PITTSBURGH, March 29 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public roundtable at the Pittsburgh Technology Center on emerging business industries in Pennsylvania. Wheatley, Democratic chair of the House Finance Committee, requested the meeting to facilitate a policy discussion on how to build a better tax environment that supports the growth and future workforce of emerging business industries. House Democrats’ Plan4PA promotes tax fairness and creating good jobs. “When we have fair and reasonable tax models, it can produce mutually beneficial partnerships between Pennsylvania and emerging businesses looking to establish roots amongst our talented workforce. We had a productive discussion today on how we can work with our local communities and businesses to attract top-notch employers to the state,” Wheatley said. Roundtable panelists included: Audrey Russo, president and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council; Jennifer Beer, senior director-government affairs, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce; and Jennifer Wilhelm, assistant director of Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. The roundtable was one in a series of meetings all over the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, which includes putting people first, good jobs, quality schools and fair taxes. More information on Plan4PA can be found at planforpa.pahouse.com . Policy Committee Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 29 – Following a recent hearing on opening safe injection sites in Philadelphia, state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas is urging city officials to discontinue their plans to operate such facilities. On Tuesday, there was a hearing in Kensington where many in attendance voiced their opposition to opening these sites. Thomas said some city officials, including the Philadelphia Health commissioner, believe these facilities are a means of intervention to reduce the number of people dying each year from drugs. While he recognizes a need for radical intervention to address the drug crisis in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania, Thomas said opening these safe injection sites is a road you can’t go back on once they are established. “At what point do we practice what we preach? We consistently tell young people to obey the law and to not use drugs. We cannot use this situation to bypass the law and engage in illegal conduct,” Thomas said. "What is to stop young people from starting to use drugs if we offer them a safe place to take them? “It is our responsibility as elected officials to either abide by the law or to change it. As of now, this proposal for a safe injection site does neither.” Thomas added he believes these drug sites are radical and dangerous and that he is open to discussing new and innovative ways to address the drug epidemic. “We must establish Centers for a Better Tomorrow where people who Read more
HARRISBURG, March 29 – As part of her multi-pronged effort to enhance school safety, state Rep. Pam Snyder this week visited Beth-Center Middle School to get a firsthand view at a new program designed to reward students for good behavior. Snyder said the innovative Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Program encourages students to be “respectful, responsible and ready,” by letting each teacher select one student per day to choose from a menu of reward options. “They get to go to the principal’s office to select a prize – such as candy, chips or a drink, or a certificate to skip an assignment or use the newly created student lounge,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “It’s important to note that this program was developed by the school’s teachers, and their enthusiasm for it was palpable during my visit.” Snyder said the student lounge, which was unveiled last week, also doubles as a place where teachers can take their entire class for sessions away from the traditional classroom. Snyder’s school safety efforts include a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion on that topic Tuesday at the Brownsville Elementary School. Snyder is also the prime sponsor of H.B. 381 , which would amend the Allowing Minors to Consent to Medical Care Act, giving the state Department of Human Services the authority to issue guidelines and adopt rules and regulations to clarify a Read more
HARRISBURG, March 28 – In the hopes of combatting ongoing gun violence plaguing communities across the commonwealth, state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, is introducing a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to research gun violence as a public health crisis. “An individual in Pennsylvania is killed every six hours due to gun violence,” Gainey said. “I believe the General Assembly should not sit on its hands as thousands of Pennsylvanians are injured or killed by firearms every year. We, as legislators, must utilize every tool that we have to keep Pennsylvanians safe from gun violence.” It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of firearms sold in the U.S. are sold without a meaningful background check, which means millions of guns are blindly sold each year to individuals who potentially should not own a firearm. In addition, violent behavior due to a mental health disorder accounts only for about 4 percent to 5 percent of gun violence. Gainey said the matter of researching gun violence has seen great resistance, but there’s growing momentum to change the tide. In 2012, former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey announced his opposition to an amendment he authored in 1997 – the Dickey Amendment – that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from using federal funds to research gun violence as a public health crisis. Despite his prior stance on the matter, Dickey now believes researching the topic could have Read more
HARRISBURG, March 28 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, today announced that four municipalities in the 38 th Legislative District he represents have been recognized as 2018 Banner Communities by the Allegheny League of Municipalities (ALOM) and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “I’m ecstatic to announce this recognition for the four municipalities located in the 38 th Legislative District,” Kortz said. “It speaks volumes to the dedication and commitment each municipality continues to showcase as they work toward making Allegheny County a place people want to call home.” The municipalities include Whitehall Borough, Baldwin Borough, Port Vue and South Park . Whitehall Borough has been part of the Banner Community Program since its 2012 initiation. The program recognizes municipalities committed to professional development, prudent fiscal management, transparency, accountability, and proactive communications to engage community stakeholders. In its sixth year, the program announced record participation with 55 municipalities designated as 2018 Banner Communities. Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 28 – Strengthening laws against animal fighting was the focus of state Rep. Dom Costa’s, D-Allegheny, House Democratic Policy Committee hearing today at the Ross Municipal Building in Pittsburgh. Costa and the committee discussed his H.B. 1197 that would add animal fighting to the list of offenses enforceable under the state’s crimes code, Title 18. House Democrats’ Plan4PA aims to protect communities and quality of life. Animal advocates, law enforcement professionals and legislators from across the state also joined the discussion. “Animal fighting is growing at a disturbing rate. My legislation aims to bolster investigations and enforcement, and ultimately give law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute those leading organized animal fighting throughout the state,” Costa said. Hearing panelists included: Mary Kennedy Withrow, executive director, Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team and member of PA Department of Agriculture Office of Dog Law Advisory Board; K. Michelle Welch, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Animal Law Unit Virginia Attorney General’s Office; Erin Cassidy; Police Officer, Pennsylvania Humane Society Member, All But Forgotten Humane Animal Rescue Board of Directors. This hearing is one in a series of meetings all over the state on the House Democrats’ Plan4PA that includes putting people first, good jobs, quality schools and fair taxes. Visit Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 28 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, said he is pleased that a rail freight rehabilitation project in his legislative district is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial help from the state. According to Costa, a $328,277 grant from the Rail Freight Assistance Program within PennDOT has been awarded to MetalTech, the flagship facility of The Tech Industries, within Costa’s 34 th district. The grant will be used by The Tech Industries to rehabilitate approximately three miles of track, including tie replacement and track surfacing at MetalTech, a steel company, and GalvTech Facilities, both in Pittsburgh. “As the state with the most operating railroads in the nation and near the top in total miles of track, rail safety, maintenance and operations is imperative,” Costa said. “As freight demand grows, this grant is critical in helping to maintain and improve rail freight, sustain jobs and support economic growth in in the Pittsburgh region and throughout the state.” PennDOT approved $32 million for 27 rail projects through the RTAP and RFAP. RFAP provides financial assistance for rail freight infrastructure investments by preserving rail freight service where economically feasible, and stimulating development through new or expanded service. The grant awards up to 70 percent of the total cost of the program. Nearly 67 railroads operate in the commonwealth. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 28 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, announced that two Johnstown plants will receive $939,172 in funding for construction and rehabilitation of freight rail access to and from the plants. “The funding not only restores and enhances business operations for these plants by providing or improving rail access, it helps the local economy by creating and sustaining jobs,” Barbin said. “It’s a win-win situation for Cambria and Somerset counties.” LCT Energy, in Johnstown, will receive $700,000 for construction of about three miles of track from Norfolk Southern’s interchange to LCT Energy’s Laurel Plant. The work, which will include an at-grade crossing, will enable the plant to resume operation. Johnstown’s Gautier Steel will receive $239,172 for rehabilitation of the plant’s tracks, including replacement of ties and rail. The work will improve rail and truck traffic to and from the plant. The projects are part of a $32 million statewide investment in rail infrastructure. The money for these projects comes from the Rail Freight Assistance Program, which is administered within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The intent of the program is to preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible and preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. Read more
State Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, Lehigh County, have announced that 1.2 miles of track leading into and within RJ Corman’s Allentown yard will be refurbished in the near future. Schlossberg said the replacement of ties and ballast and track surfacing to maintain the track’s condition are planned. “Moving freight by rail not only reduces truck traffic but is fuel-efficient and has the lowest possible impact on the environment and also stimulates economic development of the Lehigh Valley area,” Schlossberg said. Schweyer said the grant program uses state General Fund money to preserve existing essential rail freight service by building and expanding rail freight capacity basically throughout Pennsylvania. “I am proud to see so many companies investing in a better future by railroad shipping and we are proud to do our part in Harrisburg to make sure these grants come to our area,” Schweyer said. The Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the program is to: preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. Read more
Schlossberg/Schweyer announce $266,673 for rail project in Lehigh County State Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, Lehigh County, have announced that 1.2 miles of track leading into and within RJ Corman’s Allentown yard will be refurbished in the near future. Schlossberg said the replacement of ties and ballast and track surfacing to maintain the track’s condition are planned. “Moving freight by rail not only reduces truck traffic but is fuel-efficient and has the lowest possible impact on the environment and also stimulates economic development of the Lehigh Valley area,” Schlossberg said. Schweyer said the grant program uses state General Fund money to preserve existing essential rail freight service by building and expanding rail freight capacity basically throughout Pennsylvania. “I am proud to see so many companies investing in a better future by railroad shipping and we are proud to do our part in Harrisburg to make sure these grants come to our area,” Schweyer said. The Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the program is to: preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today said he is pleased that Beaver County and southwestern Pennsylvania have been awarded more than $14 million through the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP) and the Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP). In Beaver County, a $3.8 million grant was awarded to Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC, to construct 10 miles of track from Aliquippa to Monaca, Pa. The new track will be used to transport construction materials for Shell’s plant and outbound product from the completed plant. Shell is constructing an ethane cracker plant in Potter Township, which is expected to employ an estimated 600 workers and anticipated to open in the 2020s. Matzie, who also is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee’s Sub-Committee on Rail, said that the investments are huge for the region and will show what investing in rail can do. “These investments mean retaining jobs, creating jobs and improving the economy,” he said. “Projects such as these help boost our overall infrastructure and economic development.” RFAP provides financial assistance for rail freight infrastructure investments by preserving rail freight service where economically feasible, and stimulating development through new or expanded service. Last year, Matzie was instrumental in the House adopting resolutions that commemorated National Train Day in May (H.R. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, in the near future will introduce legislation geared toward protecting the health, safety and well-being of residents in small personal care homes. Currently, only homes for four or more adults are regulated by the state. “We have smaller, unregulated homes in which three or fewer residents currently reside,” DeLuca said. “Some of these homes are run poorly, which results in negligence to those paying to stay there. The steps laid forth in my upcoming legislation will ensure the safety of individuals residing in these homes.” Personal care homes are designed to provide safe, humane, comfortable and supportive residential settings for adults in exchange for payment where food, shelter and personal assistance or supervision are provided for a period exceeding 24 hours. The bill would define small personal care homes to be those with one or three paying residents. DeLuca’s upcoming legislation also would extend two provisions of current regulation to small personal care homes by calling for a once-a-year, unannounced visit to such facilities from the state Department of Human Services, and requiring owners or operators of small personal care homes to submit to a criminal background check. Additionally, all small personal care homes would be registered. “Residents of small personal care homes deserve the same treatment as those who live in larger facilities,” Read more
BROWNSVILLE, March 27 – In efforts to discuss ways to improve school safety, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public roundtable on the issue. Snyder requested this meeting to have a policy discussion on school safety with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, local school officials, and local law enforcement. Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and other Pennsylvania House lawmakers from across the state joined the discussion. Snyder also gave a briefing on her H.B. 381 , which would amend the Allowing Minors to Consent to Medical Care Act, giving the Pa. Department of Human Services the authority to issue guidelines and adopt rules and regulations to clarify a minor’s right to mental health treatment. “Today’s Policy Committee roundtable is a great follow up to a Mental Health and School Safety news conference I participated in two weeks ago in Harrisburg,” Snyder said. “It provides an opportunity to bring the conversation home and focus on making sure people get the proper treatment for mental illness without attaching stigma.” Sturla added, “As we look to improve safety for students in all education institutions from elementary to college, I think a natural part of that discussion should include the mental health component. Thank you to Representative Snyder for being willing to stand up for this issue and not shying away from such a Read more
HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. John Galloway today announced a $92,400 state grant to improve rail track and ties at the Tyburn Railroad truck transfer station in Morrisville. The money comes from the Rail Freight Assistance Program, which is administered within the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. “Congratulations to Tyburn on winning this highly competitive state grant,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “Tyburn is an outstanding local company creating long-term family sustaining jobs and establishing the region as a major transportation hub. Their success reflects highly on our community and the workers there.” The ties and track resurfacing will cover about a mile of Tyburn’s transfer facility. The Rail Freight Assistance Program provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the program is to preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible and preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. Read more
Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, announced today that Scranton Transload Inc. has been awarded a $700,000 grant to fix rail track and improve rail operations in Lackawanna County. Flynn said the grant will be use to rehabilitate .25 mile of track from Delaware-Lackawanna’s line to Scranton’s Transload’s facility including the replacement of 2 turnouts and surfacing of track that will allow materials to be transported to the facility by rail instead of truck. “The rail allocation is an economic boost to the northeast because the more dependable rail service is to new and existing businesses, the better the rail exporting business becomes and more jobs are generated,” Flynn said. The grant is made possible through the Rail Freight Assistance Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) provides financial assistance for investment in rail freight infrastructure. The intent of the program is to: preserve essential rail freight service where economically feasible, and preserve or stimulate economic development through the generation of new or expanded rail freight service. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced that the caucus and the House Democratic Policy Committee will host a policy hearing on improving access to healthy food options and dairy in communities across Pennsylvania. Congressman Dwight Evans, D-Phila., will be a guest speaker at the policy hearing. The policy hearing will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 5 at the Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, 7100 Henry Ave., Philadelphia. ### Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 27 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public roundtable on emerging business industries in Pennsylvania. The roundtable will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 29 at the Pittsburgh Technology Center, Resource Room, 1 st Floor, 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh. Wheatley requested this meeting to have a policy discussion on how to build a better tax environment that supports the growth and future workforce of emerging business industries. House Democrats’ Plan4PA promotes tax fairness and creating good jobs. The current agenda is: 11:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 11:10 a.m. Discussion with Panelists: Audrey Russo , president & CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council Jennifer Beer , senior director-government affairs, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Wilhelm , assistant director of Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh 12:20 p.m. Closing Remarks This roundtable one in a series of meetings all over the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA that includes putting people first, good jobs, quality schools and fair taxes. Visit planforpa.pahouse.com for Plan4PA details and www.pahouse.com/policycommittee for Policy Committee materials. The media and public are encouraged to attend. Read more
State Reps. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton, and Pam DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. will host a Roundtable on Redistricting Reform at 2 p.m. in Room 60 East Wing of the state Capitol. The roundtable centers on redistricting reform legislation ( H.B. 722 ). The guests will be three members of a California Citizens Redistricting Commission who are visiting Pennsylvania for a series of town hall meetings. Other speakers will include members of the Fair Districts PA. Live steaming of the roundtable is available here . Media coverage is invited. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 26 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, is reminding the public about three upcoming workshops aimed at providing residents with Mon-Fayette Expressway project plans. “If you’ve had any thoughts or concerns regarding the status and update of this project, attending one of the public workshops may put your mind at ease and answer some of your lingering questions,” Kortz said. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is holding three open house public meetings to share Mon-Fayette Expressway project plans. The meetings will take place at Georgetown Centre, 526 East Bruceton Road, Pittsburgh, (Pleasant Hills) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, April 3; Wednesday, April 4; and Thursday, April 5. Turnpike representatives will be present to answer constituent questions about the expressway. Residents will also have a chance to speak with right-of-way specialists who can better explain the property acquisition process to those directly affected. “These public workshops are important in ensuring that the residents of the 38 th Legislative District are fully aware of the scopes of the project and how they potentially could be affected,” Kortz said. This project is the final of four Mon-Fayette Expressway segments geared toward providing a four-lane, limited-access expressway from I-68 in West Virginia to I-376 in the Pittsburgh area. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 26 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, invites area residents to celebrate "International Dining Days" April 13-22 by sharing a meal with people of various backgrounds and cultures at local restaurants in the 164 th Legislative District. For the eighth straight year, Davidson and Destination Delco have sponsored the event that “celebrates diversity through food” and features restaurants serving cuisines from around the world throughout the 164 th Legislative District, including all five municipalities – East Lansdowne, Lansdowne, Millbourne, Upper Darby and Yeadon. "I have sponsored this celebration as a result of the "Eat 4Peace" concept, inspired by the unique experiences of Anthony Lucidonio Jr., known as ‘Tony Luke,’ who has restaurants in Delaware County and all over the world,” Davidson said. “I’m excited to continue this tradition that harvests healthy and positive relationships among the diverse people that I serve, where over 83 languages are spoken in our schools and cuisines from all over the globe can be found here locally.” Participation is open to all restaurants in the 164 th District, and this year more than 30 restaurants will take part in the celebration. “This event is an opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate our different backgrounds while sampling the various foods and learning about the Read more
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