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
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today joined a movement to encourage Gov. Wolf not to veto a proposal that would preserve jobs and provide incentives for recycling plastic bags throughout the commonwealth. Hanna said supporters of the proposal, H.B. 1071 , came to the Capitol today to stand up for approximately 1,500 good, family-sustaining manufacturing jobs throughout the state. “Today I joined employees from Novolex, members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, Pennsylvania Retailers Association, Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association and many others to illustrate that this proposal is not just about plastic bags,” Hanna said. “This bill is about jobs and consumer choice.” According to Hanna, H.B.1071 only prohibits a tax, ban or surcharge on recyclable plastic bags and only for political subdivisions. Additionally, the bill only impacts policies related to bags that can be recycled and will not get in the way of individual grocers’ bag policies. “The over-arching goal of this legislation is to protect jobs and encourage Pennsylvania consumers to use and return recyclable plastic bags,” he said. “This will result in less pollution in our landfills and streams.” Hanna said there are 14 manufacturing facilities located throughout Pennsylvania, including Novolex which operates out of Milesburg, Centre County. “If Governor Wolf signs this proposal Read more
Rep. Rob Matzie applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to address a federal law banning states from authorizing sports betting. "It's the furthest any challenge has gone in the courts and would be a big boost to our gaming revenue in Pennsylvania," Matzie said. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – House Finance Committee Minority Chairman Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, and Majority Chairman Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, today announced the members of the House Finance Committee who have been appointed to the newly formed Select Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform. The subcommittee was established through Wheatley’s H.R. 327 to investigate and review Pennsylvania’s tax laws, explore other states’ best practices and methods for levying and collecting various taxes, and develop recommendations to encourage equitable and fair tax policy. Five Republican and four Democratic members will serve on the subcommittee. The appointed members are: Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny) – Chairman Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) Rep. Michael Corr (R-Montgomery) Rep. George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland) Rep. Fred Keller (R-Snyder/Union) Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) “This subcommittee will perform important work, giving us ideas on how we can modernize our tax collection system,” Wheatley said. “Most importantly, my hope is for the subcommittee to delve into deeper issues than just taxing and spending, and try to determine the vision for our commonwealth in the future and how best to pay for it.” “The members of this select subcommittee will play a crucial Read more
Following a tour of a CleanSlate addiction treatment center in Wilkes-Barre, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, reiterated the importance of fighting Pennsylvania's opioid epidemic with proper funding in the soon-to-be finalized budget and expressed the need to reinstate funding called for by Gov. Tom Wolf that was cut from the Republican budget proposal. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, rallied support for the adoption of her resolution (H.R. 421) urging Pennsylvania to join the Climate Alliance at a news conference today along with several of the resolution’s 36 co-sponsors, as well as mothers and children representing the Send the Lorax and Mom’s Clean Air Force. Members of the U.S. Climate Alliance are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan. The alliance was formed in response to President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. “It is now up to state and local governments to lead the effort to protect the future of our communities, commonwealth, country and planet because of President Trump’s decision,” Krueger-Braneky said. “I believe it is in the best interest of Pennsylvania to join the alliance in order to continue to address the impacts of climate change while simultaneously stimulating growth and job creation in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.” Current members of the Climate Alliance include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico. More than 1,200 local officials, businesses and educational institutions have also stated they will uphold the elements of the Paris Agreement, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., announced the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will host its annual scholarship reception at noon Friday, June 30 in the Capitol Media Center. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the reception will recognize nine Pennsylvania high school seniors and current undergraduate students of color as recipients of the PLBC scholarship. The scholarship is intended to assist students with their college financial obligation and to foster a relationship between students and PLBC members. Recipients will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend an accredited two- or four-year college or university in Pennsylvania. Exceptions apply for students attending any Historically Black College and University. Legislative sponsors for this year’s scholarship recipients include: State Representative: State Senator: Rep. Donna Bullock Sen. Jim Brewster Rep. Morgan Cephas Sen. John DiSanto Rep. Jason Dawkins Sen. Art Haywood Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald Sen. Vincent Hughes Rep. Ed Gainey Sen. Sharif Street Rep. Jordan Harris Sen. Christine Tartaglione Rep. Joseph Markosek Sen. Randy Vulakovich Rep. Ronald Marsico Sen. Anthony Williams Rep. Rosita Youngblood Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – During a news conference today at the state Capitol, state Reps. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield/Elk, promoted H.B. 1231 , legislation that would improve and support services for veterans across Pennsylvania. The bill awaits consideration by the House following unanimous adoption by the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is already managing a registry that does a great job of engaging our servicemen and women by coordinating information on federal, state and local government benefits, programs and services that are available for them,” Solomon said. “Unfortunately, the registry currently reaches less than 1 percent of our servicemen and women. House Bill 1231 would expand the registry’s reach by bringing other agencies into the process of identifying veterans who stand to benefit.” Currently, the DMVA’s online registry lists roughly 7,000 of the over 894,000 veterans in Pennsylvania. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work across the aisle with Representative Solomon on legislation that will further provide this great service to the men and women who have done so much for our country,” Gabler said. “House Bill 1231 would make more people aware of the existing one-stop shop for our veterans and their loved ones that allows them to discover programs and services that they may not Read more
FILADELFIA, Junio 23 – El Representante Estatal Emilio Vázquez, D-Fila., ofrecerá gratuitamente una Feria de Salud y Bienestar el sábado, 15 de julio de 11 a.m. a 3 p.m. en el Parque Fairhill, localizado en la esquina de la Avenida Lehigh y la Calle 4. Vázquez indicó que el evento está diseñado para promover la prevención de la violencia doméstica y los hábitos saludables entre las personas. “Con este evento quiero ayudar a romper y prevenir el ciclo de violencia que enfrentan niños, jóvenes y adultos”, dijo Vázquez. “Es parte de mi responsabilidad como representante estatal conectar a las víctimas con los servicios para que obtengan seguridad, justicia y construyan vidas fuera del ciclo de violencia”. El evento incluye actividades para niños, comida y refrigerios, exámenes de salud, demostraciones de ejercicios, asistencia en asuntos de nutrición, recursos estatales y locales para educar al público sobre la prevención de la violencia doméstica y hábitos saludables. Vázquez indicó que habrá más de 60 exhibidores, incluyendo el Departamento Estatal de Asuntos Militares y de Veteranos, así como la policía y bomberos de Filadelfia. Personal de la oficina distrital del representante estará presente para contestar preguntas relacionadas con el Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 23 – State Rep. Emilio Vázquez, D-Phila., invites residents to his free community health and wellness fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 15 at Fairhill Park, located at the corner of West Lehigh Avenue and North Fourth Street. Vázquez said the event aims to promote healthy habits and raise awareness about domestic violence and prevention. “With this event I want to help break and prevent the cycle of violence for children, teens and adults,” Vázquez said. “It is part of my responsibility as a state representative to connect the chain of services and support with victims so they can find safety, obtain justice and build new lives free of abuse.” The event will feature activities for children, food and refreshments, health screenings, exercise demonstrations, nutritional resources, and local and state agencies to help educate the public about domestic violence and healthy habits. Vázquez said more than 60 vendors will be in attendance, including the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, in addition to representatives from Philadelphia’s Fire, Police, Streets, Water and controller’s departments. His staff will be available on site to answer questions constituents may have about state programs and services. Assistance will be provided in English and Spanish. “I am very excited to have an opportunity to meet with residents in my district. As legislators Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – The state Senate today passed a bill (S.B. 446) that includes language identical to an amendment by Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., designed to address the "Air Bridge" issue. "Both the House and Senate have now passed bills containing my language to address the Air Bridge problem. Now we just need to have one bill pass both the House and Senate. After these two votes, I am optimistic we can get this reform to the governor's desk and signed into law," Cruz said. On June 7, the House of Representatives passed a bill ( H.B. 119 ) that includes Cruz's amendment. Cruz’s proposal would ban the owners, administrators and employees of recovery houses from requiring residents to sign over their public assistance benefits. It would also ensure that all drug and alcohol recovery houses throughout Pennsylvania not in compliance with federal, state or local law be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation. "My amendment is important in making sure that the Air Bridge issue is resolved," Cruz said. "Families sent their relatives from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia to get treatment for drug addiction, but quality treatment options were not provided. Instead, they were prisoners of unregulated recovery homes that stole their money, food stamps and other government assistance in return for their stay. This is a big step to resolving the issue, but we can do more." Air Bridge is a network Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Hal English, R-Allegheny, today reported that their legislation aimed at not penalizing honest, ethical hunters for a mistaken harvest unanimously passed the House. Specifically, the bill would remove the threat of a license suspension for those truthful hunters who make an honest mistake and then self-report the mistaken harvest by contacting the Pennsylvania Game Commission, turning in the animal and pleading guilty to the offense. "Given the facts that borders of Wildlife Management Units and the special areas within them can be easily confused, and that the commission is now using staggered dates around the state for some big-game seasons, hunters can think they are legally hunting when in fact they aren’t," Kortz said. "For hunters who make an inadvertent mistake, due to a few yards or recently changed dates, to face the same revocations as a common poacher who is hunting out of season or at night isn’t fair. “Current law can create havoc for bear and elk hunters. With different hunting dates for different Wildlife Management Units, the difference of a few yards in the woods can mean the difference between a legal or illegal harvest." Kortz added, “Mistakes while out in the woods can easily happen. This bill would eliminate the unfair, excessive punishment for an honest mistake. While the hunter must claim responsibility and pay a small administrative Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder reports that an attack mailer claiming she supported “big gambling interests” over senior citizens is patently false and laughably ridiculous. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., today was awarded for his efforts on moving Pennsylvania towards enforcement of the federal Real ID Act requirements. The award comes as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, this week granted Pennsylvania a Real ID enforcement extension through Oct. 10, 2017, which means Pennsylvanians will not face access issues when entering federal facilities through that date. Neilson said PennDOT estimates Real ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019. This will allow ample time for people who want a Real ID product to obtain one before the final DHS effective date of Oct. 1, 2020. “The General Assembly made real strides in May to get Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal law and as a result, the Department of Homeland Security granted us with yet another extension to work towards that compliance,” Neilson said. “I am proud to receive the Recognition Award for Homeland Security Leadership and Public Engagement and to have been part of the movement to assure Pennsylvanians would not need to get passports to board a plane or to have access to federal facilities.” Neilson said he had been working since the 2015-2016 session to get legislation passed that would repeal the 2012 state law and require the Department of Transportation and other state agencies to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 21 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., said he is pleased with the Real ID extension granted to Pennsylvania by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “This extension helps us ensure people won’t face difficulty using their IDs and driver's licenses for air travel or visits to federal facilities. Now thousands of Philadelphians, Latinos, Asians and residents of other races will continue to be able to visit their families back in their home countries,” Cruz said. “In the meantime, PennDOT is working tirelessly to start issuing Real ID compliant forms of identification.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday that Pennsylvania has been granted a Real ID enforcement extension through Oct. 10, 2017, which means that Pennsylvania residents will not face access issues when entering federal facilities through that date. DHS had previously granted Pennsylvania an enforcement grace period through July 10, 2017, while PennDOT's request for an extension was pending final review. “Preliminary work on Real ID has begun, and PennDOT estimates Real ID-compliant driver's licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019. This will allow ample time for customers who want a Real ID product to obtain one before the final DHS effective date of October 1, 2020,” Cruz said. The federal Real ID Act of 2005 was established by Congress and Read more
Filadelfia, Junio 21 – El representante estatal Ángel Cruz, D-Fila., dijo que está complacido con la extensión de la Ley de Identificación Verdadera –conocida como Real ID Act– otorgada a Pensilvania por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos. "Esta extensión nos ayuda a asegurar que la gente no tenga dificultades para usar sus identificaciones y licencias de conducir para viajes aéreos domésticos o visitas a instalaciones federales. Ahora miles de residentes de Filadelfia –latinos, asiáticos y de otras razas– podrán continuar visitando a sus familias en sus países de origen", dijo Cruz. "Mientras tanto, PennDOT está trabajando sin descanso para comenzar a emitir identificaciones y licencias de conducir en cumplimiento con el Real ID Act”. El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés) anunció el viernes que otorgó una extensión de la Ley de Identificación Verdadera a Pensilvania hasta el 10 de octubre de 2017, lo que significa que los residentes del estado no tendrán problemas de acceso a instalaciones federales hasta esa fecha. Previamente, el DHS había concedido a Pensilvania un período de gracia hasta el 10 de julio de 2017, mientras que la petición de PennDOT estaba pendiente de revisión final. "El Read more
EBENSBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is advising 72 nd Legislative District entities that the state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting grant applications for innovative, advanced fuel and vehicle technology projects that produce cleaner advanced alternative transportation within the state. The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program can assist school districts, municipal authorities, nonprofits, corporations, LLCs, and partnerships registered to do business in Pennsylvania by offsetting the costs of implementing alternative fuel-using transportation projects. DEP is offering AFIG grants in the following categories: Vehicle Retrofit or Purchase – To offset the incremental cost of purchasing alternative fuel vehicles or retrofitting existing vehicles to operate on alternative fuels; Alternative Fuel Refueling Infrastructure – To assist in the costs to purchase and install refueling equipment for fleet and workplace, home or intermediary refueling; and Innovative Technology – To support research, training, development, and demonstration of new alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles. DEP will accept AFIG applications throughout 2017, but the first submission period deadline is 4 p.m. Friday, July 14, and the second submission deadline is 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. AFIG guidelines and application instructions are available at Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., released the following statement regarding two bills that passed Tuesday in the House of Representatives: “I am highly concerned by two bills that passed the House of Representatives yesterday. The first is H.B. 646. This legislation would make it a second degree felony to assault a health care practitioner while they are on duty. This includes doctors, nurses, interns, social workers, and even massage therapists. Under no circumstance is violence against health care workers acceptable. However, this bill does not serve as a deterrent, but instead promotes over-incarceration. Moreover, it does nothing to make our health care workers on the front lines any safer. “The second bill that concerns me is S.B. 560. This bill would enable police officers to use body cameras, particularly when officers enter private residences as well as to record interviews with suspects or witnesses. The bill claims to ensure the integrity of criminal convictions. However, the non-conviction of Officer Jeronimo Yanez – the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile – proves otherwise. Castile’s death was recorded and broadcasted over Facebook and members of the jury failed to convict Yanez. Technology alone will not make us safer – only justice will. Without real transparency and accountability, advocating for body cameras will only create more heat than light.” Read more
Rep. Ryan Bizzarro reports that the Senate has passed H.B. 1238, a sweeping overhaul of Pennsylvania’s animal abuse laws. “I join the governor in looking forward to his signing the measure into law," Bizzarro said. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – A medical marijuana greenhouse operation near Carmichaels is one of 12 such facilities granted licenses today by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, state Rep. Pam Snyder announced. Snyder said AGRiMED Industries LLC will grow and cultivate medical cannabis on 61 acres off Thomas Road in Cumberland Township, as part of a $25 million investment. Snyder said this is good news for those suffering from a variety of illnesses and the local economy. “I favored allowing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania because it will alleviate the pain of those who suffer from a variety of medical conditions,” Snyder said. “Tightly regulated and secure growing and processing facilities were going to be sanctioned in the commonwealth as an inevitable result. “I’m glad to see that one of them was chosen for placement in the 50 th Legislative District, because we’re looking at 40 jobs right off the bat and 100 workers within five years, according to news reports.” Snyder said medical marijuana cannot be distributed in any form that can be smoked, and thus is limited to pill, oil, liquid or topical ointment form. “I’m pleased to have worked with Cumberland Township, Greene County and state officials on bringing the facility to our area,” Snyder said. “But in reality, this is an offshoot of the larger purpose of the law, which brings relief to those afflicted with 17 medical conditions that can Read more
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