ERIE, March 7 – A “Second Chance Expo” in Erie next week will provide employment opportunities for local job seekers – and in particular those with prior nonviolent misdemeanor convictions who are seeking to reenter the job market, according to the event’s host, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. The expo, which will feature speakers and a job fair, will be held from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Blasco Library’s Community Classroom, 160 E. Front St., Erie, PA 16507. Merski said he is hosting the event as part of a bipartisan effort to build on the momentum generated by the state’s recent clean slate law. “Last year, the commonwealth enacted a first-of-its-kind law that allows Pennsylvanians with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have those records sealed if they've stayed out of trouble for 10 years and paid all fines,” Merski said. “The new law recognizes the many talented, hardworking people who’ve made mistakes in life, paid their dues and now want only to return to being productive members of society. “By helping these job seekers get back on a track for success, we’re doing more than giving them a fresh start. We’re helping them reestablish themselves as productive members of the community. We’re helping their families, who will benefit from their support. And we’re helping our community by adding residents whose labor and income will stimulate the Read more
PHOENIXVILLE , March 7 — State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public forum at the Phoenixville Borough Building to discuss common-sense gun reform and violence prevention efforts. Shusterman was joined by her colleagues from across the state including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Legislators, stakeholders and the public discussed legislative efforts that could improve violence prevention efforts and a path of realistic goals moving forward. “We need to protect our children and communities. It is frustrating after our nation and state has faced such grave tragedy at the hands of senseless gun violence, that action has not been taken to better protect our citizens,” Shusterman said. “We’re talking about simple measures that won’t infringe on the rights of gun owners.” Sturla added: “I think we have to make it clear that enacting common-sense gun safety measures will go a long way in protecting Pennsylvanians. We aren’t taking guns away from legal, responsible gun owners; we’re trying to implement efforts that would keep them out of the hands of criminals." Panelists who participated in the hearing included: Shira Goodman, executive director, Ceasefire PA; Marybeth Christiansen, state legislative lead, Moms Demand Action; Erin Buchner, Chester County local lead, Moms Demand Action; Star Cummin Bright; gun violence Read more
EBENSBURG, March 7 – Saying it strengthens his working relationships with members of the House Democratic Caucus to advance issues of common interest, such as helping working families, state Rep. Frank Burns, has begun serving in the newly created role of deputy caucus chairman. Burns, D-Cambria, said his selection as someone tasked with running caucus meetings in the absence of Democratic Caucus Chair Joanna McClinton, D-Phila., shows that House Democrats are interested in allowing a cross-section of viewpoints to be heard and given consideration in the crafting of policy and legislation. “As a Democrat who’s conservative on social and fiscal issues, I may not always be in lockstep with Representative McClinton and many others with whom I share the caucus meeting room,” Burns said. “But on the matters where we do agree – such as being pro-labor, pro-working families and pro-economic development – we can and should find common ground.” Burns said this new role fits squarely into his guiding principle as an elected official: that he’ll work with anyone, from either party, to advance initiatives that benefit working people in his district and across Pennsylvania. “We cannot allow narrow self-identities or political labels slapped on us by others to define who we are, as people or state representatives,” Burns said. “As a conservative voice, I’ll continue working Read more
HARRISBURG, March 7 – Nearly a year and a half has passed since the murder of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in October 2017, just shy of a month after Sheykhet filed a protection-from-abuse order against her former partner. Time, however, has not diminished the brutality – and preventability – of Sheykhet’s death, said state Rep. Anita Kulik. Kulik, D-Allegheny, recently introduced H.B. 588 , a measure that would give judges discretion as to whether or not a PFA defendant should wear an electronic monitoring device if the defendant poses a threat of violating the order. Coined “Alina’s Law,” Kulik hopes H.B. 588 will ensure Sheykhet’s murder isn’t just a statistic, but a starting point in combatting domestic violence in Pennsylvania. “In 2017, there were 117 deaths in the commonwealth as a result of domestic violence, Alina’s death included,” Kulik said. “Alina, who was a member of the community and whose parents still reside in my district, did her part by filing a PFA against her ex-boyfriend, but it wasn’t enough. “The threat on her life fell through the cracks of the state system, and as a result she lost her life. It’s time the commonwealth did its part by guaranteeing the safety of domestic abuse victims and making sure defendants don’t violate these orders.” On Oct. 8, 2017, Sheykhet, 20, was Read more
HARRISBURG , March 7 – Complaints filed by Pennsylvanians who believe they’ve been wrongly classified by their employer should be handled in a timely manner, said state Rep. Pam Snyder. Snyder said employee misclassification occurs when an employee is designated by their employer as an independent contractor – instead of as employee – in an attempt to avoid paying income taxes, minimum or overtime wages, workers compensation premiums and contributions to the state’s employment compensation system. “It’s wrong and extremely unfair for employers to intentionally misclassify workers to save a few bucks,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “This practice gives dishonest employers an unfair advantage over those who play by the rules, and it hurts workers who just want an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Hardworking Pennsylvanians deserve to be treated – and paid – fairly, and they also deserve to have these complaints addressed quickly.” Snyder’s legislation, H.B. 718 , would require the department to confirm receipt of a misclassification complaint filed with the state Department of Labor and Industry within 15 days. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Friends Hospital that focused on the role of mental health in substance use disorder treatment and recovery. Hohenstein and colleagues from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, heard testimony from local officials and advocates on how they can work together to provide better treatment to those with substance abuse problems. The conversation included ways the legislature can help pave a path to provide better assistance to successful long-term recovery. “The stigma associated with mental health is often a major challenge to overcome. That can start a difficult spiral leading to substance abuse issues. I’d like to thank Chairman Sturla and my colleagues for having this conversation that will ultimately help our friends and family seek the help they need,” Hohenstein said. Sturla added, “Any time we can come together to help people know that we can empathize with what they’re going through, I think is helpful. People don’t look at a cancer patient and say, ‘You’ve had 30 days of treatment, we can’t do anything more for you right now,’ and we need to stop doing that with substance abuse issues.” The committee heard testimony from Lynn Kovich, deputy secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pennsylvania Department of Human Read more
HARRISBURG, March 6 – School bus drivers would be banned from using cell phones or consuming any food or beverages while operating a school bus or vehicle transporting children, under a bill introduced by state Rep. William Kortz, D-Allegheny. “With more than a million school students riding buses each school year in Pennsylvania, it’s important that these drivers be focused on the task at hand: transporting children safely,” said Kortz. “We know it’s important that all drivers not be distracted behind the wheel, and school bus drivers are no different – they have an enormous responsibility to keep these children safe.” House Bill 691 would amend the state’s Public School Code to prohibit the use of a cell phone or similar device while driving, but would still allow the use of a two-way radio for communication purposes. However, cell phones usage would be allowed in an emergency situation, provided the driver is safely parked off a roadway. The measure also contains a provision that allows for school bus drivers with medical conditions to consume food or beverages, but they must do so while parked safety off a roadway. Under H.B. 691, a violation would be considered a primary offense, carrying a fine of $50 to $100, or a fine of $300 if the violation results in a traffic accident. Read more
EBENSBURG, March 6 – Residents who need help filing Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications are invited to attend a special outreach event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 at the Reade Township Fire Hall, located at 268 Reade St. in Blandburg, said state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria. “My staff will be available to guide seniors through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program application process and assist them in completing the paperwork at no cost,” Burns said. “No appointment is necessary to attend this event. We are here to help seniors and other residents who may be unable to fill out the forms, or who may have questions.” Applicants must be 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, or people with disabilities 18 or older. Residents should bring their 2018 income statements and their 2018 rent certificate or real estate tax receipt. For more information, residents may call Burns’ district office at 814-472-8021. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 5 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman introduced legislation today to ensure that Pennsylvania’s economy is boosted by a state loan guarantee program that assists early and mid-stage businesses. House Bill 719 would ensure businesses using the Second Stage Loan program will create more job opportunities in Pennsylvania, and would ensure that businesses that receive loan guarantees are not only located in Pennsylvania, but stay in Pennsylvania. “The Second Stage Loan Program provides vital assistance to help businesses grow and thrive, and we want to make sure we’re boosting Pennsylvania’s economy, too,” said Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery. “I was elected to bring commonsense legislation to Pennsylvania. This bill would provide a stronger economy and create sustainable jobs in my district and around the state.” The Second Stage Loan Program is a loan guarantee administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority that guaranteed loans made by commercial lending institutions to life science, advanced technology, or manufacturing businesses. The program provides banks with an extra measure of security to encourage them to provide early stage companies with working capital. Read more
BRADBURY-SULLIVAN LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER SUPPORTIVE SERVICE REFERRAL GUIDE For more information about services, contact Isaiah Zukowski / Supportive Services Coordinator Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (610) 347-9988 x107 Monthly Services: Free HIV and STI Testing 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 4 to 6PM. Free, non-judgy, drop-in testing for HIV and other sexuallytransmitted infections (STIs). Quarterly HIV testing is recommended for anyone engaging in higher-risk activities. No insurance or residency requirements. Free LGBT Legal Clinic 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 4 to 6PM. Free half-hour consultations with attorneys about a variety of LGBT legal needs, including employment and housing discrimination, family law questions, legal name changes, wills, and neighborhood harassment. Please check our events page to see which needs the clinic is covering that day. Free Computer Classes and Resume Clinic 4th Wednesdays from 4 to 6PM . Free walk-in computer classes in basic Microsoft and Google office software like Word and Powerpoint, as well as free resume consultations. Schedule an appointment with the Supportive Services coordinator or simply stop by. Medical Marijuana Enrollment Assistance 2nd Tuesdays from 4 to 6PM. Free walk-in assistance with navigating the PA Department of Health web-application for a Medical Marijuana state ID card. Professionally led Support Groups: STAR Read more
HARRISBURG , March 5 – Mental health providers, parents and children older than 14 deserve and need clear guidelines regarding consent for mental health treatment, said state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. Snyder, along with state Reps. Jason Ortitay, R-Allegheny/Washington, and Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, soon will introduce legislation to update Act 147 of 2004, which allows minors the right to consent to mental health treatment, regardless of parental consent. Snyder said the law also allows minors to refuse treatment, even if the parent provides consent. Despite previous efforts to clarify the law’s provisions, Snyder said confusion still exists with parents, minors and mental health providers. “A 14- to 18-year-old child who may already be dealing with a mental health issue is not in a position to make such a monumental decision regarding their care,” Snyder said. “A decision of this magnitude should be in the hands of their parent or legal guardian. These children need guidance and support in making such a decision, especially if they’re already struggling with a mental health concern.” Snyder said their legislation would repeal sections of the act that are unclear and leading to confusion, and will replace those sections with clearer language that’s easier to understand. “These parents and providers want to do what’s right for a child, and our efforts will ensure they can do so, without Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 5 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Danilo Burgos, both D-Phila., hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing to discuss the health impacts of deep poverty and how to reverse the trend. The freshmen legislators brought together legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and local officials and advocates to discuss how they can work together to create better opportunities to break the cycle of toxic poverty. “Poverty is a public health crisis and we must address it as such. Toxic poverty systemically diminishes educational opportunities for our kids and in communities hardest hit,” Kenyatta said. “Securing a family sustained job that can build generational wealth and lift folks out of this cycle is too often out of reach. Today’s discussion further emphasized that eradicating poverty is the moral and economic issue of our time and brought light to how we can work together to invest our resources in educating our communities, children and adults, and reduce the need for correctional and unnecessary medical costs.” “The poverty cycle is hard on families. It’s a depressing cycle that is difficult to overcome,” Burgos said. “If we can work together as a community to empower people, address the mental and physical toll poverty takes on individuals and help lift them up, we can make real change that improves life for Read more
LANSDOWNE, March 4 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing titled, “The Quest for a Non-Toxic Workplace: Stopping Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.” Davidson was joined by state legislators from across the state including Sen. Tim Kearney and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon. The legislators discussed with stakeholders how Pennsylvanians can work to eradicate misconduct in the workplace. As a tireless advocate for those who’ve experienced discrimination and victims of sexual misconduct, Davidson has repeatedly introduced and co-sponsored legislation addressing this issue. Her legislation was one of many topics discussed at the hearing. “People work to make a living. Under no circumstances should they experience discrimination or harassment of any kind. Addressing this at the legislative level will ensure that we are protecting all Pennsylvanians and their right to a safe and healthy workplace where they can thrive and provide for themselves and their families,” Davidson said. The committee heard testimony from: Morgan Williams, assistant chief counsel, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission; Harold Goldner, Esq., Kraut Harris, P.C.; and a panel of advocates. The meeting is one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, health care access, quality schools and jobs training, and a fair economy. Read more
CENTRE COUNTY, March 4 – The Centre County Office of Veterans Affairs has received a $9,750 state grant to expand its veterans’ outreach services, announced state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre. “Our veterans who have served with honor and dignity deserve our help and support, whether they reside in rural or urban areas of our state,” Conklin said. “This grant will help support the ongoing efforts of the Centre County Office of Veterans Affairs in advocating for and providing valuable services to assist our veterans and their families.” The grant comes from the Veterans Trust Fund, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and was one of 29 awarded to veterans’ support organizations statewide. The VTF is funded by Pennsylvanians who donate $3 when applying for or renewing their driver’s license, photo ID, or a motor vehicle registration. The VTF also receives proceeds from the sale of the “ Honoring Our Veterans” license plate and from private donations. Since the grant program’s inception in 2013, more than $3.6 million has been awarded to organizations that serve Pennsylvania’s veterans. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 4 – With the ongoing attempts of cyberattacks targeting Pennsylvanians, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., has introduced legislation that would help protect the commonwealth’s cyber infrastructure. “From email and phone scams to personal data breaches, it is unconscionable the number of attempted cyberattacks occurring in Pennsylvania. With everyone constantly connected on their phones, computers and other electronic devices, the amount of potential attacks will only increase,” Kenyatta said. “We have to protect Pennsylvanians’ personal information and the creation of the Cybersecurity Innovation Commission would do just that.” House Bill 225 would create a Cybersecurity Innovation Commission to safeguard Pennsylvania’s data by conducting cybersecurity audits, improving security and privacy standards and analyzing the protocols. The commission also would work with businesses to make sure they are up-to-date on the newest technology. During recent House Appropriations Committee budget hearings, officials with the Governor’s Office of Administration testified that while they follow national federal guidelines and best practices to defend the commonwealth against cyberattacks, they still have seen an increase in the number of threats, with 18 billion in 2018. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Pennsylvania ranks 18th in the nation for the amount of identity theft cases. Read more
EBENSBURG, March 4 – Local public libraries are encouraged to apply for state grants to help them secure funding for vital facility improvements, including – but not limited to – handicap access upgrades, replacements of windows and doors and energy efficient upgrades, announced state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria. Burns said the Keystone Grants for Public Library Facilities, available through the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries, can help libraries secure funding for these projects. “Libraries are the cornerstone of our communities, offering free educational resources to everyone and opportunities to connect with others through job training, events for families and youngsters, and more,” Burns said. “These grants can provide the funding for necessary repairs or upgrades, ensuring they remain vital components of our towns and cities for years to come.” PDE will be accepting grant applications through April 26. Applicants must partner with a sponsoring municipality, and grants must be matched dollar-for-dollar. Matching funds may include cash and in-kind contributions, federal funds and other state funds. For the past several years, Burns has made a priority of informing and encouraging government, nonprofit and other eligible entities to apply for available grants – and has offered the assistance of his own in-house grant writer. Burns Read more
SCRANTON, March 4 – 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
Phoenixville , March 4 – State Representative Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public forum to discuss commonsense gun reform and violence prevention efforts. The forum will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 7 at the Phoenixville Borough Building, 351 Bridge St., 3 rd Floor, Phoenixville . The media and public are invited to attend. Shusterman requested the forum to discuss legislative efforts that could improve violence prevention efforts and give legislators and stakeholders the opportunity to discuss realistic goals moving forward. She will be joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Panelists scheduled to participate are: Shira Goodman, Executive Director, Ceasefire PA; Ann Colby-Cummings, Chairperson, Gun Sense Chester County; Marybeth Christiansen, State Legislative Lead, Moms Demand Action; Erin Buchner, Chester County Local Lead, Moms Demand Action; Star Cummin Bright; Gun Violence Survivor and Legislative Lead, Gun SenseUs; Daniel Navin, Military Veteran; Peter Urscheler, Mayor, Borough of Phoenixville; Lalia Norford, Student Activist, Conestoga (Anna Donahue and Kaitlyn Chen); and Christina VandePol, Coroner, Chester County. The meeting is one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, health care access, quality schools and job training, and a fair economy. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 1 – A bridge along Henry Avenue, passing over Wissahickon Creek and Lincoln Drive in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, has been designated as the Brigadier General Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays Memorial Bridge, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Philadelphia, announced this week. DeLissio was asked by state Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards if she would introduce legislation to honor Hays, who was a Pennsylvania resident from childhood, dedicated U.S. Army veteran, and the first woman to achieve the rank of brigadier general as a nurse. “General Hays led groundbreaking reforms in personnel policies, including the elimination of automatic discharges for married officers who became pregnant and to ensure that appointments to the Army Nurse Corps Reserve were not based on the age of the nurse's dependents,” DeLissio said. “It is fitting that we now recognize the contributions of this remarkable woman.” Hays, who died last year at age 97, was inspired to join the Army Nurse Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was deployed to India, where she cared for over 49,000 patients. After World War II, she also served in the Korean War, graduated from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Catholic University of America, and guided Army nurses through the Vietnam War in her role as the 13 th chief of the Army Nurse Corps. The latter resulted in her promotion to the rank of Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 1 – State Rep. Chris Rabb is calling on his constituents to nominate a woman from the 200th Legislative District who is making in a difference in the community, home or at work. Rabb will honor these women during a luncheon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 15 at the Pleasant Recreation Center, 6757 Chew Ave., Philadelphia. The media is invited to attend. The luncheon also will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about state-related programs that could benefit them and their families. Rabb said constituents can nominate a phenomenal woman by visiting his website at www.pahouse.com/Rabb , or by calling his office at 215-242-7300. The deadline for nominations is March 11. Read more
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