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Republicans ramp up attacks on ballot access as hearings wind down

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

 

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

 

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

 

Basic Education Funding Commission releases new funding formula, recommendations

(Jun 18, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said a proposed new bipartisan funding formula that he helped to create as a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission is a step forward in the process to equitably fund education in Pennsylvania. “The first order of business should be for Pennsylvania to restore the deep basic education cuts that were made under former Governor Tom Corbett and then begin the process set forward in this new funding formula to bring equity, accountability, transparency and predictability to the process,” said Sturla, Democratic Policy Committee chairman. “The recommended Basic Education Funding Formula is a direct result of a bipartisan commitment to invest in one of Pennsylvania’s most valuable asset, our kids. Thanks to the commission members' hard work, cooperation and willingness to compromise, the formula will serve all students into the future. The formula, unanimously approved by the commission today, provides schools with an equitable distribution of state funding that coupled with additional funding should meet the needs to educate students in all districts. ”Because cuts made by the previous administration were not done in a formulaic method, it would be nearly impossible to restore that funding through a formula,” Sturla said. “That is why it is important that we first adopt Governor Tom Wolf’s $400 million school funding restoration and help students in Read more

 

Miller joins the Arc, others calling for support at disability rights rally

(Jun 16, 2015)

State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, joined the bipartisan Disability Caucus and the Arc of Pennsylvania, along with numerous other cooperating organizations, to call for broader support of multiple legislative measures aimed at increasing independence and opportunity for those with disabilities. Read more

 

Deasy: Bill would protect seniors from exploitation through powers of attorney

(Jun 15, 2015)

Rep. Dan Deasy has introduced legislation that would authorize local area agencies on aging to investigate those holding powers of attorney when there is reason to believe that an older Pennsylvanian is being exploited. Seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually from elder financial abuse and exploitation, and only about one in every five such cases ever come to light. Read more

 

Bill that includes ban on vaping products in schools passes state House

(Jun 15, 2015)

A bill that includes state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s legislation to ban nicotine products from school grounds, including increasingly popular "vaping" products and electronic cigarettes, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today. Read more

 

Carroll named Democratic chairman of Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee

(Jun 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, has been named Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Carroll said, "I have been extremely fortunate to have had a substantial role with the Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy committees. I fully expect to continue serving as a leading voice in these policy areas for the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties while fulfilling my responsibilities in my new role as chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I look forward to serving the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in this new additional role, where I will oversee legislation dealing with the important agriculture and food sector in Pennsylvania." Dermody added, "Mike has earned the chance to lead this committee. He knows the importance of farms, food and agricultural research to Pennsylvania’s economy and he understands that thousands of jobs depend on keeping agriculture strong. As a chairman of a standing committee, his responsibilities within the caucus have been raised to include oversight of the committee while continuing to advance transportation and education policies important to House Democrats." Carroll is serving his fifth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more

 

Schlossberg applauds Wolf for fee waiver, urges colleagues to pass change into law

(Jun 11, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, commended Gov. Tom Wolf during a news conference today for his move to waive background check fees for volunteers while calling on his colleagues in the General Assembly to follow suit by codifying the exemption into law. Read more

 

House passes Pashinski bill to establish Kinship Navigator Pilot Program (with video)

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State. Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, announced the House today passed his bill that will focus on assisting grandparents raising grandchildren in Pennsylvania. House Bill 662 would establish a Kinship Navigator Pilot Program in the commonwealth to determine the needs of kinship caregivers and assess the feasibility of establishing a permanent program. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 191,000 children in Pennsylvania are being raised by 80,000 grandparents. Nearly 20 percent of these grandparents raising their grandchildren live in poverty. Pashinski said many grandparents in his district face challenges raising their grandchildren, including lack of a support network and absence of respite for the caregiver. “Grandparents often are not prepared financially or emotionally to provide for their grandchildren,” Pashinski said. “When taking on the role of parent, grandparents also often face custody battles that are costly, time-consuming and complicated. “These grandparents need qualified support and guidance to help them navigate the complexities of the system. It’s time for Pennsylvania to step up and help our grandparents and grandchildren by establishing a Kinship Navigator Pilot that would assist them in finding support they need to keep their family together.” Pashinski added that at least a dozen states have established similar and successful programs, including neighboring Read more

 

Freeman introduces bill to let housing authorities set up police departments

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced a bill that would let public housing authorities form their own police force. "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh housing authorities already have this ability under current law, but smaller cities in the state face the same problems with criminal activity that larger cities do," Freeman said. "All public housing authorities should have the ability to set up their own police force in order to better combat crime. "A public housing police force also would greatly enhance community policing efforts, making public housing projects safer for their residents and their families, especially children." Under Freeman's bill, the housing authority police officers would patrol public housing projects. They would be required to complete the same course of instruction and accreditation as is required for municipal police officers under state law. Funding for these police forces would come from public housing authority budgets. While every housing authority would have the option to form a police force under Freeman’s bill, they would not be required to do so. "Some authorities may choose to simply hire a detective rather than create a full-blown police force," Freeman said. "Either way, they could determine what would be the most appropriate approach to enhancing law enforcement efforts." Besides reducing crime and enhancing public safety, Freeman Read more

 

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

Galloway to lead House committee
Mar 02, 2016

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

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

Basic Education Funding Commission releases new funding formula, recommendations
Jun 18, 2015

Miller joins the Arc, others calling for support at disability rights rally
Jun 16, 2015

Deasy: Bill would protect seniors from exploitation through powers of attorney
Jun 15, 2015

Bill that includes ban on vaping products in schools passes state House
Jun 15, 2015

Carroll named Democratic chairman of Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee
Jun 12, 2015

Schlossberg applauds Wolf for fee waiver, urges colleagues to pass change into law
Jun 11, 2015

House passes Pashinski bill to establish Kinship Navigator Pilot Program (with video)
Jun 10, 2015

Freeman introduces bill to let housing authorities set up police departments
Jun 10, 2015