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DeLissio bill would improve transparency and accountability on money spent in elections

(Apr 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 7 – Concerned about the influence that special interests and advocacy groups have on elections, state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., plans to introduce a bill that would require disclosure of expenditures for political communications. "Everyone has the right to make their voices heard, but with the proliferation of political and issue advertising in the wake of the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it's difficult to know who is behind the advertising," DeLissio said. "My legislation would not restrict those voices, but help level the playing field by improving transparency and accountability regarding the money spent to influence elections." DeLissio’s bill would require individuals, advocacy groups and special interests engaging in organized political communication to register with the Department of State and file regular disclosure reports. "This would be similar to the reports that candidates and political parties are already required to file during election cycles. The reports would list the names of people and entities that contribute to the sponsors of the advertising," she said. Under the bill, any advertisement or message that refers to a candidate or elected official would be considered "political communication," and if the message or advertisement was made within 60 days of an election, it automatically would be considered political communication, Read more

 

Donatucci elected Pa. House Philadelphia County Delegation chairwoman

(Apr 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 6 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, was elected as the chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation to the House of Representatives for the remainder of the 2015-16 legislative session. "What an honor it is for me to be able to represent my constituents in this way," Donatucci said. "As a longtime member of the delegation, I have devoted my legislative career to fighting for the residents of Philadelphia. In this new position, I look forward to making sure our schools, public safety departments, health care facilities, transportation systems, and other important resources have the tools they need to effectively serve our residents." Donatucci represents the 185th Legislative District, which includes part of the city of Philadelphia, and was elected by other members of the delegation. Currently serving her third legislative term, Donatucci also serves on the House Appropriations, Labor and Industry, Liquor Control and Transportation committees. She is also the Democratic subcommittee chairwoman on Security and Emergency Response for the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and serves as a deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus. Donatucci is a staunch advocate for empowering hardworking Philadelphians. She has sponsored legislation to increase fines for employers that knowingly pay women less than men for equal work, and another bill to expand paid sick leave statewide. In Read more

 

House Democratic Policy Committee to explore Clean-Energy Jobs Monday in Capitol

(Apr 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 6 – House Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the committee will hold a public hearing hosted by state Reps. Steve McCarter, Mary Jo Daley and Leanne Krueger-Braneky on clean-energy jobs. The hearing will be held 10 a.m. Monday, April 11 in the House Democratic Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg. The current hearing agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. John Quigley , secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection 10:30 a.m. Panel One: Liz Robinson , executive director, Energy Coordinating Agency Ken MacDougal , director of business development, National Electrical Contractors Association – PA-DE-NJ Chapter Nancy Mifflin , Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator, American Association from Blacks in Energy Ron Celentano , president, Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association 11:10 a.m. Panel Two: Kate Ringness , program manager, The American Jobs Project Eric Miller , policy counsel, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance Khari Mosely , Pennsylvania regional programs manager, BlueGreen Alliance 11:40 a.m. Closing Remarks The hearing is open to the public and media coverage is invited. Read more

 

Bizzarro bill to curb animal cruelty passes Pa. House

(Apr 05, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 5 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved legislation proposed by state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, designed to cut down on and prevent animal cruelty throughout the commonwealth. "Today’s passage of H.B. 869 sends a clear message that we won’t tolerate animal abuse in Pennsylvania," Bizzarro said. "We’ve all heard the horrific stories of animals being left for dead in homes where they’re not properly cared for. My legislation would help ensure these animals find the loving homes they deserve." Under Bizzarro’s bill, anyone convicted of animal abuse with a first- or second-degree misdemeanor, or a felony, would be required to forfeit their animals to shelters or other organizations dedicated to preventing animal cruelty. It also would permit the court considering an animal abuse case to order a person convicted of summary offenses or a third-degree misdemeanor to forfeit their animals to shelters. Bizzarro added that besides alleviating stress to the animals, the bill would help cut costs throughout communities. "Unfortunately, there are many animal abusers who are repeat offenders," Bizzarro said. "Not only are these offenders repeatedly bringing harm to our animals, but they also cost us money in further seizures and law enforcement checks. This legislation, sponsored in a bipartisan fashion, not only makes for sound fiscal policy, but it’s morally the Read more

 

Judiciary Committee sends child sex abuse statute of limitations bill to full House

(Apr 05, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 5 – The House Judiciary Committee reported out legislation today that would strengthen laws dealing with Pennsylvania's statute of limitations regarding child sex abuse cases. The bill, introduced by committee Chairmen Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, and Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, would abolish the criminal statute of limitations for future criminal prosecutions in certain serious child sexual abuse cases and permit child sexual abuse victims to file a civil case until they reach age 50. Current law limits filing to age 30. "With this legislation, Pennsylvania takes some substantial steps in dealing with child sexual abuse prosecutions," Petrarca said. "It was important to strike the right balance between protecting children and allowing child sex abuse victims to receive justice," Petrarca said. "Abolishing the criminal statute of limitations will send a message to abusers that they no longer can be free from prosecution simply because the statute of limitations expired on their crime before they could be brought to justice." Under the bill, for criminal cases, there would no statute of limitations to apply for crimes relating to human trafficking, sexual servitude, rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent sexual assault and incest. "At the same time, it can take years for survivors of child Read more

 

Legislators urge approval of drilling regulations

(Mar 31, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 31 – A group of nearly 20 state House members led by state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today sent a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission urging approval of regulations that would make gas drilling safer in Pennsylvania. IRRC, the agency created to review commonwealth agency regulations to ensure they are in the public interest, is scheduled to consider the regulations at its April 21 hearing. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said the regulations would enhance public resource protections, including those for state parks and forests, playgrounds, schools and public water supplies; provide for pre-drilling review of potential abandoned and operating wells; require water supply restoration standards for operators who degrade a water supply; and enhanced spill reporting and clean-up requirements. The Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites regulations were promulgated in accordance with Act 13 of 2012, and have not been updated since 2001, so modernizing them is critical to ensure protection of Pennsylvania’s environment, the group’s letter states. The drilling industry opposes the regulations and on March 24, the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers Association filed a suit in Commonwealth Court challenging them. The House and Senate can stop the regulations by passing a concurrent resolution disapproving them, which must be signed by Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky: Fiscal code veto a win for environment and clean air

(Mar 24, 2016)

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, released the following statement on Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to veto the fiscal code bill: “This entire budget process has been a disappointment. From the lackadaisical attitude of the Republican leadership and their refusal to compromise, to the Speaker of the House adjourning session in December when we were poised to end this impasse, it has been a sobering look at how partisan Harrisburg has become. Read more

 

State measure would ease financial burden on locked-out workers

(Mar 24, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – Pennsylvania state legislators are making a bid to assist hundreds of workers idled by Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s six-month lockout who are about to see their unemployment benefits expire. Reps. Frank Dermody and Joe Petrarca this week teamed up to introduce a bill that would provide financial help to workers who were locked out of their jobs and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. "Workers and their families are in severe financial distress after being locked out of their jobs for half a year," Dermody said. “These workers helped make ATI what it is today. They take pride in the work they do and they want to get back to doing it. Until that happens, we need to help them weather the crisis.” The bill (H.B. 1857) introduced by Dermody and Petrarca would provide temporary unemployment benefits to any Pennsylvania workers who see regular unemployment benefits expire after being locked out of their jobs. Only unemployed workers affected by a lockout would be eligible and the state Department of Labor and Industry reports the locked-out ATI employees are the only ones in Pennsylvania currently affected. “Hundreds of people would rather be working, but instead they are about to lose unemployment benefits through no fault of their own,” Petrarca said. “Their families are suffering along with them, as well as all the local businesses that depend on the daily spending generated by Read more

 

Gov. Wolf right to let Republicans own their policies

(Mar 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 23 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released this statement following Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement that he will allow the most recent budget proposal to become law without his signature: “Governor Wolf has made extensive efforts to work with legislators on both of sides of the aisle to craft a budget that provides for the needs of all Pennsylvanians, pays down the structural budget deficit and improves our fiscal outlook. Unfortunately, Republican majorities repeatedly sent unbalanced budgets that protect special interests and continue to increase the structural deficit to the governor’s desk. After three separate attempts by the governor at compromise over nearly 10 months, a change in direction had to happen. “By simply allowing this budget to stand without his signature, the governor forces the Republican majorities to own their failed policies in this budget. Time is already telling by the multiple credit downgrades from independent credit rating agencies. We’ve seen increased school property taxes, teacher and school staff layoffs, increased class sizes and plummeting test scores in our school districts. Pennsylvania cannot afford to go down this same path, but that is the only path that Republicans will allow for now. “In the interest of moving forward and focusing efforts on the 2016-17 budget, I stand with the governor and hope we can focus on finding sustainable revenue sources that produce Read more

 

Dermody praises Wolf action to end budget impasse

(Mar 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 23 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody believes Gov. Tom Wolf made the right decision in choosing to let the remainder of Pennsylvania’s 2015-16 budget become law without his signature. “Harrisburg is broken and because of that Pennsylvania faces a budget emergency. The governor is taking steps to buy us all some time,” Dermody said. “In talking with Republican leaders during the last week it’s heartening that they acknowledged the state’s large budget deficit. The problem is identified. Now we must continue working to fix it,” Dermody said. Dermody said the spending plan that will become law at 12:01 a.m. Monday doesn’t adequately meet current needs and it fails to solve the state’s continuing budget imbalance. But the measure will allow delayed payments to flow to school districts, service providers and other entities after months of unpaid bills. “Although this marks the end of the 2015-16 budget impasse, it’s really more of a stopgap measure. It will quickly become clear that we have not yet raised the necessary revenue to pay for the things the state’s obligated by law to do,” Dermody said. “The problem remains, we lack the resources to pay our bills. A majority of legislators in both parties agree on this. After five years of deficit spending it’s time to face economic reality. “This can never Read more

 

Snyder bill exempting local farm markets, stands from sign requirement fees passes House

(Mar 22, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved a bill introduced by state Rep. Pam Snyder that would exempt from the state's fee requirements signs for local farmers' markets and farm stands along highways. "Our local agricultural businesses such as farmer's markets and farm stands provide fresh, nutritional food to Pennsylvanians, while at the same time enhancing our local business efforts," Snyder said. Current regulations require a permit and fee in order to have an off-premises sign advertising a business. Snyder's legislation would exempt farmers' markets and farm stands from this requirement for any state routes that do not receive federal funding. PennDOT still may set the size, number and proximity of the signs. Snyder introduced the bill after a family-owned farm in her district was told to remove signs advertising their farm stand from the state route right-of-way. "It is important that PennDOT ensures the orderly and effective display of outdoor advertising, while protecting the state's natural beauty along our roadways. But it is equally valuable that family farming should be supported, especially since agriculture is an important industry in our commonwealth," Snyder said. "The bill that passed today would benefit both the farmer and consumers seeking fresh produce, while continuing PennDOT's oversight." The bill now goes to the state Senate for Read more

 

Legislators join Cruz in call for support of lead-testing legislation

(Mar 22, 2016)

Citing the tragedy unfolding in Flint, Michigan, state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., was joined by a bipartisan group of legislators today calling for support of a legislation package that aims to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in Pennsylvania. Read more

 

Government that works and government that doesn't; Pennsylvanians saw both this week

(Mar 18, 2016)

Pennsylvanians got to see the two sides of Harrisburg on March 16. First, the positive side. Months after the state Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, a large bipartisan majority of representatives were able to use the persistent pressure and advocacy of thousands of patients and families to finally pass a similar bill in the House. Success came only after supporters were able to overcome months of obstruction by a few powerful legislators who opposed the bill. It was a great example of legislators working in a bipartisan fashion to pass commonsense -- and in this case compassionate -- legislation that will relieve suffering and benefit tens of thousands of Pennsylvania citizens. Important work remains to be done; the House and Senate versions of the bill still have to be aligned before the governor signs it, but Pennsylvania finally seems ready to enact a legal, well-controlled and effective medical marijuana program that will allow many doctors to provide the help their patients need. Unfortunately, the latest budget action this week also demonstrated the worst side of Harrisburg…the part that increasingly seems broken. Back in December, the House and Senate were hours away from taking the votes necessary to finalize a state budget that not only would have provided the funding needed for schools and human services, but also would have laid the foundation for sustained funding in future years, paid Read more

 

Kinsey honors the late Rep. John Myers

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16– State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., along with many of his colleagues paid tribute to the late Rep. John Myers in the House chamber today. Kinsey previously worked as chief of staff for Myers. “It was a humbling experience to honor such an admired and respected man who served admirably in this esteemed body for 17 years," Kinsey said. "It was important to ensure that Representative Myers' contributions to his community, to his people, be inscribed in the history of the Hall of the House." Myers was born and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He attended local schools, including Germantown High School, and then entered the U.S. Navy, serving his country in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. Myers was re-elected to eight consecutive House terms. “He was the kind of man who didn’t back down; he tackled many crucial issues – issues that focused on gun safety, crime, the rights of people, public safety, health, economic development,” Kinsey said. During Myers’ terms in the House, he served on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and the Liquor Control Committee. He served as a subcommittee chairman on both the Appropriations Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee, working his way up to become the Democratic chairman of the Health Committee. Retiring from the House of Representatives in 2012, Myers focused his attention to community concerns, Read more

 

Gainey lauds House passage of medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Ed Gainey praised today’s House passage of legislation ( S.B. 3 ) that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. “It’s about time that we help Pennsylvania families who have been asking for this bill for several years. While some people in Harrisburg sought to delay the legislation, family advocates continued to watch their loved ones suffer from debilitating illnesses, all the while encouraging passage of the bill,” said Gainey, D-Allegheny. “We need to listen to them and medical professionals who support medical marijuana and we need to give it a chance. “The drug policies we have in place just don’t work. They haven’t worked for 30 years. If a doctor can prescribe opioids that are highly addictive and have led to many deaths, why can’t we make sure that medical marijuana can help families who are experiencing pain and suffering? There are no overdose deaths related to marijuana.” Gainey served on a bipartisan House task force that studied the issue throughout the summer and fall and recommended changes to the bill. Several amendments were added to the bill including one by Gainey to ensure diversity among medical marijuana businesses to include veteran, minority and women participants. The Pittsburgh lawmaker said this week’s House action is a big step in the process of medical marijuana becoming law because it’s the first time the House passed Read more

 

Daley lauds bipartisan support for redistricting reform

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, today joined House and Senate Democrats and Republicans at the state Capitol to rally support for redistricting reform legislation. The bipartisan and bicameral redistricting reform group and its legislation has seven core principles: Assign redistricting authority to an independent citizens commission; reform both congressional and legislative redistricting; prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate; use statistically sound methodology when setting district boundaries; ensure transparency in the process with meaningful opportunities for active public participation; make all districts as equal in population as possible with a minimum range of deviation; and respect political subdivisions and communities of interest. "The political representation currently in Pennsylvania has made the commonwealth a national example of gerrymandering at its worst," Daley said. "Redistricting should result in a fair map, putting aside partisan interests and protecting the interests of the voters." Daley added that as a member of the redistricting reform group, she has authored legislation ( H.B. 878 ) that would create more openness and fairness in the redistricting process. "My legislation would require a commission to consider plans drawn by Pennsylvania residents, hold public meetings on those plans, and establish a website to share the Read more

 

Mullery introduces legislation to prohibit drones from interfering with outdoor sportsmen activities

(Mar 14, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery today introduced legislation that would prohibit individuals and organizations from using drones to interfere with lawful hunting, fishing, and boating activities. House Bill 1896 would make operating a drone a punishable offense when it intrudes on a person who is partaking in outdoor sportsmen activities. It also would make it a punishable offense to use a drone that interferes with someone engaging in the lawful taking of wildlife or other permitted activities. Mullery said while some drone operators claim they are operating them to spot illegal activities, many times, they are disrupting a law-abiding citizen’s leisure time, whether they are hunting, fishing, or boating. "The reality is that operating drones in this matter is becoming an overwhelming nuisance," said Mullery, D-Newport Township. "Many of these folks enjoying the great outdoors of Pennsylvania are doing so legally and they shouldn’t be disturbed by someone using a drone who thinks there may be illegal activity going on." Mullery added several states have already enacted laws making it an offense to use a drone to interfere with hunting and fishing activities. Read more

 

Governor leads by example on call for minimum wage increase; Republicans continue game of musical chairs on budget

(Mar 11, 2016)

House Democrats have been advocating for a minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania for years. This week, Gov. Tom Wolf jump-started that effort by signing an executive order increasing the wage to $10.15 for about 450 low-wage state workers. In addition to moving these workers closer to a living wage, the governor was clearly calling for the legislature to increase the minimum wage for the rest of the 1 million-plus Pennsylvanians trying to afford rent, groceries and other necessities on the current minimum of $7.25, which leaves a family of two below the federal poverty line. Public support for a minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania is above 70 percent. Raising the wage is about fairness and economic justice: every state around Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage. But it's also about boosting our state's economy. Raising the minimum wage would put more money in the pockets of low-wage workers, money that would be spent on goods and services in our small businesses. The Economic Policy Institute reports that raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania would boost demand and productivity, create as many as 5,000 new jobs and have an economic impact in Pennsylvania worth more than $1 billion. It would also boost revenues for the state budget by $60 million – an important consideration as we try to find ways to fund education and fix the state's growing structural deficit. Speaking of the state budget and structural deficit, three weeks of House and Read more

 

House Democratic leader praises Wolf action on fair pay

(Mar 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 7 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody praised Gov. Tom Wolf for acting today to raise the wages of the lowest-paid workers performing jobs for the state. "Governor Wolf's executive order affects a limited number of Pennsylvanians but it’s a clear call to action," Dermody said. "It’s time for the legislature to work together and increase the minimum wage for more than a million other Pennsylvania workers who need and deserve a raise. "House Democrats enthusiastically support the governor's action and once again call on Republican leaders to move bills introduced by Rep Patty Kim ( H.B. 250 ) and other legislators to raise the minimum wage for workers statewide,” he said. Pennsylvania has not adjusted its minimum wage in almost 10 years and every adjacent state requires a minimum wage above Pennsylvania's rate of $7.25. “Our workers need a raise,” Dermody said. "These other states clearly are not losing jobs to Pennsylvania, nor are they underperforming Pennsylvania economically. “The data and years of research show that a fair increase in the minimum wage would help full-time working adults to afford modest housing and other necessities without damaging Pennsylvania businesses or the economy." The Democratic leader noted that a statewide boost in the minimum wage would immediately help more than 1 million workers and contribute to closing the state’s $2 Read more

 

Galloway to lead House committee

(Mar 02, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 2 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody announced that Rep. John Galloway will become Democratic chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee. Galloway, D-Bucks, has served on the committee for 10 years and is currently the Democratic vice chairman. “Chairman Galloway is committed to standing up for Pennsylvania’s working families. He’s someone who can reach across the aisle to build coalitions and get things done,” Dermody said. “John’s long background on the committee and his familiarity with key people in labor and industry will help him to hit the ground running as chairman. “With bills pending on the minimum wage, workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation, John’s knowledge and his ability to reach consensus solutions will be put to use as Democrats work to protect the wages and hard-won rights of working people,” Dermody said. Galloway looks forward to the challenge. “I’m honored to chair this important committee after making an effort over the years to understand all sides of labor issues,” Galloway said. “As demonstrated by my work on difficult issues such as the 2012 law to apply the federal E-Verify system to all public works projects, we can get more done in Pennsylvania when legislators work together across party lines.” The House has 23 standing committees which review proposed legislation and regulations. Committee chairs are Read more

 

DeLissio bill would improve transparency and accountability on money spent in elections
Apr 07, 2016

Donatucci elected Pa. House Philadelphia County Delegation chairwoman
Apr 06, 2016

House Democratic Policy Committee to explore Clean-Energy Jobs Monday in Capitol
Apr 06, 2016

Bizzarro bill to curb animal cruelty passes Pa. House
Apr 05, 2016

Judiciary Committee sends child sex abuse statute of limitations bill to full House
Apr 05, 2016

Legislators urge approval of drilling regulations
Mar 31, 2016

Krueger-Braneky: Fiscal code veto a win for environment and clean air
Mar 24, 2016

State measure would ease financial burden on locked-out workers
Mar 24, 2016

Gov. Wolf right to let Republicans own their policies
Mar 23, 2016

Dermody praises Wolf action to end budget impasse
Mar 23, 2016

Snyder bill exempting local farm markets, stands from sign requirement fees passes House
Mar 22, 2016

Legislators join Cruz in call for support of lead-testing legislation
Mar 22, 2016

Government that works and government that doesn't; Pennsylvanians saw both this week
Mar 18, 2016

Kinsey honors the late Rep. John Myers
Mar 16, 2016

Gainey lauds House passage of medical marijuana bill
Mar 16, 2016

Daley lauds bipartisan support for redistricting reform
Mar 16, 2016

Mullery introduces legislation to prohibit drones from interfering with outdoor sportsmen activities
Mar 14, 2016

Governor leads by example on call for minimum wage increase; Republicans continue game of musical chairs on budget
Mar 11, 2016

House Democratic leader praises Wolf action on fair pay
Mar 07, 2016

Galloway to lead House committee
Mar 02, 2016