HARRISBURG, April 16 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, announced today that a workforce development partner located in Allegheny County will receive two Strategic Innovation Grant awards totaling $442,936. Partner4Work provides employers with resources to improve their businesses and connect job seekers with businesses in need of talent. It will use the first grant, totaling $190,926, to create a non-traditional pathway for low-income students and those facing other barriers to earn industry-recognized credentials leading to further education, training or work. The second grant, totaling $252,000, will be utilized by Partner4Work to prepare, train and place at least 30 low-income individuals in entry level jobs in the construction trades and manufacturing sectors. “I’m confident both grants will have a huge impact on our region,” Costa said. “These grants help younger Pennsylvanians, as well as those in low-income situations prepare for their future. These grants are a clear indication that we’re investing in the future of the Commonwealth by providing our state’s population with the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.” The Partner4Work grants are two of 16 projects receiving a total of $3.5 million in Strategic Innovation Grants. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awarded the grants through local workforce development boards across the state. Read more
EBENSBURG, May 1 – State Rep. Frank Burns’ resolution ( H.R. 779 ) designating May 1 as “Law Day” in Pennsylvania was adopted by the House today. Burns, D-Cambria, said the theme for this year’s celebration is “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy”. The 14 th Amendment addresses U.S. citizenship and the rights of U.S. citizens. “This event has been designated as a day to educate people of all ages about the legal system and to celebrate liberty, justice and equality,” Burns said. “We should teach our children about the importance of civil and human rights and promoting equality for all under the law.” Throughout Pennsylvania, Burns said, Law Day is observed by focusing on informing children from kindergarten through the college level. Judges and lawyers visit schools, educating students about their legal rights and responsibilities. Burns said the Pennsylvania Bar Association is in its 14th year of participating, along with county bar associations across the commonwealth. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 1 – Ending the brutal practice of animal fighting is the target of a bill the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved today, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny. “Dog fighting is rampant, and this brutal practice should be treated as the corrupt organized activity it is,” Costa said. “That’s why I introduced legislation that would add animal fighting to the list of crimes punishable under the state’s racketeering law. This would give law enforcement officers the tools they need, through stricter fines and penalties, to crack down on this brutal practice.” Under Costa’s H.B. 1197, animal fighting would be added to the list of racketeering activities that includes kidnapping, bribery, theft, insurance fraud and other serious offenses. Violators may be found guilty of a first-degree felony. “The commonwealth has made strides in preventing animal cruelty in recent years, but until we’ve eliminated animal fighting, our job is far from done,” Costa said. “My hope is that by adding teeth to existing enforcement efforts, we’ll be one step closer to prosecuting those who would profit from this barbaric practice and ending it once and for all in the commonwealth.” Costa noted that five other states – Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah and Virginia – already have similar laws. He said he is encouraged that the committee Read more
State Rep. Tina Davis, today joined fellow House members at a Capitol news conference to discuss legislation that would create a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account in Pennsylvania. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 1 – In a presentation before the state House of Representatives today , 2017 Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Queen Kacey Furlong of Brownsville was recognized by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “Kacey has demonstrated that she is an exceptional citizen who is not only a leader, but a positive role model for others to emulate,” Snyder said. “Her selection as coal queen is testimony to her values, work ethic, leadership abilities, commitment to others, integrity and determination – as well as her incredible drive to be the best person she can be.” Furlong is the daughter of Dr. David and Roxie Furlong, and a senior at Brownsville Area High School, where she is enrolled in advanced placement and college accredited courses. Serving as secretary of the National Honor Society, she is also a member of Student Council, the Grand Marche Committee, the National French Honor Society, Tri-Hi-Y, Student Forum, YEA and the Yearbook Committee. In addition to her academic endeavors, Snyder noted that Kacey Furlong has danced competitively since she was 10, earning scholarships to the Joffrey Ballet School and to Complexations Ballet in New York City. She has also been named national champion at Rising Star Talent Productions. “Kacey’s connection to the coal industry dates back to her great-grandfather, John Lenk, who dedicated his career to Maple Creek Mine, and her family lineage includes several Read more
HARRISBURG, May 1 – The House approved legislation, authored by state Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila, that would amend the Workforce Development Act by adding at least one member to each workforce development board. House Bill 2206 is one of a nine-bill package aligned with House Democrats’ Plan4PA to give Pennsylvania students a quality education that would jumpstart their careers in vocational and technical job fields. The package was a result of a series of recommendations made by the House Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said his legislation would enhance the quality of career and technical education programs throughout Pennsylvania by establishing partnerships between career and technical education (CTE) programs and workforce development boards (WDB). “It was discovered during the subcommittee’s hearing process that each WDB engages with CTE in various ways across the commonwealth, and given that WDBs are the channel through which employment information and data flows from the state to local school districts and Career and Technology Centers; the partnership between these entities needed to be addressed,” Roebuck said. “The legislation passed would bolster our efforts to ensure that we provide each Pennsylvanian a pathway to economic independence and entry into the American middle class.” Related legislation passed by the Read more
NANTICOKE, May 1 – Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to join state Rep. Gerald Mullery for a Sportsmen Forum with officials from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The free, public event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 17 at the Luzerne County Community College. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – A package of bipartisan bills boosting Career and Technical Education was approved by the House today, according to state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, a strong supporter of the legislation. “I am pleased these bills passed, which will go a long way toward closing the skills gap and helping students and workers become career ready,” said Longietti, a member of the House Education Committee. “There is a growing need for non-degree CTE credentials, which can lead to good-paying jobs and satisfying careers.” The bills include H.B. 2155 , a measure that would reform certification requirements for CTE teachers by emphasizing work experience in the field over additional course credits. “In eliminating redundant course credits while increasing hands-on work experience in the field, we can attract additional qualified CTE teachers while boosting quality,” Longietti said. House Bill 2156 would provide tax credits to businesses which invest in schools offering CTE programs to students. Schools may use these funds to purchase relevant equipment and create career training programs. Scholarships would also be made available to post-secondary students pursuing a CTE credential. “Mercer County business leaders have stressed to me the growing need for a skilled workforce,” Longietti said. “This tax credit program would allow local businesses to invest in area schools offering CTE and in the Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – Students in the commonwealth would benefit from a new online career resource center under a bill the House passed unanimously today, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie. House Bill 2203—part of a bipartisan package of career training and technical education bills that passed today—would call on three state agencies to work together to develop and maintain a central clearinghouse of career and technical education information. “The commonwealth provides a wealth of career training and technical education information through its agencies,” Harkins said. “But there’s no central location that puts information about today’s high-tech, high-skill jobs in one place for easy access by students, their parents and educators. A one-stop concept would ensure that young Pennsylvanians making key decisions about their future have all the information they need at their fingertips.” Harkins’ bill would call on the state departments of Education, Labor and Industry and Agriculture to collaborate in developing and maintaining the online database. It would function as a clearinghouse of information on educational and career options, available career and technical education resources, and data and statistics on employment opportunities and compensation. “Students in today’s fast-changing career landscape need to keep up with the latest opportunities and Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 -- Pennsylvania House Democrats today reintroduced roughly 88 bills and resolutions that Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has blocked in the House State Government Committee and called for Speaker Mike Turzai to repudiate Metcalfe’s obstructionism. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody sent a letter to notify Turzai of the reintroduction of dozens of bills and requested that the speaker refer each to different committees where they stand a chance of receiving the due consideration they deserve. Recently, Republican chairman Metcalfe bragged at a public meeting and on Facebook that he routinely blocks substantive Democratic bills in his committee without review. Because of Metcalfe, these bills never see the light of day nor a debate on their merits. Metcalfe acknowledged he is blocking the bills solely because they were introduced by Democrats and based on his personal biases and partisan extremism. "Our state government cannot work the way it’s supposed to if the committee system in the House of Representatives is hijacked and held hostage by one extremist with a personal agenda," Dermody said. "We all understand that politics plays a role in how quickly legislation moves forward in the House, but this is beyond the pale. “Never before have we seen a committee chairman whose own inability to tolerate dissent shows complete disdain for the legislative process, for other lawmakers, and for millions of people who care about these Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, today announced funding that will help two local fire departments in the 34th Legislative District merge. Costa said a $55,390 grant approved by the Department of Community and Economic Development will assist with the consolidation of the Braddock and Rankin fire departments. “I’m happy to announce the approval of this grant, as it will aide in the combining of two fire departments in the 34th Legislative District,” Costa said. “When we can assist in securing funding for projects like this, it significantly improves the capability of local government to deliver services more effectively, while also promoting positive progression within the community.” The funds were provided by DCED’s 2017-18 Municipal Assistance Program . The program provides funding to help local governments plan and efficiently implement a variety of services and improvements, including consolidating or regionalizing services among multiple counties and municipalities. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 30 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., will host a town hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Greater Olney Branch, 5501 N. 5th St., Philadelphia, 19120. Dawkins said residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about state and local issues. “Feedback from my constituents is fundamental to do my job – and town halls are a great way for me to learn what is important for the residents and communities I represent at the state Capitol,” Dawkins said. No registration or RSVP is required. Staff will be on hand to assist with state-related issues. For more information, constituents can call (215) 744-7901. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – In an effort to raise awareness and improve asthma care throughout the commonwealth, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today announced that his resolution, H.R. 863 , which designates May 1 as World Asthma Day in Pennsylvania, was unanimously adopted by the House. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that 979,527 adults and 281,301 children in Pennsylvania suffered from asthma in 2014,” Matzie said. “By recognizing and adopting this resolution, we are supporting those who suffer from asthma and encourage others to help them control their symptoms. That said, I’d like to thank all my colleagues for understanding the importance of this resolution and adopting it to promote awareness of this disease.” In an effort to raise awareness and improve asthma care throughout the world, advocates annually celebrate the first Tuesday of May as World Asthma Day, Matzie said. This occasion encourages individuals to focus on daily asthma management and to identify allergens and irritants that can lead to and worsen asthma attacks, he added. Asthma is defined as a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows airways resulting in reoccurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and chronic coughing. The CDC reports that approximately 18.4 million adults and 6.2 million children in the United States have asthma. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today announced that a resolution designating April 2018 as National Jazz Month in Pennsylvania has been adopted by the state House. “It’s hard to deny the lasting impression jazz music has left on American culture,” Wheatley said. “Jazz is uniquely American, and Pennsylvania has played a major role in its development and progression.” Many associate jazz music with the likes of New Orleans, but Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as many other cities, towns and boroughs across the commonwealth have played an integral role in the evolution of jazz culture, Wheatley noted. In fact, two Pennsylvanians, Kenny Clark and John Coltrane, were instrumental in bringing about the “bebop” revolution that took the music world by storm in the mid-20th century, Wheatley noted. “Without the commonwealth, I find it hard to believe jazz music would have evolved in to the national phenomenon it has become, and it is for these reasons that I’m grateful House Resolution 859 was unanimously adopted by the state House and has designated April 2018 as National Jazz Month in Pennsylvania.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today held a public hearing in the Capitol to take an in-depth look at food banks in Pennsylvania, announced state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, was joined by Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and other legislators from across the state to hear from stakeholders to discuss the importance of food banks and food security. “Today’s hearing offered a great opportunity for public and private partnership to come together and discuss how we can tackle food insecurity throughout the commonwealth. I hope we can continue to work together and come up with innovative solutions to make sure all Pennsylvanians have access to healthy and fresh foods,” Sturla said. Pashinski added, “Food security is a basic human right, and many people would be surprised to know that in Pennsylvania one in eight adults and one in six children struggle with hunger. We must continue to support the food banks around our state that do so much good work to address hunger issues and try to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has access to the food they need.” The committee heard testimony from Erin Smith Wachter, director of advocacy and public policy, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank; Andy Figart, sales and marketing manager, Hess Brother’s Fruit Co.; Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – A package of bipartisan bills looking to boost career and technical education today passed the state House of Representatives, according to one of the bill’s prime sponsors Rep. Gerald Mullery. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 30 – Citing a decade-long struggle to lock down a severance tax in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today announced the introduction of H.B. 2253, which calls for a reasonable, progressive natural gas severance tax. “As the Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, I am always working toward fair tax policy,” said Wheatley, who noted, “Pennsylvania is the now the second-largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., but is the only gas-producing state without a severance tax.” Wheatley added, “This means Pennsylvanians are paying other states’ severance taxes while sending our natural gas out of state and receiving nothing in return. A majority of Pennsylvanians support a reasonable severance tax that will help support our communities and many other state priorities.” If enacted in to law, it is estimated Wheatley’s bill could generate $248 million in the first year. Wheatley said his legislation would propose a tax structure based on the price of gas from the preceding calendar year as follows: Price Range Rate per MCF $1.00 - $3.00 4.2¢ $3.01 - $4.99 5.3¢ $5.00 – $5.99 6.4¢ $6.00 or greater 7.4¢ Wheatley’s legislation was championed today by Gov. Tom Wolf during a press conference in the governor’s office. In February, Wolf asked during Read more
HARRISBURG, April 27 - House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, both D-Allegheny, praised the governor’s actions this week to combat the heroin and opioid crisis in Pennsylvania: “Governor Wolf continues to lead the way in fighting heroin and opioid addiction. This week he took executive action to limit overprescribing of opioids in the workers’ compensation system by creating prescription guidelines and utilization reviews to identify where problems may exist. The governor also ensured that the workers’ compensation system has access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database. We applaud the concrete steps Governor Wolf took because they are effective and targeted actions that also preserve the rights of injured workers.” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 27 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today announced the awarding of a $200,000 state education grant for entrepreneurial training and development opportunities in areas of greatest need within the Mt. Airy and West Oak Lane neighborhoods. "I'm proud to partner with the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians to use this grant to advance the 'Build from Within: Community Entrepreneurial Training Project' and help those who have the talent, drive and commitment to build their business and build wealth in our neighborhoods," Rabb said. "The Welcoming Center is a great organization with a wonderful track record. I commend them for their work and look forward to partnering with many others to advance community economic development in our neighborhoods!" Rabb represents the 200th Legislative District, which includes part or all of three northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods: Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and West Oak Lane. His main district office is at 7216 Germantown Ave.; phone 215-242-7300. Constituents also can contact Rabb and follow his updates on social media at facebook.com/RepRabb and twitter.com/RepRabb . ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 27 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at the Kimmel Center on House Bill 1243 calling for equal pay regardless of gender or other factors. Sims requested the hearing to spark discussion on strengthening the Equal Pay Law to provide additional protections for all employees and to ensure wages are based on education, training and experience. The measure is part of House Democrats’ Plan4Pam focusing on putting People First with good jobs and family sustaining wages. Sims was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Every rally, hearing, meeting and event that we host to bring attention to equal pay gets us closer to our goal of equal pay for equal work. It is beyond frustrating that in 2018, we have to fight for the most basic ask of equal pay for equal work, but it is also beyond worth that fight. I thank my colleagues and community for coming together and continuing the conversation and hard work and we’ll keep doing it until equal pay is a reality,” Sims resolved. Sturla added, “I am glad to support Rep. Sims and his equal pay legislation. This change is long overdue and my hope is that all of this advocacy will result in this bill getting a vote on the House floor.” The committee heard testimony from: Rebecca Rhynhart, Philadelphia City Controller; Melissa Robbins, Read more
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