A bill that includes state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s legislation to ban nicotine products from school grounds, including increasingly popular "vaping" products and electronic cigarettes, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today he is sponsoring two pieces of legislation intended to strengthen and create awareness of the Pennsylvania honey industry.
Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted Matzie's H.R. 364, which designates the week of June 15 to June 21 as “Pollinator Week” in Pennsylvania.
"The bee population has been declining rapidly, which is alarming because these pollinators serve an indispensable role in the world of agriculture," Matzie said. "Without bees and professional beekeepers, we would only be able to produce a fraction of the food we do now, so it is my hope that this resolution draws attention to this issue."
Matzie has also introduced H.B. 1266, which would establish regulations and a standard of identity for honey in the state. Currently, Matzie explained, official U.S. grades are displayed on honey products to designate the quality of the product, but the system is strictly voluntary. This results in many products on the market labeled as "pure honey" while in reality they are adulterated with sweeteners or antibiotics.
"Consumers have a right to know what they are buying," Matzie said. "But this legislation is also important for the industry. Honey producers that take the time and effort to produce pure honey should have the right to market their product as such, and this bill will ensure that right is protected."
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, has been named Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Carroll said, "I have been extremely fortunate to have had a substantial role with the Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy committees. I fully expect to continue serving as a leading voice in these policy areas for the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties while fulfilling my responsibilities in my new role as chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I look forward to serving the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in this new additional role, where I will oversee legislation dealing with the important agriculture and food sector in Pennsylvania." Dermody added, "Mike has earned the chance to lead this committee. He knows the importance of farms, food and agricultural research to Pennsylvania’s economy and he understands that thousands of jobs depend on keeping agriculture strong. As a chairman of a standing committee, his responsibilities within the caucus have been raised to include oversight of the committee while continuing to advance transportation and education policies important to House Democrats." Carroll is serving his fifth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 11 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., invites west Philadelphia residents to a free HIV testing and health screening event from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 19 at his office, 4712 Baltimore Ave. "To promote public health and awareness of HIV, I will host a van at my office where you can receive free HIV testing and free health information – as well as free health screenings by trained nursing students," Roebuck said. "No appointment is necessary, and there's no need to bring an insurance card – just bring identification." Roebuck said key reasons to get tested include: Almost one in five Americans who have HIV don't know it. Early intervention means a healthier life: If you do have HIV, the key to living a healthy life is being diagnosed early. Knowing your status protects you and your partner, even if you are both positive. Knowing your status lets you make informed decisions, including steps you can take during pregnancy. It lets you ask the right questions to take control of your health. Knowing your status helps you get the most out of your doctor visits. For more information, please call Roebuck's office at 215-724-2227. ### Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, commended Gov. Tom Wolf during a news conference today for his move to waive background check fees for volunteers while calling on his colleagues in the General Assembly to follow suit by codifying the exemption into law. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – A bill giving emergency vehicle designation to Philadelphia Prison System prisoner transport units sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, passed the House Wednesday. "My bill, H.B. 898 , is important because this designation will allow prisoner transport units to operate using flashing lights when transferring prisoners," Boyle said. "There is no doubt this will reduce risks associated with prisoner transfers." Due to the vast State Road prison complex, prisoners are transported across Northeast Philadelphia every day. All of these transfers can potentially lead to problems if there are traffic issues or one of the prisoner transport units gets into an accident. Boyle explained that prison transports are subject to high-volume traffic, which poses a risk when moving prisoners from location to location. Also, the complex infrastructure of the City of Philadelphia makes it necessary for prisoner transport units to have a clear path to facilities. "I will continue to lead the push for this bill all the way to the governor’s desk to make Philadelphia’s streets safer," Boyle said. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State. Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, announced the House today passed his bill that will focus on assisting grandparents raising grandchildren in Pennsylvania. House Bill 662 would establish a Kinship Navigator Pilot Program in the commonwealth to determine the needs of kinship caregivers and assess the feasibility of establishing a permanent program. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 191,000 children in Pennsylvania are being raised by 80,000 grandparents. Nearly 20 percent of these grandparents raising their grandchildren live in poverty. Pashinski said many grandparents in his district face challenges raising their grandchildren, including lack of a support network and absence of respite for the caregiver. “Grandparents often are not prepared financially or emotionally to provide for their grandchildren,” Pashinski said. “When taking on the role of parent, grandparents also often face custody battles that are costly, time-consuming and complicated. “These grandparents need qualified support and guidance to help them navigate the complexities of the system. It’s time for Pennsylvania to step up and help our grandparents and grandchildren by establishing a Kinship Navigator Pilot that would assist them in finding support they need to keep their family together.” Pashinski added that at least a dozen states have established similar and successful programs, including neighboring Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – Fifty-two years after President John F. Kennedy signed the federal Equal Pay Act into law, state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced she has reintroduced legislation to update Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law. Donatucci’s H.B. 1250 would increase fines for employers that knowingly violate state law, falsify records or interfere with investigations under the act. It would also allow employees to file a legal action up to three years after the violation.
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Madeleine Dean said that Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement today waiving the fees for volunteers’ State Police Criminal Background Check and Child Abuse Clearance is welcome news for volunteers across the commonwealth. Additionally, the fee for these clearances will be reduced from $10 each to $8 for workers who need them for their current or prospective employment. This decision is in response to new requirements enacted under Act 153 of 2014 to require criminal and abuse clearances every three years for employees and volunteers who are in contact with minors as a part of their duties. Since the passage of Act 153, many legislators have worked to improve the law to alleviate some of this burden on volunteer organizations. Dean, D-Montgomery, recently introduced legislation, H.B. 515, which would have similarly waived the fee for volunteers. “While the intention of Act 153 is to ensure a safe environment for children throughout the commonwealth, many Pennsylvanians have made it known that the fees associated with these clearances have placed an unintended burden on volunteers and organizations,” Dean said. “I am happy with the governor’s decision. “All across Pennsylvania, volunteers work diligently to improve our commonwealth and the lives of its citizens. My fellow legislators and I have been working with the governor to ensure that the measures intended to protect our children do not Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, today lauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement to waive state background check fees for volunteers working with children. “The governor’s action today is encouraging for our volunteers who dedicate so much of their time to improving our communities,” Bizzarro said. “I am proud we will be able to continue protecting our children, as well as give some assistance to the volunteers who help them every day.”
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca today said seven entities within the 55th Legislative District are the recipients of nearly $1.2 million in state and federal funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency designed to help crime victims. Petrarca, a member of the commission, participated in today's meeting in which more than $49 million in funding was approved. "The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency administers a number of state and federal funding streams to help victims of crime, and I was pleased to be able to help distribute this funding," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. The following entities received funding under the Victims of Crime Act: Westmoreland County Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center -- $130,792 Blackburn Center -- $343,720 Westmoreland County Commissioners -- $76,974 Armstrong County Helping All Victims in Need -- $126,657 Indiana County Alice Paul House -- $179,816 Awarded under the Victims of Juvenile Offenders were: Armstrong County Commissioners for 2015-16 victims of juvenile offenders -- $18,972 Alice Paul House -- $21,864 Westmoreland County Commissioners -- $38,853 for a juvenile court liaison and $53,214 for a juvenile victim/witness project. Received under the combined funds of Violence Prevention Programs, Federal Justice Assistance Grant and Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Family Services of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, commended Gov. Tom Wolf today for his move to waive fees associated with background checks for volunteers working with children.
“I am proud to have worked with Governor Wolf to make sure that this vital action was taken," Matzie said. "By waiving the fees, we ensure that those who generously give their time to the children in our communities won’t be deterred from doing so because of cost."
Wolf today announced his administration would waive the $10 fee for the Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check and the $10 fee for the Department of Human Services child abuse check required by the Child Protective Services Law for volunteers working with children.
This decision is in response to new requirements enacted under Act 153 of 2014 to require criminal and abuse clearances every three years for employees and volunteers who are in contact with minors as a part of their duties.
Since the passage of Act 153, many legislators have worked to improve the law to alleviate some of this burden on volunteer organizations such as volunteer fire departments and EMS providers.
According to Matzie, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and the state police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants.
"This move keeps the safety provisions of Act 153 firmly in place, without discouraging people from v Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to waive fees for the state background clearance checks Pennsylvania volunteers are required to obtain under new state laws. Wolf today said his administration would waive the $10 Pennsylvania State Police criminal history check and the $10 Department of Human Services child abuse check fees for volunteers who are required to obtain them under Pennsylvania’s new Child Protective Services Law. Those clearances are requirements under the law enacted last year in an effort to better address how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. “Volunteers dedicate their scarce time and talents toward bettering the lives of others and the communities in which they live, work and raise their families,” Hanna said. “The state should recognize their sacrifice and contributions by doing these background and clearance checks at no charge to the volunteer, and I am delighted that Governor Wolf agrees. “Unburdening our volunteers of these fees will go a long way in helping to keep volunteer organization and activities thriving in Pennsylvania. This is welcome news for organizations throughout Clinton and Centre counties.” According to figures from the Wolf administration, nearly 300,000 volunteers are projected to seek the clearances in the first year. According to Hanna, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced a bill that would let public housing authorities form their own police force. "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh housing authorities already have this ability under current law, but smaller cities in the state face the same problems with criminal activity that larger cities do," Freeman said. "All public housing authorities should have the ability to set up their own police force in order to better combat crime. "A public housing police force also would greatly enhance community policing efforts, making public housing projects safer for their residents and their families, especially children." Under Freeman's bill, the housing authority police officers would patrol public housing projects. They would be required to complete the same course of instruction and accreditation as is required for municipal police officers under state law. Funding for these police forces would come from public housing authority budgets. While every housing authority would have the option to form a police force under Freeman’s bill, they would not be required to do so. "Some authorities may choose to simply hire a detective rather than create a full-blown police force," Freeman said. "Either way, they could determine what would be the most appropriate approach to enhancing law enforcement efforts." Besides reducing crime and enhancing public safety, Freeman Read more
Rep. Tina Davis, who launched efforts in April to exempt emergency responders from burdensome background clearance fees, applauds Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to waive background clearance fees for volunteers, including volunteer firefighters and emergency service personnel. Davis’ H.B. 1081 awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced today that Saint Francis University has been awarded a grant for more than $36,000 from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to support initiatives aimed at reducing underage and dangerous drinking. The PLCB grants are awarded to support a wide range of activities including training, law enforcement patrols, the development of environmental management strategies and other prevention programs. "This money is crucial to help educate our young people about the potential dangers of drinking," Burns said. "I applaud the faculty and staff at Saint Francis University for taking the steps in providing outreach and information to combat this problem." The PLCB Bureau of Alcohol Education awarded $2.2 million to 65 entities across the state for the 2015-17 grant cycle. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 10 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to waive fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks for volunteers working with children. Laws enacted last year to bolster how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse would have required volunteers to secure criminal history and child abuse clearances, costing $10 each, beginning July 1. Almost 300,000 volunteers are projected to seek the clearances in the first year. “We have many people who want to volunteer with a variety of programs to assist children,” Dawkins said. “These programs are an important part of many neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and I am thrilled we won’t force volunteers to pay out of pocket on top of donating their time.” Besides waiving fees for volunteers working with children, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and the state police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today said he has introduced legislation that would create the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Act. Specifically, H.B. 1182 would legalize video poker for adults 21 and older at establishments that are licensed to sell liquor such as bars, taverns and clubs. Establishments would be permitted to operate up to five video gaming machines and would be subjected to a criminal background check performed by the Pennsylvania State Police before being awarded a license. "We're staring at a $2 billion budget hole and we're sitting on a potential gold mine," Caltagirone said. "This is a prime time to enact a new revenue source to help spur economic development throughout struggling cities and towns and get our state back on track." The legislation also would create the Municipal Economic Development Fund. Money within the fund, acquired through video gaming profits, would be distributed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development as grants for local municipalities' economic development projects. Caltagirone added the funding formula for how video gaming proceeds would be distributed includes 50 percent to the licensed establishment, 20 percent to the licensed operator, 29 percent to the Municipal Economic Development Fund, and 1 percent to the host municipality. "This bill could provide an additional and needed revenue source for local Read more
Joined by state Reps. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, and Cris Dush, R-Jefferson/Indiana, along with Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association members, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., called for support for bipartisan legislation to permit expungement of specific offenses from a person’s criminal record provided certain criteria are met. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, will introduce a bipartisan bill that would carry out strong charter school reforms. "This bill would make the reforms our students and taxpayers need. It has bipartisan support from the start, so it's more likely that Governor Wolf can and would sign it into law instead of vetoing it. The legislature and governor have a lot to get done this year and we need to work together," Roebuck said. "There are charter schools that are innovative and provide a good education, but we must have the tools to deal with the bad apples, and we shouldn't overpay for the good ones. Our children and taxpayers deserve better." In March, the House passed a charter-school bill (H.B. 530) on party lines. Roebuck said that bill falls short on needed reforms and oversight, would override local control and would cut Wolf out of a proposed school funding commission. Roebuck's new bill includes: Setting a tuition rate of $5,950 for each non-special-education cyber charter school student, based on the highest-spending comparable high-performing online education programs offered by Pennsylvania intermediate units. This resembles what Wolf proposed in his budget. "This bill would return $160 million to school districts, which are largely funded by property taxes. That is a much better deal for students and Read more
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