In addition to food and door prizes, there will be opportunities for seniors and their families to learn more about a wide variety of topics, including Property Tax/Rent Rebates, health care, elder law, veteran services, fraud protection and opportunities to volunteer. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – The House Insurance Committee today unanimously passed legislation that would help stabilize premiums and benefit Pennsylvania’s consumers insured under the Affordable Care Act through the creation of a state insurance exchange, according to state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. Bizzarro, a member of the House Insurance Committee and one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that by restoring Pennsylvania’s autonomy in overseeing the state’s private health insurance market, the bill would bring clear benefits to consumers with no added burden to taxpayers. “This is a great step toward bringing state sovereignty back to Pennsylvania’s insurance market,” Bizzarro said. “Insurance exchanges are the means by which plan choices, rate comparisons and other key information is delivered to consumers. Moving the federal government out of the equation and permitting the commonwealth to take control of that process stands to benefit consumers, stabilize rates, and ensure that our residents receive more meaningful choices – all without any added costs to taxpayers.” Bizzarro added that the bill would also permit the commonwealth to apply for a waiver to create a reinsurance program designed to drive down premium increases in the individual market. “Reinsurance programs have allowed insurers to lower the prices on their products by removing some of the risks,” Bizzarro said. “States Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – A bipartisan bill that would create an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual market plans, and enact a reinsurance program to reduce premiums, on Wednesday was unanimously voted out of the House Insurance Committee, announced state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny. Davis, Democratic vice chairman of the House Insurance Committee, said the legislation, H.B. 3 , would establish a state insurance exchange that brings state sovereignty back to the insurance market and stabilizes premiums so that insurance plans are more cost-effective for consumers. “Swiftly moving this bill through the Insurance Committee is a clear indication that we as legislators – on both sides of the aisle – recognize a desire and need to provide all residents with affordable access to quality health coverage, while also saving taxpayer money and stabilizing premiums,” Davis said. “This is a commonsense bill for commonwealth residents, and its success already can be noted in nearly a dozen or so states that currently operate their own exchanges. This is a no-brainer, and I’m confident all my colleagues will see the benefit of this bill once it’s heard on the House floor.” Under H.B. 3, both the exchange and reinsurance program would be created at no cost to the state. Davis said the federal government is expected to fund 75% of reinsurance program costs. The Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – A $600,000 grant will allow a local nonprofit to expand academic enrichment afterschool programs for students in nine schools in Cambria County, state Rep. Frank Burns announced today. Burns, D-Cambria, said the federally funded grant – part of a package of 21 st Century Community Learning Center grants administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education – will provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for students in the following schools: Central Cambria Elementary School Central Cambria Middle School Cambria Heights Elementary School Cambria Heights Middle School Glendale Elementary School Glendale Jr/Senior School Jackson Elementary School Portage Elementary School St. Michael Elementary School “These grants will allow Respective Solutions, a nonprofit group which works closely with Cambria County’s school districts, to reinforce core concepts with students who are struggling academically, and also provide career and technical education opportunities and resources,” Burns said. “This is a true investment in our region’s future and ensures every child has a chance to succeed.” The competitive grants are provided to community learning centers to fund these enrichment programs. These programs must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session and are geared toward helping students attending high-poverty and Read more
State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, joined his fellow lawmakers to push for bipartisan legislation that would provide paid family leave benefits to working Pennsylvanians. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor today was awarded a $25,000 state grant, announced Rep. Robert Freeman. Read more
A historic resource survey project in Bellevue will receive state support thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Read more
(Homestead, Pa.) --- Senator Jay Costa and Representative Austin Davis today announced the award of $100,000 in state grate money to the Carnegie Library of Homestead. The award comes from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of its Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program. With the funds, the Carnegie Library will renovate the music hall, and enhance its dedication to providing educational programs to the Steel Valley. A fire sprinkler system will be installed at the music hall to protect attendees of their performances but also protect this historic institution. “The Carnegie Library is an invaluable resource to this community,” said Senator Costa. “The safety improvements they intend to make will preserve it for generations to come, and I was honored to recommend this project for state funding.” “It’s always a pleasure to announce significant funding that goes toward the preservation of a historical landmark and the overall safety of our residents and visitors alike,” said Rep. Davis said. “The Carnegie Library of Homestead is a staple of our community and a pillar of educational opportunities. This funding will assist the library in maintaining safety measures while also ensuring its visitors can safely enjoy all the library has to offer.” The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) administers multiple funding programs. Grant programs are available to nonprofit Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Melissa Shusterman and Joe Webster will co-host a town hall discussion on Islamophobia next week. “Town Hall on Islamophobia: Confront Hate, Celebrate Diversity,” will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. June 13 at the Islamic Society of Greater Valley Forge, 958 N. Valley Forge Road, Devon, PA 19333. Panel experts will deliver opening addresses, respond to audience questions, and talk about what community members can do to stand together against intolerance and build a more inclusive and diverse community. “While our differences can often invoke fear and misunderstanding, I hope this event will open lines of communication between our residents. This is an opportunity to learn about the common goals that our diverse communities can accomplish together for the commonwealth,” said Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery. Webster said: “Freedom to worship is at the heart of our democracy. Together, we can preserve that freedom and ensure our communities are welcoming places for everyone.” State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., will moderate the panel. In addition to Shusterman and Webster, the panel will include Robert Reed, Pennsylvania executive deputy attorney general; Timothy Welbeck, civil rights attorney for the Center for American-Islamic Relations – Philadelphia; and Marwan Kreidie, professor at West Chester University. Seating is limited, so RSVP is requested at this link. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi introduced legislation this week that would allow school districts to choose whether to pay charter schools that are outside their district boundaries and, therefore, outside of district oversight. Currently, school districts must pay for students from their district to attend a charter school, even if the charter school is located outside of the district’s boundaries and has not been authorized by the district. “This means that school districts are making state-mandated payments to charter schools without any ability to ensure those district students are receiving a quality education,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. “It’s unfair to require districts to pay these schools when the districts have had no say in whether or not the particular charter school should be authorized in the first place.” House Bill 1571 would give the local school board of a sending school district the option of voting by June 30 of each year whether to make payments to a charter school outside the district’s boundaries and over which the district has no oversight. The bill was introduced with 18 bipartisan cosponsors. If the district chose not to pay and a student continued to attend the charter school outside the district boundaries, the student or his parents or guardians would be responsible for tuition. The student would also no longer be included in the local school district’s “average Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – The state House of Representatives this week unanimously adopted a resolution that directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the mental health care provider shortage in Pennsylvania, according to the resolution’s author, Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh. “By understanding how we can improve the ways in which we support those working in mental health care, we have the power to change people’s lives,” McNeill said. “It is imperative we focus attention and resources to find meaningful solutions. I look forward to working with my colleagues and medical professionals to learn how Pennsylvania can find a remedy to this issue.” The study will work to identify factors behind the state shortages, make projections on the number of mental health care providers in Pennsylvania in the future, make recommendations on how to solve the disparity in the number of mental health care providers in rural counties compared to urban and suburban counties and any other solutions needed to stop and reverse the mental health care provider shortage. McNeill noted and thanked her fellow legislators for their support in improving mental health services in Pennsylvania. Findings and recommendations from the study will be reported to the House no later than one year after the adoption of this resolution. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, said legislation that would prohibit marriage before the age of 18, unanimously passed the House today. Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford/Fulton/Franklin, and Warren are the bill’s co-prime sponsors. “I am gratified that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle saw that this bill is about child protection,” Warren said. “Studies have shown that the child is often not in control of a decision to marry before 18, and a child under 18 does not have the legal rights of an adult.” Warren added that child marriages are often coercive and exploitative and increase the risk of domestic violence while undermining the child’s long-term educational, health and economic opportunities. Under current Pennsylvania law, a marriage license may be issued to an applicant younger than 16 with court approval. A marriage license also may be issued where an applicant is older than 16 but younger than 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian. The Topper/Warren bill (H.B. 360) would repeal those exceptions and set the minimum age at which a marriage license may be issued to 18. Warren said the issue of child marriage was brought to his attention in 2017 by two constituents, including Newtown Borough Councilor Tara Grunde-McLoughlin. “When I speak about this bill,” Warren said, “invariably someone asks, ‘Child marriage – is that a thing?’ I am grateful Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, today announced the McKeesport Area School District will benefit from $165,160 in 21 st Century Learning Center grants awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The intent of the program is to support the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing Title I schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading, math and science; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children. “The funding that comes by way of the 21 st Century Learning grants are key when it comes to providing extended educational opportunities at McKeesport Area School District,” Davis said. “The afterschool initiatives funded by this grant program further solidify the work being done inside the classroom and allow students to prosper once the school day comes to an end. I’d like to thank Governor Tom Wolf and the state Department of Education for their unwavering commitment to commonwealth students, their education and to providing continued educational opportunities outside the classroom.” One of the grants, totaling $60,160, was awarded Read more
ERIE, June 4 – A $400,000 grant will permit Mercyhurst University to offer afterschool academic supports and other enrichment programs for students attending three Erie elementary schools, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. Harkins and Merski said the federally funded grant – part of a package of 21st Century Community Learning Center grants administered by the state Department of Education – will benefit students of Grover Cleveland, Jefferson, and Jo Anna Connell elementary schools. “I’m thrilled that our attempts to secure this funding were successful, because the programs funded will help level the playing field for students who may be at a disadvantage based on income barriers or academic obstacles,” Harkins said. “Every student deserves a chance to succeed.” Merski agreed, noting, “As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand the benefits of additional programs that boost learning and reinforce core concepts for grade school age children. Investing in a strong start early on for these students yields tremendous benefits later, in terms of greater confidence, greater engagement and future success.” Competitive, 21st CCLC grants fund the establishment of community learning centers that provide students with academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities. The opportunities must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session and help Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, on Tuesday announced that his legislation geared toward providing stronger protections to fraternal life insurance products passed the state House. DeLuca, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, said life insurance products offered by fraternal benefit societies do not receive the same protections as commercial insurance products purchased in the same market. His measure, H.B. 1016 , would provide stronger protections for fraternal members. “The commonwealth has nearly 500,000 fraternal members, and these fraternal benefit societies – which are not-for-profit membership organizations – help secure their members’ financial future by providing a variety of life insurance and retirement products,” DeLuca said. “However, they don’t receive the same protections as commercial insurance products. This bill would rectify that issue and ensure fraternal members enjoy stronger protections to their life insurance products. Specifically, H.B. 1016 would provide enhanced protections to fraternal insurance products by allowing for earlier regulatory intervention; enacting notification requirements to the state Insurance Department before assessments; creating a streamline process that allows for transfers of products to another fraternal; and if necessary, streamline liquidation. Deluca’s pro-consumer legislation, which was voted out of the Insurance Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, today announced that the bill he co-sponsored with state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Berks/Lehigh (H.B. 1170), which would create the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, was voted with overwhelming bipartisan support (23-1) out of the House Labor and Industry Committee today. The Act would require employers in the construction industry to use the E-Verify program to ensure that their employees are authorized to work in the United States “This bill would prevent unscrupulous employers from hiring individuals not authorized to work in the United States,” Galloway said. “These employers are hurting the construction industry by driving down wages, creating an unlevel playing field for other employers, and depriving the government of revenue that would be used to fund programs like unemployment compensation.” The bill would prevent employers from unknowingly hiring an unauthorized employee by having to verify their work eligibility through the E-Verify program. The employer would be required to keep a record of the verification while the employee worked for them, or for three years, whichever is longer. Under the bill, if the attorney general receives a complaint that an employer has hired an unauthorized employee, the attorney general would work with the federal government to determine the veracity of the complaint. If the employee is found to be unauthorized, the attorney Read more
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-Pittsburgh) led House and Senate Democrats in announcing several voting reform proposals Tuesday in the Main Capitol Rotunda. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. John Galloway today announced that his bill (H.B. 716), which would establish a joint agency task force to address the misclassification of employees in Pennsylvania, was voted unanimously out of the House Labor and Industry Committee today. “My bill would create a task force to prevent the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, which effectively robs the Commonwealth and workers of the pay and benefits they earned,” Galloway said. Galloway said unethical employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors to save money. The practice both withholds the pay and benefits workers have earned and creates an uneven playing field for law-abiding businesses. He said potential revenue loss due to misclassification of employees is significant. According to the Keystone Research Center, a misclassified worker loses an estimated $6,000 annually due to lost overtime pay. The center also estimates that Pennsylvania may be losing $10 million in unemployment taxes, at least $15 million in income tax revenues, as much as $83 million in workers’ compensation premiums and $200 million in federal income taxes. Misclassification can lower labor costs by as much as 30%. The bill would amend the Administrative Code of 1929 to establish the Joint Agency Talk Force on the Misclassification of Employees. Members of the task force would include Pennsylvania’s attorney general; the secretaries of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Reps. Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg today announced the Allentown City School District was awarded $1.35 million in 21st Century Learning Center grants by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Read more
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