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House Democrats fight to keep renters, homeowners Safe at Home

Fiedler, Davis, Cephas stand up for renters and homeowners facing payment challenges due to COVID-19

(Aug 26, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 26 – To help renters and homeowners struggling with payments as well as small landlords, today state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Morgan Cephas, both D-Phila., and Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, introduced a measure that would expand the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency’s Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program. “For too many renters and homeowners with mortgages the COVID-19 crisis has gone beyond a health emergency to a housing emergency, and it’s time for the state to step up and offer substantive relief,” Fiedler said. “Our proposal will cut the red tape and get the help into the pockets of the people who need it the most, and we hope it will move quickly through the legislature.” “A program people in need can’t access is worse than not having a program at all,” Davis said. “Everyone we’ve heard from made their voices clear – renters need help, homeowners in debt need help, small landlords need help, and they can’t wait any longer. We’re going to deliver that help and we know this need goes far beyond political parties and county lines.” Cephas agreed, saying, "As the COVID-19 crisis continues, so do the economic burdens for families struggling to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. Our legislation will help break down barriers and help ensure homeowners, small landlords and renters have access to financial relief that's Read more

 

House Democrats share governor’s vision for relief and reform

(Aug 25, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 25 – House Democratic leaders released the following statement on the fall legislative agenda outlined by Gov. Tom Wolf, which responds to the needs of Pennsylvania families for economic relief and government reform and includes many ideas brought forward by House Democrats: “As we continue to move forward in Pennsylvania’s path to recovery, we stand united with Governor Wolf in his efforts to protect the health and welfare of all Pennsylvanians in the face of a continuing global pandemic. “Much of the governor’s legislative agenda is shared by House Democrats, as we’ve pushed for paid parental leave, increased access to personal protective equipment for frontline workers and removing special interest influence from our elections, among other proposals outlined by the governor. These goals are aimed at creating a safe, healthy and prosperous Pennsylvania that works for all of its people. “Unfortunately, we’ve spent far too much time with a Republican-led legislature determined to pick fights that only undermine the health and safety of our state. Rather than face this public health crisis head on, Republicans have taken it upon themselves to ignore science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and pretend the pandemic is over. Instead of authorizing hazard pay for frontline workers or providing housing and utility assistance to struggling Pennsylvanians, valuable Read more

 

Petrarca reminds residents to report suspected child abuse, keep kids safe at home

(Aug 24, 2020)

VANDERGRIFT, Aug. 24 – With back-to-school season in full swing, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca wants to remind Pennsylvanians to take proactive steps to ensure children are safe at home and report any suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, who serves as the Democratic chairman of the state House Children and Youth Committee, said while many children may be heading back to school, many of them will likely be doing so remotely at home, but it’s still important to make sure they’re safe. “While there may still be fewer people interacting with children on a regular basis compared to before the pandemic, it’s vital for parents and caregivers to take responsibility for their child’s well-being and ensure their homes are safe,” Petrarca said. “That means making sure that guns and medications are safely stored out of their reach and addressing any potential fall or heights hazards around the home. When we encounter children in our daily routines, we also need to be aware of signs of potential abuse or neglect, because our children are counting on us.” Petrarca said signs of possible abuse or neglect can include, but are not limited to: Numerous and/or unexplained bruises or injuries. Chronic or pronounced anxiety and expressed feelings of inadequacy. Flinching, or an avoidance of being touched. Poor impulse control. Read more

 

Briggs: Pandemic, election demonstrate need for media literacy curriculum

(Aug 21, 2020)

KING OF PRUSSIA, Aug. 18 – The global pandemic and upcoming presidential election demonstrate the critical importance of teaching media literacy, starting at a young age, said state Rep. Tim Briggs, who has been advocating for the establishment of media literacy curriculum in Pennsylvania schools. “As we are all bombarded with information on a daily basis, particularly through social media, it can sometimes be difficult to discern fact from fiction – and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical to ensure we are consuming accurate information from reliable sources,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “I’ve reintroduced legislation to establish a media literacy curriculum in our schools because we need to prepare our youngest citizens with the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate information and sources. The health of our democracy – and right now, the health of our citizens – depends on it.” House Bill 992, assigned to the House Education Committee since March 2019, would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop an age-appropriate media literacy curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12 that would be made available to school districts throughout Pennsylvania. The curriculum may include, but would not be limited to: developing critical thinking skills; understanding how media messages shape culture and society; identifying targeted marketing strategies; naming Read more

 

Addressing gun violence must be a priority. So, we’re addressing it.

(Aug 21, 2020)

A myriad of bipartisan bills designed to reduce gun violence and keep our communities safer – none of which come anywhere close to wholesale rejection of the 2nd Amendment, as fear mongers might have you believe – continue to languish in committee, not even deemed important enough to discuss, let alone receive votes. Read more

 

Legislation by Reps. Ciresi, Davis would provide financial relief to local bars, restaurants

(Aug 20, 2020)

House Bill 2791, which was assigned to the Commerce Committee after introduction, is also part of a House Democratic legislative package announced last month that seeks to provide relief for the community business owners and the workers who cook and serve. Read more

 

Ciresi calls for additional hazard pay for first responders, frontline workers

(Aug 19, 2020)

“While the recent hazard pay grants provided important support to many of our frontline heroes, we need to do more,” Ciresi said. “Unfortunately, due to program guidelines and funding limitations, many of those putting themselves in harm’s way were left out, including firefighters and EMS. We have a responsibility to them – as fellow Pennsylvanians – to honor their long-term sacrifices and risks with financial assistance.” Read more

 

Cruz demands investigation of child behavioral health facilities statewide

(Aug 19, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 19 – Chairman of the House Human Services Committee Angel Cruz today implored the Wolf administration to investigate all child behavioral health facilities in the 67 counties in the wake of new reports outlining child sexual abuse. Cruz’s call comes days after the Wolf administration, through the Department of Human Services, announced that it is reviewing allegations to determine appropriate action with regard to the licenses of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Facilities, following years of reported child sexual abuse at the hands of staff. “There appears to be a sinister trend of children, particularly vulnerable children living with special needs, being subjected to unspeakably horrific abuse at the hands of those who have been entrusted with their care,” said Cruz, D-Phila. “It’s a trend that, in fact, spans years, and many times these allegations have been waved away with no follow-up investigations or accountability for these facilities. Children are sent to these facilities with the hopes that they will be provided the proper care to address their needs, but instead are forced to endure more trauma and bear it for the rest of their lives.” Outlining his anticipation for an investigation, Cruz pointed to the 2019 allegations of child abuse at the Wordsworth Academy in Philadelphia that surfaced after the 2016 asphyxiation death of 16 year-old David Hess, and multiple Read more

 

McCarter legislation aims to reduce financial burden on public school districts, taxpayers

(Aug 18, 2020)

“As our public schools plan to reopen in safe and orderly manners, we need to ensure that cost for cyber charter school tuition does not become overwhelming in the process,” McCarter continued. “Cyber charters do not face the same financial needs that public school districts face to commence in-person learning in an era of the novel coronavirus.” Read more

 

Merski demands U.S. Postmaster General end cutbacks that threaten to disenfranchise mail-in voters

(Aug 17, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is taking U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to task over service cutbacks that threaten to sabotage successful mail-in voting by Pennsylvanians in the upcoming General Election. In a letter to DeJoy , also sent to several members of Congress, Merski cites the recent elimination of Saturday hours at the South Erie Post Office and says the change will directly impact area residents, many of whom will choose to vote by mail or absentee ballots in the weeks ahead. “Residents have already been calling my office to complain about a slowing down of mail at the post office,” Merski said. “These aren’t actions taken to bring greater efficiency – they are deliberate attempts to silence residents who are looking to exercise their constitutional rights through our newly enacted mail-in voting system. “Democracy depends on full participation by the people, but the people can’t have a meaningful voice if their vote becomes lost in the mail. They say justice delayed is justice denied. The same is true of our democracy when actions motivated by partisan politics interfere with the timely delivery of our vote. That’s unacceptable – Americans everywhere have the right to know their ballot will be safely and timely delivered.” Merski is also co-sponsoring a resolution that commemorates the Read more

 

Davis leads 30 House Democrats urging Wolf to issue moratorium on water, wastewater services provided by municipalities

(Aug 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 – On Monday, state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, and 30 House Democrats sent a joint letter asking Gov. Tom Wolf to issue a moratorium on terminating water and wastewater service provided by municipal systems. If issued, the moratorium would cover over 2,000 municipal water and wastewater systems in Pennsylvania that did not fall under the Public Utility Commission’s emergency order that followed Wolf’s March 6 Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for COVID-19. “To date, municipal water and wastewater systems in our state are not under the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission and are not prohibited from terminating service during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Davis said. “Clean water is the first line of defense in combatting COVID-19, but many of our residents are at risk of losing this necessity. “The financial hardships many residents faced in recent months is likely to continue, so access to water and wastewater services is essential in ensuring the overall health of our residents, especially given the severity of the current public health emergency. It’s because of this that we’re asking Governor Wolf to make it a priority to ensuring all residents continue to have access to these utilities.” Click here to view a copy of the letter sent to Wolf. Read more

 

House Democratic Leaders defend election integrity and the United States Postal Service

(Aug 15, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 15 – House Democratic leaders responded to attacks on the integrity of elections, the ability of Pennsylvanians to be confident in vote-by-mail ballots and the future of the United States Postal Service in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation. The text of the letter is copied below: Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General United States Postal Service 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW Washington D.C., 20260 Dear General DeJoy, Benjamin Franklin’s resume included two incredibly important jobs: Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and Postmaster General of the United States. In either role, Mr. Franklin would have been as appalled at the outrageous attack on the United States Postal Service as we are. The USPS is enshrined in the United States Constitution and is literally a lifeline for millions of Americans who count on their mail carriers to bring medicine and money, to maintain the commerce of the nation and, now more than ever, to allow at-risk citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote safely and securely via a mail-in ballot. Slowing down mail service, removing automated sorting machines and even removing mailboxes from corners will force people to make a terrible choice: risk having their ballot thrown away because it didn’t arrive on time, or risk a crowded polling place with the potential of a COVID-19 infection. This is Read more

 

Legislators call on Wolf administration to revoke Mariner East pipeline permits in Chester County

(Aug 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 14 – State legislators representing five House districts and three Senatorial districts in Chester County have signed a letter to secretary Patrick McDonnell of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, secretary Dr. Rachel Levine of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Chairwoman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission calling for an immediate halt to Mariner East pipeline construction and a revocation of Energy Transfer’s permits in Chester County. “Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean water, clean air and the preservation of our state’s vast natural resources, but time and time again, construction on the Mariner East pipeline has violated that right,” state Sen. Katie Muth, Berks/Chester/Montgomery, said. “This latest incident further proves that construction cannot be carried out safely. All state-issued permits for the Mariner East pipeline in Chester County must be revoked.” “In just the past month, we’ve had more than a dozen serious events at Mariner East pipeline sites in Chester County, endangering our waters, ecosystems, and public health and safety,” state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, said. “We’ve had sinkholes along Business Route 30 at one segment of the Mariner pipeline, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water pouring out of a hillside at another, pipeline Read more

 

PA House Democratic Leader letter to Postmaster General DeJoy

(Aug 14, 2020)

PA House Democratic Leader letter to Postmaster General DeJoy Read more

 

Let’s champion adaptability, not blame, when we talk about a plan for reopening our schools

(Aug 14, 2020)

I read state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s recent column on the need to prioritize our children’s safety, not politicize it. While I believe Rep. Benninghoff is sincere in his concern for children throughout the commonwealth, I think he and many others in his party are missing the mark when they talk about what our children need from us as this school year gets underway. Read more

 

Kinsey, Webster and PLBC members amplify call to remove Montco Commissioner Joe Gale

(Aug 13, 2020)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Aug. 13 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus; and Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, along with PLBC members state Reps. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, and Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today participated in a “Free from Hate” news conference led by PA Women Rise at the West Norriton Municipal Center. The group’s “Free from Hate” platform was centered around increased demands for the ousting of Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Gale for his comments earlier this summer referring to people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement as terrorists. To further amplify their demands, the state legislators unveiled Webster’s H.R. 920 , which would impeach Gale and which Webster introduced in response to the offensive statement. “In our quest to free our communities of hate, we must condemn actors like Commissioner Gale who used his official capacity to perpetuate hate by vilifying residents’ calls for equality and justice,” Kinsey said. “Instead of being an active agent of change in upholding those calls, Gale chose to side with the powers of oppression. His actions demonstrate his complacency with injustice, making him unfit to serve the public, and for that, Gale must be removed immediately.” Concurring with Kinsey, Webster acknowledged the solidarity among lawmakers and community members, and also Read more

 

Women’s Health Caucus calls for investigation into ‘Real Alternatives’ nonprofit

(Aug 13, 2020)

The WHC chairs called the actions of the nonprofit into question, writing, “For more than 20 years, an organization known as Real Alternatives has been enriching itself and its executives, mismanaging state-appropriated funding, and potentially misdirecting that funding for advertising and legal services, including using Pennsylvania dollars in other states.” Read more

 

Shusterman, Krueger draft bill to help Pennsylvania nonprofits survive COVID-19

(Aug 13, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 13 — State Reps. Melissa Shusterman and Leanne Krueger have introduced legislation to establish a $100 million COVID-19 Nonprofit Assistance Grant Program. Their legislation, H.B. 2739 , would allocate funds from COVID-19 restricted receipts to the Department of Community and Economic Development to fund grants to be distributed to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations statewide. “Between shutdowns, stay-at-home-orders and businesses now operating at a limited capacity, nonprofits missed out on opportunities to host annual fundraisers that they typically depend on to stay afloat,” Shusterman said. “We need to help them survive this difficult time because many people depend on nonprofits for their own survival. Whether they’re connecting individuals in need with housing, employment opportunities, food or health services, we cannot turn our backs on those most vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID-19.” “Nonprofit organizations play such a vital role in our communities, and their work is even more critical during this health crisis,” Krueger said. “Nonprofits help connect families to resources they need during difficult times, offer us opportunities to experience arts and culture, and so much more. The pandemic has deeply impacted these organizations. Our legislation to create a grant program dedicated to nonprofits will go a long way toward helping them continue their valuable Read more

 

Frankel: Legislature must take action to address health inequalities during pandemic

(Aug 13, 2020)

Disparity report suggests numerous concrete actions legislature can adopt Read more

 

Wheatley: Minority-owned businesses need vital help, support now

(Aug 11, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 11 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement regarding urgent help needed for minority-owned businesses: “I hear the anger and frustration from my local business owners, especially those who are considered to be historically disadvantaged, for the lack of support they’ve received during the ongoing pandemic. And frankly, I don’t blame them. “Our minority-owned businesses are hurting, and they are among the most severely impacted and the ones who need help now to stay in business. These same business owners are also anticipating significant decreases in revenue in the next year. “In the last decade, minority businesses accounted for more than 50% of the 2 million new businesses nationwide, creating nearly 5 million jobs. At present, there are now more than 4 million minority-owned companies in the U.S., with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion. But despite that growth, major disparities remain when it comes to their access to capital and other business opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that disparity even worse. Furthermore, national figures show that half of black-owned businesses nationwide will close permanently due to the pandemic. “This is unacceptable. “This week, the second round of grant applications through the COVID-19 Relief PA Statewide Small Business Assistance Program were announced. This program, which is designed to support Read more

 

Fiedler, Davis, Cephas stand up for renters and homeowners facing payment challenges due to COVID-19
Aug 26, 2020

House Democrats share governor’s vision for relief and reform
Aug 25, 2020

Petrarca reminds residents to report suspected child abuse, keep kids safe at home
Aug 24, 2020

Briggs: Pandemic, election demonstrate need for media literacy curriculum
Aug 21, 2020

Addressing gun violence must be a priority. So, we’re addressing it.
Aug 21, 2020

Legislation by Reps. Ciresi, Davis would provide financial relief to local bars, restaurants
Aug 20, 2020

Ciresi calls for additional hazard pay for first responders, frontline workers
Aug 19, 2020

Cruz demands investigation of child behavioral health facilities statewide
Aug 19, 2020

McCarter legislation aims to reduce financial burden on public school districts, taxpayers
Aug 18, 2020

Merski demands U.S. Postmaster General end cutbacks that threaten to disenfranchise mail-in voters
Aug 17, 2020

Davis leads 30 House Democrats urging Wolf to issue moratorium on water, wastewater services provided by municipalities
Aug 17, 2020

House Democratic Leaders defend election integrity and the United States Postal Service
Aug 15, 2020

Legislators call on Wolf administration to revoke Mariner East pipeline permits in Chester County
Aug 14, 2020

PA House Democratic Leader letter to Postmaster General DeJoy
Aug 14, 2020

Let’s champion adaptability, not blame, when we talk about a plan for reopening our schools
Aug 14, 2020

Kinsey, Webster and PLBC members amplify call to remove Montco Commissioner Joe Gale
Aug 13, 2020

Women’s Health Caucus calls for investigation into ‘Real Alternatives’ nonprofit
Aug 13, 2020

Shusterman, Krueger draft bill to help Pennsylvania nonprofits survive COVID-19
Aug 13, 2020

Frankel: Legislature must take action to address health inequalities during pandemic
Aug 13, 2020

Wheatley: Minority-owned businesses need vital help, support now
Aug 11, 2020