Honoring Donn R. Wuycik's many years of life and public service, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver, today offered H.R. 85, extending condolences to family and friends of a broadcaster who passed away Dec. 2 at age 60. Read more
SCRANTON, Feb. 11 – On Feb. 18, a staffer from state Rep. Marty Flynn's office will provide outreach assistance in Clarks Green. The visit will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 18 at the Clarks Green Borough Building, 104 N. Abington Road. The monthly outreach visits alternate on the third Wednesday of every month between Clarks Green and South Abington Township. Flynn's staff can help with PennDOT paperwork, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, PACE/PACENET prescription-drug coverage, unclaimed property searches and any other state-related matters. His main office – in Jay's Commons, 409 N. Main Ave. in Scranton – is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 570-342-4348. The March visit will be March 18 at the South Abington Township Building, 2nd floor meeting room, 104 Shady Lane Road in Chinchilla. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – The House Judiciary Committee recently held an informational meeting about the juvenile justice system, according to Democratic Chairman Joseph Petrarca. "This meeting was very informative and gave the committee a better idea of strides being made to reduce recidivism in the juvenile justice system, while also protecting the public," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. Keith Snyder, executive director of the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, said the goals of the justice system are to protect the community, ensure accountability and develop competency. He noted that as a result of several reforms, recidivism declined between 2007 and 2013. However, as the result of questioning from Petrarca, Snyder noted the JCJC's budget has declined over the last several years and staffing levels are down 25 percent. "While advances have been made, the executive director said the system is always seeking ways to improve. And, that's something we in the Judiciary Committee also are interested in, particularly as concerns community safety and ensuring juveniles in the system are able to get their lives back in order and become productive adults," Petrarca said. Read more
State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, said today that he is grateful to Gov. Tom Wolf for proposing a sensible solution to the state's education funding issues.
The Education Reinvestment Act, which Wolf announced today at a news conference in Thorndale, would increase the money available for Pennsylvania schools by levying a reasonable severance tax on natural gas production.
The state House unanimously approved Rep. Pam Snyder’s legislation honoring two members of America’s armed forces from southwestern Pennsylvania killed in action in Vietnam and Somalia. H.B. Bill 178 would name the Exit 28 Mon-Fayette Expressway Interchange in Washington County as the Marine Corporal Thomas R. Matty Memorial Interchange. H.B. 179 would designate the Route 88 bridge over Muddy Creek in Greene County as the Army Corporal Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Read more
State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, announced that in addition to his appointments to five prominent House standing committees (Appropriations, Judiciary, Environmental Resources and Energy, Professional Licensure and Transportation) he will serve as the House Democratic chairman of three important caucuses in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Briggs will serve as the chairman of the Arts and Culture Caucus, working in conjunction with Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York; Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh; and Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. He will also serve as chairman for the Bio Technology/Life Sciences Caucus with Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks, and the Brain Injury Caucus with Rep. Tina Picket, R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna. Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, announced today that he intends to sponsor bipartisan legislation that would limit the types of immunization exceptions granted in Pennsylvania.
Current state law allows for three exemptions to childhood immunization – medical, religious and philosophical. Schlossberg's proposal, which is also sponsored by Rep. Becky Corbin, R-Chester, would eliminate immunization exemptions that are requested for philosophical reasons.
"I am happy to work in a bipartisan manner with members of the Health Committee to attack this problem and improve Pennsylvania’ public health," Schlossberg said.
UPPER DARBY, Feb. 11 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, will host an immigration conference from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19 at Faith-Immanuel Lutheran Church, 65 Penn Blvd., East Lansdowne. This event will provide assistance with programs to benefit immigrants. Topics to be covered include: The Road and Rights of Citizenship: Completing the forms, preparing for the test, preparing financially Your Green Card: Permanent vs. Temporary Resident Visas and appropriate identification Medical coverage for undocumented residents Inoculation for international travel Securing a driver’s license regardless of immigration status Congressman Robert Brady and White House Commissioner N. Nina Ahmad, who serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, will also be in attendance to discuss new federal immigration policies. "With more than 70 languages spoken at the district’s schools, it’s obvious that there is a need for this type of event," Davidson said. "I am proud to bring this event to the 164th Legislative District to support the residents in the district who are immigrants, new and long-standing, nationalized citizens and their loved ones." For more information or to RSVP, please contact Carolyn Collins at (610) 259-7016 or firstname.lastname@example.org . ### Read more
State Rep. Gerald Mullery announced his staff will hold workshops throughout his legislative district to provide free assistance with applying for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. The workshops will be held Feb. 19 and March 5 at the Plymouth Active Adult Center, 160 E. Main St., Plymouth; March 5 at the Freeland Active Adult Center, 701 Chestnut St., Freeland; March 19 at the Mountaintop Active Adult Center, 460 S. Main Road, Mountaintop; March 25 at the White Haven Borough Building, 312 Main St., White Haven.
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 11 – State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl announced that he will hold office hours at the Avalon Borough Building, 640 California Ave., every Thursday morning from 8:30 a.m. to noon beginning Feb. 19. "This office will provide convenient service to my constituents in Avalon and Bellevue," Ravenstahl said. "It will offer the same top-notch service and assistance as my main office in Pittsburgh, and there’s no extra cost to taxpayers." Ravenstahl said some of the most common requests for assistance he provides include car registrations, special tags and license applications, birth and death certificate applications, help with problems with state agencies and assistance in filling out state forms of all kinds. Residents are asked to call his Pittsburgh office at 412-321-5523 to make an appointment at the Avalon office. Ravenstahl said his Pittsburgh office at 3689 California Ave. will remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – Raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania makes sound economic sense and can help thousands of struggling families become self-sufficient, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio said Monday during a Raise the Wage kickoff event held at a local Harrisburg church. "As I understand it, Gov. Tom Wolf is supporting the House Democratic effort to raise the wage to $10.10 an hour," she said today. "Raising the wage helps grow our economy and can provide a sustainable living for many citizens who may now need to rely on public assistance in order to make ends meet. "Raising the wage makes sense all around." DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., also said she would like to see the minimum wage tied to an inflation index. She said that tying the minimum wage to an index ensures that this topic will no longer be subjected to the vagaries of politics. The Pennsylvania minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, as mandated by federal law. House Bill 250 seeks to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $10.10 an hour over two years. "I was thrilled that this legislation now reflects my recommendation to have the bill’s effective date be 180 days upon passage versus 60 days in the previous legislation," she said. "The new effective date gives smaller businesses an opportunity to meet the requirement of the new law." Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Mark Longietti met with Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday to discuss issues of importance to residents of the 7 th Legislative District in Mercer County. Longietti told the governor that jobs and economic development, education, and workforce development are top priorities. Specifically, Longietti advocated for expansion of City Revitalization Improvements Zones (CRIZ) to smaller cities like Sharon, Farrell and Hermitage; and an expansion of a CRIZ pilot program to include smaller boroughs, like Greenville. CRIZ uses state tax revenue received from jobs created by an economic development project to help finance the project. Longietti also stressed that financially distressed communities under Act 47 need to be a priority in CRIZ legislation, so places like Farrell and Greenville can rebuild their tax base. In regard to education, Longietti emphasized the importance of investing state dollars in quality early childhood education programs. Longietti said every dollar invested produces a return of $7 to $17 through reduced special education and juvenile delinquency costs and, ultimately, the receipt of more state tax revenue as educated people become productive workforce members. According to Longietti, a collection of studies shows nearly 90 percent of a child’s brain connections are formed by age 5 and it becomes very difficult to make up lost ground if a child misses that development. Finally, Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Chris Sainato met with Gov. Tom Wolf this morning to discuss legislative initiatives to help his constituents in Lawrence County. Sainato told the governor that development of the proposed Lawrence Downs racetrack and casino, legislation to address blight, economic development and education top this list of priorities. "I appreciate Gov. Wolf taking time to learn about the needs and concerns of the people I represent," Sainato said. "I hope this is the start of a good working relationship that will produce initiatives that help move the 9th Legislative District and all of Lawrence County forward." Sainato said he wants to see the Lawrence Downs project come to fruition because it will create up to 1,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs. "This project will stimulate economic development in the region, and the people of Lawrence County have consistently said they want the casino to be built," Sainato said. Sainato also told the governor he’s interested in initiatives that help third-class cities such as New Castle address blight. Sainato said the expansion of City Revitalization Improvements Zones (CRIZ) could help New Castle. CRIZ uses state tax revenue produced by jobs created in an economic development project to help finance the project. Sainato said financially distressed communities under Act 47, such as New Castle, must be a priority in Read more
LANCASTER, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, today reminded constituents to stop by his Lancaster office for free help in completing an application for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, which has a June 30 deadline. “Instead of going to a company that charges a fee to help fill out a Property Tax/Rent Rebate application, my constituents can contact my office to get the free assistance they deserve for this important state program,” Sturla said. “While the deadline typically is extended from June until December, there is no need to wait to apply.” The state’s rebate program benefits eligible residents 65 or older; widows and widowers 50 or older; and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit for eligibility is $35,000 a year for homeowners or $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. The program is supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery and from slots gaming revenue. Sturla also said seniors across the state in past years were targeted and sent a mailing with a California postmark from the “Senior Advisory Center” offering assistance for $39; however, his office can help those eligible to apply for free. Residents in the 96th District (all of Lancaster city and parts of Manheim and Lancaster townships) interested in more Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, sat down with today the governor and his top staff to discuss the issues important to and impacting Cambria County. Burns said they discussed economic development and jobs, blight and the heroin epidemic. "I want to thank the governor for his willingness to meet with me and discuss these issues that are main concerns not only in the 72nd district, but for all of Cambria County," Burns said. "I look forward to building on the great relationship that I already have with Gov. Wolf while we work on resolving those issues." One area of major concern for Burns is to provide better access to care for cancer patients by requiring health insurance providers that cover intravenous cancer chemotherapy to cover oral chemotherapy treatment equally. "The pill form of chemotherapy is the newest form of chemotherapy and, not only is it more convenient for cancer patients, compared to intravenous chemotherapy, which requires a visit to the hospital for its administration, it's also known to cause fewer side effects," Burns said. "This method of treatment can improve patient quality of life and this bill would give patients access to it without the higher cost that usually goes with it." Burns said another piece of legislation that he is looking to introduce is the American Jobs Bill. It would address the Underground Utility Line Protection Law by requiring that all natural gas Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today unveiled her proposal to address the commonwealth’s budget and education crises with an overall 8 percent severance tax on Pennsylvania’s $11 billion Marcellus shale natural gas and oil industry. "Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state not to tax production at the wellhead, and this corporate favoritism costs Pennsylvania dearly," Davis said. "It is time for producers to pay their fair share and provide fair funding for essential services for depleting this valuable resource." Davis noted that this week marks the three-year anniversary of former Gov. Tom Corbett’s signing the disastrous Act 13 Marcellus shale drilling law and its paltry impact fee with an effective tax rate of 1.9 percent. "My legislation would not affect the Act 13 impact fee or its distribution but build into it a warranted and sustainable revenue stream," Davis said. "Adding a 6 percent severance tax to the impact fee would raise substantial funding for our struggling public schools, including early childhood and basic education funding, as well as for the General Fund." Davis said her measure would put Pennsylvania closer to the mainstream of what major gas-producing states require from the industry. "My approach takes into account both the price of gas and the volume of the gas severed," Davis said in her co-sponsorship memo to House colleagues. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – As a longtime supporter of expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., expressed his support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s directive today to fully expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act: “Today is a historic day for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have been forced to wait out political games ahead of their own health,” he said. “Governor Tom Wolf realized what Governor Tom Corbett could never understand: a healthy Pennsylvania can lead to a prosperous Pennsylvania, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It’s been a long ride, but I think we’re finally headed in the right direction. “It’s good to see the governor putting people first. It’s a welcome change .” Kinsey said anyone who needs assistance in signing up for health coverage should contact his office . The Office of the Governor provided this information today for those who may be impacted by this decision: How does Medicaid expansion differ from Healthy PA ? Medicaid expansion will allow for eligible adults to be placed into one streamlined adult package. This will increase continuity of care and reduce unnecessary processes to make individuals eligible for uncomplicated health care coverage faster. What does this mean for individuals who are in the Private Coverage Option? The department is currently working on a plan to transition individuals into one Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, welcomed Gov. Tom Wolf’s directive today to fully expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act: “This action taken today by the governor puts us another step in the right direction for Pennsylvania,” Schweyer said. “Withdrawing HealthyPA for complete Medicaid expansion shows Governor Wolf’s commitment to the well-being of hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians and provides a stepping stone for getting the state budget back on track.” The Office of the Governor provided the following about the Medicaid expansion: It will allow eligible adults to be placed into one streamlined adult package. The expansion meets national standards for coverage, including primary care doctors, preventative care, prescriptions and behavioral health parity. The Department of Human Services is working with the federal government on a new adult package. Adults in Healthy and Healthy Plus will be transitioned into a new adult package once it is finalized. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – As a longtime supporter of expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., expressed her support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s directive today to fully expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. “Withdrawing HealthyPA in exchange for complete Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania, as Governor Tom Wolf set forth today, not only represents a commitment to the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who need health-care coverage now, but it also begins to help put our state budget back together,” she said. “We lost millions of dollars in revenue by not opting in effective Jan. 1, 2014. This decision will add millions to a struggling budget and create thousands of new jobs, which will also help our economy move forward. “More importantly this decision ensures that the estimated half-million friends and neighbors who were without access to health care will soon have access to adequate care. Many who fell within the Medicaid ‘gap’ were the low-income wage earners. They earned too much for regular Medicaid but not enough to qualify for a subsidy under the ACA. “I am thankful that the governor moved quickly – making this decision on his 21 st day in office.” The Office of the Governor provided this information today: How does Medicaid expansion differ from Healthy PA ? Medicaid expansion will allow for Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Human Services Committee, praised Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement today that Pennsylvania would fully expand Medicaid. “I applaud Governor Wolf’s decision to finally do what should’ve been done during the last governor’s term and bring full Medicaid expansion to Pennsylvania,” Cruz said. “The Healthy PA, or lite version of Medicaid expansion which was not nearly as beneficial, was ill-conceived, confusing and unnecessarily complicated. It’s time we moved to a system that will work for Pennsylvania. “This expansion makes complete sense for the people of Pennsylvania. It’s estimated to create between 35,000 and 40,000 jobs and cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, including over 20,000 veterans. Furthermore, it will bring an infusion of federal dollars into our state as we face a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall, thanks to the failed policies of the last administration and the legislature's refusal to enact Medicaid expansion sooner. “It’s really a no-brainer. Pennsylvania will see more jobs, federal funding, and most importantly, healthier citizens. I look forward to working to ensure that the expansion is fully implemented and Pennsylvanians around the state are aware of how to benefit from the expansion.” Read more
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