project. The funding will support Aware in its mission of eliminating domestic violence and sexual abuse in Mercer County. $100,000 to Aware Inc. to fund the Mercer Aware Child Sexual Assault Project. The funding will allow Aware to improve systems response from the agency’s collaborating partners by hiring a youth advocate to support child/teen victims of sexual violence and a criminal investigator to investigate child sexual violence cases. $149,288 to the Mercer County Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – Licenses for the 2019-20 hunting season will go on sale today, Monday, June 17, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced. “Hunting is a great and very affordable pastime, one that continues to be shared over many generations here in Pennsylvania,” said Kortz, who serves as Democratic chair of the House Gaming and Fisheries Committee. “It provides a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time outdoors with family and continue a worthwhile tradition.” Kortz added the cost of a license includes a complimentary copy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest , a useful publication that provides a wealth of information for hunters, including updates on chronic wasting disease, elk and antlerless deer license availability, game regulations, and more. General hunting licenses and furtaker licenses cost $20.90 for Pennsylvania residents, and $101.90 for nonresidents. In addition, resident senior hunters and furtakers ages 65 and older can purchase a one-year licenses for $13.90, or lifetime a license for $51.90. Resident seniors also have the option of purchasing lifetime combination licenses that allow them hunting and furtaking privileges for $101.90. Licenses can be purchased online through the commission’s website at www.pgc.pa.gov . The link also provides information on locations across Pennsylvania to purchase your license in person. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, announced today she will suspend her paycheck until a budget is passed as the state legislature commences budget season. “If my constituents don’t go to work, they don’t get paid, and I hold myself to the same expectation. I do not deserve to get paid unless I execute my job duties and serve my community, period,” Shusterman said. Throughout June, state legislators will be in the Capitol every week to complete the state budget. However, the budget process officially began in February when Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his budget address to the General Assembly. Budget proposals from the governor are rarely fully adopted, but they do form the foundation of what will be debated during weeks of budget hearings in the House Appropriations Committee. During these hearings, Republican and Democratic members may ask questions of the administration. These hearing occur in both the state House and Senate. Following discussions, leaders from all caucuses and the administration work to find a compromise that will both cover Pennsylvania’s bills and responsibly invest in our future. “At times, budget season can grow cumbersome because we can stay here well into the night debating. However, it is our job to work together to reach an agreement. If we can’t do that, then we should not be getting paid because we aren’t doing what we were elected to do, which is serve Read more
ERIE, June 14 – The Commonwealth Court’s ruling today that it could not intervene to prevent dissolution of the UPMC-Highmark consent decree set to expire June 30 is terrible news for the state’s health consumers, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. “Today’s ruling is exceedingly disappointing,” Bizzarro said. “In light of UPMC’s refusal to step up to the plate and do the right thing by the state’s health care consumers, we were hoping the court might provide some relief,” Bizzarro said. “Although the ruling is appealable, that’s small comfort for the thousands of patients, particularly here in western Pennsylvania, who stand to lose access to their trusted, chosen providers." Harkins agreed, noting that UPMC’s position is especially troubling in light of its status as a charitable organization. “As a charitable organization receiving funding from taxpayer dollars, it’s unfortunate that UPMC does not see its obligations to the state’s patients as a compelling reason to extend its relationship with Highmark,” Harkins said. “As legislators, it’s our top priority to ensure that those patients are protected, which is why I’m supporting legislation that will ensure charitable companies like UPMC behave in the public interest.” Merski shared his colleagues’ disappointment, saying, “We had Read more
ERIE, June 14 – The Commonwealth Court’s ruling today that it could not intervene to prevent dissolution of the UPMC-Highmark consent decree set to expire June 30 is terrible news for the state’s health consumers, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. “Today’s ruling is exceedingly disappointing,” Bizzarro said. “In light of UPMC’s refusal to step up to the plate and do the right thing by the state’s health care consumers, we were hoping the court might provide some relief,” Bizzarro said. “Although the ruling is appealable, that’s small comfort for the thousands of patients, particularly here in western Pennsylvania, who stand to lose access to their trusted, chosen providers.” Harkins agreed, noting that UPMC’s position is especially troubling in light of its status as a charitable organization. “As a charitable organization receiving funding from taxpayer dollars, it’s unfortunate that UPMC does not see its obligations to the state’s patients as a compelling reason to extend its relationship with Highmark,” Harkins said. “As legislators, it’s our top priority to ensure that those patients are protected, which is why I’m supporting legislation that will ensure charitable companies like UPMC behave in the public interest.” Merski shared his colleagues’ disappointment, saying, “We Read more
The award recognizes outstanding teachers who demonstrate excellence in promoting learning at the highest levels, who foster positive and supportive learning environments, who serve as role models, who inspire a spirit of inquiry and critical thinking, and, of course, who make learning fun. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – Chester County’s Democratic state Reps. Carolyn Comitta, Melissa Shusterman, Kristine Howard, Danielle Friel Otten, Dan Williams and Christina Sappey announced that $1.2 million worth of grant funds from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will be distributed across the county to increase safety and help crime victims. Within Comitta’s legislative district, Domestic Violence Center of Chester County will receive $531,835 to provide direct services for domestic abuse survivors. Additionally, the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, Inc. will receive $624,328 to meet the needs of crime victims. “I am grateful for the grants awarded to the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County and the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County. These local organizations have a tremendous impact across our county, and they deserve our full support to continue to provide critical services to residents,” Comitta said. Represented by Shusterman, Phoenixville Borough will receive $7,685 to install security cameras at their police department’s impound lot. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues to bring state money back to Chester County,” Shusterman said. “I’m confident that this initiative will make our communities safer by curtailing crime in and around the impound lot.” Howard’s district, including West Pikeland and Easttown townships, will receive grants Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – On Friday, the Commonwealth Court announcement that it would not intervene in the impending June 30 dissolution of the consent decree between UPMC and Highmark saddened state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny. In a statement, the Insurance Committee Democratic chairman vowed to find a legislative answer: “It’s with disbelief and a heavy heart that I’ve learned that the Commonwealth Court is not going to step in and provide a way out of this ongoing, toxic feud between UPMC and Highmark, which ultimately will negatively affect many western Pennsylvania residents in the weeks and months to come. “It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing that even if we decide to take institutions like UPMC to court, and follow all the legal steps to enact change, nothing will change. The only way to truly enact change is to redraft and change laws. “This case still has a way to go as it makes its way through the courts, but in the meantime thousands of Pennsylvanians will now have to face the harsh reality of being cut off from their doctors and one-of-a-kind medical care. “We were all very hopeful when UPMC announced that despite the ongoing feud, they would allow patients undergoing cancer treatment to access their facilities, regardless of the name on their insurance cards. It was a glimpse of hope for some but left many unanswered questions for others who continue to suffer from other chronic health conditions. Read more
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