PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Emilio Vázquez, D-Phila., will turn his offices into collecting sites for supplies to aid Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. “Our hearts and prayers are with our families in Puerto Rico,” he said. “We may not be there physically, but we are certainly suffering the destruction that Hurricane Maria left behind. Nearly the entire island has no power, water or any type of communication.” “Also, the fact that a lot of Puerto Ricans – including me – haven’t been able to hear the voice of their loved ones makes the situation even worse. That’s why I partnered with local nonprofit organizations to collect supplies and help Puerto Rico in the process of recovery. It may take a while, but Puerto Rico will shine brighter than it did before.” Items can be dropped off from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at 511 W. Courtland St. or from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 1421 W. Susquehanna Ave. Vázquez also is calling for volunteers to help organize items. For more information, contact his constituent service office at (215) 457-5281. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., have introduced legislation ( H.B. 1809 ) that would prohibit the use of electroconvulsive therapy on children across Pennsylvania. “The use of electroshock therapy on children is outright cruel and unacceptable,” Kinsey said. “The side effects of ECT can be debilitating even for adults. Children should not be forced to undergo a treatment that can have a lasting impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.” “While ECT remains a controversial treatment for adults, it’s deplorable when done on children who have no say on whether to agree to this brutal treatment,” Murt said. “Yet, kids are still being shocked today. This treatment can cause brain damage. To me, it’s a form of child abuse.” ECT, also known as electroshock therapy, is used to treat a number of mental illnesses. It sends up to 450 volts of electricity through an individual’s brain, inducing a grand mal seizure. The Food & Drug Administration reports that these seizures can cause complications, including heart attacks, difficulty breathing, confusion, permanent memory loss, brain damage and even death. “Many side effects of ECT can be dangerous for children who are still growing and developing into adults,” Kinsey added. The nationwide statistics for ECT are alarming, with an estimated 100,000 Americans Read more
Rep. Adam Ravenstahl won unanimous approval from the House Professional Licensure Committee for his House Bill 1737, which would enable chiropractic educational programs to expand in Pennsylvania . Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is announcing the co-recipients of the 2017 Charlie Vizzini Volunteerism Award – Tiffany A. Jones and Conner C. Hagins, both of Johnstown. Those 72 nd Legislative District residents will be honored at the 2 nd Annual Charlie Vizzini Award banquet, scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Noon-Collins Inn, 114 E. High St., Ebensburg. The award is named after Charlie Vizzini, who amassed more than 8,000 hours by volunteering in Burns’ legislative office – fielding more than 1,000 constituent service matters and saving taxpayers an estimated $80,000. “Through this award, we’re trying to recognize someone in the district who has volunteered to make the community a better place,” Burns said. “In reviewing this year’s nominations, there is no question that Tiffany and Conner fit that bill. They are fine examples of being unselfish and contributing to the well-being of others.” According to her nomination essay, Jones has been especially active in St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where as a member of its Youth Group she’s volunteered to help people with yard work, painting, odd jobs and other home-related projects they cannot physically perform or afford. Jones has traveled to a remote part of Peru to deliver toiletries and other items to a village where they conducted a Bible School for youngsters. Her other volunteer Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and state Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Washington/Allegheny, released the following statement in response to a written comment by Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 then-Chief Paul Smith: “There is no place in society for racism and hate, and the language used by Mr. Smith should be eliminated from everyone’s vocabulary,” Ortitay said. “That is a derogatory and hurtful term and should never be used. I strongly condemn this type of language. It is my understanding that Mr. Smith resigned Tuesday afternoon. “Those in positions of authority and leaders in the community need to be careful about the language they use. Words matter. Others, especially children, take note of the language used by those in positions of influence and the attitudes promoted by such language. We need to set a better example of respect and compassion for each other.” "Chief Smith's behavior was out of step with the values of the average Pennsylvanian," Harris said. "Unlike athletes, celebrities, or even other citizens, he is a public servant who has held the trust of the general public in the capacity in which he serves them. That capacity came under question, due to his behavior, and he did the right thing by resigning. “He could no longer be trusted to serve the general public in his current capacity as the very Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, will partner with Seniors for Safe Driving to offer a state Transportation Department-approved class at the Portage Senior Center that could earn participants a 5 percent automobile insurance discount for three years. Burns said the discount, mandated by state law, is one benefit of the $16 class scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, the other being that it sharpens awareness for older drivers. “My office has offered these classes in the past and we’ve had a great reception,” Burns said. “Any time we can do something to save seniors some money, while helping them learn to stay safer behind the wheel, we’ll do it.” The Portage Senior Center is located at 505 Farren St. in Portage. This will be classroom instruction only; no on-the-road driving or classroom testing will occur. Burns said the course is specifically geared toward mature drivers – those 55 or older – and allows them to refresh driving techniques, regain lost confidence and develop a positive driving attitude. Anyone desiring to register or obtain more information is asked to contact Burns’ Portage office at (814) 736-7339. More information on the program can also be found at www.SeniorsForSafeDriving.com or by calling 800-559-4880. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., welcomed over 6,000 attendees to his annual Puerto Rican Coquí Festival, this year to promote relief efforts for Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and María. “I’m thrilled by the amazing turnout we had this year. Particularly, because we want to raise awareness on Puerto Rico’s current situation and funds to help rebuild the island,” Cruz said. “María was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in almost 100 years. Thousands lost everything. Millions remain without power, water, food and medical supplies. It is our responsibility to stand with our families and friends along the way.” Cruz said he wanted to thank Aspira, Penalta Food Market, Classic Pizza, Cousins Food Market, Impact Services, Hungarian Club, S & F Meat Corp., Mayor Jim Kenney, Gov. Tom Wolf, community partners and volunteers. Cruz is encouraging people to donate at www.concilio.net/donate and to find out more information on how to help visiting www.unitedforpuertorico.com . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., will speak at a news conference hosted by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and representatives from the Gray Coalition at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Bullock will urge Amtrak to rename 30th Street Station as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.” Bullock is a co-sponsor of H.R. 419 , which urges Congress to direct Amtrak to comply with H.R. 4838 of 2014 and immediately rename the 30th Street Station as the "William H. Gray III 30th Street Station." Also scheduled to attend are state Reps. W. Curtis Thomas and Jordan Harris, both D-Phila. Media coverage is invited . ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, recognized the Morrisville Little League 12-and-under softball team in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday for the team’s state championship win. Morrisville clinched the state title July 16 in a 15-0 win over Clearfield. The Morrisville team, led by coach Joe Sesar, previously won the District 21 and Section 8 titles and went on to make it to the final four of the Eastern Regional Tournament. Warren and Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, congratulated the team on the floor of the House on Tuesday. “Our community is very proud of these talented athletes, and I’m grateful to their coaches and families for supporting them throughout their outstanding season,” Warren said. “It’s a pleasure to be able to congratulate them on a job well done.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – Kicking off “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania, and continuing to promote a plan for Pennsylvania that puts people first, state Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, along with state Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe, announced today their efforts to advocate and raise awareness about the growing “diaper gap” among many families living in communities across the state. Earlier in the day, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by Hill-Evans and Youngblood ( H.R. 506 ) dedicating the week of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 as “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in the Commonwealth. Youngblood said the basic, yet essential, necessity of having a reliable stream of clean diapers for babies, and incontinence products for adults, is often overlooked by many lawmakers and government officials. “We need to focus on a clear plan for Pennsylvania – one that puts people first and establishes a new way forward for our state,” Youngblood said. “Access to a reliable supply of clean diapers is a necessity for the health and well-being of Pennsylvania's children and incontinent adults, but, unfortunately, across our commonwealth, and across this country, there is a growing epidemic as many working families and seniors on fixed incomes are simply unable to afford disposable diapers and undergarments. The long-term Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the sixth annual Greene County Senior Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at the Greene County Fairgrounds near Waynesburg. “The Senior Fair provides a one-stop shop for seniors to access helpful resources in their community,” Snyder said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – The work of Veterans Courts currently operating in 20 counties was recognized yesterday as the House approved a resolution put forth by state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny. The resolution was presented to Supreme Court Justice Debra McCloskey Todd by Readshaw and Lt. Gov. Michael Stack today in Stack’s office. Readshaw’s H.R. 498 noted that Veterans Courts, which started in Lackawanna County in 2009, provide a problem-solving alternative for Pennsylvania’s 1 million veterans, offering comprehensive treatment, resources and support – with the goals of encouraging rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. “These courts take into account the special needs of veterans who come in contact with the criminal justice system, and they’ve proven effective in addressing veterans’ unique issues,” Readshaw said. “By taking into account addiction, mental illness or co-occurring disorders, these courts are able to direct veterans to services, benefits and programs that help them to again become productive, law-abiding citizens.” A key feature of these courts, said Readshaw, is guidance from veteran mentors who are supervised by specialized probation officers, along with the availability of treatment from the Veterans Administration to address underlying problems related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Readshaw’s resolution also acknowledged the key roles Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Thomas Mehaffie, R-Dauphin, today announced they introduced legislation to bring clarity to parents in the process of choosing where to send their children for child care. “Parents normally make decisions on child care based on cost and convenience, but they need to add quality to the mix,” said Solomon. “Our legislation requires that all centers post on their public-facing window – and website, if they have one – how many Keystone Stars their center has out of four. This legislation provides much-needed information that increases and improves parent choice, protects our children, and allows the free market to thrive in the economy for child care.” Keystone STARS is one of the largest and most mature quality rating and improvement systems in the nation. It is an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania. The performance standards are grouped into four levels. Each level builds on the previous and it utilizes research-based best practices to promote quality early learning environments and positive child outcomes. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, the early learning program, partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management. Mehaffie said, “Deciding which child Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 26 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., will attend a news conference hosted by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and representatives from the Gray Coalition at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station to urge Amtrak to comply with a congressional resolution to rename the 30th Street Station as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.” “Congressman Gray not only represented Pennsylvania’s second congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, but he did so with dignity while never forgetting his history in Philadelphia,” Thomas said. “He was a strong advocate for funding infrastructure and public services. In fact, he was key in preventing the elimination of funding for Amtrak and managed to secure the largest investment for restoration of the 30 th Street Station for the 20 th Century. “His stewardship extended to, among other things, securing funding for New Freedom Theatre, the new North Philadelphia Train Station, the William B. Moore Sr. apartments, and other support for social services and economic development in Philadelphia. “Even after he resigned from Congress in 1991, it was so that he could take on a new role with the United Negro College Fund. He was responsible for securing the first $1 million investment from the Gates Foundation to help disadvantaged students receive quality educations.” In the summer of 2014, the U.S. Congress, in Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today hosted a news conference to announce a $250,000 Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant he helped secure. The grant will be used in Harris’ district in the following neighborhoods: Point Breeze, Grays Ferry, Graduate Hospital, and Kingsessing. “Thank you to the state Department of Community and Economic Development for continuing to invest in communities that need it most,” Harris said. “Many older residents living on fixed incomes cannot afford tree trimming and removal services. This grant will help revitalize our community and address a pressing quality-of-life issue.” The grant will be used to remove overgrown and unwanted vegetation and debris from community common spaces, alleyways and commercial corridors. The funds will also go toward training to provide returning citizens with tree trimming and removal skills. Harris was joined by representatives from Ready, Willing and Able, NSA Education Network, and Surge Recovery. “These grant dollars serve a dual purpose: they allow us to work with our community partners and assist returning citizens by providing them with valuable skills,” Harris said. “These individuals will be able to work under the guidance of trained professionals to develop a skill set that will be a tremendous asset to our community. Once Read more
State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, said he is pleased that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously approved his resolution ( H.R. 489 ) designating September 2017 as “Military Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. Schweyer said his legislation focuses on the suicide rate of veterans returning from recent deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. “My resolution brings attention to the need for additional suicide prevention efforts and awareness in Pennsylvania,” Schweyer said. “Our veterans fight for our freedom and protect us every day and now we can help to provide them with mental health programs when they return home.” According to Schweyer, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study found that nearly 8,000 veterans committed suicide in 2010, an average of 22 veterans per day. That particular suicide rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the suicide rate among civilians of similar demographics. Schweyer said the Lehigh Valley has a number of fabulous organizations such as One Fight Foundation, Hope for Veterans and Treatment Trends that provide guidance to our returning men and women. In 2012, an Austin Texas newspaper, The American-Statesmen, investigated the deaths of 266 veterans in Texas who served during either the Iraq or Afghanistan war. The study found that 45 of the 266 veterans committed suicide, making it the fourth-leading cause of death behind blindness, accidents and drug–related Read more
LEVITTOWN, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, will hold a free document shredding event from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, across the street from her district office at 4530 New Falls Road. There is a limit of five bags or boxes, and paper clips must be removed. All paperwork will be shredded on-site and recycled. Those with questions may call her office at 267-580-2660. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 – State Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, along with state Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe, have partnered together for the Fourth Annual Diaper Need Awareness Week Capitol Diaper Drive, a two-week event held in the East Wing Rotunda of the state Capitol building. Members of the General Assembly, flanked by advocates and nonprofit organizations working to reduce the diaper gap in Pennsylvania, will host a news conference at noon Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the East Wing Rotunda , recognizing “Diaper Need Awareness Week” and promoting the Fourth Annual Capitol Diaper Drive. Donations of unopened diapers, wipes and other products, including incontinent products and disposable adult undergarments, for the diaper drive will be collected in the East Wing Rotunda from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day for two weeks, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 6 . The diaper drive is being held in conjunction with Hill-Evans’ and Youngblood’s H.R. 506 , a resolution recognizing “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania, which is scheduled for a House vote on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Last year, more than 5,000 diapers were collected during this bipartisan event to raise awareness of Pennsylvania’s growing diaper need. Labeled donation bins will also be placed in locations around the Capitol. For more information, contact Youngblood's office at 717-772-9920, or Blake’s office at Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today announced that legislation that would designate a bridge on a portion of State Route 1005, also known as Castor Avenue, as the Officer Gary Frank Skerski Memorial Bridge was unanimously approved by the Transportation Committee. Skerski was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 6, 2006, while responding to a reported armed robbery at a café near the intersection of Arrott and Adams avenues in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. “This man was a hero in the truest sense of the word,” Dawkins said. “He devoted and gave his life to protect our people. We will always remember his sacrifice and we will work to keep his legacy alive.” Skerski had served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years and was assigned to the 15th District. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, the League of Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was a parishioner of St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church in Port Richmond. Reps. Angel Cruz and John Taylor are co-sponsors of the bill. The legislation ( H.B. 1778 ) now awaits full House consideration. Read more
Federal, state and local officials today joined family members of Spc. Dale J. Kridlo to dedicate the bridge that carries Route 11 over the Susquehanna River between Pittston and West Pittston. Kridlo, a member of the 27 th Engineer Battalion, 20 th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 7, 2010. “As a native of Greater Pittston, this dedication memorializes Dale’s sacrifice and service to the United States and will serve as a perpetual reminder of his unselfish commitment to all who cross this bridge,” Carroll stated. Kridlo, 33, was killed in action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, during a route clearing mission near the Pakistan border when his unit was attacked. Kridlo was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among an array of medals and ribbons for his service to our country. “Corporal Kridlo was a bridge fortified with courage, built with passion and purpose. His life, like the bridge we dedicate in his honor today, will span the ages and forever stand as a testament to the contribution he has made to his family and country,” said Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne/Carbon. “The dedicated men and women of our country’s Armed Forces risk their lives across the globe every day to protect our freedoms. As we are reminded by Specialist Kridlo, these risks are often extraordinary and can be Read more
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