HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, on Friday released a statement in reaction to the draft settlement reached by U.S. Steel and the Allegheny County Health Department, which will address U.S. Steel’s violations and penalties at the Clairton Coke Works site in 2018-19: “This, hopefully, is a look into the future,” Davis said. “U.S. Steel has been more than aware of the steps that must be taken in order to bring the Clairton Coke Works into compliance with Clean Air standards, and I am glad that it has finally taken responsibility and will begin to remediate these problems. “By dedicating resources to specifically improve its battery operations at the Clairton Coke Works, U.S. Steel will drastically reduce its fugitive and stack emissions, which has been a major area of concern. “I applaud the decision of the Health Department and U.S Steel to put 90% of the $2.7 million in fines into a community benefit trust fund for impacted communities, as well as create a community advisory council. These funds will go a long way in improving the quality of life for residents, as well as giving them a voice in the process. “I’ve long said we can have good jobs and clean air! It’s my hope that U.S. Steel remains committed to smart, safe and effective business practices that will maintain jobs and improve our environment.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi announced today that Pottstown School District was awarded an environmental education grant. The $3,000 grant will be used to support the Pottstown Powered by Nature program, teaching fourth to sixth grade students scientific inquiry in environmental issues. “I’m delighted to see Pottstown School District receive this funding,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. “We know that every dollar spent on our public school children pays dividends. In a world where our children will be dealing with the effects of climate change, funding specifically earmarked for environmental education is doubly impactful.” Administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Education Grant Program awards funding to organizations to implement educational projects that focus on priority topics of climate change, water, or environmental justice. Projects range from creative, hands-on lessons for students, teacher training programs, and outdoor learning resources to conservation education for adults. More information on the grants is available from DEP . Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – A $2,900 mini grant from the Department of Environmental Protection will fund microscopes for students studying climate, watersheds and other environmental subjects, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. “We have a wealth of students who are concerned about their future and interested in learning how to protect our environment,” said Bizzarro, who is a member of the House Climate Caucus. “The grant announced today will provide the tools to fuel their curiosity and inspire a new generation of scientists and environmental engineers. We’ll need those well-trained minds to address the ongoing impact of climate change and develop new ways to safeguard our natural resources.” The grant to Asbury Woods nature preserve is one of a package of Environmental Education mini grants awarded by DEP to foster environmental awareness among students and adults. The funds are used for projects that include hands-on student lessons, teacher training programs, outdoor learning resources, and conservation education for adults. Enacted in 1993, the Environmental Education Act mandates that 5% of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by DEP be set aside for environmental protection. Since inception of the grant program, more than $10 million in grants has been awarded to support environmental education efforts throughout Pennsylvania. Read more
“This program fosters healthy eating for our seniors,” DeLissio said, “and it also supports local farmers and local businesses that are the backbone of our community.” Read more
EBENSBURG, June 28 – Keeping his promise to put Cambria County on Harrisburg’s radar, state Rep. Frank Burns today announced he secured access to a key economic development program for Cambria County, opening the door to boundless new business opportunities in the region. “This is the result of Cambria County’s legislative delegation working together in a bipartisan fashion to move the region forward,” Burns said. Burns spearheaded a months’-long effort to negotiate language into a state budget-related bill that reserves one Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) for Cambria County. A KOZ designation allows for state and local tax benefits within specific underdeveloped and underutilized areas of the state. “We have a chance to transform Cambria County, potentially creating thousands of jobs and redeveloping blighted properties,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “For too long, our region has been left behind, while larger cities reap the benefits of economic development. Establishing a KOZ in our county is a game changer.” At Burns’ urging, legislative leaders reserved a KOZ of up to 375 acres for Cambria County that can be subdivided into parcels of fewer than 10 acres. This provision ensures that even small towns with blighted parcels of land have the tools they need to attract new businesses. House Bill 262 , which contains the KOZ designation, also includes a provision providing an additional $10 million in Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – Permitting the State Workers’ Insurance Fund to sell health insurance would make health insurance more affordable, under legislation (H.B. 1679) introduced by state Rep. Robert Freeman. Read more
New law requires higher education organizations offer online, anonymous reporting of sexual assault Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – The recent Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery fire and subsequent expected closure of the site have sent shockwaves across the Philadelphia region, where state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., whose district includes both refinery workers and residents living near the refinery, has been working to craft solutions to the economic and environmental impact on workers and the nearby community. She issued the following statement: “We need to make sure these refinery workers are made whole. We need to hold the corporations that operate in our state accountable for their duty to both the workers, whose labor they profit from, and the land that’s been polluted for decades. Additionally, we need to make sure the community gets a responsible neighbor that doesn’t endanger their health and safety. We can no longer allow big corporations to divide working people, while also presenting us with false and dangerous ultimatums, such as putting food on the table or polluting the air our children breathe. “We need to demand better- together- as strong supporters of unions, of environmental justice and as leaders who are committed to the future. This includes a determination to bring more jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency to Philadelphia and the entire commonwealth. We can and must do all these things!” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, lauded today’s final passage of the state’s $34 billion spending plan, saying he believed that, although not perfect, H.B. 790 makes sensible investments in the commonwealth’s future. “I’m encouraged that this year’s budget is responsible, that it holds the line on taxes, and that it puts about $300 million into the state’s Rainy Day Fund,” Longietti said. “Most importantly, I voted for this budget because it makes strategic investments that are important to the people of Mercer County and across the commonwealth. “I’m especially pleased that the new budget adds $160 million for basic education funding, which will help our local school districts; a $50 million increase in special education funding; and a $25 million increase for early childhood education. Early education programs like Pre-K Counts are critically important because they provide kids with the fundamentals they need for the best possible start in life, which is key to success later on. “I’m also encouraged by a 2% increase for higher education and a $10 million increased commitment for career and technical education programs, which provide an important pipeline for young job seekers entering the workforce. “Another important aspect of the budget is that it funds programs to support our seniors, those with intellectual disabilities and the most vulnerable Read more
EBENSBURG, June 27 – Seeking to steer Pennsylvania away from political party control that many find increasingly distasteful , state Rep. Frank Burns was among a handful of Democrats to join with Republican lawmakers in backing a bill to abolish straight-party voting, a move that emphasizes voting for the best person and not the party. Burns, D-Cambria, said that while Republicans were pushing S.B. 48 , he philosophically agrees that Pennsylvania needs to end its archaic status as one of only eight states that still permit the option of straight-party voting. “For too long, we’ve been mired in the quicksand of the past, where political party bosses on both sides relied on straight-party voting to obtain and exert control – often for their own benefit,” Burns said. “Passing this legislation lifts us out of that sinking pit and into the modern era, where paying attention to individual candidates instead of pulling a single lever will lead to a more informed and independent-thinking electorate.” Burns said his vote Thursday in favor of S.B. 48 is a reflection not only of his personal belief that the person is more important than the party, but also a result of listening to those he represents. “The people I talk to in Cambria County are upset, if not downright disgusted, at the failure of both political parties to compromise and govern effectively,” Burns said. “They are tired of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – Today the House Insurance Committee voted H.B. 564 out of committee. This bill as amended allows for the direct payment to any out-of-network healthcare provider. This measure compromises networks while driving the cost of health care for consumers even higher, said Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny. DeLuca, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, said Majority Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor, the prime sponsor of this bill, pushed the legislation to appease special interests. House Republicans on the Insurance Committee voted in favor of the legislation, which DeLuca said indicates their allegiance to their political party instead of their constituents. “This legislation is no good,” DeLuca said. “The bill puts residents at risk of high out-of-pocket costs and is at odds with what state legislators should be doing with their time in office. Instead of helping our residents, we’re exposing them to what possibly could be financial catastrophe.” DeLuca said H.B. 564 initially was designed to direct insurance companies to pay a dentist directly for services rendered to a patient, but now includes all medical services. Also absent from this legislation are consumer protections. Under this bill, a patient’s insurance company will pay the provider directly, leaving the patient responsible for any additional amount billed by the provider. This is a win for providers and their health systems, not Read more
State legislators from Philadelphia, including Rep. Jordan Harris, House Democratic Whip, Sen. Anthony Williams, Senate Democratic Whip, Rep. Maria Donatucci, Sen. Larry Farnese, Senate Democratic Secretary, and Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, issued the following statement on the announced closure of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery:“The explosion and subsequent fire at the PES refinery last week sent a shockwave, both literally and figuratively, through our community. The announcement of the closure of the refinery is another blow to the thousands of workers who earn a living and support their family through their hard work in South Philadelphia. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Bill Kortz praised a measure that unanimously passed the House today that eliminates the need for disabled veterans and active duty military to purchase multiple non-resident fishing and hunting licenses from various states, including Pennsylvania. Kortz, who is minority chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee and a co-sponsor of H.B. 1380, said this bill should encourage agreements between Pennsylvania and other states to benefit the men and women who have served and continue to serve this country. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for disabled veterans and active-duty military,” Kortz said. “It would permit them to enjoy the great country they protected and continue to protect, and it would allow them to continue to pursue their passions and pastimes at a reduced cost. “Instead of purchasing multiple licenses in multiple states, this measure would allow active-duty military personnel and disabled veterans to one day enjoy the same benefits in other states that they enjoy in Pennsylvania.” Under the bill, the attorney general would negotiate reciprocal agreements with other states and report back to the General Assembly. “Fishing and hunting have long been hobbies passed down from generation to generation,” Kortz said. “With today's bill passage and, hopefully, Senate passage after that, it will become more affordable for our veterans and active duty personnel to Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 27 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., will hold a job fair for interested residents looking for opportunities to help with the 2020 Census. The job fair will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, July 12 at Neilson’s district office, 16 Old Ashton Road, 19152. Neilson said there are temporary positions available, including census takers, recruiting assistants and supervisory staff. “The Philadelphia region hopes to employ more than 3,000 people to ensure a complete and accurate count of everyone during the 2020 Census,” Neilson said. “These open positions will pay up to $35.50 an hour and offer weekly paychecks, flexible hours and paid training.” For more information or to reserve a spot at the job fair, constituents should call Neilson’s office at 215-330-3714. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Joe Webster released the following statement on his “no” vote on the 2019-20 state budget (H.B. 790), which passed the House Tuesday 140-62 and is expected to be approved in the Senate today. “Pennsylvania is headed for an on-time budget, and that’s good news,” Webster said. “While there are a few bright spots, it’s not a good budget, and not based on good public policy. The overall package misses too many opportunities to truly address Pennsylvania’s needs. “There are a few selective wins here for Pennsylvania. We have begun funding early learning for our pre-K children, which is shown to lower poverty rates and increase school readiness. “And we increased funding for public schools enough to keep pace with inflation, but not enough to budge our ranking for state funding of education as the 47th worst in the nation. “The budget also has some incremental increases for health care workers who provide personal assistance and direct care, another 2% that barely keeps up with inflation. These workers provide support to help keep people in their homes and as independent as possible. “This budget reduces overall transportation infrastructure dollars by $366 million. That means less effort in Harrisburg to fix our roads and bridges, which are in desperate need of attention. It also means less dollars to support the public Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – Although the school year ended several weeks ago, state Rep. Robert Freeman is looking ahead to improving academic performance in future school years. Under legislation introduced by Freeman, students in 11th and 12th grade would receive academic credit for tutoring elementary school-aged children. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 27 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila., announced he will be providing free produce vouchers for eligible low-income seniors in his legislative district. The vouchers will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, July 11 in Boyle’s Mayfair office at 7420 Frankford Ave., 19136. Boyle said the vouchers are through Pennsylvania’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides low-income seniors with fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs from approved farmers in the commonwealth. “This program is especially important for seniors because as we age, it is vital to be health and nutrition conscious,” Boyle said. “These vouchers will allow seniors who may not normally be able to afford fresh produce the opportunity to benefit from the nutrition that fresh fruits and vegetables provide while also supporting local farmers.” Boyle added in order to be eligible for the vouchers, seniors must be 60 or older by Dec. 31 of the program year with a household income of less than $23,107 for singles and less than $31,284 for married couples. Residents interested in obtaining the produce vouchers must bring identification and must schedule an appointment to pick up their vouchers by calling Boyle’s office at (215) 331-2600. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a state spending plan Tuesday which is expected to gain Senate approval and be sent to the governor’s desk today. State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, commented on her opposition to the final proposal: “I can embrace many items that are part of this budget, notably the strong support for continued progress in educational funding, Comitta said. “The plan invests more money in pre-K programs and early childhood education, basic and special education, public universities like West Chester, Cheyney and Lincoln, community colleges and PHEAA. “Even in Harrisburg where partisanship is so common, I’m glad to see there’s a bipartisan agreement that investing education is worthwhile for the future of Pennsylvania. “But looking at the entire package on balance I cannot support it because of the damage it does to several crucial environmental funds that are supposed to be kept safe from raids like this. At a time when our clean air and water are at stake, this plan would pull millions of dollars from dedicated environmental funds to help fund the general costs of government operations. “Given the constitutional right we have to a clean environment here in Pennsylvania, I think it’s very likely that diverting money from these special funds, including the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Recycling Fund, will be found unconstitutional. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, today issued a statement following news reports that Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) would be closing its South Philadelphia refinery. “Today we learned that despite the hundreds of employees seeking to return to work after last week’s fire at PES, the company’s executives have decided to shutter the refinery,” she said. “After years of laying off employees, and maximizing profits for private equity and out-of-state corporations, PES’ decision to close its South Philadelphia refinery is especially stinging to the workers and their families. “Last week’s fire and explosion was frightening for many of us, but especially for the workers who were on site at the time and worked hard to mitigate the damage and save lives. They deserve answers to what caused last week’s fire and resulting explosion and while the investigation is underway, I will work with local labor leaders — especially from United Steelworkers, who represents the employees of the refinery, many of whom live and raise their families in Delaware County — to ensure that the displaced workers get the short-term and long-term resources they need to provide for their families. “As Secretary of the House Committee on Labor and Industry, I have already been in touch with the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to urge him to hold the company Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – With the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery scheduled to close next month following a fire at its site, state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila., issued the following statement about the economic ramifications on jobs and the economy in her district, where the refinery is situated: “The Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery is the largest refinery on the East Coast and has been the backbone of our economy for over 150 years. Closing the refinery may be a nearsighted solution that doesn’t touch on the resulting implications. These implications include the loss of 1,000 good, family sustaining jobs, as well soaring gas prices for everyone -- both at the pumps and for oil heat in homes and businesses -- once the production of roughly 325,000 gallons of oil a day cease. It’s also important to recognize that the closure of this refinery will impact numerous other businesses in our region that depend on its operation. “We’ve been at this similar crossroad before when there was discussion about closing the refinery in 2012. I worked with many parties to prevent its shutdown and save jobs then, and I’m hopeful we will be just as successful this time around. I have always sought to balance the economic and environmental concerns surrounding this refinery, and I will continue to do so. “I’m grateful Governor Wolf is involved in helping the affected workers and coordinating with Read more
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