HARRISBURG, May 11 – Members of the legislature's Women’s Health Caucus today unveiled their "Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health" for the new session at a Capitol news conference. The caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Frank Farry, R-Bucks; and Sens. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks. Frankel said, "We need to do more than honor women with words and Mother's Day cards – our bipartisan caucus is putting forth a package of legislation that would make specific progress for Pennsylvania women in areas such as family-friendly working conditions, economic fairness, ensuring healthy lives and help for victims of domestic violence." Farry said, "Women’s health is an important issue and we in the General Assembly take it seriously, including the health of our female veterans and active duty military personnel. In Pennsylvania alone, there are nearly 80,000 women veterans. While the proportion of women veterans to male veterans continues to increase, the unique health needs of women can be overlooked in providing services to a large, and predominantly male, veteran population. This comprehensive package of bills will go a long way in ensuring all Pennsylvania women, including our veterans, have health care options to meet their needs." Schwank said, "Women and families play a pivotal role in the overall health of our communities and the Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, has 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. The bill would give the state the authority to ensure subscribers receive the protections the consent decrees promised during the continuing battle between the two insurance and medical giants. "These two giants agreed to terms which were designed to protect current, vulnerable subscribers when their in-network agreement between the providers expired in 2014." DeLuca said. Unfortunately, both sides have continued to look for ways to leave subscribers in limbo. Those subscribers were promised protection through 2019. Subscribers who are currently enrolled in the Medicare Advantage product are at risk after January 2016 since UPMC does not plan to offer in-network access to Highmark's Medicare Advantage cardholders. "It is clear that the legislature must act to protect these people, and we must have solid protections in place before our seniors begin reapplying for Medicare Advantage coverage in the fall open enrollment period." The DeLuca bill would give the Pennsylvania Insurance Department expanded oversight over medical integrated delivery service groups which service the Greater Pittsburgh area. The bill is expected to be assigned to the House Insurance Committee for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, reminded veterans that the Persian Gulf Bonus Program is due to expire this summer. To qualify for the bonus, veterans must have served on active duty in the first Persian Gulf War, known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The deadline to apply is Aug. 31. "This is a program I co-sponsored and voted for back in 2006 because I believed it was important to recognize those military men and women who sacrificed for us," Petrarca said. "Until then, Pennsylvania hadn't had a war bonus program to recognize those serving in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Now the program is coming to a close and I want to make sure everyone who qualifies knows about this program and applies." The program pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For those whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in the operations, an additional $5,000 is available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war also may be eligible for an additional $5,000. Petrarca also said that Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is asking veterans who might have previously been denied the bonus to reapply. New applications are required to reopen a claim. To qualify, the service member must have: Served with the U.S. Armed Forces, a reserve component of the U.S. Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder and the Greene County Commissioners are teaming up to sponsor a free community shredding event on Saturday, May 9, for the safe disposal of unwanted, confidential documents. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, will participate in community town hall meeting about riots and race at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 9 at Beulah Baptist Church, 100 Livingston Street, Steelton. Kim will serve as a panelist and will help facilitate the conversation among the adults and youth in attendance. “Too often we just talk to our youth without allowing them to express themselves and their feelings,” Kim said. “This forum will give area youth a voice to discuss very important issues surrounding race and the recent riots in Baltimore.” Beulah Baptist Church Pastor Phillip T. Deal said the purpose of the event is “to increase the awareness that clergy and churches are committed to promoting peace, protecting life and ensuring justice is integral to our faith and community.” Kim will be joined on the panel by Cornelius Johnson, Susquehanna Township Health Officer; James Carter, a community activist; and Lawrence Claiborne, a youth worker. Four youths will also serve as panelists. For more information contact Rep. Kim’s Capitol office at 717-783-9342. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, announced that she is hosting an ex-offender resource town hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 14 at the Hamilton Health Center, 110 S. 17 th St . Kim said that Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel will be the keynote speaker at the event, which aims to help ex-offenders make the most of their lives. "I hope my town hall will provide ex-offenders with tools to expand their opportunities and help reduce the recidivism rate in the commonwealth,” Kim said. The town hall will include: An update on legislation to expunge past “non-violent” charges. A question-and-answer session with a panel of leaders helping ex-offenders. Vendors with job resource information. For more information contact Kim’s Steelton office at 717-986-1673. ### Read more
UPPER DARBY – Area veterans will have the opportunity to learn more about benefits and services available to them at a free veterans fair hosted by state Rep. Margo Davidson. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, June 18 at the East Lansdowne Borough Hall, 155 Lexington Ave., East Lansdowne. Davidson said the offerings include real estate tax exemptions for veterans with disabilities, emergency financial assistance for veterans and their families, a tuition gratuity for veterans and their family members seeking higher education, bonus programs for veterans of the first Persian Gulf War, and more. More details to come. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, said he has introduced legislation that would allow retirees from federal civil service who do not receive Social Security to qualify for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Schweyer said he authored the legislation following a conversation with a constituent. “Many retirees of federal service do not receive Social Security benefits. Instead, they paid more into their retirement plan,” Schweyer said. “Because of this, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. “Every senior in Pennsylvania deserves to receive as much assistance as they can following their years of dedicated service to the federal government.” House Bill 1162 would add federal civil service retirees to the list of people who can deduct 50 percent of their income in order to become eligible for this rebate program. Schweyer said this bill would provide the same measure of fairness to this group of retirees that has been given to retirees of the railroad industry. While both groups of retirees are not eligible for Social Security, railroad retirees are able to determine eligibility for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, said today that the state House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest.
Current state law makes terminating a rapist's parental rights complicated and could result in a rapist retaining custody of the child. If a victim is able to convince a court to terminate parental rights, the perpetrator also is relieved of his duty to financially support the child.
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, has announced he will be introducing a bill which would prohibit public employees from campaign activities while using sick time. The bill would make it a misdemeanor for a public employee to campaign, canvass or plan election or political fundraising events while using sick time granted by their employer. Other activities which would be prohibited include circulating nomination petitions or papers and participating in an organized telephone campaign in an effort to influence the outcome of an election. "I want to ensure that sick time, including time taken under the Family Medical Leave Act, is used for its intended purpose," DeLuca said. "This bill is a common-sense approach to ensure that our public employees are not abusing the sick time they have earned for non-medical purposes. "This bill would also give the taxpayers, whose money pays these employees, extra assurances that their tax dollars are going toward a public benefit, not a candidate." Employees found guilty of violating this ban could face fines of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison. DeLuca will be introducing the bill shortly and it is expected to be assigned to a committee for further consideration. ### Read more
Legislation amended by state Rep. Neal P. Goodman to ensure benefits veterans receive from Pennsylvania do not disqualify them from participating in the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program today passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more
UPPER DARBY, May 5 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, will sponsor a community health fair from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 21 at the Chapel of the Good Shepard, 654 Church Lane, Yeadon. “My community health fair is a perfect opportunity for residents of the 164 th Legislative District to receive free screening tests – and get lots of health questions answered -- by making just one visit,” Davidson said. “I think it’s very important for the health and safety of my constituents who may not have access to health care that my office provides this service.” There will be information on the Affordable Care Act, and an expert will be available to answer all of your questions about the federal health care program. The health fair will also include: Free health screenings. Information on health wellness from providers, state and county agencies and non-profits. Door prizes and giveaways. Free refreshments. For more information about the health fair, please call Maureen McGrory at 610-259-7016 or email email@example.com . ### Read more
HARRISBURG, May 5 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a resolution authored by state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, to raise awareness about mental health issues.
"Anxiety, depression and addiction are no more about faith or weakness than a broken bone is just in somebody's mind," Schlossberg said. "One in two Americans will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their life, but only 30 to 40 percent will seek treatment. That is why efforts like this are so important to reduce the stigma and spread the message that mental illness can be cured."
HARRISBURG, May 5 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced that the House of Representatives adopted H.R. 221 , his resolution designating May 7, 2015 as the "National Day of Prayer" in Pennsylvania. "This is a day to set aside to pray for our state and our country," Caltagirone said. "It is a time to put politics away." The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. The day was first established as an annual event in 1952 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress. "This annual event was created to encourage all citizens to pray for our leaders, communities, families and each other, and for national healing, reconciliation and unity," Caltagirone said. This is a time to uphold the rich history of prayer in our state and I'm proud to be leading the effort." Caltagirone said the resolution received unanimous support by the House. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 4 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, released the following statement after legislation passed the House that would increase 911 surcharges on monthly phone bills and force municipalities such as Allentown and Bethlehem to join a regional call center: Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder has introduced legislation that would extend the state’s Lemon Law protections to motorcycle buyers. Under Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law, manufacturers must replace, repurchase or compensate vehicle owners for defects that substantially impair its use, value or safety at no cost to the purchaser. "The reasonable protections available for vehicle owners should apply to motorcycle owners," Snyder said. "If a new motorcycle is in the repair shop for 30 days during the first year of ownership through no fault of the owner, then the rider deserves a fair shake and a new deal." Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 1 – Pennsylvania state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced today that she attended a public hearing headed by the House Health and Judiciary committees on medical marijuana Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The meeting was the third of three legislative public hearings statewide on the subject and featured expert testimony from doctors and leaders on state law, as well as experts from other states that have implemented laws related to recommending cannabis under certain conditions. “The testimony was enlightening, and I look forward to learning more as the legislation could come before the Health Committee this session,” said DeLissio, a member of the House Health Committee. “There are passionate views on both sides of the debate, and on the matter of its application, purported benefits and the details of the law itself. “How medical cannabis would be regulated and governed needs to be carefully vetted. There are 23 states and the District of Columbia where the use of medical cannabis is legal. I look forward to continuing to explore the pros and cons of legalizing this substance." Senate Bill 3 has been voted out of committee and a full Senate vote is anticipated in the next several weeks. DeLissio said that constituents are always welcome to voice their opinions and thoughts on matters that are state-related at her town halls, which she holds monthly. The next town hall will be held at 7 p.m. Read more
WILKINSBURG, April 29 – State Rep. Ed Gainey and the House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from several local education officials about the status of pre-K funding in Pennsylvania during a public hearing at Hosanna House. Gainey requested the hearing and served as co-chairman with HDPC Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. "Every child deserves a quality education regardless of where they live, and it’s vitally important that we reach these students at an early age," said Gainey, D-Allegheny. "Representative Gainey realizes that an investment in early childhood education is an investment in Pennsylvania’s future. Today’s panelists made it clear that a quality start to education will give Pennsylvania’s children the best chance at a successful future," Sturla said. Testifiers expressed overwhelming support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal to increase funding for early childhood education by $120 million in the 2015-16 state budget. Following questioning from Sturla, Michelle Figlar, executive director of Pittsburgh Association for the Education of the Young Child, agreed that the investment would still fall short of providing for all families and noted that an additional 100,000 children would be left unserved. Figlar estimates that a $120 million annual increase over the next five years would allow early childhood educators to reach all Pennsylvania children. State Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny, Read more
LEVITTOWN, April 29 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, recently introduced two bills in the House of Representatives. House Bill 1076 would stiffen drunk driving crimes for some accidents which cause serious injury or death. Currently there is a loophole which allows reduced charges if it cannot be proven that driving under the influence was the cause of an accident which kills or seriously injures someone, even if the driver was found to be intoxicated. "This is a huge loophole in our DUI rules," Galloway said. "A local teenager, Zachary Gonzalez, was killed by an intoxicated driver while riding his bike in January 2014, but since the police could not prove the driver's intoxicated state caused the crash, he could not be charged with a homicide; only driving under the influence. My bill would close that loophole." The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Galloway is also reintroducing Monica's Bill as H.B. 1074 , a bill that would allow a personal state tax deduction for uncovered expenses incurred by a living organ donor during the organ donor process. At least 10 other states have laws which provide some tax incentive for living donors. The bill was inspired by a family medical emergency which brought the need for the tax deduction to Galloway’s attention. An organ donation recipient’s insurance will pay the costs of the medical procedures required for the donor, but Read more
HARRISBURG, April 29 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said a new national report shows the need for strong charter school reforms in Pennsylvania like the legislation he plans to introduce soon. The report by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is titled "The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, And Abuse." It covers more than $200 million in alleged or confirmed financial fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in charter schools. The report says standard forensic auditing methodologies suggest the real total is closer to $1.4 billion, but that much "will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud." Roebuck said: "Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are unfortunately well-represented in this report. In Harrisburg, House Republicans have passed a charter school bill (H.B. 530) that falls short on needed reforms and oversight and would override local control to make it even easier to start charter schools – a dangerous combination for kids and taxpayers. House Democrats will continue to stand for greater accountability and transparency in these privately run, publicly funded schools. Fortunately, the Senate and Governor Tom Wolf still have the opportunity to do better, and the governor's budget proposes serious Read more
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