Featured News

House & Senate Democrats fight for safer roads and job protection

Gainey calls for more funding to address Pa.’s opioid crisis

(Jun 24, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Ed Gainey today joined his House colleagues and Gov. Tom Wolf at a bipartisan Capitol news conference highlighting efforts that have been completed and initiatives that will take place in the coming months to address the state’s devastating opioid crisis. Per H.R. 659, which was adopted by the House in 2014, a Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation was created under the direction of the Joint State Government Commission. The group issued 15 recommendations that were turned into legislation, several of which have passed the House or been undertaken through administrative action. "As one of the four co-chairmen of the bipartisan, bicameral Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Caucus , I want to thank members of the Task Force for their hard work on this very serious issue. I also want to thank Governor Wolf and the many representatives and senators who have held roundtable discussions across the commonwealth, allowing us to hear firsthand from those who have been affected by this health crisis," said Gainey, D-Allegheny. "I want to thank those who have testified and told their personal stories at these meetings. By letting others know what they’ve gone through, hopefully others can see that treatment is important and necessary, and either they will reach out for help, or their family and friends will reach out to get them the help they need to move on with Read more

 

Committee holds public hearing on Readshaw's involuntary commitment bill

(Jun 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 23 – The House Human Services Committee today held a public hearing on a bill introduced by Rep. Harry Readshaw that would allow for the involuntary commitment of those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction for treatment. "I am gratified the committee held this hearing, as drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious problem in the state and across the country," Readshaw said. "To provide an example, 49 people were killed in the recent Orlando tragedy, but on the same day, over 200 people overdosed in the United States. "Pennsylvania families are on the front lines of the opiate epidemic in our state, and I believe this bill will help them intercede in order to save a life." During the hearing, David Freed of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association said the association supported the bill. Other hearing testifiers included state Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis, Brentwood Borough Mayor Dennis H. Troy, Health Secretary Rachel Levine and Deb Beck, president of Drug and Alcohol Services Providers Organization of Pennsylvania. Under the bill (H.B. 1692), an individual with drug and alcohol abuse would have to be in imminent danger or a threat of imminent danger to his or her self, family or others and be able to benefit from treatment in order to be involuntarily committed for treatment. This legislation is similar to existing laws in Ohio, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky. Readshaw said that he Read more

 

Matzie: Bipartisan effort is our only option in ending opioid crisis

(Jun 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, joined Gov. Tom Wolf and a group of bipartisan legislators today for a Capitol news conference to highlight details of a joint effort to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in the state. In the Rotunda, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody joined Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, Majority Leader David Reed and other House members to announce the completion of recommendations from the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation. “For the past several years, the General Assembly has been focused on the opioid and heroin crisis gripping our state,” Matzie said. “While there is still much to do to wipe this scourge from our communities, today represents progress in that fight. The recommendations from the task force will make a real difference in ending this crisis.” The Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, which was created through the adoption of a resolution in 2014, made several legislative recommendations, including H.B. 1737 and H.R. 590, both of were recently approved by the House. Also announced at the news conference was a special legislative session focused on the opioid crisis, which is expected to be convened in September. “This issue isn’t a partisan one. Individuals from all across our state and from all walks of life have fallen victim to addiction,” Matzie said. “As a member of the Health Committee, I have seen members from bo Read more

 

Frankel, Sims hail bipartisan Pa. Senate action on nondiscrimination bill

(Jun 22, 2016)

State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., praised today's bipartisan, historic state Senate committee vote that sent a nondiscrimination bill to the full Senate. Read more

 

Caltagirone anti-blight bill sees action in Senate

(Jun 22, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 22 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, to rehabilitate blighted properties while fighting homelessness was reported out of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee today and sent to the full Senate for a vote. Caltagirone, who is Democratic chairman of the House Urban Affairs Committee, said his legislation ( H.B. 1500 ) would expand the power of land banks to enter into partnerships with organizations in the private sector so they can collaborate on local solutions to address the lack of housing for the homeless population in their communities. The bill passed the House in April. Land banks are entities, formed at the municipal level, granted certain powers to acquire vacant and abandoned property, and repurpose it for return to productive use. "The link between blighted property and homelessness is well documented,” Caltagirone said. “My legislation seeks to offer a solution to communities that have so far been unable to connect the resources necessary to tackle the problem. "I am grateful to my counterparts in the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee for understanding the seriousness of this issue and the need to see change for the better in our blighted communities," he said. "I am encouraged by today’s action and look forward to the day when this measure becomes law.” Last year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that at Read more

 

Organ transplant discrimination bill passes House

(Jun 21, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 21 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit discrimination of any potential organ transplant recipient on the basis of a physical or mental disability. Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, an advocate for organ donation, took up the bill after its prime sponsor, former state Rep. John Sabatina, became a state senator. "Although there is a national set of standards for transplant candidates, some institutions consider other criteria -- subjective criteria -- such as mental, developmental and physical disabilities," Petrarca said. "Using these measures can prevent those with disabilities from being considered equally for obtaining a life-saving organ donation. It's unfortunate that legislation like this is needed in this day and age." The bill (H.B. 585) would prevent an individual with a disability from being deemed ineligible for a transplant simply because of his or her disability, unless a doctor determines the disability is medically significant to receiving the organ donation. However, as long as the individual has the necessary support system to help ensure he or she can comply with post-transplant recovery, his or her inability to independently comply would not be deemed medically significant. Once law, it would be known as Paul’s Law, named after Paul Corby of Pottsville. Corby was diagnosed with a rare, congenital heart condition called left Read more

 

Measure naming Derry Veterans Memorial Bridge becomes law

(Jun 17, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – Derry's new bridge, that's currently being built, has officially been named the Derry Veterans Memorial Bridge, thanks to a law just signed by Gov. Tom Wolf. State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, introduced the measure earlier this year, which was then amended into the omnibus bill the governor signed today. "Naming the bridge in honor of the community's hometown heroes is a way for the borough and state to recognize the men and women, past, present and future, for their service to our country," Petrarca said. I am happy to have spearheaded this measure through the legislative process on their behalf." The act designates the bridge that carries state Route 217 over the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks and Second Street in Derry Borough. Petrarca said the bridge naming request was made by Derry Borough Council, Chestnut Ridge Post 444 VFW and the Derry Area Revitalization Corp. who wished to honor the area's veterans for their service to the United States and fellow man. Construction of the bridge is expected to be completed this fall. The $9.9 million project includes the bridge replacement, as well as the reconstruction of the approaching road and the various signals, lighting, guide rails and pavement markings needed. Read more

 

Dermody backs careful pension changes for future public employees

(Jun 14, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 14 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody today joined 135 of his House colleagues in approving a landmark pension reform bill that maintains benefits for current public employees and retirees while changing the pension structure for most future state and school employees. "The people of Pennsylvania want the legislature to address the state's public pension challenges," Dermody said. "This bipartisan approach to pension legislation is a huge step forward and a vast improvement to other failed attempts in recent years. The House’s amendment to the bill (S.B. 1071) would shift some financial risk away from taxpayers and would reduce future pension costs while protecting retirement security for current employees and people who already retired. “Public workers have been regularly paying their share into the system. They deserve a secure retirement," Dermody said. "At the same time, this legislation maintains a comparable level of security for teachers, state employees and other public servants hired in 2018 or later,” he said. “That's important for making sure those future workers won’t have to rely on public assistance or other safety net programs when they retire – at significant cost to state taxpayers. "Moving forward on this now will let us turn our attention to the state's larger retirement challenge: the difficulty that all workers, not just public employees, face in Read more

 

Caltagirone, advocates rally support for more pediatric cancer research funding in Pa.

(Jun 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today held a state Capitol news conference to rally support for several pieces of legislation he has introduced designed to increase funding for pediatric cancer research throughout Pennsylvania. Caltagirone was joined by pediatric cancer physicians and researchers, as well as families affected by pediatric cancer to raise awareness and garner support for his three-bill package that would allocate more than $100 million over 10 years for pediatric cancer research. House Bill 746 would establish a Pediatric Cancer Research registration license plate. It would be made available to be purchased for $50 through the state Department of Transportation. House Bill 1804 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 within the commonwealth. House Bill 1865 would offer $100 million in tax credits over the next 10 years to Pennsylvania businesses that contribute to pediatric cancer research institutions. The funding would be distributed to the four eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct research relative to pediatric cancer: 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. "We truly have a life-saving Read more

 

Bipartisan effort to pass wine and liquor modernization brings optimism for budget as deadline approaches

(Jun 10, 2016)

Bipartisan budget negotiations continued in Harrisburg this week with major action on legislation that will help close Pennsylvania’s budget deficit and increase consumer convenience with wine and liquor sales in the state. Gov. Wolf signed the wine and liquor modernization bill (H.B. 1690) into law on Wednesday. It allows wine to be sold in many more locations, including grocery stores that already sell beer, and permits the direct shipment of wine by licensed producers to consumers at their homes. The law also gives the Liquor Control Board more flexibility to set competitive prices, offer discounts and set state liquor store hours in ways that are more convenient for consumers, including Sundays and holidays. The measure is projected to increase state revenues by almost $150 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. House Democrats are encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations that took the wine and spirits convenience bill across the finish line. The General Assembly and Gov. Wolf must continue to work together to finalize a 2016-17 budget that is truly balanced , fixes the more than $1.5 billion deficit, pays the bills, supports human services and invests in education at all levels. If this week’s teamwork and collaboration is any indication, Pennsylvania will not be forced into a repeat of last year and will head down the path that starts to fix a broken Harrisburg and rightly puts people before politics. You can help move Read more

 

Dermody and Costa welcome action to improve wine purchases

(Jun 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 7 – The House of Representatives today passed a bill that would modernize and expand retail sales of wine in Pennsylvania and take other steps to increase consumer convenience. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and Liquor Control Committee Democratic Chairman Paul Costa supported the move. “This legislation will allow wine to be sold in more places, including grocery stores that already sell beer, and it will give more flexibility to the Liquor Control Board to set prices and store hours across the state in ways that are better for consumers,” Dermody said. “In addition, it’s also going to increase revenue for the state which is a positive step toward beginning to close the long-term budget deficit,” he said. The bill (H.B. 1690) also would permit direct shipment of wine by licensed producers to consumers at their homes. “There are many components to this bill that reflect discussions in the House and Senate for the last five years. Little got passed in that time because the privatization issue was a constant sticking point,” Costa said. “With this legislation, we’re taking the initiative to modernize the system so it works better for consumers while protecting nearly 5,000 existing jobs of the men and women who work in wine and spirits shops in every part of the state,” he said. The bill must be signed by the governor before becoming law. Read more

 

Sturla unveils plan that would generate $245 million annually for state budget and water-related programs

(Jun 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – At a Capitol news conference today, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced he is introducing House Bill 2114, known as the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act. The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would enact a water resource fee on 4.4 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals in Pennsylvania that has the potential to generate $245 million annually, based on current usage rates. The bill would exempt the 1.5 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals for agricultural and municipal water usages. “The Pennsylvania Constitution makes it clear that Pennsylvania’s public natural resources belong to the people of the commonwealth. This bill ensures that entities that are currently using our water for free would pay a nominal fee that will be used to fund water-related programs and projects while freeing up money for the General Assembly to close structural deficits in the state budget,” Sturla said. Water withdrawn from commonwealth waterways in excess of 10,000 gallons a day is already required to be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection. House Bill 2114 would result in a charge of 1/100th of a cent per gallon if water is withdrawn for use and eventually returned to the source. Water withdrawn and not returned beyond 10,000 gallons a day would be charged 1/10th of a cent per gallon. Revenue generated from H.B. 2144 would be used to fund water-related programs and general governmental operations in the Read more

 

Snyder: Bill would boost local highway maintenance

(Jun 03, 2016)

Rep. Pam Snyder's House Bill 2123 would provide fairer reimbursements to localities maintaining roadways once part of the state highway system. The reimbursement rate, which hasn’t been increased in 10 years, would increase the maintenance payment from the state Transportation Department to $6,000 a mile from $4,000. Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky appointed to bipartisan panel to address massive Pa. school construction and renovation 'logjam'

(Jun 01, 2016)

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, announced today that she has been appointed to the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee, also known as the PlanCon Committee, to work in a bipartisan way to review and make recommendations for a new PlanCon program. Read more

 

Sturla to unveil water fee bill to generate $245 million for state at Capitol News Conference Monday at 10:30 a.m.

(Jun 01, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 1 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that he will host a news conference to discuss his House Bill 2114 that could generate $245 million annually from a water resource fee for major water withdrawals in Pennsylvania. Weather permitting, the event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 6 on the front steps of the Main Capitol Building . In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Main Capitol Rotunda. Over 5.9 billion gallons of water are reported as used every day in the Commonwealth. Under the state constitution, Pennsylvanians own this water that is currently being used free of charge. Sturla’s legislation would use this revenue to fund state water-related programs, major watersheds, and an optional $3 billion Growing Greener bond. Cosponsors and stakeholders that helped to craft the legislation will attend. Media coverage is invited and encouraged. Read more

 

Gov. Wolf signs Donatucci’s 911 privacy bill into law

(May 27, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 27 – Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law a measure authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, designed to better protect the identity of victims, witnesses and other people placing 911 calls. “This measure will help give peace of mind to anyone who may be hesitant to call 911 for fear of retribution,” Donatucci said. “The law now protects the privacy of victims and witnesses, in addition to the caller, so that private information that should not be available for public consumption is able to remain confidential.” Under H.B. 1310 , now Act 30 of 2016, in response to a request under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, a public safety access point is prohibited from releasing the name, telephone number and home address of victims, witnesses or people calling 911. The only case in which this information would be made available is if the 911 center or a court determines it is in the public’s best interest to have such information. The location of the incident would still be public information, unless the location is the home address of the caller, victim or witness, or the disclosure of the location would compromise the identity of the caller, victim or witness. The street block identifier, cross street or mile marker nearest the incident location would also still be made public. “My colleagues and I crafted the bill in such a way that it would still provide the public the opportunity to assess the Read more

 

Productive budget discussions must include realistic proposals

(May 27, 2016)

House Democrats are eager to continue positive and productive discussions with Gov. Tom Wolf and Republicans in an effort to reach agreement on a 2016-17 budget that is truly balanced, fixes the deficit, supports human services and invests in education at all levels. But to continue to be productive, we must be realistic. Unfortunately, a group of Republican legislators this week broke from reality to put forward a report that is rife with untruths and inaccuracies. Taking discussions two steps back, these Republicans continue to mislead the public that Pennsylvania can pass budgets using short-term revenues, lapsed funds, phantom savings, improper cuts and other gimmicks. The so-called $3 billion in savings they allegedly found “under Pennsylvania’s couch cushions” is nonexistent. Most of the savings identified in the report are already accounted for in the proposed 2016-17 budget, and are necessary to meet the natural increase in the costs of maintaining current services and paying ongoing bills. Other savings identified in the report are wildly overstated or don't exist at all, such as $100 million (?!) in technology savings within CHIP, or $600 million in savings from pension reform that hasn't passed yet and that won't provide immediate budget savings anyway. Their large “savings” figure also includes an additional $1 billion cut from human services. This would further devastate state and local programs for senior Read more

 

DeLissio appointed to new Pa. Long-Term Care Council

(May 26, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 26 -- State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., has been appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council within the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council was established by Act 64 of 2015 to replace the Intra-Governmental Council of Long-Term Care, created in 1988. This Long-Term Care Council will broaden the previous scope and address topics ranging from facility based care to home and community-based services. "I am pleased to play a role on this new council," DeLissio said. "Our state ranks fourth in the country with the percentage of citizens 65 or older and citizens 85 or older are the most rapidly growing segment of seniors in the commonwealth. Our current system is difficult for consumers and caregivers to navigate and one of my goals as a member of the council will be to ensure that the continuum of housing and services is as seamless as possible." The council will consist of 35 members, and focus on six different areas of concentration: regulatory review and access to quality care; community access and public education; long-term care service models and delivery; work force; housing; and behavioral health issues of seniors 60 or older. When the law was under consideration in the House last year, DeLissio amended it to ensure consumers and caregivers were adequately represented on the council so the state could benefit from their first-hand Read more

 

Browne and Schlossberg applaud passage of rear-facing car seat bill

(May 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – State Senator Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, today applauded House passage of S.B. 1152, which would require infants younger than 2 to be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat while in a vehicle. Browne’s S.B. 1152, which is identical to legislation Schlossberg previously introduced in the House, is now on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature into law. Read more

 

Legislature must fix the deficit so that we can focus on education

(May 20, 2016)

This week Gov. Tom Wolf rightfully vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that continues to focus on school cuts rather than educational investment. Five years ago Republicans supported Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1 billion cut to K-12 schools. Those cuts created chaos in classrooms statewide. At the same time, Republicans pushed a new teacher evaluation system that is proving to have problems similar to the now-delayed Keystone Exams . Pennsylvania's first priority should be investing in its schools and hiring more teachers, not shortchanging kids by laying off their most experienced and dedicated teachers. It’s time to move forward, and time for Republicans and Democrats to come together on a state budget that puts a greater focus on educational investment from pre-school through college. Speaking of college, a new study shows public universities in Pennsylvania have been losing state funding at twice the rate of schools in other states. The Corbett cuts of 2011 contributed to that distinction and caused a loss of funding for various Pennsylvania universities of between 18 to 22 percent. As a result, the average tuition debt of college graduates in Pennsylvania is $33,264. Only graduates in New Hampshire face higher debt. High tuition rates and high student debt is hurting both access to education and Pennsylvania's workforce and businesses. The modest 5 percent increase in the 2015-16 budget still leaves state funding for most public universities in Read more

 

Gainey calls for more funding to address Pa.’s opioid crisis
Jun 24, 2016

Committee holds public hearing on Readshaw's involuntary commitment bill
Jun 23, 2016

Matzie: Bipartisan effort is our only option in ending opioid crisis
Jun 23, 2016

Frankel, Sims hail bipartisan Pa. Senate action on nondiscrimination bill
Jun 22, 2016

Caltagirone anti-blight bill sees action in Senate
Jun 22, 2016

Organ transplant discrimination bill passes House
Jun 21, 2016

Measure naming Derry Veterans Memorial Bridge becomes law
Jun 17, 2016

Dermody backs careful pension changes for future public employees
Jun 14, 2016

Caltagirone, advocates rally support for more pediatric cancer research funding in Pa.
Jun 13, 2016

Bipartisan effort to pass wine and liquor modernization brings optimism for budget as deadline approaches
Jun 10, 2016

Dermody and Costa welcome action to improve wine purchases
Jun 07, 2016

Sturla unveils plan that would generate $245 million annually for state budget and water-related programs
Jun 06, 2016

Snyder: Bill would boost local highway maintenance
Jun 03, 2016

Krueger-Braneky appointed to bipartisan panel to address massive Pa. school construction and renovation 'logjam'
Jun 01, 2016

Sturla to unveil water fee bill to generate $245 million for state at Capitol News Conference Monday at 10:30 a.m.
Jun 01, 2016

Gov. Wolf signs Donatucci’s 911 privacy bill into law
May 27, 2016

Productive budget discussions must include realistic proposals
May 27, 2016

DeLissio appointed to new Pa. Long-Term Care Council
May 26, 2016

Browne and Schlossberg applaud passage of rear-facing car seat bill
May 23, 2016

Legislature must fix the deficit so that we can focus on education
May 20, 2016