HARRISBURG, March 20 – House Democratic lawmakers, in response to widespread concerns about patients and clients in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and long-term care homes not getting the quality care they deserve, announced a comprehensive package of bills to protect seniors and give family members the vital information they need to make the right choice for their grandparents and parents. As pension plans increasingly become a thing of the past and families become smaller and unable to care for elderly relatives in their own homes, House Democrats believe people need to know the long-term care options for their loved ones are the best possible – because, someday, we’ll all need a place to call home. While most facilities do a good job caring for patients and clients, as well as providing a stable place of employment for healthcare professionals, seniors, families and potential employees need the facts and protections these bills would deliver. The Promise of Care package includes: Making a Home truly a Home (Sponsored by Rep. Angel Cruz): A long-term care home shouldn’t feel like a hospital ward. This bill creates a voluntary Culture & Quality of Life Certification Program that would reward homes that go the extra mile to offer a rich, life-affirming program that treats residents like the individual people they are. Reporting Requirements when a Resident Passes (Two bills sponsored by Rep. Frank Burns): People Read more
State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, announced she was appointed to the Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Facilities. Read more
HARRISBURG , March 20 – The House Democratic Policy Committee will host a public hearing to discuss adverse childhood experiences and the lifelong impact ACEs has on the brain. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, March 25 in the House Democratic Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building. The media and public are invited to attend. Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, requested the hearing to further explore how these experiences impact children’s cognitive development, and the impact ACEs has on education, health care and correctional costs. The current agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panelists: Dr. Roy Wade Instructor of pediatrics and general pediatrician University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Dr. Maria McColgan Child abuse pediatrics fellowship director and associate professor of pediatrics Child Abuse Research Education Service Institute and Rowan University Dr. Jeanne Elberfeld Executive director Schuylkill County’s VISION Alice Yoder Vice president of community health and collaboration Penn Medicine Lancaster General 11:30 a.m. Closing remarks The meeting is one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, health care access, quality schools and job training, and a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at Read more
EBENSBURG, March 20 – St. Francis University in Loretto has received an award for environmental excellence for its specially-created mobile laboratory focused on teaching people about efficient energy techniques and sustainability, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced today. Burns said the university’s Institute for Energy was chosen to receive the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence from the state Department of Environmental Protection for its mobile educational laboratory, called the Tiny Classroom. This special mobile lab features a variety of energy-efficient techniques and sustainable building features, including solar panels. “The Tiny Classroom provides a wonderful opportunity to teach people in our communities about solar energy, biomass heating, energy efficient electronics and more,” said Burns. “I’m pleased that the university’s Institute for Energy has been recognized for their innovative educational approach to energy, including sustainable energy options.” St. Francis University’s Institute for Energy was among 18 winners for the annual award. Projects submitted for consideration were evaluated on several criteria, including innovation, partnership efforts, economic impact, consideration of climate change, and sustainability and results achieved. Read more
State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, was joined Monday by fellow legislators to adopt H.R. 106, designating March 21, 2019, as Rosie the Riveter Day in Pennsylvania. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – A bill to create the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force in Pennsylvania was voted out of committee Monday, announced state Rep. Perry Warren, who introduced the bill. The task force would study the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act’s effect on premiums for flood insurance, the latest FEMA flood maps that classify new flood zones and the federal discount program to identify areas and neighborhoods that need additional assistance to keep flood-insurance premiums affordable. “Flood zones shift and can cause someone who didn’t need flood insurance before to now need it. That can cause a significant change in a homeowner’s budget,” said Warren, D-Bucks. “We need to examine these issues closely, and I’m happy to report that we are one step closer to doing so with a bill on the move.” According to the National Flood Insurance Program, Pennsylvania is among the 10 highest states for flood insurance payouts between January 1978 and March 2011, ranking eighth at $773 million. Warren added that almost every legislative district in the state is impacted by the new flood maps and the premium increases. H.B. 378 was voted out of the House Insurance Committee with bipartisan support. It would require that the task force, comprised of nine appointed members from state government, issue a final report within six months of its creation. The task force’s recommendations Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – A bipartisan bill looking to boost career and technical education unanimously passed the state House of Representatives today, according to prime sponsor Rep. Gerald Mullery. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – In an effort to give state residents with a criminal record a chance to find meaningful, family-sustaining jobs, state Rep. Austin Davis today introduced legislation that would prohibit employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. Coined “Ban the Box,” Davis’ H.B. 898 is modeled after a similar application process currently in place in Allegheny County. It’s a system Davis said has yielded positive results. “We live in a land of hope and opportunity, but sometimes fair opportunities are squandered because of mistakes made in the past. That’s not what this country was built on – everyone deserves a second chance, especially when it comes to being able to provide for one’s family,” said Davis, D-Allegheny. “Applicants with criminal histories are automatically disqualified for certain jobs before the ink dries on their application, and that’s unacceptable. This bill would not only reduce repeat offenders but also provide qualified workers for our growing workforce.” If enacted into law, Davis’ measure would still allow employers required by state or federal law to inquire about criminal histories at the appropriate, required time. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – A House resolution honoring the life and sacrifice of late Pfc. Andrew Joseph Kukuruda, a U.S. Marine Corps machine gunner who was killed in Vietnam in 1969, was adopted last week by the state House of Representatives, announced state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny. Family and friends gathered Thursday – the 50 th anniversary of his death – to remember Kukuruda’s service and sacrifice. Deasy was present during the memorial service, presenting H.R. 107 to Kukuruda’s family. “Private First Class Kukuruda answered the call of duty during a time when the Vietnam War was highly contested,” Deasy said. “He unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our country, but we’re all so grateful for his service. Kukuruda truly encompassed and best represents who we are as a community in the 27 th Legislative District. He’ll be forever missed.” Kukuruda, formerly of the Crafton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh, was killed March 14, 1969, during the Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. Deasy said Kukuruda and other servicemen were fighting to retake a Marine landing zone when he was fatally wounded. Kukuruda was born Dec. 3, 1950, and was a graduate of Langley High School. Upon graduation he joined the Marines and was assigned to the 3 rd Marine Division, 4 th Marines, M Company. He was killed three months into his deployment. Read more
HARRISBURG, Mar. 19 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., has teamed up with state Reps. Kate Klunk, R-York, and Aaron Bernstine, R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence, to introduce legislation that would allow high school students to obtain real-world work experience while still in school. “In a scenario like this, we all are winners,” Solomon said. “Our students get the experience and qualifications they need to step into a career after graduation, and local businesses reap the rewards of a well-trained workforce. I’m very proud to stand beside my colleagues Representatives Klunk and Bernstine in support of this pilot program, which we hope to spread all across the Commonwealth.” House Bill 796 would establish a pilot program to encourage schools and local businesses to collaborate to provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. Solomon noted that one of the goals of the program is to familiarize students with all after-graduation options. The pilot program is based off a successful partnership in southcentral Pennsylvania between the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, numerous Hanover-area businesses, the Hanover Public School District and South Western School District. “The Hanover area is at the forefront of apprenticeship programs, and this initiative would propel it, and programs elsewhere in the Commonwealth, forward,” said Klunk, whose district includes Hanover. Through their program, businesses Read more
HARRISBURG, March 19 – Prospective homebuyers would be told of the state’s mine subsidence insurance program when considering a purchase in an area where mining has taken place, under a bill proposed by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. Snyder’s legislation would require that information about the insurance – offered through the state Department of Environmental Protection – be given to those contemplating buying a home in an area where coal or clay mining activities have occurred. This information would be provided either by the seller or the real estate agent. “Imagine buying a new home for you and your family, only to find out that its foundation has cracked and is sinking, due to mine subsidence,” Snyder said. “Currently, no regulations exist in Pennsylvania requiring that homebuyers be made aware that mine subsidence insurance is available, or that it be recommended to them. My bill would ensure this information is provided to allow them to make an informed decision.” Snyder noted her legislation would not place a financial mandate on homebuyers, but only require that the pertinent information be provided to those in the market for a new home. House Bill 27 is currently before the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – Saying it amounts to nothing more than gun control , state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, has come out swinging against a Philadelphia lawmaker’s bill that would charge gun owners a $10-per-year registration fee for each firearm they own. Burns, a member of the legislature’s Second Amendment Caucus, said the gun registry called for by H.B. 768 contains other provisions – such as universal fingerprinting and background checks – that put it squarely at odds with current state law and the Pennsylvania Constitution. “I took an oath as state representative to uphold the state constitution – not destroy it,” Burns said. “I see this bill as an attack on legal firearms ownership, and I will do everything in my power to defeat it.” Burns said the proposal also flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment, which clearly codify the right for law-abiding citizens to bear arms. “It is insulting to mandate that responsible, law-abiding Pennsylvanians be forced to register their firearms and pay yearly fees, just to exercise their constitutional right to own a gun,” Burns said. “I will fight this bill tooth-and-nail to ensure we don’t weaken or eliminate people’s ability to defend themselves. "If we want to send a clear message to criminals and those who would do others harm via gunfire, the legal system needs to enforce the laws already on Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – A measure designed to create the Pennsylvania Distilled Spirits Industry Promotion Board, responsible for awarding grants to craft distilleries, on Monday was passed by the state House of Representatives, announced state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny. Deasy, Democratic chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, introduced H.B. 325 , which would create a board tasked with awarding $1 million in grants to be used for promotion, marketing and research-based projects to benefit the distilled spirits industry in the commonwealth. “The commonwealth has seen a large influx of distilleries in recent years, which is extremely exciting. However, distillers are still faced with challenges,” Deasy said. “The grants awarded by this board would provide opportunities for the continued growth of the state’s distilling industry, allowing the commonwealth to reach new benchmarks in regard to production. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the political aisle for getting this bill across the finish line.” Deasy said the Pennsylvania Distilled Spirits Industry Promotion Board would be comprised of five appointees designated by Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders in both chambers of the state legislature. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Read more
State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, hosted an event in Harrisburg celebrating and promoting minority, women and disadvantaged businesses (MWDBE) in Pennsylvania. Read more
KING OF PRUSSIA, March 18 – State Rep. Tim Briggs introduced legislation to reduce the amount of polystyrene material that pollutes the environment. House Bill 627 would prohibit food establishments from using single-use polystyrene containers (solid or foam) to dispense prepared foods. “We’ve all seen takeout cups and containers littering the sides of our roadways. Polystyrene can take hundreds of years to decompose, and in the meantime it clogs our local waterways and poses a threat to birds and marine life,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “My legislation would mean less of this material ends up in our waterways and in our landfills, and it would help us to reduce our overall impact on the world around us.” Briggs introduced similar legislation last session. In the fall, he joined environmental groups to announce 15,000 signatures were collected on a petition supporting the ban. Microplastics – tiny particles often resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic materials – have been found in birds and fish, and last year, were found in human stool samples for the first time, leading to questions about the impact on human health. “Every day, we are reminded that our disposable society is creating a growing waste problem. It’s time to change the way we live and think,” Briggs said. “We have to do everything we can to keep our air and water clean, and that includes encouraging the use of materials Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – Legislation co-sponsored by state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., that would provide more opportunities for entrepreneurship across the commonwealth passed the House today, 192-2. House Bill 324 would permit municipalities with a population of 10,000 people or more to encourage development of micro-enterprises, businesses that employ up to five people. In so doing, such initiatives can reduce the number of people participating in social programs and transition them into the full-time workforce. “With my background as a business author, practitioner and professor teaching entrepreneurship, it led me to help extend the reach of this proposed initiative to a more diverse set of beneficiaries, including worker cooperatives,” Rabb said. “This business assistance program would now be made available to more prospective business owners who would most benefit from it, and prevent others outside of Pennsylvania from taking advantage of opportunities meant for state residents already invested in their local communities.” The legislation also would encourage partnerships with existing authorities and redevelopment authorities to operate a community development authority that would issue loans to micro-enterprises. Funding for the loans would come from money contributed by municipalities through a small portion of fees and fines collected, as well as money through private partnerships. Rabb said that bipartisanship helped to move Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody responded to a vote taken today by the House Labor and Industry Committee advancing a bill to change how public employee unions would be allowed to serve their members. House Bill 785 was introduced just seven days ago and it did not receive a committee hearing before the vote. “Instead of advancing unnecessary anti-worker bills, I wish my Republican colleagues would direct more attention to raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and passing earned sick time for hard-working people in Pennsylvania,” Dermody said. Read more
SCRANTON, March 18 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Marty Flynn. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – Ensuring the stability of the state’s fund to promote organ and tissue donation is the goal behind a measure that was unanimously approved by the House Transportation Committee, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. Petrarca’s bill would address an oversight in the Senate bill that created Act 90 of 2018, which increased the voluntary contribution amount to the Robert F. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund from $1 to $3. This voluntary checkoff is included on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms. However, Petrarca said the act didn’t take into account recent changes to the state’s Vehicle Code allowing for biennial vehicle registrations. “Pennsylvania has been a leader in promoting organ and tissue donation,” Petrarca said. “Unfortunately, the fund itself has had significant financial challenges in recent years. My legislation would consider biennial registrations and increase the voluntary checkoff contribution for those registrations from $3 to $6 in an effort to stabilize this valuable fund.” In addition to promoting organ and tissue donation, the fund also pays for the funeral expenses of donors and provides grants toward the development and implementation of programs to encourage donation. House Bill 30 will now head to the House for further consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 18 – The state House of Representatives last week passed Rep. Danielle Friel Otten’s bill to allow Marsh Creek State Park to release a parcel of land adjacent to the Turnpike in exchange for land that would expand the park’s trail network and protect local wetlands and wildlife habitat. The land along the turnpike, consisting primarily of rock and road berm, was originally purchased with public Project 70 funds, so it cannot be sold or transferred unless it’s replaced with land of an equal or greater value. H.B. 387 would release that strip of land from Project 70 restrictions but transfer Project 70 protections to the new larger wooded, wetland parcel to be acquired by the park. “Under this plan, we’re showing that development doesn’t have to cost the county’s beautiful and important natural spaces,” said Otten, D-Chester. “This is a win for conservation, Chester County residents, and all Pennsylvanians.” The new parcel is part of a larger, 57-acre land preservation project coordinated among the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Lands Trust, and the Turnpike Commission. The parcel of land released under the bill would allow the Turnpike Commission to widen the road. The bill now awaits consideration in the state Senate. Read more
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