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Dermody: Companies getting tax dollars for projects must deliver on promise of good wages for workers

Goodman: Extend Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program application deadline

(Jan 16, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 16 – About $500,000 remains in a fund that provides a small stipend to veterans from Pennsylvania who served in the Persian Gulf, and state Rep. Neal P. Goodman wants to ensure those eligible to benefit from it receive their share. Goodman, D-Schuylkill, has introduced H.B. 175 to extend the deadline to apply to the state’s Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program to Aug. 31, 2018. The program is scheduled to end Aug. 31 this year. “The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs receives about 60 new applications to the program every month,” said Goodman, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “I do not want to risk denying these benefits to eligible veterans when we can simply extend the deadline. This is a small thank you to the brave men and women who have risked their lives serving our country in the Persian Gulf War.” Goodman wrote the law that led to a November 2006 referendum asking Pennsylvania if the state should create the program. The referendum was overwhelmingly approved. “I will do all I can to ensure the money in the program is used as Pennsylvanians intended – to help as many Persian Gulf War veterans as possible,” Goodman said. The maximum bonus is $525 under the program. Since the enactment of the law, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has processed nearly 11,000 claims totaling more than $3.5 million. The Read more


Goodman bill aims to protect recipients of gift cards

(Jan 13, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 13 – Gift cards are popular presents for the holidays, birthdays and special occasions, and state Rep. Neal P. Goodman wants to ensure Pennsylvanians who receive them get the full value of the card.   Goodman, D-Schuylkill, is preparing to introduce legislation that would ban inactivity fees and expiration dates that deplete the value of gift cards over time. State Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/Perry, is introducing the same legislation in his chamber. "Sen. Teplitz and I are working to protect Pennsylvanians who receive gift cards from a potential unpleasant surprise if they wait to redeem it," Goodman said. "Without additional protections that our legislation offers, many stores -- national chains in particular -- will continue to impose inactivity fees and expiration dates."  A 2009 federal law called the CARD Act provides consumers with some gift card protections, including limits on expiration dates and fees. Store- and bank-issued cards cannot expire less than five years from the date of purchase or when money was last loaded onto the card. Inactivity fees are banned unless the card is not used for 12 months.   Goodman said his legislation would offer protection already provided in many other states. He said thirty-eight states have enacted additional protections beyond the CARD Act, with most eliminating expiration dates and inactivity fees. Goodman said gift cards are big business in Read more


PA House of Representatives swearing-in day, 2015-16

(Jan 07, 2015)

Pennsylvania lawmakers took the oath of office for the 2015-16 Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 6. The ceremony marked the beginning of the 199th session of the General Assembly. Read more


Dermody: Budget crisis offers legislators 'chance to make positive mark'

(Jan 06, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 6 – State Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, today began his third term as Democratic leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as members from across the state took the oath of office at noon in the House chamber to begin the 2015-16 legislative session.The legislature faces the new two-year session with a budget deficit that is estimated to be more than $2 billion and a new governor taking office. Read more


Hope for Hannah legislation becomes law

(Dec 28, 2014)

Pennsylvania's children have a new protection thanks to Hannah's Law, named after Hannah Ginion of Bristol Township, who suffered from the rare genetic disorder called Krabbe disease. Hannah passed away on Dec. 28, 2014. Read more


Pa. Budget in Crisis: Smoke and mirrors will not lift state to new heights

(Dec 12, 2014)

Four years of misguided Republican priorities culminated in late June with the passage of a smoke-and-mirrors budget filled with one-time fixes. Now Pennsylvania faces a financial crisis. Pennsylvania likely needs more than $2 billion just to balance next year's budget. That figure doesn't include additional revenue necessary to begin restoring GOP education funding cuts that resulted in higher local property taxes, larger class sizes and the loss of 27,000 school jobs. Read more


Full Medicaid expansion makes fiscal, moral sense

(Dec 11, 2014)

House Democrats remain focused on providing full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for uninsured Pennsylvanians. The state moved toward that goal earlier this year when the federal government approved portions of Gov. Tom Corbett’s alternative plan for expanding Medicaid while preserving important protections to recipients. Read more


Dermody outlines concerns with budget outlook heading into 2015

(Dec 10, 2014)

Pa. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says he’s concerned about the state’s fiscal future, as outlined by the Corbett administration’s mid-year budget briefing. Dermody says funding gimmicks in Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 state budget and massive business tax deductions have helped contribute to the commonwealth’s $2 billion budget deficit, which will be passed on to Gov.-elect Tom Wolf. Read more


New website offers information and clarity on Highmark/UPMC transition

(Dec 09, 2014)

A new arrangement for services between UPMC and Highmark is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 and will affect many western Pennsylvanians. There is a new state website designed to help alleviate any uncertainty and cut through the confusion has been launched to help answer questions. Going forward, both of these entities will abide by consent decrees that each party signed with the state. Read more


In the News: Dept. of Human Services name change better reflects mission

(Dec 08, 2014)

House Bill 993, which renamed the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, was signed into law as Act 132 during the 2013-14 Legislative Session.According to advocates for the change, renaming the department was long overdue, and as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the name change better reflects the department’s mission.“[The name change] is a good first step,” said Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County, one of numerous Pittsburgh-area nonprofits that was involved in the renaming campaign.“The second step is to recognize that these are important, vital services. … These services are vital to helping people live in a safe and dignified way,” such as helping frail seniors, helping foster children and helping people with disabilities.”Pennsylvania was the only state still using the name Department of Public Welfare.In order to mitigate costs associated with the transition, the law also allows the department to use the name Department of Public Welfare on badges, licenses, contracts, deeds, stationery and any other official documents until existing supplies are exhausted.The act also establishes an anonymous Department of Human Services fraud tip line to report suspected fraud or abuse. It can be reached at 1.844.DHS.TIPS. Read more


Apply for health insurance by Feb. 16

(Dec 07, 2014)

The open enrollment period for health care coverage is now underway. If you or someone you know is in need of health insurance, please consider visiting the federal Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov. Applicants have until Feb. 16, 2015 to enroll. Everyone, no matter what age, needs health insurance. A random accident or unexpected illness could put you in danger of losing not only your good health but also your financial future. Read more


Marcellus Shale tax would provide valuable revenue to Pennsylvania

(Dec 06, 2014)

As Pennsylvania faces a nearly $2 billion structural deficit brought on by years of Republican budgeting full of one-time gimmicks and smoke and mirrors, a Marcellus Shale tax could provide much needed help in closing the hole left by Republican leadership. Read more


Dermody: Four years of Corbett’s disastrous agenda leaves huge hole in Pennsylvania’s budget

(Dec 05, 2014)

For the past four years, House Democrats have vigorously fought against Gov. Tom Corbett’s misguided agenda. We fought against his devastating cuts to our schools because we realize Pennsylvania’s children deserve the best education possible. We fought against his handouts of corporate tax breaks to prevent Pennsylvania’s middle class from shouldering too much of a tax burden. We advocated for a reasonable Marcellus Shale tax, as every other gas producing state has, to ensure drillers are paying their fair share for our resources. Read more


HEROIN: What you need to know about Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan Law

(Dec 05, 2014)

Landmark legislation passed during the 2013-14 Legislative Session now allows first responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as naloxone, a life-saving opioid-overdose antidote. The law also allows individuals such as friends or family members who might be in a position to help a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Additionally, Act 139 provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses. Read more


PHOTOS: Navy marks 73rd anniversary of attack on Pearl Harbor

(Dec 04, 2014)

The U.S. Navy marked the 73rd anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor with a ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building on Dec. 5. Read more