State Rep. Gerald Mullery has introduced legislation (H.B. 1274) that would ensure employees who are paid with a debit card have access to the full amount of their wages and no-cost access to their accounts. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 1 – Voting rights advocates joined state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, at a news conference at the state Capitol today on Bizzarro’s legislation to make the electoral process easier through same-day voter registration. Read more
The energy investment plan contained in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal would create good, green jobs, save schools and municipalities money through reduced electric costs and help the environment. Those conclusions came from a panel that included representatives of energy companies, a suburban Philadelphia school official, farmers and a high-ranking member of the Wolf administration. They testified before the House Democratic Policy Committee during a hearing Monday in the state Capitol.
PHILADELPHIA, May 29 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., today released a statement on the importance of buying local produce and the value of PA Preferred, the state-supported agricultural marketing program for food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania. “It’s that time of year to start my rounds to the local farmers’ markets in the 194th Legislative District, and I am always impressed and pleased with the fresh produce and goodies I can find,” she said. “This week I stopped by the Bala Cynwyd Farmers' Market at its new location on the Barmouth Trailhead of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail. I love bringing the farm to my table; somehow the food just tastes better, and I know it is better for me.” DeLissio added that there are many other organizations devoted to local and fresh produce and products, including Farm to City , a Philadelphia-based program whose goal is to unite communities, families and farmers year-round through good locally grown food. “As a member of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, I am acutely aware of the benefits PA Preferred provides growers and consumers,” DeLissio continued. “By purchasing goods made in Pennsylvania, you are making a difference by instilling pride in our homegrown products and helping our local economy. Many of my farmers’ market buddies sell their PA Preferred products not only roadside, but look Read more
HARRISBURG, May 29 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro today announced that GeorgeKo Industries Inc. in Erie County received a $9,500 Small Business Advantage Grant from the state. The plastic parts manufacturer is one of nearly 140 businesses statewide that will install energy efficiency or pollution prevention projects using grants provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection. DEP recently awarded more than $980,000 to 139 small businesses for those purposes.
PITTSBURGH, May 29 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, said he supports today's court ruling requiring local health care giant UPMC to continue accepting the health insurance of Highmark Medicare Advantage customers. "Today's decision gives some security to our seniors currently enrolled in the Highmark Medicare Advantage program," DeLuca said. "Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini left no doubt that the previous agreement which extended coverage through 2019 could not be cancelled by one side." UPMC previously announced plans to end the agreement, which would have left 182,000 Highmark Medicare Advantage subscribers without access to UPMC facilities beginning in January 2016. "The court ruling today was a sharp reminder that neither UPMC nor Highmark has the authority to change the consent decrees that are currently in effect." DeLuca added. "Now these Medicare Advantage subscribers can look to the fall open enrollment period with a sense of stability and the knowledge that their current plan will remain in effect for the next three years." DeLuca has been active in trying to end the dispute between Highmark and UPMC and introduced H.B. 1172, which would give the state Insurance commissioner the authority to provide additional patient protection for consumers who are impacted by the Highmark-UPMC dispute. As part of the original consent Read more
PITTSBURGH, May 29 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement in light of the ruling today by Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini in the ongoing dispute between UPMC and Highmark: "Today’s decision by Judge Pellegrini is a momentous victory for consumers in western Pennsylvania. Under this decision, UPMC is required to continue to see Highmark Medicare Advantage patients at in-network rates which means that 180,000 seniors will not lose access to their doctors," Frankel said. "The decision is important in several ways. Not only does it resolve the ongoing confusion regarding Medicare Advantage, it requires both UPMC and Highmark to resolve outstanding issues related to their consent decrees through binding arbitration which must be completed by September 30, 2015. In doing so, this decision could help provide clarity to hundreds of thousands of consumers in Pennsylvania who’ve been held hostage by this ongoing situation," Frankel said. "Additionally, Judge Pellegrini made it clear that neither entity can make changes in their future business relationship with each other without court approval. The decision also requires the Commonwealth to make recommendations on how to change the corporate governance structure of both entities. This could lead to long-term changes in UPMC and Highmark’s behavior that reorients them to an even stronger commitment to serve Read more
The Senate and House Democratic policy committees hosted a joint hearing at Philadelphia City Hall to discuss legislation that aims to improve public health and safety by giving workers the opportunity to accrue paid sick leave. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, will introduce an omnibus Public School Code bill that would establish a moratorium on Keystone Exams being used as a requirement for graduation. Carroll said this suspension would benefit students and their families, while offering much-needed relief to school districts that face significant financial and educational obstacles to fully implement the graduation requirement. "It has become ever more apparent to me that the linkage of Keystone exam passage to graduation is riddled with problems and that more thought is required to assess students with a wide range of abilities," said Carroll, a member of the House Education Committee. "A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works in the real word and the Keystone exam requirement is no exception." Carroll said this provision of his pending bill complements an effort by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, Democratic chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Carroll's bill also will include all of Gov. Tom Wolf's education code changes, except that his bill will go beyond Wolf's plan to ensure fairness in special education funding for both charter and cyber charter schools. It will seek to accomplish this by applying the special education formula recommended by the Special Education Funding Commission to both charter and cyber charter schools. Another key difference between the Wolf plan and Read more
HARRISBURG, May 27 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, said the Commonwealth Financing Authority today approved nearly $800,000 in state gaming grants for important projects in portions of Lackawanna County he represents.
“While the casinos have provided thousands of jobs and helped the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania, an additional benefit is the local economic development dollars that are provided to adjacent counties,” Flynn said.
Rep. Robert Freeman reports that the Commonwealth Financing Authority has approved a $200,000 state grant for infrastructure improvements to the Easton Public Market, a multivendor, indoor food market scheduled to open this fall. Read more
State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna, announced the state has awarded gaming fund grants totaling $479,500 to area organizations and municipalities to fund vital community projects. Read more
The House Democratic Policy Committee will conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, June 1 in Harrisburg to discuss Gov. Tom Wolf’s energy investment plan included in his budget proposal. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 26 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and House Education Committee Democratic Chairman Jim Roebuck, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at Drexel University on the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s Act 101 program, which provides higher education opportunities for the disadvantaged. The state-funded Act 101 program allocates money to Pennsylvania schools to provide services to academically and financially disadvantaged students to assist them so they can complete postsecondary study. “It was enlightening to hear firsthand from administrators that this program works and is needed in the community,” Kinsey said. “Everyone deserves an opportunity when it comes to education, and thanks to the Act 101 officers and the program itself, Pennsylvania is delivering on that promise.” Roebuck added, "Act 101 was created to help thousands of disadvantaged Pennsylvanians pursue higher education, and we want to make sure it fulfills that goal.” House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said: “Every young adult deserves access to a quality post-secondary education. Representatives Roebuck and Kinsey understand that and I commend them for working hard to make sure students continue to have access to PHEAA's Act 101 program.” More information about the Act 101 program is available online at http://pheaa.org/Act101 . Read more
TEMPLE, May 26 – In an effort to increase early detection of vision and potentially life-threatening abnormalities, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he intends to introduce legislation that would establish the Infant Vision Information, Education and Wellness program.
Rozzi's proposal would ensure that all newborns are screened for vision abnormalities before leaving the hospital. All newborns who are not born in a hospital would need to be screened within the first 30 days of life.
"The intent of the IVIEW program is to ensure every child in this commonwealth is properly screened for possibly debilitating vision abnormalities that potentially could cost them their vision or even their lives," Rozzi said. "The good news is that screening for these abnormalities is a simple process and early treatment often can resolve the underlying issue."
Rozzi said the ailments that the IVIEW screening could detect include cataracts, glaucoma, leukocoria and retinoblastoma.
The IVIEW program, which would be established within the Department of Health, also would provide all parents with information about the merits of continued screening and details about needed follow-up care.
"A simple eye test can make a world of difference for children born with these abnormalities," Rozzi said. "I look forward to introducing my legislation shortly to address this crucial issue.
Rozzi said the IVIEW program would bring Pennsylvania closer to meeting the current American Acade Read more
HARRISBURG, May 26 –The Senate and House Democratic Policy Committees will hold a joint public hearing on paid sick leave at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 28 at Philadelphia City Hall, Courtroom 253, Broad and Market Streets, Philadelphia. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 26 – State Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, both D-Lehigh, have introduced a resolution that would examine the unfair balance of income and the factors that contribute to it in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 326 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on income inequality in the commonwealth. The study would include factors that have contributed to the increase in income inequality over the last several decades, gender differences in education levels and occupations and how they contribute to the gender wage gap, comparing wages for working minorities and working non-minorities with the same level of education, comparing wages for minority women and non-minority women with the same level of education, and comparing wages for men and women in female-dominated, gender-balanced and male-dominated occupations. “We can only begin fixing a problem by fully understanding it,” Schweyer said. “There have been concerns over the issue from business, community and economic leaders and faith-based communities in my district, so we really need to get our arms around it.” "Income inequality is the greatest challenge of our modern society; the rich have more and the poor have less than at any point since the Great Recession," Schlossberg said. "We must gain a better understanding of the specific challenges at play with this issue in order to build momentum for a positive Read more
HARRISBURG, May 26 – State Reps. Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, both D-Lehigh, have introduced a resolution that would examine the unfair balance of income and the factors that contribute to it in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 326 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on income inequality in the commonwealth. The study would include factors that have contributed to the increase in income inequality over the last several decades, gender differences in education levels and occupations and how they contribute to the gender wage gap, comparing wages for working minorities and working non-minorities with the same level of education, comparing wages for minority women and non-minority women with the same level of education, and comparing wages for men and women in female-dominated, gender-balanced and male-dominated occupations. “We can only begin fixing a problem by fully understanding it,” Schweyer said. “There have been concerns over the issue from business, community and economic leaders and faith-based communities in my district, so we really need to get our arms around it.” Click on the picture below to see more of Schweyer's comments: "Income inequality is the greatest challenge of our modern society; the rich have more and the poor have less than at any point since the Great Recession," Schlossberg said. "We must gain a better understanding of the specific challenges Read more
LEVITTOWN, May 21 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today introduced legislation that would exempt experienced emergency responders from fees totaling more than $47 for state and federal background clearances. “I understand and endorse the need for better protections for our children,” Davis said. “However, first responders who have proven their integrity and value to their communities deserve a break from the financial burdens of such background checks.” Flanked by emergency responders at the Newportville Fire Company station, Davis said her House Bill 1081 would spare paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service responders from the $10 clearances from the state police and state Department of Human Services and the $27.50 fee for an FBI criminal background clearance. Those fees and clearances are requirements under new laws enacted last year in an effort to better address how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. “Many if not most of our experienced first responders have previously received clearances as a condition of their employment or service,” Davis said. “My measure would exempt them from burdensome fees as well as the FBI clearance requirements if they have clean records and have been state residents for the last 10 years.” “Our firefighters and EMS providers save lives and property throughout the commonwealth every day, and I believe they deserve to be spared from clearance fees Read more
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