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

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

 

Roebuck to introduce Wolf blueprint for school changes

(May 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 12 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, will introduce legislation to carry out Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed changes to the state school code. "After four years of cuts and underfunding of K-12 and higher education, Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly elected Governor Wolf to put us back on the right track in education. I'm proud to work with the governor and House leadership to introduce this blueprint of necessary changes to the school code to help our kids," Roebuck said. Wolf has proposed a $400 million increase in the basic education subsidy to K-12 schools -- the largest in Pennsylvania history – to restore Accountability Block Grant and Educational Assistance Program funds cut under the Corbett administration. Under this plan, school districts would receive reimbursement for about 10 percent of their mandatory charter school tuition payments. Also, more resources would be made available to help close the funding gap that resulted from cuts in the basic education subsidy dating to the 2010-11 school year. Roebuck said House Democrats' main budget bill will also include Wolf's proposed $100 million increase in the Special Education Subsidy to further Pennsylvania’s transition to the formula enacted in 2014, "which was made possible through the hard work of the bipartisan legislative Special Education Funding Commission. My bill would Read more

 

Davidson introduces Education Reinvestment Act

(May 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 12 – Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, today introduced the Pennsylvania Education Reinvestment Act, an essential component of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2015-16 budget. “I am honored to push forward the governor’s proposal to reinvest in education,” Davidson said. “This is the vehicle to make that happen and I implore my fellow legislators to support it for the children of our commonwealth.” Davidson’s H.B. 1142 would impose a tax on the extraction of natural gas within the state to raise needed revenue for our state’s public education system. “The previous administration cut education funding by $1 billion,” Davidson said. “We need to reverse these cuts and properly fund education, without further burdening homeowners with higher property taxes.” The tax proposed in the Education Reinvestment Act is modeled after the severance tax in West Virginia, which has also seen a boom in production from unconventional drilling over the last decade. The severance tax would impose a rate of 5 percent on the market value of gas extracted in Pennsylvania (with a floor of $2.97), along with an additional 4.7 cents per cubic foot extracted. Davidson noted that Pennsylvania currently ranks 45th in the nation in percentage of state-provided funding for public education. “With Pennsylvania sitting on one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world, it is up to us to use Read more

 

Sims, Davis to reintroduce equal-pay bill as part of Pa. Agenda for Women's Health

(May 11, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Reps. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Tina Davis, D-Bucks, will reintroduce equal-pay legislation as part of the bipartisan "Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health" unveiled today by the legislature's Women’s Health Caucus. Sims said, "Moms deserve more than Mother's Day flowers or cards. One thing mothers and all Pennsylvania women desperately need is for the legislature to close the holes in the equal pay law so it actually gets the job done for working women and their families. Wage inequality is not only a detriment to working women, but to families as well. When employers underpay equally qualified female employees, they shortchange our wives, our mothers and our daughters, to the detriment of all.” Sims and Davis will introduce the bill as H.B. 1160. A companion bill in the Senate has been introduced as S.B. 303 . The bills would narrow the definition of determining factors for pay to education, training or experience, while also lifting the veil of pay secrecy and creating protections that permit employees to inquire about salaries without fear of termination. Current law allows for "any factor other than sex" to be a legitimate justification for disparities in pay. Davis said, "Pennsylvania has had an equal-pay law for more than 50 years, but women are still paid on average 54 to 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, depending on which county they live in. Clearly we Read more

 

Mullery introduces bill to ban use of tobacco- and nicotine-based products in Pa. schools

(May 11, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery introduced a bill today that would prohibit the use of both tobacco- and nicotine-based products in all Pennsylvania schools. “My legislation can serve as a deterrent and help prevent our young people from becoming hooked on tobacco and nicotine and starting a costly, destructive habit,” said Mullery, D-Newport Township. Mullery said the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ 2013 report demonstrates the need for his legislation. According to the report, 17 percent of American high school students smoke, and 90 percent of adult smokers started the habit as teenagers. The report also found that one in three kids becomes regular, daily smokers after trying a cigarette. Mullery added that many of the nicotine products available today are colorful and attractive to young people. He said some of these products look, smell and taste like mints, gum and other candy. Mullery said violations of his legislation (H.B. 1189) would result in a summary offense. The bill is expected to be referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Read more

 

Bipartisan House-Senate caucus unveils Pa. Agenda for Women's Health

(May 11, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 11 – Members of the legislature's Women’s Health Caucus today unveiled their "Pennsylvania Agenda for Women's Health" for the new session at a Capitol news conference. The caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Frank Farry, R-Bucks; and Sens. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, and Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks. Frankel said, "We need to do more than honor women with words and Mother's Day cards – our bipartisan caucus is putting forth a package of legislation that would make specific progress for Pennsylvania women in areas such as family-friendly working conditions, economic fairness, ensuring healthy lives and help for victims of domestic violence." Farry said, "Women’s health is an important issue and we in the General Assembly take it seriously, including the health of our female veterans and active duty military personnel. In Pennsylvania alone, there are nearly 80,000 women veterans. While the proportion of women veterans to male veterans continues to increase, the unique health needs of women can be overlooked in providing services to a large, and predominantly male, veteran population. This comprehensive package of bills will go a long way in ensuring all Pennsylvania women, including our veterans, have health care options to meet their needs." Schwank said, "Women and families play a pivotal role in the overall health of our communities and the Read more

 

Schweyer legislation calls for fairness in Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program eligibility

(May 06, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, said he has introduced legislation that would allow retirees from federal civil service who do not receive Social Security to qualify for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Schweyer said he authored the legislation following a conversation with a constituent. “Many retirees of federal service do not receive Social Security benefits. Instead, they paid more into their retirement plan,” Schweyer said. “Because of this, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. “Every senior in Pennsylvania deserves to receive as much assistance as they can following their years of dedicated service to the federal government.” House Bill 1162 would add federal civil service retirees to the list of people who can deduct 50 percent of their income in order to become eligible for this rebate program. Schweyer said this bill would provide the same measure of fairness to this group of retirees that has been given to retirees of the railroad industry. While both groups of retirees are not eligible for Social Security, railroad retirees are able to determine eligibility for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Read more

 

Caltagirone: May 7 designated 'National Day of Prayer' in Pennsylvania

(May 05, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 5 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced that the House of Representatives adopted H.R. 221 , his resolution designating May 7, 2015 as the "National Day of Prayer" in Pennsylvania. "This is a day to set aside to pray for our state and our country," Caltagirone said. "It is a time to put politics away." The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. The day was first established as an annual event in 1952 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress. "This annual event was created to encourage all citizens to pray for our leaders, communities, families and each other, and for national healing, reconciliation and unity," Caltagirone said. This is a time to uphold the rich history of prayer in our state and I'm proud to be leading the effort." Caltagirone said the resolution received unanimous support by the House. Read more

 

Snyder measure would extend Lemon Law protections to motorcycles

(May 04, 2015)

Rep. Pam Snyder has introduced legislation that would extend the state’s Lemon Law protections to motorcycle buyers. Under Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law, manufacturers must replace, repurchase or compensate vehicle owners for defects that substantially impair its use, value or safety at no cost to the purchaser. "The reasonable protections available for vehicle owners should apply to motorcycle owners," Snyder said. "If a new motorcycle is in the repair shop for 30 days during the first year of ownership through no fault of the owner, then the rider deserves a fair shake and a new deal." Read more

 

Galloway introduces two bills

(Apr 29, 2015)

LEVITTOWN, April 29 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, recently introduced two bills in the House of Representatives. House Bill 1076 would stiffen drunk driving crimes for some accidents which cause serious injury or death. Currently there is a loophole which allows reduced charges if it cannot be proven that driving under the influence was the cause of an accident which kills or seriously injures someone, even if the driver was found to be intoxicated. "This is a huge loophole in our DUI rules," Galloway said. "A local teenager, Zachary Gonzalez, was killed by an intoxicated driver while riding his bike in January 2014, but since the police could not prove the driver's intoxicated state caused the crash, he could not be charged with a homicide; only driving under the influence. My bill would close that loophole." The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Galloway is also reintroducing Monica's Bill as H.B. 1074 , a bill that would allow a personal state tax deduction for uncovered expenses incurred by a living organ donor during the organ donor process. At least 10 other states have laws which provide some tax incentive for living donors. The bill was inspired by a family medical emergency which brought the need for the tax deduction to Galloway’s attention. An organ donation recipient’s insurance will pay the costs of the medical procedures required for the donor, but Read more

 

Harkins bill would set safety rules for public employers

(Apr 28, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, held a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda this morning to introduce legislation he authored in direct response to the workplace accident and death of a Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority employee last fall. H.B. 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, was introduced in memory of Erie resident Jake Schwab, a mechanic with EMTA who lost his life due to a workplace incident in November. As a public transit authority, EMTA is exempted from OSHA regulations, so the details regarding the incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track. "Under my bill, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would have the authority to perform workplace safety inspections and levy fines," Harkins said. "Because this accident was with a public transit authority, a private insurance company handled the investigation and the records are private." The Harkins bill would provide on-the-job safety protection to public employees by establishing Occupational Safety and Health Administration-equivalent safety rules for public employers, including the commonwealth, all legal political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and any nonprofit organizations currently exempt from the OSHA standards. Schwab's widow, Tiffany, expressed her family's support for the legislation, saying," Don't you expect your loved ones to Read more

 

Pa. House OKs Bizzarro bill to protect against elder abuse

(Apr 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, said the state House of Representatives today unanimously passed his legislation to provide extra protection against elder abuse committed by people acting with power of attorney. Read more

 

Donatucci introduces bill to expand health care coverage for vaccines

(Apr 17, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 17 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, has introduced a measure designed to make immunizations more affordable and accessible in the commonwealth. Donatucci’s H.B. 822 would amend state law to require health insurers to cover immunizations administered at a pharmacy by a pharmacist. Read more

 

Bizzarro and Teplitz call for statewide veterans' courts

(Apr 15, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 15 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, and state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/Perry, today held a joint news conference at the state Capitol to reintroduce their legislation that would establish veterans’ courts statewide. Read more

 

Caltagirone: Urban Affairs Committee approves economic and housing development measure, sends bills to full House

(Apr 15, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 15 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the committee unanimously approved the following measures this week, sending them to the full House of Representatives for a vote: 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, commercial and industrial property. 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. However, under the bill, all development would be required to be in accordance with local zoning ordinances. "This bill would set the guidelines for a plan that stands to have a real impact on economic development," Caltagirone said. "Bringing blighted properties down and pulling the values of homes and businesses up is a direction we need to keep moving in." House Bill 792 would provide an additional source of funding for the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund. Caltagirone said the legislation would provide a dedicated funding source for the fund, utilizing any increase realized in Realty Transfer Tax revenue collected by the Read more

 

Policy Committee hearing in Scranton discusses education funding

(Apr 08, 2015)

SCRANTON, April 8 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing with committee chairman Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, to discuss the issue of public education funding. The hearing, held in Scranton High School, focused on how local districts have been impacted by decreased state funding over the last few years, and what Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget will mean for them. ”When it comes to our children's education, it is important that we make sure our school districts have the tools to help our children succeed," Flynn said. "Today's hearing was a way for us to learn how districts have struggled to continue to do that in the wake of the Corbett administration's decreases in state funding for education.” Flynn added, “Governor Wolf’s ‘Jobs that Pay, Schools that Teach, and Government that Works’ initiative is one to improve an entire society. By ensuring Pennsylvanians have access to fundamental resources like a good education and well-paying jobs, he’s making it possible for our citizens to better provide for themselves and their families and achieve the American dream.” Echoing that sentiment, Sturla said, "The testimony we heard today here in Representative Flynn's district was not unique in that a majority of school districts across the state have been faced with difficult decisions because of the previous Read more

 

Pashinski, Policy Committee examine education funding in Pa.

(Apr 07, 2015)

WILKES-BARRE, April 7 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from leaders in education, along with state officials, concerning funding for education in Pennsylvania at a hearing requested by state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne. The meeting was held at Wilkes University and focused on Gov. Tom Wolf’s "Schools that Teach" plan, which is part of the governor’s three-step approach to strengthen the commonwealth. Pashinski said the governor’s proposal will not only help restore funding for education in two years, it will also reduce school property taxes by more than 50 percent to homeowners. "The governor’s plan is truly a win-win for the people of Pennsylvania," Pashinski said. "House Democrats and I believe this proposal is a strong investment to provide a solid education and better future for the youth of this commonwealth and connect the economic improvements to a quality education. "Gov. Wolf’s budget also provides property tax relief, which will help rebuild the middle class in this state." Pashinski co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman. "As a former educator, Rep. Pashinski has always been an advocate for quality education," Sturla said. "By initiating this hearing, he is showcasing his strong support in Gov. Wolf’s plan for moving Pennsylvania in an upward and Read more

 

Sims, Conklin: Make Pa. voting easier by making registration automatic

(Apr 07, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 7 – State Reps. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Scott Conklin, D-Centre, plan to introduce legislation reforming Pennsylvania's voter registration system by instituting automatic registration of all eligible voters, with provisions for opting out. "Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans, but one which many forgo due to the burdens associated with voter registration, and the time and financial costs resulting from going to the polls. As technology continues its rapid advance, legislators must find efficient and less taxing methods for helping the citizens of Pennsylvania to exercise this fundamental right," Sims said. Conklin said, "Under our proposal, the responsibility of voter registration would be passed from eligible voters onto the Pennsylvania Department of State and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Beginning July 1, 2015, the secretary of the commonwealth would initiate a program to automatically register eligible voters whose information is provided to PennDOT for obtaining a driver’s license or non-driver identification card. The Department of State would use the PennDOT data, which includes information on whether a person is a citizen, to register voters. These newly registered voters would then be sent a postcard with information on how to opt out of registration altogether and how to choose a party affiliation. Under our proposal, a newly registered voter would have 21 days to opt out of Read more

 

Democratic Policy Committee examines Patty Kim’s bill to increase Pa.’s minimum wage

(Apr 02, 2015)

Kim’s bill, H.B. 250, would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour after 60 days and then to $10.10 per hour a year later. It also includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment beginning January 1, 2016. Read more

 

Bizzarro introduces measure to curb animal cruelty in Pa.

(Apr 02, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 2 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has recently introduced legislation designed to prevent animal cruelty and prohibit convicted animal abusers from further caring for animals they have harmed. Read more

 

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

Roebuck to introduce Wolf blueprint for school changes
May 12, 2015

Davidson introduces Education Reinvestment Act
May 12, 2015

Sims, Davis to reintroduce equal-pay bill as part of Pa. Agenda for Women's Health
May 11, 2015

Mullery introduces bill to ban use of tobacco- and nicotine-based products in Pa. schools
May 11, 2015

Bipartisan House-Senate caucus unveils Pa. Agenda for Women's Health
May 11, 2015

Schweyer legislation calls for fairness in Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program eligibility
May 06, 2015

Caltagirone: May 7 designated 'National Day of Prayer' in Pennsylvania
May 05, 2015

Snyder measure would extend Lemon Law protections to motorcycles
May 04, 2015

Galloway introduces two bills
Apr 29, 2015

Harkins bill would set safety rules for public employers
Apr 28, 2015

Pa. House OKs Bizzarro bill to protect against elder abuse
Apr 21, 2015

Donatucci introduces bill to expand health care coverage for vaccines
Apr 17, 2015

Bizzarro and Teplitz call for statewide veterans' courts
Apr 15, 2015

Caltagirone: Urban Affairs Committee approves economic and housing development measure, sends bills to full House
Apr 15, 2015

Policy Committee hearing in Scranton discusses education funding
Apr 08, 2015

Pashinski, Policy Committee examine education funding in Pa.
Apr 07, 2015

Sims, Conklin: Make Pa. voting easier by making registration automatic
Apr 07, 2015

Democratic Policy Committee examines Patty Kim’s bill to increase Pa.’s minimum wage
Apr 02, 2015

Bizzarro introduces measure to curb animal cruelty in Pa.
Apr 02, 2015