PA House Democrats Deliver: Safer, healthier, more equitable communities

HARRISBURG, Dec. 29 – As the House majority in 2023, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus advanced measures to keep communities safer, healthier and make them better places to live for all residents. 

First, House Democrats championed legislation to strengthen public safety, including keeping 911 services operational, making Pennsylvania roadways safer for drivers and pedestrians, and recruiting more law enforcement professionals. 

911 Centers serve residents and first responders 24/7/365 -- often during times of emergency. When funding for 911 Centers was at risk, House Democrats fought for a plan to secure funding to enable them to continue to serve the public and make improvements to the 911 system. 

Communities across Pennsylvania are struggling to fill police officer positions, but a plan introduced by Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, will update some outdated standards used to assess applicants that have made recruiting municipal police officers more difficult and imbalanced statewide.

“Vacancies in local police departments hurt our communities and put us all at risk,” Williams said. “This measure will give our local police departments a tool to help solve their vacancies but is only a piece of the puzzle as we need to do more.” 

This comes after an announcement earlier this year that the Pennsylvania State Police was removing its college credit requirement on a trial basis to attract more candidates who want to pursue a career as a state trooper. After implementing the change, applications rose 258%. 

Under a plan crafted by House Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Neilson, D-Phila., communities in Pennsylvania will have the tools to ensure drivers slow down, especially near school buses, active work zones and on busy highways. 

House Democrats also secured $40 million in the 2023-24 state budget for the Violence Intervention and Prevention program -- a $10 million increase over last year. VIP helps communities address safety by funding programs and organizations focused on reducing gun violence. 

However, there are dozens of public safety, health care and equity-focused bills stalled in the state Senate that would improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians, including: 

  • The PA Fairness Act (H.B. 300) would protect LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians from facing discrimination and allow all Pennsylvanians to file complaints with the PA Human Relations Commission. 
    • The Patient Safety Act (H.B. 106) which would establish safe staffing levels for nurses in hospitals by limiting the number of patients a nurse can be assigned depending on the level of care required. This would relieve nurse burnout and reduce patient mortality.
  • Commonsense gun safety legislation (H.Bs. 1018 and 714). Red flag and universal background check bills passed the state House with bipartisan support, are widely supported by Pennsylvanians and would save lives. 

Finally, Pennsylvania needs to fix its ailing mental health care system. Led by House Majority Caucus Chairman Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, House Democrats have outlined and advanced a bipartisan plan (H.B. 849) that would allocate $100 million in federal funds to address Pennsylvania’s mental health needs, including investing in recruiting and retaining mental health professionals, expanding criminal justice and public safety programs, and preventing suicide. 

“We know the problems and we have solutions. Funding is available. The uses have been thoroughly vetted. It’s time to get this money out the door to serve Pennsylvanians,” Schlossberg said. 

In all, the House Democratic majority advanced more than 200 bills in 2023 – an overwhelming amount with bipartisan support. In 2024, the caucus will continue to advance legislation to improve public safety, help Pennsylvanians live healthier lives, and make communities fair and equitable for everyone. 

Pennsylvania House Democrats are committed to ensuring better jobs, better schools and better communities for all Pennsylvanians. Putting people ahead of politics, House Democrats have led the charge to lower taxes, help workers save for retirement, put more teachers in local schools, and make communities safer. More information on these successful efforts is at