HARRISBURG, June 29 – The pending sale of 198 acres in Shenango Township, Lawrence County would be halted by a resolution approved today by the House State Government Committee. State Rep. Chris Sainato provided testimony during the meeting to share his concerns as to why this sale should be halted. Sainato, D-Lawrence, said S.R. 154 , which the state Senate adopted 34-16 Tuesday, was introduced by state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence. It seeks to rescind the state Department of General Services’ authority to sell the parcel, which includes the former Youth Development Center property, amid controversies over the bidding process and financial stability of the selected new owner, Hira Educational Services of North America. “Serious questions have arisen surrounding the sales process and whether the buyer chosen by DGS is capable of paying the $400,000 that it bid,” said Sainato, who joined Vogel and state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence, in sending letters to DGS detailing their concerns. “We need to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that the state has made a wise financial choice in deciding on a buyer for this valuable state-owned property. If that requires hitting the pause button on this proposed deal, that’s something we should do.” Sainato said that as an elected official, it is squarely his responsibility to act on behalf of his constituents, which he is doing because many of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 29 – State Rep. Matt Bradford congratulated Plymouth Township and the Peter Wentz Farmstead, which were each awarded a Keystone Historic Preservation Grant. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission awards the grants to support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archeological resources in Pennsylvania, municipal planning initiatives focused on historic resources, as well as construction activities at resources listed or eligible to be in the National Register of Historic Places. Montgomery County’s Peter Wentz Farmstead was awarded a $5,000 grant, and the Plymouth Township Parks and Recreation department was awarded a $25,000 grant. “These grants recognize the important role that historic and archeological sites play in our communities, and I’m glad to see local agencies among those working to preserve these resources,” said Bradford, D-Montgomery. “I offer congratulations to Montgomery County and the Peter Wentz Farmstead, and to Plymouth Township and its Parks and Recreation Department, and I look forward to seeing their work to improve our communities continue.” The grants receive funding from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, which is supported each year from a portion of the state realty transfer tax revenue. Read more
State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, will hold his sixth annual Back to School Giveaway Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Lancaster Barnstormers Stadium, 650 N. Prince St., Lancaster. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., applauded the passing of a bill ( S.B. 529 ) in the state Senate that would provide people with low-level, non-violent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view. “This legislation is long overdue - for too long we have only been tough on crime. This approach has cost our commonwealth millions of dollars and has taken an unnecessary toll on the lives of countless numbers of our citizens who have paid their legal debt to society but still find themselves locked out of a path to productive citizenry,” Harris said. “We are taking another necessary step to not just be tough, but to also be smart and most importantly fair in our approach to crime. This approach will unlock a pathway to creating something our commonwealth desperately needs, more productive, taxpaying, citizens. This is a great leap in the direction of helping to reduce overall rates of recidivism in our commonwealth and providing opportunities for our citizens and our communities to grow and thrive, potentially saving the state millions of dollars because we will be increasing our tax base,” Harris said. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing low-level, non-violent misdemeanors. He is now advocating for S.B. 529 and House Bill 1419 , which would implement automatic sealing of records with no action required by the former offender. Under Act 5, Read more
Rep. Bizzarro joins victorious lawmakers, animal activists and officials for the enactment of Act 10 of 2017, the landmark overhaul of Pennsylvania’s animal protection laws. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans this week introduced two bills, one of which would establish a task force on campus “intimate partner” sexual assault and violence, and the other would allow a domestic-abuse victim to cancel a shared phone plan with his or her attacker. Both bills were designed with intimate and domestic partners in mind, Hill-Evans said, because most victims of violence or sexual assault are attacked by a partner or someone they know. “The circumstances behind intimate-partner and domestic abuse are often similar across cases, and I believe that a fresh look into the issues could help modernize the programs and laws designed to prevent this cruel form of violence and criminally charge those who choose to partake in it,” she said. The first bill, H.B. 1633, would create the Task Force on Campus Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault within the Department of Education comprising various individuals who serve academic communities. This would include presidents of colleges and universities, police chiefs, judges, a psychiatrist or licensed clinical social worker, students who demonstrate a commitment to the prevention of intimate partner violence or sexual assault, a representative of an organization representing the interests of LGBT students, and members of the House and Senate Education committees. According to federal government data, Penn State University ranked first in the nation for the Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Reps. Bill Kortz and Marc Gergely, both D-Allegheny, have issued a joint statement in appreciation of the decision to move forward with the Mon-Fayette Expressway. “We would like to publicly acknowledge the members of the Southwest Planning Commission and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for their hard work and willingness to work together in taking the next step toward bringing this important transportation project closer to reality. “This project has been in the works for at least 15 years and this looks like the final hurdle to the projects construction has been overcome, thanks in large part to Allegheny County’s Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s leadership in this final vote. His advocacy was key to reaching this step and a 48-4 vote in favor of moving the project forward. “We would also like to recognize and thank the many municipalities in the area that publicly endorsed the project through resolutions supporting the plan. Many of our colleagues in the legislature also supported the plan, including state Senators Jim Brewster, Jay Costa, Pat Stefano, Camera Bartolotta and Kim Ward and 19 state House members from Southwestern Pennsylvania. “We have long believed that this short highway extension is crucial for the economic future of the Mon Valley. Funding has already been established thanks to the transportation bill we voted in favor of in 2011, Act 89.” The Southwestern Read more
HARRISBURG, June 28 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said a major education bill could pass in a rush around Friday's state budget deadline. So he's issuing a new report on charter schools in Pennsylvania that calls for strong reforms and explains why a House-passed Republican bill is mostly the opposite of reform. Roebuck's latest report, his fourth on the topic, also comes as Pennsylvania's charter school law turned 20 years old this month. "Unfortunately, the House Republican charter school bill, H.B. 97, is the equivalent of taking a leaky roof and drilling more holes in it. We need to fix the problems with Pennsylvania's outdated charter school law, not create more. Not all changes are 'reform,'" Roebuck said. The report is available online at https://is.gd/2017CharterReport . One highlight is an update on the performance of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, including: For 2015-16, based on a scale of 100, the average School Performance Profile, or SPP, score for traditional public schools was 70.3; for charter schools, 58.4; and for cyber charter schools, 50.9. As was the case in 2012-13 and 2013-14, charter schools, particularly cyber charter schools, still performed academically worse than other traditional public schools. For the 2015-16 school year, 54 percent of traditional public schools had SPP scores at or above 70, while only 24 Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila., said that the passage of H.B. 1547 by the House of Representatives today is a huge step for Philadelphia in order to answer the people’s call for safe and productive communities. Donatucci, chairwoman of the Philadelphia Delegation, said, “This was an effort on behalf of the entire delegation. We held meetings and hearings earlier this year, and with input from different sectors we crafted this legislation as a tool to make our neighborhoods safer, reduce crime and stop the proliferation of convenience stores and Stop-and-Go’s, which constantly put our families and loved ones at risk.” House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. The bill passed with a Donatucci amendment to clarify the process for establishing a saturated nuisance market area and designate a county as a declaration of need. “The amendment sets the requirements to file petitions and the time frame that the board has to approve or disapprove them. The decision should be taken within 90 days, and licensees have the right to appeal. Also, licensees in a saturated nuisance market Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., applauded today's House passage of a bill that would address "stop and go" nuisance alcohol-selling businesses in Philadelphia. "I co-sponsored House Bill 1547 because I feel that greater control and a positive benefit to the commonwealth would result from giving local governments and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's Bureau of Licensing the ability to designate areas as saturated nuisance markets," Dawkins said. Under the bill, the LCB would look at the number of citations, police incidents, objections to liquor license renewals and conditional license agreements of eatery and restaurant licensees to determine if a zip code area should be deemed a saturated nuisance market location. In neighborhoods designated as saturated nuisance market areas, violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and the Liquor Control Board would be able to remove licenses from those areas. Saturated nuisance market areas also would have added community input and would be subject to additional conditions such as transaction scan devices and enhanced food preparation requirements. The bill goes to the state Senate for consideration. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., is pleased the House voted in favor of legislation that would address the issues of nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and disrupt the quality of life in the communities where they operate. “The proliferation of these nuisance establishments throughout economically disadvantaged communities fuels the violence and general disruptions of family life while feeding into the stereotype of poor and dangerous neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are the same places where working-class parents are struggling to provide a decent home and striving to provide a superior quality of life for themselves and their children,” Harris said. “Families should not be forced to feel that their futures are under siege, held hostage by the less than scrupulous business practices. The legislature needed to act accordingly and we did by passing this legislation.” House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. “Nuisance or problem liquor establishments have an immediate and negative impact on their surrounding areas. Unlike many responsibly owned bars and taverns that Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Isabella Fitzgerald, both D-Phila., today applauded the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that would address the issue of nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and disrupt communities. House Bill 1547 would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Kinsey, who held a public meeting in March with Fitzgerald on the issue of these nuisance establishments, said this legislation is a major step in addressing how these stores disrupt local communities. “The residents of Philadelphia deserve to have the best quality of life possible without the problems caused by stop-and-go issues,” Kinsey said. “I applaud Rep. Jordan Harris and my fellow colleagues from Philadelphia for joining forces to combat this issue head-on with this legislation. “I am encouraged to continue the conversation and bring an end to these unwanted businesses.” Fitzgerald echoed her colleague’s comments. “Between the public meetings and the tireless work by my colleagues, we are moving forward to take action and eliminate the problems with these nuisance establishments,” Fitzgerald said. “I remain committed to working with state and local agencies to reverse the negative trend of consequences Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today said the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation designating multiple bridges throughout the Commonwealth. Hanna said two bridges in his district were part of a larger proposal, S.B. 289 , which designates eight bridges in total for the purpose of honoring the life and legacy of individuals who served this great country in various capacities. According to Hanna, the language in his bill, H.B. 1270 , which unanimously passed the House on June 5, was added to S.B. 289. The bridge that would honor Chief Petty Officer David Michael Collins is located at the junction of State Route 150 and State Route 64 over Fishing Creek in Mill Hall Borough, Clinton County, and would be named the U.S. Navy SOC David M. Collins Veterans Memorial Bridge. In 1988, Collins enlisted in the United States Navy where he served in the first Gulf War, the Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom. After 25 years of service, David retired in September 2012 as a chief petty officer. On March 12, 2014, at age 45, he passed away in Virginia Beach, Va. Hanna further amended S.B. 289 on the House floor to include a bridge honoring Centre County residents who have served or are currently serving our nation in the armed forces. The bridge is located on State Route 26 in Howard Township, Centre County, over Bald Eagle Creek, and would be named the Howard Area Veterans Bridge. Read more
EBENSBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is accepting applications from July 1 through 20 at his Ebensburg office for the second annual Charlie Vizzini Volunteerism Award, which will honor an outstanding volunteer in the 72 nd Legislative District. Burns presented the inaugural award last year to Charlie Vizzini, who amassed more than 8,000 hours by volunteering in Burns’ legislative office – fielding more than 1,000 constituent service matters and saving taxpayers an estimated $80,000. “The plan then was to make this an annual award, given to someone in the district who has volunteered to make the community a better place,” Burns said. “If you are – or know someone who is – one of those people, please submit a nomination.” To be eligible, one must: Be a resident living within Burns’ 72 nd Legislative District; Regularly volunteer to make the community a better place to live; and Be able to verify any stated volunteerism. Written nominations should include: The name and contact information of the person making the nomination, and the name and contact information for the person being nominated. An essay of no more than 1,000 words explaining why the person deserves the award and what they have done for their community. Nominations should be mailed or delivered to Burns’ Ebensburg office, 119 South Center St., Ebensburg, PA 15931. No nominations Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today announced the House unanimously passed his bill to require the Department of Transportation to provide a check-off box on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms for people to contribute to the first-ever pediatric cancer research fund in Pennsylvania. Caltagirone's legislation, H.B. 407, would provide Pennsylvanians the opportunity to donate money to the fund when they apply for a driver’s license or vehicle registration. The funds raised by the legislation would be distributed to eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct pediatric cancer research, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. "This is another historic step in our efforts to fund better treatments and hopefully a cure for pediatric cancer,” Caltagirone said. “The House action shows we have wide bipartisan support among state decision-makers. As we speak, children are fighting for their lives in Reading and Berks County, across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead the way in pediatric cancer research. “This bill would create an easy way for Pennsylvania residents to contribute to childhood cancer research directly in a manner that could save Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., said the passage of H.B. 1547 by the House of Representatives is a step in the right direction to revitalizing Philadelphia neighborhoods. House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila., and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Cephas is a co-sponsor of the bill and has been a vocal proponent of legislation that would curtail the harms caused to neighborhoods by “stop and go” establishments. In April, she hosted a public meeting in Northwest Philadelphia to address the issue. “I would like to thank my colleagues for taking the lead and holding stop and go establishments accountable,” Cephas said. “These establishments are detrimental to our communities, particularly our middle neighborhoods, and have the potential to prevent us from building economic development and improving our business corridors. Most of the issues that impact our communities – such as crime, loitering and even gun violence – are centered around these establishments. They serve as a deterrent to businesses that want to invest in our communities and discourage new neighbors from moving in.” The legislation Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Reps. Donna Bullock and W. Curtis Thomas, both D-Phila., applauded the passing of a bill in the House that would address the issue of nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and disrupt communities. House Bill 1547, introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila., and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Bullock has been at the forefront of examining ways to address the issue and said this legislation is a major step to combating these nuisance establishments. “From hosting public meetings to working with my colleagues, this effort would provide an avenue to help bring an end to the negative consequences associated with these stop-and-gos in our communities,” Bullock said. “I am proud to have worked with Representatives Jordan Harris and Joanna McClinton in crafting this legislation to address the concerns of our residents.” Thomas, who held a public meeting in April with Bullock on the issue of these nuisance establishments, echoed his colleague’s comments. “By working together, we can reverse the damages that these stop-and-gos have caused for far too long,” Thomas said. “We know these establishments lead to additional illegal Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder salutes the West Greene High School Lady Pioneers softball team, the Class A state champions, before the state House of Representatives. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Perry Warren welcomed the Pennsbury High School baseball team to the Capitol on Tuesday to recognize the team’s state championship title. The Pennsbury team won the PIAA Class 6A title on June 16 in a 1-0 victory over Dallastown High School at Penn State’s Medlar Field. The team claimed the first state title in the program’s history. Pennsbury had a 14-6 regular season and won the Suburban One League National Conference before winning the District I title. The team was led by Head Coach Joe Pesci and Assistant Coach Kurt Kramp and Captains Billy Bethel, Tyrone Hodges Jr. and Dave Murphy. “The Pennsbury Falcons displayed amazing skills throughout the state tournament in batting, pitching and defense, holding their opponents to only one run in their four state championship tournament games” Warren said. “The team and coaches have worked hard all season, and their families have been there to support them. I’m very proud to have such talented student-athletes in our community.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley’s resolution designating July 13 as “Summer Learning Day” in Pennsylvania was unanimously adopted by the House today. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, put forth H.R. 426 as a means of drawing attention to the importance of keeping youth learning, safe and healthy during the summer – and ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the academic year ahead. “Summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the ‘achievement gap,’ which remains constant during the traditional nine-month school year but widens during summer months,” Wheatley said. “By adopting this resolution, my House peers and I are acknowledging that summer learning is a critical component to preparing our youth for success in college, careers and life.” Wheatley said a wide array of public agencies, community-based organizations, schools, libraries, museums, recreation centers, camps and businesses contribute to year-round learning by operating summer programs. He added that summer learning programs also offer older youth meaningful activities that allow them to explore careers of interest, take on new responsibilities, contribute to their community and earn money. Regardless of age, these programs also are proven to maintain and advance students’ academic and social growth, keep children safe and healthy during summer months, and send them back to school in the fall Read more
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