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Schlossberg, Parker, bipartisan group seek changes in rapist child support law

(Feb 09, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., announced today at a news conference that they are partnering with Rep. Joseph Hackett, R-Delaware, to support legislation that would that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest. Read more

 

DeLissio outlines bipartisan plan for 3.2% severance tax on Pa. natural gas

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., and others called on the state legislature during a Capitol news conference Wednesday to pass a severance-tax bill that would enact a 3.2 percent tax on natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania. The bill’s other prime sponsors are Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks; Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery; and Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny. The bill would keep in place the impact fee passed into law in 2012. "Our proposal, like that of so many other states, is to tax the value of the natural gas produced. Added together, the impact fee and the 3.2 percent drilling tax would equal approximately 5 percent of the value of natural gas sold," DeLissio said. "Pennsylvania, now the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation, is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. "Including a severance tax on the value of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas production would generate additional funds above the existing impact fee, while still protecting host communities who benefit from the fee." During the news conference, DeLissio stated that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will need to address a greater than $2 billion structural deficit. This deficit was created by the current budget’s reliance on one-time transfers and other unsustainable revenue streams, she added. "If a severance tax had been passed in 2012 instead of the Read more

 

Caltagirone bill to provide Pa. criminal justice system training on mental illness and intellectual disabilities poised for House vote

(Feb 04, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved his legislation calling for law enforcement training related to those suffering from mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals, such as alternative sentencing or treatment. The training for magisterial district judges would take the form of continuing education. "It is incumbent upon us as a governing body to address the significant problem of individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities ending up in our prisons," Caltagirone said. "As a first step, this would better equip our police and minor judiciary with the tools and training needed to identify these individuals at the earliest point in the criminal justice system and get them proper treatment." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, nearly 50 percent of female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatment. "Getting the cost of corrections lowered is a must and if we continue Read more

 

State House passes Sainato bill to extend death benefits to Pa. Civil Air Patrol

(Feb 03, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed state Rep. Chris Sainato's bill that would extend the same death benefits to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol that are available to other emergency responders. The state's Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides $100,000 to families of emergency responders who die while performing their duties. The bill authored by Sainato, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would amend the act to include the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported, nonprofit organization that serves as an official civil auxiliary arm of the United States Air Force. It consists of 2,200 volunteers who support emergency service responders across the country by conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing disaster relief and performing homeland security missions. “These volunteers work alongside of police, firefighters and other emergency responders during dangerous situations,” said Sainato, D-Lawrence. “They deserve to have the same benefits as their peers.” Sainato said the Civil Air Patrol has provided valuable assistance in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country. Members of the organization helped communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware recover from Hurricane Sandy. They also Read more

 

Schweyer: Legislation introduced to protect public transportation workers (with video)

(Feb 02, 2015)

State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, announced today that his first piece of legislation has been introduced. House Bill 279 would stiffen penalties for aggravated assaults against public transportation company employees, such as those who work for LANTA. The bill would add this category of employees to the list of victims for which the alleged assailants are subject to an enhanced offense of a first- or second-degree felony. Read more

 

Mullery bill would give Game Commission responsibility to issue antlerless hunting licenses

(Jan 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced a bill to give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the responsibility to distribute antlerless deer hunting licenses. Currently, the Game Commission determines the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, but county treasurers distribute the permits. To apply for a doe license, Pennsylvania hunters must fill out a form, write a check and drop an envelope in the mail. They can mail the form and check to any treasurer's office in the state; however, most hunters send it to their home county. Mullery, a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said the current system is outdated, inconvenient, and, in some instances, ineffective. "Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and Pennsylvanians should be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way," Mullery said. "It's time to modernize this antiquated system." Mullery said the current system led to Luzerne County hunters being shut out of a doe license last year when the treasurer's office, citing staff cuts, failed to process applications on time. "A modern system run by the Game Commission would have prevented that inexcusable mistake," Mullery said. H.B. 231 is expected to be referred to the Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more

 

Galloway appointed to House Appropriations Committee

(Jan 22, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 22 – As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives reorganized for the 2015-16 Legislative Session, state Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, was appointed to the Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee is directly involved in preparing the annual state budget, holding yearly hearings at which the numerous state agencies outline their requests and needs for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee also reviews and evaluates the Governor's Executive Budget proposal each year. The committee has jurisdiction over the offices of the Auditor General and the State Treasurer, as well as the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. "It is both a great honor and a great responsibility to be appointed to this committee," Galloway said. "I will work to find a fair and equitable balance between the needs to raise revenue and to control spending, while ensuring we continue to support those who need the most help." Galloway was sworn in to begin his fifth term representing the 140 th Legislative District on Jan. 6. In addition to the Appropriations Committee, Galloway was appointed as Democratic vice chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, and as a member of the Professional Licensure and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees. ### Read more

 

Make our schools safer with carbon monoxide detectors

(Jan 20, 2015)

Every year, accidental exposure to carbon monoxide sends thousands of people to emergency rooms across the country, and hundreds die from it. These accidents happen in homes, businesses and even schools. Recently, hundreds of students and faculty were inside a Colorado school when this odorless and tasteless gas seeped into the building because of a malfunctioning furnace. Fortunately, everyone safely escaped. This incident underscores the need for CO detectors, particularly in our schools. Unfortunately, only a handful of states, such as Connecticut and Maryland, require CO detectors in their schools. I firmly believe all schools should have these detectors. That’s why I am reintroducing legislation that would require all Pennsylvania schools – public and private -- that have heating systems or appliances powered by fossil fuels to install CO detectors. We have a number of older schools with aging heating systems, and leaks in school heating systems that lead to a buildup of CO aren't uncommon. Consider these examples: A carbon monoxide leak led to the evacuation of an elementary school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2010. A potentially deadly buildup of CO inside an Atlanta elementary school in 2012 sickened more than 50 people, including 42 students. Also in 2012, higher-than-normal levels of carbon monoxide at an elementary school in Glen Rock, York County, sickened dozens of people. We should install CO detectors in all Read more

 

Dermody: House Democrats excited to work with new governor (with video)

(Jan 20, 2015)

If the legislature works with Governor Wolf in a bipartisan way to focus on meeting our most pressing challenges and our most important goals, we will move Pennsylvania forward for everyone. Read more

 

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

 

Schlossberg, Parker, bipartisan group seek changes in rapist child support law
Feb 09, 2015

DeLissio outlines bipartisan plan for 3.2% severance tax on Pa. natural gas
Feb 09, 2015

Caltagirone bill to provide Pa. criminal justice system training on mental illness and intellectual disabilities poised for House vote
Feb 04, 2015

State House passes Sainato bill to extend death benefits to Pa. Civil Air Patrol
Feb 03, 2015

Schweyer: Legislation introduced to protect public transportation workers (with video)
Feb 02, 2015

Mullery bill would give Game Commission responsibility to issue antlerless hunting licenses
Jan 27, 2015

Galloway appointed to House Appropriations Committee
Jan 22, 2015

Make our schools safer with carbon monoxide detectors
Jan 20, 2015

Dermody: House Democrats excited to work with new governor (with video)
Jan 20, 2015

Goodman: Extend Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program application deadline
Jan 16, 2015

Goodman bill aims to protect recipients of gift cards
Jan 13, 2015

PA House of Representatives swearing-in day, 2015-16
Jan 07, 2015

Dermody: Budget crisis offers legislators 'chance to make positive mark'
Jan 06, 2015

Hope for Hannah legislation becomes law
Dec 28, 2014

Pa. Budget in Crisis: Smoke and mirrors will not lift state to new heights
Dec 12, 2014

Full Medicaid expansion makes fiscal, moral sense
Dec 11, 2014

Dermody outlines concerns with budget outlook heading into 2015
Dec 10, 2014

New website offers information and clarity on Highmark/UPMC transition
Dec 09, 2014

In the News: Dept. of Human Services name change better reflects mission
Dec 08, 2014

Apply for health insurance by Feb. 16
Dec 07, 2014