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

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton has introduced two bills to help small towns. The first bill (H.B. 659) would let communities extend their participation in the Main Street Program for up to five years. The second bill (H.B. 660) would make more small cities eligible for the state's City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program. "Our small towns and cities face many of the same challenges of larger, urban areas, but sometimes they get overlooked," Freeman said. "My legislation would help ensure their success by assisting them with downtown revitalization and stimulating economic development and job creation." The state's Main Street Program provides grants to help revitalize downtown districts and pay for a full-time Main Street manager who works with local officials and merchants to implement a downtown revitalization plan. Current involvement in the program is limited to five years. Freeman's bill would provide administrative support funding for up to an additional five years with approval by the Department of Community and Economic Development, which funds the program. "Unfortunately, we have seen in numerous cases that the current five-year time frame to turn around a traditional downtown is too short. A community just begins to see the progress brought on by Main Street initiatives only to see the plug pulled prematurely, often causing the downtown's success to suffer," Freeman Read more

 

House adopts Cruz resolution honoring Rep. Rosita Youngblood as first African-American female member of House leadership

(Feb 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., thanked House members this week for their unanimous adoption of House Resolution 86 , which honored Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila., on her accomplishment of becoming the first African-American female elected to a House leadership position. "This is a tremendous honor for Representative Youngblood, and I couldn’t think of a more deserving candidate," Cruz said. "Since taking office over 20 years ago, she has dedicated herself to not only improving the lives of her constituents, but also the lives of women and minorities across the state. I am positive she will continue to be a perfect example of how to use public service for the greater good of her community and all of Pennsylvania." Following her election to an 11th term in the state House, Youngblood was elected by members of the House Democratic Caucus to serve as the Democratic Caucus secretary, becoming the first African-American female to hold a leadership position in the history of the General Assembly. "There are truly no words to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the support from my colleagues in the House," Youngblood said. "It is overwhelmingly humbling to be recognized by my peers, colleagues and friends, and I truly appreciate each and every one of them, especially Rep. Cruz, for their kindness and support. To become the first ever African-American woman elected to a House leadership Read more

 

Caltagirone bill to provide training to police and judges on mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism passes House, heads to Senate

(Feb 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House passed his legislation that would provide training for law enforcement training and judges related to individuals suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's bill, H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on the recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals. "Incarcerating individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism is not always the best option," Caltagirone said. "This bill addresses the issue on the front end by providing our police and minor judiciary with more early-detection training so they can identify these individuals as quickly as possible. "Moreover, with proper training our law enforcement officers may be able to avoid dangerous situations if they can quickly identify an individual experiencing a mental breakdown and use proven crisis intervention techniques to de-escalate a situation." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, over 50 percent of all female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatments. Read more

 

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Greg Vitali unveiled legislation designed to encourage Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during a news conference today in the Capitol. He was joined by representatives of environmental organizations, a professor and a legislator who voiced support for the legislation. "Pennsylvania has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality because it produces almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases," said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "The legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf must find ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy." To work toward that goal, Vitali has introduced three bills that would increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, permanently fund the Sunshine Solar program and reduce the demand for energy. "Too much of our energy comes from dirty sources that harm the environment and our communities -- but it doesn't have to be that way," said Elowyn Corby, PennEnvironment’s global warming and clean energy associate. "We can harness abundant and pollution-free energy from the wind and the sun. Legislation like this shows how Harrisburg can help us get to the clean energy future Pennsylvanians deserve." Joanne Kilgour, director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, said increasing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to require Read more

 

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, has again introduced legislation (H.B. 474) that would ensure all victims of DUI accidents can be fully compensated for their injuries and damage to their property. Under current state law, a victim of an accident where the drunk driver is convicted of a DUI or is placed in Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition may receive full tort coverage. 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. "Drinking and driving is one of the top safety issues faced by Pennsylvanians," Mullery said. "In 2013, there were 11,041 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania, and deaths in these crashes accounted for 32 percent of the total traffic deaths in the state. Of all the alcohol-related deaths, 77 percent were the drunk drivers." Mullery said Pennsylvania must attack the problem aggressively and give as much assistance as possible to the victims of these DUI accidents. Read more

 

Bizzarro: Bill would protect against theft of older adults' prescription medication

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has reintroduced legislation that aims to cut down on the theft of prescription medication from older adults. Read more

 

Cruz announces creation of bicameral, bipartisan Latino Affairs Caucus

(Feb 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., today announced creation of an informal, bicameral and bipartisan Latino Affairs Caucus within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. “With the Latino population in Pennsylvania continuing to grow exponentially each year, I truly believe it is time to finally recognize the importance of Latinos in our public policies,” Cruz said. “I’m especially proud that the Latino Affairs Caucus will be represented in a bipartisan, bicameral manner. This will serve as a benefit to all Pennsylvanians as we work together across party lines and across both chambers to education the public about Latino issues and advance Latino causes.” Cruz said the Latino Affairs Caucus will focus on issues important to Pennsylvania’s Latino communities and explore what public policies are necessary to address the needs of Latinos across Pennsylvania. The caucus is open to all members of the General Assembly, regardless of ethnicity or whether they represent a large Latino population in their district. Read more

 

Snyder: Measures would honor local heroes for their sacrifices

(Feb 11, 2015)

The state House unanimously approved Rep. Pam Snyder’s legislation honoring two members of America’s armed forces from southwestern Pennsylvania killed in action in Vietnam and Somalia. H.B. Bill 178 would name the Exit 28 Mon-Fayette Expressway Interchange in Washington County as the Marine Corporal Thomas R. Matty Memorial Interchange. H.B. 179 would designate the Route 88 bridge over Muddy Creek in Greene County as the Army Corporal Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Read more

 

Davis unveils proposal for 8 percent severance tax on Marcellus gas

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today unveiled her proposal to address the commonwealth’s budget and education crises with an overall 8 percent severance tax on Pennsylvania’s $11 billion Marcellus shale natural gas and oil industry. "Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state not to tax production at the wellhead, and this corporate favoritism costs Pennsylvania dearly," Davis said. "It is time for producers to pay their fair share and provide fair funding for essential services for depleting this valuable resource." Davis noted that this week marks the three-year anniversary of former Gov. Tom Corbett’s signing the disastrous Act 13 Marcellus shale drilling law and its paltry impact fee with an effective tax rate of 1.9 percent. "My legislation would not affect the Act 13 impact fee or its distribution but build into it a warranted and sustainable revenue stream," Davis said. "Adding a 6 percent severance tax to the impact fee would raise substantial funding for our struggling public schools, including early childhood and basic education funding, as well as for the General Fund." Davis said her measure would put Pennsylvania closer to the mainstream of what major gas-producing states require from the industry. "My approach takes into account both the price of gas and the volume of the gas severed," Davis said in her co-sponsorship memo to House colleagues. Read more

 

Patty Kim to reintroduce minimum-wage increase bill

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, announced she is reintroducing her legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage, which would help struggling families pay their bills and reduce their reliance on government assistance programs. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 14 percent of Pennsylvanians are living in poverty,” Kim said. “Now is the time to start making Pennsylvania’s working families our top priority by increasing their wages.” Kim announced the reintroduction of the legislation, H.B.250, during a daylong event advocating for a minimum-wage increase hosted by the Raise the Wage Coalition, a statewide alliance of worker, religious, community, women’s and labor groups. Kim’s bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour and then to $10.10 per hour a year later. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost the earnings of a full-time worker by more than $5,900 to $21,008. For a single mother with two children who works 40 hours per week, this would get her family above the poverty line, which is $19,790 for a household of three. Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only makes $15,080, which is more than $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to use government assistance programs just to get by. House Bill 250 also includes an annual cost-of-living Read more

 

Schlossberg, Parker, bipartisan group seek changes in rapist child support law

(Feb 09, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., announced today at a news conference that they are partnering with Rep. Joseph Hackett, R-Delaware, to support legislation that would that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest. Read more

 

DeLissio outlines bipartisan plan for 3.2% severance tax on Pa. natural gas

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., and others called on the state legislature during a Capitol news conference Wednesday to pass a severance-tax bill that would enact a 3.2 percent tax on natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania. The bill’s other prime sponsors are Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks; Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery; and Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny. The bill would keep in place the impact fee passed into law in 2012. "Our proposal, like that of so many other states, is to tax the value of the natural gas produced. Added together, the impact fee and the 3.2 percent drilling tax would equal approximately 5 percent of the value of natural gas sold," DeLissio said. "Pennsylvania, now the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation, is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. "Including a severance tax on the value of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas production would generate additional funds above the existing impact fee, while still protecting host communities who benefit from the fee." During the news conference, DeLissio stated that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will need to address a greater than $2 billion structural deficit. This deficit was created by the current budget’s reliance on one-time transfers and other unsustainable revenue streams, she added. "If a severance tax had been passed in 2012 instead of the Read more

 

Caltagirone bill to provide Pa. criminal justice system training on mental illness and intellectual disabilities poised for House vote

(Feb 04, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved his legislation calling for law enforcement training related to those suffering from mental illness and intellectual disabilities within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals, such as alternative sentencing or treatment. The training for magisterial district judges would take the form of continuing education. "It is incumbent upon us as a governing body to address the significant problem of individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities ending up in our prisons," Caltagirone said. "As a first step, this would better equip our police and minor judiciary with the tools and training needed to identify these individuals at the earliest point in the criminal justice system and get them proper treatment." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, nearly 50 percent of female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatment. "Getting the cost of corrections lowered is a must and if we continue Read more

 

State House passes Sainato bill to extend death benefits to Pa. Civil Air Patrol

(Feb 03, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed state Rep. Chris Sainato's bill that would extend the same death benefits to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol that are available to other emergency responders. The state's Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides $100,000 to families of emergency responders who die while performing their duties. The bill authored by Sainato, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would amend the act to include the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported, nonprofit organization that serves as an official civil auxiliary arm of the United States Air Force. It consists of 2,200 volunteers who support emergency service responders across the country by conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing disaster relief and performing homeland security missions. “These volunteers work alongside of police, firefighters and other emergency responders during dangerous situations,” said Sainato, D-Lawrence. “They deserve to have the same benefits as their peers.” Sainato said the Civil Air Patrol has provided valuable assistance in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country. Members of the organization helped communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware recover from Hurricane Sandy. They also Read more

 

Schweyer: Legislation introduced to protect public transportation workers (with video)

(Feb 02, 2015)

State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, announced today that his first piece of legislation has been introduced. House Bill 279 would stiffen penalties for aggravated assaults against public transportation company employees, such as those who work for LANTA. The bill would add this category of employees to the list of victims for which the alleged assailants are subject to an enhanced offense of a first- or second-degree felony. Read more

 

Mullery bill would give Game Commission responsibility to issue antlerless hunting licenses

(Jan 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced a bill to give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the responsibility to distribute antlerless deer hunting licenses. Currently, the Game Commission determines the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, but county treasurers distribute the permits. To apply for a doe license, Pennsylvania hunters must fill out a form, write a check and drop an envelope in the mail. They can mail the form and check to any treasurer's office in the state; however, most hunters send it to their home county. Mullery, a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said the current system is outdated, inconvenient, and, in some instances, ineffective. "Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and Pennsylvanians should be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way," Mullery said. "It's time to modernize this antiquated system." Mullery said the current system led to Luzerne County hunters being shut out of a doe license last year when the treasurer's office, citing staff cuts, failed to process applications on time. "A modern system run by the Game Commission would have prevented that inexcusable mistake," Mullery said. H.B. 231 is expected to be referred to the Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more

 

Galloway appointed to House Appropriations Committee

(Jan 22, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 22 – As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives reorganized for the 2015-16 Legislative Session, state Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, was appointed to the Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee is directly involved in preparing the annual state budget, holding yearly hearings at which the numerous state agencies outline their requests and needs for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee also reviews and evaluates the Governor's Executive Budget proposal each year. The committee has jurisdiction over the offices of the Auditor General and the State Treasurer, as well as the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. "It is both a great honor and a great responsibility to be appointed to this committee," Galloway said. "I will work to find a fair and equitable balance between the needs to raise revenue and to control spending, while ensuring we continue to support those who need the most help." Galloway was sworn in to begin his fifth term representing the 140 th Legislative District on Jan. 6. In addition to the Appropriations Committee, Galloway was appointed as Democratic vice chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, and as a member of the Professional Licensure and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees. ### Read more

 

Make our schools safer with carbon monoxide detectors

(Jan 20, 2015)

Every year, accidental exposure to carbon monoxide sends thousands of people to emergency rooms across the country, and hundreds die from it. These accidents happen in homes, businesses and even schools. Recently, hundreds of students and faculty were inside a Colorado school when this odorless and tasteless gas seeped into the building because of a malfunctioning furnace. Fortunately, everyone safely escaped. This incident underscores the need for CO detectors, particularly in our schools. Unfortunately, only a handful of states, such as Connecticut and Maryland, require CO detectors in their schools. I firmly believe all schools should have these detectors. That’s why I am reintroducing legislation that would require all Pennsylvania schools – public and private -- that have heating systems or appliances powered by fossil fuels to install CO detectors. We have a number of older schools with aging heating systems, and leaks in school heating systems that lead to a buildup of CO aren't uncommon. Consider these examples: A carbon monoxide leak led to the evacuation of an elementary school in St. Paul, Minn., in 2010. A potentially deadly buildup of CO inside an Atlanta elementary school in 2012 sickened more than 50 people, including 42 students. Also in 2012, higher-than-normal levels of carbon monoxide at an elementary school in Glen Rock, York County, sickened dozens of people. We should install CO detectors in all Read more

 

Dermody: House Democrats excited to work with new governor (with video)

(Jan 20, 2015)

If the legislature works with Governor Wolf in a bipartisan way to focus on meeting our most pressing challenges and our most important goals, we will move Pennsylvania forward for everyone. Read more

 

Goodman: Extend Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program application deadline

(Jan 16, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 16 – About $500,000 remains in a fund that provides a small stipend to veterans from Pennsylvania who served in the Persian Gulf, and state Rep. Neal P. Goodman wants to ensure those eligible to benefit from it receive their share. Goodman, D-Schuylkill, has introduced H.B. 175 to extend the deadline to apply to the state’s Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program to Aug. 31, 2018. The program is scheduled to end Aug. 31 this year. “The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs receives about 60 new applications to the program every month,” said Goodman, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “I do not want to risk denying these benefits to eligible veterans when we can simply extend the deadline. This is a small thank you to the brave men and women who have risked their lives serving our country in the Persian Gulf War.” Goodman wrote the law that led to a November 2006 referendum asking Pennsylvania if the state should create the program. The referendum was overwhelmingly approved. “I will do all I can to ensure the money in the program is used as Pennsylvanians intended – to help as many Persian Gulf War veterans as possible,” Goodman said. The maximum bonus is $525 under the program. Since the enactment of the law, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has processed nearly 11,000 claims totaling more than $3.5 million. The Read more

 

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs
Feb 26, 2015

House adopts Cruz resolution honoring Rep. Rosita Youngblood as first African-American female member of House leadership
Feb 25, 2015

Caltagirone bill to provide training to police and judges on mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism passes House, heads to Senate
Feb 24, 2015

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions
Feb 19, 2015

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law
Feb 19, 2015

Bizzarro: Bill would protect against theft of older adults' prescription medication
Feb 19, 2015

Cruz announces creation of bicameral, bipartisan Latino Affairs Caucus
Feb 12, 2015

Snyder: Measures would honor local heroes for their sacrifices
Feb 11, 2015

Davis unveils proposal for 8 percent severance tax on Marcellus gas
Feb 09, 2015

Patty Kim to reintroduce minimum-wage increase bill
Feb 09, 2015

Schlossberg, Parker, bipartisan group seek changes in rapist child support law
Feb 09, 2015

DeLissio outlines bipartisan plan for 3.2% severance tax on Pa. natural gas
Feb 09, 2015

Caltagirone bill to provide Pa. criminal justice system training on mental illness and intellectual disabilities poised for House vote
Feb 04, 2015

State House passes Sainato bill to extend death benefits to Pa. Civil Air Patrol
Feb 03, 2015

Schweyer: Legislation introduced to protect public transportation workers (with video)
Feb 02, 2015

Mullery bill would give Game Commission responsibility to issue antlerless hunting licenses
Jan 27, 2015

Galloway appointed to House Appropriations Committee
Jan 22, 2015

Make our schools safer with carbon monoxide detectors
Jan 20, 2015

Dermody: House Democrats excited to work with new governor (with video)
Jan 20, 2015

Goodman: Extend Persian Gulf Veterans' Bonus Program application deadline
Jan 16, 2015