GLENSIDE, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Steve McCarter will hold extended office hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Wednesday, March 22 in his district office at 115 E. Glenside Ave., Suite 8. The extended hours will give constituents the opportunity to meet with staff after normal business hours for help with property tax/rent rebates, SEPTA Senior Key ID cards, birth and death certificates, PACE, the state's prescription assistance program for seniors, Transportation Department problems and other state government-related issues. U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle’s office, which is in the same building in Suite 1, will also hold extended office hours on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Wednesday, March 22. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., his staff will be on hand to answer questions and address concerns involving the federal government such as veterans’ benefits, federal student loans, Social Security and Medicare, passports and visas, and IRS issues. No appointments are necessary. Those interested should contact McCarter’s district office staff with any questions at (215) 572-5210. Read more
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. "Many of Judge Gorsuch’s past decisions and statements are cause for concern," Frankel said. "He has repeatedly argued against separation of church and state. His ruling that a private company should be exempt from a law requiring employers to provide coverage for oral contraceptives because of religious beliefs not only threatens this longstanding principle, but also endangers women’s health. "Judge Gorsuch has also demonstrated on several occasions a willingness to protect corporations over people and to allow courts to override federal agency experts in deciding how to enforce laws. It is disheartening that U.S. Senate Republicans refused even to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. I urge all members of the Senate to carefully consider Judge Gorsuch’s history and take it into account when casting their votes." ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, announced that she will begin holding regularly scheduled mobile office hours for her constituents in Darby and Yeadon beginning this month. McClinton and her staff will be available from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at the Darby Recreation Center, 1022 Ridge Ave., Darby, starting Feb. 7. She and her staff will also be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first Thursday of every other month starting in March at the Yeadon Public Library, 809 Longacre Blvd., Yeadon. McClinton and her staff will offer the services that are always available at her main office, such as applying or renewing state Transportation Department items, completing applications for birth and death certificates and applying for numerous state programs. "I am thrilled to provide these mobile services to my constituents," McClinton said. "This is a perfect opportunity for me and my staff to offer these services to as many people conveniently as possible. I would like to thank the Darby Recreation Center and the Yeadon Public Library for providing the space for this outreach." McClinton added that her main office remains open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 6027 Ludlow St., Unit A. For more information on the new monthly mobile hours, contact McClinton's office staff at (215) 748-6712. Read more
Citing the rise of fake news on social media during the 2016 General Election, state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, is working to craft legislation that would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to draft a media literacy curriculum for Pennsylvanian students. Read more
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 1 – The Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition will release and discuss its Pittsburgh Peace and Justice Initiative Phase 1 report from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 at the City Council Chambers, 414 Grant St. , according to state Rep. Jake Wheatley. Wheatley, D-Allegheny and a coalition member, said the report will include findings in the areas of public safety, family outcomes, businesses and organizations, education and employment, along with policy recommendations. Additional information on the coalition is available at http://pbeoc.org . Media attendance is invited. Read more
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, today hosted a House Democratic Policy roundtable discussion at Muhlenberg College to learn more about suicide prevention in teens and young adults. Schlossberg, who has publicly discussed his own battles with anxiety and depression, noted that suicide is rising among all age groups, including young adults. The roundtable explored factors that make young adults more likely to commit suicide, as well as potential legislative remedies. "We heard some tragic stories today, but we also heard some stories that give us hope. To prevent suicides, we have to address the mental health challenges in schools and in the community," Schlossberg said. "We need to break down stigmas, which prevent people from getting the help they need. Finally, the legislature needs to support these efforts with effective policy and financial resources so no family has to face the tragedy of suicide." While speaking of the dire need for more providers and the resulting long waits for appointments or simply no available treatment at all, Maggie Murphy, the executive director of NAMI Lehigh Valley said, "Imagine the outrage if the number of children with cancer did not get treatment. We need to provide the same level of treatment for mental illness that we provide for cancer." "These are real people, real stories and real pain coming from suicide, said Richard Orlemann, deputy mental health administrator for Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 31 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion in Lancaster to learn more about educational opportunities that mix online courses, hybrid learning and traditional learning practices. Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, facilitated the discussion at Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 which provided a presentation on its Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Solutions program. “At a time when the state budget outlook is bleak at best, we need to consider educational opportunities that save money, but also best serve Pennsylvania’s children,” Sturla said. “Thank you to Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13 for helping to facilitate a well-rounded discussion on another option for Pennsylvania children to have access to a high-quality education that helps them compete in the national and global economy." Participants in the roundtable discussion included Colette Cairns, education innovation specialist, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13; Ken Zimmerman, instructional media technology, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13; Larry Mays, director of student services, School District of Lancaster; and Liz Lubeskie, coordinator of online learning, Manheim Central School District. Copies of roundtable materials are available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 31 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery was appointed to serve on four House committees for the 2017-18 legislative session: Education, Judiciary, Health and Game and Fisheries. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 31 – Philadelphia state Rep. Chris Rabb, who also serves as a founding member of the General Assembly's Climate Caucus, today issued the following statement concerning the pending confirmation of the president's nominee, Scott Pruitt, to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and how it could impact Pennsylvanians: "The confirmation of this nominee would most certainly have a trickle-down effect. Once again, similar to the closure of three Pennsylvania unemployment compensation call centers, I'm reminded of the Republicans' complacency. As a result of underfunding the state Department of Environmental Protection, it begs the questions: Is the water we drink safe? Is the water we bathe in safe? "The EPA has already sent the warning signal to Pennsylvania that only the minimum is being done to ensure we have safe drinking water, and the common denominator for each and every violation comes back to a lack of staff due to funding cuts. The lack of transparency by Pruitt throughout his confirmation hearings only compounds my concern for the public health of the families I represent. I'm proud that the 200 th Legislative District boasts the Wissahickon Creek Watershed and I will continue to fight to protect and enhance our most precious resource. " If you believe in smart-sized government that's there to provide, at the very least, the most basic services meant to safeguard public Read more
YARDLEY, Jan. 30 – Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, today called for public hearings on Elcon’s plans for a commercial hazardous waste and residual waste treatment and storage facility in Falls Township. Warren explained that a required legal advertisement in a local newspaper noted that the Operations and Design applications process (PHASE II) application will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection around Feb. 21. “After almost a year of silence, Elcon is now taking the next step in the application for state permits so it’s important that we make sure the residents of nearby towns who will be impacted by this project have an opportunity to make their concerns part of the record,” Warren said. “I have sent a letter to DEP requesting public hearings in Bucks County during at least three stages of the review process.” According to DEP, the PHASE II application includes more detailed design and operational information than was required in the PHASE I siting application review. The PHASE II process normally takes at least 10 months. Additional permits and reviews will be necessary with Falls Township and the Delaware River Basin Commission. In his letter to DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Warren requested several public hearings during key steps in the process. The first being at the beginning of technical review, the second at the point where Elcon responds to any official Notice of Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on raising the minimum wage. Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, co-chaired the hearing at the YWCA, which discussed the effects of increasing the minimum wage. “Pennsylvania is long overdue for an increase in the minimum wage,” Kim said. “It’s been eight years since the floor was raised to $7.25 in Pennsylvania. In 2016, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage was about one-third below its 1968 level – even though productivity has doubled since 1968.” “When we talk about a minimum wage, we should be talking about a livable wage,” Sturla said. “Pennsylvanians who work 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. I support raising the minimum wage, and I’m glad the Policy Committee can bring more attention to the issue.” Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only earns $15,080, some $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to rely on government assistance programs to get by. Testifiers were Sean Ramaley, deputy secretary at the state Department of Labor and Industry; John Traynor, owner of Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center and the Kitchen Bar; Mary Quinn, president and CEO of the YWCA Harrisburg; and Mark Price, Ph.D., a labor economist from the Keystone Research Center. For hearing testimonies, Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, spoke out against President Donald Trump’s recent executive order that bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days, suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely prevents Syrians from entering the country as refugees. “President Trump’s order to block entry of immigrants and refugees is simply unacceptable,” Frankel said Monday. “We are a diverse nation that is made great by the contributions of immigrants, including those who seek refuge here. The United States has a proud history of welcoming immigrants who are searching for a better life for themselves and their families. Nothing about this executive order will keep America safe. In fact, counterterrorism experts say the immigration ban could make us less safe by playing into the belief - of terror groups such as ISIS - that the West is at war with Islam. It could also make it more difficult for the U.S. to cooperate with the countries targeted in the ban." “I am moved and encouraged by the thousands who took part in protests around the country against Trump’s executive order, including at least 300 protestors who gathered at Pittsburgh International Airport,” Frankel added. “It is my hope that the federal court system will overturn this immigration ban that runs counter to the principles upon which America Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to combine four departments of the state government into one service-delivery agency has great potential and will be reviewed by legislators. “The governor’s not proposing to cut any services but instead to cut the size of the state bureaucracy itself. That’s something Democrats can support if we make sure that it’s done well,” Dermody said. “If this consolidation means less paperwork and confusion for all of us who depend on these services, then I’m all for it. So many programs in these four departments overlap with each other and help the same people – our parents, our children, our friends and ourselves. “It’s time to take a fresh look and see if we can cut down on costly duplication while improving the delivery of vital services to the people who rely on them,” Dermody said. “This will simplify things for all of us and should make it easier for all Pennsylvanians to see how much state government matters to us in our daily lives. “There are many unknowns in this process that we have to consider. House Democrats are eager to have this conversation and help move Pennsylvania forward.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – At the request of state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai last week approved formation of a Blue Lives Matter Caucus, which quickly attracted 22 other members. As envisioned by its founder Burns, the new caucus is a “bipartisan, multi-issue group” dedicated to “all issues and concerns related to law enforcement.” Burns is the sponsor of H.B. 158, a Blue Lives Matter bill that would make assaulting a law enforcement officer a hate crime, but said the caucus will have a broad approach and appeal. “Law enforcement officers risk their lives daily so the people of this commonwealth can enjoy peace and security. They deserve the highest level of protection from targeted acts of violence the law can provide. They also deserve policies and programs that will help them perform their jobs more effectively,” Burns wrote in his request to Turzai, who swiftly gave his approval. Burns said he welcomes Democratic and Republican membership in the new caucus, is encouraged that House members of both parties have signed on, and hopes that the number continues climbing. “These are very difficult times to be a law enforcement officer, and one thing that unites the Blue Lives Matter Caucus is a firm commitment to doing all that we can to support those who protect us, in any way that we can,” Burns said. “I look forward to working with anyone who shares this belief, be they Read more
State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, announced today that she has been appointed to serve on five standing committees in the House: Aging and Older Adult Services, Environmental Resources and Energy, Local Government, Professional Licensure and Urban Affairs. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – Because of a snow-related school delay Monday, a viewing of the movie “Hidden Figures” organized by state Rep. Jake Wheatley for 200 high school girls from Pittsburgh has been rescheduled to 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 at Southside Works Cinemas. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, is partnering with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, The Hill District Education Council, The Southside Works Cinemas, and members of the local residential and business communities to enable the students to see the morning movie. The film chronicles the true story of a team of African-American women who provided NASA with mathematical data used to launch the agency’s first successful space missions, which Wheatley said should serve as an educational inspiration to attendees. Wheatley said the idea came about when lifelong Hill District resident Taminikah Howze approached him about providing this opportunity for young ladies across his district. Wheatley then called upon the local community to pitch in to make this opportunity come to fruition. "In a little more than 24 hours, donations and commitments came pouring in, enough to cover a sellout of a 250-seat theater,” Wheatley said, noting students from Pittsburgh Milliones, Pittsburgh Perry and Pittsburgh Brasher will attend the event at the SouthSide Works Cinemas. NEWS EDITORS/ASSIGNMENT DESKS : Media coverage of this event is invited. The students will arrive at 9 a.m., view the movie from 9:30 Read more
Citing the importance of having health insurance, state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, is reminding constituents today that they only have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 to register for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Read more
ALLENTOWN, Jan. 27 – State Sen. Pat Browne and Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer presented Allentown School District officials with a $1 million grant for Building 21 Allentown during a Friday news conference. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., will host an education forum at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30 at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, 901 S. Broad St. Sims invites the public to join him, elementary school principals, policy experts, academics, and community leaders for a discussion about education and engagement in Philadelphia. "Together we’ll explore how entire communities can use their unique assets to support local public schools and move our vision for Philadelphia schools forward. Dr. William Hite, the Philadelphia School District superintendent, will kick off the forum and help us welcome panelists, parents and attendees," Sims said. "A panel of principals from five neighborhood elementary schools will join us and each will share their school's accomplishments as well as opportunities for growth. It's a great way for parents, community members and those who are new to the area to learn more about how to get involved with the amazing public schools in Center City." The principals are: April Brown, Waring Elementary; Zack Duberstein, Vare-Washington Elementary; Lisa Kaplan, Jackson Elementary; Dan Lazar, Greenfield Elementary; and Lauren Overton, Meredith Elementary. Sims said a second "all-star" panel will focus on sharing best practices for engaging entire communities in supporting local public schools through fundraising, program development, community partnerships and Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to be eligible to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. House Bill 222 seeks to make transparent a presidential candidate’s financial interests before being elected to the highest office in the nation. “The need for this tradition is clear,” Briggs said. “Many Americans, not to mention the national security community, want to know whether presidential candidates have personal or business interests that could undermine their commitment to act in the best interests of the United States should they become president. “More importantly, all Americans, whether they supported the president's election or not, must know whether there are any financial interests that may affect his or her decision making while serving.” Briggs’ introduction of the bill follows President Donald Trump’s recent reversal on his pledge to release his tax returns following what he described while campaigning as a routine audit. “President Trump’s refusal to release a most basic, yet vital, piece of information could be categorized as a text-book bait and switch,” Briggs said. “One or more states’ refusal to place a candidate on the ballot, on the other hand, could easily prevent something like this from ever happening again. All public Read more
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