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House Democrats elect leaders for upcoming legislative session

Snyder introduces measure to help veterans’ service organizations

(Sep 29, 2020)

CARMICHAELS, Sept. 29 – State Rep. Pam Snyder has introduced a bill to help veterans’ service organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters, which have been financially impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said her measure would create a one-time grant program to help these struggling clubs with expenses they’ve incurred during the public health crisis. “These clubs provide so much to our communities, from blood drives, to youth sports, and the support to our local veterans,” Snyder said. “They’ve been hit extremely hard by this pandemic, and this grant program would be a huge help to them. My measure would also include a provision to ensure those service organizations that hold liquor licenses are not prohibited from operating solely because they don’t serve food, provided they continue to follow all other licensee rules.” More information on her bill can be found by clicking here . Read more

 

The Pa. Legislative Black Caucus condemns grand jury decision in slaying of Breonna Taylor, continues fight for police reform

(Sep 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 28 – Days after a Kentucky grand jury’s failure to indict one of the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on charges related to her killing, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with PLBC members, said the decision is a grim reminder of how Black lives — more specifically Black women’s lives — are devalued. However, in the spirit of the esteemed PLBC’s core mission of dismantling systemic racism across the commonwealth, the caucus of legislators collectively vowed to use this pain to fuel their ongoing fight for racial justice and meaningful police reform. Kinsey, D-Phila., a father of four Black daughters, expressed that he is especially saddened. He also dissipated the attempts to vilify her memory by reflecting on Breonna’s life and her dedication to public service as a first responder on the frontlines of this pandemic. “I am a father of four Black daughters and my heart is breaking for Breonna and her family as she reflects my own girls. I see their brilliance, their strengths, and their vulnerabilities. It pains me to know that Black girls and women are denied protection and the privilege of being viewed as whole,” the chairman said. “I want to buck that narrative: Breonna was a caring young woman who had a bright future. She effortlessly juggled enjoying life and a Read more

 

Boyle, Kenyatta to introduce legislation to ensure democracy isn't compromised in the November election

(Sep 28, 2020)

Just weeks before the general election, state Reps. Kevin Boyle and Malcolm Kenyatta are introducing legislation to strengthen Pennsylvania's election laws and help ensure democracy isn't compromised in November. "It's no secret that this president will go to great lengths to ensure victory, no matter what the American people want," said House State Government Committee Democratic Chairman Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery. "With Pennsylvania being a key battleground state, we have a responsibility in the state legislature to close unnecessary loopholes and make sure everyone's vote counts." Boyle said today their proposal would crackdown on so-called faithless electors by amending Pennsylvania's Election Code to require presidential electors to vote for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in the commonwealth during the general election. Under this plan, which is similar to Colorado and Oklahoma's law, faithless electors who vote against the candidates they vowed to support, would: Face a misdemeanor punishable by fine. Have their vote invalidated. Be replaced. “Faithless electors disregard the will of the people and ultimately tarnish the integrity of our democracy,” Kenyatta Read more

 

PSOH designates Rep. Bizzarro 2020 Legislator of the Year

(Sep 25, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 -- State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, said today he is honored to be recognized by the Pennsylvania Society of Oncologists and Hematologists as the 2020 Legislator of the Year. Read more

 

House Democrats fight to protect people’s health and access to care

(Sep 25, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sep. 25 – This week, PA House Democrats reacted to the relentless attack on the Affordable Care Act by President Trump and Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. by publicly calling for a vote on four bills to make sure people don’t lose their access to health care and insurance – coverage that’s more vital than ever in the era of COVID-19. “While Republicans are focused on nothing more than trying to force working people back into dangerous situations by undoing the virus mitigation efforts that have saved thousands of lives, we are focused on people’s safety, jobs and health,” House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, said. “President Trump has had the Affordable Care Act in his sights since Day One, and now he and congressional Republicans are looking to tilt the Supreme Court right before a decision that could end the ACA. Nothing matters more than making sure people can afford to see a doctor when they get sick, and it’s time for the majority party here in Pennsylvania to join us and put those people first.” “Now, more than ever, people need to know they can continue to see their doctor and get the care they need without having to worry about insurmountable medical bills,” House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “Unfortunately, we can be called back to Harrisburg at the drop of a hat to play political games, but not to deal with this Read more

 

Bizzarro submits resolution designating Nov. 22 Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day

(Sep 24, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro today introduced a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives designating Nov. 22, 2020 as Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day. Read more

 

Dermody on veto override: end the legislative games

(Sep 23, 2020)

Following the House session that included a veto override vote on HB2787, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody issued this statement: “Despite an effort by House Republicans to dismantle an important health protection measure related to school sports, the House voted today to sustain Gov. Wolf’s veto of the bill. “It’s regrettable that the majority party spent so much time and effort on this misdirected effort when many more serious matters demand attention, including providing hazard pay and PPE for frontline workers, time-sensitive election reforms, help for small businesses and ensuring the continuation of health insurance coverage. House Democrats have sought movement on these urgent issues for months while Republicans flailed about in a pointless political skirmish with the governor. “The urgency of serious legislative action on these other issues became even more apparent in the last week with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the imminent appointment of a Supreme Court nominee who will vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “Today, House Democrats took action to protect Pennsylvania health care consumers by filing resolutions to discharge four bills from the House Health Committee where they have been stuck since April, after previously sitting untouched for more than a year in the House Insurance Committee. In the interest of protecting lifesaving insurance coverage for Pennsylvanians, Democrats will pursue Read more

 

Trumpism threatens judicial independence in Pennsylvania

(Sep 18, 2020)

The radical right agenda has infiltrated the Pennsylvania legislature and threatens the independence of our judiciary. We rely on a fair and independent judicial system to administer equal justice under the law, free from outside pressure and influence. But, as we approach a critically important election, that independence is on the line because of a politically motivated attempt to rig our courts. The most radicalized Republican members of the legislature reign over districts simply because they picked their constituents through gerrymandering. The lack of compromise, civility and gridlock in Harrisburg can be directly linked to gerrymandering. The same radicalized Republicans in control in Harrisburg are pushing H.B. 196, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create judicial districts for our appellate courts, rather than elect them on a statewide basis. It’s a bad bill that shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the judiciary and its role in our society. Appellate court decisions impact the rights of all Pennsylvanians, from Erie to King of Prussia and everywhere in between. Appellate judges are elected to interpret our laws, not to represent any particular special interests or regional biases. Judges are to be free of influence and not bring their own agenda to the courts. Electing judges from districts drawn by radicalized politicians would make those judges increasingly beholden to special interests instead of the law, Read more

 

Matzie introduces bill to trace COVID-19 through wastewater

(Sep 18, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 18 – A bill introduced today by state Rep. Rob Matzie would establish a more effective way to trace and detect COVID-19 before it spreads by creating a system of testing for the virus in wastewater. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said his H.B. 2883 would establish the Targeted Outbreak Detection Act, creating a wastewater-testing program that is both cost-effective and more efficient than traditional methods of tracking the virus. “While temperature checks and crowd-size limits are helpful in slowing the spread of COVID-19, these techniques are not practical in the long term,” Matzie said. “Testing for the virus in wastewater would allow health authorities to know if the virus is present before people feel ill and inadvertently spread it, providing a critical way to contain clusters before major outbreaks occur.” Matzie said implementing COVID-19 wastewater tracing would be feasible and relatively simple because testing resources are already in place. “Most wastewater treatment systems are already required to perform routine testing of water samples,” Matzie said. “Sending a portion of those samples, on request, to a designated laboratory to test for the presence of COVID-19 would establish a critical early warning system that would arm health authorities with the data they need to better protect our communities.” Matzie said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is Read more

 

Kortz introduces bill to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance

(Sep 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – State Rep. Bill Kortz’s legislation would allow vehicle owners to pay a fine, verses facing license suspension, for driving without insurance, ensuring accidental lapses in insurance do not hinder a person’s ability to drive and earn a living. Kortz, D-Allegheny, said current law allows owners to pay a $500 civil penalty instead of facing a mandatory three-month vehicle registration suspension if the driver fails to maintain auto insurance. However, if the vehicle is operated without insurance, there isn’t a similar option. “House Bill 2478 would fix this issue by allowing owners who are able to show proof they bought auto insurance to pay the fine instead of serving a license suspension,” Kortz said. “This change would be a huge help to commercial drivers who face this three-month license suspension, even if the lapse in insurance occurred in their own personal vehicle.” Kortz added his bill would only allow owners to exercise this option once every five years. More information on the measure can be found at the following link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2019&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=2478 . Read more

 

Rep. Bizzarro resolution designates September 2020 ‘Light the Night Walk’ Month

(Sep 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 17 – The state House today unanimously adopted state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro’s H.R. 978 recognizing the importance of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s ‘Light the Night Walk’ events. Bizzarro, a leukemia survivor, introduced H.R. 978, which designates September 2020 as “Light the Night Walk Month” in Pennsylvania, raising awareness of blood cancers and support of survivors and their families. “Light the Night walks help to bring light to the darkness of cancer, showing support of those living with cancer and bringing awareness to blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma,” Bizzarro said. “These events are a community display of care to those living with cancer – and their families – and a way to remember those who lost their battle.” The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reports the events have generated more than $1.3 billion to critical research initiatives aimed at identifying treatments and potential cures for blood cancers. As a result of COVID-19, 2020 Light the Night events will be held virtually. Bizzarro said he encourages those interested in participating to visit www.lightthenight.org for information. Read more

 

Boyle joins Wolf in calling for swift passage of legislation to ensure counties are prepared ahead of Nov. 3 general election

(Sep 15, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 15 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, today joined Gov. Tom Wolf in urging swift action on legislation that would provide the support county election officials need to make sure Pennsylvanians can vote safely and have their ballots timely counted. Boyle, Wolf and other public officials met in York today to outline the legislation the General Assembly should pass this month to improve the mail-in ballot process ahead of the Nov. 3 general election and give county officials the time they need to count ballots and return election results quickly. “The House State Government Committee is planning to meet this Wednesday to discuss legislation related to the election code. We have an opportunity in committee this week to make vital, time sensitive changes to allow counties more time to pre-canvass mail ballots so they can return election results timely on Election Day,” said Boyle, who serves as Democratic chairman of the committee. “Immediate action is needed to address the enormous volume of mail-in ballots expected to be cast. We need to ensure that Pennsylvania does not become a national embarrassment on Election Day. “To that end, I am introducing several amendments this week during committee, to expand counties’ ability to pre-canvass mail-in ballots, and to expand county residents’ eligibility to serve as poll workers.” Boyle said the committee is Read more

 

Cephas Discusses Fight to Pass Safe At Home Bills on CBS 21's Face the State

(Sep 14, 2020)

State Rep. Morgan Cephas discussed her fight to pass Safe At Home legislation to protect homeowners, renters and small mom and pop landlords on CBS 21's Face the State. Read more

 

Wheatley introduces legislation to help live music venues during pandemic

(Sep 14, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 14 – Hundreds of live music venues have been adversely impacted due to the pandemic – and many of them have been forced to close their doors – and state Rep. Jake Wheatley is spearheading an effort to assist the industry. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said his “Save our Stages” measure (H.B. 2984) would earmark federal CARES dollars to create a fund to provide grants to these businesses and keep them afloat. “We have more than 200 of these independent music venues across our state, which last year alone generated nearly $1.4 billion in revenue and $238 million in direct economic impacts in our communities, sustaining our local restaurants and hotels,” Wheatley said. “This industry also provides employment to over 10,000 people statewide -- many who are now unemployed. For all these reasons, it’s vital we provide this much-needed support to ensure their doors remain open for all of us to patronize once this pandemic ends.” More information can be found by clicking this link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=32418 . Read more

 

Burgos, Hohenstein and Isaacson join advocates to promote legislation to help undocumented individuals apply for a driver's license

(Sep 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, along with state Reps. Joe Hohenstein, Mary Isaacson, all D-Phila., today joined the Driving PA Forward Coalition at the Saint Francis of Assisi Church to highlight their legislation to help undocumented individuals apply for a driver's license. “Our bill is about making Pennsylvania roads safer by requiring that all residents pass the mandatory written and vision examinations and road test to obtain a driver’s license,” Burgos said. “An additional benefit is that the revenue generated from application costs to PennDOT and purchases on car insurance policies would greatly benefit Pennsylvania’s economy -- a much needed relief as our economy struggles to gain stability in the wake of the pandemic.” Concurring with Burgos, Hohenstein pointed to immigrants comprising a substantial population of Pennsylvania’s workforce, especially as essential workers during the pandemic. "It’s not an exaggeration to say that immigrants have a large role in keeping our country running," Hohenstein said. "One in six people fulfilling essential roles during the pandemic is an immigrant. Many are our doctors, nurses and healthcare providers. Others are farm workers who sow, tend and harvest our food. Others prepare and serve us our food. All should have access to an official driver's license from the state in order to continue Read more

 

Rabb: We must remove roadblocks and allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses, learner’s permits

(Sep 08, 2020)

State Rep. Chris Rabb called for support for legislation that would remove roadblocks preventing undocumented people from getting driver’s licenses and learner’s permits, making it impossible for them to legally drive. Read more

 

Sainato calls return to 50% capacity good news for local restaurants but questions alcohol service restrictions

(Sep 08, 2020)

NEW CASTLE, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, said he is encouraged by news that restaurants may return to 50% indoor capacity beginning Sept. 21, subject to a self-certification requirement, but he questioned new and existing alcohol service restrictions he said could negate or dilute any positive economic impacts. “ We called on the governor to lift an overly broad, arbitrary rule that placed restaurants in an economic stranglehold, and we succeeded. The administration’s response abolishing the rule comes none too soon, with so many restaurants struggling to survive. Restoring the 50% capacity rule makes sense and will help our businesses get back on the path to economic vitality. “At the same time, the administration is keeping certain harmful restrictions in place, including a ban on bar service and a requirement that alcohol can only be served for on-premises consumption when in the same transaction as a meal. Those requirements – together with another that will require restaurants to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. – stand to counter many of the positive impacts achieved by restoring broader occupancy. “Restaurants depend on a robust after-dinner patronage, and many social and veterans’ clubs are not set up to serve food. Absent a sound, health-based justification, I would urge the governor to reconsider these restrictions.” Read more

 

McClinton calls on Senate to reform election bill and prevent disenfranchisement of voters ahead of November election

(Sep 08, 2020)

With exactly two months until the general election, state Rep. Joanna McClinton today called on the state Senate to reform legislation that would lead to voter suppression and prevent Pennsylvanians from casting their ballot safely. "This is arguably one of the biggest elections in our nation's history, and we have a responsibility as legislators to pass laws that ensure all Pennsylvanians have the tools to let their voices be heard without worry," said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. "Mail-in voting is a safe and secure way to vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and we should be concentrating on strengthening this process. Instead, the majority party, who decides on what we vote on, is focusing on hindering it with proposals that would cause confusion and create barriers." According to McClinton, H.B. 2626, which passed the House yesterday without her support, would make unnecessary, last-minute changes to mail-in voting and the election process, including measures to: Give counties less time to count ballots. Shorten the time period in which voters can request a mail-in ballot. Ban secure ballot drop boxes. Lift the county residency restriction on which party officials may observe inside polling places, raising concerns about voter intimidation and violence on Election Day. "With an influx of mail-in ballots in the June primary election, Read more

 

Rabb: College students should be able to terminate apartment leases without penalty if their school cancels on-campus instruction because of COVID-19

(Sep 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Chris Rabb has introduced legislation to provide relief to college students trapped in a lease agreement if their college cancels on-campus instruction because of COVID-19. Read more

 

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold briefing about “The Vanishing Trial” Thursday in Capitol

(Sep 04, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public briefing on “The Vanishing Trial” film and the implications of Pennsylvania’s harsh sentencing laws on plea bargaining and trials. The briefing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 in Room G-50 Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The media and public are urged to watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Requested by state Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, the briefing will feature a showing of “The Vanishing Trial” and testimony from policy experts. Presenters will speak remotely while committee members will participate in person and remotely. Speakers will include: K. Celeste Trusty , Pennsylvania state policy director, FAMM. Marirosa Lamas , former superintendent, SCI-Chester. Chester Hollman , legal assistant, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. Nyssa Taylor , criminal justice policy counsel, ACLU-PA. Following the briefing, testimonies and full briefing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Snyder introduces measure to help veterans’ service organizations
Sep 29, 2020

The Pa. Legislative Black Caucus condemns grand jury decision in slaying of Breonna Taylor, continues fight for police reform
Sep 28, 2020

Boyle, Kenyatta to introduce legislation to ensure democracy isn't compromised in the November election
Sep 28, 2020

PSOH designates Rep. Bizzarro 2020 Legislator of the Year
Sep 25, 2020

House Democrats fight to protect people’s health and access to care
Sep 25, 2020

Bizzarro submits resolution designating Nov. 22 Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day
Sep 24, 2020

Dermody on veto override: end the legislative games
Sep 23, 2020

Trumpism threatens judicial independence in Pennsylvania
Sep 18, 2020

Matzie introduces bill to trace COVID-19 through wastewater
Sep 18, 2020

Kortz introduces bill to allow for civil penalty for driving without insurance
Sep 17, 2020

Rep. Bizzarro resolution designates September 2020 ‘Light the Night Walk’ Month
Sep 17, 2020

Boyle joins Wolf in calling for swift passage of legislation to ensure counties are prepared ahead of Nov. 3 general election
Sep 15, 2020

Cephas Discusses Fight to Pass Safe At Home Bills on CBS 21's Face the State
Sep 14, 2020

Wheatley introduces legislation to help live music venues during pandemic
Sep 14, 2020

Burgos, Hohenstein and Isaacson join advocates to promote legislation to help undocumented individuals apply for a driver's license
Sep 08, 2020

Rabb: We must remove roadblocks and allow undocumented people to get driver’s licenses, learner’s permits
Sep 08, 2020

Sainato calls return to 50% capacity good news for local restaurants but questions alcohol service restrictions
Sep 08, 2020

McClinton calls on Senate to reform election bill and prevent disenfranchisement of voters ahead of November election
Sep 08, 2020

Rabb: College students should be able to terminate apartment leases without penalty if their school cancels on-campus instruction because of COVID-19
Sep 08, 2020

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold briefing about “The Vanishing Trial” Thursday in Capitol
Sep 04, 2020