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Davis: Increase to first-responder loan program passes House

Dermody: We CAN move beyond words to bipartisan action on gun safety

(Aug 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 5 – PA House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody released the following statement today in response to the mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio: “As we mourn another weekend of gun violence across the nation and here in Pennsylvania, we need to identify action we can and should take to make our communities safer. “We need a stronger and more comprehensive system of background checks at the national and state level to make sure we preserve the rights of lawful gun owners while getting rid of the loopholes that put weapons in the hands of the people who are prohibited from having them legally or because they pose a clear danger to themselves and others. “And, we must address the sickness of hate in our society. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but one that all reasonable people and public officials agree on and can act on; the strong bipartisan response our legislature took to the Tree of Life shooting earlier this session demonstrates that. House Democrats are ready to work at the state level with national and local officials to move beyond words and toward meaningful action that brings about real change for the safety and well-being of our families and communities.” Read more

 

Webster hosts community discussion on Revitalizing Main Street

(Jul 25, 2019)

EAGLEVILLE, July 24 – State Rep. Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, today hosted a legislative committee hearing on Revitalizing Main Street at the Lower Providence Township Building. Webster requested the meeting to bring the community together to discuss prospective development on Ridge Pike, otherwise known as Main Street. He was joined by House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and other state representatives from all over the state. “Main Street, from Norristown to Pottstown, is one of our area’s major roadways. By working together to revitalize it, we can develop a thriving business district to boost economic activity and create interest for families moving into our neighborhoods,” said Webster. “Community input is critical, and I was glad to provide a forum for the various stakeholders to come together and discuss future plans.” Sturla added: “As we look for ways to grow our economy and create more good jobs for Pennsylvanians, it’s important that we work with local officials to learn how the state can better support community development efforts.” Local officials from Collegeville, Lower Providence, Skippack, West Norriton, Upper Providence, the Montgomery County Planning Commission and transportation organization GVF participated and spoke about what has already been accomplished on Main Street, what is needed for future development, and their vision for what can be accomplished going Read more

 

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

(Jul 24, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, July 23 – State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on Gun Violence as a Public Health Epidemic. Johnson-Harrell requested the hearing to discuss what more the state can do to reduce gun violence deaths and provide stronger support for community activists. Testifiers and lawmakers looked at potential solutions to the violence affecting Philadelphia. Johnson-Harrell was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Today’s testifiers provided a lot of very useful insight for tackling the gun violence problem in Philadelphia and I’m thankful for their input,” Johnson-Harrell said. “When we have open dialogue about the causes and drivers of these issues, we can better craft solutions that will ensure safer streets for our families. In the city, gun violence is on the rise and it’s reaching a boiling point. We need to make sure that local officials and community organizers are fully educated and equipped to solve this problem.” Sturla added: “No one should feel unsafe where they live. We need to make sure we’re protecting the most vulnerable among us and that includes children who are living in neighborhoods rife with gun violence.” The committee heard testimony from Lawrence Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney; Richard Ross, Commissioner of Read more

 

Ciresi introduces bill to help heirs access unclaimed property

(Jul 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 17 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi has introduced legislation that would make it easier for a deceased person’s relatives to claim the deceased's property the state is holding. The Pennsylvania treasury holds more than $3 billion in unclaimed property, such as uncashed checks, lost stocks or bonds, or closed bank accounts. But because of an inconsistency in law, some categories of relatives have a harder time legitimately claiming that property on behalf of their deceased relatives. “As constituents visit my office for help with unclaimed property searches, we’ve seen this problem arise, so we worked with the state Treasurer's Office to find a solution,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. Certain close relatives of a deceased person – surviving spouse, child, parent, sibling – can file for unclaimed property using a notarized sworn relationship affidavit, which saves them the effort and expense of having to open or re-open the deceased’s estate. But other relatives – grandchildren, nephews, nieces and others – are not included in that section of law and cannot claim by affidavit even if they are the closest surviving relative. “The dollar value of the unclaimed property might not make it worthwhile for a relative to open or re-open their relative’s estate. So that money will remain with the state treasury, unclaimed, and the problem will just get worse with time,” Ciresi said. Read more

 

Burns and McNeill introduce bills to mandate death reporting requirements

(Jul 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 15 – Nursing home and other adult care facilities would be held accountable for all resident deaths under legislation introduced this week by state Reps. Frank Burns and Jeanne McNeill. House Bills 1713 and 1714 would increase oversight of nursing homes, assisting living residences and personal care homes by requiring them to report all deaths – regardless of cause – to the county coroner. The coroner would then determine, based on interviews with the facility and a review of the deceased resident’s medical history, if a formal investigation is warranted. If it is, the legislation would ensure coroners have access to the information they need to do their jobs. “Far too many times, we see the disturbing headlines of an older adult who died at a nursing home or other senior care residence, due to neglect or abuse,” Burns said. “Currently, these facilities only have to report a death if staff deem it suspicious, such as a homicide or accident. Allowing administrators to police themselves opens the door for unscrupulous owners or staff to hide signs of inadequate care that could have led to that senior’s death.” "This oversight is truly needed in these facilities to ensure our vulnerable older aduluts are protected and being provided the best care possible," McNeill said. "Our seniors deserve dignity and respect, and our legislation will provide a crucial layer of protection and Read more

 

Dermody says new law will lower insurance costs for thousands

(Jul 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 2 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and his Republican counterpart Bryan Cutler today joined Gov. Tom Wolf as he signed their legislation to establish a state-based health insurance exchange for Pennsylvania consumers. “This new law’s going to help more than 400,000 people who struggle to afford good health insurance for themselves and their families. The work to get this finished was a fantastic example of bipartisan action to do something good for people who can use it,” Dermody said. Consumers who now purchase individual or family health insurance on the federal health exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act will be able to buy the same product from an exchange based in Pennsylvania. The state Insurance Department will be able to manage the marketplace more efficiently than the federal exchange, with the savings invested into an innovative reinsurance program for high-risk patients. “This is going to result in lower health insurance premiums for thousands of state residents,” Dermody said. He noted that because the new state entity will be a full partnership with the federal government, it requires no new taxes or assessments. Dermody praised the bipartisan effort which led to Wolf signing the new law today and thanked Republican Leader Cutler for teaming with Dermody to push the bill through quickly in June. He said Reps. Tony DeLuca and Tina Pickett, the chairs of the House Insurance Committee, also Read more

 

Snyder: PA Farm Bill package signed into law

(Jul 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 1 – The PA Farm Bill, a $24 million comprehensive investment into the state’s agriculture industry, was signed into law today by Gov. Tom Wolf, state Rep. Pam Snyder announced. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, a prime sponsor of H.B. 1520 , which will create a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors, said the PA Farm Bill will set our state on a course for a bright, prosperous agriculture future. “Agriculture is our number one industry, and the PA Farm Bill will allow us to support our farmers in several ways, including business development, the expansion of job opportunities, and provide them with additional resources to promote our products through the PA Preferred program,” Snyder said. “I am very pleased that the PA Farm Bill will help our farmers now and for generations to come.” Additional measures in the PA Farm Bill include: the creation of a state-level specialty crop block grant program to encourage the farming and cultivation of high-priority crops, such as hemp, hops, honey and hardwoods. the development of a $2 million Agriculture Business Development Center to support business planning and related services for farmers. the establishment of the PA Farm to School Grant Program to support increased nutrition and agriculture education. a $4 million Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to provide quick responses Read more

 

Millions of criminal records slated for automatic sealing on anniversary of historic Clean Slate Act

(Jun 28, 2019)

oined by Gov. Tom Wolf, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and advocates, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., spoke today on the importance of the initiation of automatic criminal record sealing on the one-year anniversary of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Act becoming law.“Today represents the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and collaboration between Representative Sheryl Delozier, me and countless other legislators and advocates who are looking to help those who have paid their debt to society truly get their second chance,” Harris said. “This first-of-its-kind legislation put Pennsylvania on the map as a national leader in positive criminal justice reform and shows that we’re serious about the benefits criminal justice reform has for all taxpayers.” Read more

 

Dawkins, Street call for life-without-parole reform in Pa.

(Jun 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins and Sen. Sharif Street, both D-Phila., were joined by their colleagues to push for criminal justice reform by giving some people who are serving life without parole a second chance. “We are locking away so many positive role models that could diffuse a lot of the crime that we are seeing throughout this nation and throughout this world,” Dawkins said. “There are some powerful stories being told of experience. These lessons are the one thing young people are missing. If they have the chance to hear the experience of the folks who spent 25, 35 or even 45 years behind bars, they may make different decisions about their lives.” House Bill 135, sponsored by Dawkins, would provide a chance for people to get parole after serving 25 or 35 years of a life sentence, regardless of their crime. They would go before the Board of Probation and Parole and would be released on parole if they deserve it and do not present a safety risk to the public. Dawkins added people convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer would not be eligible. The legislation also would create an Office of Reentry program to assist those who are released under the new eligibility standards. Street, who has a companion bill ( S.B. 942 ) in the state Senate, said their legislation highlights the growing need to reform parole for lifers in the commonwealth. “The economic and moral imperatives of this reform are clear. Read more

 

Youngblood: 'What are we waiting for? Now is the time to put Tubman on the $20 bill.'

(Jun 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood is calling on President Donald Trump, Congress, and the U.S. Treasury to stop stalling and act now to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. “More than four years ago, the American people were asked who they wanted to see on the $20 bill,” Youngblood said. “Overwhelmingly, they chose American heroine Harriet Tubman. What are we waiting for? Now is the time to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.” The current administration has delayed the process to put Tubman on the $20 currency, apparently for no good reason, according to Youngblood. Her H.R. 433 would urge U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with Trump and Congress to continue with the original plan to place Tubman on the redesigned $20 bill by 2020. In June 2015, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced a redesign of the $10 bill, and called on the American people to nominate someone worthy of the honor of being placed on that currency. In an open letter Lew penned less than a year later , he credited a powerful response from more than one million Americans for his decision to direct the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate plans for the redesign of not just the $10 bill, but also the $5 and $20 bills. It was then that Lew announced Tubman would be placed on the $20 bill. He said final concepts for those redesigns would be unveiled in 2020, to coincide with the 100 th anniversary of the passage of the 19 th Read more

 

Kortz: Budget bill doesn't go far enough in education, transportation

(Jun 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, provided the following statement regarding his “no” vote on H.B. 790 today, the state’s General Appropriations bill: “While I am grateful for the funds devoted to education, including basic, special and pre-k education, it doesn’t go far enough to address the financial challenges school districts in my region are facing related to charter and cyber charter schools. “Instead of placing nearly $300 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, more of those funds should have been placed into education. We need to do more to halt property tax increases, and this bill does nothing to address that. “I also have concerns about the state’s school safety grant program, as contained in the budget bill. Last year, the schools in my district did not receive any funds, and out of the $45 million that is earmarked for the program this year, I am still not getting a clear answer as to whether they will this year. “This bill also contains significant transportation funding cuts, to the tune of $366 million, despite the fact that we have nearly 3,000 structurally deficient bridges across our state. That figure also includes $111 million in cuts to mass transit, which will hurt many of my residents who rely on reliable transportation.” “We can and should do better for the people of Pennsylvania.” Read more

 

Ullman: Doylestown’s first Pride Parade: A celebration of diversity and inclusivity

(Jun 25, 2019)

I was tremendously proud to attend Doylestown’s first Pride Festival this weekend. Proud of the dynamic community effort to pull together this event in seven intense months of brainstorming, planning, and follow through. Proud of the hundreds and hundreds of attendees who came from near and far to celebrate our diverse voices. Proud of our young people, many from the Rainbow Room, whose joyous voices are unstoppable instruments of social change. Proud of our seniors, who give testimony to the LGBTQ community’s past and incredible progress, men and women for whom the brutality that sparked the Stonewall Riots and the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic are not historical events but integral parts of their life stories. Proud of our police officers who handled protestors respectfully and professionally so that First Amendment rights were protected while this joyful celebration went on all around them. Proud of elected officials like our Mayor, Ron Strouse, and my colleagues in the State House, past and present, who are actively working to expand legal protections and privileges to the LGBTQ community so that one day soon we will ALL be equal in the eyes of the law. Many local, municipal, cultural and non-profit organizations came together to put on this 3-day celebration of the LGBTQ community. We owe the organizers and supporters a huge debt of gratitude for putting on this event: Discover Doylestown, the Borough of Doylestown, Borough Council, Delaware Read more

 

O’Mara bill to fund Veterans’ Trust Fund unanimously passes through House

(Jun 20, 2019)

According to the DMVA, increasing the voluntary contribution amount will nearly double the Veterans’ Trust Fund’s annual revenue to nearly $3 million. Read more

 

Snyder announces passage of broadband bill

(Jun 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 20 – A bill to direct the state to take inventory of communications assets with the goal of providing broadband access to areas of the commonwealth without reliable service passed unanimously in the House today, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington announced. “All Pennsylvanians, whether they live in an urban or rural area, should have access to reliable and affordable broadband service. It will allow more of our residents to have access to telemedicine, to take online courses, and to help our agriculture sector better compete,” Snyder said. “I’ve been advocating for expanded broadband service for three years, and I am pleased that House Bill 305 is moving forward." The bill would require the state Department of General Services to conduct a thorough inventory of all state department, agency, commission or institution-owned communication towers, poles, bridges and facilities to leverage existing assets to provide access to areas without broadband service. Snyder said two additional measures related to broadband access are pending further action. House Resolution 63 , which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct an audit of – and investigation into – the compliance by non-rural telecommunications carriers with previously enacted broadband telecommunications laws, is in the Consumer Affairs Committee. House Resolution 64 , which would establish a bipartisan, Read more

 

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

 

Dermody: We CAN move beyond words to bipartisan action on gun safety
Aug 05, 2019

Webster hosts community discussion on Revitalizing Main Street
Jul 25, 2019

Johnson-Harrell, Policy Committee meet to discuss gun violence as a public health epidemic
Jul 24, 2019

Ciresi introduces bill to help heirs access unclaimed property
Jul 17, 2019

Burns and McNeill introduce bills to mandate death reporting requirements
Jul 15, 2019

Dermody says new law will lower insurance costs for thousands
Jul 02, 2019

Snyder: PA Farm Bill package signed into law
Jul 01, 2019

Millions of criminal records slated for automatic sealing on anniversary of historic Clean Slate Act
Jun 28, 2019

Dawkins, Street call for life-without-parole reform in Pa.
Jun 26, 2019

Youngblood: 'What are we waiting for? Now is the time to put Tubman on the $20 bill.'
Jun 26, 2019

Kortz: Budget bill doesn't go far enough in education, transportation
Jun 25, 2019

Ullman: Doylestown’s first Pride Parade: A celebration of diversity and inclusivity
Jun 25, 2019

O’Mara bill to fund Veterans’ Trust Fund unanimously passes through House
Jun 20, 2019

Snyder announces passage of broadband bill
Jun 20, 2019

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