Gallagher, Khan, Warren call for PA to update insurance laws around colorectal cancer screenings

(Mar 05, 2024)

HARRISBURG, March 5 – Today, state Reps. Pat Galagher, Tarik Khan, both D-Phila., and Perry Warren, D-Bucks, hosted a news conference at the state Capitol announcing that they plan to introduce legislation that would update state insurance laws to expand coverage for colorectal cancer screenings. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths even though it is a very treatable form of cancer when caught early. When detected in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 90%. The legislators said their legislation would update Pennsylvania’s Insurance Company Law to reduce the age when colorectal cancer screenings are covered to 45 from 50. This legislation also prevents prior authorizations and advance notice for screening colonoscopies for individuals 45 and above. Current law requires health insurance coverage for routine colorectal cancer screenings starting at age 50 based on American Cancer Society standards published in 2008. Multiple other states have updated their law to reflect more recent American Cancer Society guidelines from 2018. The updated recommendations call for people to begin screening at age 45 rather than 50. Gallagher, who is a colorectal cancer survivor, said the legislation could result in more early detections and ultimately save lives. “As a survivor of colorectal cancer, I know firsthand the impact that early detection and proper care Read more

 

Unfair education funding and its problems detailed by experts

(Mar 05, 2024)

After years of chronic underfunding, experts detail issues, need for change Read more

 

Grant Memo: Agricultural, Educational, Public Safety, Redevelopment and Additional Grant Opportunities

(Mar 05, 2024)

NEWLY LISTED PROGRAMS Department of Agriculture: Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Who May Apply: State and local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other eligible specialty crops stakeholders. Use: The purpose of the Program is to enhance, but not replace, the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program by establishing a Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for specialty crops that are not currently eligible for grant payments under the Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, or that are otherwise designated high-priority specialty crops by the Secretary. Funding for the Program will assist the growth, certification of seed and marketing of these eligible specialty crops. Funds: $460,000 in funding is available. Application Deadline: April 19, 2024 More information: Pennsylvania Bulletin PROGRAMS OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Department of Agriculture: Farm Vitality Planning Grant Who May Apply: Farmers, prospective farmers, and others may apply. Use: Strategic business planning to expand or diversify farms or support transition of ownership. Funds: $500,000 in funding is available. Grants shall not exceed $7,500. Application Deadline: Applications will be received until funds are exhausted. More information: Pennsylvania Bulletin Commission on Crime and Delinquency: Recruitment Incentives for Law Enforcement Who May Apply: Local law enforcement Read more

 

O’Mara bill removing barrier to first responder care clears House committee

(Mar 04, 2024)

“Enduring depression or PTSI should never be normalized as part of the job. Mental health care should be accessible and encouraged, especially to first responders whom we depend on to keep us safe,” O'Mara said. Read more

 

Ghost guns: Fueling real horror in PA communities

(Mar 04, 2024)

“It’s infuriating to know, as I mentioned during the judiciary committee hearing on HB 777, how quickly I could use my cellphone to purchase a ghost gun without any meaningful checks,” said meeting host Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who represents portions of Philadelphia. “We are talking about untraceable firearms that can be assembled with ease. They are completely untraceable, and they are legal to purchase without any age requirement or background checks, and they are contributing to gun violence in all communities throughout Pennsylvania – and the nation.” Read more

 

Guzman wraps up Black History Month by honoring 26 community leaders from Berks County

(Mar 01, 2024)

READING, March 1 – State Rep. Manuel Guzman, D-Berks, said that he concluded observations for Black History Month with a ceremony that highlighted the work of 26 community leaders from the city of Reading and other municipalities across Berks County. “On the last day of Black History Month, I had the immense satisfaction of honoring a remarkable group of Black Americans. This group is comprised of individuals that have boldly paved the way in the most diverse areas,” said Guzman about the event held in his district office where he honored his guests with PA House citations. “Their accomplishments have made our community proud. This event was a perfect opportunity to remind them how much we value their tenacity and dedication.” The list of honorees included city District Justices Carissa L. Johnson and Tonya A. Butler; Seleda Simmons, executive director and founder of the nonprofit The Real Deal610; Tonya Henry, acting assistant director at Olivet Boys & Girls Club; and Beloved Pair, an outstanding student from Central Middle School. Read more

 

Roundtable discusses contributions of Children’s Advocacy Centers

(Feb 29, 2024)

“When I learned about Child Advocacy Centers and their mission, I was so relieved these organizations and professionals are in place to support children throughout the state,” said Policy Committee roundtable host Rep. Justin Fleming, who represents portions of Lower Paxton and Susquehanna townships as well as the borough of Pennbrook in Dauphin County. “If we really want to support children and their recovery, then we need to prioritize Child Advocacy Centers.” Read more

 

Kenyatta introduces legislation to study impact of ‘benefits cliff’

(Feb 29, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 29 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., has introduced legislation to study the public assistance benefits cliff, which refers to a situation when public benefit programs phase out quickly for families as household earnings increase. This legislation would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study and issue a report on the impact of benefits cliffs in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, roughly 12 percent of all Pennsylvanians live in poverty, with eight percent living in extreme poverty. “In many instances, Pennsylvanians living in poverty become constrained to a life of poverty due to the ‘cliff effect,’ which perpetuates the poverty cycle, rather than incentivizing individuals to become self-sufficient,” Kenyatta said. “This study should give us a better idea of just how much the benefits cliff affects Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable families, and how we can ensure these families get the most out of important public benefit programs.” Kenyatta is joined by state Reps. Morgan Cephas and Roni Green, both D-Phila., and La’Tasha D. Mayes, D-Allegheny, in introducing this bill. Cephas explained how benefits cliffs impact marginalized communities. “Not only are Black women paid less than white or male counterparts, opportunities to escape this cycle of poverty are fewer – leading to the public assistance Read more

 

Waxman to introduce legislation to decriminalize HIV in Pennsylvania

(Feb 28, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Rep. Ben Waxman, D-Phila., plans to introduce legislation to eliminate a felony penalty for people with HIV charged with prostitution. In Pennsylvania, prostitution is a misdemeanor unless the person has HIV. . In Pennsylvania, people living with HIV have been prosecuted under generally applicable laws for conduct that would not be a crime, or would be a less serious crime, but for their HIV status. For example, Pennsylvania is one of nine states that still subjects people living with HIV to harsher penalties if charged with prostitution. Prostitution is typically a misdemeanor offense; however, people living with HIV in Pennsylvania who are charged with prostitution can be charged with a felony. This would happen even if transmission would not be possible, because no physical contact occurred or the nature of contact is not a method of transmission. “HIV criminalization laws have not kept up with the four decades of progress in the fight against HIV, and do not reflect current scientific knowledge around HIV prevention, transmission, and treatment,” Waxman said. “The harsher criminalization of those living with HIV only stigmatizes those who have contracted this virus as well as the marginalized communities it disproportionately affects.” Waxman said the legislation could also help prevent Pennsylvania from costly legal trouble. On Dec. 1, 2023, the Read more

 

Pa. Legislative Latino Caucus highlights contributions of Dominican community in commonwealth

(Feb 27, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Latino Caucus today released the following statement on the occasion of the 180 th anniversary of Dominican independence: “As members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Latino Caucus, we stand in unity with our Dominican brothers and sisters, acknowledging their invaluable contribution to our commonwealth’s social, cultural and economic vitality. “We are proud to say that Pennsylvania is home to over 140,000 Dominicans with most hailing from Allentown, Reading and Philadelphia. “We want to use this opportunity to reflect on the triumphs and struggles that our community has faced and honor the efforts and impact of our contributions not only to the state, but to the entire nation. “We promise a renewed commitment to continue fighting for a better future and justice for all families across the state. We also want to ensure that generations to come in the commonwealth will learn about their heritage and culture. Happy Dominican Independence Day! The Latino Caucus stands for diversity, equity and inclusion.” The Dominican Independence Day is celebrated annually on Feb. 27, marking the island’s autonomy from Haiti. Read more

 

Matzie to introduce legislation that would add lawmakers, education secretary as permanent voting members of PIAA executive board

(Feb 27, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – In response to growing concerns over decisions and policies by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and their impact on student safety, state Rep. Rob Matzie announced today that he will be introducing legislation to make lawmakers on the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee and the state secretary of education permanent voting members of the PIAA executive board. Matzie, who is vice chairman and longest-serving member of the oversight committee, said the move is justified because of PIAA’s status as a public agency – and necessary given the association’s lack of adequate response to questions and concerns raised by the oversight committee. “The PIAA is a governmental entity,” Matzie said. “That was settled by the PA Supreme Court last week. It’s appropriate and necessary to bring accountability. Elected members of the legislature are tasked by the state Constitution to answer to and speak on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania. That includes, perhaps most importantly, our children and our schools and – by extension – those participating in junior and senior high sports. “This legislation has been in the works for some time, but I felt the time was now – based on recent correspondence the PIAA sent on the premise of defending their indefensible competition formula. In reality, the Read more

 

State lawmakers highlight need to alleviate medical debt

(Feb 27, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – Today, state Reps. Tarik Khan, D-Phila., and Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna, held a news conference at the State Capitol to discuss the importance of alleviating medical debt for Pennsylvanians who need it most. Last spring, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation ( H.B. 78 ) that would establish the Pennsylvania Medical Debt Repayment Program, which would target the medical debt of low-income Pennsylvanians drowning in it and in need of relief. The legislation is currently sitting in the PA Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Medical debt relief is also a top priority for Gov. Josh Shapiro who, in his state budget address for the 2024-25 fiscal year, proposed investing $4 million to wipe it out for thousands of Pennsylvanians. State officials estimate that roughly 1 million Pennsylvanians carry some amount of medical debt. As of Dec. 2020, Pennsylvanians collectively share more than $1.8 billion in medical debt in a collections stage. “The toll of medical debt is staggering, with some reports showing that nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have gone into debt due to healthcare costs,” Khan said. “Medical debt makes us sicker because it prevents people from seeking preventative care and in some cases skipping healthcare services all together. It’s time the legislature addresses this issue that plagues countless Pennsylvanians.” Read more

 

Committee highlights House steps to address public safety

(Feb 27, 2024)

“The Safe Communities Grant Program is another tool in our toolbox to improve public safety and keep our children and young people safe by directly addressing crime and gun violence in our communities,” Green said. “I am grateful the House supported and passed my bill in July, because this program could help all communities by ensuring public spaces are safe spaces.” Read more

 

Pa. lawmakers extend emergency declaration to keep fixing where I-95 collapsed

(Feb 27, 2024)

News story about Rep. Bellmon's concurrent resolution extending the emergency declaration to keep fixing the overpass in Northeast Philadelphia that collapsed in June 2023. Read more

 

Powell signs on as primary sponsor of legislation to decrease displacement & gentrification through tax increment financing

(Feb 26, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Lindsay Powell, D-Allegheny, has signed on as the sponsor of a bill that would utilize tax increment financing dollars for keeping individuals and families in their homes in TIF-designated districts. The legislation, H.B. 1064 , would update the Tax Increment Financing Act and allow designated districts to fund affordable housing, foreclosure and rental assistance, and workforce programs with TIF dollars. The bill would also increase the lifespan of TIF districts from 20 to 25 years and convert more of such collected monies into projects aimed at the measures outlined above. “TIFs have been an integral component of revitalizing economically distressed areas. Funding for anti-displacement activities, however, have never been allowable costs under prior TIF guidelines,” Powell said. “While we’ve seen areas rebound as a result of this program, long-time neighborhood residents have lost their homes because of resulting increases in property values and taxes. My amendment aims to prevent those consequences in future TIF districts. “These are commonsense changes to the program that should garner bipartisan support,” Powell continued. “From speaking with residents, community organizations and partners in the public and private sectors, we all want to see our region thrive. This legislation would make TIF districts more effective and equitable.” House Bill 1064 was originally Read more

 

Testifiers highlight need to protect consumers from misleading contracts

(Feb 26, 2024)

The House Majority Policy Committee met Monday morning to gather testimony on what can be done to better protect Pennsylvanians from entering misleading, confusing contracts. Read more

 

Ciresi introduces legislation to reform educational tax credit programs

(Feb 23, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, today introduced House Bill 2063 which would reform the commonwealth’s educational tax credit programs, the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit, to ensure they are better serving those who need them. According to Ciresi, although funding for Pennsylvania’s educational tax credit programs has increased significantly over the past few decades, there has been little oversight to determine their effectiveness or how the money is spent, which has resulted in those in need not getting necessary assistance. “The state has awarded billions of dollars in state tax credits for private and religious school vouchers, but because of how the programs have been set up, it’s been difficult to determine their success and whether the money has been spent properly,” Ciresi said. “My legislation would reform our educational tax credit programs and ensure this money is serving its intended purpose by refocusing the programs on those truly in need of assistance, freeing up more money for scholarships, closing loopholes that have diverted money from students, and expanding data collection.” Ciresi’s legislation would seek to implement multiple recommendations that the Independent Fiscal Office made in 2022 after reviewing the programs’ operations. First, the IFO found that statutory limits on the programs’ data available Read more

 

Munroe to introduce bill to combat elder financial exploitation

(Feb 23, 2024)

WARMINSTER, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Brian Munroe introduced a bill today that would equip financial institutions and fiduciaries with the necessary tools to identify, report and prevent the financial exploitation of older adults and care dependent individuals. Munroe said the legislation is personal to him because his mother was recently defrauded even though her bank was fully aware of the transaction. “If this could happen to my mother, it can happen to anyone’s loved ones,” Munroe said. “Prior to this happening to my mother, I saw similar crimes committed countless times during my tenure as a Radnor Township police officer.” Financial exploitation is one of the most prevalent forms of elder abuse in the nation; yet it remains grossly underreported. Left unchecked, elder people remain vulnerable to the continued misuse of powers of attorney, unauthorized cash withdrawals, financial scams and check and credit card fraud. These losses are often unrecoverable, frequently resulting in the elder being forced to rely on public assistance for their most basic needs. Munroe said legal clarity will be included in the legislation to assist these financial institutions in reporting and preventing financial exploitation, as will the authority to share information with state investigators, law enforcement and other older adult protective services. Together, Read more

 

FAFSA changes focus of latest House Majority Policy hearing

(Feb 21, 2024)

Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and its impact on students was the subject of Wednesday’s House Majority Policy Committee hearing, hosted by Rep. Melissa Cerrato (D-Montgomery). Read more

 

State lawmakers offer support for Pennsylvania’s Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange during their service

(Feb 21, 2024)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 21 – Today, state lawmakers introduced legislation that would create a task force on Agent Orange -- a blend of herbicides used during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was banned when evidence of the harmful and sometimes deadly results of exposure to it began to emerge. Those who were exposed to Agent Orange are at risk of developing cancers, neurological and psychological conditions, and other long-term effects to the skin and heart. Exposure to Agent Orange can also cause reproductive health problems and birth defects in the children of veterans, including spina bifida, hip dysplasia, and congenital heart disease. The task force would comprise several members of military organizations and members of the PA House and PA Senate to investigate and form recommendations on how best to communicate with veterans affected by Agent Orange concerning the treatment options available to them. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by state Reps. Paul Takac, D-Centre; Mike Cabell, R-Luzerne; Brian Munroe, D-Bucks; Dane Watro, R-Schuylkill/Luzerne; Tarik Khan, D-Phila.; Zachary Mako, R-Northampton/Lehigh; Chris Pielli, D-Chester; and Abby Major, R-Armstrong/Westmoreland. “We owe all those who have served our country, especially those who have been harmed as a result of their service, not only our profound respect and gratitude but an enduring commitment to serve and support them and their families. That, Read more

 

Gallagher, Khan, Warren call for PA to update insurance laws around colorectal cancer screenings
Mar 05, 2024

Unfair education funding and its problems detailed by experts
Mar 05, 2024

Grant Memo: Agricultural, Educational, Public Safety, Redevelopment and Additional Grant Opportunities
Mar 05, 2024

O’Mara bill removing barrier to first responder care clears House committee
Mar 04, 2024

Ghost guns: Fueling real horror in PA communities
Mar 04, 2024

Guzman wraps up Black History Month by honoring 26 community leaders from Berks County
Mar 01, 2024

Roundtable discusses contributions of Children’s Advocacy Centers
Feb 29, 2024

Kenyatta introduces legislation to study impact of ‘benefits cliff’
Feb 29, 2024

Waxman to introduce legislation to decriminalize HIV in Pennsylvania
Feb 28, 2024

Pa. Legislative Latino Caucus highlights contributions of Dominican community in commonwealth
Feb 27, 2024

Matzie to introduce legislation that would add lawmakers, education secretary as permanent voting members of PIAA executive board
Feb 27, 2024

State lawmakers highlight need to alleviate medical debt
Feb 27, 2024

Committee highlights House steps to address public safety
Feb 27, 2024

Pa. lawmakers extend emergency declaration to keep fixing where I-95 collapsed
Feb 27, 2024

Powell signs on as primary sponsor of legislation to decrease displacement & gentrification through tax increment financing
Feb 26, 2024

Testifiers highlight need to protect consumers from misleading contracts
Feb 26, 2024

Ciresi introduces legislation to reform educational tax credit programs
Feb 23, 2024

Munroe to introduce bill to combat elder financial exploitation
Feb 23, 2024

FAFSA changes focus of latest House Majority Policy hearing
Feb 21, 2024

State lawmakers offer support for Pennsylvania’s Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange during their service
Feb 21, 2024