HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – On Saturday, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, was awarded the ABATE “Freedom Fighter” Award for her efforts in fighting to protect the rights of the state’s motorcyclists. ABATE, which stands for Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education, is an organization of motorcyclists dedicated to protecting bikers’ rights through political change, public education and charitable projects. The group works actively with legislators and members of the public to raise awareness on issues affecting bikers and to promote safety. “ABATE has made great strides in raising awareness about motorcyclists’ rights, promoting rider safety and protecting bikers’ rights to continue to enjoy their passion unfettered by unfair laws,” Snyder said. “I am so honored to receive this honor and to support a group so passionate about their ideals.” Snyder has worked actively for years to promote awareness of motorcyclists’ rights and to ensure that bikers are treated fairly under the law. Last year, she introduced a bill to add motorcycles to the state’s vehicle “Lemon Law,” which protects consumers who buy defective vehicles. The bill passed the House and now heads for the Senate. More information on the bill is available here . “Just like a car or truck, a motorcycle is a major investment,” Snyder said. “The law needs to treat consumers who purchase Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said his caucus will work strenuously to help achieve Gov. Tom Wolf’s requested increases for a variety of education lines in the state budget. “A budget is a statement of priorities,” Dermody said. “It’s how the elected representatives of the people make clear what we value most. “The governor’s seeking $120 million more for school districts across the state, as well as higher investment in pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs, state universities, and career and technical education. Beyond better schools and targeted job training, the money for districts also helps us control local property tax increases. “It’s directly in line with our own House Democratic agenda, the Plan For Pennsylvania, which focuses on quality schools, good jobs and fairer taxes,” he said. “As always, the challenge is finding a way to pay for this, but make no mistake, it’s needed. House Democrats will do everything we can to help make the governor’s vision for better education, skills training and lower property taxes a reality,” Dermody said. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1 – The Philadelphia Delegation in the state House of Representatives is calling on federal authorities for southeastern Pennsylvania to provide clear reassurance of non-interference to patients in the state's medical marijuana program. State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, delegation chair, said: "Thousands of patients in our area, both children and adults, are relying on this medicine or soon will. However, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Jan. 4 that he is changing the direction of federal marijuana enforcement. So these vulnerable patients deserve a clear reassurance from current and future federal authorities similar to the one that the U.S. attorney for central and northeastern Pennsylvania has already given for that area. They deserve an on-the-record statement or letter that provides the same reassurances for patients in Philadelphia and all of the nine counties in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania." The Eastern District of Pennsylvania includes Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties. The delegation sent a letter on Jan. 22 to Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Wilson, Philadelphia Division, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The letter was also copied the same day to: William McSwain, nominee for U.S. attorney, Eastern District, at his Drinker Biddle law office, Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila., announced that nominations are now being accepted to honor people in the commonwealth who have done something special to protect children. The PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids awards recognize people who have been instrumental in protecting children, with the goal of heightening awareness of the role each Pennsylvanian plays in safeguarding children from abuse and neglect. Youngblood said the awards are presented by the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance in April, which is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month under a House resolution for which she voted. “A state report shows there were more than 44,000 reports of child abuse in Pennsylvania in 2016, with over 5,000 in Philadelphia County alone. These statistics are both heartbreaking and a wake-up call,” Youngblood said. “Whether it’s a neighbor, friend, family member or stranger, we all must work together and do what we can to protect our children from this unnecessary and horrific crime.” Youngblood said in addition to honoring two child welfare professionals and two everyday citizens, the PFSA will honor someone in the media who has demonstrated a commitment to covering child abuse and protection-related issues in Pennsylvania in 2017. The deadline to nominate someone is 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. The awards will be presented during a ceremony at the state Capitol on April 4. To nominate someone Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Jared Solomon today a hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion at the Philadelphia Protestant Home to clarify landlord-tenant relationships. Solomon noted the importance of the topic in relation to House Democrats’ Plan4PA and efforts to put people first. He was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, to learn how absentee landlords can be held accountable for maintenance of their properties and how to clarify landlord-tenant relationships to ensure both parties are aware of rights, responsibilities, and obligations. “We want to strengthen the relationship between landlords and tenants so that we can put people first and make sure these relationships are mutually beneficial. I’m thankful for the opportunity to host today’s Plan4PA Policy Committee discussion that will help us find legislative solutions that ensure protections for both parties and give recourse when one party doesn’t keep up their agreement,” said Solomon, D-Phila. Sturla added, “The relationship between landlords and tenants should be clearly defined when entering into rental agreements. When either party fails to hold up their end of the bargain, we have to be sure there are policies in place that protect each party. Clarifying the roles, responsibilities and obligations is an important part of the process and I’m glad Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 1 – Legislation to ensure a free and open internet in Pennsylvania is being drafted, said state Rep. Tim Briggs, who will sponsor the bill. Based on a California bill, the legislation would prohibit an internet service provider from blocking, degrading or impairing lawful internet traffic based on content, application or service. It also would prohibit an ISP from allowing certain websites preferential treatment for a fee or sum. In December, the Federal Communications Commission took steps to repeal net neutrality regulations. Without these consumer protections, ISPs would be able to block, slow, or speed up websites depending on content or service agreements. “The loss of fair internet delivery is a big problem for consumers, but an even bigger impediment for new business, new ideas and the voices of people online who expect their democratic rights to outweigh powerful and moneyed interests,” Briggs said. “Allowing corporations to act as internet gatekeepers would be an alarming – if not terrifying – adjustment to how we inform ourselves and advocate for social progress, democracy and transparency. “My bill would stop that from happening in Pennsylvania. All websites, large or small, should be provided to the consumer at the same speed.” The bill also will have a procurement clause requiring the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to only purchase internet services from ISPs that abide by the principals Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 31 -- State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said 23 fire and ambulance companies in the 55 th Legislative District will be sharing $300,882 in state grants. The grants are from Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program. The grants are funded from gaming revenue. "Our fire departments and emergency service providers often spend countless hours fundraising to ensure their equipment and training are up to date so they can help keep us safe," Petrarca said. "These grants help our first responders focus on their service to their communities, which is why this program is so vital." Grant recipients and amounts awarded in the 55 th District are as follows: Armstrong County Apollo Volunteer Fire Dept. Hose Co. No. 2 -- $11,727 Apollo Volunteer Fire Dept. Hose Co. No. 3 -- $11,911 Leechburg Volunteer Fire Co. -- $11,543 Lower Kiski Ambulance Service Inc. -- $12,096 for the fire company; $7,037 for EMS Parks Township Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $11,727 Indiana County Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,464 Westmoreland County Avonmore Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $11,543 Bell Township Volunteer Fire Dept. -- $12,096 Derry Township Volunteer Fire Dept. No. 1 of Bradenville -- $12,280 Free Service Fire Unit No. 6, Latrobe -- $11,543 Freewill Volunteer Hose Co. No. 3 and 4, Latrobe -- $11,543 George G. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 31 –State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown to address the bullying pandemic and their House Bill 2009 to require bullying education across all grade levels. Kinsey and Bullock were joined by House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, state legislators, and advocates to discuss how mandating bullying education can help stop bullying and protect students across the state. Bullock and Kinsey’s bill is part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA and efforts to facilitate quality schools. “As we work to give children the tools they need to succeed in the classroom and in life, bullying education has to be a part of that conversation. Making sure that students receive bullying education at all grade levels will help to engrain in their mindset that it is just as important to acquire critical classroom skills as it is to treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of their differences,” Kinsey explained. Bullock said, “Today, bullying goes beyond the classroom and play yard and extends into the online realm. Social media platforms provide a whole new forum for bullies to attack. Implementing bullying prevention policies is a logical solution that can help students better understand the long-term impact bullying could have on others and to stand up for those who may be Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 31 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, announced today that volunteer and career fire departments and emergency medical services and rescue companies in the 76 th Legislative District have been awarded grants totaling $317,914. The grants are part of the Fire Company, Emergency Medical Services Companies Grant Program administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. Hanna said the grants can be used toward repairing, building or renovating facilities. The money also can be applied toward the purchase of new equipment, training and certification of staff, or it may go to repay debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. Clinton County recipients in Hanna’s 76 th Legislative District are: Avis Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1, $11,911.82; Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Co., $12,833.30; Beech Creek-Blanchard Fire Co. EMS, $3,517.40; Chapman Township Volunteer Fire Co., $12,096.11; Citizen Hose Co. No. 5 of Lock Haven, $15,000; Citizens Hose Co. of South Renovo, $11,543.23; Dunnstown Fire Co., $13,754.78; Goodwill Hose Co. Ambulance Association EMS, $7,037.40; Goodwill Hose Co. No. 3, $11,390; Hand In Hand Hose Co., $13,201.89; Haneyville Volunteer Fire Company, $11,543.23; Hope Hose Co. No. 2, $13,570.48; Lamar Township Volunteer Fire Co., $8,916; Nittany Valley Volunteer Fire Co., $11,543.23; Renovo Fire Department, Read more
CHESTER, Jan. 31 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland announced that the Stormwater Authority of the City of Chester was approved for a $4.8 million low-interest loan to upgrade infrastructure. The loan was approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (Pennvest) on Wednesday. The Stormwater Authority will use the funds for a project that aims to make improvements in a sewer area that is subject to flooding and overflows from excessive runoff and lack of capacity in the conveyance and storage system. The work includes construction of four bio-retention cells, which help remove contaminants from stormwater runoff, 7,250 square feet of permeable pavement, establishment of a storm drain catch basin retrofit project program and 70 storm sewer inlets. “Infrastructure work like this is necessary to keep our communities running,” said Kirkland, D-Delaware. “This project will help improve water quality in our local waterways, and the work is estimated to create 75 jobs. I’m pleased that the Pennvest board saw fit to award this funding.” Pennvest serves Pennsylvania communities by funding sewer, stormwater and drinking water projects. The projects contribute to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and residents’ health, as well as provide jobs and opportunities for economic growth. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 31 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, recently helped to unveil the "Pennsylvania Promise" plan at the state Capitol. "This bold proposal would fit well with the House Democrats' Plan For PA, which has a goal of making higher education and training more affordable for everyone. I have long supported restoring and increasing funding for both K-12 and higher education, and we have been making gains on both under Governor Tom Wolf," Roebuck said. The Pennsylvania Promise plan would: cover two years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full-time at one of Pennsylvania's 14 public community colleges, including the Community College of Philadelphia; cover four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year accepted into one of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education, including Cheyney and West Chester; provide four years of grants ranging from $2,000 up to $11,000, depending on family income, for students accepted into a state-related university such as Temple, Lincoln or Penn State. finance the expansion of grant aid to adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as college credit. Video of Roebuck speaking in support of the proposal can be viewed on his website – www.pahouse.com/Roebuck -- or Read more
EBENSBURG, Jan. 31 – Acutely aware that the potency of this year’s influenza strain has caused dozens of deaths statewide, state Rep. Frank Burns is reminding 72 nd Legislative District residents of the upcoming availability of free flu shots in Ebensburg and Johnstown. Burns said walk-ins are welcome when the Pennsylvania Department of Health administers the shots at these clinics: Noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 5 at Central Park Complex, Cambria County Drug and Alcohol, 110 Franklin St., Johnstown; and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 6 at Young Peoples Community Center, 300 Prave St., Ebensburg. “The Health Department has classified this year’s flu as ‘widespread,’ which means outbreaks have occurred in at least half of the regions of the state,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “From Oct. 1 through Jan. 12, department testing has confirmed 614 cases of influenza in Cambria County. So it makes sense to get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so.” Burns said Pennsylvania has recorded at least 35,453 flu cases and 65 flu-related deaths thus far, and the number of cases has increased dramatically in the past few weeks. Burns added that at the clinics, children’s immunization records are required, and questions should be referred to the Department of Health at (814) 248-3120. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – In his ongoing push to keep his neighborhoods clean, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced details about an opportunity to bring free recycling bins to outdoor recreational areas. Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 Dr. Pepper Snapple/Keep America Beautiful Park Recycling Bin Grants through Feb. 16. The grant program is open to all government agencies that own or manage local, regional or state parks, with a goal of expanding recycling efforts. Other eligible settings include playgrounds, athletic fields and nature trails. Nonprofit organizations and Keep America Beautiful affiliates are also permitted to apply on behalf of government agencies, but for-profit businesses are not qualified. “I am constantly fighting to rid our neighborhoods of garbage. What many forget, though, is recycling is just as important as taking out the trash,” Burns explained. “This grant would help instill that reminder by making it more accessible across our communities. I strongly urge eligible candidates to fill out an application and help promote a clean environment in Cambria County.” Burns said anyone interested in applying can contact Brittany Blackham, Grants & Development specialist, at (814) 736-7339 in his Portage office for assistance. Now in its sixth year, the grant program has awarded more than 4,300 recycling bins across more than 40 states. ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 – As part of his continued effort to help people clear minor convictions from their records, state Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., will host a free pardon and expungement clinic at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13 in his district office, 4667 Paul St., 19124. Dawkins said experts will be on hand to provide information and answer questions about record expungement. There also will be information for people interested in taking the next steps in having their records cleared. “Many people have fallen on hard times as a result of a minor conviction that keeps haunting them and that results in missed opportunities for employment, education and other benefits,” Dawkins said. “This clinic will give people with criminal records a second chance and deter recidivism.” People interested in attending must RSVP by calling (215) 744-7901. Read more
WEST CHESTER, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion in the West Goshen Township Building on child care issues and her H.B. 2035 , which would provide a tax deduction for the cost of child care. Comitta was joined by House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster; legislators from across the state and local childcare advocates. “All families deserve access to safe, reliable, quality care for their children. That care can get costly, and I believe that offering tax relief up to $10,000 would provide a great benefit to working families. I am thrilled that the House Democratic Policy Committee came to West Chester to discuss how my legislation might positively impact families across the state,” Comitta said. Sturla added, “One of the main goals of our Plan4PA is to give kids a great start in life. Giving parents a tool that will help them afford quality child care is an important component of our plan. When parents pay for child care, it’s so much more than a babysitter. It’s an investment in their child’s future. Rep. Comitta’s bill is a simple concept that could make a big difference in the lives of Pennsylvania families.” Panelists included Andrea Youndt, senior vice president and chief operating officer, YMCA of Greater Brandywine; and Bill Shoffler, Bucks County Coordinator for PreK for PA Campaign and Campaign Read more
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, is continuing talks with the Port Authority to ensure that its proposed Bus Rapid Transit system will not adversely impact transit service to area residents. “While I applaud the Port Authority’s desire to expand and modernize services, it is essential that any new system not compromise service for existing customers,” Costa said. “For many area residents, these routes are a lifeline to jobs, food, health care and other essential services. I am in ongoing discussions with Port Authority officials, urging them to consider the real-life impact on residents’ lives as they move forward with this plan.” The BRT system, sometimes called “light rail on wheels,” would use electric buses to link downtown Pittsburgh to Uptown, Oakland and Wilkinsburg via the East Busway. Area residents have expressed concerns that existing routes running directly from Mon Valley to downtown are slated to become “feeder routes” that will stop in Oakland, forcing riders to transfer. Residents fear that as designed, the new system will eliminate some neighborhood routes, greatly reduce the frequency of service and dramatically increase transit costs. Costa said he is committed to preserving existing services and is making sure the Port Authority is aware of residents’ concerns. He recently urged a community meeting to discuss the issue, and he plans to continue to stress Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 – As part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA and efforts to put people first, state Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., will host a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable to discuss landlord-tenant issues, The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, 6401 Martins Mill Road, Philadelphia. The media and public are invited to attend. Solomon will be joined by policy experts and state legislators, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, to learn how absentee landlords can be held accountable for maintenance of their properties and how to clarify landlord-tenant relationships to ensure both parties are aware of rights, responsibilities, and obligations. The current agenda is: 10:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. Discussion with Panelists: Rebecca Corcoran Swanson, planning director, City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections Phil Lord, executive director, Tenant Union Representative Network Christine Young Gertz, director of government affairs, PA Apartment Association-East Tom Giles , Board of Directors Member for Diversified Investors Group (DIG) and member of Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association George Donnelly, Langer, Grogan & Diver Social Justice Fellow, The Public Interest Law Center George Gould, senior attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia 11:50 a.m. Closing Remarks Visit Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 29 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., issued the following statement in response to the deadly domestic violence shooting at a car wash in western Pennsylvania: “Words cannot express the sorrow and dismay that I feel upon learning of yet another fully preventable act of violence that has left lives ravaged and families destroyed. “So many of these mass shootings and acts of violence can be traced back to domestic disputes. More than half of all mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 were related to domestic or family violence. It is unacceptable that we allow known abusers to purchase or transfer guns at licensed firearms dealers without also informing victims of domestic violence and law enforcement agencies of this serious threat. “I’m working to address this crisis by introducing legislation that would establish a Domestic Violence Firearm Purchase Notification System. This would ensure that when those charged or convicted with domestic violence-related offenses attempt to purchase firearms, notifications are sent to victims, law enforcement, and any other individuals who have opted in to receive these alerts. This notice would allow victims and their loved ones to plan for their safety – a matter that is often a matter of life and death.” ### Read more
State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, has been appointed to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, according to House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Madden, who is co-chairwoman of the Legislative Ski Caucus, noted how important tourism is to Monroe County and the Commonwealth as a whole. “I am honored to have a seat on the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee,” Madden said. “This committee has broad oversight over the main economic engines in my home district. This appointment will allow me to pursue one of my main goals as an elected official: expanding the economic opportunities available to business owners, employees and future employees in my district. “Pennsylvania is ranked one of the top 10 tourism states in the nation. Millions of people visit Pennsylvania annually, supporting over 500,000 jobs and accounting for close to $20 billion of the Commonwealth’s Gross Domestic Product.” Madden also noted that 20 operating ski resorts in Pennsylvania generated $700 million in economic activity, directly and indirectly, for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Madden is also a member of the following committees: Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Children and Youth, Education, Game and Fisheries, Human Services and Policy. Read more
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