PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced that she will join a Twitter storm from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 31 to highlight gender and racial pay discrimination. July 31, 2017 marks the day when African American women’s pay reaches the amount the average white, non-Hispanic man was paid in 2016. “I am excited to join the Twitter storm this year and to continue fighting for Black women to receive the full dollar they deserve,” Bullock said. “After hosting a roundtable discussion on the issue last year, I was confident that we could make the issue a priority in our state legislature. However, I am beyond disappointed that not much progress has occurred since then.” Bullock said pay discrimination prevents women of color from being able to fully support their families and calls it an economic justice issue. According to data collected by the Women’s Law Project, it would take African American women 107 years to achieve equal pay at the current slow rate of progress. Pennsylvania received a “D ” ranking from the Center for American Progress in terms of economic security. The 2016 report highlighted the disparities Pennsylvania women of color faced in terms of economic security. According to the report, African American women are paid 63 cents for every dollar a white male makes. In addition, nearly one-third of African American women in Pennsylvania live in poverty. “It’s Read more
HARRISBURG, July 28 -- A package of bills approved by the Pennsylvania Senate yesterday to help pay for Pennsylvania’s $32 billion spending plan contain numerous provisions harmful to Pennsylvania, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/ Montgomery. Vitali is calling on Gov. Wolf to reject this legislation According to Vitali, the most damaging provision, contained in the Tax Code, would privatize the environmental permitting process allowing gas drillers and other applicants to go to seek permit approval from third parties rather than the Department of Environmental Protection. “This would create a clear conflict of interest,” Vitali said. "Also allowing application fees to go to third parties would deprive the DEP of a much needed source of funds to run its programs." Vitali also said he is troubled by a provision in the Tax Code that would allow a politically appointed advisory committee to decide on air quality permits for unconventional gas well sites. "This provision is a direct attack on the methane reduction strategy proposed by Governor Wolf in January 2016," he said. "Reducing fugitive methane emissions from gas drilling operations is one of the most important things Pennsylvania can do to address climate change." Vitali also noted that the Fiscal Code bill the Senate passed also contains a provision to repeal the Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act of 1955. This fund collects monies from drilling on state lands and Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., hosted over 60 citizens for her 66 th Town Hall on Wednesday to discuss the concepts behind DeLissio’s legislation, H.B.1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan, a Medicare for all-style single-payer plan. She said the discussion was interactive and informative, as one participant later posted, "I am at a Town Hall meeting on single-payer; first great point; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all depend on health and therefore healthcare is a right and not a privilege." “H.B. 1688, to be re-introduced shortly, is NOT government run health care,” DeLissio said. “Health care providers and health care facilities would remain in the private sector. State government would be responsible for establishing a system in which a single, public or quasi-public agency organizes the health care financing to support health care access. Cost controls (including administrative costs, pharmaceutical costs etc.), and citizens having sufficient ‘skin in the game’ are critical components of this plan.” The discussion included questions pertaining to health care, such as: What do citizens want? What are citizens willing to pay for? How should it be structured? There are currently 32 countries on the list of industrialized nations that have universal health coverage. Norway adopted this type of coverage in 1912 and Israel Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., is seeking volunteers to join him and the Philadelphia Streets Department to collect improperly disposed of tires throughout the 180th Legislative District. The Tire Roundup will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 5. People who are interested will meet at Cruz’s district office at 3503 North B St., Unit 7, 19134. For more information, call Cruz’s office at 215-291-5643. “Tires that are lying around our neighborhoods are not only an eyesore, but they are a potential health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for insects that can cause West Nile virus and other illnesses,” said Cruz. “I urge everyone to join me in making our community look better and healthier by collecting tires so they can be disposed of properly.” The Philadelphia Streets Department’s Sanitation Division developed the tire roundup program in 1995 to address the serious problem of illegally discarded tires throughout the city. Read more
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today said he is pleased with amendments to the Administrative Code that would provide protections for employees at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institutions. Mullery said the new language passed by the Senate would require the Department of Corrections to hold public hearings before the agency can decide to close a state prison. A 30-day notice of the public hearing would have to be provided prior to scheduling. “This result is welcome news to the more than 400 employees at SCI-Retreat in my legislative district, and the thousands employed in corrections across the Commonwealth," Mullery said. In January, Mullery, along with Sen. John Yudichak and other members of the House and Senate Northeast Delegations, stood together to organize several hearings and informational sessions throughout the region to display the impact closure would have on the local economy. “This revision ensures the voices of employees, their families, local and state government officials, and all those in the community will be heard during the decision making process," Mullery added. SCI-Retreat, which is located in Newport Township, houses 1,103 inmates and employs more than 400 Luzerne County residents. Mullery is vice chairman of the Northeast Delegation. Read more
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, this week called on Speaker of the House Mike Turzai to return the House to session and take up Pashinski’s discharge resolution on House Bill 1416, legislation that would sequester people responsible for budget negotiations until a compromise is reached. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, and Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., are proud to announce the 60th Street Health and Wellness Community Summer Jam. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12 at 60th Street between Arch and Chestnut streets . It will feature health screenings and resources, children’s activities – including a moon bounce, main stage entertainment, food, refreshments and fun for the whole family. “We are excited to host this event, because it lets us interact with neighbors who want to ask questions and provide feedback on a wide range of matters,” McClinton said. “People from every neighborhood and community in the district are invited to come together to enjoy food, games, entertainment, win prizes, and learn about important community health partners in Philly.” Cephas said, “Often, people aren’t aware of everything that is available to them through the state. My job as a state representative is to help get that information to them, and this event is a great way for me to reach a lot of my constituents while we all enjoy ourselves.” Legislative staff will be available to answer any state-related concerns constituents may have, including on a variety of state programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Local and state agencies will also be available onsite. More information Read more
MT. LEBANON, July 27 – As more students with disabilities or a mental health diagnosis are successfully integrated into public schools, state Reps. Dan Miller and Mike Schlossberg are planning legislation to add those topics to the health class curriculum. Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, want Pennsylvania school districts to educate students in an age-appropriate manner about mental health, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities in order to help break down barriers, both in school and beyond. “Our bill would require the Department of Education to create curriculum guidelines for health classes that provide a framework for positive discussion and increased understanding,” Miller said. “Our hope is that by guiding this discussion in a positive way at each level, we will help decrease stigma and support a true inclusion experience – where more and more students know someone with a diagnosis, they can support each other, and no one sits alone.” Schlossberg, who has been very public about his own successful fight against depression, said a key goal of the legislative effort is erasing stigmas associated with disabilities and mental illness. “Stigma isn’t just some abstract, icky feeling. It has concrete, long-term damaging effects on a person’s ability to learn, become employed and build long-lasting relationships,” Schlossberg said. “This legislation would give schools the Read more
HARRISBURG, July 27 – As Pennsylvania deals with yet another frustrating budget impasse, state Rep. Kevin Boyle is looking forward, seeking ways to prevent the commonwealth from finding itself in a similar situation in the very near future. Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, plans on re-introducing a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, requiring the General Assembly to stay in session until a state budget is adopted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as signed into law by the governor. “As legislators, we owe it to our constituents to conduct the people's business without needless delays and to concentrate on passing a responsible, complete, and balanced budget for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians,” Boyle said. For this legislation to be added to the state Constitution, the bill would have to be voted and passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and then go to Pennsylvania voters in the form of a ballot question. “We are only one year removed from the historical 2015-2016 budget stalemate that lasted nearly nine months from July 2015 to March 2016,” Boyle said. “It appears the General Assembly hasn’t learned its lesson.” Boyle said it’s been three weeks since the start of the fiscal year and Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai has continued pushing for irresponsible funding schemes, which, in turn, has prevented the rest of the representatives from formulating a Read more
HARRISBURG, July 27 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., said he introduced legislation to create a charitable trust that would help Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable youth from becoming innocent casualties of mass incarceration. “Our most neglected young people continue to be devastated by the school-to-prison pipeline at alarming rates. There are more than 81,000 Pennsylvania children with a parent in a prison,” Rabb said. “That absence, which some psychologists have compared to the death of a parent, through the formative years can have many harmful effects on a child.” House Bill 1674 proposes the creation of the First Chance Trust Fund to provide support services and scholarship opportunities to young people from neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration across the state. The trust would not require the use of taxpayer dollars. Instead, it would be funded by a 1 percent surcharge on all vendors that have a contract with the Department of Corrections exceeding $5 million and by private, tax-deductible donations. Other state agencies also would have the option to include such a provision in their contracts. “Studies have consistently shown that investing in educational opportunities can significantly reduce the potential for future incarceration. We need to make these investments, especially within our most disadvantaged communities,” he said. Corrections anticipates it would generate $500,000 to $1 million Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 27 – August is “Produce Month” in Pennsylvania where we take time to pay tribute to those involved with growing or selling local food products. More than 4,300 family farms operate in Pennsylvania, helping the agriculture industry pump millions of dollars every year into our economy. However, it is also a time when I want to ensure that we increase access to fresh, nutritious produce for those in the most need. The Pennsylvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides an excellent opportunity to address issues of both hunger and food insecurity in low-income communities, especially for those most vulnerable members – seniors and children. It is through the Senior and WIC voucher distribution that many families are able to access fresh, healthy foods. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, I recently learned voucher redemption rates amongst seniors are high, but only 43 percent of those checks issued to WIC recipients were redeemed in Philadelphia in 2016, which is 6 percent less than 2015. This has been primarily attributed to the locations of the farmers’ markets. There are several locations throughout the city, however, there is only one in the far corner of my district. For most, the other locations are distant and difficult to reach. We know that decreased access to healthy foods means people in low-inc ome communities suffer more from diet-related diseases like obesity Read more
HARRISBURG, July 27 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Deleware, and Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced that they will introduce legislation that would direct Pennsylvania courts to sentence the primary caretakers of children younger than 18 to individualized community-based sentencing programs. The bill would require judges to determine if an offender is the primary caretaker of a child under 18, and if so, to hand down a sentence of non-confinement for low-level and non-violent offenses as long as they do not carry mandatory minimums. The offender would be required to complete a number of rehabilitative services instead of serving time in prison. “The tough-on-crime stances in our Commonwealth are ineffective and are tearing families apart,” McClinton said. “Yes, individuals who break the law should be held accountable. However, if they have committed a low-level, non-violent offense, they should not be sent to prison where they would lose custody of their child.” Over the past 30 years, the number of incarcerated women in the United States increased by over 700 percent, rising from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014. More than 60 percent of women in state prisons are reported to have a child under 18. Incarcerated mothers are forced to either relinquish their child to foster care or place them under the care of relatives. “Incarcerating women for low-level, non-violent offenses has detrimental effects on children,” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 26 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., is rallying community members, churches, law enforcement and community organizations for a Stop the Violence and Peace March planned for Friday, Aug. 4. The march will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the 6300 block of Moylan St. (off West Washington Lane in Germantown). “The level of violence in Philadelphia in the past 30 days is intolerable and unacceptable. A string of shootings has been unleashed and we need to touch every community in our city to find a way to get guns out of the hands of irresponsible people,” Kinsey said. Statistics show that homicides are up 20 percent in Philadelphia. As of this past week, the Philadelphia police has documented 169 homicides, compared to 142 at the same time last year. “Enough is enough. Just last week an innocent woman was driving her car in Logan and was struck by a stray bullet. In Grays Ferry, a 16-year-old was shot while attending a cookout. These are just a few examples of the senseless shootings in our community,” Kinsey said. “Our families deserve to live in safe and productive communities. Our children deserve to live in a peaceful environment that ensures a better future for them and, consequently, for all our neighbors.” Kinsey said the march is aimed to empower the people of our local communities and to let them know that there are leaders and organizations who care about them and their quality of life. More Read more
HARRISBURG, July 26 – Members of the Pennsylvania legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus are denouncing President Trump's announcement that he will discriminate against transgender people who serve or wish to serve in the U.S. military. State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said, "This is discrimination, adding to a string of broken Trump promises, this time one he made to LGBT Americans, and it's a waste of tax dollars and the talents and abilities of thousands of Americans who just want to serve their country. "A news report has already confirmed this morning that this is just a cynical political ploy . And it's unlikely to work, as former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory's example shows – he lost re-election in 2016 in a swing state after discriminating against LGBT citizens. I would add that the health-care cost argument is false , like so many other things the president says or tweets. In addition, 18 other countries allow transgender people to serve – including several of our NATO allies and Israel – and who takes security more seriously than Israel? Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, co-chair of the caucus, said, "Thousands of transgender Americans currently serve honorably in our military, yet President Trump claims they are a 'disruption.' Perhaps when he claimed he would have the LGBTQ community's back, he was already planning to stab them in Read more
FILADELFIA, Julio 26– El Representante Estatal Ángel Cruz, D-Fila., ofrecerá un evento de trituración de documentos el sábado, 19 de agosto de 10 a.m. a 2 p.m. en su oficina de distrito localizada en 3503 N. B Street Unidad #7, Filadelfia. Los ciudadanos podrán llevar documentos como facturas viejas, expedientes médicos y documentos financieros, así como otros documentos personales que contengan información confidencial. El material triturado durante el evento será reciclado. “Los eventos de trituración de documentos son una de las mejores maneras de prevenir ser víctima de robo de identidad, y con la incidencia subiendo cada año, es mi responsabilidad como legislador educar y ayudar a las personas a deshacerse de sus documentos”, dijo Cruz. Personal de la oficina del representante proveerá asistencia en inglés y español sobre asuntos relacionados con el gobierno estatal. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 26 – State Rep. Ángel Cruz, D-Phila., is hosting a free community shredding event on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at his district office, 3503 N. B Street, Unit #7, Philadelphia. Constituents are encouraged to bring unneeded paper items to be shredded for disposal, including old bills, health records and financial items, as well as any other paper items of a personal nature. “Shredding events are one of the best defenses against becoming a victim of identity theft and with the rate increasing every year, it’s my responsibility as a legislator to educate and help people on this issue,” Cruz said. Items shredded will be recycled afterwards. Cruz and his staff will also provide assistance for constituents applying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid and the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Assistance will be available in English and Spanish. Read more
State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, released the following statement on the indictment of Allentown Mayor Edward Pawlowski: “As someone born and raised in the city of Allentown, someone who has dedicated my entire adult life to serving the people of my city and is proud to follow in the footsteps of my father and his 33 years serving the city of Allentown, I am truly dismayed and saddened. Ed Pawlowski should tender his resignation as mayor immediately if he truly values Allentown and its people. “City Hall needs to be a place where government works to move Allentown forward so it can remain an amazing place to live, work and raise a family." Read more
ALLENTOWN, July 25 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg issued the following statement about the latest legal development regarding Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski: “Ed Pawlowski needs to resign as mayor of Allentown. Now.” Read more
Rep. Anita Kulik is sponsoring two free events – a Child ID program and safe prescription drug disposal – on two dates during the Kennedy Township Community Days celebration, Aug. 9-12, at Fairhaven Park. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 25 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., is partnering with the American Red Cross to host the "Sound the Alarm, Save a Life" campaign. Cephas, along with her staff and community volunteers, will be available to install smoke alarms and provide fire safety tips to residents of the 192nd Legislative District in west Philadelphia. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 12, at Shephard Recreation Center, 5700 Haverford Ave., 19131. “Unfortunately, there are many families in our communities that don’t have working smoke detectors in their homes,” Cephas said. “I encourage everyone in my district who does not have a smoke detector in their home to contact my office to have one installed. “By doing so, we can help prevent house fires because even one fire is one too many.” Cephas said smoke detector installations will be performed on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last. To RSVP for an installation or for more information, residents should contact Gwen at (215) 879-6625. Read more
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