HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has appointed Dante Santoni of Reading, Berks County, to a two-year term on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Santoni served 20 years in the House of Representatives and served as Democratic chairman of the Gaming Oversight Committee. He voted for the 2004 law that permitted slots gaming at up to 14 venues and established the seven-member Gaming Control Board to regulate the new industry. “Dante Santoni is well versed in the issues and questions that come before the Gaming Control Board, and he understands the value of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry which employs thousands of people and delivers millions of dollars in tax relief every year,” Dermody said. Dermody noted that although the board was formed 12 years ago, it continues to deal with substantive questions relating to the maintenance and measured expansion of gaming in Pennsylvania. He said Santoni is well prepared to contribute his expertise to the board’s work. “He has a very important quality we always need in government, and that’s common sense,” Dermody said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve Pennsylvania in this new capacity,” Santoni said. Santoni is a graduate of Muhlenberg High School and earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Villanova University. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – Pennsylvania House Democrats praised Gov. Tom Wolf's "smart and responsible" approach to the 2017-18 state budget, introduced by the governor today during an address to a joint session of the General Assembly. "Governor Wolf's plan represents a different approach," Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. "It is a welcome shift from the reckless and damaging across-the-board cuts that marked Pennsylvania’s four Republican budgets from 2011 to 2014." He said Wolf's proposed budget builds on the last two state budgets by boosting investments in education and fighting the opioid crisis while making significant inroads in eliminating Pennsylvania's ongoing fiscal deficit. "This budget plan streamlines government and cuts costs responsibly while maintaining core services and protecting what really matters to the people of Pennsylvania,” Dermody said. "I’m especially pleased that the governor answered our call to make a wise investment in pre-kindergarten and early childhood programs.” The governor's proposed budget makes a serious commitment to the middle class. The governor focuses on restoring previous budget cuts, but without resorting to tax increases on middle-class families. The budget does not call for an increase in the Personal Income Tax or sales taxes, but instead seeks an end to tax loopholes for giant corporations and a Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year: “This year’s budget proposal seems like a smart approach to helping all Pennsylvanians while rethinking government efficiencies. The governor intends to make consolidations and cuts where necessary, while not jeopardizing gains we’ve made in education and health care, especially for those suffering from addiction. “There are investments in education and efforts to help more individuals with intellectual disabilities. The plan also includes additional funding to battle the statewide opioid crisis. “I especially applaud his proposal that would require municipalities who currently receive local police coverage for free from the Pennsylvania State Police to share in the costs. I have been fighting for years on this issue because it is unfair for 20 percent of the state’s population to get free police coverage while the rest of us pay for them and our own local police. “At first glance, the plan seems like a good starting point and I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks about how it could impact our state agencies.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – Below is a statement from state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood , D-Phila., regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2017-18 budget address today: "In difficult economic times, the first knee-jerk reaction is to simply cut our way out of the problem. Pennsylvania attempted that a few years ago, and the impacts from that failed experiment are still being felt today, even amid a renewed investment in education and human services under the Wolf administration. "Instead of cutting services without understanding their consequences, I support the governor’s approach of taking a long, hard look at how government could work more efficiently. A more efficient government does not mean less services. In fact, if done right, we can achieve so much more without raising taxes on everyday folks. "I stand with Governor Wolf on his plan to provide a solution to our budget situation. I strongly believe that our role is to put people first – we need to put people first and fully and fairly fund our schools, which also gives families the chance to send their kids to college or technical school; we need to put people first and raise the minimum wage so that the promise of a brighter future and stronger economy is attainable for all residents of this Commonwealth; we need to put people first and support programs that help seniors and veterans, ensures good roads, safe water and healthy communities, and offers people the opportunity to succeed; and, we Read more
CHESTER, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware, announced today that older residents can obtain their SEPTA Key photo ID card at his district office. SEPTA Key is the modern fare payment and collection system being used by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. It offers seniors an alternative to using their Pennsylvania driver’s license or state-issued ID card. "Seniors rely on SEPTA to take them shopping, to appointments, and visit loved ones, so I want to help make their trips easier," Kirkland said. "My staff and I look forward to assisting our residents in getting their ID card." The new Key cards have contactless chips, so all riders will have to do is pass it across the face of the validator to pay for their ride. Kirkland said seniors should call his office at (610) 876-6420 to make an appointment to get their picture taken and get their ID card. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 401 Avenue of the States in Chester. Read more
SCRANTON, Feb. 7 – A staffer from state Rep. Marty Flynn's office will provide outreach assistance next week in South Abington Township. Read more
http://www.goerie.com/news/20170207/erie-area-fire-companies-ems-providers-receive-state-grant-money Read more
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced that eight fire and ambulance companies in the 3 rd Legislative District are receiving $108,176.89 in state grants to aid their operations. “One of the challenges our emergency personnel are faced with is to acquire much needed funding to keep functioning and to properly maintain their equipment,” Bizzarro said. “The state grant money provides financial support so that the people who protect us are adequately funded.” The grants are made possible by the Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program, which is funded by gaming revenue. Grants can be used toward repairing, building or renovating facilities. The money also can be applied toward purchasing equipment, training and certification of staff, or it may go to repay debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. Organizations in the 3 rd Legislative District receiving grants are: Central Erie County Paramedic Association -- $7,448.21 Edinboro VFD -- Fire $15,000 – EMS $7,448.21 Emergycare -- $7448.21 Kearsarge Fire Department -- $14,931.88 Lake Shore Fire Department -- $13,130.64 McKean Hose Company -- Fire $12,873.32, EMS $7,448.21 Millcreek Paramedic Service Inc. -- $7448.21 West Lake Fire Department -- $15,000 Read more
State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, announced today that residents of the 103rd Legislative District are invited to the grand opening of her new district office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at 46 Kline Village. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – The state House of Representatives today adopted a resolution sponsored by state Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., that raises awareness for the number of senior citizens in the commonwealth who live independently, well after retirement. House Resolution 20 designates February 2017 as “National Senior Independence Month” in Pennsylvania. Neilson said this awareness month seeks to get seniors and their families thinking about steps they can take and services that are offered that allow older Pennsylvanians to remain in their homes and communities. “Older adults have faithfully provided for current and future generations as pillars of our families, leaders in our communities and defenders of our nation, so we must do all we can to allow them to live their lives the way they want, for as long as they want,” Neilson said. “Individualized services and support systems can be enhanced to help maintain their dignity, independence and self-determination as they age.” According to the AARP, 78 percent of adults over the age of 45 would prefer to stay in their current residence as long as they possibly can and 80 percent of adults 45 and older would prefer to remain in their local community for as long as possible. Read more
Opinion/Editorial FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro D-Erie www.pahouse.com/Bizzarro Thwarting animal abuse by supporting H.B. 13 In Pennsylvania, the penalty for stealing 50 cents from someone’s car is tougher than for stabbing a dog. Stealing the change out of a car is a third-degree misdemeanor and carries a jail sentence of up to a year and a $2,000 fine. Stabbing a dog is only a summary offense with a maximum penalty of a $750 fine and 90 days in jail, and even if convicted, the abuser can have the dog back. What is wrong with this picture? It’s appalling that the maximum punishment for abusing animals is the same as stealing those coins or a traffic ticket. Or for beating a horse to death in broad daylight and capturing it on video. Or for putting a firecracker under a turtle’s shell. Or for leaving an abandoned dog to die of mange and skin infections while locked in a cage. That is why I have reintroduced H.B. 13, which would set stricter penalties for animal abuse. Last session I championed this legislation (formerly H.B. 869) to change the landscape for animal protection in Pennsylvania. The legislation unanimously passed the state Senate and made it out of the House Rules Committee twice, but failed to secure a final vote before the legislative session ended. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty should never be given the animal back, and my Read more
Wolf to start Pa. budget negotiations in Tuesday address http://www.goerie.com/news/20170205/wolf-to-start-pa-budget-negotiations-in-tuesday-address See full story inside The governor has said broad-based tax increases are off the table for the 2017-18 fiscal year, but he will pursue an extraction tax on the natural gas ... Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced legislation that would ensure all victims of DUI accidents can be fully compensated for their injuries and damage to their property. Currently, a victim of a DUI accident can receive full tort coverage only if the driver is convicted of DUI or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. However, if the drunk driver dies as a result of the accident, even if his or her blood shows he or she was driving under the influence, the victim does not receive full tort coverage. “While we work to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and deaths, it is vital that we simultaneously protect the victims of these accidents. My legislation would help all victims of DUI accidents by closing this unfair loophole,” said Mullery, D-Luzerne. The Pennsylvania DUI Association’s latest report shows that in 2014 there were 10,550 alcohol-related crashes resulting in 333 fatalities. Of those fatalities, 72 percent were the vehicle drivers. Passengers and pedestrians were far more likely to be injured, rather than killed, in the crash. On average, 20 people are injured in an alcohol-related traffic crash every day in Pennsylvania. Mullery’s legislation ( H.B. 276 ) was referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. Read more
SCRANTON, Feb. 6 – Older residents with questions about Medicare or health insurance coverage should visit state Rep. Marty Flynn’s office during his monthly outreach next week. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Reps. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., and Seth Grove, R-York, will reintroduce their bipartisan resolution that would establish a task force on juvenile life sentences. Grove said, "With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling a life sentence for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment, we as a state must develop policies to address it. I appreciate Representative Dawkins' leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him on ensuring we as a state can develop policies which conform to the court’s rulings." Dawkins said, "Pennsylvania faces a greater challenge than most states in complying with the Supreme Court's rulings, since our state is home to nearly 500 of the nation’s 2,000 'juvenile lifers.' I thank Representative Grove for his commitment to working in a bipartisan way on this vital criminal justice issue." In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences for people who were under 18 at the time of the offense are unconstitutional, and in January 2016, the court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller must be applied retroactively. The proposed task force would undertake a thorough and comprehensive review of laws, court decisions, policies and procedures. The lawmakers said this would ensure an efficient appeals and post-conviction relief process that would provide just and fair sentences that are Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., plans to introduce a bill to prevent needless deportations and keep families together by adjusting the maximum one-year sentences for some Pennsylvania misdemeanors by one day. "I was working on this legislation even before the controversy over the president's executive order on immigration, but certainly the heartlessness and sloppiness of that executive order has underlined the need for this bill," Rabb said. Rabb said there is a discrepancy between state and federal law. In Pennsylvania, a third-degree misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year. However, the same crime is considered an aggravated felony under federal immigration law – which is a deportable offense – simply by carrying a possible sentence of one year. Examples of third-degree misdemeanors include: disorderly conduct, loitering or simple drug possession. "These are not minor crimes, but we have chosen to treat them as misdemeanors, not felonies, in Pennsylvania – and in many cases, the person convicted doesn't serve a full year. Yet they can still be deported on this basis even if they didn't serve the full year. This is absurd and I doubt it was the intent of state law. Unless we fix our law, a legal, tax-paying immigrant convicted of a crime considered a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania would be considered a felon under federal immigration law and face deportation," Rabb said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – In anticipation of the decennial U.S. Census report in 2020, which provides the accounting for where citizens live, state Rep. Pam DeLissio D-Montgomery/Phila., looks forward to the opportunity to continue to address redistricting reform; redrawing the geographic boundaries of state and congressional legislative districts. The manipulation of the geographic boundaries to favor one political party is called gerrymandering. DeLissio said gerrymandering happens in our commonwealth every 10 years under the guise of redistricting. There will be a number of pieces of legislation circulating in the PA General Assembly on this matter, and as DeLissio often exclaims, the devil is in the details. Fair District PA is a grassroots coalition of citizens and organizations working to ensure that district maps are drawn in a fair and transparent way through a process that allows voters to choose their legislators rather than legislators choosing their voters. Senate Bill 484 from last session along with the House companion bill (H.B. 1835) sought to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish an independent citizens redistricting commission with clear standards to ensure public input and a fair, non-partisan outcome. Both bills received positive review from redistricting analysts and both were supported by legislators from both parties and will be reintroduced this session. Common Cause PA and the League of Read more
SCRANTON, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Kevin Haggerty is urging Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to vote against the nomination of Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, announced today that he will give a PowerPoint presentation titled: Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature: An Analysis of the Most Recent Pennsylvania Campaign Finance Reports, Lobbying Reports and Ethics Statements Relating to Natural Gas Drilling at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10 in the Capitol Media Center. The PowerPoint presentation will outline the natural gas industry’s campaign contributors to the legislature, the legislative recipients of these contributions and the large amounts of money spent on lobbying. There also will be a discussion of the shortcomings of the current Pennsylvania campaign finance and lobbying laws. The presentation will be streamed live at www.pahouse.com/live . Media coverage is invited. Reporters who are not able to attend, but would like to listen to the news conference may call 717-787-9903 through 9909. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, has reintroduced legislation (H.B. 275) to update the current antlerless hunting licensing system, which would allow hunters to apply for doe licenses online. “It's time to modernize this antiquated system,” said Mullery, who serves as Democratic vice chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee. “Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and there is no reason why a Pennsylvania resident should not be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way.” The current system is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, responsible for determining the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, while the actual distribution of permits is the responsibility of each county treasurers’ office. When applying for a doe license, hunters across the state fill out a form, write a check and submit it to the county treasurer, normally the one in their home county. However, Mullery points out that the current system is outdated and doesn’t always work because there are some counties that don’t always have the financial resources or staff to process applications in a timely manner. “There have been situations in the past, specifically in Luzerne County, where hunters, were shut out of the season simply because of the failure to process applications on time,” Mullery said. “Again, there really is no reason why these Read more
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