Featured News

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

House OKs Snyder bill clarifying minors’ consent for health services

(Jun 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG , June 9 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the House of Representatives today unanimously passed her bill that would clarify when minors’ consent for mental health treatment is needed. "Confusion surrounding consent issues is causing great pain to families frantic for help and the young people needing mental health examinations and treatments," Snyder said. "My House Bill 337 would end the delays to treatment and enable health care professionals to begin care expediently and responsibly." Snyder said changes made in 2004 to the Minor Consent to Medical, Dental, and Health Services Act created confusion among providers, minors and parents regarding the rights of each. "My bill would enable the state Department of Human Services to issue guidelines regarding minors’ consent to mental health treatment," Snyder said. "The regulations would detail the conditions when consent is needed, and provide for more uniform application of the standards so recovery-oriented programs can be implemented more quickly." Snyder told her House colleagues that the legislation was prompted by a call from a family desperate to find help for their child. The family was stymied by the confusion surrounding the mental health law affecting minors. "I believe that all of us – and the communities where we live – will be safer and stronger once the needed changes are made to the Read more

 

Harris appointed to powerful House Rules Committee

(Jun 09, 2015)

State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Tuesday was appointed to the House Rules Committee by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. Read more

 

Retirement security to be focus of Democratic Policy Committee hearing Thursday in Harrisburg

(Jun 02, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 2 – House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the committee will hold a public hearing about a national perspective of retirement security from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4 in the House Minority Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg. Read more

 

Mullery bill would protect workers from hidden fees in debit payroll cards

(Jun 01, 2015)

State Rep. Gerald Mullery has introduced legislation (H.B. 1274) that would ensure employees who are paid with a debit card have access to the full amount of their wages and no-cost access to their accounts. Read more

 

Frankel applauds historic Commonwealth Court ruling to protect patients in western Pennsylvania

(May 29, 2015)

PITTSBURGH, May 29 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement in light of the ruling today by Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini in the ongoing dispute between UPMC and Highmark: "Today’s decision by Judge Pellegrini is a momentous victory for consumers in western Pennsylvania. Under this decision, UPMC is required to continue to see Highmark Medicare Advantage patients at in-network rates which means that 180,000 seniors will not lose access to their doctors," Frankel said. "The decision is important in several ways. Not only does it resolve the ongoing confusion regarding Medicare Advantage, it requires both UPMC and Highmark to resolve outstanding issues related to their consent decrees through binding arbitration which must be completed by September 30, 2015. In doing so, this decision could help provide clarity to hundreds of thousands of consumers in Pennsylvania who’ve been held hostage by this ongoing situation," Frankel said. "Additionally, Judge Pellegrini made it clear that neither entity can make changes in their future business relationship with each other without court approval. The decision also requires the Commonwealth to make recommendations on how to change the corporate governance structure of both entities. This could lead to long-term changes in UPMC and Highmark’s behavior that reorients them to an even stronger commitment to serve Read more

 

Carroll to propose moratorium on Keystone Exams as graduation requirement

(May 28, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, will introduce an omnibus Public School Code bill that would establish a moratorium on Keystone Exams being used as a requirement for graduation. Carroll said this suspension would benefit students and their families, while offering much-needed relief to school districts that face significant financial and educational obstacles to fully implement the graduation requirement. "It has become ever more apparent to me that the linkage of Keystone exam passage to graduation is riddled with problems and that more thought is required to assess students with a wide range of abilities," said Carroll, a member of the House Education Committee. "A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works in the real word and the Keystone exam requirement is no exception." Carroll said this provision of his pending bill complements an effort by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, Democratic chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Carroll's bill also will include all of Gov. Tom Wolf's education code changes, except that his bill will go beyond Wolf's plan to ensure fairness in special education funding for both charter and cyber charter schools. It will seek to accomplish this by applying the special education formula recommended by the Special Education Funding Commission to both charter and cyber charter schools. Another key difference between the Wolf plan and Read more

 

Schweyer, Schlossberg call for study on income inequality in Pa. (with video)

(May 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 26 – State Reps. Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, both D-Lehigh, have introduced a resolution that would examine the unfair balance of income and the factors that contribute to it in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 326 would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on income inequality in the commonwealth. The study would include factors that have contributed to the increase in income inequality over the last several decades, gender differences in education levels and occupations and how they contribute to the gender wage gap, comparing wages for working minorities and working non-minorities with the same level of education, comparing wages for minority women and non-minority women with the same level of education, and comparing wages for men and women in female-dominated, gender-balanced and male-dominated occupations. “We can only begin fixing a problem by fully understanding it,” Schweyer said. “There have been concerns over the issue from business, community and economic leaders and faith-based communities in my district, so we really need to get our arms around it.” Click on the picture below to see more of Schweyer's comments: "Income inequality is the greatest challenge of our modern society; the rich have more and the poor have less than at any point since the Great Recession," Schlossberg said. "We must gain a better understanding of the specific challenges Read more

 

Bill would ease the cost of background clearance fees for firefighters/EMS workers

(May 22, 2015)

LEVITTOWN, May 21 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today introduced legislation that would exempt experienced emergency responders from fees totaling more than $47 for state and federal background clearances. “I understand and endorse the need for better protections for our children,” Davis said. “However, first responders who have proven their integrity and value to their communities deserve a break from the financial burdens of such background checks.” Flanked by emergency responders at the Newportville Fire Company station, Davis said her House Bill 1081 would spare paid and volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service responders from the $10 clearances from the state police and state Department of Human Services and the $27.50 fee for an FBI criminal background clearance. Those fees and clearances are requirements under new laws enacted last year in an effort to better address how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. “Many if not most of our experienced first responders have previously received clearances as a condition of their employment or service,” Davis said. “My measure would exempt them from burdensome fees as well as the FBI clearance requirements if they have clean records and have been state residents for the last 10 years.” “Our firefighters and EMS providers save lives and property throughout the commonwealth every day, and I believe they deserve to be spared from clearance fees Read more

 

Daley, Frankel legislation calls for tax increase on cigarettes, other tobacco products

(May 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – State Reps. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, and Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, recently introduced legislation that would both help enhance public health and generate revenue in the commonwealth. House Bill 1213 would increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and impose a 40 percent tax on the wholesale price of other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipes, “roll-your-own” tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Daley said imposing these taxes could help deter young people from using cigarettes and OTPs. “Many teens succumb to peer pressure by using tobacco products and end up becoming life-time users,” Daley said. “What’s troubling is there are now alternative products, such as e-cigarettes, that are growing in popularity and have the same addicting effects as regular cigarettes. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of a million young people who had never smoked a cigarette used e-cigarettes in 2013.” Frankel said Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that does not impose some type of tax on smokeless tobacco and one of two states that does not tax cigars. “It’s time that Pennsylvania joins every other state in the nation in levying a fair tax on these kinds of tobacco products,” Frankel said. “We’re faced with a $2 billion structural budget deficit and we cannot continue to overlook reasonable Read more

 

Schlossberg introduces legislation to help state pay for success

(May 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, introduced legislation this week that would allow the Office of the Budget and other agencies to enter into pay-for-success agreements, which is an important component of Gov. Tom Wolf's 2015-16 state budget proposal. The pay-for-success model, which is currently operating in many states, including Massachusetts and New York, would allow the commonwealth to enter into partnerships with philanthropic and private sector investors who would provide upfront capital to cover the costs of certain programs and services. Read more

 

Snyder: Measure honoring local military heroes signed into law

(May 13, 2015)

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed into law state Rep. Pam Snyder's measure honoring two members of America’s armed forces from southwestern Pennsylvania killed in action in Vietnam and Somalia. Act 3 of 2015 names the Exit 28 Mon-Fayette Expressway Interchange with state routes 43 and 88 in Centerville, Washington County, as the Marine Corporal Thomas R. Matty Memorial Interchange. It also names the Route 88 bridge over Muddy Creek in Cumberland Township, Greene County, as the Army Corporal Richard W. Kowalewski, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Read more

 

Kinsey Honors Korean Armistice Anniversary

(May 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, MAY 12, 2015 - Pa. state Rep. Stephen Kinsey honors the 62nd Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement with a unanimously approved resolution in the House of Representatives. 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

 

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

 

House OKs Snyder bill clarifying minors’ consent for health services
Jun 09, 2015

Harris appointed to powerful House Rules Committee
Jun 09, 2015

Retirement security to be focus of Democratic Policy Committee hearing Thursday in Harrisburg
Jun 02, 2015

Mullery bill would protect workers from hidden fees in debit payroll cards
Jun 01, 2015

Frankel applauds historic Commonwealth Court ruling to protect patients in western Pennsylvania
May 29, 2015

Carroll to propose moratorium on Keystone Exams as graduation requirement
May 28, 2015

Schweyer, Schlossberg call for study on income inequality in Pa. (with video)
May 26, 2015

Bill would ease the cost of background clearance fees for firefighters/EMS workers
May 22, 2015

Daley, Frankel legislation calls for tax increase on cigarettes, other tobacco products
May 21, 2015

Schlossberg introduces legislation to help state pay for success
May 21, 2015

Snyder: Measure honoring local military heroes signed into law
May 13, 2015

Kinsey Honors Korean Armistice Anniversary
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

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