ERIE, Nov. 2 – Joining forces with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack to help people learn about removing barriers after a minor criminal conviction , state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro and Patrick Harkins, both D-Erie, participated in a “Pathways to Pardons” event last night at the Martin Luther King Center. Stack, who chairs the state Board of Pardons, launched this initiative to improve Pennsylvania’s pardons process and educate ex-offenders on how to earn a second chance, by obtaining a pardon or the expungement of a past criminal conviction. “We all make mistakes in our lives, but when we reform our lives and want to get better jobs and reach our full potential, a pardon can help,” Stack said. “It gives people a second chance to write a new chapter in their lives.” Bizzarro said: “We heard from experts on pardons, along with representatives from the Department of Corrections, who explained how the process works and what the state Board of Pardons looks for in a successful applicant. This is valuable information to share with those who qualify and are interested in pursuing such relief.” Harkins said: “With this program, Pennsylvania is a national leader in using innovative and forward-thinking policies designed to transform criminal justice. We are helping people understand how they can remove an impediment that can linger and adversely affect them long after they have paid for any mistake they may have made.” Read more
SCRANTON, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel to discuss property taxes. Flynn requested the hearing to discuss the need for property tax relief in Lackawanna County and help inform residents of a constitutional amendment ballot question they will be asked to vote on at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The relationship between school funding and property taxes was also explored. “It’s important that residents are aware of the many factors that play a role in property taxes. I believe this hearing gave good insight into the process,” Flynn said. “Next week, residents will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow the General Assembly to increase the property tax exemption from 50 percent to 100 percent of homestead values. Passage of this amendment could result in additional property tax relief for Lackawanna County and I want everyone to be able to make an informed decision on this process.” House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said: “If this ballot question passes, the legislature will then be able to work on developing a new law that provides even more significant property relief. I commend Representative Flynn for bringing more public awareness to this constitutional amendment issue.” The committee heard testimony from Dr. Michael Mahon, Read more
CHESTER, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware, announced that the city of Chester, along with other areas in Delaware County, will benefit from $500K in state money to combat gun violence and expand the Delaware County Gun Violence Task Force. Chester has recently been plagued with an increase in homicides, mostly due to gun violence, as reported by the Delaware County District Attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office has enforced sentencing illegal gun suppliers with a mandatory minimum of five to 10 years in prison. Kirkland said that he has supported the development of the Delaware County Gun Violence Task Force, which came together this year to combat area gun violence. Local council members, community leaders, members of the Delaware County District Attorney’s office, Chester’s mayor’s office and other law enforcement officials met to discuss how to reduce the incidents of gun violence and the source of the crimes being committed. The funds secured will be used to expand the anti-gun violence task force with the addition of special agents and independently funding other law enforcement personnel. For more information about this initiative or for help with state-related issues, please call Kirkland’s office at 610-876-6420 or email Malcolm Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today joined Governor Tom Wolf, members of the state Liquor Control Board, and state and local Philadelphia legislators for the signing of a bill that increases the state’s ability to better deal with “stop and go” nuisance establishments in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. The new authority is included in a Fiscal Code bill (H.B. 674), which the House passed last week. Under the legislation, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, the LCB can suspend the license immediately. The new law also gives local government entities the power to make recommendations to the LCB to investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I was excited to join Governor Wolf today to put an end to the ‘stop and gos’ that plague my community,” Cephas said. “I have lived the horrors of 'stop and gos,' so for me this is personal. These establishments have been a consistent barrier to improving the commercial business corridors in the Overbrook, Haddington and Carroll Park neighborhoods within my district.” In April, Cephas hosted a public meeting to get community feedback on how to best crack down on these establishments. She is the chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., and Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today joined Gov. Tom Wolf, members of the state Liquor Control Board, and state and local Philadelphia legislators for the signing of a bill that increases the state’s ability to better deal with “stop and go” nuisance establishments in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. The new authority is included in a Fiscal Code bill (H.B. 674), which the House passed last week. Under the legislation, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, the LCB can suspend the license immediately. The new law also gives local government entities the power to make recommendations to the LCB to investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, who sponsored earlier legislation to address "stop and gos," said, “In June, we began to work on legislation to increase the ability of local law enforcement agencies to stop the unscrupulous business practices of local ‘stop and go’ establishments. Today, we are able to begin the process of removing this nuisance from our community. Although this is just one of many steps needed to ensure the safety and serenity of our neighborhoods, the political will and courage displayed by Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Kevin Boyle today unveiled a plan to protect access to birth control under health insurance coverages in Pennsylvania. The legislation, proposed by Krueger-Braneky, Boyle and Rep. Tina Davis, would require that all state-regulated insurance plans in Pennsylvania cover contraceptives and vasectomies. It would further require that plans provide coverage for any prescription or non-prescription method of birth controlled approved by the FDA. It also would: Eliminate most co-payments for birth control and vasectomies Enable women to receive 12 months of birth control at one time Lift pre-authorizations on intrauterine devices (IUDs) On Oct. 6, the Trump administration announced it would roll back the contraceptive coverage requirements within the ACA. The rollback allows any employer to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage in its health plan based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. At least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania depend on this coverage to access affordable, effective contraceptives. “Contraception is health care, and access to health care is a fundamental human right that is inextricably tied to economic mobility and freedom,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware . “By making basic preventive care like the pill a costly luxury, the Trump administration is sidelining girls and women – whether they are students, hourly wage workers, Read more
ALLENTOWN, Oct. 31 – To better serve local residents, state Rep. Peter Schweyer and his staff will host community outreach hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 at Casa Guadalupe, 218 N. Second St. “We can cut the red tape and make sure you and your family are getting the help you need from state government. We can help with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications, PennDOT paperwork, winter heating assistance through LIHEAP, workers' compensation, PACE/PACENET prescription-drug coverage, PHEAA/student guide for financial aid, unclaimed property searches and any other state-related matter," Schweyer said. To find out more, call Schweyer’s office at 610-791-6270, or stop by at 1912 S. Fourth St. in Allentown. For those needing assistance in Spanish, he has a bilingual staffer available to help. Read more
ALLENTOWN, Oct. 31 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, continues his weekly Medicare open enrollment meetings at his office Monday. Every Monday through Dec. 4, an APPRISE counselor is at Schweyer’s Allentown office -- 1912 S. 4th St. – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for people wishing to sign up for Medicare, or those who want to change their plan. Appointments are required by calling Schweyer’s office at 610-791-6270. The counselor is available to answer questions about Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap plans, Medicare drug plans, PACE/PACENET prescription-drug coverage and various low-income assistance programs, such as the Medicare Savings Program and Extra Help. Read more
Gov. Tom Wolf signed H.B. 790 into law yesterday, creating the Controlled Plants and Noxious Weeds Act that was introduced by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.“I’m extremely appreciative to Governor Wolf and my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Pashinski said. “This commonsense legislation will help our state be proactive as we do everything we can to prevent the spread of harmful weeds and protect our valuable land for agriculture and tourism purposes.” Read more
STROUDSBURG, Oct. 31 – State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at the Hughes Library to explore state education funding. Madden, who serves on the House Education Committee, was joined by Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and other legislators from the across the state. “When the state adequately and equitably funds education, society as a whole benefits. Graduation rates increase, adult poverty rates fall, incomes rise and crime rates decline. It is important that we take a look at the bigger picture and equitably fund education so that all Pennsylvania children have access to a bright future,” Madden explained. Sturla added, “As a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, I had the opportunity to be a part of crafting a new formula that takes into consideration factors including tax capacity, poverty and district conditions. This is an important component in making sure we’re directing funds to the schools that need it most. I thank Representative Madden for working to help us further close the education funding equality gap.” Hearing testifiers included Merlyn Clarke, school board member, Stroudsburg Area School District; Jeff Ney, vice president, Pennsylvania State Education Association; and Marc Stier, director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Hearing testimony, photos and video will be available at www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee . Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 30 – State Rep. Maureen Madden issued this statement on the passage of the gaming expansion bill last week by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as part of the 2017-18 state budget. Read more
PITTSBURGH, Oct. 30 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and health advocates today promoted the upcoming open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act coverage. " Even with the shorter time period this year and a steep cutback in advertising , open enrollment is still an opportunity for many Pennsylvanians to get covered or find a better plan. I don't want anyone in western Pennsylvania to miss out," Frankel said. Leslie Bachurski, director of consumer navigation at the Consumer Health Coalition, said, “The key things people should know about the Affordable Care Act are that the law has not changed and that open enrollment has been shortened to only six weeks. People have a lot of questions right now, and navigators are a great local resource for getting the facts straight. Our navigators are working hard to be available in the community during open enrollment and help the enrollment process run as smoothly as possible.” People can shop for plans on www.healthcare.gov or find a local navigator at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov . The Squirrel Hill Health Center hosted today's news conference. CEO Susan Friedberg Kalson said, "Squirrel Hill Health Center welcomes the opportunity to highlight the upcoming open enrollment period for ACA Marketplace insurance plans. In addition to providing comprehensive primary medical, behavioral health and dental services to all, regardless of insurance status or Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 30 – The state House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution designating October as Indigenous Peoples' Month , according to lead sponsor Rep. Ángel Cruz. “Of the 50 states, Pennsylvania has one of the richest Native American Indian histories. Indigenous peoples played an important role shaping the history of our commonwealth and our country,” said Cruz, D-Phila. “Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by indigenous peoples. More than one highway in Pennsylvania follows an original Native American Indian trail. They have also contributed to environmental preservation, commerce, governmental institutions and structure, music, language, art and many other facets. “As public elected officials, it is our responsibility to promote inclusion and ensure equal access to opportunities for all. By drawing attention to indigenous peoples’ contributions to our cities and counties, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives celebrate and honor their heritage and culture and look forward to eradicate prejudice and discrimination against them,” Cruz said. House Resolution 580 designates the week following the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Week and the month of October 2017 as Indigenous Peoples’ Month in Pennsylvania. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., will hold her next monthly town hall at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at Mishkan Shalom Synagogue, 4101 Freeland Ave. The town hall, DeLissio’s 68th, will take place in the second-floor meeting room. “There is always much to discuss at my town halls, and that will certainly be the case for my 68th,” DeLissio said. “Discussion will focus on the newly signed revenue bills and the gaming expansion bill, House Bill 271, which will contribute to much-needed revenue in Pennsylvania.” House Bill 271 includes internet gambling, video gaming terminals (VGTs) and sports wagering. DeLissio said that a status update of a long-overdue Marcellus Shale severance tax bill, H.B. 1401, also will be provided. House Bill 1401 was voted out of the House Finance Committee on Oct. 18 and was substantively amended in committee. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., joined PhillyLabor Radio yesterday for a roundtable discussion with local labor leaders to discuss her efforts to protect workers’ rights in Pennsylvania. She also discussed her efforts to stop anti-labor legislation and how she is working to increase workforce development opportunities throughout the commonwealth. Cephas was joined by: Jim Gardler, CWA Local 13000, president Fred Wright, AFSCME District Council 47, president Kevin Boyle, Ironworkers 401, business manager Rich Lazer, City of Philadelphia, deputy commissioner of labor “As our country and big businesses rebound from the recession, it is crucial that our legislature avoid creating policies that hamper our economic growth and cripple our economy,” Cephas said. “I sit on the Labor and Industry, Gaming Oversight, and Liquor Control Committees in the House, and I have witnessed some of my colleagues intentionally create bad policies that would weaken our unions and devastate working families. I have opposed countless anti-labor proposals and will continue to do so.” Cephas spoke out against anti-labor budget proposals such as increasing the state hotel tax rate by 5 percent, ending the longtime sales tax exemption for commercial storage, and increasing liquor privatization. She also discussed legislative proposals that would harm working families in Pennsylvania, such as H.B. 55 , which would amend Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., and state Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, announced the passage of a school-lunch shaming ban they worked collaboratively on since May. The provision, which would prohibit shaming public school students for their financial situations, is included in the 2017-18 School Code (H.B. 178), which went to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk earlier this week. Brought on by reports of “school-lunch shaming” in the spring, Costa introduced a co-sponsorship memo for a bill that would ban this behavior from school administrators, and Bullock introduced a companion bill ( H.B. 1403 ) days later. There had been cases of students being denied a meal, forced to do chores at school, or wear a special wristband indicating that they were receiving a free or reduced lunch. In June, Bullock and Costa joined forces and hosted a news conference to increase awareness of the issue. “When I heard that school-lunch shaming was still happening in the commonwealth, I was shocked,” Bullock said. “In Pennsylvania, one in six children struggle with hunger. School is often the one place they receive an affordable, nutritious meal. I am glad that with this legislation, we can put the cruel practice of lunch shaming behind us and focus on more productive initiatives, such as “Breakfast after the Bell,” which expands access to school nutrition.” If signed by the governor, the Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 27 – Water quality in Clinton and six surrounding counties will be improved by a first-of-its-kind, $25.4 million state loan expected to create 50 forestry jobs and leverage $91 million in private investment, state Rep. Mike Hanna announced today. Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, said Lyme Timber Company LP received the loan to help purchase 23 large tracts of privately owned forest land, placing over 9,362 acres into working forest conservation easement, and to fund an acid mine drainage restoration project within the Sterling Run property in Cameron County. The timber industry will also benefit from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority loan, said Hanna, who added the geographic scope of the project includes Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Venango counties, in addition to Clinton and Cameron. “This is a public-private partnership that will not only preserve and protect water quality in northcentral Pennsylvania, but will aid the region’s lumber industry while at the same time promoting sustainable forestry,” Hanna said. “It’s a win for many varied interests, and I thank the Pennvest board for approving this innovative and impactful loan.” Hanna noted the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry has worked closely with Pennvest, the state Department of Environmental Protection, local officials and industry leaders to help bring the project to fruition. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery this week was appointed to the House Labor and Industry Committee. Read more
With two bills dealing with domestic violence sitting in the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, cited Domestic Violence Awareness Month as the appropriate time to move the bills forward. “I realize that the focus this month has been on completing our long overdue budget, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it’s important that we not only recognize the danger posed by domestic violence, but also act to further protect those who are victims of it,” Pashinski said. Read more
YORK, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans will partner with other local and state officials for a Diverse and Minority Business Forum, where attendees can learn more about state business programs and opportunities. The forum, a partnership with York Mayor C. Kim Bracey and Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of General Services Kerry Kirkland, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, at the York College Graham School of Business, Yorkview Hall, 441 Country Club Road. Attendees can learn more about how to do business with the state and about programs such as COSTARS, which provides increased opportunities for small and diverse businesses to compete for state and municipal contracts. Information also will be available about how to work with the City of York, the York City School District and others who do business with the state. “There are many resources available to help ensure that small- and minority-owned businesses are able to compete and thrive in Pennsylvania,” said Hill-Evans, D-York. “By bringing many of those resources together at this event, I hope we can make it easier for small-business owners to find the help they need.” Register for the event at www.yorkcity.org . For more information, call Hill-Evans’ office at 717-848-9595. Read more
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