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

Building on momentum, Caltagirone reintroduces bills to fight pediatric cancer

(Feb 13, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 13 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, introduced a legislative package to bring the fight against pediatric cancer to the foreground in Pennsylvania. Caltagirone said that he will build from the momentum gained last session when the House unanimously passed the first part of the package, a bill that would establish a check-off box on Pennsylvania's state income tax form where a taxpayer could voluntarily contribute no less than $5 for pediatric cancer research within the commonwealth. This session, that bill is H.B. 46 . The other bills in the package are: H.B. 404 , which would establish a Pediatric Cancer Research registration license plate that would be made available through the state Department of Transportation; H.B. 407 , which would allow Pennsylvanians to donate to pediatric cancer research on their vehicle registrations and driver’s license renewals; and H.B. 408 , which would establish tax credits for businesses that are researching and pursuing a cure for pediatric cancers. The bills to establish avenues for donations would go toward Pennsylvania leaders in the fight against childhood cancers, including: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. House Bill 408 would allocate $10 million in tax credits per year over the Read more

 

Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal

(Feb 07, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year: “This year’s budget proposal seems like a smart approach to helping all Pennsylvanians while rethinking government efficiencies. The governor intends to make consolidations and cuts where necessary, while not jeopardizing gains we’ve made in education and health care, especially for those suffering from addiction. “There are investments in education and efforts to help more individuals with intellectual disabilities. The plan also includes additional funding to battle the statewide opioid crisis. “I especially applaud his proposal that would require municipalities who currently receive local police coverage for free from the Pennsylvania State Police to share in the costs. I have been fighting for years on this issue because it is unfair for 20 percent of the state’s population to get free police coverage while the rest of us pay for them and our own local police. “At first glance, the plan seems like a good starting point and I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks about how it could impact our state agencies.” Read more

 

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law

(Feb 06, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced legislation that would ensure all victims of DUI accidents can be fully compensated for their injuries and damage to their property. Currently, a victim of a DUI accident can receive full tort coverage only if the driver is convicted of DUI or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. However, if the drunk driver dies as a result of the accident, even if his or her blood shows he or she was driving under the influence, the victim does not receive full tort coverage. “While we work to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and deaths, it is vital that we simultaneously protect the victims of these accidents. My legislation would help all victims of DUI accidents by closing this unfair loophole,” said Mullery, D-Luzerne. The Pennsylvania DUI Association’s latest report shows that in 2014 there were 10,550 alcohol-related crashes resulting in 333 fatalities. Of those fatalities, 72 percent were the vehicle drivers. Passengers and pedestrians were far more likely to be injured, rather than killed, in the crash. On average, 20 people are injured in an alcohol-related traffic crash every day in Pennsylvania. Mullery’s legislation ( H.B. 276 ) was referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. Read more

 

Mullery introduces antlerless hunting license bill

(Feb 02, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, has reintroduced legislation (H.B. 275) to update the current antlerless hunting licensing system, which would allow hunters to apply for doe licenses online. “It's time to modernize this antiquated system,” said Mullery, who serves as Democratic vice chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee. “Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and there is no reason why a Pennsylvania resident should not be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way.” The current system is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, responsible for determining the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, while the actual distribution of permits is the responsibility of each county treasurers’ office. When applying for a doe license, hunters across the state fill out a form, write a check and submit it to the county treasurer, normally the one in their home county. However, Mullery points out that the current system is outdated and doesn’t always work because there are some counties that don’t always have the financial resources or staff to process applications in a timely manner. “There have been situations in the past, specifically in Luzerne County, where hunters, were shut out of the season simply because of the failure to process applications on time,” Mullery said. “Again, there really is no reason why these Read more

 

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage

(Jan 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on raising the minimum wage. Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, co-chaired the hearing at the YWCA, which discussed the effects of increasing the minimum wage. “Pennsylvania is long overdue for an increase in the minimum wage,” Kim said. “It’s been eight years since the floor was raised to $7.25 in Pennsylvania. In 2016, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage was about one-third below its 1968 level – even though productivity has doubled since 1968.” “When we talk about a minimum wage, we should be talking about a livable wage,” Sturla said. “Pennsylvanians who work 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. I support raising the minimum wage, and I’m glad the Policy Committee can bring more attention to the issue.” Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only earns $15,080, some $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to rely on government assistance programs to get by. Testifiers were Sean Ramaley, deputy secretary at the state Department of Labor and Industry; John Traynor, owner of Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center and the Kitchen Bar; Mary Quinn, president and CEO of the YWCA Harrisburg; and Mark Price, Ph.D., a labor economist from the Keystone Research Center. For hearing testimonies, Read more

 

Dermody praises Wolf move to shrink government, improve services

(Jan 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to combine four departments of the state government into one service-delivery agency has great potential and will be reviewed by legislators. “The governor’s not proposing to cut any services but instead to cut the size of the state bureaucracy itself. That’s something Democrats can support if we make sure that it’s done well,” Dermody said. “If this consolidation means less paperwork and confusion for all of us who depend on these services, then I’m all for it. So many programs in these four departments overlap with each other and help the same people – our parents, our children, our friends and ourselves. “It’s time to take a fresh look and see if we can cut down on costly duplication while improving the delivery of vital services to the people who rely on them,” Dermody said. “This will simplify things for all of us and should make it easier for all Pennsylvanians to see how much state government matters to us in our daily lives. “There are many unknowns in this process that we have to consider. House Democrats are eager to have this conversation and help move Pennsylvania forward.” Read more

 

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to be eligible to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. House Bill 222 seeks to make transparent a presidential candidate’s financial interests before being elected to the highest office in the nation. “The need for this tradition is clear,” Briggs said. “Many Americans, not to mention the national security community, want to know whether presidential candidates have personal or business interests that could undermine their commitment to act in the best interests of the United States should they become president. “More importantly, all Americans, whether they supported the president's election or not, must know whether there are any financial interests that may affect his or her decision making while serving.” Briggs’ introduction of the bill follows President Donald Trump’s recent reversal on his pledge to release his tax returns following what he described while campaigning as a routine audit. “President Trump’s refusal to release a most basic, yet vital, piece of information could be categorized as a text-book bait and switch,” Briggs said. “One or more states’ refusal to place a candidate on the ballot, on the other hand, could easily prevent something like this from ever happening again. All public Read more

 

Fitzgerald to introduce legislation to insure breast density screenings

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she is currently seeking co-sponsors for her first piece of legislation as state representative. The legislation would extend mandated insurance coverage for ultrasound screening and an MRI if a mammogram indicates dense breast tissue or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk of breast cancer due to family history, or because of her prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other factors as deemed necessary by a physician. “Whether it’s a mother, sister, daughter, wife or a friend, everyone in Pennsylvania has known someone or has been impacted by someone who has battled breast cancer,” Fitzgerald said. “My legislation would allow women to easily get these life-saving screenings to prevent this deadly disease.” Fitzgerald said if her legislation became law, Pennsylvania would be among the first states in the nation to require full insurance without co-pays for all breast screenings and supplemental imaging, including MRI and breast ultrasound, for women with dense breast issue. Read more

 

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, has introduced a measure that would restore the 24-hour period House members must wait before being able to vote on legislation amended by the Senate. The change to the waiting period from the previously established 24 hours to six hours was tucked into the overall House rules package, which was voted on Jan. 3 with very little notice. The rules were approved by a 167-32 vote. "On the first day of the new legislative session, the House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank-and-file House members and the general public," Vitali said. "This rule will be the most damaging around budget time. Frequently, House and Senate leaders surreptitiously insert provisions in large, budget-related bills that many rank-and-file members and the public would find highly objectionable." Vitali said some examples of this furtiveness from last session include when provisions were inserted into the fiscal code to cancel regulations to make gas drilling safer, delay measures to address climate change and transfer millions of dollars from a fund for high energy efficiency buildings for natural gas development. "Six hours is simply not enough time for even the most diligent legislator to find and raise a cry -- or the public to give input -- on the objectionable provisions, especially considering the multitude of Read more

 

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus

(Jan 25, 2017)

Citing the very real threat posed by climate change, state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, was joined today by legislators and advocacy groups to announce the formation of the bicameral Climate Caucus. Read more

 

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee

(Jan 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Matt Bradford will serve as the Democratic chairman of the House State Government Committee during the 2017-18 session, according to Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. "I'm honored to be asked to lead this important committee and I look forward to getting to work quickly on a wide array of issues,” Bradford said. “I also hope to work with the majority chairman to promote productive discussions among all committee members.” Bradford noted the committee handles many hot-button issues such as voting rights, discrimination, redistricting, government reform, lobbying disclosure, state agency procurement and labor agreements, campaign finance and election laws. “Many of the questions considered in the State Government Committee come down to protection of people’s most basic rights. I’m committed to standing up for what’s right,” Bradford said. “This is a new role for Matt on a key legislative committee,” Dermody said. “I know he’s well prepared for it and will provide valuable leadership.” Bradford, an attorney, has served in the House since 2009 and represents the 70 th District which includes Norristown, East Norriton and Worcester townships, and part of Plymouth Township. Read more

 

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule

(Jan 13, 2017)

Gov. Tom Wolf will deliver his 2017-18 budget proposal to lawmakers and the public on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Three weeks of House budget hearings will begin on Tuesday, February 21 at the Capitol. Here's the schedule. Read more

 

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal

(Jan 05, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, plans to introduce legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to study the impact of federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act on Pennsylvania residents. "Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only put at risk the health care coverage of millions of Pennsylvanians, but also devastate our state’s finances. Pennsylvania has saved about $700 million a year from the law’s drug rebates, increased funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and closing of the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit 'donut hole.' Without the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania taxpayers would need to come up with this funding from somewhere else – at a time when we already face large, unsustainable budget shortfalls," Frankel said. "We also know the law has had many other benefits for Pennsylvanians, and we need to know what the impact would be if a new president and Congress take them away. These gains that are at risk include: enabling young people to stay on their parents' plans until age 26; free preventive care; federally funded Medicaid expansion that has helped to cover roughly 600,000 Pennsylvanians; banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and banning annual and lifetime limits on care. Losing any of these protections – let alone all of them – would have a major impact on Read more

 

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention

(Dec 19, 2016)

State Rep. Brandon Neuman is drafting legislation to further improve testing of evidence from sexual assaults. Neuman said his new measure will provide the next step toward finding a comprehensive remedy against domestic and sexual violence. Read more

 

Schweyer proposal would fund unemployment compensation centers

(Dec 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 12 – In an effort to limit the length of the imminent shutdown for unemployment compensation service centers in Allentown, Altoona and Lancaster, state Rep. Peter Schweyer plans to reintroduce legislation that would extend program funding for one year. Read more

 

Prescription donation program proposed by Pashinski

(Dec 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 7 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, plans to introduce legislation that would create the Prescription Drug Donation Program. Pashinski’s proposal would require the State Board of Pharmacy to establish a voluntary program under which health care facilities may donate unused prescription drugs to vendor pharmacies that would repackage and redistribute the donated drugs to community-based clinics that provide primary health care services to financially disadvantaged Pennsylvanians. “The high cost of prescription drugs often discourages people from seeking medical help in the first place,” Pashinski said. “Under my plan, we would increase the availability of prescription medications to Pennsylvania’s neediest residents.” In order for a prescription drug to be donated, it would have to be in the original unopened, sealed and tamper-evident unit dose packaging. Additionally, the legislation would require that entities volunteering to participate must be approved by the State Board of Pharmacy and comply with all applicable laws associated with safety and procedure. Pashinski is seeking co-sponsors for the legislation and will introduce it when the 2017-18 session convenes in January. Read more

 

Senate Republicans desert workers in need of help

(Nov 18, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said reduced services for thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians and the imminent furlough of up to 600 workers are the direct result of a refusal to act by state Senate Republican leaders like Scott Wagner. Read more

 

New leadership for Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus ready to advance priorities for African-Americans and people of color

(Nov 16, 2016)

Calling it an extreme honor to have the opportunity to be a strong voice for African-Americans and people of color across the commonwealth, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., was elected Tuesday to serve as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Read more

 

PA House Democrats choose leaders for 2017-18

(Nov 15, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – Returning and newly elected members of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus chose their leadership team today for the 2017-18 legislative session. "As the minority party we face a continuing challenge, but we embrace it and look forward to working with Governor Tom Wolf to keep getting things done," Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. "House Democrats will continue to fight hard at the Capitol and in our communities for a Pennsylvania that works better for all people, not just the special interests. "We want a Pennsylvania that offers good jobs that support careers and family. We want a state with quality public schools, clean air and water, and a place that offers a fair opportunity for everyone who wants to work hard and make to their life better," he said. "We look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to fight for policies that support these values and against the worst and most extreme ideas of those who would take Pennsylvania, its economy and its residents backwards." House Democrats elected the following legislators to leadership positions for the 2017-18 term: Democratic Leader Frank Dermody , 33 rd Legislative District (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties). Representative since 1991. Democratic Whip Mike Hanna , 76 th Legislative District (Clinton and Centre counties). Representative since 1991. Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel , 23 rd Legislative District (Allegheny County). Read more

 

Bullock, Petrarca urge observance of youth homelessness with Red Shirt Day

(Nov 14, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – To show solidarity with children experiencing homelessness and the educators who serve them, state Rep. Donna Bullock’s House resolution adopted last month encourages Pennsylvanians to observe this week as "Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week." A Capitol news conference today marking the week featured advocates and House members discussing the issue. Pennsylvanians are urged to wear a red shirt on Friday for "Red Shirt Day," which encourages schools and communities to support assistance programs for children experiencing homelessness and brings awareness to the issue. In the 2014-15 school year, data show that 26,273 students in Pennsylvania schools were homeless or without adequate housing. This represents a 9 percent increase from the previous school years. Also, the number of homeless students has risen 18 percent in the last two years. “We are bringing awareness to the prevalence of children experiencing homelessness and to the barriers that prevent them from attending school,” said Bullock, D-Philadelphia. “School is often the one constant in the lives of children moving from house to house, couch to couch, or shelter to shelter. And it's important to not interrupt their education." “In Pennsylvania, there are few resources available to kids who experience homelessness, including a shortage of affordable housing and assistance providers Read more

 

Building on momentum, Caltagirone reintroduces bills to fight pediatric cancer
Feb 13, 2017

Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal
Feb 07, 2017

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law
Feb 06, 2017

Mullery introduces antlerless hunting license bill
Feb 02, 2017

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage
Jan 30, 2017

Dermody praises Wolf move to shrink government, improve services
Jan 30, 2017

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns
Jan 26, 2017

Fitzgerald to introduce legislation to insure breast density screenings
Jan 26, 2017

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform
Jan 26, 2017

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus
Jan 25, 2017

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee
Jan 19, 2017

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule
Jan 13, 2017

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal
Jan 05, 2017

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention
Dec 19, 2016

Schweyer proposal would fund unemployment compensation centers
Dec 12, 2016

Prescription donation program proposed by Pashinski
Dec 07, 2016

Senate Republicans desert workers in need of help
Nov 18, 2016

New leadership for Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus ready to advance priorities for African-Americans and people of color
Nov 16, 2016

PA House Democrats choose leaders for 2017-18
Nov 15, 2016

Bullock, Petrarca urge observance of youth homelessness with Red Shirt Day
Nov 14, 2016