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Johnson-Harrell, Policy Committee meet to discuss gun violence as a public health epidemic

Schlossberg applauds House Transportation Committee’s vote to strengthen rear-facing child seat measure

(Dec 09, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 9 – The House Transportation Committee today amended and reported out a bill, authored by state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, to strengthen provisions intended to keep infants safe while traveling in a vehicle. "On Monday, at a public hearing held by the House Transportation Committee, I was pleased to see wide, bipartisan support for efforts to improve child safety in Pennsylvania," Schlossberg said. "After a productive and frank discussion, it was clear that there was sufficient support to strengthen my bill by amending it to offer even better protections for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. I fully support that effort." House Bill 1551, which originally would have required children younger than 1 to be secured in a rear-facing car seat, was amended by the committee to require children to be secured in a rear-facing car seat while in a vehicle until age 2 unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer’s specification of the car seat in use. Schlossberg noted that this change to his bill follows recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. During the House Transportation public hearing, Ted Leonard, executive director of the Pennsylvania AAA Federation, voiced AAA’s support for efforts to enhance the requirement to secure children under age 2 in rear-facing car seats or until that child reaches the maximum height and weight for the car seat as noted by the manufacturer. "As a father of two young children, I find it hard to belie Read more


Rozzi and Murt team up with PCAR and Turning Point for private screening of 'Spotlight'

(Nov 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, and state Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., announced today that they will host a private advance screening of the film “Spotlight” on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Midtown Cinema, 250 Reilly St. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Turning Point are the event sponsors. A complimentary reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., prior to the movie. Remarks will be offered by the sponsors and hosts in support of legislation that would modify the Pennsylvania statute of limitations to allow victims to seek civil action against abusers and the institutions that shield them. “Spotlight” is the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child sexual abuse and cover-up within the local Boston Archdiocese. More information about the event is available by contacting Rozzi’s Harrisburg office at (717) 783-3290. To reserve tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/private-advance-screening-of-spotlight-tickets-19499631924. Seating is limited. Read more


State measure would ease financial burden on locked-out workers

(Mar 24, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – Pennsylvania state legislators are making a bid to assist hundreds of workers idled by Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s six-month lockout who are about to see their unemployment benefits expire. Reps. Frank Dermody and Joe Petrarca this week teamed up to introduce a bill that would provide financial help to workers who were locked out of their jobs and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. "Workers and their families are in severe financial distress after being locked out of their jobs for half a year," Dermody said. “These workers helped make ATI what it is today. They take pride in the work they do and they want to get back to doing it. Until that happens, we need to help them weather the crisis.” The bill (H.B. 1857) introduced by Dermody and Petrarca would provide temporary unemployment benefits to any Pennsylvania workers who see regular unemployment benefits expire after being locked out of their jobs. Only unemployed workers affected by a lockout would be eligible and the state Department of Labor and Industry reports the locked-out ATI employees are the only ones in Pennsylvania currently affected. “Hundreds of people would rather be working, but instead they are about to lose unemployment benefits through no fault of their own,” Petrarca said. “Their families are suffering along with them, as well as all the local businesses that depend on the daily spending generated by Read more


Donatucci resolution promotes colorectal cancer awareness

(Mar 24, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously adopted a measure authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, recognizing March 2016 as “National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. “Experts suggest up to 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if people age 50 and older were regularly screened and appropriately treated for this disease,” Donatucci said. “As uncomfortable as some people may be discussing colorectal cancer, it’s important to raise awareness about the illness so that people don’t live in fear.” The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, killing 49,700 Americans in 2015. Donatucci noted she understands the devastating toll the disease can have on families if left undetected. “I lost my father to colon cancer in 1998,” Donatucci said. “I want to make sure other families don’t have to go through what my family and I did, especially so many cases of this disease are preventable.” Donatucci’s H.R. 709 noted colorectal cancer often begins as a polyp, which is a growth that forms on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. In addition to polyps, risk factors for colorectal cancer can include age, family history, certain genetic mutations, excessive alcohol use, obesity, Read more


Wheatley and Gainey announce creation of scholarship fund

(Mar 20, 2016)

PITTSBURGH, March 4 – State Reps. Jake Wheatley, and Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, announced the creation of a new annual scholarship fund for needy students in Allegheny County on Thursday night. The new scholarship will be the Speaker K. Leroy Irvis Scholarship Fund, named after the former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House and Representatives, and the first African American Speaker of the House in the United States. Wheatley and Gainey will each donate $2,500 to fund the scholarship, which will be housed within and administered by NEED, the oldest community-based, nonprofit, minority, higher education assistance program in Pennsylvania. NEED’s vision is to unlock the power of education by helping youth meet their highest potential and enhance their quality of life, thereby strengthening the Pittsburgh regional economy. “Former Speaker Irvis left a tremendous legacy of fighting for social justice and civil rights,” Wheatley said. “He dedicated his life and talents to improving the lives of the people of the commonwealth. I am hopeful a scholarship in his name will help fund the education of future African American leaders to follow in his footsteps.” ### Read more


McNeill hosts town hall on heroin and opioid addiction

(Mar 20, 2016)

WHITEHALL, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Daniel McNeill, D-Lehigh, today hosted government officials, medical experts and concerned citizens from across the Lehigh Valley at a town hall meeting on the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the area. McNeill was joined by Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin; Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hannah; Lehigh County Administrator for Drug and Alcohol Layne Turner; Lehigh County Chief Deputy Coroner Andrew Kehm; Toxicologist in Emergency Medicine for Lehigh Valley Health Network Dr. Matthew Cook; Devin Reaves from Young People in Recovery; Mary Ellen Jackson from HOPE (Heroin and Opioid Prevention Education); Denise Continenza from Communities That Care/Penn State Extension; Denise Jacobsen, a parent leader of the Lehigh Valley Parent and Family Support Group; and Nicholas Labar, a recovering addict and advocate for clean and sober living. “Families across the Lehigh Valley are facing a battle every day to save the lives of their loved ones who are addicted to heroin or other opioids,” McNeill said. “I hope this meeting starts what will be the first of many steps toward ridding our neighborhoods of heroin, and I look forward to working with all concerned parties to begin solving these problems.” McNeill said he was moved to take action on this issue after seeing how widespread this epidemic has become. According to data from the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, over the past five years, heroin and opioid Read more


State tax credits to help finance new shopping center

(Mar 20, 2016)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today announced the award of $7 million in state tax credits to aid construction of a new $29 million shopping center at Harbison Avenue and Tulip Street. Known as Shoppes at Wissinoming, the 110,000-square-foot project will include a Shoprite Supermarket as the anchor tenant, plus space for retail stores and restaurants. “This is great news for our area,” Dawkins said. “I am committed to providing the 179 th District with the resources it needs to support healthy food options and family-sustaining jobs. Shoprite will bring fresh food and produce to our area, which we have been lacking for a long time. The project and new businesses will also create hundreds of jobs, and help move our community forward.” Shoppes at Wissinoming is expected to support 250 full-time jobs during 18 months of construction and create 300 permanent, full-time jobs once completed and fully occupied. Shoprite is expected to employ more than 200 full- and part-time workers who will be offered benefits, job training and career advancement opportunities. ### Read more


Kinsey, McClinton plan resolution honoring Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

(Mar 19, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 17 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila, plan to introduce a resolution recognizing and honoring Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Kinsey said Tuesday, March 22 is the AKA legislative day at the Pennsylvania state Capitol. “I am looking forward to honoring these women before the legislature for their dedication and commitment to improve social and economic conditions through community service programs,” Kinsey said. “The sorority works with communities on such initiatives as progressive programs relating to education, family, health and business.” The sorority was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. by a group of 20 students, led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. Now the organization has a membership of approximately 283,000 members. The distinguished women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. have never wavered from doing the supreme service for all of humanity. “The sorority joined in the battles for racial equality through education since its inception,” McClinton said. “They continue to use their strength in numbers to fight for opportunities for those in need, both in America and around the globe.” McClinton said the organization has more than a dozen chapters and 1,000 members in Pennsylvania. Read more


Davidson votes for medical marijuana bill that passes the House

(Mar 18, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 18 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, joined with a majority of her House colleagues to pass legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Davidson said she voted for the bill (S.B. 3) because it would help people avoid relieving their pain by seeking out other narcotics and becoming addicted to drugs such as heroin. The bill includes language drafted by Davidson that would include sickle cell anemia as a qualified medical condition to use medical marijuana. "People suffering from sickle cell are usually prescribed opiates to fight the pain of the disease," Davidson said. "Medical marijuana has been proven to alleviate chronic pain and help reduce reliance on opiates." According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 23 states and the District of Columbia permit some form of medical marijuana and prescription drug deaths have dropped by 25 percent in states that permit medical marijuana. The bill also includes Davidson’s language that requires the involvement of minority , women and disadvantaged businesses in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania. "If we are going to create a new industry in Pennsylvania to support medical marijuana, I want to ensure that every business has an opportunity to benefit," Davidson said. The bill now returns to the state Senate for consideration of House amendments before moving to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. The Read more


Bizzarro votes to end state budget impasse

(Mar 17, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 17 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, today released the following statement after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed H.B. 1801, which he said would help wrap up the long-overdue 2015-16 state budget: “Until we can come up with a compromise budget that mathematically works and addresses the real fiscal issues we face in Pennsylvania, this plan is the only option. Time is not on our side. I don’t want to see our schools close, and I don’t want to see massive layoffs. I don’t want to see our nonprofits fold, and I don’t want to see Pennsylvanians denied the crucial services they need. I don’t want the divisiveness of this impasse to loom over this great commonwealth and the people we serve. “This is no way to govern or lead, but it’s the unfortunate reality of the situation we’re in, given the lack of ability to compromise, and lack of political will to address the real issues at hand. We are over nine months into the fiscal year, and we need to make sure our schools are not disrupted by the mass dysfunction in Harrisburg. We have many challenges ahead of us and we cannot overcome them without bipartisan support. “Choosing to support this budget proposal wasn’t an easy decision, but I believe that we as a legislative body, and especially its leaders, should have done better because Pennsylvanians deserve better. But at the end of the day, this job requires you Read more


Petrarca votes to end budget impasse, fund schools, human service programs

(Mar 17, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 17 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, supported legislation this week that would end the nine-month budget standoff and help ensure community organizations and schools do not have to close their doors. The House passed a supplemental budget bill and several budget-related bills Wednesday evening, including bills to fund Penn State, which included its agricultural and cooperative extension services, and the University of Pittsburgh, and were sent to the governor. "It was important for me to support these proposals, that while not perfect, would help bring an end to the uncertainty of whether our communities' most vulnerable residents will continue to receive needed services. Families will receive financial assistance to help send their students to college, students will be able to attend school without threat of closure before the end of the school year, and seniors will continue to have access to state programs," Petrarca said. "Also, important to me is that this budget would not require any new state taxes." The governor signed a scaled-down budget bill in December, which authorized the flow of emergency funding to schools, counties and human service providers, but it was not a complete budget and left many areas and services unfunded. "I am hopeful that Wednesday's votes will bring an end to Pennsylvania's budget impasse so that we can wholly concentrate on crafting a budget Read more


DeLissio plans two paper shredding events for April

(Mar 17, 2016)

State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio is holding two free shredding events in April for constituents to safely dispose of confidential, unwanted documents. The events are: • 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 9 at the Roxborough Municipal Lot, at 514 Dupont St. Philadelphia. • 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Old “Anne Sez” parking lot next to Staples, 925 Montgomery Ave., Narberth. Read more


House passes medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, supported S.B. 3 and helped steer the measure through the House during three days of debate before the final vote. This was the first time the House passed such a bill despite the Senate overwhelmingly approving similar proposals in the past two legislative sessions. The House-amended version of the bill would strictly regulate the use of medical marijuana. Petrarca was part of a bipartisan task force that met last summer and fall to craft an effective medical marijuana bill that could be supported by a House majority. The legislation passed today contains changes suggested by that task force. "The task force debated the issue and looked at what was done in other states," said Petrarca, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "We saw things that worked and things that didn't work. We looked at medical marijuana as a tool for doctors to help people. "Parents want to help their children, and doctors want to help their patients, and medical marijuana can do that. I'm pleased we were able to draft legislation that would give Pennsylvanians another option in palliative care -- one that doesn't result in overdose and death -- while at the same time tailoring its use to ensure it is used only for specific Read more


Schweyer lauds House passage of medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer praised today’s House passage of legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. The House passed an amended version of S.B. 3, which originally passed the Senate in May 2015. The amended bill would require a prescribing doctor to be registered with the Department of Health before they would be authorized to prescribe the use of cannabis for the following conditions: intractable seizures, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntingdon's disease, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, autism and neuropathic pain for which traditional therapies are contraindicated as well as other neuropathies and certain spinal cord injuries. The main amendment of the bill was the result of a bipartisan task force, of which Schweyer was the only Lehigh Valley member, which worked together for months to craft a bill that would be acceptable to a majority of legislators. "It’s a great day in Pennsylvania and while it took a long time, we are closer than ever to finally seeing the legalization of medical marijuana," Schweyer said. "I’m proud to have been a part of a working group of legislators from both sides of the aisle who put politics aside and placed the health and well-being of people at the forefront. "There is a real need for this critical treatment Read more


Daley lauds bipartisan support for redistricting reform

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, today joined House and Senate Democrats and Republicans at the state Capitol to rally support for redistricting reform legislation. The bipartisan and bicameral redistricting reform group and its legislation has seven core principles: Assign redistricting authority to an independent citizens commission; reform both congressional and legislative redistricting; prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate; use statistically sound methodology when setting district boundaries; ensure transparency in the process with meaningful opportunities for active public participation; make all districts as equal in population as possible with a minimum range of deviation; and respect political subdivisions and communities of interest. "The political representation currently in Pennsylvania has made the commonwealth a national example of gerrymandering at its worst," Daley said. "Redistricting should result in a fair map, putting aside partisan interests and protecting the interests of the voters." Daley added that as a member of the redistricting reform group, she has authored legislation ( H.B. 878 ) that would create more openness and fairness in the redistricting process. "My legislation would require a commission to consider plans drawn by Pennsylvania residents, hold public meetings on those plans, and establish a website to share the Read more


Mullery votes to end nine-month state budget impasse

(Mar 16, 2016)

‘Luzerne County school districts need funding to properly finish school year’ HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery today voted in favor of a GOP spending plan to wrap up the long-overdue 2015-16 state budget. Mullery said the spending plan increases spending by 3 percent overall, and provides an additional $200 million more to public schools. Citing looming threats from school officials in his district who say they may have to close schools before the end of the year, Mullery said students can no longer be the victims of political gridlock in Harrisburg. "Today, I set aside party politics and voted for a budget. Although not perfect, this budget is a compromise that will increase funding to our schools and does not raise taxes," Mullery said. "Hopefully, this budget will bring an end to the nine-month struggle our schools and community organizations have endured. "It is time to begin the work on next year’s budget and make certain we do not make the same mistakes." Read more


Bizzarro lauds House passage of medical marijuana legislation

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, today applauded the approval of a bill that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed S.B. 3 , which would allow patients with serious medical conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and glaucoma, to use the drug. “Today’s vote has been a long time coming for so many people, especially in our area,” Bizzarro said. “It’s been heartbreaking to watch parents beg for relief for their children dealing with debilitating diseases, and hear patients tell alarming stories about having to suffer from chronic pain. Patients and doctors should be able to choose the course of treatment that is right for them, including medical marijuana. I am proud to support this measure and hope it will become law soon.” Under the bill, medical marijuana would only be permitted to be used as a pill; oil; liquid; tincture; topical form, such as a gel, cream, or ointment; or through vaporization or nebulization. Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, in addition to the District of Columbia. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration of House amendments. Gov. Tom Wolf has indicated if medical marijuana legislation reaches his desk, he will sign it. Read more


Gainey lauds House passage of medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Ed Gainey praised today’s House passage of legislation ( S.B. 3 ) that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. “It’s about time that we help Pennsylvania families who have been asking for this bill for several years. While some people in Harrisburg sought to delay the legislation, family advocates continued to watch their loved ones suffer from debilitating illnesses, all the while encouraging passage of the bill,” said Gainey, D-Allegheny. “We need to listen to them and medical professionals who support medical marijuana and we need to give it a chance. “The drug policies we have in place just don’t work. They haven’t worked for 30 years. If a doctor can prescribe opioids that are highly addictive and have led to many deaths, why can’t we make sure that medical marijuana can help families who are experiencing pain and suffering? There are no overdose deaths related to marijuana.” Gainey served on a bipartisan House task force that studied the issue throughout the summer and fall and recommended changes to the bill. Several amendments were added to the bill including one by Gainey to ensure diversity among medical marijuana businesses to include veteran, minority and women participants. The Pittsburgh lawmaker said this week’s House action is a big step in the process of medical marijuana becoming law because it’s the first time the House passed Read more


Donatucci measure honors Pa. registered dietitian nutritionists

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has unanimously approved her resolution designating March 9, 2016 as “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day” in Pennsylvania. Donatucci’s H.R. 708 explained registered dietitian nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who use nutrition to find solutions for healthy living. To be considered a registered dietitian nutritionist, a person must complete an accredited supervised practice program, pass a national examination and complete continuing professional educational requirements to earn their credential. Many of these professionals work in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, the food industry and other entities. “Experts say maintaining a healthy diet is key in preventing illness and boosting overall wellness,” Donatucci said. “The work being done by our registered dietitian nutritionists is so important in improving public health and educating communities about how to be healthy. I’d like to thank my colleagues for their support of this measure honoring these vital professionals.” Approximately 3,700 residents of the commonwealth are members of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year, the academy’s theme for “National Nutrition Month” is Read more


Legalization of medical marijuana passes House with Flynn ‘yes’ vote

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, issued the following statement regarding his vote for legislation which passed the House Wednesday that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. "The statistics show that there are nationally about 40,000 overdose deaths a year from aspirin, 100,000 related to alcohol and about 48,000 from prescription drugs, but there are zero overdose deaths from marijuana. That’s not 5, not 100, not 1,000 overdose deaths from marijuana, but zero," Flynn said. According to Flynn, states that have legalized medical marijuana have shown a decrease of nearly 25 percent in annual prescription drug overdose deaths. "I’ve seen the children and their families who are experiencing daily seizures and other medical conditions, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the elderly with cancer who need this to help relieve their pain. "Legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is a commonsense answer and we need to pass it now, so we can help all of those who are suffering in their daily lives. "This is an important step forward for Pennsylvania and I was proud to cast my vote for the bill," Flynn said. The legislation (S.B. 3) returns to the Senate for consideration of the House amendments. Gov. Tom Wolf has indicated his strong support for the issue. Read more