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Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia

(Jun 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more

 

Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more

 

Ullman’s 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program legislation is the model for upcoming Senate bill

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks, said she was proud to announce that state Sen. Sharif Street, D-03, would be introducing a companion bill in the state Senate that is modeled on Ullman’s legislation, H.B. 1322, which would create a 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania. Ullman’s bill is part of the House Democrats’ “Zero Waste PA” legislative package, which is aimed at reducing single-use plastics and addressing pervasive issues of litter and the various environmental harms caused by a “throwaway” society. “ We all know litter is unsightly and pollutes our streets, countryside and waterways, but it is also COSTLY,” Ullman said. “PennDOT spends upwards of $10 million a year cleaning up litter. Reducing the amount of beverage containers in the litter stream will bring a significant cost savings to taxpayers. “The fact that beverage containers alone make up about 6% of our waste stream and half of all litter shows that we need to do more to promote recycling in Pennsylvania. My legislation will support and reward recycling, which will ultimately reduce waste throughout Pennsylvania and keep our outdoor areas beautiful and free from litter.” Ullman’s 5 cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania would include a redemption rate of 5 cents on returnable containers and a handling fee of 2 cents per Read more

 

Legislation to provide clean drinking water reported out of House Commerce Committee

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, announced that legislation he spearheaded to provide funding for clean drinking water and infrastructure to remediate the toxic man-made chemicals known as pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, was voted with overwhelming bipartisan support out of the House Commerce Committee today. In 2006, when the federal government closed down the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Montgomery County, it discovered significant environmental issues, including contamination of the drinking water in some Bucks and Montgomery county communities as a result of the use of firefighting foam at the military installation. “It’s unfair that local ratepayers and taxpayers have had to bear the costs of removing harmful contaminants from their drinking water when the federal government is responsible for the contamination,” Galloway said. There continues to be ongoing runoff from the military base and the continued pollution of the aquifer. The environmental and drinking water issues have delayed the redevelopment of the former military base, which has cost the commonwealth tax revenue and job opportunities. “Something had to be done to resolve this issue that impacts the health and welfare of many Pennsylvanians,” said Galloway, the minority chair of the House Commerce Committee. “That’s why I was proud to spearhead this important legislation that will Read more

 

Snyder: Bipartisan bill would enable school districts to exclude property taxes

(Jun 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – A bipartisan measure that would establish a property tax reform program enabling school districts to exclude up to 100 percent of a homeowner’s school property tax bill has been introduced, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, announced today. Partnering with state Reps. Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, and Rosemary M. Brown, R-Monroe/Pike, Snyder said the bill would provide for the elimination of owner-occupied residential school property taxes via the homestead and farmland exclusion, also known as the property tax relief program. The measure would increase the state’s personal income tax by 1.8%. That increase – from 3.07% to 4.87% – represents the amount needed to offset the property tax exemption, Snyder added. “I hear from seniors and homeowners regularly about this property tax burden and how unfair and costly it is to them,” Snyder said. “We realize that school districts need adequate funding to operate, but not on the backs of taxpayers, including first-time home buyers and family farms. The personal income tax is considered one of the more stable taxes levied in our state, and this will ensure districts will have the necessary funding for their schools. “We’ve also seen how property taxes can fluctuate, due to economic downturns over the past few years, and we believe this measure is a viable solution for both taxpayers and school districts Read more

 

House Democrats preparing to compel action on Restore PA

(Jun 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – House Democratic leaders indicated that if vital legislation implementing Gov. Wolf’s plan to meet infrastructure needs throughout the state does not move quickly, they are prepared to take steps to force the issue. Speaker Mike Turzai referred the Restore Pennsylvania bill (H.B. 1585, sponsored by Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny) to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee last week. The panel’s chairman is a Republican who often brags of his refusal to advance any legislation sponsored by Democrats. The Restore Pennsylvania bill has 99 House co-sponsors from both parties. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said several of his colleagues are preparing a discharge resolution to get Wheatley’s bill out of the committee and brought to the full House for consideration. “The people of Pennsylvania need the benefits that Restore Pennsylvania will deliver,” Dermody said. “From flood control to blight remediation to increased broadband deployment across the state, the state has many unmet infrastructure needs for which no other realistic funding source has been identified.” Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, who co-chaired a House-Senate policy hearing today on the RestorePA proposal, announced at the meeting’s conclusion that he’s ready to file the discharge resolution as soon as possible. “We heard a lot today about the benefits of this broad-ranging proposal,” Read more

 

Snyder: Farm Bill package will ensure a strong agriculture future for Pa.

(Jun 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – Supporting Pennsylvania’s farmers and ensuring a strong agriculture future are the primary goals behind a comprehensive package of bills supported by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. Snyder said the PA Farm Bill is the first of its kind in the state’s history and would invest more than $24 million in the state’s agriculture industry, providing opportunities and resources to expand animal agriculture, remove regulatory burdens, implement disaster response resources, and increase marketing opportunities for Pennsylvania-grown products. “It’s no secret that our great state is a leader in agriculture: whether it’s food, dairy or meat, we are among the cream of the crop,” Snyder said. “It’s important that we continue to be proactive in supporting this great industry, but also ensure there are vital supports in place to ensure its strong future.” Snyder is the prime sponsor of H.B. 1520 , which is included in the PA Farm Bill package, and would create a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors. Additional bills in the package include the creation of an agriculture business development center to assist farmers, expansion of the PA Preferred program, and the establishment of a state-level specialty crop block grant program to encourage the farming of high-priority crops, such as hemp, hops and Read more

 

McClinton applauds unanimous approval of bipartisan bill to crack down on sexual extortion

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – A bipartisan bill that would include sexual extortion as a sex crime unanimously passed the House today, according to state Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, one of its authors. McClinton introduced the bill (H.B. 1402) with Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “Currently, there is no state law that adequately names sexual extortion as a crime, despite it being a growing form of sexual exploitation in which an individual misuses their power to demand sexual acts, images, or videos from victims, usually in exchange for something the victim is heavily dependent upon such as a service or something of value,” McClinton said. “I’m happy that my House colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, also agree that combatting this crime is very important.” McClinton said that sexual extortion can occur in any setting such as schools, workplaces, and community settings, but the most common setting is online. “Perpetrators hack people’s accounts to gain access to their intimate photos to extort them or manipulate victims by tricking them into sending pictures and then extort them to send more images or to engage in sexual acts,” McClinton said. The Department of Justice reports that 71% of sexual extortion cases involve victims under the age of 18, McClinton added, and is a significantly growing threat to children as they are considered easy targets because of their Read more

 

House chairmen applaud designation of ‘Fishing and Boating Week’ in Pa.

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – In an effort to encourage participation in fishing and boating activities, the state House today unanimously passed a resolution designating the week of June 1 through June 9 as “Fishing and Boating Week”, according to state Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Keith Gillespie, R-York. “Fishing and boating opportunities are endless in our great state, and it’s a wonderful and affordable way for families to spend time together outdoors and make great memories,” Kortz said. “These fun activities also help protect our state’s waterways and fisheries, preserving them for future generations to enjoy.” “When President Herbert Hoover called fishing ‘much more than fish,’ he hit the nail on the head,” Gillespie said. “While it is a sport which requires a great deal of patience on the part of the individual, its enjoyment can be realized in groups of people, be they friends, family, or a mix of both. Fishing can be thoroughly relaxing or highly competitive in offering something for all ages and levels of skill.” “With 86,000 miles of streams and rivers, and hundreds of natural and manmade lakes across the commonwealth, new adventures are always waiting right around the corner,” said Tim Schaeffer, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission director. “Thank you to the House of Representatives for their support of Pennsylvania’s anglers and boaters. With Read more

 

McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more

 

Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., to make Pennsylvania’s law that better deals with “stop and go” nuisance establishments ironclad, today was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee. Kenyatta’s bill (H.B. 1434) would move the language that cracks down on nuisance establishments, which was originally included in the state Fiscal Code (Act 44 of 2017), to the state Liquor Code. He said the Liquor Code is the correct place for this important law. “They key to holding ‘stop and go’ businesses accountable is to ensure the law is solid and enforceable,” Kenyatta said. “Since this landmark law passed in October 2017, we have seen an increase in investigations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and, ultimately, stricter compliance. However, the language of the law was placed in a state code that deals with financial matters of state government. It’s no place for liquor enforcement, and I am glad the members of the Liquor Control Committee agree.” Under the 2017 law, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food, or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, it can suspend the license immediately. The law also gives local governments the power to recommend that the LCB investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I am Read more

 

Burns bill guaranteeing in-state tuition for military families passes House

(Jun 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 3 – Providing in-state tuition rates to college students in active-duty military families in Pennsylvania – even if their parent is reassigned to another state before they can begin their education – is one step closer to reality following its unanimous passage in the House, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced today. House Bill 1050 , authored by Burns, would guarantee the in-state tuition rate for military families as soon as a student enrolls in a public college or university, regardless of where their military parent is later reassigned, Burns said. “These students shouldn’t be penalized because of their mother’s or father’s reassignment, which is beyond their control,” Burns said. “Veterans and their families count on us to ensure they get the benefits they deserve.” Under current law, Burns said dependents of military personnel in Pennsylvania who enroll at a public college or university in Pennsylvania are charged in-state tuition rates. However, the U.S. Department of Defense found some students lost the in-state rate, due to a parent’s reassignment outside of Pennsylvania, between the day the student was accepted to the college or university and the first day of the semester. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Burns: House minority leader tours Cambria County

(May 31, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 31 – Saying it bolsters his ongoing effort to put Cambria County on Harrisburg’s radar, state Rep. Frank Burns hosted House Minority Leader Frank Dermody on a fact-finding tour of the 72 nd Legislative District on Thursday. Dermody joined Burns during a visit to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center – one of the region’s largest employers – and in meetings with officials from Saint Francis University and several businesses and nonprofit organizations. “I had a great day with Representative Burns and share his excitement about all that’s happening in Cambria County,” said Dermody. “In Harrisburg, Frank Burns is a tireless advocate for the people back home, and he works hard to bring attention to the area’s needs and secure funding to address them. I am really grateful that he took the time to give me a firsthand view of the situation.” Burns, who has helped procure more than $6.5 million in state funding for his district in the first 150 days of the current legislative session, said he hopes the first-ever official visit by Dermody during his tenure as a state representative portends even greater things. “While our area has its challenges, progress is being made and I’m sure the strong showing by our business and nonprofit communities left a positive impression on Leader Dermody,” Burns said. “Though we’ll always have our differences, I’ve always been Read more

 

Delozier, Harris, Jones and Gainey introduce Smart Probation and Parole Act

(May 30, 2019)

State Reps. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila, Mike Jones, R-York, and Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, today introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s probation and parole system to reduce recidivism, lessen the workload on Pennsylvania’s counties and help formerly incarcerated individuals avoid technical pitfalls that keep them trapped within the system. Read more

 

O’Mara bill to help fund Veterans’ Trust Fund passes committee

(May 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – A Pennsylvania bill to raise money for veterans’ care, sponsored by state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, is making its way through the House. The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee this month approved H.B. 857, which would create a space on individual tax returns to allow for a donation of not less than $5 to Pennsylvania’s Veterans’ Trust Fund. “Many of Pennsylvania’s veterans who have sacrificed dearly for our safety and freedom come home and, for a variety of reasons, end up in need of help, which is often provided by statewide charitable organizations, veterans’ service organizations and county veterans’ affairs offices,” O’Mara said. “We should do all we can to ensure that veterans receive the services they need.” The Veterans’ Trust Fund provides grants to charitable and service organizations that help veterans. The bill can now be voted on by the full House. Read more

 

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan occupational licensure reform

(May 22, 2019)

State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Democratic whip, and Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, were joined by state Sens. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin/Perry, and Judy Schwank, D-Berks, to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate aimed at removing employment barriers for formally convicted people. Read more

 

Kenyatta introduces “Phillip’s Law”

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced that he would be co-sponsoring legislation referred to as “Phillip’s Law,” which would provide for a study on school mental health professionals. “It is with a deeply saddened heart that I ask for support from my colleagues,” Kenyatta said. “An 11-year-old student from my district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. This tragedy has brought to light the fact that our school mental health professionals are not always available due to budget constraints and, in fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff. We need to take an honest look at the number of mental health professionals in our schools and how we can provide the best access to our students to prevent tragedies like this in the future.” Kenyatta’s bill would require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios. Phillip’s family said that Phillip had tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told that he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his younger brother, Phillip left school and later that day took his own life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Read more

 

House Democrats offering Beyond Safe Schools legislative package Wednesday in Capitol Media Center

(May 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 6 – House Democrats today announced they will unveil a legislative package to address school safety measures that intend to strengthen supports that go beyond physical safety measures. The news conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 8 in the Capitol Media Center. The media and public are invited to attend. The comprehensive package includes 15 pieces of legislation that address supporting Pennsylvania educators, programs and support services aiming to help students and educators feel more safe and secure at school. School security, trauma-informed training, mental health screenings, bullying prevention and support staff ratios are all addressed. Rep. Dan Miller, Education Committee Democratic Chairman James Roebuck, Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla and other sponsors and supporters of the package will attend. The package is part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools, and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com . Additional information about the package will be available at www.pahouse.com/beyondsafeschools . Read more

 

Academic records would transfer timelier under Madden bill

(May 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – State Rep. Maureen Madden is reintroducing legislation that would require school districts and charter schools to share student records with one another within 10 days of receiving the request. Read more

 

Roebuck and colleagues announce charter school reform package

(May 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – Today, Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., alongside other House Democrats, unveiled a package of eight charter school reform bills designed to treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "I believe we can get bipartisan support for these bills and improve accountability in the charter school system,” Roebuck said. “Our goal is to treat these schools equally under the law, so that we can make sure tax dollars are being used efficiently.” Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, introduced H.B. 1330 that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. The seven other bills in the package are: H.B. 1329, introduced by Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, would bring charter schools in line with school districts by imposing limits on the surpluses that charter schools may accumulate. H.B. 1332, introduced by Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, would limit charter school management organization fees to no more than 5 percent of tuition charged per student enrolled. Besides limiting overhead, Longietti said his bill would require much more disclosure of financial documentation from for-profit and nonprofit school management organizations. H.B. 1331, introduced by Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, would phase in a final recommendation of the Special Education Funding Commission to fix how Pennsylvania Read more

 

Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia
Jun 17, 2019

Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)
Jun 11, 2019

Ullman’s 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program legislation is the model for upcoming Senate bill
Jun 11, 2019

Legislation to provide clean drinking water reported out of House Commerce Committee
Jun 11, 2019

Snyder: Bipartisan bill would enable school districts to exclude property taxes
Jun 10, 2019

House Democrats preparing to compel action on Restore PA
Jun 10, 2019

Snyder: Farm Bill package will ensure a strong agriculture future for Pa.
Jun 06, 2019

McClinton applauds unanimous approval of bipartisan bill to crack down on sexual extortion
Jun 05, 2019

House chairmen applaud designation of ‘Fishing and Boating Week’ in Pa.
Jun 05, 2019

McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation
Jun 05, 2019

Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee
Jun 04, 2019

Burns bill guaranteeing in-state tuition for military families passes House
Jun 03, 2019

Burns: House minority leader tours Cambria County
May 31, 2019

Delozier, Harris, Jones and Gainey introduce Smart Probation and Parole Act
May 30, 2019

O’Mara bill to help fund Veterans’ Trust Fund passes committee
May 28, 2019

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan occupational licensure reform
May 22, 2019

Kenyatta introduces “Phillip’s Law”
May 07, 2019

House Democrats offering Beyond Safe Schools legislative package Wednesday in Capitol Media Center
May 06, 2019

Academic records would transfer timelier under Madden bill
May 03, 2019

Roebuck and colleagues announce charter school reform package
May 03, 2019