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14 hearings were pretense for voter suppression laws

House Democrats call for action on Plan for PA

(Dec 06, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 6 – A group of House Democratic lawmakers today said it is time for legislators to move forward with their Plan for PA, a comprehensive policy strategy that offers a stark contrast to the failed legislative leadership and policies currently hindering the commonwealth. Democratic state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro of Erie County, Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Delaware County, Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia/Delaware counties, Ed Gainey of Allegheny County, Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer of Lehigh County, Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia and others joined at a Capitol news conference to contrast the priorities in the House Democratic Plan for PA with the legislative agenda put up by the Republican majority in recent weeks. “Putting people first means working for fair opportunities for all families,” said Bizzarro as he kicked off a morning Capitol news conference. “The majority Republicans have proven time and time again that they are incapable of leading and producing substantive policies that benefit all Pennsylvanians. While they prefer to continue to play hyper-partisan political games that are crippling our commonwealth, we intend to counter their incompetence with the Plan for PA and put Pennsylvanians back to work. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, wealthy, middle class or barely making it by, our Plan for PA delivers for you and your family, now, and for future generations to come.” The Read more

 

State lawmakers push bill to protect insurance coverage of contraceptives

(Nov 01, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Kevin Boyle today unveiled a plan to protect access to birth control under health insurance coverages in Pennsylvania. The legislation, proposed by Krueger-Braneky, Boyle and Rep. Tina Davis, would require that all state-regulated insurance plans in Pennsylvania cover contraceptives and vasectomies. It would further require that plans provide coverage for any prescription or non-prescription method of birth controlled approved by the FDA. It also would: Eliminate most co-payments for birth control and vasectomies Enable women to receive 12 months of birth control at one time Lift pre-authorizations on intrauterine devices (IUDs) On Oct. 6, the Trump administration announced it would roll back the contraceptive coverage requirements within the ACA. The rollback allows any employer to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage in its health plan based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. At least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania depend on this coverage to access affordable, effective contraceptives. “Contraception is health care, and access to health care is a fundamental human right that is inextricably tied to economic mobility and freedom,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware . “By making basic preventive care like the pill a costly luxury, the Trump administration is sidelining girls and women – whether they are students, hourly wage workers, Read more

 

Wolf signs Pashinski’s legislation targeting harmful and invasive weeds

(Oct 31, 2017)

Gov. Tom Wolf signed H.B. 790 into law yesterday, creating the Controlled Plants and Noxious Weeds Act that was introduced by Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.“I’m extremely appreciative to Governor Wolf and my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Pashinski said. “This commonsense legislation will help our state be proactive as we do everything we can to prevent the spread of harmful weeds and protect our valuable land for agriculture and tourism purposes.” Read more

 

Pennsylvania budget may be done, but challenges remain

(Oct 31, 2017)

The 2017-18 state budget is finally completed, but Pennsylvania's ongoing fiscal challenges remain. Obstruction all summer -- primarily by the House Republican caucus -- forced Gov. Tom Wolf to begin the month of October taking steps on his own to pay the state's bills and protect taxpayers from backdoor tax increases due to another credit downgrade. There have already been six downgrades for Pennsylvania under Republican majorities in the legislature. The month of October ends with the legislature forced to send Gov. Wolf a budget balanced with significant amounts of borrowing and one-time revenue sources that won’t be there in future years. Responsible and predictable revenues would have allowed us to balance this and future-year budgets and begin to move forward on fixing our long-term fiscal challenges and lowering the increased costs to taxpayers that recent Republican budgeting strategies have created. House Democrats realize that the state needs a completed, balanced budget so our schools can stay open, you and your family continue to receive the protection, support and services you need, and our economy doesn't fall further behind. But this is not the budget we would have crafted. Our budget would have been based on sustainable, long-term revenues -- money that is available year after year so that our schools, communities and businesses aren't left constantly scrambling. A responsible budget is Read more

 

Frankel, health advocates: Obamacare open enrollment starts Wednesday, Nov. 1; Opportunity to get covered or find a better plan

(Oct 30, 2017)

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 30 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and health advocates today promoted the upcoming open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act coverage. " Even with the shorter time period this year and a steep cutback in advertising , open enrollment is still an opportunity for many Pennsylvanians to get covered or find a better plan. I don't want anyone in western Pennsylvania to miss out," Frankel said. Leslie Bachurski, director of consumer navigation at the Consumer Health Coalition, said, “The key things people should know about the Affordable Care Act are that the law has not changed and that open enrollment has been shortened to only six weeks. People have a lot of questions right now, and navigators are a great local resource for getting the facts straight. Our navigators are working hard to be available in the community during open enrollment and help the enrollment process run as smoothly as possible.” People can shop for plans on www.healthcare.gov or find a local navigator at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov . The Squirrel Hill Health Center hosted today's news conference. CEO Susan Friedberg Kalson said, "Squirrel Hill Health Center welcomes the opportunity to highlight the upcoming open enrollment period for ACA Marketplace insurance plans. In addition to providing comprehensive primary medical, behavioral health and dental services to all, regardless of insurance status or Read more

 

Boyle, Murt tout bill to strengthen hate crimes law in Pa.

(Oct 24, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – Joined by Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and House, state Reps. Kevin J. Boyle, D-Phila., and Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., called upon the General Assembly during a Capitol news conference to pass legislation to strengthen the hate crimes law in Pennsylvania. House Bill 505, co-sponsored by Boyle and Murt, would amend current state law to expand the offense of ethnic intimidation to include malicious intention against the actual or perceived ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity of another person or a group of people. Senators Lawrence Farnese and Anthony Williams also have legislation ( S.B. 96 ) regarding hate crimes. Boyle said under H.B. 505, a crime motivated by hatred toward these protected classes would be graded one degree higher than already specified in law. “Pennsylvania’s lack of protections against hate crimes for LGBT communities and persons with disabilities is a national embarrassment. We remain the only state in the Northeast to not enshrine protections against hate crimes for these groups into law,” Boyle said. “I have introduced this bill for two consecutive sessions to add these protections but it has never been brought to a vote. Our legislature is failing its duty to protect the citizens of this commonwealth, and ignoring the constitutional rights of the physically and intellectually disabled, and the LGBT communities.” Boyle Read more

 

Davis, Snyder sex-offender bill aims to keep children safe near schools

(Oct 24, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – State Reps. Tina Davis and Pam Snyder this week introduced H.B. 1882 , which would restrict convicted sex offenders from living near schools. Under the bill, a sex offender registered under Megan’s Law would not be allowed to live within 2,500 feet of a public, private or parochial school, pre-school or child-care facility in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State Police report that there are 21,685 registered sex offenders living in the commonwealth, convicted of offenses ranging from possession of child pornography to rape. “Right now, there are no laws preventing offenders from moving in right next door to the school attended by your child, grandchild, niece or nephew,” said Davis, D-Bucks. “Our legislation aims to address this problem and keep kids safe at school and on their way to and from school.” “We must do all we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens from those with a proven record of predatory – and in some cases violent – behavior,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “Our legislation simply mandates a buffer zone between an offender and a school or child-care facility to keep children safe. “It’s past time Pennsylvania had a law like this on its books.” Read more

 

The firestorm next time: Pa. ill-prepared for next recession or budget

(Oct 23, 2017)

Rep. Jake Wheatley, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, says if you think Pennsylvania's budget debacle is bad now, just wait until the next recession. Pennsylvania is substantially unprepared for the next downturn and would face major economic repercussions. Read more

 

Wheatley leads effort for gas drillers to help close budget hole

(Oct 18, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, and members of the House Finance Committee today approved seeking a higher tax on the companies extracting record volumes of natural gas from shale formations deep under Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania is facing a serious budget crisis and this is one sensible step toward fixing it. We need to start collecting this recurring revenue from companies that can easily afford to pay it,” Wheatley said. Currently, Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the country, but is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. The bill (H.B. 1401) would impose a severance tax on natural gas extraction based on a well's production volume and the average annual price of natural gas. Drillers would be prohibited from passing the tax onto landowners. Wheatley said the measure could be considered by the full House as early as next week, if Republican leaders permit it to happen. “We’ve already wasted too much precious time arguing about a sensible tax that every other natural gas state already uses,” Wheatley said. “We’ve forfeited millions of dollars in untapped revenue that should have been used to pay for schools, health care and many other things the state is obligated to provide. “I and most members of the House believe we should activate this new revenue stream and make the gas drillers carry their share of the load, Read more

 

Ellis, Driscoll consumer protection bills advance to full House

(Oct 16, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 16 – A bipartisan pair of bills to help Pennsylvania consumers affected by data breaches has advanced out of the House Commerce Committee to the full House of Representatives. The bills are sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman Brian Ellis, R-Butler, and Rep. Mike Driscoll, D-Phila. Ellis said, "It is my hope that future massive data breaches do not occur, but if they do, the safeguards in these pieces of bipartisan legislation will help protect and assist consumers after a breach happens." Driscoll said: "I believe our bipartisan cooperation bodes well for passing this legislation and making real progress on this issue that affects millions of Pennsylvanians. I am pleased to work with Chairman Ellis and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to move forward on this." Ellis' bill ( H.B. 1846 ) would require notification of a breach from the entity where the breach occurred to the affected consumer. The notification would include the date the breach occurred, the type of information subject to the breach, a toll-free number and the address of credit reporting agencies. This notice would have to be made available within 30 days of the breach of the system. Additionally, an entity with a breach would have to notify the state Attorney General’s Office. The entities also would have to develop policies to safeguard and discard personal consumer information. Driscoll’s bill ( H.B. 1847 ) would waive the current credit Read more

 

Solomon, Charlton introduce Pa. Commission bill to plan for America’s 250th birthday in 2026

(Oct 16, 2017)

With less than 10 years until America celebrates the nation’s 250 th birthday in July 2026, a bipartisan team in the Pennsylvania House has introduced House Bill 1793, establishing the Pennsylvania Semiquincentennial Commission. This effort, led by state Reps. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Alex Charlton, R-Springfield, envisions the commission to plan, encourage, develop and coordinate the commemoration of the 250 th anniversary of the founding of the United States. “Our country’s semiquincentennial is a moment for all Americans and Pennsylvanians to engage in a shared undertaking of national unity, remembering what unites us American citizens while aiming toward a better tomorrow as individuals, families and communities,” said Charlton. In the legislation, the commission is expected to submit a comprehensive report that includes the specific recommendations of the commission to the governor and General Assembly by next September. “This is exceptional for our Commonwealth, as we led and became the first state in the nation to begin the very important planning of welcoming in the 250 th birthday of America,” said Solomon. The commission will coordinate planning with all federal, state and local agencies on infrastructure improvements and projects to welcome regional, national and international tourists. “For Pennsylvanians, it is both a privilege and responsibility to host the nation and the world on the anniversary of Read more

 

Frankel: Trump health care sabotage means higher premiums, less coverage

(Oct 13, 2017)

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 13 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, today said President Trump's latest actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act's protections are sabotage. "President Trump is responsible for the mess he is creating. It's the Pottery Barn rule: 'you break it, you own it,'" Frankel said. "The president's actions at the end of this week are a one-two punch aimed at dismantling health care access for millions. First, he signed an order allowing for plans that don’t provide essential health benefits and now we know that he will withhold crucial cost-sharing payments, which is likely to throw the health care marketplace into turmoil. "The requirement for essential health benefits matters because Pennsylvanians have been confident that if they buy health insurance, it will allow them to access the care they need, including maternity care, mental health services and emergency room coverage. "Most importantly, the requirement ensured that children can go to the dentist and the eye doctor, to make sure that any problems get caught early so they can grow and thrive. These types of basic care are essential to health coverage. "Now, the Trump administration is destroying that promise by allowing junk plans to count as 'insurance' again. So we'll go back to the bad old days of people often not finding out about holes in their coverage until it's too late. Read more

 

Pa. House GOP leaders, Trump White House double down on formula for failure

(Oct 11, 2017)

Rep. Jake Wheatley, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, says the House Republican Caucus needs adult supervision for Its formula for failure on the months-late state budget. Read more

 

DeLissio introduces bill to provide health care at lower cost

(Oct 06, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., reintroduced legislation this week that would provide health care coverage in Pennsylvania at a lower cost and with freedom to choose health care providers because the concept of “networks” would go away. House Bill 1688 would establish the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan, a blueprint of bold steps that would result in a healthier citizenry without the financial burden that many people currently experience with high deductibles and premiums, DeLissio said. “Given the nationwide focus on how to best provide affordable health care, this legislation is timelier than ever,” DeLissio said. This or similar legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania since 2005.” Starting this year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) allows states the option to innovate with their own health care plan as long as the proposed plan is more economical and efficient. This proposed legislation meets that criteria and improves upon the current health care system in many ways, DeLissio said. “This legislation preserves the private practice of medicine and it would ensure the cost-effective delivery of covered services that range from catastrophic care to wellness and preventative care. Health care providers would have autonomy over patient care,” DeLissio said. Currently, health care practitioners often have to vigorously defend their Read more

 

Wheatley: Latest House GOP budget defies logic, fiscal responsibility

(Sep 13, 2017)

Rep. Jake Wheatley reports that said a House Republican revenue plan advanced late Sept. 13 doubles down on the fiscal gimmickry that has created a $2.2 billion hole in Pennsylvania’s months-late budget. Read more

 

Wheatley helps unveil House Democratic budget alternative

(Sep 13, 2017)

Rep. Jake Wheatley, Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, says House Democrats have a responsible budget plan that borrows less, relies on real revenues and can enacted before the state's coffers go bone dry. Read more

 

DeLuca introduces bill to ban unscrupulous charities

(Sep 13, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 13 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, announced he will be introducing a bill that would require charities that solicit funds in Pennsylvania maintain minimum standards. DeLuca outlined the need for stronger regulations for charity expenses at a media event in the state Capitol. “I care very much about how much money charities are funneling towards research,” DeLuca said. “Unscrupulous organizations seize on the good will of the American people in order to enrich charity owners, managers and corporate fundraisers. “The intent of this bill is to prevent any charity from soliciting the citizens of this Commonwealth if a minimum of 65 percent of revenue is not dedicated to their programs. It is not my intent to harm non-profits, or keep them from fulfilling their mission.” House Bill 1669 will be introduced in the near future. The bill would prohibit charities that do not invest a minimum of 65 percent of revenue to their programs from soliciting in Pennsylvania. Under the bill, a charitable organization that fails to meet the 65 percent minimum would be prohibited from fundraising in Pennsylvania until the Pennsylvania Department of State verifies that they have reached that threshold. “Americans, by nature, tend to be very generous and supportive,” DeLuca said. “It is too easy for bad actors to abuse that generosity. We need a law that can guarantee Read more

 

Rabb pushes bill that upholds DACA while keeping communities safer

(Sep 08, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – The fate of the immigration program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) currently lies in the hands of Congress, as state Rep. Chris Rabb fights to protect thousands of undocumented families in Pennsylvania, while, at the same time, helping law enforcement keep communities safer. “I am furious about the President’s decision to end the DACA program,” Rabb said. “My main focus now is to do what’s in my power to ensure families aren’t torn apart here in Pennsylvania.” Rabb introduced House Bill 1604 , also known as the Police and Community Safety Act, which would protect DREAMers, their parents, and other undocumented residents who live in the commonwealth. The proposal would also allow state and local police officers to concentrate on their priority of protecting residents from violent offenders and not be responsible for immigration enforcement unless directed by a federal court order. “Research proves working with federal immigration enforcement made it difficult for local police departments to do their jobs,” Rabb explained. “If a witness or victim was in the country with an expired visa, he/she was less likely to cooperate for fear of being forced out of their home and separated from their loved ones.” Rabb pointed out the legal and financial burdens that weigh down on already cash-strapped police agencies when officers erroneously detain U.S. citizens at the Read more

 

Cruz condemns Trump administration’s decision to end DACA

(Sep 08, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Ángel Cruz, D-Phila., today announced that he plans to introduce a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and urging Congress to pass S.B. 1615 sponsored by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), known as the Dream Act of 2017. “In Pennsylvania, nearly 6,000 Dreamers benefit from DACA. The Trump administration’s decision to end the program by March 2018 will not only affect Dreamers throughout the country, but also hurt our economy by losing revenue and labor force,” Cruz said. “We’re talking about our farm workers, our nurses, our teachers and our engineers. This country is the only place they call home. With this action, the government is turning its back against people who came to the United States to reach the American Dream, because that’s what our country is: the land of opportunities. I am beyond disappointed and I stand in solidarity with all the Dreamers in Pennsylvania and across the country. I’ll keep up the fight against this deplorable act.” DACA provides temporary deportation deferral to individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children, known as “Dreamers,” who pass vetting so they may live, study and work legally in the only country they know as home. The program was authorized in 2012 by then President Obama as a compromise between his administration Read more

 

OPINION: Latest Republican budget plan burns us all

(Sep 07, 2017)

On Tuesday, in the Capitol of the state home to the most famous unstoppable mine fire in the world, 17 House Republicans proposed cutting coal-mine and industrial site clean-up funds to avoid taxing drillers and energy companies. The irony only pales to the absurdity and recklessness of the entire plan. Also filed under heartless, mindless and gutless: Proposed cuts to the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Treatment Fund while attempting to expand gambling across the state; Cuts to the Job Training Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, Industrial Development Fund and Manufacturing Fund as the rust belt creeps farther across the state; A suggested raid on the Motor License Fund – which is made up of money drivers already paid to fix roads and bridges that are in historic disrepair. Republican budgeting has become little more than a bonfire of tea party schemes that will consume Pennsylvania, its resources, air, water, health and economy before it burns out. Soon in Pennsylvania, it won’t take an actual fire to destroy a community. It will just take not learning from one. Read more

 

House Democrats call for action on Plan for PA
Dec 06, 2017

State lawmakers push bill to protect insurance coverage of contraceptives
Nov 01, 2017

Wolf signs Pashinski’s legislation targeting harmful and invasive weeds
Oct 31, 2017

Pennsylvania budget may be done, but challenges remain
Oct 31, 2017

Frankel, health advocates: Obamacare open enrollment starts Wednesday, Nov. 1; Opportunity to get covered or find a better plan
Oct 30, 2017

Boyle, Murt tout bill to strengthen hate crimes law in Pa.
Oct 24, 2017

Davis, Snyder sex-offender bill aims to keep children safe near schools
Oct 24, 2017

The firestorm next time: Pa. ill-prepared for next recession or budget
Oct 23, 2017

Wheatley leads effort for gas drillers to help close budget hole
Oct 18, 2017

Ellis, Driscoll consumer protection bills advance to full House
Oct 16, 2017

Solomon, Charlton introduce Pa. Commission bill to plan for America’s 250th birthday in 2026
Oct 16, 2017

Frankel: Trump health care sabotage means higher premiums, less coverage
Oct 13, 2017

Pa. House GOP leaders, Trump White House double down on formula for failure
Oct 11, 2017

DeLissio introduces bill to provide health care at lower cost
Oct 06, 2017

Wheatley: Latest House GOP budget defies logic, fiscal responsibility
Sep 13, 2017

Wheatley helps unveil House Democratic budget alternative
Sep 13, 2017

DeLuca introduces bill to ban unscrupulous charities
Sep 13, 2017

Rabb pushes bill that upholds DACA while keeping communities safer
Sep 08, 2017

Cruz condemns Trump administration’s decision to end DACA
Sep 08, 2017

OPINION: Latest Republican budget plan burns us all
Sep 07, 2017