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Caltagirone introduces bill to legalize video gaming

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today said he has introduced legislation that would create the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Act. Specifically, H.B. 1182 would legalize video poker for adults 21 and older at establishments that are licensed to sell liquor such as bars, taverns and clubs. Establishments would be permitted to operate up to five video gaming machines and would be subjected to a criminal background check performed by the Pennsylvania State Police before being awarded a license. "We're staring at a $2 billion budget hole and we're sitting on a potential gold mine," Caltagirone said. "This is a prime time to enact a new revenue source to help spur economic development throughout struggling cities and towns and get our state back on track." The legislation also would create the Municipal Economic Development Fund. Money within the fund, acquired through video gaming profits, would be distributed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development as grants for local municipalities' economic development projects. Caltagirone added the funding formula for how video gaming proceeds would be distributed includes 50 percent to the licensed establishment, 20 percent to the licensed operator, 29 percent to the Municipal Economic Development Fund, and 1 percent to the host municipality. "This bill could provide an additional and needed revenue source for local Read more

 

Harris: People deserve a second chance

(Jun 10, 2015)

Joined by state Reps. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, and Cris Dush, R-Jefferson/Indiana, along with Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association members, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., called for support for bipartisan legislation to permit expungement of specific offenses from a person’s criminal record provided certain criteria are met. Read more

 

Roebuck to introduce strong, bipartisan Pa. charter school reform bill

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, will introduce a bipartisan bill that would carry out strong charter school reforms. "This bill would make the reforms our students and taxpayers need. It has bipartisan support from the start, so it's more likely that Governor Wolf can and would sign it into law instead of vetoing it. The legislature and governor have a lot to get done this year and we need to work together," Roebuck said. "There are charter schools that are innovative and provide a good education, but we must have the tools to deal with the bad apples, and we shouldn't overpay for the good ones. Our children and taxpayers deserve better." In March, the House passed a charter-school bill (H.B. 530) on party lines. Roebuck said that bill falls short on needed reforms and oversight, would override local control and would cut Wolf out of a proposed school funding commission. Roebuck's new bill includes: Setting a tuition rate of $5,950 for each non-special-education cyber charter school student, based on the highest-spending comparable high-performing online education programs offered by Pennsylvania intermediate units. This resembles what Wolf proposed in his budget. "This bill would return $160 million to school districts, which are largely funded by property taxes. That is a much better deal for students and Read more

 

DeLuca pharmacy technician bill passes House

(Jun 09, 2015)

House Bill 854, introduced by state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, would require pharmacy technicians to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a criminal background check and complete a board-approved training program before being permitted to register with the state. Read more

 

House OKs Snyder bill clarifying minors’ consent for health services

(Jun 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG , June 9 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the House of Representatives today unanimously passed her bill that would clarify when minors’ consent for mental health treatment is needed. "Confusion surrounding consent issues is causing great pain to families frantic for help and the young people needing mental health examinations and treatments," Snyder said. "My House Bill 337 would end the delays to treatment and enable health care professionals to begin care expediently and responsibly." Snyder said changes made in 2004 to the Minor Consent to Medical, Dental, and Health Services Act created confusion among providers, minors and parents regarding the rights of each. "My bill would enable the state Department of Human Services to issue guidelines regarding minors’ consent to mental health treatment," Snyder said. "The regulations would detail the conditions when consent is needed, and provide for more uniform application of the standards so recovery-oriented programs can be implemented more quickly." Snyder told her House colleagues that the legislation was prompted by a call from a family desperate to find help for their child. The family was stymied by the confusion surrounding the mental health law affecting minors. "I believe that all of us – and the communities where we live – will be safer and stronger once the needed changes are made to the Read more

 

Harris appointed to powerful House Rules Committee

(Jun 09, 2015)

State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Tuesday was appointed to the House Rules Committee by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. Read more

 

Bill to extend Persian Gulf Veterans’ Bonus Program passes Pa. House

(Jun 02, 2015)

State Rep. Neal P. Goodman’s legislation that would extend the Persian Gulf Veterans’ Bonus Program for three more years passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tuesday. The program, which provides a small, one-time stipend to veterans of the first Gulf War, is set to expire on Aug. 31. Read more

 

Retirement security to be focus of Democratic Policy Committee hearing Thursday in Harrisburg

(Jun 02, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 2 – House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the committee will hold a public hearing about a national perspective of retirement security from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4 in the House Minority Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg. Read more

 

Mullery bill would protect workers from hidden fees in debit payroll cards

(Jun 01, 2015)

State Rep. Gerald Mullery has introduced legislation (H.B. 1274) that would ensure employees who are paid with a debit card have access to the full amount of their wages and no-cost access to their accounts. Read more

 

Frankel applauds historic Commonwealth Court ruling to protect patients in western Pennsylvania

(May 29, 2015)

PITTSBURGH, May 29 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement in light of the ruling today by Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini in the ongoing dispute between UPMC and Highmark: "Today’s decision by Judge Pellegrini is a momentous victory for consumers in western Pennsylvania. Under this decision, UPMC is required to continue to see Highmark Medicare Advantage patients at in-network rates which means that 180,000 seniors will not lose access to their doctors," Frankel said. "The decision is important in several ways. Not only does it resolve the ongoing confusion regarding Medicare Advantage, it requires both UPMC and Highmark to resolve outstanding issues related to their consent decrees through binding arbitration which must be completed by September 30, 2015. In doing so, this decision could help provide clarity to hundreds of thousands of consumers in Pennsylvania who’ve been held hostage by this ongoing situation," Frankel said. "Additionally, Judge Pellegrini made it clear that neither entity can make changes in their future business relationship with each other without court approval. The decision also requires the Commonwealth to make recommendations on how to change the corporate governance structure of both entities. This could lead to long-term changes in UPMC and Highmark’s behavior that reorients them to an even stronger commitment to serve Read more

 

Carroll to propose moratorium on Keystone Exams as graduation requirement

(May 28, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, will introduce an omnibus Public School Code bill that would establish a moratorium on Keystone Exams being used as a requirement for graduation. Carroll said this suspension would benefit students and their families, while offering much-needed relief to school districts that face significant financial and educational obstacles to fully implement the graduation requirement. "It has become ever more apparent to me that the linkage of Keystone exam passage to graduation is riddled with problems and that more thought is required to assess students with a wide range of abilities," said Carroll, a member of the House Education Committee. "A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works in the real word and the Keystone exam requirement is no exception." Carroll said this provision of his pending bill complements an effort by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, Democratic chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Carroll's bill also will include all of Gov. Tom Wolf's education code changes, except that his bill will go beyond Wolf's plan to ensure fairness in special education funding for both charter and cyber charter schools. It will seek to accomplish this by applying the special education formula recommended by the Special Education Funding Commission to both charter and cyber charter schools. Another key difference between the Wolf plan and Read more

 

Schweyer, Schlossberg call for study on income inequality in Pa. (with video)

(May 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 26 – State Reps. Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, both D-Lehigh, have introduced a resolution that would examine the unfair balance of income and the factors that contribute to it in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 326 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on income inequality in the commonwealth. The study would include factors that have contributed to the increase in income inequality over the last several decades, gender differences in education levels and occupations and how they contribute to the gender wage gap, comparing wages for working minorities and working non-minorities with the same level of education, comparing wages for minority women and non-minority women with the same level of education, and comparing wages for men and women in female-dominated, gender-balanced and male-dominated occupations. “We can only begin fixing a problem by fully understanding it,” Schweyer said. “There have been concerns over the issue from business, community and economic leaders and faith-based communities in my district, so we really need to get our arms around it.” Click on the picture below to see more of Schweyer's comments: "Income inequality is the greatest challenge of our modern society; the rich have more and the poor have less than at any point since the Great Recession," Schlossberg said. "We must gain a better understanding of the specific challenges Read more

 

Bill would ease the cost of background clearance fees for firefighters/EMS workers

(May 22, 2015)

LEVITTOWN, May 21 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today introduced legislation that would exempt experienced emergency responders from fees totaling more than $47 for state and federal background clearances. “I understand and endorse the need for better protections for our children,” Davis said. “However, first responders who have proven their integrity and value to their communities deserve a break from the financial burdens of such background checks.” Flanked by emergency responders at the Newportville Fire Company station, Davis said her House Bill 1081 would spare paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service responders from the $10 clearances from the state police and state Department of Human Services and the $27.50 fee for an FBI criminal background clearance. Those fees and clearances are requirements under new laws enacted last year in an effort to better address how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. “Many if not most of our experienced first responders have previously received clearances as a condition of their employment or service,” Davis said. “My measure would exempt them from burdensome fees as well as the FBI clearance requirements if they have clean records and have been state residents for the last 10 years.” “Our firefighters and EMS providers save lives and property throughout the commonwealth every day, and I believe they deserve to be spared from clearance fees Read more

 

Daley, Frankel legislation calls for tax increase on cigarettes, other tobacco products

(May 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – State Reps. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, and Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, recently introduced legislation that would both help enhance public health and generate revenue in the commonwealth. House Bill 1213 would increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and impose a 40 percent tax on the wholesale price of other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipes, “roll-your-own” tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Daley said imposing these taxes could help deter young people from using cigarettes and OTPs. “Many teens succumb to peer pressure by using tobacco products and end up becoming life-time users,” Daley said. “What’s troubling is there are now alternative products, such as e-cigarettes, that are growing in popularity and have the same addicting effects as regular cigarettes. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of a million young people who had never smoked a cigarette used e-cigarettes in 2013.” Frankel said Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that does not impose some type of tax on smokeless tobacco and one of two states that does not tax cigars. “It’s time that Pennsylvania joins every other state in the nation in levying a fair tax on these kinds of tobacco products,” Frankel said. “We’re faced with a $2 billion structural budget deficit and we cannot continue to overlook reasonable Read more

 

Schlossberg introduces legislation to help state pay for success

(May 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, introduced legislation this week that would allow the Office of the Budget and other agencies to enter into pay-for-success agreements, which is an important component of Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 state budget proposal. The pay-for-success model, which is currently operating in many states, including Massachusetts and New York, would allow the commonwealth to enter into partnerships with philanthropic and private sector investors who would provide upfront capital to cover the costs of certain programs and services. Read more

 

McCarter named to House Education Committee

(May 15, 2015)

State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, was appointed to the House Education Committee on Wednesday. Read more

 

Caltagirone: House passes bill to encourage redevelopment of abandoned and blighted properties

(May 13, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 13 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House of Representatives today unanimously passed a measure designed to incentivize economic development in cities and towns across the state. House Bill 613 would establish the Tax Exemption and Mixed-Use Incentive Program. It is designed to provide tax exemption incentives to developers and property owners in order to encourage new construction in deteriorated areas of depressed communities and improvements to certain deteriorated commercial, residential and industrial property. Caltagirone, a co-sponsor of the bill, said a primary focus of the legislation is to encourage mixed-use development. Such development would include projects that incorporate residential, commercial, industrial, cultural or institutional uses. "Mixed-use development is the tie that binds improved housing, retail and business spaces," Caltagirone said. "We're narrowing-in on places that need help the most. "Revitalizing a main street, downtown or any economically depressed area is a huge undertaking – it takes incentives. These tax incentives stand to breathe life back into suffering boroughs, towns and cities." The bill also would provide a yearly exemption schedule for eligible properties. For instance, during the first, second and third years of improvements or new construction, 100 percent of the eligible tax assessment would be Read more

 

Snyder: Measure honoring local military heroes signed into law

(May 13, 2015)

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law state Rep. Pam Snyder's measure honoring two members of America’s armed forces from southwestern Pennsylvania killed in action in Vietnam and Somalia. Act 3 of 2015 names the Exit 28 Mon-Fayette Expressway Interchange with state routes 43 and 88 in Centerville, Washington County, as the Marine Corporal Thomas R. Matty Memorial Interchange. It also names the Route 88 bridge over Muddy Creek in Cumberland Township, Greene County, as the Army Corporal Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Read more

 

Kinsey Honors Korean Armistice Anniversary

(May 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, MAY 12, 2015 - Pa. state Rep. Stephen Kinsey honors the 62nd Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement with a unanimously approved resolution in the House of Representatives. Read more

 

Youngblood to revive effort to ensure tax fairness with Pa. lottery winnings

(May 12, 2015)

PHILADELPHIA, May 12 – Seeking to end Pennsylvania’s status as one of only two states that fail to tax state lottery winnings, state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., plans to introduce bills to close that loophole and start generating millions of dollars in new revenue. Youngblood’s two-bill package will mirror H.B. 1969 and H.B. 1970 from last legislative session, with the former removing the State Lottery Law tax exemption for winnings and the latter striking the exemption from the state Tax Reform Code. California is the only other state that doesn’t tax its state lottery winnings, said Youngblood, noting that Pennsylvania’s 3.07 percent personal income tax already applies to winnings from casino gambling, pari-mutuel thoroughbred horse racing and harness horse racing, games of chance and bingo. “These proposals have the potential to raise significant revenue for the commonwealth, without negatively impacting consumers, the poor, small businesses, working families or anyone relying on a fixed income,” Youngblood said. “Plus, my initiatives would end a double standard, whereby all gambling proceeds are subject to the state personal income tax except those doled out by the Pennsylvania lottery.” Youngblood, who serves as secretary of the House Democratic Caucus and has launched a legislative agenda called People 1st, said obtaining needed state revenue by closing loopholes fits Read more

 

Caltagirone introduces bill to legalize video gaming
Jun 10, 2015

Harris: People deserve a second chance
Jun 10, 2015

Roebuck to introduce strong, bipartisan Pa. charter school reform bill
Jun 10, 2015

DeLuca pharmacy technician bill passes House
Jun 09, 2015

House OKs Snyder bill clarifying minors’ consent for health services
Jun 09, 2015

Harris appointed to powerful House Rules Committee
Jun 09, 2015

Bill to extend Persian Gulf Veterans’ Bonus Program passes Pa. House
Jun 02, 2015

Retirement security to be focus of Democratic Policy Committee hearing Thursday in Harrisburg
Jun 02, 2015

Mullery bill would protect workers from hidden fees in debit payroll cards
Jun 01, 2015

Frankel applauds historic Commonwealth Court ruling to protect patients in western Pennsylvania
May 29, 2015

Carroll to propose moratorium on Keystone Exams as graduation requirement
May 28, 2015

Schweyer, Schlossberg call for study on income inequality in Pa. (with video)
May 26, 2015

Bill would ease the cost of background clearance fees for firefighters/EMS workers
May 22, 2015

Daley, Frankel legislation calls for tax increase on cigarettes, other tobacco products
May 21, 2015

Schlossberg introduces legislation to help state pay for success
May 21, 2015

McCarter named to House Education Committee
May 15, 2015

Caltagirone: House passes bill to encourage redevelopment of abandoned and blighted properties
May 13, 2015

Snyder: Measure honoring local military heroes signed into law
May 13, 2015

Kinsey Honors Korean Armistice Anniversary
May 12, 2015

Youngblood to revive effort to ensure tax fairness with Pa. lottery winnings
May 12, 2015