Kortz: Bill to clarify laws regarding tasers, stun guns approved in committee

(Sep 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – A measure to ensure Pennsylvanians are not arrested for possessing tasers or stun guns for self-defense purposes was favorably reported out of the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Bill Kortz announced today. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said House Bill 585 was prompted by an incident involving a constituent, whose taser device was confiscated during a routine traffic stop. This constituent was later charged with violating Title 18, which addresses unlawful possession of an offensive weapon. However, Title 18 contains a provision that allows such devices to be used for the propose of self-defense, Kortz added. “My constituent was unfairly charged with a crime following this traffic stop and had to pay over $2,000 in legal costs and related fees, all due to inconsistencies with current state statutes,” Kortz said. “My bill would make it clear that possessing and using a Taser or stun gun for the purpose of self-defense is legal, eliminating any future confusion and preventing future Pennsylvanians from being wrongfully arrested or convicted.” The measure now heads to the full House for consideration. Read more

 

Kortz in Support of Sunday Hunting

(Sep 10, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Bill Kortz comments on a bill that would allow for Sunday hunting at a public hearing with the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Currently, Pa. is one of only three states that doesn’t allow Sunday hunting, along with Maine and Massachusetts. Read more

 

Kortz supports Governor Wolf’s call for charter, cyber charter school oversight, overhaul of 1997 charter school law

(Aug 14, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 14 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, provided the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s call yesterday to overhaul the state’s charter school law: “I applaud and support the governor’s decision to take executive action to address the lack of fiscal and management accountability of charter and cyber charter schools in the commonwealth,” Kortz said. “I agree with him: the state’s charter school law in Pennsylvania is – indeed – one of the most fiscally irresponsible laws in the country. “The financial strain that has been placed on the schools in my district to support these charter schools is outrageous, and their operational costs are way out of alignment. One of the reasons why I voted ‘no’ on the 2019-2020 budget is because it did not include any remedies to address these concerns related to charter schools. These costs are draining vital funds away from our public schools and leading to steep hikes in property taxes for homeowners in my district. That is beyond unacceptable. “At a minimum, these schools must be made fiscally responsible and accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers, and these schools must also be audited on a regular basis to stay and remain in compliance with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “I support Governor Wolf’s efforts and look forward to working with him and my colleagues in Read more

 

Kortz: Several local schools awarded grants for fresh fruits and vegetables

(Jul 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 17 – Approximately $158,000 in funds have been awarded to six elementary schools in the 38 th Legislative District through a federal grant program to provide students with fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. The funding is awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program’s goal is to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables in schools by increasing consumption among students with the hope of positively impacting their present and future health. “Studies have shown, time and again, that when children eat healthy, it benefits their overall well-being, and they’re better prepared to learn,” Kortz said. “The USDA’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program also helps our schools address food insecurity and provides an opportunity for youngsters to make healthier food choices.” The following schools (and corresponding school districts) that received funds through the program include: Francis McClure Elementary School (McKeesport Area School District) – $38,525. Twin Rivers Elementary School (McKeesport Area School District) – $45,022.50. South Allegheny Elementary School (South Allegheny School District) – $32,142.50. Clara Barton Elementary School (West Mifflin School District) – $13,340. Homeville Elementary School (West Mifflin School District) – Read more

 

Kortz: Bill provides disabled vets, active duty military affordable benefits for fishing, hunting

(Jun 27, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Bill Kortz praised a measure that unanimously passed the House today that eliminates the need for disabled veterans and active duty military to purchase multiple non-resident fishing and hunting licenses from various states, including Pennsylvania. Kortz, who is minority chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee and a co-sponsor of H.B. 1380, said this bill should encourage agreements between Pennsylvania and other states to benefit the men and women who have served and continue to serve this country. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for disabled veterans and active-duty military,” Kortz said. “It would permit them to enjoy the great country they protected and continue to protect, and it would allow them to continue to pursue their passions and pastimes at a reduced cost. “Instead of purchasing multiple licenses in multiple states, this measure would allow active-duty military personnel and disabled veterans to one day enjoy the same benefits in other states that they enjoy in Pennsylvania.” Under the bill, the attorney general would negotiate reciprocal agreements with other states and report back to the General Assembly. “Fishing and hunting have long been hobbies passed down from generation to generation,” Kortz said. “With today's bill passage and, hopefully, Senate passage after that, it will become more affordable for our veterans and active duty personnel to Read more

 

Kortz: Budget bill doesn't go far enough in education, transportation

(Jun 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, provided the following statement regarding his “no” vote on H.B. 790 today, the state’s General Appropriations bill: “While I am grateful for the funds devoted to education, including basic, special and pre-k education, it doesn’t go far enough to address the financial challenges school districts in my region are facing related to charter and cyber charter schools. “Instead of placing nearly $300 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, more of those funds should have been placed into education. We need to do more to halt property tax increases, and this bill does nothing to address that. “I also have concerns about the state’s school safety grant program, as contained in the budget bill. Last year, the schools in my district did not receive any funds, and out of the $45 million that is earmarked for the program this year, I am still not getting a clear answer as to whether they will this year. “This bill also contains significant transportation funding cuts, to the tune of $366 million, despite the fact that we have nearly 3,000 structurally deficient bridges across our state. That figure also includes $111 million in cuts to mass transit, which will hurt many of my residents who rely on reliable transportation.” “We can and should do better for the people of Pennsylvania.” Read more

 

Kortz: New 10-year contract extension reached between UPMC and Highmark

(Jun 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 24 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, has released the following statement regarding the announcement of a contract extension between UPMC and Highmark, which will extend UPMC facility access to Highmark-insured patients. “First off, I want to thank state Attorney General Josh Shapiro for his hard work to ensure health care access for all Pennsylvanians. I am pleased to learn of the new contract extension between UPMC and Highmark, which will extend UPMC facility access to Highmark-insured patients in western Pennsylvania for 10 years. Today’s announcement eases the concerns and anxieties of thousands of Pennsylvanians, who were left wondering about their health care access, as well as the coordination and management of that care, including those who are undergoing significant medical treatment. They can breathe a much-needed sigh of relief. “Moving forward, I still believe that much more needs to be done to protect consumers, and I will continue to advocate for legislation to require charity hospital-insurance company hybrids to behave in the public interest and stop from taking advantage of sick and vulnerable Pennsylvanians. “I hope that over the next 10 years that these non-profits will do the right thing. As a public charity, these entities should be focused less on profits and more about patient care. “Let me be clear – while this is certainly great news, keep in mind that Read more

 

Kortz: Hunting licenses to go on sale today, Monday June 17

(Jun 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – Licenses for the 2019-20 hunting season will go on sale today, Monday, June 17, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced. “Hunting is a great and very affordable pastime, one that continues to be shared over many generations here in Pennsylvania,” said Kortz, who serves as Democratic chair of the House Gaming and Fisheries Committee. “It provides a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time outdoors with family and continue a worthwhile tradition.” Kortz added the cost of a license includes a complimentary copy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest , a useful publication that provides a wealth of information for hunters, including updates on chronic wasting disease, elk and antlerless deer license availability, game regulations, and more. General hunting licenses and furtaker licenses cost $20.90 for Pennsylvania residents, and $101.90 for nonresidents. In addition, resident senior hunters and furtakers ages 65 and older can purchase a one-year licenses for $13.90, or lifetime a license for $51.90. Resident seniors also have the option of purchasing lifetime combination licenses that allow them hunting and furtaking privileges for $101.90. Licenses can be purchased online through the commission’s website at www.pgc.pa.gov . The link also provides information on locations across Pennsylvania to purchase your license in person. Read more

 

Kortz disappointed by court ruling on consent decree regarding UPMC/Highmark

(Jun 14, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 14 – The Commonwealth Court announcement today that it would not intervene in the impending June 30 dissolution of the consent decree between UPMC and Highmark is extremely disappointing and should be a call to action for legislators, said state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny. Last month, the state Supreme Court had overturned an earlier decision by Commonwealth Court that the June 30 termination date in the UPMC/Highmark agreements cannot be modified. Today, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson issued an order that the date could not be changed. “To say I am deeply disappointed is an understatement and is an affront to patients, who deserve continued access to the health care facilities and providers they know and trust,” Kortz said. “This decision makes it crystal clear that if we want UPMC and institutions like it to do the right thing, the laws need to change. People’s lives are at risk. “I am imploring Attorney General Josh Shapiro to consider appealing today’s decision. In addition, I’m asking UPMC’s board of directors to take a stand and do what’s right. I’m asking my colleagues to support House Bill 1211 , which would require charity hospital-insurance company hybrids to behave in the public interest and stop them from taking advantage of sick and vulnerable Pennsylvanians. “While this case will make its way through the court system and appeals will likely be filed in Read more

 

Kortz: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program deadline extended

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – The deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2018 under the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. “This extension is great news for the many eligible Pennsylvanians who benefit from this program,” Kortz said. “They include residents 65 and older; widows and widowers 50 and older; and people with disabilities 18 and older. It costs nothing to apply to the program, and my offices can help. Stop by to determine whether you’re eligible. We can also provide application forms and help you fill them out.” Kortz’s Dravosburg office is located at 751 Pittsburgh-McKeesport Blvd. and can be reached by calling 412-466-1940. His Pittsburgh office is located at 5101 Old Clairton Road and can be reached by calling 412-886-2870. Kortz added the program’s income eligibility limits are $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. For purposes of calculating income, half of Social Security is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, although supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. Kortz said that constituents seeking assistance must bring proof of local (county, borough and school) property taxes and proof of income, such as an IRS Form 1099. Residents can learn more about the program and download an application from the Read more

 

House chairmen applaud designation of ‘Fishing and Boating Week’ in Pa.

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – In an effort to encourage participation in fishing and boating activities, the state House today unanimously passed a resolution designating the week of June 1 through June 9 as “Fishing and Boating Week”, according to state Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Keith Gillespie, R-York. “Fishing and boating opportunities are endless in our great state, and it’s a wonderful and affordable way for families to spend time together outdoors and make great memories,” Kortz said. “These fun activities also help protect our state’s waterways and fisheries, preserving them for future generations to enjoy.” “When President Herbert Hoover called fishing ‘much more than fish,’ he hit the nail on the head,” Gillespie said. “While it is a sport which requires a great deal of patience on the part of the individual, its enjoyment can be realized in groups of people, be they friends, family, or a mix of both. Fishing can be thoroughly relaxing or highly competitive in offering something for all ages and levels of skill.” “With 86,000 miles of streams and rivers, and hundreds of natural and manmade lakes across the commonwealth, new adventures are always waiting right around the corner,” said Tim Schaeffer, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission director. “Thank you to the House of Representatives for their support of Pennsylvania’s anglers and boaters. With Read more

 

Kortz applauds Pa. Supreme Court ruling regarding UPMC/Highmark

(May 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 29 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said the state’s highest court did the right thing in overturning Commonwealth Court’s decision that the June 30 termination date in the UPMC/Highmark agreements cannot be modified. Earlier this month, Kortz was among 60 state representatives and six senators who signed a legal brief supporting state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s February lawsuit against UPMC, which sought to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC/Highmark consent decrees that expire on June 30. Shapiro had filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court, asking the court to either expedite review of the consent decrees before they expire, or to keep them in place while the lawsuit is ongoing. “I am pleased that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s poor decision,” said Kortz. “I want to thank Attorney General Josh Shapiro for his excellent legal skills in taking on the goliath that is UPMC and winning this round at the high court level. My hope is that after careful deliberation, the Commonwealth Court will come to the conclusion that an extension is warranted, allowing people continued access to the healthcare facilities and providers they trust.” The state Supreme Court ruling returns the case to Commonwealth Court for further action. Read more

 

Kortz: Fish for Free on Memorial Day weekend

(May 22, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 22 – Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, said the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is offering the first of two “Fish for Free Days” on Sunday. "This is a great opportunity to introduce a friend or family member to fishing and spend some quality time together outdoors,” Kortz said. “In addition, it could be the start of a satisfying hobby for them to enjoy and pass on to others.” Kortz said the Fish for Free Days, which began in 1984, allow anyone (resident or non-resident) to fish legally for Pennsylvania's most popular fish without a fishing license. All other fishing laws and regulations remain in effect. More information about the event, which also will be held July 4, is available on the Fish and Boat Commission website at https://www.fishandboat.com/Fish/FishingRegulations/Pages/FishForFreeDay.aspx . Read more

 

Kortz applauds passage of bill to protect veterans’ access to PACE, PACENET

(May 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 15 – A measure to allow Pennsylvania veterans to participate in state prescription drug assistance programs – even if a state veterans’ benefit or federal disability payment puts them over the income limit – has unanimously passed the House, announced state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny. Kortz, a co-sponsor of H.B. 375 , said the measure would remove the value of federal veterans’ disability payments and the value of all state service-connected payments from income eligibility calculations for the PACE and PACENET programs. Currently, state law requires that these payments be counted as income. “This vote means we can move ahead to protect our veterans’ access to these valuable programs,” Kortz said. “Our veterans have given so much to our country, and a bonus or stipend that he or she receives because of their service should not disqualify them from PACE or PACENET.” The income limits for PACE eligibility are $14,500 for a single person and $17,700 for a married couple. PACENET income limits are slightly higher. For a single person, total income can be between $14,500 and $27,500. For a married couple, combined total income can be between $17,700 and $35,500. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Kortz joins legislators in support of UPMC suit

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, is among 60 state representatives and six state senators who signed a legal brief by the House Democratic Caucus, supporting state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit against UPMC. The lawsuit seeks to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decrees that expire on June 30. “We are not going to sit back and trust that UPMC will do the right thing by voluntarily extending the decree,” Kortz said. “This is about ensuring access to affordable care for everyone, regardless of the insurer. I join my colleagues in the House and Senate in supporting the lawsuit filed by the attorney general to protect all Pennsylvanians to ensure patient care is not jeopardized.” Shapiro filed suit to modify the consent decrees in February, arguing that UPMC is obligated, as a charitable organization funded by taxpayer dollars, to protect patients’ access to affordable care. Shapiro filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month, asking the court to either expedite review of the consent decrees before they expire, or to keep them in place while the lawsuit is ongoing. The House Democratic Caucus’s amicus curiae brief provides additional support for the lawsuit. Read more

 

Readshaw, Kortz announce bill to improve police hiring process

(May 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Reps. Harry Readshaw and Bill Kortz, both D-Allegheny, have announced they will soon introduce legislation that would improve police departments’ hiring process by ensuring investigators have all the information they need to select the best candidates . Their bill would require an applicant’s previous employers to disclose employment information to the law enforcement agency seeking to hire the applicant as a police officer, or to a licensed investigator working on behalf of the law enforcement agency. The disclosure requests would be in writing and be required to have an authorization signed by the applicant and the employer conducting the investigation. If the previous employer refuses to disclose the information, a court would be able to compel the release of the employment information. “Law enforcement agencies take on the critically important duty of stopping crime and protecting the people of Pennsylvania,” Readshaw said. “Right now, if an officer is moving from one law enforcement agency to another, his previous employer isn’t required to disclose meaningful employment records to the receiving agency, which could include serious disciplinary actions. We need to make sure police departments have access to all the information they need to select the best and brightest men and women to uphold the peace and safety of our communities.” “Our legislation would also free an Read more

 

House Steel Caucus leadership announce new U.S. Steel facility in Braddock

(May 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 2 – State Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Allegheny/Washington, the Republican chairman of the House Steel Caucus, and state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, the Democratic chairman of the House Steel Caucus, applauded the announcement made today by U.S. Steel to construct a new state-of-the-art and sustainable endless casting and rolling facility. The $1 billion investment at the Edgar Thompson Plant in Braddock, will be very beneficial to the steel industry in Western Pennsylvania and the Mon Valley. “I am extremely excited about the investment that U.S. Steel is making in the Mon Valley,” Kortz said. “The steel industry is vital to the economy in Western Pennsylvania and this new facility will help secure the future of manufacturing in the region.” “U.S. Steel’s commitment to build a new sustainable endless casting and rolling facility will benefit the steel industry and Western Pennsylvania for many years,” Ortitay said. This world-class technology will increase the ability to produce advanced high strength steel, while also improving environmental performance.” The steel industry is very important to Pennsylvania’s economy. According to a 2018 economic impact study commissioned by the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Pennsylvania steel industry directly employs 34,124 workers who earn $3.14 billion in wages and salaries annually. This equates to an average annual salary of $92,037, while Read more

 

House Committee Chairmen Get Commitment to Revisit Change to Start of Rifle Deer Season

(Apr 30, 2019)

Following their decision to change the first day of rifle deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGCs) Board of Commissioners has agreed with a House Game and Fisheries Committee request to revisit the move next year. The announcement comes following a meeting in which Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York), majority chairman of the committee, and Rep. Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny), the committee’s minority chairman, conveyed to the board the tremendous volume of complaints they and their House colleagues have received from hunters. Read more

 

Kortz Discusses Importance Of Addressing Bullying

(Apr 04, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Bill Kortz participated in a public hearing in Philadelphia to address the issue of bullying. He explains the preventative measures needed to protect children across the commonwealth. Read more

 

Kortz measure to provide therapeutic fishing license exemption approved by House

(Mar 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 20 – A measure that would allow the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to issue therapeutic exemptions to fishing license requirements unanimously passed the House, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. Kortz, the prime sponsor of H.B. 584 and minority chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, says the bill provides the necessary language to allow the PFBC to award fishing license exemptions to a variety of therapy groups, including Project Healing Waters , the Wounded Warrior Project , and Casting for Recovery , an organization for breast cancer survivors. “I am pleased by the overwhelming support this bill has been given by my colleagues,” Kortz said. “Many organizations in Pennsylvania and nationwide have seen the benefits of fishing and how it has helped people who are recovering from cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or chronic illness. It’s an activity that can bring them great joy and provide them much-needed respite.” “We appreciate Chairman Kortz and the House of Representatives’ unanimous support for this legislation today,” said Mike Nerozzi, director of public policy for the PFBC. “It is great to see the momentum behind this measure, which will ensure that the tremendous value of therapeutic fishing is recognized in law.” The bill now heads to the state Senate for further consideration. Read more

 

Kortz: Bill to clarify laws regarding tasers, stun guns approved in committee
Sep 24, 2019

Kortz in Support of Sunday Hunting
Sep 10, 2019

Kortz supports Governor Wolf’s call for charter, cyber charter school oversight, overhaul of 1997 charter school law
Aug 14, 2019

Kortz: Several local schools awarded grants for fresh fruits and vegetables
Jul 17, 2019

Kortz: Bill provides disabled vets, active duty military affordable benefits for fishing, hunting
Jun 27, 2019

Kortz: Budget bill doesn't go far enough in education, transportation
Jun 25, 2019

Kortz: New 10-year contract extension reached between UPMC and Highmark
Jun 24, 2019

Kortz: Hunting licenses to go on sale today, Monday June 17
Jun 17, 2019

Kortz disappointed by court ruling on consent decree regarding UPMC/Highmark
Jun 14, 2019

Kortz: Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program deadline extended
Jun 11, 2019

House chairmen applaud designation of ‘Fishing and Boating Week’ in Pa.
Jun 05, 2019

Kortz applauds Pa. Supreme Court ruling regarding UPMC/Highmark
May 29, 2019

Kortz: Fish for Free on Memorial Day weekend
May 22, 2019

Kortz applauds passage of bill to protect veterans’ access to PACE, PACENET
May 15, 2019

Kortz joins legislators in support of UPMC suit
May 07, 2019

Readshaw, Kortz announce bill to improve police hiring process
May 06, 2019

House Steel Caucus leadership announce new U.S. Steel facility in Braddock
May 02, 2019

House Committee Chairmen Get Commitment to Revisit Change to Start of Rifle Deer Season
Apr 30, 2019

Kortz Discusses Importance Of Addressing Bullying
Apr 04, 2019

Kortz measure to provide therapeutic fishing license exemption approved by House
Mar 20, 2019