HARRISBURG, April 5 – As part of a package of reforms aimed at reducing workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, state Rep. Pam Snyder will introduce legislation to require lobbyists to complete ethics and discrimination training and hold them accountable for violations. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, wants to update the Lobbyist Disclosure Act to include those provisions, making them a condition of registering as a lobbyist in Pennsylvania. “The state Capitol must be free of sexual harassment and discrimination for employees and the public,” Snyder said. “Times are changing – thankfully – and with that shift, we need to make sure all of our applicable laws change at the same pace.” Snyder said that since lobbyists are tightly woven into the daily fabric of the Capitol and state government, they and their behavior should not remain immune from training requirements and potential liabilities. “Lobbyists should be held to the same standards as the public officials and employees they seek to influence,” Snyder said. Snyder’s forthcoming legislation is one piece of a comprehensive package of bills on workplace discrimination and sexual harassment being put forth by House and Senate Democrats. Read more
State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, today joined in announcing legislation that would strengthen protections against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace in Pennsylvania. Madden joined Gov. Tom Wolf and House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody at a news conference in Philadelphia to highlight a new package of anti-discrimination bills. Madden’s bill in the package would ensure all workers are provided workplace protections. Specifically, the bill would expand the types of employers that are covered under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include all employers, including those with just one employee. Her bill also would add domestic workers and independent contractors in the definition of “employee.” “All employees have the right to work in an environment free of harassment, regardless of the size of the company or their job description,” Madden said. ‘We need to protect everyone, including full-time nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers, independent contractors and interns so they don’t became prey to workplace harassment and abuse.” The package of bills also includes updating the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to expand the statute of limitations for filing a workplace complaint to two years, provide for a right to a jury trial, and to include punitive damages and attorney fees. In addition, the legislation would create a sexual harassment prevention Read more
HARRISBURG, April 5 – In light of a recent attempt by scammers to fraudulently represent themselves as Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency employees, state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, wants to remind everyone to be aware of student aid scams targeting unsuspecting students and their families. “The targeting of students who have or will incur financial debt as a result of pursuing higher education is unacceptable,” Costa said. “These students and their families already have taken on the financial burden of attending a college or university. The last thing they should have to worry about is someone fraudulently exploiting them for financial gain.” According to PHEAA, scammers have been fraudulently representing themselves as PHEAA employees in order to collect personal information. They claimed that a student had “won” a Pennsylvania State Grant award, but the program is funded by the commonwealth and administered by PHEAA. Costa noted these awards are determined by a student’s financial need and never is offered as a “prize.” Recent scams include : Student loan payback scams where companies or individuals claim to help reduce or eliminate student debt in exchange for money; Tuition scams that involve someone claiming to work for your school’s administrative office; Unnecessary fees for service that includes anyone charging a fee in exchange for completing an application, Read more
HARRISBURG, April 5 – The University of Pittsburgh’s Manufacturing Assistance Center will receive a $45,495 grant to support and expand apprenticeship programs, state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, announced today. “The MAC is a leader in training students to master the high-tech skills they need for jobs such as precision manufacturing and machine programming,” Gainey said. “Some of the most successful training comes in a hands-on workplace environment, so apprenticeships provide invaluable experience. Funding that helps MAC and its partners build strong apprenticeship programs pays off by helping Pennsylvania workers get and retain high-skill jobs.” The grant is one of 61 – totaling $3.5 million – awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry through Local Workforce Development Boards across Pennsylvania. About half, including the one to MAC, are “capacity building” grants – designed to support businesses, industry associations, chambers of commerce, training providers, career and technical centers, and intermediaries interested in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs. In addition to the MAC grant, the following Western Pennsylvania unions received grant awards through LWDBs: Keystone Mountain Lake Regional Council of Carpenters – $70,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant; Western PA Operating Engineers Joint Apprenticeship and Training – $85,000 Read more
HARRISBURG, April 4 – Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, voiced strong concerns Wednesday about local police departments’ potential use of radar guns as speed timing devices. Bizzarro made the remarks after a House Transportation Committee public hearing this morning on the potential use of such devices by local and regional police. He issued the following statement: “I like to make informed decisions, and although I can, and do, appreciate the safety aspect, I have yet to hear from a single constituent about this issue, nor has my office. “I'm extremely concerned that – knowing there's evidence of this practice – local governments will strong-arm their officers to use this practice in order to generate more revenue, and police departments will be forced to spend more time worrying about folks speeding than actual community policing. “I believe this becomes an unnecessary burden to the already busy police officer and to the taxpayer, who is already struggling to keep up with his or her current expenses, and can potentially cause more harm to communities than good. “Reckless drivers should be held accountable, without question, but my fear is that we will be penalizing hardworking folks for minor infractions. If our focus is to reduce the number of accidents resulting in serious injury and/or death, I believe there are more effective ways to achieve that goal. “With that said, I have yet to make a final Read more
HARRISBURG, April 4 – Pennsylvania will lose about $442 million in revenue this year by forgoing a severance tax on natural gas harvested in the commonwealth, state Rep. Greg Vitali said today. The figures are according to House Democratic Appropriations Committee estimates assuming a 6.5 percent tax, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, with existing impact fees subtracted. Those figures, coupled with data from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, indicate that the commonwealth has lost over $1.68 billion in revenue since 2011 due to the lack of a severance tax, Vitali said. Vitali updated his Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature report with the new findings. The report also found that the drilling industry spent about $5.2 million in lobbying last year and $67 million between 2007 and 2017. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Another finding shows there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a Read more
State Rep. Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery, today announced Central Montco Technical High School will receive a $40,000 grant to advance its pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship programs in Montgomery County. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 4 – As part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA, state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, and state Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to discuss their House Bill 962 that would create the Safe Campuses Act. The public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, April 6 at Temple University, Shusterman Hall, 1834 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia. Donatucci and Davis requested the meeting to collect input on their bill, which would require all post-secondary schools, colleges and universities in the state to adopt policies and establish programs to make students, staff and officials aware of the risks of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Members of the Policy Committee from all over the state, including Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, will be in attendance. The current agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. Stephanie Ives , dean of students, Temple University 10:40 a.m. Panel of Victims’ Advocates: Penelope Ettinger , executive director, Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) Monique Howard , executive director, Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) 11:20 a.m. Closing Remarks This meeting is one in a series across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA that includes putting people first, good jobs, quality schools and fair taxes. Visit planforpa.pahouse.com for Plan4PA details and www.pahouse.com/policycommittee Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 4 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., lauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s allocation of $3.5 million for 61 grants to support pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs throughout Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awarded the grants through Local Workforce Development boards across the state, including Philadelphia Works. The funding is designed to support businesses, industry associations, chambers of commerce, training providers, career and technical centers, and intermediaries interested in sponsoring registered apprenticeship programs. Dawkins said these grants will help open doors for people who are looking to obtain good-paying jobs. “Governor Wolf’s PAsmart initiative is helping Pennsylvanians develop the skills they need to stay competitive in today’s work force. Apprentice programs are the first step towards a life-long career with jobs that offer competitive pay, comprehensive health and vacation benefits, and comfortable retirement. We need more of these types of jobs now,” Dawkins said. Recently, Dawkins hosted a series of workshops in his district office designed to educate people on apprenticeship opportunities in Philadelphia. “I worked with our local labor and construction trade unions through my ‘Apprentice Prep with the Rep.’ workshop series to spread the word about these great prospects. These apprenticeship programs are open Read more
WILKES-BARRE, April 4 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at King’s College to discuss affordable health care for Pennsylvanians. Pashinski requested the meeting to gain insight from state officials and policy experts on the current costs of health care and how to make it more affordable to meet the needs of all Pennsylvanians. Members of the Policy Committee from across the state attended, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Between the year 2000 and 2009, health care costs rose on average 6.9 percent yearly,” Pashinski said. “Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, costs still rose an average of 4.2 percent yearly. The ACA helped the continually rising cost of health care, but it didn’t help enough. We continue to be the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer some form of universal health care, while at the same time paying nearly double in health care costs compared to those nations and we still have nearly one-third of Americans with zero or inadequate health insurance.” Sturla added: “I thank Representative Pashinski for inviting the Policy Committee to his legislative district, so we could get local input on various health care issues. House Democrats’ Plan4PA strives to achieve affordable health care for everyone while putting people first.” “To truly solve this problem, I believe Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 4 – State Rep. Emilio Vazquez, D-Phila., will host a free Senior Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 6 at the Mann Older Adult Center & Rivera Recreation Center, 3201 N. 5th St., 19140. Vazquez invites those in attendance to join him for lunch at 12:30 p.m. "This event brings state and local resources together under one roof. It’s a one-stop shop for seniors in my district to receive the services they need," Vazquez said. "We had a great turnout last year and that’s why we’re hosting it again in 2018. I want to make sure seniors know about all of the programs that can benefit them." Exhibitors will include health-care providers, nonprofit organizations, state and local agencies. Assistance will be available in English and Spanish. Interested attendees don't need to RSVP to attend the fair, but registration is required for lunch. RSVPs or questions should be directed to Vazquez’s office at (215) 425-5708. Read more
PITTSBURGH, April 4 – In their ongoing efforts to prepare students for the workforce, state Rep. Jake Wheatley and Sen. Jay Costa, both D-Allegheny, announced $250,000 in grants to go toward pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs in Allegheny County. “Apprenticeship programs are critical in ensuring our children are trained for the jobs of tomorrow,” Wheatley said. “These grants echo the mission of the House Democrats’ Plan for PA , which is devoted to good paying jobs and quality schools that help lay the groundwork for a prosperous future.” “This grant money is crucial for our middle-class to have the best chance at a successful career,” Costa explained. “Through apprenticeships, students acquire the necessary skills to qualify them for the evolving job climate.” The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry awarded the grants through Local Workforce Development Boards across the commonwealth, which includes funds to help sponsoring organizations build capacity to improve and expand their programs. The following are a list of grants awarded through LWDBs: German American Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Chapter – $50,000 capacity building grant; New Century Careers – $100,000 pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship grant and $50,000 capacity building grant; and Catalyst Connection – $50,000 capacity building grant. In all, 61 grants totaling Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 4 – State Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Stephen Kinsey, both D-Phila., announced they will host an event for people to talk and learn what’s being done on a state and local level to support public education. The event will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave., 19138. Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Otis Hackney from Mayor Jim Kenney’s Office of Education, along with a representative from the School District of Philadelphia, will be in attendance to offer insight and answer questions. “From a proposed increase in education funding to a new local school board, a quality education for all of our students remains a top priority on the state and local levels,” Kinsey said. “This forum will allow people to engage in meaningful dialogue that is critical to our children’s future.” Fitzgerald echoed Kinsey’s comments. “We are seeing great things for the School District of Philadelphia, thanks to Governor Wolf’s budget proposal to provide more funding for education,” Fitzgerald said. “We are also seeing a switch in leadership from the School Reform Commission to a school board that will be appointed by the mayor.” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 4 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Isabella Fitzgerald, both D-Phila., announced they will host an event for people to talk and learn what’s being done on a state and local level to support public education. The event will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Ave., 19138. Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Otis Hackney from Mayor Jim Kenney’s Office of Education, along with a representative from the School District of Philadelphia, will be in attendance to offer insight and answer questions. “From a proposed increase in education funding to a new local school board, a quality education for all of our students remains a top priority on the state and local levels,” Kinsey said. “This forum will allow people to engage in meaningful dialogue that is critical to our children’s future.” Fitzgerald echoed Kinsey’s comments. “We are seeing great things for the School District of Philadelphia, thanks to Governor Wolf’s budget proposal to provide more funding for education,” Fitzgerald said. “We are also seeing a switch in leadership from the School Reform Commission to a school board that will be appointed by the mayor.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, announced today that the Port Authority of Allegheny County will host public meetings to hear input regarding new service options for Bus Rapid Transit riders. A meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Rankin Christian Center, 230 Third Ave., in Rankin to discuss bus routes in Rankin, Braddock, North Braddock, Edgewood, Swissvale, Regent Square and Wilkinsburg. Davis said he hopes any new transportation routes will provide riders with better access to jobs and educational opportunities. In addition to Davis, state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, and state Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, will be in attendance. “The new bus service options are a step forward for the Mon Valley,” Davis said. “I encourage anyone who uses the Port Authority system to attend the meeting and make their voices and concerns heard.” Another meeting will be held at 6 p.m., on Thursday, May 10 at The McKeesport Palisades, 100 Fifth Ave., in McKeesport. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, and state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, today announced a $700,000 state grant to rehabilitate about one mile of track at the Tube City IMS, LLC, plant yard in West Mifflin. The money comes from the Rail Freight Assistance Program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “The release of funds for this vital project to improve Tube City IMS, LLC, will not only increase efficiency of operations but also grow economic development in the area,” Brewster said. “Steel mills built the foundation of many of our communities and I am proud to have Tube City, IMS, LLC, in my district working daily to support and enhance manufacturing operations of their steel making partners.” Kortz added: “I’d like to congratulate Tube City IMS, LLC, on securing this state grant. This is a company that leads in on-site, industrial steel mill services for steelmakers around the world. Not to mention, their services lessen steelmakers’ environmental impacts and contribute to a cleaner environment for all, including those in the 38 th Legislative District.” The rehabilitation of roughly one mile of track in the West Mifflin plant yard is part of a four-pronged project, including the replacement of turnouts and ties, track surfacing, and track realignment to increase efficiency of yard operations. The Rail Freight Assistance Program Read more
HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Reps. Pamela A. DeLissio and Mary Jo Daley will co-host a free document shredding event for their constituents from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14, in the magisterial district court parking lot at 925 Montgomery Ave., Narberth 19072. The event will be held rain or shine, and all shredding will occur on site. The paper will be recycled. There is a limit of four banker boxes or grocery bags per household. "Safe disposal of documents with personal information is one of the best defenses against identity theft,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. "Shredding is a great way to dispose of unneeded paper in an environmentally friendly way, and I am happy to offer this service to my constituents,” said Daley, D-Montgomery. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 3 – Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, is reminding Pennsylvania residents during Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month that animals in the commonwealth are now better protected thanks to a tough law he helped write and enact. “I am relieved that Pennsylvania law is finally strong enough to deter animal abuse and neglect by imposing meaningful criminal penalties,” said Bizzarro, whose efforts gained him the 2016 Humane State Legislator Award by The Humane Society of the United States. “The law sends a message to potential abusers that the citizens of the commonwealth demand compassionate treatment of animals and will not tolerate behavior that harms them.” Dubbed “Libre’s Law” after the abandoned Boston Terrier pup that inspired it, Act 10 of 2017 is a comprehensive overhaul of animal cruelty legislation that imposes tougher penalties on those who abuse and neglect animals. Signed by the governor last June, the law imposes different tiers of penalties -- including jail time and fines -- depending on the severity of the conduct and the number of prior offenses. Notably, the law makes it possible to file felony-level charges for first-time cruelty offenses outside of animal fighting or killing an endangered species. The law also requires those convicted of serious animal abuse to surrender their pets, one of the provisions Bizzarro drafted. Other provisions of the law add protections for horses, ban all-day Read more
SCRANTON, April 2 – State Rep. Marty invites residents to join him and firearms safety expert Joseph Harris for a special seminar on gun safety. Read more
SCRANTON, April 2 – 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
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