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
HARRISBURG, April 27 – With support from the law enforcement community, Reps. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, and Seth Grove, R-York, introduced responsible legislation to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons. Under current law, people convicted of certain crimes, such as murder, kidnapping and burglary, are prohibited from carrying a firearm. However, a dangerous loophole exists. People convicted of certain attempted and conspiratorial crimes – such as attempted rape, conspiracy to commit murder or solicitation to commit robbery – are permitted to carry firearms despite the seriousness of the crimes for which they were convicted. “To be quite blunt; This makes no sense,” Grove said. “As shocking as this problem is, the legislative fix Rep. Briggs and I came up with is straightforward and simple, and will not affect any rights of any law-abiding individual to possess a firearm.” The Briggs and Grove legislation, House Bill 2275, would simply add attempted, conspiracy to commit and solicitation to commit to the very same list of serious crimes which already prohibit a person from possessing a firearm under state law. “Closing loopholes in our gun laws is a commonsense approach to keeping our communities safe. Attempting crimes and conspiring to commit crimes should result in the same firearm restrictions as committing the crimes,” Briggs said. “This bipartisan bill takes another step in preventing Read more
YEADON, April 26 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, will hold her 8 th annual Community Health Fair from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at Everest Urgent Care, 6787 Market St., Millbourne. “The community health fair is a perfect opportunity for residents of the 164 th Legislative District to receive free screenings – and get lots of health questions answered – by making just one visit,” Davidson said. “I think it’s very important for the health and safety of my constituents who may not have access to health care that my office provides this service.” Health care and program experts will be on hand to answer questions about federal and state health care programs, as well as to perform screenings and answer questions. The health fair will include: Free health screenings. Information on health wellness from providers, state and county agencies and nonprofits. Door prizes and giveaways. For more information about the health fair, those interested can call Maureen McGrory at 610-259-7016 or email email@example.com . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 26 – State Rep. Emilio Vazquez, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at Temple University to discuss alcohol poisoning prevention and education. Vazquez requested the hearing to learn more about prevention and education efforts to reduce alcohol poisoning. The proposal would strengthen House Democrats’ Plan4PA, specifically putting people first with policies that improve health and wellness and public safety. Vazquez was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “In recognition of April as Alcohol Abuse Prevention Month, I am happy to have the opportunity to host this hearing and bring awareness to alcohol abuse prevention. It’s important that the community is engaged in discussions that help to reduce alcohol abuse and that the public is fully aware of the dangers associated with it,” Vazquez said. Sturla added, “The U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated six people die of alcohol poisoning in the US each day. I thank Rep. Vazquez for hosting this hearing and discussing programs that have been proven to save lives and help the public better understand how to establish healthy boundaries with alcohol.” The committee heard testimony from: Mary Ciammetti, founder, the CTC Wellness Foundation dba “Don’t Stall, Just Call”; Dr. Robert McNamara, Read more
CHESTER, April 26 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland announced that the City of Chester was awarded a $240,000 grant to be used for the Chester Security Initiative Project. The Keystone Communities Program grant, awarded through the Department of Community and Economic Development, will be used for the purchase and installation of surveillance cameras and other associated costs. “These cameras will enhance safety and security in our community and give residents better peace of mind. I’m glad that the state awarded this grant to help improve quality of life in Chester,” said Kirkland, D-Delaware. The Keystone Communities Program is designed to encourage the creation of public-private partnerships that support local initiatives such as the growth and stability of neighborhoods and communities, social and economic diversity and a strong and secure quality of life. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 25 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on her H.B. 2210 that would expunge student disciplinary records for nonviolent offenses. Cephas requested the hearing to discuss the importance of ensuring nonviolent offenses would not have long-term negative impacts on students’ future outcomes. Cephas was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “I am excited to have the House Democratic Policy Committee here in Philadelphia to discuss my legislation. Giving students the opportunity to make amends and seek redemption for past actions is important. When it relates to nonviolent offenses, allowing them the chance to show their community they are sorry for their actions and ready to learn and grow from those mistakes is a big step in growing up and should not have a permanent negative impact on their future,” Cephas explained. Sturla added, “Mistakes are a part of life and a nonviolent infraction should not have a long-term negative impact on kids’ lives. Rep. Cephas’ bill is a great chance for those who have made mistakes to do what the school district asks to give them a clean slate and not let those mistakes forever impact the course of their future.” Testifiers included: Jeff Hullrung, school board president, Unionsville-Chadds Ford School District; James Plunkett, Read more
HARRISBURG, April 26 – Schools throughout the commonwealth would hold school safety drills as frequently as fire drills under a bill recently introduced by Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “I introduced this bill because the realities of today’s world demand that our schools—and the students and staff in them—be as prepared as possible for an attack we hope will never come,” DeLuca said. “Just as we recognize that preparedness and training are key components of surviving a fire or other building disaster, we need to ensure that students, teachers and other school staff are also prepared to face the possibility of an armed attack.” Currently, Pennsylvania schools are required to have fire drills at least once per month. DeLuca’s H.B. 2259 would require schools to alternate safety drills with fire drills on a monthly basis. Pennsylvania recently enacted a law requiring schools to have one safety drill per school year. DeLuca said that while this is a good start, it isn’t sufficient to train students, teachers and administrators how to deal with the possibility of a sudden, violent incident. “Having these drills every other month would help ensure that if trouble strikes, everyone will know his or her role,” DeLuca said. “My hope is that it would also help students, teachers and other staff feel empowered, knowing that they are practicing a plan of action. I’m encouraging all of my Read more
HARRISBURG, April 25 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery welcomes IRIS USA to Hazle Township after today’s announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf that the manufacturer will expand into Pennsylvania and create 95 jobs. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 25 – Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, has been awarded the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association inaugural Presidential Award for his efforts to maintain strong school library programs across the commonwealth staffed by certified librarians. “The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association is proud to recognize Representative Mark Longietti with their inaugural Presidential Award,” PSLA President Jennifer Bates said. Longietti will be recognized during the PSLA Awards Breakfast from 7:15 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday, May 4 during the 45 th Annual PSLA Conference at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, 325 University Drive in Hershey. “Receiving this award is a great honor and I am extremely humbled,” Longietti said. “Libraries, especially those located in our schools, are essential to our communities because they open a child’s imagination and provide a world of information to anyone seeking it.” Last year, Longietti reintroduced H.B. 740 , legislation that would require public schools to have at least one certified librarian per school. The bill was referred to the House Education Committee. “Having a professional librarian in our schools is a vital part of a youth’s education, ultimately helping them to become stronger, more independent thinkers,” said Longietti. “School librarians help provide quality library resources, can help youths achieve higher reading test scores, Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 25 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., said a bill he recently introduced could have prevented the recent racist incident at a Center City Starbucks that did nationwide damage to the images of Philadelphia and the company. "My bill would require all employers with payrolls of four or more workers to provide training for their workforce regarding all forms of discrimination and harassment. I believe that, if this were already state law, it could have prevented the racist incident at Starbucks," Rabb said. "I am confident this bill will be a win-win-win for workers, employers and customers. In the long run, my bill would save money for businesses. Think of it as prevention – spend a much smaller amount now on training, so you don't have to spend a lot more later on lawsuits and settlements, not to mention all the lost business from public-relations damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Rabb's legislation ( H.B. 2282 ) also would include interns in the definition of "employee" in Pennsylvania's non-discrimination law. "We can't allow discrimination or harassment to take place against any employee. Interns are often the most vulnerable, since they are just starting out in their careers and don't want to risk getting a bad reference. They can become easy targets because of their age, low rank in office settings, and because they often lack knowledge about their Read more
HARRISBURG, April 25 – Providing a tool to those dissatisfied with their internet service, state Rep. Pam Snyder has posted the Pennsylvania Broadband Bill of Rights on her state website, along with the form needed to file an official complaint with the state Public Utility Commission. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said she’s providing the documents – available in the “Featured News” section at www.pahouse.com/Snyder -- because many residents aren’t aware of their rights to quality broadband or the method of lodging a complaint against their service provider. “Few people know that under state law, they have the right to request and receive quality broadband from their local telephone company – and even fewer know that they can file an official complaint if that service is inadequate,” Snyder said. “These documents explain everything, including the state’s broadband upload and download speed requirements, and I’m making them available on my website as a public service.” Section 8 of the Broadband Bill of Rights, as posted on Snyder’s website, includes the PUC contacts ( www.puc.pa.gov/filing_resources/filing_complaints.aspx ) that can be used to file informal complaints and inquiries, as well as formal complaints. Section 9 includes contacts for filing additional complaints to either the Office of Consumer Advocate ( www.oca.state.pa.us ) or the Office of Small Business Advocate Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – An area senior center will receive an $82,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, announced today. The grant to Vintage Inc., will help the center continue providing vital programs and services for area residents. “Our seniors enrich our community in so many ways,” Gainey said. “It’s essential that we keep them engaged and thriving, both mentally and physically. Area centers like Vintage function as a gateway, providing access to programs on health, nutrition, financial counseling and other topics. This funding will not only help the center continue its current programs, but also develop new ones to attract more area seniors.” Vintage is one of 41 senior centers throughout the state that will receive a total of $2 million in 2017-18 Senior Community Center Grants. Funding for the grants comes from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – A plan to stem the climate of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the Capitol would be part of a bipartisan package of bills to protect workers across the state, state Rep. Leanne Krueger Braneky testified today before the House Labor and Industry Committee. Her H.B. 1965, which is prime co-sponsored by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate claims made within the General Assembly. The changes are clearly needed following the discovery of assault allegations and secret taxpayer-footed payouts for cases against legislators who were accused of sexual assault and harassment over decades, Krueger-Braneky said. “I started working on this bill six months ago after publicly sharing that I am one of the over 80 percent of women who have experienced sexual harassment,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “After I shared my own story, women who work in this Capitol started to come to me to share their stories, and I learned that many of the alleged perpetrators were legislators. I heard stories from women who were discouraged from ever filing a complaint in the first place, stories from women who faced retaliation, and stories from women who believed legislators would never be held Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, announced that he will introduce legislation in the near future that would require transparency in all school district personnel separation and settlement agreements. “School districts pay their employees with public tax dollars, and Pennsylvania taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent,” DeLuca said. “Just as elected officials should be held accountable and remain transparent with their finances and other benefits, so should school districts. Both need to be good stewards of the public funds.” DeLuca’s proposal would prohibit school districts—unless otherwise ordered by a court—from entering into agreements that contain confidentiality clauses barring disclosure of the terms reached with departing staff. He said the measure is needed to ensure continued trust and confidence in the state’s public officials. “Too often these agreements are conditioned on the terms being kept from the public,” DeLuca said. “Making deals that are closed off from public scrutiny creates doubt as to what is being done. The bill I’m planning to introduce would mandate that school personnel actions be made in the light of day, not in secret. I’m urging my colleagues to join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Margo Davidson today told members of the House Labor and Industry Committee that Pennsylvanians need her H.B. 2286 , which would extend the statute of limitations for filing complaints with the state’s Human Relations Commission. H.B. 2286 would extend the statute of limitations for filing a complaint with the HRC from 180 days to two years and provide plaintiffs a right to trial by jury. It also would provide that punitive damages and the award of attorney fees would be granted to a prevailing plaintiff. “This bill would ensure that victims and survivors have laws that represent substance in this fight against volatile workplace environments,” said Davidson, D-Delaware. “This bill also helps the many victims who hesitate to come forward due to fear of retaliation and fear of not being heard or believed. Workplace safety includes creating a culture where every employee feels safe and comfortable going to work.” Davidson presented testimony on her bill during a special Labor and Industry Committee hearing that examined a package of bills to reduce workplace discrimination and sexual harassment across the commonwealth. Davidson also referenced her #TimesUp legislation, which would expand the authority of the state Ethics Commission to investigate and take action on allegations of sexual harassment perpetrated by elected officials on all levels – including state and Read more
State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, today testified before members of the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee on her legislation that would strengthen protections against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Madden’s legislation would ensure that all workers across the state are safeguarded. Currently, coverage under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act only applies to employees with four or more employees. “My legislation would protect everyone -- 314,000 more workers, including full-time nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers, independent contractors and interns -- from workplace harassment and abuse,” Madden said. "For far too long we have left these hardworking employees vulnerable and I plan to defend them.” Madden said small companies and the employees that are instrumental in making those companies successful, are at the heart of Pennsylvania’s economy. She said thousands of employees are without legal protections against sexual harassment and discrimination. “Victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination are traumatized, and in many cases scarred for life. My legislation intends to change that scenario,” Madden said. According to the 2015 census, there are approximately 153,000 companies with four or fewer employees. Read more
CHESTER, April 24 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware, announced today a $21,863 state grant for Senior Community Services' Chester Senior Center. The grant, which will go toward renovations and improvements throughout the senior center, comes from Pennsylvania Lottery proceeds. “With many worthy senior programs and homes across the commonwealth to choose from, Chester Senior Center’s selection for this competitive grant reflects highly on its skilled management,” Kirkland said. “Congratulations are in order, and I look forward to helping bring more state investment for seniors in Chester.” Chester Senior Center was one of 41 senior centers throughout the commonwealth to receive a Department of Aging 2017-18 Senior Community Center Grant. Total investment across the state this round totals $2 million in funding from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, announced today that five low-income communities in his district have been nominated as “Qualified Opportunity Zones” under a federal program that attracts private investors to distressed areas through tax incentives. “Attracting private investors would revitalize these communities in key ways,” Harkins said. “Investments in local businesses, real estate and other ventures can bring new job opportunities and improved housing, shopping and other benefits to the hardworking residents of these communities. That’s in line with our Democratic Plan for PA, which puts people first by focusing on the essentials that give Pennsylvania families a better life.” The nominations are part of a program administered by the U.S. Treasury Department under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Under the program, states may nominate a certain percentage of census tracts as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Private investors receive tax benefits for investing capital gains in these areas and adjacent tracts. Pennsylvania was given the opportunity to designate 300 low-income community tracts as opportunity zones. Final approval from the Treasury Department is expected in May. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – As he recognizes the importance of Earth Week, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is not only fighting for clean energy, but also is pushing for stricter safety regulations for the natural gas drillers. He said he is planning to introduce legislation that would require well operators to release an annual report laying out the specific impacts their natural gas extraction technique, best known as fracking, is having on the surrounding communities. The information would include: The amount a well operator spent or has agreed to pay for temporary water supplies for affected residents; The impact of operations on infrastructure and public resources, such as sources of public drinking water supplies, roads, bridges, and publicly owned parks and wildlife areas; and The number of nondisclosure agreements a well operator has signed with individuals. “This dangerous and unconventional procedure has triggered unnecessary accidents at the expense of innocent lives for more than a decade,” Rabb said. “The public has a right to know the risks associated with fracking and well operators need to be held accountable for these hazards.” The public would have access to these reports through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website . Rabb added, “The best way to eliminate these risks is to look towards the future by utilizing clean energy resources that not only provide little risk but Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today announced Centre County will receive $382,213 in grant funding through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s 2017 Community Development Block Grant Program. Hanna said the county will use the funding to administer two projects; replacing a water main in Millheim Borough and improving handicap access in two Bellefonte Borough parks. “This funding is vital to replacing outdated infrastructure and improving the quality of life in our community,” Hanna said. “I was happy to support the Centre County commissioners in this regard.” “The commissioners use CDBG awards to garner additional funding to meet important needs throughout the community,” county Administrator Margaret Gray said. “The commissioners approved the contract this morning and expressed appreciation to our federal and state legislators for this critical funding. The county will now begin the process of executing and returning the signed contract to the department.” Hanna said Clinton and Centre counties have been fortunate to receive significant CDBG funding over the years and this award is no exception. “As a legislator, it is important to me to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely and reinvested back into our community,” Hanna said. “The economic improvements we make today are sure to have lasting impacts in our community for many, many Read more
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