PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., released the following statement urging Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to call the House back to Harrisburg to wrap up the 2017-18 state budget: “On June 30, I voted for a budget that would increase education funding in Philadelphia by $34 million. While I have worked with my colleagues to find a way to pay for it, House Republican leaders have failed to come up with any clear solutions. However, Democrats have presented several solutions to generate new and more reliable streams of revenue our Commonwealth needs. “We can start by raising the minimum wage and implementing a shale tax on wealthy gas drillers. A minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania would have to work 83 hours a week in order to rent a modest one-bedroom home without any assistance. Not only would increasing the minimum wage give Philadelphia families more money in their pockets, but it would even save our Commonwealth about $50 million. “I am ready to get back to work and fight to balance our budget and make sure that Pennsylvanians receive the services they need. The Republican leadership needs to return to Harrisburg and let us do our jobs. Because if they don’t, our children who need that $34 million will be hurt the most.” ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – Members of the Philadelphia Delegation in the state House of Representatives today urged Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to call the House back to Harrisburg to wrap up the 2017-18 state budget. "The main spending bill was passed on June 30, on a bipartisan basis, and it became law on July 10. So now we have to pay for that budget. And we need recurring, sustainable revenue to do it. Another year of mostly using gimmicks, what I refer to as 'smoke and mirrors,' will put us at risk of more credit downgrades, which just cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more. Unfortunately, Republican leaders shut down the House without finishing the job," said delegation chair Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Legislators outlined three major solutions to Pennsylvania's revenue gap that should receive votes in the full House: A severance tax on natural gas drilling companies: "Pennsylvania has already given away more than $2 billion in potential revenue by writing the natural gas law to favor the industry and shortchanging Pennsylvania residents. We simply want a severance tax comparable to the one every other natural gas-producing state in the nation have already put in place," said Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. Closing corporate tax loopholes: "Without closing the so-called Delaware loophole here in Pennsylvania, we lose hundreds of millions in revenues each year by allowing large corporations to avoid state Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila. today announced she will host a National Night Out event for residents of the 203rd Legislative District. It will be held 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1 at Masjidullah, Inc., 7433 Limekiln Pike, 19138. Fitzgerald said there will be games and activities, food, information about state and local resources and a chance to meet with officers from the 14th and 35th police districts. “Public safety is one of my top legislative interests, so I felt it was fitting to host this event,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s great to have the community come together and have some fun while getting to know the law enforcement in their neighborhood. “This event is a great way for everyone to work together and help crack down on crime.” National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the announcement of Chancellor Frank Brogan’s retirement from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: “Chancellor Frank Brogan – our Commonwealth’s top higher education official – will be retiring in September. I would like to thank Chancellor Brogan for his lifelong commitment to public service and his impressive career as an educator. As a former educator myself, as well as a trustee at my alma mater Millersville University, I fully understand the challenges that he faced while making critical decisions about the future of our State System. “While we will miss Chancellor Brogan’s leadership, his retirement does provide us with an opportunity to refocus our System. Currently, our System is at a crossroads. Several of our state colleges and universities are facing uncertain futures. Simply put, we don’t know what could happen. As a member of the task force to redesign Cheyney University – our nation’s first Historically Black University – it is vital that the General Assembly and the new chancellor recommit ourselves, and the resources needed, to meet the needs of all of our state schools. The future of Cheyney University must be made a priority by both parties. Doing otherwise is unacceptable. “I have full faith that our Read more
EYNON, July 17 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Kevin Haggerty. Jeff Saunders of the American Legion will be in Haggerty's Eynon office -- 307 Betty St., Suite 4 -- from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 24 to provide information on services available to veterans and their families, including retirement, benefits and more. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help, but anyone interested is recommended to schedule an appointment through Haggerty’s office at 570-876-1111. Read more
GLENSIDE, July 14 – Seniors age 65 or older can obtain a free SEPTA Key Senior Photo ID card any weekday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the district office of state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, 115 E. Glenside Ave., Suite 8, Glenside, PA 19038. SEPTA is in the process of transitioning to electronic key cards for all of its services, including the Seniors Ride Free program, which allows seniors to ride free at all times on buses, trolleys and subways, pay $1 on regional rail for travel within Pennsylvania and pay 50 percent of the weekday fare for travel to and from New Jersey and Delaware. “In an effort to provide our seniors every chance to benefit from these programs, I wanted to ensure that my office would be available,” McCarter said. “Many seniors within this community rely on SEPTA services for work, shopping and medical appointments, so it’s important that we provide the necessary information and support to make their trips a little easier.” McCarter’s office has processed more SEPTA Senior Key applications than any other legislative office in southeastern Pennsylvania so far. Seniors should bring a state-issued proof of birthdate (such as a photo driver’s license or Pennsylvania non-driver’s photo ID) to McCarter’s office. Applicants will then fill out a form to have a photograph taken; SEPTA will mail the completed key card directly to the applicant when it is ready. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 14 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., joined her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to push for a reasonable measure to help bring in sustainable revenue for Pennsylvania – a severance tax on the extraction of Marcellus Shale resources. DeLissio signed a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai urging him to bring to a vote a fair tax on Marcellus Shale. She also supported a discharge resolution calling on the House to bring up H.B. 113, a severance tax measure sponsored by Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery. “With Pennsylvania’s credit ratings at risk, we cannot continue to borrow our way out of this fiscal crisis or to continue to use one-time transfers as we have for the past two administrations that I have been in office,” DeLissio said. “A fair severance tax is supported by an overwhelming number of Pennsylvania residents, and it would help us generate the recurring revenue that we desperately need.” DeLissio is a co-prime sponsor with colleague Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, of H.B. 1401 , which would create a 3.2 percent severance tax on unconventional natural gas extraction, in addition to the existing impact fee. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a severance, or drilling, tax. Support for a severance tax is growing on both sides of the aisle. House Bill 1401 has bipartisan co-sponsors, DeLissio said, and Republicans and Democrats signed the letter Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the Greene County commissioners have been awarded a $750,000 federal grant for waterline work in Monongahela Township. The grant is crucial to alleviating water shortage and quality issues that have plagued residents for many years. Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder is launching a two-pronged effort to expand availability of high-speed internet service with an appeal to Microsoft to include Pennsylvania in its broadband expansion effort and a four-bill legislative package. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 13 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., will hold her 66 th Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. July 26 in the Wolcoff Auditorium at Roxborough Memorial Hospital , 5800 Ridge Ave. The meeting, which is open to all constituents, will focus on legislation DeLissio is proposing to improve Pennsylvania’s health care system, as well as discussing the complexities of the 2017-18 state budget. DeLissio will discuss a bill she will soon introduce to establish the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan. House Bill 1688 would result in better access to health care and will control costs. “Given the nationwide focus on how to best provide affordable health care, this is a perfect time to talk about what we can do to improve the system here in Pennsylvania,” DeLissio said. “This piece of legislation will allow access to care for all Pennsylvanians and provide a means to control costs. I am looking forward to the opportunity of sharing the details of the bill to help my constituents understand how a Single Payer Medicare For All Plan would be advantageous to the commonwealth.” DeLissio also will update community members with the latest on the state budget progress. “The state legislature adopted a spending package, but we still need to determine the revenue sources we will use to pay for it,” DeLissio said. “The legislature is asked to make difficult decisions in reconciling all of our citizens’ Read more
Rep. Jake Wheatley requests that the Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives return to Harrisburg and complete work on the overdue 2017-18 state budget. “I am requesting that the speaker of the House call the House back into session and keep working until we successfully vote on a revenue package that pays all of the bills of the commonwealth,” said Wheatley, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. Read more
ALLENTOWN, July 12 – Area veterans are invited to take part in a support program next week at the office of state Rep. Peter Schweyer. A representative from the American Legion will be in Schweyer's office -- 1912 S. Fourth St., Allentown -- from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 21 to provide information on services available to veterans and their families. The American Legion representatives are available to discuss pensions and other compensation, education, health care and death benefits. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help, but anyone interested in speaking to the advisers is recommended to schedule an appointment through Schweyer’s office at 610-791-6270. The help is available on the third Friday of every month at Schweyer’s office. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 12 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., said she is excited that the Samuel Gompers Elementary School, located in the 192nd Legislative District, has become part of the second cohort of neighborhood schools selected to become a community school. Community schools are public schools with a full-time coordinator who works with the entire school community to identify and meet the needs of the whole child. School coordinators attempt to address barriers students face at home and in school. This includes increasing access to medical services, expanding after-school programs, as well as providing opportunities for job training. Community schools ultimately identify resources to address the out-of-school needs of students to reduce the demands of school staff and to improve the academic performance of the students. “Samuel Gompers Elementary School being selected to become a community school is a victory for our community,” Cephas said. “This new partnership will bring in programs and resources needed to ensure that we are addressing the issues our children and their families face in a holistic way. With institutions like St. Joseph University and Science Leadership Academy High School in the immediate area, this opportunity has the potential to create a pipeline for our students to achieve academic success. Investments and strategic alignments like these are instrumental to improving the quality of our neighborhoods and finally gives Read more
Republicans in the General Assembly are using the budget process to attack Medicaid patients in Pennsylvania. While Gov. Wolf, Democrats and others in the state are scrambling to find a way to protect patients should the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act by Trump and Republicans in Washington succeed, Republicans in Pennsylvania are joining in that attack on tens of thousands of our residents. Republicans want to put families through more red tape to keep the health coverage that allows them to continue working and supporting their families. Administering the requirements proposed by Republicans will chew up already scarce state dollars we should be using for healthcare services. Increasing the cost burden for Medicaid patients will cause many of them to lose coverage because they can't afford it. That means higher rates of uninsured, more frequent chronic healthcare problems and more costly emergency room care that is expensive for hospitals and taxpayers. Higher premiums will punish many workers who work full time but don't make much money. It forces their families to choose between getting the health care they need, paying the rent or buying groceries. Requiring Medicaid patients to "lock-in" their plans adds another layer of bureaucracy and administrative costs that's a waste of money -- only 1% of patients switched their plans within the last year. Republicans have ignored proposals to save significant amounts of state money by Read more
HARRISBURG, July 11 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, along with the Berks County Sheriff’s Office, will host a free gun safety seminar from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Muhlenberg Township building, 210 George St., Reading. Participants in the seminar will discuss firearms safety, safe firearm storage, and laws pertaining to personal ownership, concealed carry and self-defense, plus more. The event is free for local adults. Children accompanied by a parent or guardian are also welcome to attend. Space is limited. Anyone interested in participating must pre-register by calling Rozzi’s district office at 610-921-8921. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 11 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., announced he’s hosting a free criminal record expungement and sealing clinic from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 25 at St. Mark’s Church, 4442 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia. “A sealed record can change a person’s quality of life and wellbeing almost instantly. It means more opportunities for employment, education and other benefits that in different circumstances would never become available,” Dawkins said. “This is another effort to give people with criminal record a second chance and deter recidivism.” Criminal record expungement allows a person convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor or a second-degree misdemeanor, if at least 10 years have passed, respectively, since they completed their sentence, to request the opportunity to appear before a judge and request an order for limited access of their criminal record. For more information, residents may contact Dawkins' office at 215-744-7901 . Read more
HARRISBURG, July 10 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, urged Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today to veto S.B. 624, which would reduce protections to streams where coal companies seek to mine underneath them and would interfere with pending litigation. The bill passed the Senate today and is expected to be on the governor’s desk soon. “I urge you to veto this bill,” Vitali wrote in the letter . “The legislation is both unconstitutional and bad public policy.” Vitali said S.B. 624 violates Article III, Section 32 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which prohibits special legislation. Senate Bill 624 is directed at one particular coal company, CONSUL in one particular location, Ryerson Station State Park, he said. Introduced by Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the bill would directly affect a pending case before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB Docket No. 2014-072-B) relating to CONSOL Energy’s longwall mining activity in and near this Greene County state park. Vitali said the bill also violates Article I section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (the Environmental Rights Amendment), as recently interpreted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Longwall mining activity by CONSOL energy under Ryerson Station State Park has already caused permanent damage to the park. In 2005, mining by CONSOL permanently damaged Duke Lake in the park. “In addition to Ryerson Station State Park, the bill Read more
UPPER DARBY, July 10 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, is hosting a senior services event from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 13 at Watkins Center, 326 Watkins Ave., Upper Darby . Davidson said there will be resources for senior citizens, refreshments and that her staff will be on-site to provide state services and free notary service. They also will be taking photos for the new SEPTA senior ID cards. "This is a great opportunity for seniors, their family members and caregivers to learn more about programs and services available to them in our community," Davidson said. This event is part of a series of Senior Celebration events Davidson is hosting throughout the 164 th District of Yeadon, Upper Darby, Millbourne, Lansdowne and East Lansdowne, in places where seniors live and meet including Simpson Gardens, Grace Court and Watkins Center, St. Alician Homes and Manor Care. For more information, please call Maureen McGrory at 610-259-7016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 10 – State Rep. Jared Solomon will hold a Small Business Summit from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 15 at Al-Sham Restaurant, 6738 Bustleton Ave., to provide constituents the tools to start or grow small businesses. "Over the past few months, many constituents have inquired about starting a business or expanding an existing one. In response to those inquiries, I decided to convene a summit to answer critical and practical questions about starting a business,” Solomon said. “There’s a wealth of resources available to help businesses that people aren’t aware of. This seminar will provide information on city, state and federal agencies and organizations that can help folks get on track and take advantage of these opportunities.” During the event, attendees will hear from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and local entrepreneurs. In addition, state and local agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations will be on hand to provide information about how to start and sustain a business and grant programs available for small-business owners. "Small businesses drive the economy and informing constituents about what is involved in creating a small business could ultimately help drive jobs and grow our economy. I am a strong believer in empowerment and information dissemination. We need to support the development of small businesses and the Read more
HARRISBURG, July 10 – House Democratic leaders praised Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to let the state’s spending plan become law tonight without his signature. “We passed a good bill that invests money where it’s needed – education, protection of seniors and services for people in need, and wider treatment of heroin addiction. Now we’ve got to find a way to pay for it with real recurring revenue,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “That work’s not done yet. We need to stay here and get it done. We have to do it in a responsible way to help the people of Pennsylvania.” House Appropriations Committee Democratic Chairman Joe Markosek said the Republican revenue package offered over the weekend fell short in a number of ways. “No more than 18 percent of their so-called ‘revenue package’ is actual recurring revenue, even if we accept some of their generous assumptions about what the new gaming taxes might raise,” Markosek said. “With a budget gap well above $2 billion, Republican leadership offered a plan that’s heavily reliant on borrowing more money and increasing state debt just to pay our current operating costs.” Democratic Whip Mike Hanna said the bipartisan commitment to improving education at all levels requires a similar bipartisan commitment to find real recurring revenue. “Democrats and Republicans need to compromise Read more
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