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Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people

(May 29, 2020)

Now, more than ever, is the time to come together and pass legislation that seeks to protect our frontline and essential workers, pay them fairly, assist those struggling without employment, health care or child care, and, above all, keep our citizens safe. Read more

 

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill

(May 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 29 – In May, state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, began his push to advocate for residents struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing legislation geared toward providing rental assistance to those in need. On Thursday, portions of his legislation were rolled into the final supplemental fiscal code bill. Davis said he was encouraged and thankful to see portions of his bill included in H.B. 2510, which passed the House on Thursday, and noted he was able to advocate for the inclusion of his legislation through his role on the House Appropriations Committee. “I’m grateful to see portions of my legislation included in this bill, most notably because it’s legislation that will benefit state residents which, by the way, is the reason we’re all here,” Davis said. “It’s my hope that members from both sides of the aisle can continue to work in bipartisan fashion, especially during times of crisis, so that we can do what is best for commonwealth residents.” Davis said his legislation was wrapped into H.B. 2510 under the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Specifically, section 191-C dedicates a minimum of $150 million to rental assistance through the proposed COVID Relief Rent and Mortgage Assistance Grant Program. Homeowners or renters may be eligible for assistance if they became unemployed after March 1, 2020, or their annual household income was reduced by 30% or Read more

 

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today issued a statement condemning comments made by PennAg Industries Executive Vice President Christian Herr about immigrant migrant agriculture workers during a House Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday. Herr, during a committee discussion about the vulnerability of farming employees —a workforce mostly comprised of migrants -- temporarily residing in farm labor camp housing in the wake of the pandemic, said that “ethnic families, close-knit families ride the buses to these facilities together,” describing their lengthy travels to commercial food processing facilities for employment that involves working for long hours and for low pay, while living in subpar employer-sponsored housing conditions as “cultural in many ways.” Burgos said he was deeply angered by Herr’s remarks, calling them insensitive and dehumanizing. He also said Herr’s assertion that the overrepresentation of migrants enduring these exploitative practices are their customary traditions absolves perpetrators instituting this predation of any accountability. “I am deeply disturbed that Herr is so morally bankrupt that he’s able to causally contort the systemic exploitation of marginalized people-- desperately trying to survive and provide for their families-- performing physically taxing labor in exchange for a pittance Read more

 

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening

(May 28, 2020)

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro expresses his opposition to HR836. Read more

 

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – A measure that would provide one-time crisis grants to each volunteer fire and emergency medical services company in Pennsylvania passed the House unanimously today, state Rep. Scott Conklin announced. Conkin, D-Centre, said S.B. 1122 would establish the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, setting aside $50 million in federal CARES funding for fire and EMS companies to provide services during the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-four million dollars 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 men and women have been on the front lines in responding to our communities’ needs, now more than ever, and without the ability to fundraise to stay active, it’s imperative we give them the support they need and deserve,” Conklin said. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more

 

House members condemn failure to report possible Capitol COVID-19 exposure

(May 27, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 27 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said he and other House members were absolutely shocked to learn that a colleague received a positive COVID diagnosis more than a week ago, with several other colleagues self-quarantining this week, while no notice was provided to the people working closely with them at the Capitol. Dermody said several House members who have regularly attended session in Harrisburg throughout the pandemic were noticeably absent yesterday. Under a temporary House rule, all members may vote by proxy so that they don’t have to risk travel and gathering in person at the Capitol. “While we are pleased to learn that this House member seems to have recovered, it is simply unacceptable that some House Republicans knew about this for more than a week and sat on that knowledge,” he said. “Knowing how House members and staff work closely together at the Capitol, we should have been made aware of this much sooner. We should not have learned of it from a media report,” Dermody said. “In the last two weeks alone, there were six days of voting session here at the Capitol and more than 15 separate meetings of House committees voting on dozens of bills. For those members who journeyed to the Capitol in person, each of these meetings raises the risk of possible exposure. “What makes this situation even more galling is that some House members, a vocal few, have attempted to Read more

 

House Democrats oppose budget that would hike property taxes

(May 26, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 26 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Democratic Whip Jordan Harris and Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford commented about today’s House vote on a partial state budget (H.B. 2387) which all 93 House Democrats opposed: “In a bipartisan rejection House Democrats stood united against the incomplete budget bill passed today. We have many questions with no answers about a $25 billion spending plan we didn’t even see in writing until today. “It’s clear that this budget doesn’t account for a multibillion-dollar revenue gap and just pushes the day of reckoning off until late November. How will the unprecedented deficit be closed? “The current plan fails to take care of homeowners struggling to pay school property taxes and will cause tax bills to increase by more than $300 million. Until we get more answers for the people we represent, Democrats will not support an incomplete budget that doesn’t meet the people’s true needs.” Read more

 

Democrats seek more support for Pennsylvania workers

(May 21, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – Democratic leaders said any review of Unemployment Compensation during the current pandemic should be aimed at fixing problems and putting workers’ needs first, rather than simply blaming the Department of Labor and Industry for factors mostly beyond its control. The House Labor and Industry Committee today received an update on benefits for unemployed claimants from senior leaders in the department including Secretary Gerard Oleksiak. “The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sudden, widespread economic dislocation and prevented people from working in numbers never seen before,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “It’s important to understand how the department is responding to the demand for its services while many people are still waiting for unemployment benefits. “It’s also clear that after being starved of resources for years the department is doing its best with the limited tools it has and is intently focused on getting people their benefits,” Dermody said. “We need to get payments in the hands of workers who have earned them,” said Democratic Labor and Industry Chairman Pat Harkins. “I’ve heard from many constituents about their difficulties getting unemployment payments. They are understandably frustrated and I can see why.” Harkins thanked Oleksiak for answering the committee’s questions and being Read more

 

Davidson, Zabel announce grants to help nonprofit organizations

(May 21, 2020)

State Reps. Margo Davidson and Mike Zabel announced the approval of Department of Environmental Protection Food Recovery Infrastructure Grants to fight hunger and prevent food waste in Delaware County. Read more

 

Kenyatta continues fight to end LGBTQ+ discrimination across Pa.

(May 21, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – On the sixth anniversary of marriage equality being recognized in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., yesterday gave an impassioned speech in the House chamber urging his lawmaker colleagues to support his legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ residents and other minorities. The introduction of this proposal follows a similar amendment that would have outlawed employee discrimination at outdoor sportsman clubs across the state. The measure failed to pass the full House. Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, prefaced his speech with an emotional unprecedented public telling of his coming out story. He later expressed the dire need to pass this necessary measure in working toward a truly equal and accepting commonwealth. “I’ve never publicly talked about my coming out story, but I felt compelled to do it today,” Kenyatta said. “On this sixth anniversary of our state recognizing marriage equality, it is nice to celebrate this milestone, but we must also recognize we still have miles to go in this fight for civil rights and true equality. I will continue demanding an end to discrimination against our LGBTQ+ communities, and I will not stop until we are victorious. I once again fought to convince House Republicans to adopt my measure that would move this commonwealth forward in recognizing Read more

 

Kenyatta: Failure to pass anti-discrimination at sports clubs bill proves Pa. is losing fight for equal rights

(May 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – In a statement today, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said that Pennsylvania’s complacency in allowing discrimination to continue proves that the state has a long way to go in the fight for equal rights. His statement comes after legislation he introduced that would ban outdoor sportsman clubs from discriminating against an employee on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability failed to pass in the full House on Monday. Of his legislation that fell short of a few votes required to pass, Kenyatta, D-Phila, said, “The loophole in making discrimination permissible in sportsman clubs, or any entity, is for them to designate themselves as private. This leverages them the ability to continue to deny these marginalized groups membership and employment opportunities. If passed, my legislation would have served as the catalyst in dismantling discrimination and the suppression of civil rights in not just sportsman clubs, but also in all factions of our commonwealth. Its defeat, however, magnifies how ingrained and normalized discrimination is across our state.” Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, lamented on the reality that despite tirelessly serving residents across the commonwealth, there are parts where he is still unwelcomed. “I am a black openly Read more

 

Galloway’s children’s mental health bills voted out of committee

(May 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – State Rep. John Galloway today announced his two bills to expand and support children’s mental health services in Pennsylvania’s schools were unanimously voted out of committee. “Our students are crying out for help,” Galloway said. “Earlier this year, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that the majority of the 40,000 calls last year to the anonymous tip line, Safe2Say Something, concerned students struggling with mental health issues such as suicide, self-harm, depression and anxiety. “Now it’s time to expand the mental health resources available for our children in the commonwealth.” According to Galloway, approximately one in six U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, only half of these children receive counseling. Those left with untreated mental health disorders often: struggle with behavioral and academic issues in school, such as delinquency and dropping out; have trouble with the criminal justice system; abuse drugs as a means to cope with their illness; become dependent on social services; and, in extreme cases, commit suicide. “Children’s untreated mental health issues are one of the most pressing issues our society faces,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “Early detection and treatment of mental health issues literally saves lives, Read more

 

White, Solomon Legislation to Speed Property Tax Rebates Becomes Law

(May 19, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 19 – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. Martina White, R-Phila., and Jared Solomon, D-Phila., to speed up property tax and rent rebates to qualified recipients has was signed today by Gov. Tom Wolf. "Getting more money in our seniors’ pockets now, through the Rent/Property Tax Rebate program, allows them to buy more food in fewer trips," White said. "That limits their potential exposure to the virus and can help them stay safe." "I'm thrilled that Governor Wolf has signed this bill into law as it represents a fantastic chance to put money in the pockets of some of our most vulnerable citizens at a time when they really need it," Solomon said. "The commonwealth needs to use every lever at our disposal to help people, and colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand that the rebate check is a vital tool in that regard, particularly during this pandemic." Right now, rebates are distributed starting July 1. Their bill, which was amended into House Bill 1076, now Act 20 of 2020, which directs the departments of Revenue and Treasury to process 2019 rebate payments for all homeowners and renters who received a 2018 rebate and to issue those payments immediately. For anyone who became eligible in the past year, rebates would be issued immediately upon receipt of their application instead of waiting until July 1. The White/Solomon legislation was Read more

 

Help flatten another curve: Tick-borne illness in PA leads country

(May 19, 2020)

These tiny arachnids feed on the blood of mammals, birds and other creatures. They can be infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, and the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania recognizes 11 different tick-borne illnesses that have been identified in this state. Read more

 

Rabb introduces legislation to extend deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots during disaster emergencies such as COVID-19

(May 18, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 18 – Holding firm on his belief that all registered voters should have an assurance that their votes will count, especially during a pandemic or other disaster emergency, Rep. Chris Rabb has introduced legislation, H.B. 2532, that would do just that. Read more

 

Hanbidge legislation to provide relief for feed sellers, livestock producers

(May 18, 2020)

“Livestock producers spend countless hours breeding, raising and feeding animals to ensure that food products so many of us take for granted are available each day,” Hanbidge said. “Many of these producers, along with those who supply them with feed for their livestock, are faced with a financial dilemma because, while their income may have slowed down or been cut off altogether during these difficult times, their operational costs have remained the same.” Read more

 

Sanchez, other lawmakers urge PA Supreme Court to protect families, businesses

(May 14, 2020)

“With the inescapable economic hardships that have accompanied this coronavirus pandemic, it’s critical that we do whatever we can to keep families in their homes and local businesses alive,” Sanchez said. “So many have been furloughed or have lost jobs entirely, and we’re all being instructed to stay home and stay safe. To do so, we need the assurance of a place to call home.” Read more

 

Rep. Burgos, Democratic colleagues, urge Supreme Court to protect residents from evictions and foreclosure during the COVID-19 pandemic

(May 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 14 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today, with dozens of House and Senate colleagues, sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to urge the court to issue an order to stave off evictions and foreclosures for 90 days after a county is moved from the “red” to the “yellow” phase by Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration. Currently, an executive order from the governor extends a stay on foreclosures and evictions through July 10. “The governor’s order to delay evictions and foreclosures is a start, but we must consider the many Pennsylvanians who have been struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. Many will be fiscally stunted, and realistically, the timeframe for many to gradually recoup their finances after months of lacking steady income will surpass July,” Burgos said. “We can’t allow families and small business trying to gain financial stability relive the stresses, or even experience the reality of losing their homes and livelihoods, which is why we are calling on the Supreme Court to enact this deferment.” With the support of many other lawmakers in both chambers, the letter highlights a shared concern that COVID-19 could continue to cause serious challenges for many Pennsylvanians whose counties were among the first to shut down and will remain in the red phase for a longer period of time. The order would cover commercial properties also to ensure Read more

 

Ullman introduces bill to guarantee admission to community college graduates in good standing to PASSHE

(May 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 14 – State Rep. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks, announced today she has introduced a bill ( H.B. 2447 ) that would create a guaranteed pathway for students to transfer from a community college to a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institution by creating an Associate Degree for Transfer Program. Students who complete this program would be able to transfer with junior standing in their field of study. “ The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many families’ and students’ finances,” Ullman said. “As a result, even more high school graduates will choose to go to a community college with the eventual goal of transferring to a four-year college. “Unfortunately, the transfer process from community college to a four-year institution can be convoluted and result in having to re-take courses, which is expensive and causes delays in graduation. Ultimately the process discourages some students from completing school. I want to make sure that the transfer process to a four-year institution is as streamlined as possible.” In the 2017-18 school year, nearly 35,000 Pennsylvania community college students transferred to another college, but less than half of them transferred to a PASSHE institution. Ullman said her bill would help even more students transfer to one of the commonwealth’s four-year colleges by guaranteeing admission to PASSHE schools to Read more

 

Warren liquor reform bill sent to governor

(May 13, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 13 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, announced his liquor reform bill, H.B. 327, passed the Senate today with overwhelming bipartisan support and is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The bill would amend the Liquor Code to clarify the process for a referendum on whether to allow for the sale of liquor in their municipality in a primary, municipal or general election. “The passage of this bill, coupled with Act 48 enacted last year, streamlines the process for residents’ right to decide whether to permit alcohol sales in a municipality,” Warren added. House Bill 327 also has a COVID-19 emergency provision which would allow licensed restaurants and hotels that have lost more than 25% of their average monthly sales during the disaster to sell prepared beverages or mixed drinks for off-premise consumption in quantities of 4 oz. to 64 oz. during the disaster emergency and mitigation period. “The passage of this bill is great news for Pennsylvania’s restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Warren said. “It enables our local restaurants selling food, beer and wine to add another product for curbside pickup and takeout during this crisis. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both the House and the Senate for supporting this legislation.” Lower Makefield Township has scheduled a liquor referendum for the June 2 primary election. Read more

 

Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people
May 29, 2020

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill
May 29, 2020

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments
May 28, 2020

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening
May 28, 2020

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide
May 28, 2020

House members condemn failure to report possible Capitol COVID-19 exposure
May 27, 2020

House Democrats oppose budget that would hike property taxes
May 26, 2020

Democrats seek more support for Pennsylvania workers
May 21, 2020

Davidson, Zabel announce grants to help nonprofit organizations
May 21, 2020

Kenyatta continues fight to end LGBTQ+ discrimination across Pa.
May 21, 2020

Kenyatta: Failure to pass anti-discrimination at sports clubs bill proves Pa. is losing fight for equal rights
May 20, 2020

Galloway’s children’s mental health bills voted out of committee
May 20, 2020

White, Solomon Legislation to Speed Property Tax Rebates Becomes Law
May 19, 2020

Help flatten another curve: Tick-borne illness in PA leads country
May 19, 2020

Rabb introduces legislation to extend deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots during disaster emergencies such as COVID-19
May 18, 2020

Hanbidge legislation to provide relief for feed sellers, livestock producers
May 18, 2020

Sanchez, other lawmakers urge PA Supreme Court to protect families, businesses
May 14, 2020

Rep. Burgos, Democratic colleagues, urge Supreme Court to protect residents from evictions and foreclosure during the COVID-19 pandemic
May 14, 2020

Ullman introduces bill to guarantee admission to community college graduates in good standing to PASSHE
May 14, 2020

Warren liquor reform bill sent to governor
May 13, 2020