SCRANTON, June 20 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Marty Flynn. A representative from the American Legion Service Office Outreach program will be in Flynn's office -- Jay's Commons, 409 N. Main Ave., Scranton -- from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 28 to provide information on services available to veterans and their families. The American Legion representatives are available to discuss pensions and other compensation, education, health care and death benefits. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help, but anyone interested in speaking to the advisers is recommended to schedule an appointment through Flynn’s office at 570-342-4348. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today said the state Department of Health announced Clinton County was awarded one of 12 permits to grow and process medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Terrapin Investment Funds 1 LLC, was one of the successful applicants. Terrapin Investment Funds 1 LLC intends to locate the Terrapin Care Station in a former modular home site along Henry Street in South Avis, Pine Creek Township. According to the Department of Health, two permits were issued per region throughout the state. A total of 177 prospective grower/processor applications and 280 dispensary applications were received. Owner and founder of Terrapin Care Station Christopher Woods, although originally from Pennsylvania, is an entrepreneur from Colorado. Prior to today’s announcement, the national company had been awarded six other licenses and has five retail location in four cities. Hanna said an estimated 30 to 50 jobs will be created with an average pay of $40,000 with benefits. “These are family-sustaining jobs,” Hanna said. “It is encouraging to see large companies come to our region with the intent of providing livable wages to many residents.” Growers/processors will have six months to become operational at which time they will begin to grow marijuana plants and process them into pills, liquids, oil or topical forms. Doctors will be allowed to prescribe the Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – The House today unanimously adopted H.R. 327 , a resolution by state Rep. Jake Wheatley calling for creation of a select subcommittee to thoroughly examine Pennsylvania’s tax collection system and suggest improvements. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, previously gained approval for the measure from the House Finance Committee, where he serves as Democratic chairman. As envisioned by Wheatley, the Select Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform would be tasked with making a thorough review of the process, rates and methods by which the commonwealth collects revenue – and the collective impact on taxpayers. “I am pleased that this resolution garnered bipartisan support in the full House, just as it did earlier in the Finance Committee,” Wheatley said. “This subcommittee will perform important work, giving us ideas on how we can modernize our tax collection system and methods to ensure that government services are sustained at needed levels.” Wheatley said he wants the subcommittee to delve into deeper issues than just taxing and spending, and look into the realms of what the commonwealth is seeking to create or achieve in its budgeting process. A review of Pennsylvania’s various revenue-generating mechanisms – including whether they are sustainable and in need of changes – should be central to the subcommittee’s work, said Wheatley. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program June 26 at the office of state Rep. Kevin Haggerty. Jeff Saunders of the American Legion will be in Haggerty's Dunmore office -- located at the Dunmore Community Center, 1414 Monroe Ave. -- from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 26 to provide information on services available to veterans and their families, including retirement, benefits and more. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help, but anyone interested is recommended to schedule an appointment through Haggerty’s office at 570-342-2710. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H.R. 375) introduced by Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Vanessa Brown, D-Phila., which recognizes the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Juneteenth celebrates the heritage, family and community spirit of African culture. The celebrations originated in 1865, when 13,000 black Union soldiers from Pennsylvania escorted Gen. Gordon Granger to Galveston, Texas, to read Order No. 3 and free the last slaves in the United States, kick-starting a 140-year-old “Juneteenth” tradition that today recognizes both the freedom of slaves and the endurance of African culture in North America. "It is hard to imagine today, in our world of instant communication, that it took almost three years for the freedoms granted in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to be expressed to the slaves in Texas," Brown said. “This celebration represents a triumph of the human spirit over slavery. It’s a salute to the soldiers who carried the message to Galveston, to every last slave who was freed after the Civil War, and to the African culture that endured even the most stringent oppression,” Brown said. "Diversity and inclusion are critical components of our country’s development and success. If a group of people are not allowed to participate culturally, we fail to understand and appreciate our differences and Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – House Resolution 387 declaring June 19 through 25 as Pollinator Week in Pennsylvania, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, was unanimously adopted by the House today. “Specifically, this resolution recognizes the importance of bees and other pollinators, as well as beekeepers, in the production of many of the foods produced in the commonwealth,” Matzie said. “Pollinators are often critical to an ecosystem. Their work ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants. An estimated one-third of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators.” Matzie said that according to the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems, pollinators provide important services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops, adding $217 billion to the global economy. He noted that honey bees alone account for $1.2 billion to $5.4 billion in agricultural productivity in the United States. Additionally, his resolution noted that pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, provide protection from severe weather and support wildlife. Matzie’s resolution also recognized the Pennsylvania Beekeepers Association, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension and Delaware Valley College – Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, today said the state House of Representatives has unanimously adopted his resolution designating September 2017 as “Light the Night Month” in Pennsylvania. “House Resolution 399 recognizes the history of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and their main fundraising program, the Light the Night Walk, which they hold annually in over 200 locations around the country,” Bizzarro said. “Pennsylvania communities will host at least 10 events, including the September 21 walk at UPMC Park in Erie.” Bizzarro said Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has raised over $1 billion for research and patient services since its founding in 1949. “Participating in, or even just observing the walk, is a moving experience,” Bizzarro said. “Survivors carry lanterns and they are joined on the walk by friends and family members. Others walk in memory of loved ones who have battled the disease in the past.” In addition to Erie, other communities planning walks this fall include: Center Valley, Doylestown, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Wayne and Wrightsville. ### Read more
CENTRE COUNTY, June 19 – Separate resolutions honoring eight Penn State teams that earned Big Ten championships, introduced by state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, unanimously passed the House last week. Conklin said the resolutions coincided with “B1G Champs on the Hill” day, where Penn State coaches and athletes from the championship teams were recognized in Harrisburg for their accomplishments. “The 2016-17 academic year was one of great success for Penn State athletics, with eight teams winning Big Ten Conference championships,” Conklin said. “With much pride and rooting interest, I am proud to sponsor these resolutions honoring their achievements.” The football, wrestling, men’s ice hockey, field hockey, women’s soccer, women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, and men’s volleyball teams are those recognized by Conklin’s resolutions. “The Big Ten is one of the nation’s most respected and competitive sports conferences, so having this many champions in a single year is quite impressive,” Conklin said. “It is my hope that we have even more reasons to celebrate Penn State’s academic and athletic excellence in the years to come.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster and chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, said the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today in the Capitol to discuss college affordability in Pennsylvania. “College affordability is important to keeping education attainable and keeping Pennsylvania’s economy on the fast track. Educating the leaders of tomorrow and keeping them in the state has to be our goal. I will continue to support funding education so that we have the resources to attract and re-train the nation’s and the world’s brightest talent to our commonwealth,” Sturla said. “Whether we explore new endowment options to help individual schools make a quality education more attainable, or we guarantee access to universities for Pennsylvania students, we have to consider all options on the table to improve and invigorate our state system of higher education. We need an overall, long-term strategy for the system to accomplish this.” Testifiers included Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; Ken Mash, president, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties; and Mark Price, PhD, labor economist, Keystone Research Center. Hearing testimony is available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 16 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., honored local students with Peer to Peer and Unsung Hero awards for the 2016-17 school year. The honors are awarded annually to students who live in the 194th Legislative District. They are nominated by their teachers, counselors and other school staff members. “Each year, the schools are contacted inviting them to identify two students who have excelled in contributing to good citizenship and/or displaying a behavior or action which may otherwise go unnoticed or unrecognized,” DeLissio said. “Congratulations to these students for their compassion and willingness to do the ‘right thing’ without expectation of recognition or an award. Our communities are the better because of their contributions.” The following schools participated and identified these graduating students to receive the following awards: AMY Northwest Middle School: Charlemagne Hunter – Peer to Peer; Bianca Hamilton – Unsung Hero; Cook-Wissahickon School: Samantha Sturkey – Peer to Peer; Nosaj Briddell – Unsung Hero; James Dobson School: Lilly Hammer – Peer to Peer; Kyree Keels – Unsung Hero; Thomas Mifflin School: Bree Johnson – Peer to Peer; Darrah Green - Unsung Hero; Lower Merion High School: Sylvia Coopersmith – Peer to Peer; Maya Tiob - Unsung Hero; Roxborough High School: Alliyah Maxwell – Peer to Peer; Shakuwra Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., released the following statement on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is observed annually on June 15. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established by a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. The resolution was taken up to recognize that by 2050, more than 20 percent of the world’s population will be 60 years old or older and to call attention to the deeply concerning situations many older persons face throughout the world. “It is important to continue to raise awareness against the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of our older adults in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” DeLissio said. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day assists in ensuring that this issue continues to receive the attention it needs to safeguard and put in place protections against potential abuse. “Elder abuse is a preventable crime and with the assistance of public officials, private health care providers, and concerned citizens working together, proper attention can be given to the prevention of and to the provision of services when appropriate. “Today, more than ever, our older adults are being targeted by telemarketers and scammers or being abused by some caregivers, even their own family members. As an advocate for good long-term care policy and as a former professional in the field of senior care and services, I am committed Read more
EBENSBURG, June 15 – Encouraged by news that Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has joined a consortium of state top prosecutors investigating drug manufacturers’ role in the opioid crisis, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is hopeful the findings will spur the lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies that he called for earlier this year. Burns said today’s announcement that Attorney General Josh Shapiro is among those investigating possible unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids falls directly in line with letters Burns sent to Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf in February. “I urge you to file a lawsuit against any and all pharmaceutical companies responsible for this crisis because of their negligence in informing consumers of the dangers of these types of drugs and their ruthless promotion of their use,” Burns wrote. “’Big Pharma’ is lining its pockets and the wallets of doctors who prescribe these medications, while the number of people addicted and affected in the commonwealth continues to rise.” Regarding today’s news, Burns said it’s clear that drug manufacturers’ role and potential legal culpability in the opioid plague have gotten the attention of Shapiro, his former Democratic colleague in the House of Representatives. “I commend the attorney general for making this bold move – and if the evidence leads where I think it will, I encourage Mr. Shapiro to file Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., today introduced legislation ( H.B. 1568 ) that would extend the moratorium exempting Social Security cost-of-living-adjustments from income used to determine eligibility for the PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The bill would extend the Social Security COLA moratorium until Dec. 31, 2019. The previous moratorium, Act 156 of 2014, expired on Dec. 31. If the moratorium is not extended, more than 450 individuals would become ineligible for the program. “It is important that we protect our older and disabled Pennsylvanians by ensuring that they have access to programs such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program,” Bullock said. “This program allows qualifying residents to maintain their independence. Many recipients of the program survive off of fixed income and will have no way to gain extra income if they become ineligible.” The PTRR program is administered by the Department of Revenue and funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Individuals who are 65 or older, at least 50 and widowed, or are permanently disabled and 18 years or older are eligible to receive a rebate if their income falls below a certain threshold. The annual household income for property owners must be $35,000 or less and the annual household income for renters must be $15,000 or less. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but some homeowners can qualify for a $975 rebate. Each year hundreds of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster and chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, announced today that the Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss college affordability. The hearing will be held 10 a.m. Monday, June 19 in the House Democratic Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg. Media coverage is invited. Testimony will include discussion of two recent reports from The Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center titled “Pennsylvania’s Great Working-Class Colleges” and “At Students’ Expense: Rising Costs Threaten Pennsylvania Public Universities’ Role in Upward Mobility.” The current agenda is: 10 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. – Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 10:40 a.m. – Ken Mash, president, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties 11:10 a.m. – Mark Price, PhD, labor economist, Keystone Research Center 11:40 a.m. – Closing Remarks The hearing will stream live at www.pahouse.com/live . Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Hal English, R-Allegheny, today reported that their legislation aimed at not penalizing honest, ethical hunters for a mistaken harvest was unanimously approved by the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Specifically, the bill would remove the threat of a license suspension for those truthful hunters who make an honest mistake and then self-report the mistaken harvest by contacting the Pennsylvania Game Commission, turning in the animal and pleading guilty to the offense. "Given the facts that borders of wildlife management units and the special areas within them can be easily confused, and that the commission is now using staggered dates around the state for some big game seasons, hunters can think they are legally hunting when in fact they aren’t," Kortz said. "For hunters who make an inadvertent mistake, due to a few yards or recently changed dates, to face the same revocations as a common poacher who is hunting out of season or at night isn’t fair. “Current law can create havoc for bear and elk hunters. With different hunting dates for different wildlife management units, the difference of a few yards in the woods can mean the difference between a legal or illegal harvest," he said. “While the hunter must claim responsibility and pay a small administrative fine under this legislation, the bill would eliminate the three-year suspension of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – A resolution (H.R. 364) sponsored by state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., designating the week of June 12 through June 18, 2017 as Men’s Health Week in Pennsylvania was unanimously adopted in the House of Representatives. The state recognition coincides with international Men’s Health Week and is celebrated the week leading up to and including Father’s Day. Men’s Health Week seeks to increase awareness of preventable health issues and encourages the early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys. Many causes of premature death among men and boys are preventable, or can be treated if caught in the early stages. They include cardiovascular disease, lung and prostate cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and suicide. “I am glad that my colleagues are taking the issue seriously and have adopted the resolution,” Bullock said. “We need to make sure that men are comfortable discussing their health with their friends just as they are comfortable talking about sports or their job. Hopefully this encourages them to make their health a priority by visiting the doctor more often and undergoing the suggested tests and screenings.” Women living in the United States have a longer life expectancy rate than men by an average of five years. One contributing factor to this is that women are more likely to visit the doctor than men. A national survey by Cleveland Clinic found that Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., introduced House Resolution 404 urging the U.S. Congress to recognize and act upon the results of the Puerto Rican status plebiscite held on Sunday. “A majority of the voters rejected the continuation of Puerto Rico’s current unsustainable territorial status. More than 90 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of statehood,” Cruz said. “It’s time for Congress to act, to finally treat the American citizens of Puerto Rico equally.” Since Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory, Congress has passed statutes establishing a civilian government, extending U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, allowing the creation of a bill of rights and a constitution for the island. Yet, Puerto Ricans have only one nonvoting member in the U.S. House of Representatives and they cannot vote in presidential elections unless they move to one of the 50 states. “This is a matter of equal rights. Puerto Ricans are tired of existing as American citizens to whom their citizenship rights are denied. How is it possible that if an American citizen resident of Puerto Rico moves to the continental U.S. he or she will gain rights and vice versa he or she will lose rights? That doesn’t make sense.” The United States currently has 16 territories outside of the 50 states, of which only five are inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Mariana Islands and American Samoa. Of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – A bill introduced by members of the Philadelphia County Delegation to address the issue of “stop and go” nuisance alcohol-selling businesses has advanced out of the Liquor Control Committee to the full House of Representatives. H.B. 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. The bill was strongly supported by state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Youngblood and Donatucci, who is also the Democratic secretary on the House Liquor Control Committee, have held several public meetings on the issue this year. They have expressed their satisfaction with the Philadelphia Delegation coming together to unite around the issue. Donatucci, chairwoman of the House of Representative’s Philadelphia Delegation, said, “This was an effort on behalf of the entire Philadelphia Delegation, and without the hearings held earlier this year, we would have never gotten this far. Through cooperation and a united front, the delegation can accomplish great things for the city of Philadelphia.” Youngblood, the Democratic Caucus Secretary, said, “This legislation is a Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – A bill introduced by three Philadelphia state representatives to address the issue of "stop and go" nuisance alcohol-selling businesses today advanced out of the Liquor Control Committee to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Harris said, "While the majority of business owners who sell alcohol are responsible business owners, there are those who have been able to operate using business practices that are not in the best interests of the communities that they provide service to; understanding that, we have created legislation that will provide greater state and municipal oversight of those businesses who have skirted the rule of law and created nuisances in our communities that in many cases have altered the quality of life for those residents who live in the areas these businesses serve." Bullock said: "A key part of this bill is allowing for more coordination between the state and local communities to regulate these nuisance businesses. Under this bill, the Liquor Control Board would be given the authority to look at the number of citations, police Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today announced Clinton County will receive $224,743 in grant funding through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s 2016 Community Development Block Grant Program. Hanna said the county will use the funding to purchase and install a new chlorine disinfection system for the Western Clinton County Municipal Authority. A portion of the funds also will be used to rehabilitate 11 th Street in the Borough of Renovo. “This funding is vital to resisting blight, sustaining infrastructure and improving quality of life in our communities,” Hanna said. “Improving our chlorine disinfection system and 11 th Street in Renovo provide added safety for our residents.” “The Clinton County Commissioners frequently use CDBG funding to garner additional money to meet important needs throughout the community,” said Assistant Planning Director Kate de Silva. “This year, CDBG funds helped leverage a $500,000 federal HOME program grant for owner-occupied home rehabilitations.” Hanna said Clinton and Centre counties have been fortunate to receive significant CDBG funding over the years and this award is no exception. “As a legislator, it is always important to me to be able to bring taxpayer dollars back to our community,” Hanna said. “The economic improvements we make today will have a lasting impact in our community for years to Read more
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