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House Democratic leaders highlight coordinated misinformation and intimidation tactics to push back against public health protection

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

 

Mullery legislation to help ease burden on club licensees

(Jan 26, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today introduced legislation that would help ease the reporting and fundraising burdens on club licensees under the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act. Currently, state law requires clubs with proceeds exceeding $20,000 in a year to submit annual reports. These reports provide information on proceeds from each game of chance and the amount of prizes awarded, itemized weekly. Mullery said his legislation would change that requirement from weekly to quarterly. "House Bill 1807 does not change the information provided to the state -- it simply eases the reporting timeline," Mullery said. "Filling out this necessary paperwork would not be as burdensome for our veteran and fraternal organizations and other nonprofit clubs." Mullery's bill also would increase the fundraising limit from $40,000 annually to $60,000 annually, allowing clubs to satisfy their charitable mission. Read more

 

Republican leadership ignores task at hand

(Jan 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12 – As Pennsylvania’s budget impasse approaches its 200 th day, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody commented on the unfinished work and said Republican leaders have failed to engage in substantive discussions since December. “Pennsylvania still needs a full-year budget and what we need from House Republican leaders is seriousness. Three weeks ago we were on the cusp of getting such a budget finished, less than a day away, but the Republican leaders instead shut the House down and sent everyone home. “The House resumed session this week and lawmakers returned hoping to get real work done, but all we got was more delay and distraction,” Dermody said. “The House Republican leaders dictated that rather than work on a real balanced budget, the House would spend its first two legislative days of 2016 considering bills to inadequately fund local schools for the remainder of the fiscal year, increase funds to a select group of universities even though there’s no budget to fund those appropriations, and reject a negotiated bipartisan funding plan that would be fairer to all schools. “Pennsylvania continues to make history with this budget impasse and the House Republican leaders are on the wrong side of that history. “They need to stop playing games and concentrate – along with the governor and the rest of the legislature -- on passing a complete, balanced and full-year state budget that fairly Read more

 

Goodman bills would help prevent trail camera theft, require additional education for Game Commission violators

(Dec 15, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 15 – State Rep. Neal P. Goodman today introduced legislation that would add trail cameras to a section of the state’s Game Code that addresses theft or destruction of hunting property, such as tree stands, blinds and decoys. In addition, H.B. 1764 would increase penalties for violations of this section of the Game Code from a second-degree summary to a first-degree summary. A first-degree summary violation is punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $1,500, and a possible jail sentence of up to three months. “As trail cameras have become more popular, there has been a spike in the amount of them being stolen,” said Goodman, a Schuylkill County Democrat and avid outdoorsman. “Hunters spend a significant amount of money on trail cameras and other equipment, and the goal of my legislation is to help protect their investment.” As an additional deterrent, the bill also would require any licensed hunter found guilty of this section of the Game Code to lose their hunting and trapping privileges for a year. Goodman also introduced legislation, H.B. 1765, that would require any hunter who had their hunting privileges suspended to take a remedial hunter education and safety course before receiving a new license. “I believe the fact that a hunter’s license has been suspended is proof enough that they are in need of the additional education and attention provided by the remedial hunter education course,” Goodman Read more

 

House passes Goodman bill to protect veterans’ access to prescription assistance programs

(Nov 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 24 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed state Rep. Neal P. Goodman’s legislation that would allow state veterans to participate in a prescription drug assistance program if a state veterans benefit or federal disability payment puts them over the income limit. “Our veterans should not be excluded from PACE and PACENET just because they receive a small stipend or bonus as a result of their service to our country,” said Goodman, D-Schuylkill. Goodman thanked his colleagues for supporting H.B. 493, and said he’s hopeful the state Senate will take up the legislation soon. Some of the veteran benefit programs addressed by Goodman’s bill include the Blind Veterans Pension and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension, both of which provide a maximum of $1,800 to a veteran per year. The Persian Gulf Veteran’s Bonus Program, which provides a one-time stipend of up to $525 to veterans of the first Gulf War, also is addressed in the legislation. That program was recently extended until 2018 through a law Goodman authored. Goodman also noted about 95,000 veterans receive federal Veterans Administration disability payments. PACE and PACENET provide prescription assistance to Pennsylvanians 65 or older. The income limits for PACE eligibility are $14,500 for a single person and $17,700 for a married couple. PACENET income limits are slightly higher. For a single person, total income can be between Read more

 

Goodman bill to help more veterans qualify for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program wins committee’s OK

(Nov 18, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee today voted out state Rep. Neal P. Goodman’s legislation that would allow Pennsylvania veterans to participate in the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program if a state veterans benefit puts them over the income cutoff. “Many Pennsylvania veterans, including those who were blinded, lost a limb or were paralyzed as a result of their service, receive small stipends from the state that could push them over the income limit for this popular program,” said Goodman, D-Schuylkill. “It’s unfair to exclude them simply because they are receiving a few extra dollars because of their service to our country.” Goodman said he learned that the law needed to be fixed after finding out that veterans’ benefit payments put one of his constituents over the PTRR income limit. Goodman thanked committee members for advancing House Bill 493, and said he looks forward to a vote by the full state House. Some of the veteran benefit programs addressed by Goodman’s bill include the Blind Veterans Pension and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veteran Pension, both of which provide a maximum of $1,800 to a veteran per year. The Persian Gulf Veteran’s Bonus Program, which provides a one-time stipend of up to $525 to veterans of the first Gulf War, also is addressed in the legislation. That program was recently extended until 2018 through a law Goodman authored. The Property Read more

 

Goodman’s campaign finance reform bill seeks transparency, accountability for ‘dark money’ groups

(Nov 16, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – State Rep. Neal P. Goodman has introduced legislation that would make it easier to identify the funding source for advertisements independent organizations use to influence the outcome of an election or a political dispute, such as the ongoing budget impasse. House Bill 1695 would require 501(c) and 527 groups that engage in electioneering and issue-advocacy activities to file campaign finance reports detailing their spending if it exceeds $1,000, as well as the names of donors contributing $100 or more. These groups are sometimes called “dark money” groups because of their lack of disclosure. Goodman’s legislation also would require these advertisements to include a statement informing voters of the organization paying for the advertisement and where they can review its campaign finance reports. “During the past several years, Pennsylvanians have been bombarded with ads from these groups,” Goodman said. “Our residents should know the identity of groups that seek to shape public opinion, and, more importantly, where their money comes from.” Goodman said that this is an issue that concerns both Democrats and Republicans. State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Chester County Republican, has introduced the same legislation in his chamber. Both bills are modeled after a 2013 Delaware law, Delaware’s Election Disclosure Act, which was upheld after being challenged in federal courts. Goodman said Read more

 

Republican plan would weaken public health and safety for political gain

(Oct 20, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – House Democratic leaders today denounced a vote made by House Republicans attempting an end run on state regulations that protect public health, safety and more. The House voted on legislation that would add lengthy delays to the nonpartisan Independent Regulatory Review Commission process of finalizing regulations proposed by state government agencies. Under the bill (H.B. 965), the chairmen of standing committees could potentially bring the regulatory process to a halt by using a provision that prohibits IRRC from acting on a proposed regulation for a specified number of calendar days or “legislative” days, whichever is longer. Because of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, all committee chairmen are Republicans. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, said the timing of the bill is significant. “Changing IRRC and ‘reforming’ the regulatory process only seems to interest Republicans when a Democrat moves into the governor’s office,” Dermody said. “A similar push was made when Governor Ed Rendell was in office. No significant attempt was made during Governor Tom Corbett’s time in office but now, yet again, Republicans want to revisit IRRC. “This legislation is a dangerous abuse of power that has no place in the checks and balance system that separates us from dictatorships,” Dermody said. House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, Read more

 

Sturla calls on Republicans to address structural deficit in ongoing budget negotiations

(Oct 07, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said he voted today to eliminate the structural deficit and adequately fund education and human services. “Structural deficit spending has been going on for seven years now and it’s catching up with the state. Pennsylvania has received five credit downgrades in the past three years. The amendment that was defeated today would have addressed the deficit and went a long way in restoring the cuts to education and human services over the past administration’s tenure,” Sturla explained. Sturla said that while he is disappointed that the legislation did not pass, he pleased that legislators across the aisle are acknowledging the state’s fiscal problems. “It took 99 days for Republicans to finally acknowledge that there is a structural budget deficit. Moving forward, that information needs to be just as much a part of negotiations as adequately funding schools, human service and property tax relief for our most vulnerable citizens,” Sturla said. “It’s taken years for the poor fiscal management of years’ past to catch up with the state and result in credit downgrades. We need to act now to improve our finances because it will take years of sound decisions to climb out of the hole.” Sturla also noted that a modest personal income tax would keep Pennsylvania among the lowest personal income taxes in the nation. “The structural budget Read more

 

Sturla calls on Republicans to end political gamesmanship and move a responsible Pa. Budget

(Aug 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, August 25 – Two months past the June 30 state budget deadline, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, called on Republicans to stop wasting time and negotiate a responsible budget for all Pennsylvanians. “Today’s political stunt was a waste of time and attempted overrides of a line-item budget that was vetoed by the governor. It’s a charade that makes it appear as though the same people that are responsible for the 10 percent cuts to human services are now looking out for our most vulnerable citizens. The bottom line is, today’s stunt won’t filter money to these organizations any faster and it won’t restore those cuts.” Sturla said Republicans should work on a budget that doesn’t contain accounting gimmicks and adjustments that result in structural deficits, and ultimately have led to five credit rating downgrades for the state over the last three years. “This is an unconstitutional process that is giving false hope to our local human service providers. I would implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to stop with the political gamesmanship and invest their time engaging in meaningful negotiations and concessions that move Pennsylvania forward, restore their cuts to education and human services and lift Pennsylvania from the bottom of the pack in job creation.” Read more

 

Sturla says 2015-16 budget perpetuates mistakes of years past

(Jun 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said he voted against a Republican spending plan that fails to restore education funding, address the structural deficit or bring any property tax relief to Pennsylvania homeowners. “For the past four years, Republicans who controlled the legislature in both the House and Senate, along with a Republican governor, passed one irresponsible budget after another. Four years of mismanagement eliminated 20,000 teachers and school staff resulting in larger class sizes, declining test scores and skyrocketing local property taxes. It caused the Commonwealth credit rating to be downgraded multiple times and allowed the Commonwealth to drop from seventh in job creation to 50 th . We cannot afford another year of the same irresponsible policies that have placed the state in its current fiscal predicament and that’s what this budget proposal does,” Sturla said. Sturla said the plan over-projects future revenues and relies on one-time revenue sources and accounting gimmicks, guaranteeing a built-in structural deficit for next year. “This is another budget that runs the state into the ground. It puts off Social Security payments as an accounting gimmick to ring in a ‘balanced’ budget. Pennsylvania families can’t fudge the numbers to balance their budget and there are serious ramifications for putting off paying the Commonwealth’s obligations. The numbers tell the story and Read more

 

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

Mullery legislation to help ease burden on club licensees
Jan 26, 2016

Republican leadership ignores task at hand
Jan 12, 2016

Goodman bills would help prevent trail camera theft, require additional education for Game Commission violators
Dec 15, 2015

House passes Goodman bill to protect veterans’ access to prescription assistance programs
Nov 24, 2015

Goodman bill to help more veterans qualify for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program wins committee’s OK
Nov 18, 2015

Goodman’s campaign finance reform bill seeks transparency, accountability for ‘dark money’ groups
Nov 16, 2015

Republican plan would weaken public health and safety for political gain
Oct 20, 2015

Sturla calls on Republicans to address structural deficit in ongoing budget negotiations
Oct 07, 2015

Sturla calls on Republicans to end political gamesmanship and move a responsible Pa. Budget
Aug 25, 2015

Sturla says 2015-16 budget perpetuates mistakes of years past
Jun 27, 2015