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State lawmakers, workers, and business owners seek congressional action on COVID relief

(1 day ago)

Congress returns to Washington next week as cases continue to skyrocket Read more

Frankel: Legislature must set example on masking

(Nov 23, 2020)

"Pennsylvanians deserve better from their leaders" Read more

Wheatley issues statement regarding committee action on H.R. 1100

(Nov 23, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 23 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement regarding today’s vote by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee against performing an audit of the 2020 general election as called for by H.R. 1100 : “Today, the bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Budget and Finance Committee voted 2-to-1 against conducting a risk limiting audit of our state’s most recent election. After substantial discussion, the committee felt that staff would be unable to conduct such an audit and were also unable to find a consultant who could conduct it, given the 60-day to 90-day timeframe. “As the committee’s treasurer, I believe it’s imperative we use our state’s finances and resources in a responsible manner. That is a responsibility shared by each member of this committee. To conduct such an audit, on top of the actions taking place by the Pennsylvania Department of State to certify election results, would truly be an exercise in futility. We currently have processes in place to validate our election results to ensure the process, from beginning to end, was fair. “Today’s actions put an end to a process that was fraught with politics from its inception and would have disenfranchised the thousands of Pennsylvanians who exercised their right to vote. Now is the time to move forward and prepare for a busy and productive legislative session.” Read more

Kortz: House approves bipartisan bill to license home inspectors

(Nov 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – State Rep. Bill Kortz announced the passage of H.B.21 , which he co-sponsored with state Rep. Sue Helm, R-Dauphin, to provide for the licensure and oversight of home inspectors. “When you consider that a home is usually the most expensive purchase in a person’s lifetime, it is imperative that the consumer be protected,” said Kortz, D-Allegheny. “We have heard from consumers across the state who have lost their homes, their life savings, filed bankruptcy and even endured health problems because of a home inspector’s wrongdoings. This bill will provide needed consumer protection. “Home inspectors are currently regulated, but there isn’t an enforcement mechanism, which means that a bad home inspector is free to victimize consumer after consumer with little to no recourse for those victimized. This legislation will set statewide standards for home inspectors and ensure that future homebuyers don’t encounter these problems.” The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for further action. Read more

Matzie bill to lower prescription drug costs passes legislature, heads to governor

(Nov 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – Pennsylvania’s drug consumers and taxpayers are on the verge of a major victory after final passage of state Rep. Rob Matzie’s bill to hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable for predatory practices that are gouging patients, wasting taxpayer dollars and driving mom-and-pop pharmacies out of business. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said he introduced H.B. 941 together with state Rep. Doyle Heffley, D-Carbon, to bring transparency to questionable PBM pricing practices in the state’s Medicaid program and that the bill — which passed the state House in November – is now headed to the governor’s desk. “This bill is a big victory for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers, local pharmacies and anyone who takes prescription medicine,” said Matzie, who is House Democratic chair of the bicameral, bipartisan Community Pharmacy Caucus. “With the power to decide which drugs are covered by insurance and how much to reimburse the pharmacies that fill those prescriptions, PBMs wield a huge amount of power, but for years, they have operated below the radar, with little or no scrutiny. All that is about to change. “My bill would shed light on how PBMs are making key decisions, including how they determine price spreads – the difference between how much the state pays them for a drug and how much they reimburse the pharmacies that fill those prescriptions – and how they select which drugs Read more

Wheatley issues statement on budget discussions

(Nov 20, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 20 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement regarding state budget negotiations in the House: “We have thousands of families struggling to find their financial footing because of this raging pandemic that has closed or limited their abilities to feed themselves and their families. Thousands of our students don’t have the ability to access school instruction because of limited access to technology and reliable internet service. We have hundreds of our small businesses and venues still waiting for some financial relief. “To that end, we have $1.3 in federal dollars for the sole purpose of offering some short-term financial relief. Instead, Harrisburg is holding the money so that it can be used toward a sham of a budget. “It's yet another case of those in the state Capitol who fail to understand or care about what’s best for our residents and are only thinking of their own interests. What happened to the belief that, during times of difficulty, we work together to come up with ideas and solutions and collaborate? Instead, there’s a push toward actions that are short-sighted and short-termed. That is what will happen if we continue forward with short-sighted and irresponsible budgeting. “What about closing some of our corporate tax loopholes, or consider emerging industries, such as our cannabis industry, to resolve the state’s $3 billion deficit? There have been Read more

Matzie bill to strengthen anti-pyramid scheme law passes state Senate unanimously, heads for governor’s desk

(Nov 19, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 19 – Better protections are on the horizon for Pennsylvania consumers after the Pa. Senate today unanimously passed state Rep. Rob Matzie’s bill to update and improve the commonwealth’s law prohibiting pyramid schemes. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said his H.B. 1534 will both update the current antiquated law and clarify the distinction between legitimate direct-sale companies and fly-by-night schemes designed to scam consumers. “We can’t protect consumers with outdated laws, and our anti-pyramid law is so old it still refers to chain letters,” said Matzie, who is Democratic chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee. “My bill would bring the law up to date so that it reflects the complexity of today’s criminal fraud and has the necessary teeth to be an effective enforcement tool. “The bill would also clarify what constitutes acceptable business practices to help guide legitimate direct selling companies, while helping enforcement officers target the bad actors. The Senate’s move today means Pennsylvania consumers are one step closer to better protection.” Matzie said the law will encourage direct-sale companies to adopt the following two provisions that have been successful in other states: An anti-inventory loading provision that would discourage companies from saddling individual direct sellers with more products or services then they can sell or use. A Read more

Matzie: More than $52,000 awarded to fund equipment for area career and technical schools

(Nov 18, 2020)

AMBRIDGE, Nov. 18 – Two grants totaling $52,107 from the state Department of Education will fund training equipment for area career and technical schools, state Rep. Rob Matzie announced today. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said the funding includes $2,407 to Beaver County Career and Technology Center and $49,700 to Parkway West Career and Technology Center. “State-of-the-art equipment is essential to prepare career and technical school students for real-world work environments,” Matzie said. “Securing this funding means area students will have the benefit of training with the latest technology so they can step into high-tech jobs and meet employer expectations with a shorter learning curve. Less down time for on-the-job training means greater productivity for area business and industry and quicker economic returns.” The competitive grants are part of a statewide package of nearly $1.2 million to 32 career and technical centers and area vocational technical education schools and two school districts. The maximum grant under the program is $50,000, and each must be matched dollar-for-dollar from a local source such as local school funds or contributions from business and industry partners. More information on the grants is available here . Read more

Wheatley announces $291K in school safety grants, urges colleagues to do more to help schools, communities during ongoing pandemic

(Nov 16, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 16 – While announcing $291,725 in Safe Schools Targeted Grants awarded to area schools, state Rep. Jake Wheatley is also renewing a call to do more to help schools and school districts impacted by inequities in funding and support that have been laid bare in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “While these grants will certainly help our schools’ efforts in providing a safe learning environment for students and staff, I also implore my colleagues in the House to work together to create a funding source to address the digital and racial divides that have been exposed during this ongoing pandemic,” said Wheatley. “We have many schools across our state that lack affordable, reliable broadband access, as well as the vital resources necessary to support our students and families in need who continue to struggle to make ends meet. We can and must continue to do more.” The grants, awarded by the state Department of Education, are aimed toward preventing and reducing violence. The funds can also be used to purchase safety and security-related equipment and provide training and compensation of school resource and police officers. Under this program, the PDE’s Office for Safe Schools offers four types of safety grants: equipment grants of up to $25,000; program grants of up to $20,000; school police officer grants of up to $40,000; and school resource officer grants of up to $60,000. The grants are designed to Read more

Matzie: Nearly $516,000 in funding to ensure school safety

(Nov 16, 2020)

AMBRIDGE, Nov. 16 – Schools in Beaver and Allegheny counties are receiving $515,977 in grant funding to ensure students and staff enjoy the safety possible environment, state Rep, Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today. Matzie said the competitive 2020-21 Safe Schools Targeted Grants from the state Department of Education will ensure schools have all the resources they need to implement safety plans for the year ahead. “Safety is the first order of business when it comes to our schools, and that’s true whether we’re protecting students and staff them from health risks from COVID or ensuring basic security is in place,” Matzie said. “Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, our school officials do an excellent job of assessing specific needs and ensuring every potential issue is addressed before it becomes a problem. “But security comes at a price, and the cost burden often falls on taxpayers. Securing this funding will allow officials to cover all bases and ensure schools have the resources they need – including a mix of personnel, programs and equipment – while easing the tax burden on residents.” Matzie said the funding includes the following grants: Aliquippa School District – $25,000 for security equipment. Ambridge Area School District – $24,960 for security equipment and $60,000 for a school resource officer. Read more