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

(Dec 29, 2023)

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 Dan Williams, D-Chester, will update some outdated standards used to assess applicants that have made recruiting municipal police officers more difficult and imbalanced statewide.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 Read more

 

PA House Democrats Deliver: Investing in a Quality Education for PA Students

(Dec 28, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 28 – Ensuring that Pennsylvania students have access to a quality public education is a top priority for the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus. This year, House Democrats championed record investments in K-12 public education while starting action to fulfill their constitutional obligation to adequately and equitably fund public schools. The 2023-24 state budget, which was finalized earlier this month, includes a record $567 million basic education funding increase for Pennsylvania school districts. Additionally, the approved budget includes $175 million to fix school buildings to ensure that students, teachers and staff are learning and working in a safe environment. “For the first time in nearly a decade, the General Assembly has recognized the need for funding that allows school districts to address facility repairs and upgrades,” said House Education Committee Majority Chairman Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh. “As a father of two in the Allentown School District, I have seen firsthand the need for funding so schools can provide the safe and comfortable learning environments that parents expect and children deserve.” The approved budget also includes $100 million for school-based mental health resources for students, $46.5 million increase to provide universal free breakfast to 1.7 million Pennsylvania K-12 students and $10 million to strengthen the teacher workforce through student Read more

 

PA House Democrats Deliver: Improving PA’s Economy for Workers and Businesses

(Dec 27, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 27 – With an aggressive agenda in 2023, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus advanced the commonwealth’s economic outlook and helped working families and seniors across the state by driving policies that return more money to the people who make our local economies thrive. Read more

 

Burns authors resolution to urge Congress to oppose sale of U.S. Steel

(Dec 27, 2023)

“Steel is one of America’s iconic industries,” Burns said. “From good-paying jobs to national security, steel production is part of the backbone of our economy and the fabric of American life. The U.S. cannot afford to be dependent on another country for its access to steel.” Read more

 

New Frankel bill would protect air travelers, TSA workers from gun transport dangers

(Dec 26, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 26 – Air travelers, airport workers and security officers would be better protected from an alarmingly common travel risk – loaded firearms illegally transported through carry-on luggage – under soon-to-be-introduced legislation drafted by state Rep. Dan Frankel. Frankel, D-Allegheny, said he is introducing the legislation – which would penalize gun owners who illegally bring firearms into TSA baggage checkpoints by revoking their permit to carry – to address a deadly risk that persists in airports despite increased fines, warning signs and other preventive measures. “Each year, thousands of air travelers, airport workers and TSA officers face unnecessary danger because of gun owners who attempt to bring firearms through carry-on luggage checkpoints,” Frankel said. “The statistics are alarming – last year, TSA seized about 6,500 guns, and nearly 90% of them were loaded. The owners’ response in 100% of the cases was ‘I forgot.’ “Loaded weapons at baggage checkpoints not only create obvious safety risks, but they cause major airport delays, drain TSA resources and distract security officers from other dangers that could compromise flight safety. “This legislation is not designed to punish the majority of responsible gun owners but to crack down on the irresponsible ones whose actions put fellow travelers at risk. Responsible gun Read more

 

State lawmakers tout budget funding for school facilities

(Dec 21, 2023)

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 20 – Today, House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Jordan Harris, D-Phila., hosted a news conference at South Philadelphia High School discussing school facilities funding in the 2023-24 state budget. The budget includes $175 million for school facility improvements. Pennsylvania has some of the oldest schools in the country. The average school building is around 70 years old and was built when lead pipes and asbestos were standard building materials. Discoveries of asbestos and other toxins have led to school closures across the Commonwealth, including seven Philadelphia schools in 2023 alone. In the same year, 100 schools statewide closed due to excessive heat. Harris stated that he believes this funding will help to address this issue that’s plagued Pennsylvania schools for a long time. “This funding is paramount to improving the health and safety of our educators, students and school staff, Harris said. “This major Democratic priority is a significant investment and critical step toward ensuring that receiving an education in Pennsylvania does not equate to sick or injured students, teachers, or staff. There is more work to do, and we intend to continue our work until every Pennsylvania school is a safe learning environment for our children.” Harris was joined by members of the Philadelphia House Delegation, including state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., and members of the House Read more

 

Fleming: $2.4M in state grants for water infrastructure and arts projects

(Dec 20, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 19 – State Rep. Justin Fleming, D-Dauphin, announced today that he helped secure $2,428,357 in state funding to support water infrastructure projects and a community arts organization in the 105th district. “I am glad I was able to help bring back our tax money to our district to help rehabilitate and replace critical sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure so that our water remains clean and healthy,” Fleming said. “I am also glad that the arts in our community will be supported by a grant to the Harrisburg Community Theater.” Funds distributed through the H2O PA Program provide for single-year or multi-year grants to municipalities or municipal authorities to assist with the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm water projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $205.4 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the H2O PA – Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Projects Program. $893,773 for Susquehanna Township’s Fox Run Trunk Line and Force main sanitary sewer improvement project $1,400,826 for Lower Paxton Township’s PC-3E sanitary sewer and storm sewer replacement/rehabilitation project. Funds distributed through the Small Water and Sewer program provide for small water, sewer, and storm system water infrastructure projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $105.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the PA Small Water and Sewer Program. $112,150 for Lower Read more

 

Lehigh legislators, officials applaud law to add judge to Court of Common Pleas

(Dec 20, 2023)

Based on court statistics, Lehigh has some of the highest caseloads among similar counties but has as many as five fewer judges comparatively. Read more

 

Smith-Wade-El helped secure $3.36 million in state grants

(Dec 19, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 19 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, announced that he helped secure $3,360,383 in state grants for the 49th District. “I am very proud to have helped to secure $3,360,383 in state grants to assist with projects to improve our infrastructure and water quality and support the arts in our communities,” Smith-Wade-El said. “This is a great example of our tax dollars being brough back into the community to improve quality of life—from improving the quality of the water we drink to expanding opportunities to utilize our creativity.” Funds distributed through the Small Water and Sewer program provide for small water, sewer, and storm system water infrastructure projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $105.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the PA Small Water and Sewer Program. $149,715 for the Low and High Service Pumping Station-DCED Water-DPW for equipment upgrades at the pump station located at 150 Pitney Road, Lancaster. Funds distributed through the H20 PA Program provide for single-year or multi-year grants to municipalities or municipal authorities to assist with the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm water projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $205.4 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the H2O PA – Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Projects Program. $3,132,000 for Phase 2 transmission line installation for the replacement Read more

 

Kim helps bring more than $4 million in state grants to 103rd District

(Dec 19, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 19 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin/Cumberland, announced that she helped secure $4,023,908 in state grants for the 103rd district. “The health of the people in my district is of paramount importance to me, and this grant money will help ensure the purity of the water they drink by supporting critical water infrastructure projects,” Kim said. Kim said, “I am also glad that the artistic expression and the sciences will be supported through arts funding to important cultural organizations in the district.” Funds distributed through the H20 PA Program provide for single-year or multi-year grants to municipalities or municipal authorities to assist with the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm water projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $205.4 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the H2O PA – Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Projects Program. $3.5 million for Capital Region Water’s Paxton Creek Interceptor Site Preparation project. Funds distributed through the Small Water and Sewer program provide for small water, sewer, and storm system water infrastructure projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $105.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the PA Small Water and Sewer Program. $93,500 for Camp Hill’s Creek Road Pump Station Improvements project. $250,000 for Wormleysburg Borough’s South Front Street Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Read more

 

Ciresi announces $1.3M in state grants for Pottstown-area sewer infrastructure

(Dec 19, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 19 – A believer that a strong infrastructure is the key to building strong communities, state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, helped secure $1,338,380 in state funding for infrastructure projects in Pottstown and Lower Pottsgrove. “These important investments to the sewer infrastructure in the Pottstown area will upgrade and modernize essential services, improving reliability while keeping our environment clean,” Ciresi said. “I’m also proud to support our continued progress in making comprehensive repairs to Pottstown’s stormwater arches, ensuring a solid foundation for the town’s ongoing revitalization.” Funds distributed through the H20 PA Program provide for single-year or multi-year grants to municipalities or municipal authorities to assist with the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm water projects. Act 54 of 2022 appropriated $205.4 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the H2O PA – Water Supply, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Projects Program. They include: $744,073 for the Borough of Pottstown for a stormwater arch rehabilitation project. $212,472 for the Pottstown Borough Authority to purchase and install a diesel generator at the Lower Pump House Pump Station. Funding for stormwater arch system repairs would help the Borough of Pottstown in rebuilding collapsed arches and performing high priority repairs, as well as doing high priority preventive Read more

 

O’Mara attends White House meeting to discuss America’s gun violence epidemic

(Dec 18, 2023)

"Extreme Risk Protection Orders can be such an effective intervention measure for families who struggle like mine did, and ERPOs are proven to reduce the number of suicides in other states that enacted them," O'Mara said. Read more

 

Western Pa. lawmaker introduces legislation to bar employers from suspending healthcare benefits for striking workers

(Dec 15, 2023)

Rep. Lindsey Powell (D-Allegheny) introduced a bill this week to bar employers from suspending health care coverage for striking workers, citing the “disastrous effects” discontinuing coverage could have on employees and their families. Read more

 

Several Otten policy issues win big in Harrisburg this week

(Dec 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 15 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, marked several significant legislative achievements in Harrisburg this week, with committee hearings on two of her bills, another legislative proposal signed into law, and the passage of a resolution recognizing native Pennsylvanian Taylor Swift for her recent selection as TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. Otten also applauded several of the legislature’s collective accomplishments, as the General Assembly passed tax code and fiscal code bills containing multiple provisions to support working families. On Wednesday evening, the General Assembly passed and Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law a school code bill authorizing funding for Otten’s student-teacher stipend program, which allocates $10 million in funding to help alleviate the statewide teacher shortage by providing stipends of up to $15,000 for prospective teachers during their student teaching semester. Otten’s proposal first passed the House in June with strong bipartisan support, and her proposal language was included in the state budget. “Student teaching stipends are an essential step in both addressing our teacher shortage and supporting every aspiring educator in Pennsylvania so they can join the workforce fully prepared to teach upon graduation,” Otten said. “I am excited to see this program enacted into law so that we can provide our student teachers Read more

 

Shusterman applauds final passage of bipartisan state budget

(Dec 14, 2023)

It’s truly an honor to have legislation I sponsored signed into law, especially since it will put more money back into the pockets of nearly a quarter million families and enable parents to return to the workforce. This is a historic investment in Pennsylvania families, and both sides of the aisle agree that it is the right thing to do. Read more

 

Historic bill to repudiate racially restricted deed covenants passes PA Senate

(Dec 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – The Pennsylvania Senate made history Wednesday by unanimously passing state Rep. Justin Fleming’s legislation ( H.B. 1289 ) that would help rectify the legacy of biased housing practices by making it easier for property owners to repudiate discriminatory deed covenants. “The progress of racial, ethnic, and religious minority groups has been stifled by restrictive deed covenants and practices like redlining, resulting in massive inequality in wealth and home ownership rates,” Fleming said. “My legislation would help rectify this historic wrong by making it easy and affordable to repudiate discriminatory language from these documents.” A covenant stipulates what existing or future owners can and cannot do to a property. Racially discriminatory real estate covenants were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948 under the Shelley v. Kraemer decision, ruling that these covenants are unenforceable under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. In addition, the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited deed covenants that discriminate against protected classes. Although these covenants are no longer enforceable, Fleming said this harmful and discriminatory language still exists in many property deeds. Fleming’s bill impacts all restrictive covenants for classes of individuals covered under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and would allow a property owner – should they Read more

 

Matzie: House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hears testimony on bills to protect water and wastewater ratepayers

(Dec 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – The PA House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee heard testimony Wednesday about legislation that would impose more stringent requirements for the acquisition of municipal water and wastewater systems and bring more transparency to that process, Majority Chairman Rob Matzie announced. Matzie, D-Beaver, and several colleagues introduced the bill package to reform Act 12 – which was enacted in 2016 to change the way water and wastewater systems are valued for acquisition – to bring greater scrutiny and openness to these transactions. “Act 12 was originally created to give public utilities incentives to acquire failing or stressed municipal systems that could no longer provide safe, reliable service to customers, Matzie said. “Unfortunately, that’s not how the act is being used. Instead, municipalities and municipal authorities are exercising the provisions to sell healthy, well-operated systems at amounts much higher than their present value. Consumers end up footing the bill for those purchases through hugely inflated rates – without any improvement to services. “Even worse, the sales often happen with little notice to taxpayers or ratepayers, so the public is left in the dark about a pending sale until it’s too late. Our bill package would add needed guiderails to the act so that it Read more

 

Powell attends White House meeting on states’ efforts to reduce gun violence

(Dec 14, 2023)

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 14 – State Rep. Lindsay Powell, D-Allegheny, joined dozens of state lawmakers from across the country at the White House for a state legislative meeting on gun violence prevention. The meeting, hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, included six key actions to help reduce gun violence at the state level: Establishing statewide offices dedicated to gun violence prevention. Investing in evidence-based solutions. Strengthening support for survivors. Implementing responsible gun ownership practices. Enhancing background checks. Establishing industry accountability and standards. “All Pennsylvanians deserve to feel safe in their communities, whether it be at home, school, work, a place of worship or at public gatherings,” Powell said. “I believe that it is the responsibility of the state legislature to protect the rights of our neighbors – the right to live without the fear and trauma of gun violence – and I am committed to commonsense policies to achieve that vision.” The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two bills this year that are part of The Common Agenda to End Gun Violence package. They would create extreme risk protection orders and enact universal background checks . A bill to require the reporting of lost and stolen firearms failed to pass the House, while an additional bill to require guns to be safely stored in homes has not come up for a vote. Community Read more

 

PA House passes Isaacson bill to enhance protection for judges and judicial officers

(Dec 14, 2023)

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Wednesday passed state Rep. Mary Isaacson’s legislation to enhance protection for federal judges and judicial officers. This bill would prohibit disclosing the personally identifiable information of federal judges, judicial officers and their families when there is intent to cause harm or interrupt the person from carrying out their duties. “Threats and attempted violence against impartial judges not only cause harm to them but it damages our justice system and the foundations of our democracy,” Isaacson said. “We have seen varied threats against our democratic institutions too many times in recent years and we must protect judges to ensure that they can continue to uphold their duties both impartially and independently.” With this legislation, it would also be graded as a third-degree misdemeanor. "The justice system serves as a pillar of American Democracy. Threats and acts of violence against the judiciary branch affect each and everyone of us," state Rep. Anthony Bellmon, who helped author the bill, said. “As the number of threats against the judiciary continue to rise, we must ensure judges are protected from retaliation so that they can properly serve justice in our commonwealth." The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Williams’ bill to help recruit more police officers heads to governor

(Dec 14, 2023)

Vacancies in the local police hurt our communities and put us all at risk. 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. Read more

 

PA House Democrats Deliver: Safer, healthier, more equitable communities
Dec 29, 2023

PA House Democrats Deliver: Investing in a Quality Education for PA Students
Dec 28, 2023

PA House Democrats Deliver: Improving PA’s Economy for Workers and Businesses
Dec 27, 2023

Burns authors resolution to urge Congress to oppose sale of U.S. Steel
Dec 27, 2023

New Frankel bill would protect air travelers, TSA workers from gun transport dangers
Dec 26, 2023

State lawmakers tout budget funding for school facilities
Dec 21, 2023

Fleming: $2.4M in state grants for water infrastructure and arts projects
Dec 20, 2023

Lehigh legislators, officials applaud law to add judge to Court of Common Pleas
Dec 20, 2023

Smith-Wade-El helped secure $3.36 million in state grants
Dec 19, 2023

Kim helps bring more than $4 million in state grants to 103rd District
Dec 19, 2023

Ciresi announces $1.3M in state grants for Pottstown-area sewer infrastructure
Dec 19, 2023

O’Mara attends White House meeting to discuss America’s gun violence epidemic
Dec 18, 2023

Western Pa. lawmaker introduces legislation to bar employers from suspending healthcare benefits for striking workers
Dec 15, 2023

Several Otten policy issues win big in Harrisburg this week
Dec 15, 2023

Shusterman applauds final passage of bipartisan state budget
Dec 14, 2023

Historic bill to repudiate racially restricted deed covenants passes PA Senate
Dec 14, 2023

Matzie: House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hears testimony on bills to protect water and wastewater ratepayers
Dec 14, 2023

Powell attends White House meeting on states’ efforts to reduce gun violence
Dec 14, 2023

PA House passes Isaacson bill to enhance protection for judges and judicial officers
Dec 14, 2023

Williams’ bill to help recruit more police officers heads to governor
Dec 14, 2023