HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell was sworn in to office today to represent Philadelphia’s 190th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Johnson-Harrell is the first covered Muslim woman to be elected to the state House. "I’m honored to represent the neighborhood that I proudly call my home," Johnson-Harrell said. "I will work hard to ensure the voices and needs of my district are represented in Harrisburg." Johnson-Harrell’s legislative interests include several key issues, ranging from socioeconomic opportunity and education reform to making gun violence prevention a top priority in Harrisburg. Prior to winning a special election on March 12, Johnson-Harrell served as supervisor of Victim Services in Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – The impact of adverse childhood experiences including homelessness, food insecurity, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and child abuse were the focus of today’s House Democratic Policy Committee at the state Capitol. Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, requested the hearing to discuss how traumatic experiences impact children’s cognitive development and how communities can come together to address the issue. The hearing confirmed that adverse childhood experiences have a lifelong impact on children that ultimately affect the societal costs of education, health care and corrections. “I’m committed to bringing the committee together to hear testimony on the long-term impacts traumatic experiences have on children. ACEs don’t just impact children in poverty; it’s the kid who witnesses alcoholism, drug use, or is the victim of sexual abuse. They aren’t limited by socioeconomic status,” Sturla explained. “Identifying children who are suffering through these experiences could help us get them the assistance they need to overcome the trauma.” The committee heard testimony from Dr. Roy Wade, instructor of pediatrics and general pediatrician, University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Dr. Maria McColgan, child abuse pediatrics fellowship director and associate professor of pediatrics, Child Abuse Research Education Service Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 - State Rep. Leanne Krueger held a press conference today to discuss her new legislation creating the #MeToo Pennsylvania General Assembly Act. “The General Assembly has a duty to be a leader in the fight against sexual harassment and assault,” said Krueger, D-Delaware. “This legislation will protect members, staff and employees and hold those who harm others accountable. It is past time for sexual harassment to be taken seriously in the Capitol and for reforms to create an environment where victims feel safe enough to come forward without fear of retribution.” The legislation, introduced as H.B. 1000 in the House and S.B. 480 in the Senate, would ban non-disclosure agreements that mask the name of members who harass staffers, prohibit General Assembly members from using taxpayer funds to pay secret settlement agreements and provide for other reforms. Similar legislation was introduced as H.B. 1965 last session. That bill had the support of advocates who support survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. A hearing took place in the House Labor and Industry Committee in September 2018, where there was no opposition, but the majority committee chairman never brought the bill up for a vote. “This legislation is an important step in preventing sexual harassment right here in Harrisburg. I am proud to lead this fight and thank my colleagues for their support,” Krueger said. Krueger was supported by Read more
PITTSBURGH , March 23 – Pittsburgh-area lawmakers today released the following statement regarding the acquittal of former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, who fatally shot Antwon Rose II, an unarmed black teenager, in the back last summer. “First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Michelle Kenny and Antwon Rose Sr. as well as the rest of Antwon’s family and friends. Our community lost a 17-year-old boy. We will continue to mourn this senseless and pointless loss of the life. The life he lived as well as the life he could’ve gone on to live. “While no verdict can bring Antwon back, we had hoped to see justice for his murder. Unfortunately, there will be no justice for Antwon. This outcome, while extremely disappointing, is far from surprising. Our region has a troubling history of racial injustices. The loss of an unarmed Antwon with no punishment for the police officer who shot him three times as he tried to flee will be added to that history. “America has a problem with police officers murdering African-American men and women that our region is not immune to. From Freddie Gray, to Sandra Bland, to Philando Castile and now Antwon Rose, police officers time and time again have used excessive, unnecessary force against African-American civilians and faced no criminal convictions for their actions. “As a nation, we simply cannot sit back, express our outrage for a few days and then return to our Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today introduced legislation that would push the General Assembly to commit itself to full and fair funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools. House Bill 961 would require that 100 percent of state funds for public schools immediately be distributed through the fair funding formula. It also would acknowledge that significantly more funding is required to ensure each school district has enough resources to educate its students. “As state legislators, we have a constitutional obligation to properly fund our schools. I would hardly call Pennsylvania’s current school funding model fair but rather one that sets our young people up to fail,” Rabb said. “Our schools receive a mere fraction of what they should be getting, which handicaps our students and strips them of critical opportunities. “I am leading the charge to require all of the state public school funds be distributed through this formula to certify our kids have the resources and tools needed to give them the best chance at success.” While the Basic Education Funding Commission unanimously agreed in 2015 to provide 100 percent funding to public schools through the fair funding formula, only 9 percent of 2018-19 state funds is currently being distributed to schools. Read more
EXTON, March 22 – Mariner East Town Hall: Know Your Rights! will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 in the Shamona Creek Elementary School Gymnasium, 501 Dorlan Mill Road in Downingtown. State Reps. Danielle Friel Otten, Kristine Howard and Carolyn Comitta organized the town hall to help ensure that residents know how to protect their homes and property during pipeline construction. As Mariner East construction continues, temporary workspace easements are beginning to expire. Uwchlan Township Solicitor Mark Freed will explain property rights and easement agreements. Friel Otten, Howard and Comitta will hear and address concerns from their constituents. The three state lawmakers are members of the General Assembly’s newly formed Pipeline Safety Caucus, whose mission is to keep Pennsylvanians safe as pipeline infrastructure grows across the commonwealth. All community members are invited to attend. For more information, contact Friel Otten’s office at 484-200-8259. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – In an effort to inform and promote the availability of Pennsylvania’s REAL ID program, state Rep. Dan Deasy and state Sen. Wayne Fontana, both D-Allegheny, plan to host a REAL ID informational session at the end of April. The event, which will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25 at the Crafton Borough Community Center, will provide residents with information on how to obtain a federally compliant REAL ID from the state Department of Transportation. “The newly available Pennsylvania REAL IDs have been talked about for quite some time, but some residents may have a few lingering questions or concerns regarding the program,” Deasy said. “That is exactly why my office, in conjunction with Senator Fontana, has decided to host this informational session, so that residents can rest easy knowing the ins-and-outs of the REAL ID program.” “I’m pleased we’re able put together this informational session for people interested in obtaining a REAL ID. I encourage anyone with questions about the process to attend and learn more,” Fontana added. REAL IDs are now available from PennDOT. After Oct. 1, 2020, a Real ID-compliant state driver’s license or ID card, or a U.S. passport or Military ID, will be necessary to board a domestic commercial flight or enter secure federal facilities. A REAL ID-compliant driver’s license has enhanced security features required by federal Read more
HARRISBURG, Mar. 22 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., today said he will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 26 on the Lt. Governor’s balcony in the state Capitol to announce the proposal of an amendment to the state constitution allowing for voter recall of elected state, local and judicial officials in Pennsylvania. “We’ve seen that sometimes, an elected official violates the trust we have placed in them as voters; sometimes things so egregious that the voters should be allowed the chance to take action,” Solomon said. “I plan to talk about a constitutional amendment I am introducing that would allow Pennsylvania voters the chance to recall an elected local or state official from office.” Solomon will be joined by co-sponsors of the amendment, as well as supporters such as the Committee of 70, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Constitution does not provide for the recall of state or local elected officials. While public officials can be removed by impeachment and certain “civil officers” (with the exception of governor, lieutenant governor, members of the General Assembly and judges) can be removed by a process outlined in Article VI, section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, there is no recall in the Commonwealth. Solomon's proposed amendment, while allowing for recall in state, local, and judicial offices, would not outline the specific Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today addressed concerns about the outbreak of mumps at Temple University. “I’ve been in consistent communication with Temple University concerning the recent mumps outbreak,” Kenyatta said. “And I’ve been assured that they are taking this issue extremely seriously. I’m heartened by the free walk-in clinics that they’ve set up as an additional step to address the continued spread. If you or anyone you know is showing symptoms, act swiftly. Please visit the free emergency clinic, contact Temple Health Services or your primary care physician immediately. Ensuring we have up-to-date vaccinations is the most important step we can take and I encourage you to do so.” Next week, Temple Student and Employee Health Services will offer walk-in clinics at which the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine will be available at no charge. No appointments are necessary. Upon presentation of a current OWLcard, all Temple students, faculty and staff are eligible for the MMR vaccine. The clinics, offered in conjunction with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 and Friday, March 29 in Mitten Hall’s Great Court. The mumps outbreak in Philadelphia has grown every day this week; the number of cases rising to 59 probable cases, with 15 additional cases confirmed. These numbers are much higher than in Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today announced a new partnership that will bring Night Market Philadelphia to West Philadelphia this summer. The Night Market, taking place in the Overbrook section of Cephas’ legislative district, will be held on June 20. Cephas said The Food Trust’s annual Night Market event takes place in several neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia and comes from a collaboration of community stakeholders bringing visibility to vendors and entrepreneurs, as well as neighborhood businesses and points of interest. The event invites people from all over to partake in food and festivities in these areas to showcase local entrepreneurs and share more of the City of Philadelphia. “I am so excited to work with Overbrook West Neighborhoods to bring the Night Market to our community,” Cephas said. “With the look and feel of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, there will be plenty of food and fun for the community to enjoy. It’s vital that we provide all Philadelphians with opportunities that encourage civic engagement and that promote community and economic development. Partnering with The Food Trust to bring this event to an area of the city that it has yet to come helps us to do just that.” More details on the Night Market Overbrook will be announced starting in late May. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (192-2) to pass H.B. 324, which would offer municipalities a new mechanism to reduce blight while supporting local microenterprises. Microenterprises employ one to five people. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration. “Developing microenterprises would not only help create jobs, but also make our communities more attractive places to live and work,” Caltagirone said. “If enacted, the bill will enable cities and communities like Reading to utilize existing administrative entities, including municipal authorities, acquire blighted property and issue loans to microbusinesses, providing more opportunities to re-use downtown buildings and support small businesses. The passage of this bill would be a big win for economic development and community revitalization in Pennsylvania.” Introduced by Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-York, H.B. 324 would allow for the creation of programs to provide loan assistance to low-income Pennsylvanians to establish microenterprises and real property tax abatement for properties used to develop such businesses. “As Democratic chair of the Urban Affairs Committee, I am proud of this bill which would help redevelopment entities, local governments and businesses to work together to improve the physical and economic quality of life in their communities,” Read more
ROYERSFORD, March 21 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi will hold an informational event April 3 to help community members get the information they need on REAL ID. Ciresi has teamed up with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the event, which will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Limerick Township Building, 646 W. Ridge Pike, Limerick. REAL IDs are available for Pennsylvanians who want them. They are optional, but starting Oct. 1, 2020, Pennsylvanians will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo ID card, or another form of federally-acceptable identification to board a domestic commercial flight or enter a federal building or military installation that requires ID. “REAL ID can be confusing, so I’m happy to bring resources to my district to help community members navigate the process,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. Anyone with questions should contact Ciresi’s district office at 484-200-8265. Read more
State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, announced she will host her inaugural Town Hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 1 at the Tredyffrin Public Library, 582 Upper Gulph Road, Stafford. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., announced he is seeking support for his legislation that would take the burden off of Pennsylvania taxpayers for special elections after a state lawmaker is expelled or resigns and is ultimately convicted of a felony. “Elected officials are required to uphold the highest standards of the state constitution and of their constituents. These positions are taxpayer funded so those people should remember the privilege they have to serve and should maintain a level of integrity, respect and trust,” Rabb said. “When a lawmaker abuses their power to the point they can no longer hold office, it should not be up to the taxpayers to foot the bill for a special election to replace that person.” Rabb is currently looking for co-sponsors for his legislation that would amend the state election code in order to impose fines for certain legislative resignations and establish a Special Election Fund. Under the proposed bill, an elected official who is found guilty of a felony and who is expelled or resigns from office would be required to pay a fine of $100,000 that would go into the fund. “These elected officials should be held accountable for the mistakes they made and the consequences that follow. Under no circumstances should taxpayers face the burden for the costs of these special elections,” Rabb said. “We owe it to the people of Pennsylvania to change the laws so future members Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – A measure that would allow the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to issue therapeutic exemptions to fishing license requirements unanimously passed the House, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. Kortz, the prime sponsor of H.B. 584 and minority chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, says the bill provides the necessary language to allow the PFBC to award fishing license exemptions to a variety of therapy groups, including Project Healing Waters , the Wounded Warrior Project , and Casting for Recovery , an organization for breast cancer survivors. “I am pleased by the overwhelming support this bill has been given by my colleagues,” Kortz said. “Many organizations in Pennsylvania and nationwide have seen the benefits of fishing and how it has helped people who are recovering from cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or chronic illness. It’s an activity that can bring them great joy and provide them much-needed respite.” “We appreciate Chairman Kortz and the House of Representatives’ unanimous support for this legislation today,” said Mike Nerozzi, director of public policy for the PFBC. “It is great to see the momentum behind this measure, which will ensure that the tremendous value of therapeutic fishing is recognized in law.” The bill now heads to the state Senate for further consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, has issued the following statement in response to the passage of S.B 113 , which would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act and prohibit public employees, who plead guilty or who are found guilty of crimes related to their employment – including conspiracy, bribery and perjury – from collecting their taxpayer-funded pension benefits. “The public puts their trust in these public employees, including elected officials. When they commit such crimes, it is an affront to the public’s trust and they should be held accountable for their actions and face appropriate consequences, and that includes losing their taxpayer-funded pension. I applaud the passage of this measure in the House chamber." The bill has been sent to the governor’s office. Read more
ALLENTOWN, March 20– State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, invites residents of the 22 nd Legislative District to participate in a Town Hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at the Saint James AME Zion Church, 410 W. Union St. “ I look forward to talking with my constituents about a variety of issues that have an impact on them and their families,” Schweyer said. During the event, Schweyer will discuss and take questions on an array of state topics. Constituents can call Schweyer’s district office at 610-791-6270 for more information about the event. The media is invited to attend. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – Students navigating career choices would enjoy a simpler, more streamlined and more informative process under a bill the House passed unanimously today, according to the author, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie. Harkins’ H.B. 393 – part of a bipartisan package of career training and technical education bills – would create an online career resource center that would consolidate information about career pathways and CTE resources into a single online clearinghouse. “Students contemplating career choices face weighty, sometimes confusing decisions,” Harkins said. “The commonwealth provides a wealth of resources on career pathways and CTE opportunities, but there’s currently no central location where students and those counseling them can go to easily access all of this information. Consolidating these resources in one online location would make the process less daunting and time-consuming and would ensure that students have all available resources at their fingertips when making these major life decisions.” Harkins’ bill would require the state Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Industry to establish the clearinghouse in consultation with the Department of Agriculture. The data would be updated annually and would include information on: postsecondary and career pathways and options. career and technical education and workforce opportunities. data Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – House Democratic lawmakers, in response to widespread concerns about patients and clients in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and long-term care homes not getting the quality care they deserve, announced a comprehensive package of bills to protect seniors and give family members the vital information they need to make the right choice for their grandparents and parents. As pension plans increasingly become a thing of the past and families become smaller and unable to care for elderly relatives in their own homes, House Democrats believe people need to know the long-term care options for their loved ones are the best possible – because, someday, we’ll all need a place to call home. While most facilities do a good job caring for patients and clients, as well as providing a stable place of employment for healthcare professionals, seniors, families and potential employees need the facts and protections these bills would deliver. The Promise of Care package includes: Making a Home truly a Home (Sponsored by Rep. Angel Cruz): A long-term care home shouldn’t feel like a hospital ward. This bill creates a voluntary Culture & Quality of Life Certification Program that would reward homes that go the extra mile to offer a rich, life-affirming program that treats residents like the individual people they are. Reporting Requirements when a Resident Passes (Two bills sponsored by Rep. Frank Burns): People Read more
State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, announced she was appointed to the Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Facilities. Read more
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