Kortz introduces amendment to bill designed to strengthen ‘Steer Clear Law’

(Oct 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – An amendment to a Senate bill to rebrand and strengthen the current “Steer Clear Law” to provide further protections for disabled vehicles, even if an emergency responder isn’t present, was unanimously adopted today. State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said his amendment to S.B. 1281 , also known as the “Move Over Law,” would require a driver approaching or passing a disabled vehicle to move over to one lane, or if that is not possible, to pass the vehicle at a rate of not more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. In addition, the disabled vehicle must display at least two visual markings to passing traffic, such as hazard lights, caution signs or road flares. “Three years ago, Scott Hirsh, a constituent of mine, was struck and killed by a distracted driver as he was changing a tire on his camper – despite him doing everything right, including pulling off onto the shoulder of the roadway and using road flares and caution signs,” Kortz said. “Due to a lack of applicable state laws, the Allegheny County district attorney and state police were unable to prosecute the driver. My amendment would help protect drivers like Scott by including disabled vehicles into the bill and increase the penalties for drivers who fail to move over or slow down.” Kortz said the bill would establish a new point system for a “Move Over” violation, Read more

 

Kortz: Legislation to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance passes House

(Oct 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – A measure that would allow vehicle owners to pay a fine, instead of facing a suspension of their license, for driving without insurance, passed in a nearly unanimous vote in the House and now moves on to consideration in the state Senate. State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said current law provides owners with the option to pay a $500 civil penalty instead of facing a mandatory three-month registration suspension if the driver fails to maintain auto insurance. However, if the vehicle is operated without insurance, there isn’t a similar option to pay a civil penalty instead of facing a license suspension. House Bill 2478 would address that issue, he added. “This bill would allow them to pay the fine instead of serving a license suspension, provided they are able to show proof they bought insurance,” said Kortz. “It would be especially helpful to commercial drivers in instances where they may face a suspension, even if the lapse in insurance is with their personal vehicle, not with a vehicle they operate as part of their employment.” The measure would only allow owners to exercise this option once every five years, Kortz added. More information can be found at the following link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2019&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=2478 . Read more

 

Kortz: $403K in grants awarded to area volunteer fire, EMS companies

(Oct 14, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, Oct. 14 – State Rep. Bill Kortz has announced $403,726 in grants have been awarded to volunteer fire and emergency medical services companies in his district. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said the one-time crisis grant program was created to assist volunteer fire and EMS companies who have been financially impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The dedicated men and women who serve our communities and continue to answer the call have faced serious financial challenges since they’ve been unable to conduct fundraising activities since the pandemic hit,” said Kortz. “I know these grants will be extremely helpful to each of these companies and continue to help those in need.” The grants awarded are as follows: Baldwin Emergency Medical Services (EMS): $23,973. Baldwin Independent Fire Co.: $24,520. Broughton Volunteer Fire Department : $24,794. Citizens Hose Co. #1 : $25,342. Dravosburg Volunteer Fire Co. #1 : $24,657. Duquesne Annex Volunteer Fire Co. : $23,151. Homeville Volunteer Fire Department #1 : $23,973. Library Volunteer Fire Co. : $24,247. McKeesport Ambulance Authority (EMS) : $15,048. Option Independent Fire Co. : $23,973. Pleasant Hills Volunteer Fire Co. : $25,068. Skyview Volunteer Fire Co. West Mifflin #4 : $23,836. South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Co. : $22,094. Vigilant Hose Co. #1 : $24,931. Volunteer Fireman’s Association of Liberty Borough : $23,562. West Mifflin Read more

 

Kortz voted “yes” to override governor’s veto of bill allowing school districts to make decisions on sports, activities

(Sep 23, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 23 – An effort to override the governor’s veto of H.B. 2787 , a measure that would have given school districts the authority to decide what sports and activities are allowed, including practices, games and spectator rules, failed in the PA House today, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced. Kortz voted to override the veto. “Our school districts know best, and while today’s vote was extremely disappointing, I still believe we can and must support our districts to do what’s right and make their own decisions,” said Kortz, D-Allegheny, who was a co-sponsor of the bill. “The governor doesn’t know our school district facilities or communities and he should not have the final say on this. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, band, cheerleading, cross-country or choir, it’s time we let local officials make local decisions without infringement.” Kortz has supported several bills to reopen Pennsylvania, including measures introduced earlier this year to allow sportsmen clubs, shooting ranges, golf clubs and other recreational facilities to reopen utilizing health and safety guidelines and social distancing. Read more

 

Kortz introduces bill to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance

(Sep 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – State Rep. Bill Kortz’s legislation would allow vehicle owners to pay a fine, verses facing license suspension, for driving without insurance, ensuring accidental lapses in insurance do not hinder a person’s ability to drive and earn a living. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said current law allows owners to pay a $500 civil penalty instead of facing a mandatory three-month vehicle registration suspension if the driver fails to maintain auto insurance. However, if the vehicle is operated without insurance, there isn’t a similar option. “House Bill 2478 would fix this issue by allowing owners who are able to show proof they bought auto insurance to pay the fine instead of serving a license suspension,” Kortz said. “This change would be a huge help to commercial drivers who face this three-month license suspension, even if the lapse in insurance occurred in their own personal vehicle.” Kortz added his bill would only allow owners to exercise this option once every five years. More information on the measure can be found at the following link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2019&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=2478 . Read more

 

Kortz: Bill to allow school districts to make decisions on sports, activities

(Sep 02, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 2 – A measure that would give local school districts the power to decide what fall sports and activities are allowed, including practices, games and spectator rules, was passed in the PA House today by a 155-47 final vote, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced. Kortz, a co-sponsor of H.B. 2787 , said school districts across Pennsylvania must have the discretion and the flexibility develop their own athletic plans. “Our local school districts know their communities and their buildings, and they know best, not the governor,” Kortz said. “Whether it’s football, cross country, or a non-sport extracurricular activity, such as band, orchestra, or singing in an acapella choir, we must trust our school districts to make their own decisions on what is safe and appropriate for them. While the governor said he believes that school sports should be cancelled until 2021 and his administration issued a ‘strong recommendation’ to that end, it’s not the governor’s decision. This is a local decision that should be made by the respective school district – period.” The bill heads to the Senate for further consideration. Read more

 

Kortz: Bill would allow for increase in borough populations, encourage more participation in electoral process

(Jul 13, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, July 13 – A measure to allow elected officials to also serve as public employees in more small boroughs in Pennsylvania was passed by a 196-5 vote today in the PA House, the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Bill Kortz, announced. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said H.B. 2571 would amend the state’s Borough Code to increase the population threshold of boroughs where residents could hold borough elected office and also serve as borough employees from 3,000 to 4,000. “The primary goal of my legislation is to encourage more borough residents to run for office and increase overall participation in the election process,” Kortz said. “I’m extremely pleased with my colleagues’ support.” The bill will now be considered in the Senate. Read more

 

Kortz: Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh awarded funding for projects to address state’s response to COVID-19 pandemic challenges

(Jun 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have been awarded nearly $100,000 in funding through the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program COVID-19 Challenge to help the state in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said both universities were awarded funding for the following projects: University of Pittsburgh was awarded $25,000 through its partnership with Du-Co Ceramics Co. for its Rapid Manufacturing of Polymer-Derived Ceramic Films for Respirator project. The university also received $25,000 for its work with The ExOne Co. for its Reusable N95 Filters via Metal Binder-Jet 3D Printing project. Carnegie Mellon, through its partnership with Allegheny Health Network, was awarded $24,986 for its Scalable Manufacturing of Nasopharyngeal Swabs to Address Pennsylvania’s Need for COVID-19 Testing project. In addition, Carnegie Mellon was awarded $25,000 for its work with the University of Pittsburgh for its Accelerating the Availability of a COVID-19 Vaccine by Mass Spectrometry Characterization of Immunogens project. “We have great institutions of higher learning across our state, and this innovative program provides them the opportunity to help our first responders and health care providers with the resources they need, now and in the weeks to come,” said Kortz. The program, developed through the Pennsylvania Department of Read more

 

Kortz: School Safety and Security grant program to include sizable increase

(Jun 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 1 – A competitive grant program to help school districts is slated to receive additional support for the 2020-21 school year, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced. Kortz, D-Allegheny, voted in favor of two measures to boost funding for the Pennsylvania School Safety and Security Grant Program to $215 million. The program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, helps school districts with security equipment upgrades and safety programs. “As schools across the state work to reopen, it’s vital they have the financial support necessary to clean and sanitize their schools and get them ready for teachers, students and administrators,” said Kortz. “This program will allow schools to use the grant funds toward those purchases and support the creation of programs to help students and staff with any mental health issues or concerns they may have related to the pandemic.” The grant program was created in 2018 and since that time has awarded approximately $60 million in grants statewide to help schools with security and safety equipment purchase and to finance crisis training for educators. More information can be found at this link: https://www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety/Pages/default.aspx Read more

 

Kortz announces Allegheny County going green

(May 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 29 – Allegheny County will be allowed to move to the state’s green reopening designation effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 5, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced today “This is certainly welcome news for our county and long overdue,” said Kortz, D-Allegheny. “This means that more of our businesses can begin the reopening process while still following the advice of health experts to ensure we do our part to keep this virus under control.” Counties in the green designation must follow these restrictions: Work-related restrictions: Continued telework strongly encouraged. Businesses with in-person operations must follow updated business and building safety requirements. All businesses operating at 50% occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75% occupancy. Childcare facilities may open and must comply with state guidelines. Congregate care restrictions in place. Prison and hospital restrictions determined by individual facilities. Schools subject to CDC and state guidance. Social restrictions : Large gatherings of more than 250 persons prohibited. Restaurants and bars can open at 50% occupancy. Personal care services (including hair salons and barber shops) can open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only. Indoor recreation, health and wellness businesses and personal care services (including gyms and spas) open at Read more

 

Kortz: Measure to assist volunteer fire, EMS companies passes House

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Bill Kortz today announced the unanimous passage of a bill that would provide one-time crisis grants to each volunteer fire and emergency medical services company in Pennsylvania. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said S.B. 1122 would establish the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program. It would set aside $50 million in federal CARES funding for fire and EMS companies to provide services during the coronavirus pandemic. $44 million of the funds would be used for grants to fire companies, with the remaining $6 million to be used for grants for EMS companies. “These volunteer organizations are on the front lines in responding to the needs of our community, even more so during this pandemic,” Kortz said. “They struggle financially under normal circumstances, but even more so now, because they’re unable to conduct their usual fundraising activities to help them stay active. I was proud to support this measure to help protect and support them moving forward.” The bill now heads to the governor’s office. Read more

 

Kortz supports freeze on cost of living adjustments for legislators, state officials

(May 26, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 26 – State public officials – including lawmakers – should not be granted a cost-of-living adjustment at this time, due to the financial toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on Pennsylvanians, said state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny. Kortz said he voted for H.B. 2487 , which would amend the state’s public official compensation law to put a freeze on COLAs through 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for public officials. The bill passed unanimously in the House today. “There’s no reason why public officials should receive a COLA when so many across our state are struggling, which is exacerbated by the fact that Governor Wolf’s unemployment offices are six to eight weeks behind in getting folks their UC checks,” Kortz said. “Our communities and residents have been through enormous financial challenges in the last 12 weeks, and many continue to struggle, especially when businesses remain closed or have curtailed their operations, and people are left unable to work and provide for their families.” In addition to all legislators, Kortz added the measure would also freeze COLAs for the following offices and positions: governor, lieutenant governor, state auditor general, state attorney general, state treasurer, commissioners of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and heads of state departments. The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration. Read more

 

Kortz announces passage of bill to safely open sportsman clubs, shooting ranges

(May 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, today announced the passage of his measure to allow outdoor sportsmen clubs and shooting ranges to reopen in Pennsylvania. Kortz said H.B. 2440 , also known as the Hunting, Firearm and Ammunition Life-Sustaining Business Act, would also classify these businesses, including those related to the sale and production of firearms and ammunition, as life-sustaining. “Make no mistake: this pandemic has certainly altered our lives over the last few months, but I feel that we are at the point where we can open these clubs and ranges safely, and allow our residents to enjoy spending time outdoors,” Kortz said. The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration. Read more

 

Merski, Kortz bills would lower hunting, fishing fees for frontline workers

(May 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 14 – Pennsylvania’s health care workers and first responders would pay just $1 for one-year hunting and fishing licenses under legislation being introduced by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, and state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny. The lawmakers said they will be introducing the bills as a way to thank these frontline workers for their lifesaving efforts and to encourage them to take advantage of the state’s abundant fish and game opportunities. “Pennsylvania’s health care professionals and first responders have been there for us 24/7 throughout this pandemic, working tirelessly to save lives even when doing so puts their own lives at risk,” said Merski, who is a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee. “Words are barely adequate to thank them, but we can give back in small ways. Offering reduced fees on hunting and fishing licenses is one way to do that while encouraging these frontline heroes to relax outdoors.” Kortz, the Democratic chairman of the committee, agreed, saying “Our first responders and health care workers have and are working in extremely unprecedented times and dealing with enormous amounts of stress. Being able to offer them these reduced licenses will encourage them to spend time outdoors and relax. This is just one way we can show our appreciation and tremendous thanks for all they do to help save lives and keep us safe.” The Read more

 

Kortz: Time to expand Fish for Free days in Pa.

(May 13, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, May 13 – State Rep. Bill Kortz will soon introduce a bill that would require the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to declare four statewide Fish for Free days each year. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said the commission declares two Fish for Free days each year, allowing anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish in state waterways without a fishing license with all other fishing laws and regulations remaining in effect. In past years, he said, the commission has declared one of those days to be held over the Memorial Day weekend and another Fish for Free day scheduled during the July 4 weekend. However, bad weather on either one or both of those days can be disappointing and defeat the purpose of encouraging this safe, fun activity, Kortz added. “That’s why I want to expand the Fish for Free program to require the executive director of the commission to declare four such days each year, allowing more opportunities for people to take part,” Kortz said. “Fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors and is a welcome respite during these challenging times, and expanding these opportunities will result in more Pennsylvanians giving fishing a try.” More information on his pending legislation can be found at this link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=31782 Read more

 

Kortz pleased Allegheny County can begin reopening process

(May 11, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, May 11– State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said he is pleased Allegheny County is among the counties allowed to move from a red to a yellow reopening designation, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 15. “This is indeed good news for our region, which has been significantly impacted by the pandemic,” said Kortz. “It means that many of our local businesses can reopen their doors or increase their hours and operations, allowing many more residents to safely return to work and safely support those businesses. We must remember to follow the health and social distancing guidelines to move forward, because we don’t want to more back to the red designation.” Kortz added that Allegheny County and the other counties included in the yellow designation must follow these restrictions: Work-related restrictions: • Telework should continue where allowed and feasible. • Businesses with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders. • Childcare facilities open must comply with state guidelines. • Congregate care and prison restrictions remain in place. • Schools will remain closed for in-person instruction. Social restrictions • Stay-at-home order lifted for aggressive mitigation. • Large gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. • In-person retail is allowed, curbside and delivery preferable. • Indoor recreation, health and wellness Read more

 

Kortz: Measure to exempt CARES payments from state, local taxes passes House

(May 04, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 4 – A bill to prevent recipients of federal pandemic cash payments from being required to pay state and local taxes on those funds passed unanimously in the PA House, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. Kortz said the bill , authored by state Rep. Brandon Markosek, also D-Allegheny, would ensure that those who received the funds as part of the CARES Act that passed in Congress last month and was signed into law would not have to pay state or local taxes on them. The funds are already exempt from federal taxation, and it doesn’t make sense to require state and local taxes to be paid, Kortz added. “Our residents and businesses are hurting, and we need to do everything possible to help them through this time and beyond,” Kortz said. “That includes making sure they don’t have to pay taxes on the very funds that are helping them keep the lights on, feed their families, pay for needed medicine and stay afloat. It’s the right thing to do and I fully support this legislation.” The CARES Act included a provision to provided cash payments to individuals making less than $99,000 per year and couples making less than $199,000 annually. The bill, which has companion legislation in the state Senate, now heads to the Senate for further consideration. Read more

 

Kortz: Gov. Wolf allows golf courses to safely reopen

(Apr 27, 2020)

HARRISBURG, April 27 – Golf courses are among several businesses that will be allowed to reopen with limited restrictions, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced today. Last week, Kortz announced his plan to introduce legislation that would provide health and safety guidelines to golf courses and require them to follow the social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, Gov. Tom Wolf announced as of May 1, golf courses, along with other recreational activities, may reopen and will be required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance . “This morning, my legislation – House Bill 2439 – which would allow golf courses to safely reopen, was officially introduced with 43 co-sponsors,” said Kortz. “Later this afternoon, I learned Governor Wolf agreed and announced the courses would be allowed to open, effective this Friday.” In discussing his legislation, Kortz said in his talks with golf associations across the state, courses could safety reopen under the current social distancing guidelines. In addition to golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds can reopen on May 1. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through May 14. Read more

 

Kortz to introduce legislation to allow golf courses to safely reopen

(Apr 23, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, April 23 – Golf courses statewide could reopen safely, following state and federal guidelines, under a bill to be introduced soon by state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny. Kortz’s measure would provide health and safety guidelines to golf courses and require them to follow the social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the provisions included in his legislation: Club houses at each course would remain closed. A no contact payment method would be required. Golf carts would be sanitized after each use, with special attention paid to the steering wheel and other touch points. Only one golfer per cart would be allowed. All employees and golfers would be required to wear masks. Flag at the hole would not be removed or touched at any time. “Golf courses, by nature of the sport, don’t involve close physical contact, and it’s one of the few businesses that could operate safely under the current social distancing guidelines,” said Kortz. “In addition, my bill would also follow the guidelines established by the United States Golf Association, which recommends a hole liner be used to prevent a golf ball from falling into the cup. Once the ball is near the hole, the hole would be finished and players would move on to the next hole, preventing the flag or pin at the hole from being touched.” More Read more

 

Kortz to introduce legislation to provide COVID-19 guidance to allow re-opening of outdoor sportsman clubs

(Apr 22, 2020)

DRAVOSBURG, April 22 – State Rep. Bill Kortz has announced he will soon introduce a bill that would provide uniform, health-based standards to allow the state’s outdoor sportsman clubs to re-open. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said his measure would require each employee and member of the club to wear masks and practice social distancing and only allow five participants on each outdoor range at a time. His legislation would also mandate that each club house within the club remain closed to comply with the state’s social distancing guidelines. “Our lives have significantly changed in the last two months here in our state, with many of us staying at home and following social distancing rules,” said Kortz. “At the same time, I believe that we can now safely reopen these clubs, while also following the state health department’s guidelines. My bill would accomplish this, allowing for our residents to enjoy spending time outdoors and keep them and the club’s employees safe.” More information on his legislation can be found at this link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=31640 Read more

 

Kortz introduces amendment to bill designed to strengthen ‘Steer Clear Law’
Oct 20, 2020

Kortz: Legislation to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance passes House
Oct 20, 2020

Kortz: $403K in grants awarded to area volunteer fire, EMS companies
Oct 14, 2020

Kortz voted “yes” to override governor’s veto of bill allowing school districts to make decisions on sports, activities
Sep 23, 2020

Kortz introduces bill to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance
Sep 17, 2020

Kortz: Bill to allow school districts to make decisions on sports, activities
Sep 02, 2020

Kortz: Bill would allow for increase in borough populations, encourage more participation in electoral process
Jul 13, 2020

Kortz: Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh awarded funding for projects to address state’s response to COVID-19 pandemic challenges
Jun 17, 2020

Kortz: School Safety and Security grant program to include sizable increase
Jun 01, 2020

Kortz announces Allegheny County going green
May 29, 2020

Kortz: Measure to assist volunteer fire, EMS companies passes House
May 28, 2020

Kortz supports freeze on cost of living adjustments for legislators, state officials
May 26, 2020

Kortz announces passage of bill to safely open sportsman clubs, shooting ranges
May 20, 2020

Merski, Kortz bills would lower hunting, fishing fees for frontline workers
May 14, 2020

Kortz: Time to expand Fish for Free days in Pa.
May 13, 2020

Kortz pleased Allegheny County can begin reopening process
May 11, 2020

Kortz: Measure to exempt CARES payments from state, local taxes passes House
May 04, 2020

Kortz: Gov. Wolf allows golf courses to safely reopen
Apr 27, 2020

Kortz to introduce legislation to allow golf courses to safely reopen
Apr 23, 2020

Kortz to introduce legislation to provide COVID-19 guidance to allow re-opening of outdoor sportsman clubs
Apr 22, 2020