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House Democrats touring the state to talk with the people about the Pennsylvania Rescue Plan

Healthcare for women EQUALS economic security for your family

(Mar 07, 2017)

Pennsylvania needs a healthcare system that works for all of us. That includes the more-than-50-percent of us who are women. The president and Republicans in Congress are threatening to repeal the Affordable Care Act and withhold federal funding from some groups that provide family planning and other legal health services for women. Special interests and some big insurance companies are behind this assault on women's health, trying to rewrite the rules to make it harder for millions of women to stay healthy, enjoy the economic opportunities they deserve, and support themselves and their families. We should demand that our elected officials stand up to these efforts, and protect affordable and equal healthcare access for our moms, daughters, wives and sisters. If federal funding for family planning services is cut, or Medicaid reimbursements decline under an ACA repeal, many women's health clinics may close their doors. Women are concerned that the contraceptive services that are important to their health and their family's financial security may vanish. While the ACA currently protects contraceptive coverage for women, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the discretion to remove it from the list of preventive services covered by the ACA. President's Trump's Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, has said that federal funding for birth control is "unnecessary" and Read more

 

We need a healthcare system that works for ALL of us -- not just the healthy and wealthy

(Mar 07, 2017)

As anticipated, Republicans in Congress unveiled legislation that represents healthcare for the healthy and wealthy but ignores the healthcare needs and pocketbooks of working people and middle class Americans. The legislation does not replace the Affordable Care Act, nor does it fix or improve the current law. It simply paves the way to take health insurance coverage and critical health care away from millions of Pennsylvanians and other Americans. The Republican bill would repeal some of the most important pieces of the Affordable Care Act, the ones that led to more than 20 million people gaining insurance since that law's enactment in 2010 -- including 1 million Pennsylvanians. Republicans get rid of the individual mandate. While the mandate was unpopular, it also was the key to making sure that young, healthy people were in the insurance market and premiums were kept affordable for everyone. Without the mandate, there is no mechanism to keep insurance care costs reasonable, since the Republican plan does not address rising medical or prescription costs in any way. While the Republican plan keeps the ACA requirement that insurers accept everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, it allows insurance companies to charge a 30 percent surcharge to anyone who drops coverage and then needs to re-enroll. This will allow insurance companies to make millions in excess profits while keeping many people from getting coverage Read more

 

Dawkins condemns DA’s decision to seek life without parole for juveniles

(Mar 06, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his strong opposition to District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to seek life without parole sentences in at least three cases with juvenile defendants. “Last year, District Attorney Williams did what was right, and announced that he would no longer pursue life without parole for those under 18 years old,” Dawkins said. “It is disheartening to see him go back on his word, and I condemn in the strongest terms his decision to revive a punishment the Supreme Court has called cruel and unusual.” In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The court later held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller applied retroactively. Dawkins said as the courts began resentencing hearings, Williams announced that his office “will not be asking for cases going forward for life without the possibility of parole for people under the age of 18” in order “to give all of these individuals some light at the end of the tunnel.” “I hope that the district attorney returns to his original position, and provides these individuals – whose decades in prison began in their teenage years – what he once called ‘some light at the end of the tunnel,’” Dawkins said. Read more

 

Snyder measure would help pay basic utilities for volunteer fire companies

(Mar 03, 2017)

Rep. Pam Snyder introduces legislation that would enable fire relief funds to be used to pay basic utility costs at volunteer fire company stations. Read more

 

Warren introduces legislation requiring schools to provide information to parents on eating disorders

(Mar 02, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 2 – Legislation requiring schools to provide parents of children in grades 5 through 12 with information about eating disorders was introduced in the House by state Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks. “Eating disorders are real and devastating,” Warren said. “These complex conditions have serious health consequences that impact a person’s productivity and relationships.” The legislation (H.B. 531) also would create guidelines for local school boards that exercise an optional development of an eating-disorder screening program with appropriate opt-out and exemption procedures, specify training requirements for personnel and volunteers, and provide the framework for parental notification procedures in the event of a positive indication of an eating disorder. “We have a responsibility to ensure that our children have a way to get the help they need,” Warren said. “These serious conditions are not fads, phases or lifestyle choices, but are potentially life-threatening conditions that affect emotional and physical health. The earlier we can provide help to those who are struggling with an eating disorder, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.” Warren explained that H.B. 531 would make accessing help easier for a child suffering from an eating disorder, as school districts would have materials and resources for parents readily available, and if needed Read more

 

House Democrats fighting for a Pennsylvania that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few

(Mar 02, 2017)

Everyone who works hard and works full-time should earn enough to support themselves. It's ridiculous that important jobs such as nurses' assistants, preschool teachers and even paramedics pay such low wages -- in some cases not enough to stay out of poverty. The minimum wage is so low in Pennsylvania that it is holding down the wages of other workers. It's costing you money by forcing tens of thousands of full-time working people and their families to rely on services subsidized by you and other taxpayers. Powerful corporations are using their influence to keep things that way. They are trying to convince you and your legislators that better pay for you is bad for small businesses. But we know better. Working people, small businesses and the middle class are the real engines of the economy. The more money that goes into your pocket, the more money gets spent at businesses on Main Street -- and that helps grow small businesses and allows our communities to thrive. Pennsylvania's neighbors are proving that. Our minimum wage is the lowest around -- but Pennsylvania isn't attracting jobs away from neighboring states, and their economies are doing better. Workers in those states are looking forward to extra money to spend each week, and their small businesses are looking forward to more customers. Tens of thousands of full-time workers in our state don't have anything to look forward to but another month without the means to pay the rent Read more

 

Gov. Tom Wolf's budget is a new way forward for PA

(Feb 23, 2017)

Throughout this first week of House Appropriations Committee hearings on Gov. Tom Wolf's 2017-18 budget proposal, Republicans have been working hard in the press to pick apart his plan forward for PA before the ink is even dry on the page. So it might be surprising to discover that some Republicans are walking around the Capitol at the same time calling his proposal a "Republican" budget. Sorry, Republicans, you don't get to take credit for someone else's sensible and responsible ideas while ignoring your own dangerous and irresponsible ones. Gov. Tom Wolf's new way forward on the PA budget bears no resemblance to the Republican budgets of the past -- the ones they passed under Gov. Tom Corbett. The ones that featured irresponsible across-the-board cuts that decimated your kids' schools, increased your property and other local taxes, and crippled efforts to protect air and water quality and community health and safety. The governor's new way forward features a strategy that’s' completely different: 1. Protect and expand the important gains Pennsylvania made over the past two years -- working together -- to invest in schools, improve public health, and restore crucial services that suffered after the cuts of 2011. 2. Pursue cost savings and efficiency in government by reducing bureaucracy and consolidating agencies where possible, while maintaining and even improving services for residents and Read more

 

Warren introduces bill to examine flood mapping, insurance

(Feb 21, 2017)

YARDLEY, Feb. 21 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, introduced a bill this month to create the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force in Pennsylvania. The task force would study the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act’s effect on premiums for flood insurance, the latest FEMA flood maps that classify new flood zones and the federal discount program to identify areas and neighborhoods that need additional assistance to keep flood-insurance premiums affordable. “Flood zones shift and can cause someone who didn’t need flood insurance before to now need it. That can cause a significant change in a homeowner’s budget,” Warren said. “We need to examine these issues closely.” According to the National Flood Insurance Program, Pennsylvania is among the 10 highest states for flood insurance payouts between January 1978 and March 2011, ranking eighth at $773 million. Warren added that almost every legislative district is impacted by the new flood maps and the flood insurance premium increases. House Bill 530, which has been referred to the House Insurance Committee , has bipartisan support and would address the impact upon residents across Pennsylvania. It would require that the task force, comprised of nine appointed members from state government, issue a final report within six months of its creation. The task force’s recommendations would include: Potential programs that provide premium Read more

 

Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal

(Feb 07, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year: “This year’s budget proposal seems like a smart approach to helping all Pennsylvanians while rethinking government efficiencies. The governor intends to make consolidations and cuts where necessary, while not jeopardizing gains we’ve made in education and health care, especially for those suffering from addiction. “There are investments in education and efforts to help more individuals with intellectual disabilities. The plan also includes additional funding to battle the statewide opioid crisis. “I especially applaud his proposal that would require municipalities who currently receive local police coverage for free from the Pennsylvania State Police to share in the costs. I have been fighting for years on this issue because it is unfair for 20 percent of the state’s population to get free police coverage while the rest of us pay for them and our own local police. “At first glance, the plan seems like a good starting point and I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks about how it could impact our state agencies.” Read more

 

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law

(Feb 06, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced legislation that would ensure all victims of DUI accidents can be fully compensated for their injuries and damage to their property. Currently, a victim of a DUI accident can receive full tort coverage only if the driver is convicted of DUI or accepts Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. However, if the drunk driver dies as a result of the accident, even if his or her blood shows he or she was driving under the influence, the victim does not receive full tort coverage. “While we work to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and deaths, it is vital that we simultaneously protect the victims of these accidents. My legislation would help all victims of DUI accidents by closing this unfair loophole,” said Mullery, D-Luzerne. The Pennsylvania DUI Association’s latest report shows that in 2014 there were 10,550 alcohol-related crashes resulting in 333 fatalities. Of those fatalities, 72 percent were the vehicle drivers. Passengers and pedestrians were far more likely to be injured, rather than killed, in the crash. On average, 20 people are injured in an alcohol-related traffic crash every day in Pennsylvania. Mullery’s legislation ( H.B. 276 ) was referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. Read more

 

Mullery introduces antlerless hunting license bill

(Feb 02, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, has reintroduced legislation (H.B. 275) to update the current antlerless hunting licensing system, which would allow hunters to apply for doe licenses online. “It's time to modernize this antiquated system,” said Mullery, who serves as Democratic vice chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee. “Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and there is no reason why a Pennsylvania resident should not be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way.” The current system is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, responsible for determining the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, while the actual distribution of permits is the responsibility of each county treasurers’ office. When applying for a doe license, hunters across the state fill out a form, write a check and submit it to the county treasurer, normally the one in their home county. However, Mullery points out that the current system is outdated and doesn’t always work because there are some counties that don’t always have the financial resources or staff to process applications in a timely manner. “There have been situations in the past, specifically in Luzerne County, where hunters, were shut out of the season simply because of the failure to process applications on time,” Mullery said. “Again, there really is no reason why these Read more

 

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage

(Jan 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on raising the minimum wage. Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, co-chaired the hearing at the YWCA, which discussed the effects of increasing the minimum wage. “Pennsylvania is long overdue for an increase in the minimum wage,” Kim said. “It’s been eight years since the floor was raised to $7.25 in Pennsylvania. In 2016, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage was about one-third below its 1968 level – even though productivity has doubled since 1968.” “When we talk about a minimum wage, we should be talking about a livable wage,” Sturla said. “Pennsylvanians who work 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. I support raising the minimum wage, and I’m glad the Policy Committee can bring more attention to the issue.” Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only earns $15,080, some $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to rely on government assistance programs to get by. Testifiers were Sean Ramaley, deputy secretary at the state Department of Labor and Industry; John Traynor, owner of Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center and the Kitchen Bar; Mary Quinn, president and CEO of the YWCA Harrisburg; and Mark Price, Ph.D., a labor economist from the Keystone Research Center. For hearing testimonies, Read more

 

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to be eligible to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. House Bill 222 seeks to make transparent a presidential candidate’s financial interests before being elected to the highest office in the nation. “The need for this tradition is clear,” Briggs said. “Many Americans, not to mention the national security community, want to know whether presidential candidates have personal or business interests that could undermine their commitment to act in the best interests of the United States should they become president. “More importantly, all Americans, whether they supported the president's election or not, must know whether there are any financial interests that may affect his or her decision making while serving.” Briggs’ introduction of the bill follows President Donald Trump’s recent reversal on his pledge to release his tax returns following what he described while campaigning as a routine audit. “President Trump’s refusal to release a most basic, yet vital, piece of information could be categorized as a text-book bait and switch,” Briggs said. “One or more states’ refusal to place a candidate on the ballot, on the other hand, could easily prevent something like this from ever happening again. All public Read more

 

Fitzgerald to introduce legislation to insure breast density screenings

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she is currently seeking co-sponsors for her first piece of legislation as state representative. The legislation would extend mandated insurance coverage for ultrasound screening and an MRI if a mammogram indicates dense breast tissue or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk of breast cancer due to family history, or because of her prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other factors as deemed necessary by a physician. “Whether it’s a mother, sister, daughter, wife or a friend, everyone in Pennsylvania has known someone or has been impacted by someone who has battled breast cancer,” Fitzgerald said. “My legislation would allow women to easily get these life-saving screenings to prevent this deadly disease.” Fitzgerald said if her legislation became law, Pennsylvania would be among the first states in the nation to require full insurance without co-pays for all breast screenings and supplemental imaging, including MRI and breast ultrasound, for women with dense breast issue. Read more

 

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, has introduced a measure that would restore the 24-hour period House members must wait before being able to vote on legislation amended by the Senate. The change to the waiting period from the previously established 24 hours to six hours was tucked into the overall House rules package, which was voted on Jan. 3 with very little notice. The rules were approved by a 167-32 vote. "On the first day of the new legislative session, the House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank-and-file House members and the general public," Vitali said. "This rule will be the most damaging around budget time. Frequently, House and Senate leaders surreptitiously insert provisions in large, budget-related bills that many rank-and-file members and the public would find highly objectionable." Vitali said some examples of this furtiveness from last session include when provisions were inserted into the fiscal code to cancel regulations to make gas drilling safer, delay measures to address climate change and transfer millions of dollars from a fund for high energy efficiency buildings for natural gas development. "Six hours is simply not enough time for even the most diligent legislator to find and raise a cry -- or the public to give input -- on the objectionable provisions, especially considering the multitude of Read more

 

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus

(Jan 25, 2017)

Citing the very real threat posed by climate change, state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, was joined today by legislators and advocacy groups to announce the formation of the bicameral Climate Caucus. Read more

 

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee

(Jan 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Matt Bradford will serve as the Democratic chairman of the House State Government Committee during the 2017-18 session, according to Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. "I'm honored to be asked to lead this important committee and I look forward to getting to work quickly on a wide array of issues,” Bradford said. “I also hope to work with the majority chairman to promote productive discussions among all committee members.” Bradford noted the committee handles many hot-button issues such as voting rights, discrimination, redistricting, government reform, lobbying disclosure, state agency procurement and labor agreements, campaign finance and election laws. “Many of the questions considered in the State Government Committee come down to protection of people’s most basic rights. I’m committed to standing up for what’s right,” Bradford said. “This is a new role for Matt on a key legislative committee,” Dermody said. “I know he’s well prepared for it and will provide valuable leadership.” Bradford, an attorney, has served in the House since 2009 and represents the 70 th District which includes Norristown, East Norriton and Worcester townships, and part of Plymouth Township. Read more

 

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule

(Jan 13, 2017)

Gov. Tom Wolf will deliver his 2017-18 budget proposal to lawmakers and the public on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Three weeks of House budget hearings will begin on Tuesday, February 21 at the Capitol. Here's the schedule. Read more

 

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal

(Jan 05, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, plans to introduce legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to study the impact of federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act on Pennsylvania residents. "Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only put at risk the health care coverage of millions of Pennsylvanians, but also devastate our state’s finances. Pennsylvania has saved about $700 million a year from the law’s drug rebates, increased funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and closing of the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit 'donut hole.' Without the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania taxpayers would need to come up with this funding from somewhere else – at a time when we already face large, unsustainable budget shortfalls," Frankel said. "We also know the law has had many other benefits for Pennsylvanians, and we need to know what the impact would be if a new president and Congress take them away. These gains that are at risk include: enabling young people to stay on their parents' plans until age 26; free preventive care; federally funded Medicaid expansion that has helped to cover roughly 600,000 Pennsylvanians; banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and banning annual and lifetime limits on care. Losing any of these protections – let alone all of them – would have a major impact on Read more

 

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention

(Dec 19, 2016)

State Rep. Brandon Neuman is drafting legislation to further improve testing of evidence from sexual assaults. Neuman said his new measure will provide the next step toward finding a comprehensive remedy against domestic and sexual violence. Read more

 

Healthcare for women EQUALS economic security for your family
Mar 07, 2017

We need a healthcare system that works for ALL of us -- not just the healthy and wealthy
Mar 07, 2017

Dawkins condemns DA’s decision to seek life without parole for juveniles
Mar 06, 2017

Snyder measure would help pay basic utilities for volunteer fire companies
Mar 03, 2017

Warren introduces legislation requiring schools to provide information to parents on eating disorders
Mar 02, 2017

House Democrats fighting for a Pennsylvania that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few
Mar 02, 2017

Gov. Tom Wolf's budget is a new way forward for PA
Feb 23, 2017

Warren introduces bill to examine flood mapping, insurance
Feb 21, 2017

Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal
Feb 07, 2017

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law
Feb 06, 2017

Mullery introduces antlerless hunting license bill
Feb 02, 2017

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage
Jan 30, 2017

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns
Jan 26, 2017

Fitzgerald to introduce legislation to insure breast density screenings
Jan 26, 2017

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform
Jan 26, 2017

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus
Jan 25, 2017

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee
Jan 19, 2017

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule
Jan 13, 2017

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal
Jan 05, 2017

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention
Dec 19, 2016