Featured News

House Democrats elect leaders for upcoming legislative session

Rep. Bizzarro resolution will raise epilepsy awareness

(Oct 19, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 19 – Today the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, that will bring awareness to epilepsy by designating November 2020 as National Epilepsy Month in Pennsylvania. The resolution aims to educate the public on those experiencing seizures and improving the quality of life for those living with the disease. More than 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy and more than 50,000 die annually because of epilepsy or direct complications from it. “With awareness and detection, epilepsy can be treated and managed. Clearing up misinformation and reducing stigma will help people better understand the disease and save lives,” Bizzarro said. “I thank my colleagues for their support of this resolution. House Resolution 979 also highlights the role several state and local organizations play in finding a cure and overcoming the challenges created by epilepsy. The Epilepsy Association of Western and Central Pennsylvania and the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania work across the Commonwealth on epilepsy advocacy and assisting those diagnosed with how to manage this disease. Several local organizations also assist those diagnosed with epilepsy, such as The AJO Forever Foundation, asking people to remember #AJO as they “pay it forward” with random acts of kindness to raise awareness; and The Epilepsy Read more

 

Sanchez to introduce resolution condemning recent attacks in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

(Oct 16, 2020)

“Despite international pressure for a cessation of hostilities, the situation is deteriorating,” Sanchez said. “Artsakh is being attacked mercilessly. Because of this appalling action, I am introducing this resolution to condemn the attacks and Turkey’s involvement.” Read more

 

Wheatley introduces “Return Your Rights” legislation

(Oct 16, 2020)

“When nonviolent offenders serve their time and have paid their debt to society, sadly it’s not uncommon for them to be subsequently denied basic rights and privileges that many of us take for granted,” said Wheatley. “While we’ve made some strides in recent years to implement meaningful criminal justice reforms, including the passage of clean slate legislation in 2018, we can and must do more. They deserve a second chance.” Read more

 

Rep. Lee to introduce legislation to decriminalize sex work in Pennsylvania

(Oct 16, 2020)

Lee said while the legislation may be new to Pennsylvania, the concept is not, and studies have shown it can have benefits not just for workers, but society. When Rhode Island temporarily decriminalized sex work in the early 2000s, rates of sexually transmitted diseases fell, as well as cases of sexual violence -- as much as 30 percent. Read more

 

Cephas, Kenyatta and Innamorato hold hearing to discuss plan to help low-income tenants facing eviction amid COVID-19

(Oct 09, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 9 – In their ongoing efforts to keep people in their homes, state Reps. Morgan Cephas, Malcolm Kenyatta and Sara Innamorato held a public hearing today to discuss legal aid for tenants facing eviction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The three brought members of the House Democratic Policy Committee and experts together to discuss legislation they are introducing to provide legal representation to low-income tenants facing an eviction hearing. "A study from the Center for American Progress shows nearly 90% of landlords and property managers across the country have access to legal representation compared to just 10% of tenants. And in most eviction cases, tenants without representation lose," said Cephas, D-Phila. "This ultimately comes down to fairness and the need to prevent our most vulnerable neighbors from being tossed out on the street. Our plan aims to connect them with the quality protection they need to help keep a roof over their head, especially during this health crisis." “The CDC’s moratorium will only stave off evictions until the end of the year, but the threat of a large-scale housing crisis still looms, so we must act now,” said Kenyatta, D-Phila. “During these uncertain and incredibly stressful times in which medical experts are urging everyone to stay at home, Pennsylvanians should be able to take solace in having a home of their own to retreat to. Read more

 

Shusterman, House Democratic Policy Committee examine 2020 vote

(Oct 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 8 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman hosted the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee for an online hearing today examining the progress that state and county officials have made securing the 2020 general election in Pennsylvania. Shusterman hosted the hearing at the request of committee Chair Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Testimony was heard from: Jonathan Marks , deputy secretary for elections & commission, Pennsylvania Department of State. Bill Turner , acting director, Chester County Voter Services. Vic Walczak , legal director, ACLU of Pennsylvania . Pat Christmas , policy director, The Committee of Seventy Carol Kuniholm , vice president of government and social policy, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. The full hearing is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILAO2YScj8&feature=emb_logo . “Ensuring that this fall’s election takes place securely and does so with the confidence of Pennsylvania voters is the most important work happening at all levels of government right now,” said Shusterman, D-Chester. “My House colleagues and I are laser-focused to ensuring that Pennsylvania’s voting procedures and personnel are dialed in and that the sanctity of our democracy is protected. “Having heard from this expert panel today, I am confident in telling my constituents that they can trust the integrity of this Read more

 

House Democratic leaders highlight coordinated misinformation and intimidation tactics to push back against public health protection

(Oct 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 5 – Following the release of emails among Pennsylvania House and Senate Republicans, county officials and outside agitator groups related to Lebanon County’s pushback on COVID-19 mitigation efforts, House Democratic leaders released the following statement: “For months, it has been apparent that the House Republican Caucus was politicizing this pandemic for their own legislative and political purposes. The release of emails from PA Spotlight now proves that to be true. “According to the emails, House Republicans this spring went so far as to enlist the help of local elected officials, law enforcement and the healthcare industry in a targeted campaign to undermine the Wolf administration’s mitigation efforts and cover up vital information about the spread of the virus. At the same time, they acknowledge that they are not medical experts and do not possess the expertise to manage a public health emergency. Time and again, they have taken calculated steps to ensure that they are laying the groundwork for their fight, even going so far as to the now-speaker reading ‘certain things into the record for reference to legislative intent in the inevitable court battle.’ “Over the course of the last five months, 45 days of legislative session have been wasted due to political games. From creating wasteful bureaucracy in an attempt to obstruct the governor, to trying to make Pennsylvania the only Read more

 

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold virtual hearing Friday on legal aid for tenants facing eviction

(Oct 06, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 6 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on legal aid for tenants facing evictions. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9. The media and public can watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Requested by state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila; Morgan Cephas, D-Phila.; and Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny; the hearing will collect testimony from policy experts as they work on legislation to provide legal aid for tenants. Testifiers and legislators will speak remotely. Testifiers will include: Patrick Cicero , executive director, Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. John Pollock , staff attorney, Public Justice Center. Sam Chenkin , founder, Reclaim The Sector. Rasheedah Phillips , managing attorney of housing policy, Community Legal Services Inc. Bob Damewood , staff attorney, Regional Housing Legal Services. Kevin Quisenberry , legislative director, Community Justice Project. A. Michael Snyder , chancellor, Philadelphia Bar Association. Catherine Carr , civil gideon and access to justice task force co-chair, Philadelphia Bar Association. Following the hearing, testimonies and full hearing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

House unanimously adopts Bullock’s resolution to raise awareness about community revitalization in Pa.

(Oct 02, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 2 – Days before the annual kick-off of “Love Your Avenue Week,” state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., today announced that her resolution designating the week of Oct. 4-10, 2020, as “Love Your Avenue Week” in Pennsylvania —an effort to raise awareness about community revitalization — was unanimously adopted by the House. Throughout the year, Bullock said, communities across Pennsylvania host various initiatives, such as corridor clean ups, festivals, parades, and sidewalk sales to mark the occasion. “‘Love Your Avenue Week’ enforces a sense of pride among residents in their communities. It’s especially notable in the 195 th Legislative District, where we have a huge celebration along Girard Avenue,” Bullock said. “However, the pandemic has put a damper on many of these plans, ultimately coming as a blow to the strength of countless business corridors. The adoption of my resolution not only serves as an ongoing reminder as to how critical these central local businesses are, but also raises awareness to how dire community support is during these times.” Bullock pointed to the Pennsylvania Downtown Center as among the proponents for revitalization. PDC is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated solely to the revitalization of the commonwealth’s core communities. By providing outreach, technical assistance and educational services, the PDC assists communities in Read more

 

House Democratic Leaders: Republican COVID-19 hypocrisy continues to put Pennsylvania at risk

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – Following a second positive COVID-19 test by a Republican representative who has been regularly present in Harrisburg, House Democratic leaders issued the following statement decrying the continued political gamesmanship, disregard for CDC guidelines and hypocrisy of House Republicans putting members, staff and the communities they go home to at risk: “We wish the representative a speedy recovery as he battles this serious virus. “It’s unfortunate, however, that once again House Republicans brought members and staff to the Capitol to continue the charade of working for Pennsylvania while doing nothing to truly help our state. In the past few weeks we have done hardly anything legislatively to increase the pay for essential employees, work to fix our election code as we speed toward the upcoming General Election, provide PPE for frontline workers or provide funding for grants to help struggling small businesses. “Among other things, Republican leadership did find time to continue their purely political attacks on Governor Tom Wolf and hold a hearing today, which ironically ended early due to the positive COVID-19 test, to attack Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine over her successful mitigation tactics that have saved thousands of lives in Pennsylvania. “They also passed bills to name multiple bridges and authorize transfers of several pieces of state-owned land and positioned a resolution for a final Read more

 

Webster calls on all House members to wear masks after latest positive COVID-19 test of a colleague

(Oct 01, 2020)

For the safety of the community at large and to prevent further spread of COVID-19, I encourage all individuals over the age of 2 to wear masks unless your health care provider has exempted you. More than 200,000 Americans have already died during this pandemic, and we know that mask wearing is an important way to prevent others from becoming infected if one is unknowingly carrying the virus. Read more

 

Frankel: Will House Rs take COVID-19 seriously?

(Oct 01, 2020)

News of lawmaker’s positive test comes amid contentious committee hearing Read more

 

Harkins calls for renewed focus on safety after Republican colleague tests positive for COVID-19

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1, – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after a Republican House member tested positive for COVID-19, forcing session to adjourn: “Today, the state House of Representatives was forced to adjourn because a Republican member of the legislature tested positive for COVID-19. My colleagues and I sat with that member on Tuesday at a committee voting meeting. “Yet again – for the second time since the pandemic arrived – the state’s business has come to a halt in Harrisburg amidst efforts at contact tracing and fears that the virus may have spread. “It’s an interruption we can scarcely afford, as Pennsylvanians are looking to us to help protect their interests and come up with solutions to the many issues we face. “It’s also an incident that highlights the foolishness of making one’s own rules, of ignoring safety experts and officials and disregarding simple safety protocol. “Everyone wants this pandemic to end. Everyone wants to move forward. But there is a right way and wrong way. As much as we would like to believe that this pandemic over, it’s not. We can move toward normal, but we can’t rush headlong into the void. “I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are complaining that restrictions are overblown and that it is time to return to normal to remember that there can be no normal without Read more

 

Conklin releases statement regarding House postponement

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, issued the following statement regarding today’s postponement of House session due to state Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, announcing he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus: “Yet again, the people’s business was shut down, because House members who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax refuse to wear a mask on the House floor, not to mention House leadership continues to hold up any action on a masking resolution. Now, just weeks before Election Day, every member exposed to Representative Schemel must quarantine for 14 days. “I pray for a speedy recovery for him, but what is it going to take to get House leadership to enforce masking rules at the state Capitol? “The people’s business has now been placed on hold until Oct. 19 because of their political grandstanding. We face serious challenges in the coming months, and it’s time for these cynical games to stop! “We must enact safe measures to keep the House open and working for the people we were elected to represent.” Read more

 

Rabb introduces legislation to provide grants, tax credits to restaurants that sell PA Preferred groceries in food deserts

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., has introduced legislation to provide grants of up to $50,000 and tax credits of up to $100,000 to restauranteurs who sell PA Preferred groceries to customers in underserved neighborhoods. “ Food deserts have been a problem for a long time,” Rabb said. “Food deserts exist in both urban and rural neighborhoods, and people in those neighborhoods aren’t able to easily access healthy food within their local area, beyond canned goods and pre-packaged foods. In order to improve the health and well-being of our communities, we need to ensure everyone has easy access to healthy foods.” The Food Trust reports that more than 2 million people, including over 500,000 children, live in food deserts across Pennsylvania. This program has two parts – grants and tax credits for enterprising, socially conscious restaurateurs who sell PA Preferred groceries to customers in under-served neighborhoods. The grants of up to $50,000 or tax credits of up to $100,000 would assist qualifying restaurants in fortifying their business operations while offering Pennsylvania-sourced groceries food such as meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy and eggs. Rabb said the program would also create local jobs in economically distressed communities. ### Read more

 

House Democratic Leader Dermody's statement on House postponement

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody made this statement regarding today’s postponement of House session: “Today we learned that a House colleague tested positive for COVID-19 and the House adjourned until Oct. 19. I thank the Speaker’s office and Republican leader for providing quick notification to Democratic leaders under guidelines established earlier this year by the Bipartisan Management Committee. “First and foremost we are concerned about people’s safety and contact tracing is being carried out so that any House members, staff or possibly even Capitol visitors who should self-quarantine can be advised. This is yet another reminder that the virus is not going away and all of us need to keep following the simple steps such as washing hands, watching our distance from others, wearing masks and staying alert. “The news of another COVID case at the Capitol was very disheartening, especially when some inside the Capitol still resist taking proper precautions. We hope the legislator affected will recover quickly.” Read more

 

House passes Galloway bill to create mental health resource network for schools

(Sep 30, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 30 – A bill sponsored by state Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, to help Pennsylvania schools connect families to community mental health resources unanimously passed the House today. House Bill 2331 would create a mental health care services clearinghouse to help school personnel connect families to community mental health resources. “Too many children struggle with untreated mental health issues, and it can be difficult for schools to provide them with the necessary care and services. This bill would create a critical network to help schools, communities and health care providers share information about mental health resources and programs,” Galloway said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and I hope the Senate will consider this legislation quickly. It’s time we make sure students receive the care they need.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five youths younger than 14 have a mental health condition, but less than half of these children receive mental health care. The mental health care services clearinghouse would be a publicly accessible registry of mental health care resources available across the commonwealth. In addition, this clearinghouse would allow school personnel to learn about and take advantage of existing programs and resources for their schools. Galloway has also sponsored Read more

 

Rabb introduces legislation to empower consumers by creating labeling standards, regulations for CBD

(Sep 30, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 30 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., has introduced legislation to empower consumers by creating labeling standards and regulations for Cannabidiol, or CBD. “CBD is everywhere these days,” Rabb said. “We see it for sale in pharmacies, corner stores, grocery stores and online. With CBD’s popularity exploding due to its medicinal uses – treating conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain and anxiety – I believe that its regulation is necessary.” Although CBD has no psychoactive properties, there is currently no legal standard for what constitutes CBD nor are there any labeling standards to inform consumers of exactly what they are purchasing. Since the legalization of hemp at the federal and state levels, there has been some confusion regarding CBD, which is hemp’s most popular extract. “People should be able to make informed decisions about the items they’re purchasing,” Rabb said. “ To address the issue, I have introduced legislation that would legally define hemp extract to include CBD and direct the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to create labeling standards and other regulations to help inform and protect consumers who purchase or are considering purchasing products containing CBD.” Rabb said he believes the legislation would help to end the confusion and mistrust surrounding CBD and the Read more

 

Rabb introduces legislation to make pre-trial sentence investigation reports mandatory

(Sep 30, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 30– State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., has introduced legislation to reform sentencing procedures by making pre-trial sentence investigation reports mandatory. “ Under current law, there is no requirement to provide a pre-sentence investigation report to a judge who is issuing a sentence,” Rabb said. “That leaves the door open for judges, who are making critical decisions that will affect a person’s entire life, to make an uninformed and often biased determination. That’s just plain unjust.” While current law “allows” the use of pre-sentencing reports, it’s not required. That inevitably results in the use of pre-trial sentence investigation reports to be used and considered inequitably. “A judge who is issuing a sentence should know a defendant’s potential for rehabilitation and community integration to allow them to tailor sentences accordingly,” Rabb said. “It’s time to take a stand on this issue to allow for the fair and equitable distribution of justice.” ### Read more

 

House Democratic Leader Dermody says Republican effort threatens democracy

(Sep 30, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 30 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said a stealth attack on Pennsylvania voting and voters is positioned to advance through a House committee today and could receive action by the full House as soon as Thursday. The State Government Committee is scheduled to vote today on House Resolution 1032 establishing a House Select Committee on Election Integrity empowered to conduct unlimited investigations of the upcoming election including the ability to subpoena election officials from anywhere in the state. “This dangerous and unprecedented power grab by one caucus in the General Assembly holds the potential to create massive chaos by interfering with an election while it’s in progress. It aligns with by the Trump campaign itself,” Dermody said. “If the resolution passes, this new committee would be given a blank check for expenses and the immediate legal power to compel the appearance of election officials in the midst of an intense period when they should be preparing for the election and then counting the votes.” The previously unknown measure was introduced on Monday by Rep. Garth Everett, Republican chairman of the committee set to consider it today. It authorizes all costs of the new select committee’s work to be paid for by the House’s chief clerk. The House speaker would name the select committee chairman, presumably another Republican. “The wording of the resolution is vague Read more

 

Rep. Bizzarro resolution will raise epilepsy awareness
Oct 19, 2020

Sanchez to introduce resolution condemning recent attacks in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)
Oct 16, 2020

Wheatley introduces “Return Your Rights” legislation
Oct 16, 2020

Rep. Lee to introduce legislation to decriminalize sex work in Pennsylvania
Oct 16, 2020

Cephas, Kenyatta and Innamorato hold hearing to discuss plan to help low-income tenants facing eviction amid COVID-19
Oct 09, 2020

Shusterman, House Democratic Policy Committee examine 2020 vote
Oct 08, 2020

House Democratic leaders highlight coordinated misinformation and intimidation tactics to push back against public health protection
Oct 08, 2020

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold virtual hearing Friday on legal aid for tenants facing eviction
Oct 06, 2020

House unanimously adopts Bullock’s resolution to raise awareness about community revitalization in Pa.
Oct 02, 2020

House Democratic Leaders: Republican COVID-19 hypocrisy continues to put Pennsylvania at risk
Oct 01, 2020

Webster calls on all House members to wear masks after latest positive COVID-19 test of a colleague
Oct 01, 2020

Frankel: Will House Rs take COVID-19 seriously?
Oct 01, 2020

Harkins calls for renewed focus on safety after Republican colleague tests positive for COVID-19
Oct 01, 2020

Conklin releases statement regarding House postponement
Oct 01, 2020

Rabb introduces legislation to provide grants, tax credits to restaurants that sell PA Preferred groceries in food deserts
Oct 01, 2020

House Democratic Leader Dermody's statement on House postponement
Oct 01, 2020

House passes Galloway bill to create mental health resource network for schools
Sep 30, 2020

Rabb introduces legislation to empower consumers by creating labeling standards, regulations for CBD
Sep 30, 2020

Rabb introduces legislation to make pre-trial sentence investigation reports mandatory
Sep 30, 2020

House Democratic Leader Dermody says Republican effort threatens democracy
Sep 30, 2020