HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca today said seven entities within the 55th Legislative District are the recipients of nearly $1.2 million in state and federal funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency designed to help crime victims. Petrarca, a member of the commission, participated in today's meeting in which more than $49 million in funding was approved. "The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency administers a number of state and federal funding streams to help victims of crime, and I was pleased to be able to help distribute this funding," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. The following entities received funding under the Victims of Crime Act: Westmoreland County Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center -- $130,792 Blackburn Center -- $343,720 Westmoreland County Commissioners -- $76,974 Armstrong County Helping All Victims in Need -- $126,657 Indiana County Alice Paul House -- $179,816 Awarded under the Victims of Juvenile Offenders were: Armstrong County Commissioners for 2015-16 victims of juvenile offenders -- $18,972 Alice Paul House -- $21,864 Westmoreland County Commissioners -- $38,853 for a juvenile court liaison and $53,214 for a juvenile victim/witness project. Received under the combined funds of Violence Prevention Programs, Federal Justice Assistance Grant and Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Family Services of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, commended Gov. Tom Wolf today for his move to waive fees associated with background checks for volunteers working with children.
“I am proud to have worked with Governor Wolf to make sure that this vital action was taken," Matzie said. "By waiving the fees, we ensure that those who generously give their time to the children in our communities won’t be deterred from doing so because of cost."
Wolf today announced his administration would waive the $10 fee for the Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check and the $10 fee for the Department of Human Services child abuse check required by the Child Protective Services Law for volunteers working with children.
This decision is in response to new requirements enacted under Act 153 of 2014 to require criminal and abuse clearances every three years for employees and volunteers who are in contact with minors as a part of their duties.
Since the passage of Act 153, many legislators have worked to improve the law to alleviate some of this burden on volunteer organizations such as volunteer fire departments and EMS providers.
According to Matzie, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and the state police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants.
"This move keeps the safety provisions of Act 153 firmly in place, without discouraging people from v Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced a bill that would let public housing authorities form their own police force. "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh housing authorities already have this ability under current law, but smaller cities in the state face the same problems with criminal activity that larger cities do," Freeman said. "All public housing authorities should have the ability to set up their own police force in order to better combat crime. "A public housing police force also would greatly enhance community policing efforts, making public housing projects safer for their residents and their families, especially children." Under Freeman's bill, the housing authority police officers would patrol public housing projects. They would be required to complete the same course of instruction and accreditation as is required for municipal police officers under state law. Funding for these police forces would come from public housing authority budgets. While every housing authority would have the option to form a police force under Freeman’s bill, they would not be required to do so. "Some authorities may choose to simply hire a detective rather than create a full-blown police force," Freeman said. "Either way, they could determine what would be the most appropriate approach to enhancing law enforcement efforts." Besides reducing crime and enhancing public safety, Freeman Read more
Rep. Tina Davis, who launched efforts in April to exempt emergency responders from burdensome background clearance fees, applauds Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to waive background clearance fees for volunteers, including volunteer firefighters and emergency service personnel. Davis’ H.B. 1081 awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced today that Saint Francis University has been awarded a grant for more than $36,000 from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to support initiatives aimed at reducing underage and dangerous drinking. The PLCB grants are awarded to support a wide range of activities including training, law enforcement patrols, the development of environmental management strategies and other prevention programs. "This money is crucial to help educate our young people about the potential dangers of drinking," Burns said. "I applaud the faculty and staff at Saint Francis University for taking the steps in providing outreach and information to combat this problem." The PLCB Bureau of Alcohol Education awarded $2.2 million to 65 entities across the state for the 2015-17 grant cycle. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 10 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to waive fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks for volunteers working with children. Laws enacted last year to bolster how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse would have required volunteers to secure criminal history and child abuse clearances, costing $10 each, beginning July 1. Almost 300,000 volunteers are projected to seek the clearances in the first year. “We have many people who want to volunteer with a variety of programs to assist children,” Dawkins said. “These programs are an important part of many neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and I am thrilled we won’t force volunteers to pay out of pocket on top of donating their time.” Besides waiving fees for volunteers working with children, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and the state police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today said he has introduced legislation that would create the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Act. Specifically, H.B. 1182 would legalize video poker for adults 21 and older at establishments that are licensed to sell liquor such as bars, taverns and clubs. Establishments would be permitted to operate up to five video gaming machines and would be subjected to a criminal background check performed by the Pennsylvania State Police before being awarded a license. "We're staring at a $2 billion budget hole and we're sitting on a potential gold mine," Caltagirone said. "This is a prime time to enact a new revenue source to help spur economic development throughout struggling cities and towns and get our state back on track." The legislation also would create the Municipal Economic Development Fund. Money within the fund, acquired through video gaming profits, would be distributed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development as grants for local municipalities' economic development projects. Caltagirone added the funding formula for how video gaming proceeds would be distributed includes 50 percent to the licensed establishment, 20 percent to the licensed operator, 29 percent to the Municipal Economic Development Fund, and 1 percent to the host municipality. "This bill could provide an additional and needed revenue source for local Read more
Joined by state Reps. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, and Cris Dush, R-Jefferson/Indiana, along with Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association members, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., called for support for bipartisan legislation to permit expungement of specific offenses from a person’s criminal record provided certain criteria are met. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, will introduce a bipartisan bill that would carry out strong charter school reforms. "This bill would make the reforms our students and taxpayers need. It has bipartisan support from the start, so it's more likely that Governor Wolf can and would sign it into law instead of vetoing it. The legislature and governor have a lot to get done this year and we need to work together," Roebuck said. "There are charter schools that are innovative and provide a good education, but we must have the tools to deal with the bad apples, and we shouldn't overpay for the good ones. Our children and taxpayers deserve better." In March, the House passed a charter-school bill (H.B. 530) on party lines. Roebuck said that bill falls short on needed reforms and oversight, would override local control and would cut Wolf out of a proposed school funding commission. Roebuck's new bill includes: Setting a tuition rate of $5,950 for each non-special-education cyber charter school student, based on the highest-spending comparable high-performing online education programs offered by Pennsylvania intermediate units. This resembles what Wolf proposed in his budget. "This bill would return $160 million to school districts, which are largely funded by property taxes. That is a much better deal for students and Read more
HARRISBURG, June 9 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, welcomed today's unanimous Senate confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine as Pennsylvania's physician general. "This is a history-making Cabinet first for Pennsylvania, and I congratulate not only Dr. Levine but also Governor Tom Wolf for nominating her," said Frankel, co-chair of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus. "By confirming Dr. Levine, the Senate has not only provided Pennsylvanians with a quality physician general – our state Senate has affirmed that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender should not matter in employment. What should matter is whether the person will do a good job, and Dr. Levine will. I hope this bipartisan vote will show the way for a fair hearing and action on H.B. 300 and S.B. 300 once they are reintroduced – these bills have consistent 70 percent support among Pennsylvanians," Frankel said. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, announced today that he has been selected to sit on the Appropriations Committee within the House of Representatives. The Appropriations Committee considers fiscal-related matters and conducts budget hearings to review and evaluate the governor’s executive budget proposal. “While Pennsylvania is facing several challenges, one of the biggest is dealing with a budget deficit of $2.3 billion,” Schweyer said. “Meanwhile, the Allentown School District lost more than 400 teachers in the last four years under the previous administration. “I look forward to working with Governor Tom Wolf and my colleagues to restore funding for education, closing this massive gap and bringing a more balanced budget.” State Rep. Joe Markosek, Democratic chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said, “While Representative Schweyer is new to the state House, he brings important local government experience and perspective to the Appropriations Committee. I look forward to working with Representative Schweyer as state budget discussions intensify here in Harrisburg.” Schweyer also sits on the Aging and Older Adult Services, Consumer Affairs, Liquor Control, Urban Affairs, and Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 9 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., will host a free Senior Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at The York House, 5325 Old York Road. The fair will feature information on state programs for seniors, music, massages and health screenings to encourage healthy, active lifestyles. Kinsey and his staff will be available to answer questions about state issues pertaining to seniors, such as driver’s licenses, birth and death certificates, and the PACE prescription-drug program. The fair will offer light refreshments and door prizes. To learn more, contact Kinsey’s constituent service office at 215-849-6896. Read more
KING OF PRUSSIA, June 9 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, attended the Lower Merion Board of School Directors meeting yesterday, and the Upper Merion Area School Board meeting on June 4, to announce and congratulate students selected as the winner and finalists of his sixth annual “There Ought to be a Law” essay contest for fifth-graders.
Every year, Briggs encourages those students to write an essay about a law that would improve their school, community or state. Briggs said over 400 essays were submitted this year, on topics ranging from a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags to the establishment of learning gardens in state schools.
House Bill 854, introduced by state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, would require pharmacy technicians to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a criminal background check and complete a board-approved training program before being permitted to register with the state. Read more
HARRISBURG , June 9 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the House of Representatives today unanimously passed her bill that would clarify when minors’ consent for mental health treatment is needed. "Confusion surrounding consent issues is causing great pain to families frantic for help and the young people needing mental health examinations and treatments," Snyder said. "My House Bill 337 would end the delays to treatment and enable health care professionals to begin care expediently and responsibly." Snyder said changes made in 2004 to the Minor Consent to Medical, Dental, and Health Services Act created confusion among providers, minors and parents regarding the rights of each. "My bill would enable the state Department of Human Services to issue guidelines regarding minors’ consent to mental health treatment," Snyder said. "The regulations would detail the conditions when consent is needed, and provide for more uniform application of the standards so recovery-oriented programs can be implemented more quickly." Snyder told her House colleagues that the legislation was prompted by a call from a family desperate to find help for their child. The family was stymied by the confusion surrounding the mental health law affecting minors. "I believe that all of us – and the communities where we live – will be safer and stronger once the needed changes are made to the Read more
State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Tuesday was appointed to the House Rules Committee by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 8 – After a House Judiciary Committee meeting today in which a resolution (H.R. 143) was approved, largely on party lines, calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to reverse the state's moratorium on capital punishment, the committee's Democratic chairman said it was too early to be forcing that action. State Rep. Joseph Petrarca said that he and more than half of the Democrats on the committee support the use of the death penalty, but it was important to wait for the results of a study investigating the state's problems in carrying out death sentences. "As the chief executive officer of the state, Governor Wolf is the one who will sign the death warrants of those sentenced to die in Pennsylvania, and he has a legal right as governor to wait for the results of this study, which was authorized by the legislature itself several years ago," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. "The study is not yet completed, and my colleagues and I support letting him wait for the findings. "The governor has expressed no sympathy for those on death row, and has no desire to overturn sentences. Let's wait for the study so we can address the flaws in the system and again carry out the punishment handed down to those on death row." Authorized by the legislature in late 2011, a task force is studying the issues related to the commonwealth's efforts in carrying out death sentences, including costs and fairness. Even if the Read more
State Rep. Gerald Mullery announced that Luzerne County Community College’s Public Safety Training Institute will receive a $39,991 grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Rep. Pam Snyder and first responders from southwestern Pennsylvania hold a news conference to support House Bill 1081, which would ease the burden of the $47.50 in combined state and federal clearance fees on firefighters and emergency services providers. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 5 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio will host a Tele-Town Hall meeting focusing on the state budget at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 18. Phones within the 194th Legislative District will ring around 7 p.m. Those interested in "attending" should stay on the line. Those wanting to be sure they receive the call should contact DeLissio’s district office at 215-482-8726. The meeting will focus on how the budget affects Pennsylvanians’ everyday lives. “I have found that having a conversation with my constituents while I’m in Harrisburg and residents are in their living rooms is a great way to give them up-to-date information on the budget debates taking place,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. Read more
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