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House Democrats fight to protect your right to work without fear

Briggs appointed to PASSHE Board of Governors

(Feb 22, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, announced today that he has been appointed to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “As a proud graduate of West Chester University serving on the PASSHE Board of Governors is a great honor and an incredible responsibility. I thank Leader Dermody for this opportunity to support and strengthen our state’s institutions of higher education,” Briggs said. “As a Board member, my top priority is ensuring Pennsylvania’s students have access to quality higher education opportunities at a reasonable cost.” The 20-member Board of Governors is responsible for planning and coordinating development and operation of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. The Board establishes broad educational, fiscal, and personnel policies, and oversees the efficient management of the State System. Among other tasks, the Board appoints the chancellor and university presidents, approves new academic programs, sets tuition, and coordinates and approves the annual State System operating budget. “PASSHE Universities provide quality higher education to over 100,000 students at 14 campuses statewide, at an often more affordable cost than other state-related intuitions,” Briggs said. “At the same time, the system has seen declining enrollment while struggling to Read more

 

Legalization of General Adult-Use Cannabis in PA

(Feb 14, 2019)

Let us know what you think. Take this survey. Read more

 

House Democrats fight to protect your right to work without fear

(Feb 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – To better protect workers, independent contractors and even volunteers at businesses of all sizes, House Democratic lawmakers announced new proposals today to help end workplace discrimination and harassment. The “Work Without Fear – It’s Your Right” plan is designed to give people the tools they need to protect themselves and their coworkers while also helping companies make sure everyone knows the rules. The plan includes: The PA Fairness Act – sponsored by Rep. Dan Frankel, Allegheny County – finally brings Pennsylvania into line with surrounding states by making sure nobody can be fired from a job or denied housing because of who they are or who they love. Until now, we’ve been counting on individual counties and cities to do the right thing and people and our economy has suffered. Give Victims Time for Justice – sponsored by Rep. Margo Davidson, Delaware County, and Rep Mary Isaacson, Philadelphia – gives victims the power to choose when to seek justice and guarantees them a right to trial by jury to seek damages by extending the timeline to file a complaint beyond the current 180 days. Ignorance is No Excuse – sponsored by Rep. Melissa Shusterman, Chester & Montgomery counties, makes sure workers and employers have the facts by requiring Employment Fair Practices notices posted in the workplace to include clear descriptions and examples of abuse so everyone is on the Read more

 

House Democrats fight for healthy people and a stronger economy

(Feb 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – To make sure attacks on healthcare coverage don’t hurt Pennsylvania’s working families, a group of House Democratic lawmakers are introducing a package of proposals to make sure people can always afford to see a doctor when they get sick. The “Healthy People, Stronger Economy” plan protects consumers even if special interests are able to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The plan contains four bills putting people first, including: Protecting Your Coverage, Protecting Your Health – sponsored by Reps. Tony DeLuca and Dan Frankel, both of Allegheny County – recognizes that a consumer paying for an insurance plan that doesn't cover items as basic as hospitalization and emergency services has insurance that is almost worse than having no insurance at all. The bill guarantees all insurance plans sold in the state cover 10 essential benefits: emergency services; hospitalization; prescription drugs; maternity & newborn care; mental health & substance abuse disorder services; prescription drugs; rehabilitation; laboratory services to aid in diagnosis and treatment; chronic disease management; ambulatory patient services pediatric services, including oral and vision care. “If the Federal Health Care Reform law is ever abolished by the United States Supreme Court or the Congress, you could be left with health insurance policies that don’t cover the essential services Read more

 

House Democratic leadership statement on Wolf budget plan

(Feb 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – House Democratic leaders responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019-20 budget proposal presented today. “We support the governor’s plan to make Pennsylvania a national leader in education and workforce development without raising taxes on working people. He is beginning this year’s budget talks with a responsible framework for the budget hearings and bipartisan discussions yet to come. “House Democrats have a Plan For Pennsylvania that closely tracks many of Governor Wolf’s priorities. It’s about having quality schools, good jobs for workers, affordable health care and fairer treatment of all Pennsylvanians in their daily lives. We are fighting for families all across the state. “We are especially pleased that the governor continues to address the need to fix our criminal justice system. His vocal support for fairer justice means a lot. “House Democrats share many of the governor’s ideas and look forward to working with him and with our Republican colleagues to deliver a balanced budget that will continue the substantial progress Pennsylvania has made in recent years.” Read more

 

Why are PA House Democrats focusing on economic security for working families?

(Feb 04, 2019)

Many Americans have become discouraged with today’s politics of personal destruction and the influence of big money in campaigns. They are looking for something different. People want to vote for candidates up and down the ballot who will stand up for their ideals and fight for their interests. In 2018, more than 120 candidates for the General Assembly embraced the We The People – Pennsylvania policy agenda. Inspired by public meetings with everyday Pennsylvanians from across the state and drawing on the best policy research, We The People – PA created a policy agenda that should serve as a roadmap for legislators like my colleagues and me. Pennsylvania House Democrats are proud to support the We The People campaign – and in doing so we join a national effort this week led by the State Innovation Exchange to fight for working families across the country. By talking with voters, the We The People – PA campaign learned that, regardless of where we come from, what we look like, how we call our family or how we work to make ends meet, we have a common vision of what a state government that works for us would look like. We deserve a government that offers a path to prosperity that will work for all of us, not just the wealthiest 1 percent. Prosperity for all comes from raising wages and benefits so that working people and the middle class can afford to buy more from our businesses. It comes from making sure families can secure the basic Read more

 

PLBC hosts Black History Month event at state Capitol

(Feb 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – In commemorating Black History Month, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus hosted an event in the Main Capitol Rotunda. This year’s theme was “Black Migrations,” observing the movement of people from African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. “The African-Americans who embarked on the journey of migration were all trailblazers in their own right. They broke culture barriers while facing extreme prejudice and economic, political and social challenges,” said Rep. Stephen Kinsey, PLBC chairman. “The program provided us with the opportunity to not only celebrate the achievements our ancestors pursued that ultimately laid a foundation in our history, but also to remember the struggles they endured; for these struggles continue to plague people of color in today’s society.” “The Great Migration changed the course of the lives of many African-Americans and their children. Some families attained success, others found that racial injustices and disparities weren't limited to the south,” said Rep. Donna Bullock, PLBC vice chairman. “Through Black History Month programs, like our showcase at the state Capitol, we have a responsibility to honor our ancestors' journey, celebrate our achievements, defend democracy and fight injustices everywhere.” The program also included speaker Dr. Chieke E. Ihejirika, professor at Lincoln Read more

 

PA legislators work for open, honest government

(Jan 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – A bipartisan group of legislators is fighting to put people first by changing the way the House of Representatives operates to make it more transparent and accountable to the people instead of the special interests. The legislators are offering several reforms to the House rules after they were not given an opportunity on opening day of the House's 2019-20 session to consider proposed changes to current rules that often prevent substantive debate on important issues, require lawmakers to vote on measures with little or no notice, sideline important legislation with so-called “poison pill” amendments to change the original intent, and allow widely popular legislation to languish in committee. According to the lawmakers, people believe their government is broken and that special interests matter more than regular citizens. They said their plan would reassure Pennsylvanians that they have an opportunity to be heard and that the will of the people, not the demands of the special interests, become the laws of the state. The proposed rules reforms the legislators are fighting for include: Ensuring votes are taken in committee on popular bills (Reps. Pam DeLissio, Joe Webster). Giving citizens more time to offer input on House Rules by making the rules adopted on January 1st temporary for 75 days and creating a special committee to study, gather public comment and recommend changes to be voted on and approved by the full Read more

 

Approps Chair Bradford Says Performance-Based Budgeting Will ‘Help Drive Results’ for PA Taxpayers

(Jan 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 24 – To help drive better results for Pennsylvanians, the Democratic chairman of one of the state’s most influential budgeting oversight committees said today he believes the new performance-based budgeting effort will make a difference. “This new effort to link expected outcomes or results with specific programs will help to improve efficiencies and ensure that the money hardworking women and men send to Harrisburg is being used in the best way,” Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said today as the first-ever round of performance-based budgeting hearings concluded. “Performance-based budgeting will mean improved transparency and it addresses the common criticism of ‘wasteful government spending’ or ‘excessive budget growth’,” Bradford said. “Performance-based budgeting helps to drive results,” the chairman said, “and that’s what taxpayers want and deserve.” Pennsylvania, like other states, has had a degree of performance-based budgeting in its budget-making process, but this new effort, which now involves the Independent Fiscal Office and public hearings to review proposed outcomes, heightens the policy’s impact. This new process came into being in 2017 when the governor signed the Performance-Based Budgeting and Tax Credit Efficiency Act (Act 48) into law. Read more

 

Sims condemns SCOTUS decision on transgender military ban

(Jan 22, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 22 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s transgender military ban: “I am disgusted by the Court’s decision, but I am not surprised. Verdicts like this are exactly why special interests and the far-right took the unprecedented action of blocking former President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court for 293 days. “In the months and years to follow, the Supreme Court will issue countless more decisions which will impact nearly every imaginable aspect of our nation. With each decision, it is critically important to remember the genesis of this era in our nation’s history. “As the son of two lieutenant colonels, I’ve witnessed the dedication and sacrifice exhibited by our service members all across our nation. I cannot fathom the pain and indignity our transgender military members feel in the wake of this morning’s unconscionable decision. “It is equally important to note that the commander in chief who issued this order not only evaded military service during the Vietnam War but also is under investigation for conspiring with a hostile foreign power to elevate his own interests over those of our nation. “We owe these soldiers and veterans our gratitude as well as our commitment to ensuring that this shameful moment in our history is never repeated again. This ban has been Read more

 

House Democratic leaders’ statement on Karen Coates

(Jan 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 18 – House Democratic leaders issued a statement after learning of the passing of Karen Coates, chief of staff to the House Speaker. “Karen had a brilliant life and career. It ended far too soon. All of us in the House of Representatives will deeply miss her presence and her wise counsel. When tempers flared and legislative battles got hot, Karen had a way of keeping all of us grounded so that we could find some sort of agreement. “There’s not a single Pennsylvania law passed in recent years that Karen Coates did not help to shape. She was a natural leader and an integral part of the House staff who helped us get through our toughest moments. “We grieve with all of her loved ones and with the House members and staff to whom she meant so much. This is a terrible loss not only for the House, but for our commonwealth.” Read more

 

Shusterman named Deputy Freshman Whip

(Jan 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 17 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman was named Deputy Whip for the House Democratic Caucus, the first freshman legislator to earn the title. “The freshman class of representatives is full of extraordinary leaders,” said Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery. “It is a strong and diverse group. I look forward to using this role to work with my freshman colleagues and listen to them so we can achieve our goals together.” Shusterman was appointed by House Democratic Whip Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila. “Pennsylvanians sent a historically diverse group of first term legislators to Harrisburg,” Harris said. “I look forward to working with Representative Shusterman to integrate the freshman members into the House as we push forward an agenda to benefit citizens across the commonwealth.” The whip is considered the second-in-command in the caucus and is responsible for making sure that Democratic members attend session and generally understand the specifics of legislation and procedural votes in the House. The deputy whips serve to assist the whip on the House floor in ensuring members are present for votes and in tallying support prior to a vote. “My constituents are looking for me to bring a new level of transparency and reform to our state government,” Shusterman said. “I will use this leadership position to help meet their expectations.” Shusterman, who took office Jan. 1 as Read more

 

Philadelphia Delegation announces its legislative platform for 2019-20

(Jan 16, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 16 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, chairman of the Philadelphia House Delegation, along with delegation members today announced their legislative agenda during a news conference at the state Capitol. The delegation said its top priorities for working toward a better Philadelphia include investing in education and schools, criminal justice reform, health care for all, strengthening commercial coordinators, and alternative energy methods. "We are joining forces to work as one unit for the betterment of all Philadelphians, and that begins with fighting for what our constituents need the most,” Dawkins said. "We are also focused on making sure that everyone gets a fair shot and equal treatment." “Last session we worked in bipartisan fashion to get clean slate legislation signed into law and bring real criminal justice reform to those who need it,” said Rep. Jordan Harris, the Democratic Whip. “Now, we must continue fighting for further reform to reduce recidivism and allow Pennsylvanians who have paid their debit to society to pursue a productive path to citizenry.” “For too long our criminal justice system has been an injustice system for the mentally ill, the poor, and people of color,” said Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. “While we’ve made progress, our prisons remain overcrowded, inmates mistreated, and mental health problems ignored. I stand with my Philadelphia colleagues to address Read more

 

Pa. House Democrats want to make sure Your Vote Counts

(Jan 14, 2019)

American democracy started here in 1776, but in 2019 special interests have too much power that should belong to the voters. House Democrats have a plan to increase voter turnout, make it easier for citizens to register to vote and to cast a ballot, and restore peoples’ faith in their elections. Together, we'll take Pennsylvania from one of the toughest states in which to vote to one of the easiest for a voter to be heard. Read more

 

Harris, Donatucci praise opening of Rowhouse Grocery in Point Breeze

(Jan 11, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 11 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., joined state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila., in praising the opening of a new grocery store in the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia to help an underserved community access affordable, healthy food options. “The opening of this store is truly welcoming news. The city is overwhelmed with food deserts and for people who live in these areas, they may not have the means to travel to get access to fresh foods and produce,” Donatucci said. “I applaud Rowhouse Grocery for providing healthy options in this community.” “This grocery store comes in at a time when there’s more focus than ever before on healthy eating, yet many of our constituents simply don’t have access to the fresh fruits, vegetables and meats they need,” Harris said. “If the products aren’t accessible or affordable to the people we represent, then they simply don’t exist to them. I hope that Rowhouse Grocery gives an opportunity for people to explore meals that are nutritious, yet still affordable.” A food desert is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a location without easy access to fresh, health and affordable foods. People who live in food deserts tend to consume foods that are higher in cholesterol, sugar and fat. Rowhouse Grocery is located at 1713 McKean St. in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia. Sections of Point Breeze are represented by Read more

 

OP-ED: Health care must remain accessible and affordable in PA

(Jan 11, 2019)

The Affordable Care Act, which finally made affordable, quality health insurance a reality for tens of millions of Americans and their families, has faced constant threats since it was passed by Congress in 2010, despite its success in reducing the rate of uninsured people in Pennsylvania and other states to the lowest level in history. The ACA expanded Medicaid, prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and placing annual and lifetime spending limits on coverage, and finally gives people who don't have health insurance through work an opportunity to purchase the coverage they and their families need at a price they can afford. Every insurance plan sold under the ACA must include 10 essential health benefits. Those include, among other things, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, pediatric services, mental health and substance abuse services, and chronic disease management. These services are vital to keeping individuals and families healthy, and our communities safe. The ACA also prohibits insurance companies from placing annual and lifetime dollar limits on your care. Before the ACA, these kinds of limits often left patients suffering from severe or chronic medical conditions with no coverage, no care, and no recourse. Health insurance plans should pay for the care you need when you need it. The Affordable Care Act finally made that a reality for Read more

 

Pa. House Democrats clean up Valley Forge National Park amid federal government shutdown

(Jan 11, 2019)

KING OF PRUSSIA, Jan. 11 – Four freshman Democratic state representatives spent Thursday morning picking up trash at Valley Forge National Park, helping to keep the historic site beautiful during the ongoing federal government shutdown. State Reps. Joe Ciresi, Kristine Howard, Melissa Shusterman and Joe Webster were joined by the staffs of U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Chester/Berks, and state Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, at the National Memorial Arch. The newly sworn-in lawmakers said President Trump’s partial government shutdown means more than 800,000 hardworking Americans, including those who usually keep Valley Forge National Park looking spectacular, are furloughed and entering a financial bind. Friday, which was supposed to be a payday for federal employees, instead marks the record-tying 21 st day of the shutdown. For national parks, that means nobody on site to collect trash or service restrooms. So the four first-time Pa. representatives came together at Valley Forge to take a stand and lend some helping hands. “This is really about true public service and stepping up when there is a need in the community,” said Ciresi, who’s asked members of his staff to volunteer at least once a month with a service organization of their choice. “I didn’t run for office to sit at a desk in Harrisburg. Valley Forge is near all of our districts, so it’s up to us and all of you to help keep it beautiful.” Added Read more

 

Record Breaking Number of Women now in House Democratic Caucus and Increasingly in Leadership Roles

(Jan 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 10 – Pennsylvania House Democrats start the 2019-20 session with more women than ever before in their ranks and with women holding key leadership roles, including Rep. Margo Davidson chairing the 33-member Southeast Delegation and Rep. Joanna McClinton and Rep. Rosita Youngblood being elected as the Democratic Caucus Chair and Secretary respectively. These advances are built on the historic gains made in recent elections and demonstrate House Democrats’ commitment to inclusiveness and respect for the will of the voters. Rep. Frank Dermody, the Democratic leader, and Davidson and Rep. Tina Davis, co-chairs of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus, said the 29 Democratic women now serving in the House are a vital source of strength and leadership for the Democratic Caucus. “When I entered the House there were only about eight women in our caucus. We’ve worked incredibly hard to change that and today, that number is 29 and represents a 38 percent increase from last term alone,” said Davidson who represents Delaware County and also serves as the co-chair of the bipartisan Ladies of the House Caucus. “While we are disappointed that there are no current female chairs, we understand the rules of the House and we are confident that many female legislators will be given the opportunity to serve as both vice chairs and subcommittee chairs during this session. These positions have also been historically Read more

 

Harris names deputy whips for 2019-20 legislative session

(Jan 09, 2019)

State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., today named Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, and Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene, as deputy whips for the 2019-20 legislative session. Read more

 

Vitali named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

(Jan 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 8 – State Rep. Greg Vitali was recently named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the 2019-20 session. “We must address the serious threats facing our environment,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “My focus in the legislature has been on environmental policy, and I look forward to the challenge of chairing this committee.” The committee majority chairman is state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. Vitali said his priorities include increasing funding for the Department of Environmental Protection, reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and dealing with the climate change impacts of the threatened closing of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Vitali previously served as a member of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for 24 years, spending the last four of those years as chairman. Read more

 

Briggs appointed to PASSHE Board of Governors
Feb 22, 2019

Legalization of General Adult-Use Cannabis in PA
Feb 14, 2019

House Democrats fight to protect your right to work without fear
Feb 11, 2019

House Democrats fight for healthy people and a stronger economy
Feb 08, 2019

House Democratic leadership statement on Wolf budget plan
Feb 05, 2019

Why are PA House Democrats focusing on economic security for working families?
Feb 04, 2019

PLBC hosts Black History Month event at state Capitol
Feb 04, 2019

PA legislators work for open, honest government
Jan 29, 2019

Approps Chair Bradford Says Performance-Based Budgeting Will ‘Help Drive Results’ for PA Taxpayers
Jan 24, 2019

Sims condemns SCOTUS decision on transgender military ban
Jan 22, 2019

House Democratic leaders’ statement on Karen Coates
Jan 17, 2019

Shusterman named Deputy Freshman Whip
Jan 17, 2019

Philadelphia Delegation announces its legislative platform for 2019-20
Jan 16, 2019

Pa. House Democrats want to make sure Your Vote Counts
Jan 14, 2019

Harris, Donatucci praise opening of Rowhouse Grocery in Point Breeze
Jan 11, 2019

OP-ED: Health care must remain accessible and affordable in PA
Jan 11, 2019

Pa. House Democrats clean up Valley Forge National Park amid federal government shutdown
Jan 11, 2019

Record Breaking Number of Women now in House Democratic Caucus and Increasingly in Leadership Roles
Jan 10, 2019

Harris names deputy whips for 2019-20 legislative session
Jan 09, 2019

Vitali named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee
Jan 08, 2019