HARRISBURG, March 26 – Perpetrating academic fraud, like what occurred over two decades involving no-show classes at the University of North Carolina, would be criminally punishable in Pennsylvania under a bill proposed by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila. His bill, which will be introduced into the House Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks, would legally define academic fraud as a felony. "When a college or university cheats for its students to keep scholarships or to remain competitive in an athletic arena, it is literally stealing from students and in many cases taxpayers," said Kinsey, D-Phila. "That is a crime, and it’s time we treat it as such." Academic fraud is not currently punishable in criminal courts. Under the proposal, a person would be charged with a third-degree felony if he or she attempted to or helped a student obtain a credit, grade or test score by fraudulent means, or changed a score, grade or credit in exchange for goods or services. A perpetrator involving student athletes would be charged with a second-degree felony if he or she accepted goods or services for teaching a no-show class, steered a student athlete into a no-show class for the sake of athletic eligibility, attempted to or forged a grade or credit, or systematically conducted fraudulent business to ensure a student athlete’s academic eligibility. UNC last year disclosed academic fraud, which is believed to have taken place Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, recently introduced two resolutions he said will bring awareness in April to protecting the Pennsylvania youth. House Resolution 187 will recognize April 18 through 25 as “National Infant Immunization Week” in the commonwealth. “Following a schedule and immunizing early in life is one of the best ways parents can protect their children,” Schweyer said. “Taking these two important steps is so easy and they prevent families from facing potentially deadly consequences. “As a parent and a former health care executive, it goes without saying that I support immunizations. My wife and I have made sure that our children are fully immunized, and we encourage all parents to do the responsible thing when medically possible and vaccinate their children, too.” House Resolution 192 would designate April 2015 as “Alcohol Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Schweyer said this resolution is aimed at keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. “It goes without saying that consumption of alcohol by minors is a dangerous practice,” Schweyer said. “We have a responsibility as a society to remind minors about the dangers of consuming alcohol, while also reminding adults that they have a significant role to play in preventing this behavior.” Schweyer said he is optimistic the House will unanimously Read more
CONSHOHOCKEN, March 25 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, will hold three town hall meetings for residents in the 148th Legislative District. Daley said these meetings coming up in April will give residents a chance to hear about Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget and how it impacts them and their community. Daley will also discuss the issue of fair education funding. “With a new governor and new legislature in Harrisburg, I feel this budget is providing the 'fresh start' that the governor has been touting even before he took office,” Daley said. “I would like to give all my constituents an opportunity to ask questions about what this budget plan would mean to them and their families.” Daley’s town hall meetings will be held: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 7 , Narberth Borough Hall, 100 Conway Ave., 19072. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 , Ambler Borough Hall, 122 E. Butler Pike, 19002. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 16 , Plymouth Township Building, 700 Belvoir Road, Plymouth Meeting, 19462. Daley said she invites all of her constituents to attend, and those who do also may obtain important information on such issues as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, health care and family services. Read more
The Pennsylvania Game Commission supports state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s bill that would transfer the responsibility of distributing antlerless deer hunting licenses from county treasurers to the commission. "We are in favor of the bill," said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. "We think it is high time to move into the 21st century with issuing antlerless deer licenses."
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., has announced her support for today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring accommodations for pregnant workers in the workforce.
The Supreme Court ruled on behalf of Peggy Young, a United Parcel Service worker who was placed on unpaid leave after she became pregnant. Young had argued that she was entitled to the same "light duty" assignments as were available to those injured on the job. UPS had argued that she was being treated as all other workers who suffered "off-the-job" illnesses or conditions.
HARRISBURG, March 25 – Centre County state Rep. Scott Conklin released the following statement congratulating Sgt. Adam Hartswick for his commitment to the U.S. Army following his retirement ceremony held today in Bethesda, Md.: "Regretfully, I could not be with Adam today because my legislative duties find me in Harrisburg taking part in budget hearings before the House Appropriations Committee. However, my thoughts are solidly with Adam and his family. "I would like to extend my personal thank you to an exemplary soldier and young man. Getting to know Adam through our local work together is a true privilege. The signing of the Sgt. Adam Hartswick Interchange bill into law is a career highlight of mine. "Adam is a true inspiration to his family, the community he calls home and his fellow soldiers who are overcoming adversity just as he has. "Sergeant Hartswick has a bright future ahead of him and I am certain that what he does in his next phase of life will be just as meaningful as his military service. "Congratulations. Today, we salute you." Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, has introduced legislation to implement ethical standards and campaign contribution prohibitions for members of the state’s public pension boards and the elected officials with the authority to appoint them. "These good-government concepts are not new; similar restrictions already apply to the banking and gaming industries. It’s time that we eliminate any appearance of impropriety in the management of our public pension systems and rebuild the public’s trust in the systems," Caltagirone said. House Bill 845 would ban all gifts to individuals serving on the State and Public School employees' retirement systems and the officials with the authority to appoint them. "It would also close the revolving door between service on a public pension board and private sector firms doing business with the public pension systems. "I have struck a nerve in Harrisburg and there are efforts afoot to silence me and I’m reminded daily of the consequences of being a maverick. I understand that the powerful interests I challenge want to continue with the status quo but my responsibility is to my constituents and the taxpayers," Caltagirone said. The bill also would strictly prohibit all political contributions to board members and officials with the authority to appoint them. "I believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth for me to Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Mark Longietti will serve as co-chairman of the bicameral, bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus. “I’m pleased to take a leadership role in the efforts to advance and expand the life science industry in Pennsylvania, which is an important cog in our economy,” said Longietti, D-Mercer. “By working together, we can create an environment that will allow this industry to thrive here in the Keystone State." The Life Sciences Caucus develops legislation that supports Pennsylvania’s biotechnology, medical device and diagnostic, and pharmaceutical industries, and academic research institutions. It has 72 members. Longietti joins state Reps. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery; Warren Kampf, R-Chester; and Scott Petri, R-Bucks; in leading the House Life Sciences Caucus. State Sen. Robert Mensch, R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery, will co-chair the Senate Life Sciences Caucus with state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester. “The Life Sciences Caucus addresses policy issues of importance to the life sciences industry in Pennsylvania,” said Christopher P. Molineaux, president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania Bio. “The leadership and support demonstrated by Representative Longietti and Senator Mensch will play a crucial role as Pennsylvania becomes a global leader in the life sciences industry.” Pennsylvania Bio is the statewide trade association for the life sciences in Pennsylvania. Read more
ERIE, March 25 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from business leaders and representatives from the tourism industry about Pennsylvania’s economy and potential for job growth at a hearing requested by state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie.
HARRISBURG, March 24 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, the House Democratic whip, today released the following statement as a result of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and Chancellor Frank Brogan’s recent testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee. “As a member of the legislature since 1991 and a PASSHE board member since 2004, I want to convey my thoughts regarding the proposed budget allocation, tuition freeze and Chancellor Brogan’s comments about not having the authority to commit to Governor Wolf’s request at this time,” Hanna said. “I am in complete agreement with Chancellor Brogan informing Senator Dinniman that he did not have the ability to promise a tuition freeze during the hearing on March 19. Chancellor Brogan was correct that the PASSHE Board of Governors did not yet formally debate or vote on Governor Wolf’s proposal and the Board of Governors alone sets the tuition rate for the 14 state-owned universities. “However, while I support Governor Wolf’s plan and believe the freeze on general tuition is completely in order, I believe that decision should be made if and when PASSHE receives the $45.3 million in additional state funding. “That being said, I have every intention of making a motion to commit PASSHE to a general tuition freeze in exchange for the $45.3 million in additional state funding and plan to make such motion at the next Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 24 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., will host her annual Spring Fling from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive, East Fairmount Park, near 33rd and Oxford streets. The event will focus on healthy living for all ages. There will be healthy food choices available and information on exercise opportunities for young and old. Brown’s staff will also have information on the state’s Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. Children ages 3 to 12 can participate in an egg hunt as well. Smith Playhouse also offers a safe, indoor play location for younger children. The Philadelphia Fire Department is expected to attend as well as the State Police motorcycle unit, local health agencies and medical providers. "I want to use this event as a way to encourage children to get outside and be active," Brown said. "It is a good way to start participating in more outdoor activities, something most of us should be doing. We all need to look for more ways to take care of our bodies and our health." Brown’s staff will be available to answer any state-related concerns constituents may have. To register for the egg hunt, or for more information regarding the event, contact Brown’s constituent service office at (215) 879-6615 . ### Read more
ERIE, March 23 – Requested by state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today on Gov. Tom Wolf’s education funding proposal to collect input from local school superintendents and a fair education funding advocate. “House Democrats and I believe the key to a better future starts with a solid education that requires a stronger investment from the state,” Harkins said. “Hearing the testimonies of our local superintendents brings the need for, not only more funding, but also a fair funding formula into clear focus.” Harkins co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman. Sturla added, “Representative Harkins has been a strong advocate for education investment and he recognizes that Schools that Teach is a critical part of Governor Wolf’s plan for moving Pennsylvania in an upward and positive direction. I thank him for hosting this important hearing today.” The hearing was held at Erie's nationally recognized Barber National Institute, which Harkins said is a leader in providing educational support for children and adults dealing with developmental or mental disabilities, as well as those on the autism spectrum and others dealing with hearing disabilities. Those testifying included: Jay Badams, superintendent, Erie School District; Shane Murray, superintendent, Iroquois School District; Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – In an effort to revive citizens’ trust in Pennsylvania government, state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, sent a letter to state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, majority chairman of the House State Government committee, urging him to hold a vote on two pieces of recently-introduced legislation. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – As higher education officials testified about tuition rates and funding needs for their colleges and universities at state budget hearings today, state Rep. Mike O’Brien said he has introduced legislation to help ease the financial burden of student loans on recent college graduates and their families. Surpassing credit card debt, student loans are the second-largest form of consumer debt in the nation, trailing only mortgages. Pennsylvania is No. 3 in the nation for student loan debt, averaging at about $31,675 per student. Around 70 percent of Pennsylvania students graduated with debt in 2012. “Our students are graduating college, pursuing careers and raising families, all while attempting to manage hefty loan payments,” O’Brien said. “Recent college graduates forfeit large sums of their entry-level salaries toward paying off student loans, and it’s important to help relieve the millennial generation debt as they embark on their adult lives.” O’Brien’s bill ( H.B. 607 ) provides a tax credit for interest paid on student loans of up to $2,500 per individual during a calendar year for the entire span of the loan. The credit would be available to individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making up to $155,000. “I want to see our upward-moving generation experience the American dream,” O’Brien said. “By assisting with their Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, said he’s opposed to many of the regulatory changes requested by the heads of 10 of 12 casinos in Pennsylvania, including the chief operating officer of Mohegan Sun. The casino executives asked the four ranking legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Wolf to reject video game terminals in non-casinos. Mullery said he supports H.B. 808, which would legalize video gaming terminals in Pennsylvania taverns, clubs and hotels. “These terminals would replace the many unregulated and illegal video poker machines already in place across Pennsylvania, and could help generate revenue to help close the state’s budget deficit,” Mullery said. Mullery, an ardent supporter of the state Clean Air Act, said he also opposes the casino heads’ request for lawmakers to reject further smoking restrictions. Citing public safety concerns, Mullery said he additionally opposes their request to serve alcohol around the clock. Finally, Mullery said he has not taken a position on the casino executives’ requests to create casino reinvestment tax credits and to expand promotional play opportunities. He said he is still considering both of those matters. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – Due to inclement weather, tomorrow’s Youth in Government Forum scheduled at Keystone College in La Plume has been cancelled, according to state Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, has introduced legislation designed to protect Pennsylvania homeowners from government seizure of their homes. Under H.B. 688 , the commonwealth or a local government entity would be prohibited from taking a primary residence from a homeowner because he or she cannot afford to pay property taxes on it. "Property taxes in this commonwealth have risen to the point where many citizens can no longer afford to stay in their homes. Many of these people have paid off 30-year mortgages but simply can’t afford the property taxes," said Caltagirone. "There are far too many homes being sold at tax sales, leaving our most vulnerable citizens literally out in the cold. The burden of these taxes fall particularly hard on poor, sick and older citizens. These people are constantly fighting to keep their homes and the American dream of homeownership is a job layoff, illness or death of a spouse away from being torn from their grasp." The bill would require passage in the state House of Representatives and state Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions. After that, it would be put before the voters of the state to decide if they want to amendment the Pennsylvania Constitution. "Until the legislature gets the courage to take on the entrenched interests fighting property tax elimination, I am proposing this solution to protect the most vulnerable citizens from an overbearing Read more
ALLENTOWN, March 19 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from leaders in the business, labor and job-training industries, along with state officials, concerning Pennsylvania’s economy at a hearing requested by state Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh. The meeting focused on creating a competitive job market, specifically with regard to the manufacturing sector. “House Democrats are leading the way in developing policies that will help create family-sustaining, private-sector jobs,” Schweyer said. “Today’s conversation with leaders in business and labor was incredibly informative and will prove to be most helpful in the coming months.” The hearing was held at Allentown Economic Development Corp., located in the 22 nd Legislative District represented by Schweyer and based in a former Mack Trucks assembly plant transformed into a manufacturing-focused business incubator. "We are happy that Representative Schweyer asked AEDC to host the committee hearing at Bridgeworks Enterprise Center and that he is taking a deep interest in the creation of manufacturing jobs in Allentown,” said R. Scott Unger, AEDC executive director. “These types of jobs provide livable wages to Allentown families that are typically higher than service-sector wages in the city." Schweyer co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as Democratic House Policy Committee chairman. “I commend Read more
Rep. Snyder is launching a veterans outreach featuring American Legion service specialists on the fourth Thursday of every month at her constituent-service office at 104 S. Market St., Carmichaels. Read more
ALLENTOWN, March 18 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from education experts and school superintendents about the need to properly invest in community schools in the region and across the state, at a meeting convened at the request of state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh.
"The last four years of failed policy has led to the loss of more than 400 teachers from our community schools, it has caused property taxes in Allentown to increase more than 20 percent, and in the end, our children suffer from a lack of opportunities," Schlossberg said. "We need to ensure our teachers have the tools to educate our children to prepare them for a modern workforce and a knowledge-based economy. As we heard here today, the only way to do that is by properly investing in our community schools."
Held at the Community Services for Children, the meeting participants included: David Volkman, acting deputy secretary of Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education; Jane Ervin, executive director, Community Services for Children; Richard Sniscak, superintendent, Parkland School District; C. Russell Mayo, superintendent, Allentown School District; Sandi Gackenbach, president, Parkland Education Association; and Deb Tretter, president, Allentown Education Association.
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