HARRISBURG , Feb. 9 – State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, applauded the decision by Gov. Tom Wolf to fully expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania. "The expansion of Medicaid has been a long time coming, and I’m proud Pennsylvania finally has a governor who realized the importance of expansion and what it can do for the health of our citizens," McCarter said. "The Corbett plan was simply a weakened alternative to expansion that was overly confusing, unnecessarily difficult to navigate and placed the health of those trying to access health care at risk. "The full expansion is a win-win-win for Pennsylvanians. Expansion will create between 35,000 and 40,000 jobs, cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, and open the flow of federal money into our state. This infusion will greatly benefit the current budget shortfall we’re experiencing due to a lack of vision from the previous administration. Most importantly, this will lead to a more vibrant Pennsylvania with healthier citizens, and I commend Governor Wolf for doing the right thing." Those interested in applying for health insurance can apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, announced she is reintroducing her legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage, which would help struggling families pay their bills and reduce their reliance on government assistance programs. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 14 percent of Pennsylvanians are living in poverty,” Kim said. “Now is the time to start making Pennsylvania’s working families our top priority by increasing their wages.” Kim announced the reintroduction of the legislation, H.B.250, during a daylong event advocating for a minimum-wage increase hosted by the Raise the Wage Coalition, a statewide alliance of worker, religious, community, women’s and labor groups. Kim’s bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour and then to $10.10 per hour a year later. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost the earnings of a full-time worker by more than $5,900 to $21,008. For a single mother with two children who works 40 hours per week, this would get her family above the poverty line, which is $19,790 for a household of three. Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only makes $15,080, which is more than $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to use government assistance programs just to get by. House Bill 250 also includes an annual cost-of-living Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, welcomed today's announcement that Gov. Wolf is transitioning from the Corbett administration's problem-plagued "Healthy PA" plan to a simple, federally funded Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act: "Governor Wolf's decision to pursue a clean Medicaid expansion is better for the health of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and for addressing two major problems left by the Corbett administration -- Pennsylvania's rock-bottom ranking in job creation and the $2 billion budget deficit." ### Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., announced today at a news conference that they are partnering with Rep. Joseph Hackett, R-Delaware, to support legislation that would that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest. Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, announced today at a news conference that he is partnering with Reps. Joseph Hackett, R-Delaware, and Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., to support legislation that would that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., and others called on the state legislature during a Capitol news conference Wednesday to pass a severance-tax bill that would enact a 3.2 percent tax on natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania. The bill’s other prime sponsors are Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks; Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery; and Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny. The bill would keep in place the impact fee passed into law in 2012. "Our proposal, like that of so many other states, is to tax the value of the natural gas produced. Added together, the impact fee and the 3.2 percent drilling tax would equal approximately 5 percent of the value of natural gas sold," DeLissio said. "Pennsylvania, now the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation, is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. "Including a severance tax on the value of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas production would generate additional funds above the existing impact fee, while still protecting host communities who benefit from the fee." During the news conference, DeLissio stated that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will need to address a greater than $2 billion structural deficit. This deficit was created by the current budget’s reliance on one-time transfers and other unsustainable revenue streams, she added. "If a severance tax had been passed in 2012 instead of the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced today she has an update regarding the Walnut Lane Bridge. “I have additional news,” DeLissio said, concerning the anticipated length of time the bridge will be out of commission. “The Walnut Lane Bridge detour will only be needed for six months.” DeLissio said the detour route will use state-owned roads as shown on the map below. The detour will take traffic over Henry Avenue, Midvale Avenue and Wissahickon Avenue. The duration of the 3.25-mile detour will not exceed six months. Pedestrian access across the bridge will be maintained throughout construction, with police officers used as-needed for traffic-control assistance. DeLissio said PennDOT will adjust the timing of traffic signals along the detour route as needed to enhance traffic flow during construction. Rehabilitation for the entire bridge project, which includes roadway improvements to the existing Walnut Lane roundabout, will require approximately 18 to 24 months. Furthermore, as an enticement for the contractor to complete the work and open the bridge in under six months, DeLissio said PennDOT will include in the construction contract a financial disincentive should the bridge closure exceed six months. Since the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, there is no disputing the repairs are needed and welcomed, DeLissio said. “Sharing these Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has introduced H.B. 299 , which is designed to combat elder abuse committed by people acting with power of attorney. "Pennsylvania has one of the fastest-growing populations of senior citizens 65 and older in the country," Bizzarro said. "Many of these two million Pennsylvanians suffer from dementia or other mentally debilitating diseases, so they grant power of attorney to others to help them with financial responsibilities. Unfortunately, many of these agents take advantage of those they’ve been entrusted to assist and misuse their funds. It is time to put an end to this egregious practice and make sure we protect our older Pennsylvanians and those who need extra support." The legislation, which has garnered bipartisan support, would revise the state’s Power of Attorney Acknowledgement to indicate that failure to comply with the document’s directives could result in criminal charges against the person with power of attorney. "Many times, people acting with power of attorney will commit theft, but claim they did not know their actions could be considered criminal," Bizzarro said. "My legislation would negate this shameful excuse." In addition, in cases of suspected abuse, H.B. 299 would allow local aging agencies to obtain evidence related to financial transactions made on behalf of a mentally incapacitated person. Bizzarro noted he introduced Read more
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today announced his request of a public health advisory from the state Secretary of Health, urging residents to exercise extreme caution when using electronic cigarettes and to avoid smoking anything with serious health consequences. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – House Resolution 59 sponsored by state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, dedicating Feb. 4, 2015 as National Girls and Women in Sports Day was unanimously adopted by the state House today. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today announced that more than $350,000 in state grants is coming to 34 fire and ambulance companies in the 50 th Legislative District. “First responders are at the core of public safety, and these grants enable them to focus more on saving our lives and properties rather than raising funds,” Snyder said. “These men and women make a tremendous sacrifice, and I applaud their service to our communities.” Funding for the 2014-15 Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program is generated from slot machine proceeds and not General Fund tax revenue, Snyder said. Greene County recipients are: Bobtown-Dunkard Volunteer Fire Dept., $11,791; Bobtown-Dunkard Volunteer Fire Dept. EMS, $7,444; Carmichaels-Cumberland Township Volunteer Fire Dept., $12,622; Center Township Volunteer Fire Co., $12,345; Clarksville & Community Volunteer Fire Dept. EMS,$7,444; Clarksville & Community Volunteer Fire Dept.,$11,514; Crucible Volunteer Fire Dept., $11,514; Graysville Volunteer Fire Co., $11,514; Greensboro-Monongahela Township Volunteer Fire Co., $11,514; Greensboro-Monongahela Township Volunteer Fire Co. EMS, $7,444; Jefferson Volunteer Fire Co., $12,345; Jefferson Volunteer Fire Co. EMS, $7,444; Morris Township Volunteer Fire Co., $11,514; Mount Morris Community Volunteer Fire Co., Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood and Jason Dawkins, both D-Phila., have introduced legislation to strengthen sibling visitation rights and recognize the importance of these relationships on the emotional and psychological development of children. The Philadelphia lawmakers say their proposal (H.B. 338) would simply provide standing in court to siblings who wish to petition for visitation rights, similar to grandparents' rights already provided under state law. The decision to grant sibling visitation rights would still rest in the hands of a judge. Youngblood, who introduced the legislation last session, said studies have documented the importance of sibling relationships in the development and growth of children. She said the bond between siblings is unique and powerful, and provides a structure beyond all other relationships critical to a child's development. "The state already acknowledges the importance of sibling relationships with regard to adoption and foster care, by doing everything possible to keep siblings together in those difficult circumstances," Youngblood said. "The same protection should be extended to all children separated from their siblings, especially in situations where the family structure has significantly changed. Once sibling relationships are established, the bond is an essential part of a child's life and we need to make sure that they have an opportunity to keep Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved his legislation calling for law enforcement training related to those suffering from mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals, such as alternative sentencing or treatment. The training for magisterial district judges would take the form of continuing education. "It is incumbent upon us as a governing body to address the significant problem of individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities ending up in our prisons," Caltagirone said. "As a first step, this would better equip our police and minor judiciary with the tools and training needed to identify these individuals at the earliest point in the criminal justice system and get them proper treatment." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, nearly 50 percent of female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatment. "Getting the cost of corrections lowered is a must and if we continue Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, announced today that three fire companies in his legislative district will receive more than $40,000 in state grants.
The funding comes from the Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program funded by gaming revenue. Expanded in 2012, its annual funding increased from $25 million to $30 million, and eligibility was extended to 35 municipal fire departments across the state.
The state House of Representatives adopted a resolution this week sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, that urges the governor to issue a proclamation to observe Jan. 30, 2015 as "Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Day." Read more
HARMAR, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Frank Dermody said good progress is being made on emergency repairs to the damaged overpass on Pittsburgh Street in Springdale that has forced the rerouting of traffic since Friday. “My office has been working with PennDOT staff, the Springdale mayor and police chief, and NRG to speed this process up and get this main artery open again,” Dermody said. “Everybody pitched in and things are getting done hour by hour. It’s not possible yet to be sure when the road will reopen but we are hopeful for Wednesday.” The span over Pittsburgh Street was struck by a loaded truck Friday. Dermody said PennDOT inspections showed the damage was much more extensive than first thought. “Everyone in the area has been inconvenienced by this situation, but people’s safety has got to be our first concern. State and local officials are working together to get the road open again as soon as possible,” Dermody said. He noted that the emergency repair work on the overpass is a temporary measure. “Sometime later this year it’s likely the road will close again for a short time for more complete repairs, but we’ll be able to give everyone plenty of notice about that before it happens.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed state Rep. Chris Sainato's bill that would extend the same death benefits to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol that are available to other emergency responders. The state's Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides $100,000 to families of emergency responders who die while performing their duties. The bill authored by Sainato, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would amend the act to include the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported, nonprofit organization that serves as an official civil auxiliary arm of the United States Air Force. It consists of 2,200 volunteers who support emergency service responders across the country by conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing disaster relief and performing homeland security missions. “These volunteers work alongside of police, firefighters and other emergency responders during dangerous situations,” said Sainato, D-Lawrence. “They deserve to have the same benefits as their peers.” Sainato said the Civil Air Patrol has provided valuable assistance in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country. Members of the organization helped communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware recover from Hurricane Sandy. They also Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today announced that 18 fire and ambulance companies in his legislative district will receive more than $214,000 in state funding. The grants are from Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program and were awarded recently. In all, 2,507 grants were awarded statewide, totaling $30 million. The grants are funded from gaming revenue. "Donations are a big funding source for most of these companies, so this state funding is an added bonus," Burns said. "People rely on these companies and the volunteers when seconds count and this money will help them continue to provide these valuable services." Grant recipients and amounts awarded are as follows: Carrolltown Fire Co. -- $12,069 Cresson Area Ambulance Service Inc. -- $14,885 Dauntless Fire Co. -- $14,285 East Taylor Volunteer Fire Co. --$14,008 Ebensburg Area Ambulance Assoc. -- $7,445 Gallitzin Fire Company No. 1 -- $14,008 Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Co. -- $14,285 for the fire company; $7,445 for EMS John Carroll Area Ambulance Service -- $7,445 Loretto Fire Co. -- $12,623 Lower Yoder Township Volunteer Fire Co. -- $11,515 Middle Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Co. -- $14,285 Patton Area Ambulance Association, Inc. -- $7,445 Patton Fire Co. No. 1 -- $14,285 Portage Area Ambulance Assoc. -- $7,445 Portage Volunteer Fire Co. -- $14,285 Reade Township Volunteer Fire Co. Read more
GREENVILLE, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Mark Longietti’s new Greenville office is now open. The office is in the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Building, 182 Main St. It is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 724-588-1005. The fax number is 724-588-1023. Longietti said opening the new office was necessary because the boundaries of the 7th Legislative District were changed during redistricting. The borough of Greenville and West Salem Township were added to Longietti’s district. The cities of Farrell, Hermitage and Sharon; the boroughs of Clark, Sharpsville, West Middlesex and Wheatland; and the townships of Lackawannock, Pymatuning, Shenango and South Pymatuning remain in the district. "The new office will give my constituents in the Greenville area convenient access to assistance with a variety of state programs and services," said Longietti, D-Mercer. Longietti said those programs and services include free help applying to the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, providing state tax return forms, providing criminal and child abuse clearance forms and delivery of those forms for expedited processing, birth and death certificate applications, and helping constituents with unemployment compensation and workman’s compensation issues. Longietti also said his staff helps secure driver's licenses, non-driver photo IDs and handicapped placards; deals with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – Pop Warner National Super Bowl Championship football team winners from the Germantown area of Northwest Philadelphia were honored on the House floor today, in a ceremony orchestrated by state Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood and Stephen Kinsey, both D-Phila. The Northwest Raiders, winners of the 2014 national Pop Warner title, defeated a team from Connecticut in a game held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and televised on ESPN2. Their accomplishment was acknowledged by H.R. 34 , jointly sponsored by Youngblood and Kinsey. "It is a pleasure and honor to recognize a group of young men who, in the truest display of dedication and teamwork, have accomplished such a lofty goal," Youngblood said. "Their success is proof that when you set a goal and put your mind to it, anything is possible. They have put themselves – and their community – on the national stage in an impressively positive way." Kinsey said, "The old adage goes, 'It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.' We can be proud of the way the Northwest Raiders played the game – and doubly proud of the fact that they emerged victorious. In so doing, they've become role models for countless other youths." Youngblood made particular note of the strong educational component of the Pop Warner title, reiterating that the organization which operates in 42 states requires players to maintain academic standards Read more
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