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McClinton introduces comprehensive election bill to bolster democracy, marking one year since deadly insurrection on U.S. Capitol

Cephas bill to boost senior programs by up to $2 million per year advances to full House

(May 22, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 22 – The House Gaming Oversight Committee today voted out a bill ( H.B. 1162 ) introduced by state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., that would provide an additional $1.5 to $2 million per year for senior programs. "My bill would redirect unclaimed gambling winnings to the Lottery Fund to be used for programs for older Pennsylvanians, such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. Currently, after five years, unclaimed winnings are sent to the Department of the Treasury as unclaimed property. Under my proposal, people would have up to two years to claim their winnings before waiving rights to them and having those winnings transferred to the state Lottery Fund," Cephas said. "Based on current numbers, my bill is estimated to generate between $1.5 and $2 million per year." Cephas' bill now goes to the full House of Representatives. Cephas represents the 192nd Legislative District in west Philadelphia, which is home to more than 60,000 residents from the Wynnefield, Overbrook Farms, Morris Park, Overbrook Park, Overbrook, Haddington, Hestonville and Carroll Park areas. ### Read more

 

Investing in tourism is investing in jobs and our communities

(May 19, 2017)

When your governing philosophy is "government is evil" and "public spending is waste," you often end up cutting off your nose to spite your face. The House Republican budget is a good example. We've seen a steady illustration how the knee-jerk, across-the-board cuts in House Bill 218 would hurt you and your family, stifle jobs and the economy, and make Pennsylvania's budget challenges even worse in the future. The latest example: tourism. Pennsylvania's tourism industry supports more than 310,000 jobs directly and close to half a million in total. Most of these businesses are small, family-owned operations that provide jobs in the community and encourage local economic growth. Unfortunately, the Republican budget slashes the governor's suggested investment of $10 million for tourism marketing in Pennsylvania to just $2.5 million. Every $1 invested in tourism marketing generates nearly $3.50 in state tax revenue, plus more in local revenues. So this is about more than just helping tourism-related businesses -- it's about being able to pay for our schools, public safety, highways and bridges, sewers and water lines, and other services that benefit every Pennsylvania community and family every day. Pennsylvania's competitors -- New York, Virginia and Washington D.C. just to name three -- are outspending us on tourism marketing by 5 to 1, 3 to 1, and 2.5 to 1 respectively. Less than a Read more

 

Schlossberg continues efforts to help sexual assault victims

(May 17, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 17 – In an effort to help protect the rights of victims of sexual assault, state Rep. Mike Schlossberg plans to introduce legislation related to challenges faced by victims of sexual assault. Read more

 

Frankel reintroduces Pa. Fairness Act with bipartisan support, urges Turzai to send it to a committee that will give fair hearing

(May 17, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 17 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chairman of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus, will reintroduce his proposed Pennsylvania Fairness Act in the House, again with bipartisan support. The bill would include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the types of discrimination banned statewide in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. Frankel is urging House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to send the bill to a committee where it can get a fair hearing, not the State Government Committee chaired by anti-LGBT Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. Frankel said, "Pennsylvania polls for the past eight years have shown consistent 70 percent support for providing our LGBT relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers with the same protections as the rest of us. Many Pennsylvanians are stunned when they find out state or federal law doesn't already protect LGBT people in in the workplace, in housing and public accommodations such as being able to eat in a restaurant or to get a hotel room like everyone else," Frankel said. "It's past time to fix this. More than 40 local governments across the state have decided to stop waiting on Harrisburg or Washington, but the legislature should do the right thing and provide these commonsense protections statewide. This would help us to compete for jobs and residents with all the other northeastern states, which already have these protections, and give us an Read more

 

More join the fight to close the gender pay gap

(May 17, 2017)

Earlier this year, Philadelphia became the first city in the United States to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history. Now, Philly is not alone. New York City's mayor has signed a similar law barring employers from asking job applicants about their wage history. The purpose of the law is to help close the gender pay gap. Employers routinely base salary offers and pay on previous wages. This hurts female candidates because they typically earn less than their male counterparts due to the existing wage gap. Questions about salary history -- and basing wages on that history -- perpetuate that gap. Pay discrepancies between women and men who do essentially the same work persist across income and industries. These discrepancy extend beyond regular pay to raises and bonuses, too. New York and other cities pursuing similar pay equity measures may face the same challenges that Philadelphia has -- corporations and special interests more concerned about shareholder profits and CEO bonuses than they are about fair wages for women and the families they are trying to support. Philadelphia's legislation has been challenged in court by the Chamber of Commerce with the support of several major corporations in the city. Cities and towns shouldn't have to take on the responsibility and expense of protecting fair wages and the income you and your family deserve -- and you Read more

 

Trumcare would hurt PA schools and the special needs children they educate

(May 15, 2017)

Trumpcare, now being considered by the U.S. Senate, could result in Pennsylvania schools losing hundreds of millions of dollars in special education funding. Trumpcare makes deep cuts to Medicaid, which helps pay for things like therapy equipment, teacher aides, and other health-related services that help students with physical and developmental disabilities do their schoolwork. Pennsylvania receives about $143 million a year for these services. Schools are required by federal law to provide these services; even if the federal money disappears, the services cannot, nor should they. That means the state and school districts will have to make up for these lost federal dollars. Which would mean higher state taxes and local property taxes -- or cuts in other programs for students and higher fees for parents. We hear Republicans complain endlessly about unfunded mandates at the state level. Now, congressional Republicans at the federal level are preparing to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in mandated costs to local schools and taxpayers. So much for consistency. And so much for any claim by Trump or congressional Republicans that they care about providing a quality education and a chance for academic success to all of our kids. Read more

 

Let's pass a budget that doesn't undercut farms and food safety for your family

(May 10, 2017)

A budget bill passed by House Republicans on April 4 could make it much harder for Pennsylvania to keep the food you eat safe and help our state's farmers flourish. Republicans passed the bill with zero input and zero votes from Democrats. A bipartisan Pennsylvania budget would recognize the importance of family farms and agriculture to our state's economy, and the state's obligation to keep the food that is served in our kitchens, restaurants and school cafeterias safe and healthy. The House Republican budget bill doesn't do any of that. Pennsylvania must find ways to reduce its deficit, but the arbitrary cuts in House Bill 218 to things as fundamental to Pennsylvania as farm preservation and production, agriculture jobs and food safety make little sense. The cuts in the Republican budget bill would restrict efforts to market Pennsylvania products through programs such as PA Preferred; jeopardize the state's farmland preservation program; and limit efforts to provide nutritious and healthy food to senior citizens and children through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and State Food Purchase Program. Republicans also choose in House Bill 218 to cut support for efforts to improve local water quality and provide important education and training programs for farmers and other food producers. These programs boost farming, farm jobs and the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania while conserving and Read more

 

Galloway supports legislation to expand detox options

(May 09, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 9 – State Rep. John Galloway announced today that legislation he supported to help expand detoxification beds in health care and other facilities across the state unanimously passed the House of Representatives. Galloway co-sponsored H.B. 118, which would create the Emergency Drug and Alcohol Detoxification program, allowing the Department of Health to provide for detoxification beds in existing, licensed health care facilities and to establish new detoxification facilities. The department would give special priority review to those applying for licensure through the program. Under current law, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs licenses detoxification centers, while the Health Department licenses medical beds. “We have to do more to tackle the opioid epidemic gripping our communities. If someone is reaching out for help, we must make sure they can get it,” Galloway said. “By expanding the Health Department’s ability to establish detoxification beds, we’d increase the options those suffering from addiction have to help them move toward recovery.” The bill was forwarded to the Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Rep. DeLuca’s pharmacy technician bill passes House

(May 09, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 9 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, announced that the House has passed his bill that would require state registration for pharmacy technicians. House Bill 454 would require pharmacy technicians to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a police background check and complete a board-approved training program before registering with the state. Currently, pharmacy technicians require no formal training and must only be supervised by a licensed pharmacist in order to assist in filling prescriptions. "This is a safety issue," DeLuca said. "We need to be able to guarantee that the people filling our prescriptions and handling dangerous and even addictive drugs on a daily basis are uniformly registered with the commonwealth. Requiring a base level of education, training and background checks will be a positive step in maintaining the safety of the prescription process. “In the real world, pharmacy technicians are the workers who fill the vast majority of the prescriptions at local pharmacies. This bill would ensure a base level of competence we all expect from the people responsible for filling our prescriptions. Errors cost money and can also cost lives.” Currently, 45 states require the registration of pharmacy technicians, including the neighboring states of Maryland and New Jersey. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. “I Read more

 

Republican budget puts people and families at risk

(May 09, 2017)

If one of the goals of House Republicans is to make life much more difficult for you and your family, the partisan budget bill they passed on April 4 is a great success. The Republican budget slashes state support for everything from safe child care and healthy parenting, to mental health and substance abuse treatment, to care and support for senior citizens and the homeless. No matter where you live or what your income is, chances are these cuts will impact you and your family at a very personal level and force you into some very difficult choices. Need to find quality care for your children? Republican cuts will eliminate support for childcare services for 10,000 children and increase the waiting list to 19,000 -- the highest in Pennsylvania's history. Many parents would have to choose between staying home and giving up income critical to supporting their family and going to work and potentially placing their children in an unstable or unsafe environment. The cuts would also threaten home-based visiting services that help more than 1,700 young mothers and their babies and toddlers stay healthy and safe. Do you have an aging parent or a son or daughter with a disability? The Republican budget cuts $6 million from home-based and community-based services, meaning your loved ones may no longer be able to receive care or assistance at home. And you may face the increased apprehension and cost of placing them in a nursing Read more

 

Getting our youngest Pennsylvanians off to a great start

(May 08, 2017)

Nearly 113,000 pre-school children in Pennsylvania who qualify for high-quality early education aren't receiving the benefits of Pre-K. Pennsylvania should consider that a failure since pre-K plays a crucial role for many children not just in K-12 success but in a successful career and life beyond school. Early education saves taxpayers money by reducing the need for remedial instruction, grade repetition and special education. It also increases graduation rates, college and technical school enrollment, and is even linked to better careers and higher incomes later in life. Yet nearly 70 percent of young children who should be receiving the benefits of a quality early education in Pennsylvania aren't because our state hasn't put a premium on it. That needs to change with this state budget. In November, House Democrats asked Gov. Tom Wolf to increase investments in Pre-K and Head Start in his 2017-18 budget proposal. He responded by including $75 million more for our young children. Unfortunately, House Republicans slashed that amount by $50 million when they passed their budget bill on April 4 -- a bill not one Democrat voted for. House Democrats proudly support early education because the results show that it works. It's a cost-effective way to improve learning and life for thousands of children in Pennsylvania and a way to avoid the more-expensive costs of dealing with the social problems that arise Read more

 

Coolbaugh hosts minimum wage hearing

(May 05, 2017)

How can Pennsylvania raise its minimum wage to something employees can survive on without shutting down small, non-corporate, independently owned businesses which don’t get the tax-break subsidies that corporations do?This was the question discussed at a Wednesday public hearing at the Pocono Mountain Public Library in Coolbaugh Township. Read more

 

Trumpcare is especially tough on Pennsylvania

(May 05, 2017)

An Independent Fiscal Office report this week on state revenue collections reveals Republican budgeting has added another $1 billion-plus to Pennsylvania's growing deficit -- a deficit that could reach $3 billion by the end of the next fiscal year. As if that weren't bad enough, their Republican partners in the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to make Pennsylvania's problems much worse by passing Trumpcare legislation. Trumpcare has tremendous implications for Pennsylvania residents -- and the state budget. It would strip 1 million state residents of their healthcare coverage, cut Medicaid funding that provides health services to millions of older Pennsylvanians and people with disabilities, and torpedo healthcare jobs and struggling hospitals in many Pennsylvania cities and rural communities. Pennsylvania relies on Medicaid to care for senior citizens and people with disabilities more than almost any other state in the nation. This care is expensive, and the Trumpcare legislation does not keep pace with their needs. With its huge budget deficit, Pennsylvania will find it extremely difficult to make up for Trumpcare's cuts in federal Medicaid funding. The Republican bill leaves Pennsylvania with a choice between cutting healthcare for people who need it or increasing state and local taxes. Trumpcare also gets rid of the subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that allows individuals and families to afford their Read more

 

Frankel: Trump should scrap anti-LGBT 'right to discriminate' order

(May 03, 2017)

PITTSBURGH, May 3 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chairman of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus, said President Donald Trump should permanently scrap reported plans to sign an anti-LGBT "right to discriminate" executive order, as he's expected to do Thursday . "Under the guise of 'religious liberty,' President Trump could try to create a right to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace, in housing and public accommodations such as being able to eat in a restaurant or to get a hotel room like everyone else. Our Constitution already protects freedom of religion, under the First Amendment the president recently said he wants to alter. But our Constitution and our federal and Pennsylvania laws don't yet protect LGBT Americans in the workplace, housing or public accommodations. "The president should get on the right side of history, drop the proposed executive order and instead support the bipartisan Equality Act that was reintroduced this week in Congress . Pennsylvania polls for the past eight years have shown consistent 70 percent support for providing our LGBT relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers with the same protections as the rest of us. When Vice President Pence was governor of Indiana, public and business backlash forced him to backtrack quickly on a 'right to discriminate' law there – a lesson the Trump-Pence administration should learn from. "I'll soon be Read more

 

We can't have good schools on the cheap

(May 02, 2017)

House Republicans passed a budget bill in April that respects the governor's funding requests for basic and special education, but is missing support for other programs vital to quality schools and successful students. Republican budgets earlier this decade stripped $1 billion in state support for public schools across Pennsylvania and most of those school districts and their students are still trying to recover. Skimping on -- or ignoring completely -- the tools and support services that help students prepare to learn and teachers prepare to teach simply doubles down on the mistakes Republicans made in the past. The House Republican budget bill underfunds Gov. Wolf's request for pre-K and early childhood education increases. Making quality early childhood learning accessible to more children in Pennsylvania ensures they arrive at elementary school ready to learn, increases academic success in later grades, and even boosts career success and income later in life. And, it supports working parents. That's why House Democrats were already encouraging the governor to include the increases in his budget last year. The House Republican budget bill zeroes out Pennsylvania's safe schools initiative. Students who are distracted in school by the threat of violence, harassment or discrimination cannot concentrate in class and often struggle academically. The Republican budget bill fails to support the governor's Read more

 

House Democrats will fight for PA veterans

(May 01, 2017)

Republicans brought Pennsylvania to the bad financial place it's in and now they want to take us even lower with the budget bill they passed in early April. Alarmingly, the House Republican budget bill includes cuts that are harmful for many Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvanians that would suffer under the Republican budget include our nearly 900,000 state veterans and National Guard members. According to Pennsylvania's adjutant general, the cuts in the Republican budget bill would cripple operations at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and threaten the department's ability to support programs, services and outreach for our veterans. Under House Republican budget levels, the department could maintain support for veterans and National Guard members only until February of next year. After that, the department would have to lay off up to 65 workers and end many programs and services for veterans and National Guard members. The Republican cuts would also threaten federal funding for veterans in Pennsylvania, since much of the state's funding is required as a match to qualify for federal funding. The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is one of Pennsylvania's top 10 employers -- with 2,600 workers and 20,000 National Guard members. It contributes $1.4 billion in economic impact to Pennsylvania. Did Republicans in the House not realize they were voting to cut funding for our veterans, eliminate jobs and damage local economies Read more

 

Pashinski, Policy Committee discuss Marcellus shale severance tax

(May 01, 2017)

WILKES-BARRE, May 1 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Wilkes University to explore the impacts of implementing a potential Marcellus shale severance tax in Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of quality natural gas, and by now the industry has had nearly 10 years to get their operations up and running,” Pashinski said. “The time has come to pursue an amicable severance tax that is fair to both the people of Pennsylvania and the Marcellus shale companies.” State Rep. Mike Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, added: “I thank Representative Pashinski for requesting this hearing, so we could hear good testimony from state officials, the Marcellus shale industry, and other experts about whether Pennsylvania should finally implement a severance tax. The state’s impact fee does not go far enough and it has been long overdue for the industry to pay its fair share for utilizing Pennsylvania’s natural resources.” The committee heard testimonies from Dennis Davin, secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; Scott Perry, deputy secretary for oil and gas, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Frank Joanlanne, president, Borton Lawson Engineering; Marleen Troy, professor of environmental engineering, Wilkes University; and Marc Stier, director, Pennsylvania Budget and Read more

 

Illegally setting body-gripping traps would face increased penalty under Mullery bill

(Apr 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 27 – In an effort to better protect dogs and other domestic animals, state Rep. Gerald Mullery introduced legislation that would increase the penalty for illegally setting body-gripping traps. State law requires all body-gripping traps to be set inside an established watercourse, waterway, marsh, pond, or dam. Unfortunately, body-gripping traps are often illegally placed outside these water locations, inadvertently luring dogs and other domestic animals which are often seriously injured or killed by the traps, according to Mullery. “The frequency and severity of this problem prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to restrict the size of openings for these traps in an effort to reduce the number of domestic animals being killed or injured by them. Even with this size restriction, I believe it is necessary to strengthen the penalty for those who place these traps in unapproved and illegal locations,” said Mullery, D-Luzerne. A violation of the current law is punishable by a fine of up to $200. House Bill 1292 would raise that penalty to a fine of up to $1,500 and up to three months in prison. The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Trappers Association supported the bill when Mullery introduced it last legislative session, although it did not receive a vote by the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more

 

Wheatley calls for realistic action from House Finance Committee

(Apr 25, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said he is becoming increasingly frustrated by the Republican majority’s double standard when it comes to legislation that will have a dramatic effect on Pennsylvania’s budget and financial outlook. Wheatley, who is Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee, said committee members today were forced to vote on a package of tax-related bills introduced by House Republicans that would add $137.5 million to Pennsylvania’s spending, or budget deficit, without offering a way to pay for it. “The majority party continues to introduce and pass out of the Finance Committee legislation that would increase Pennsylvania’s already massive budget deficit and not offer the way to pay for it,” Wheatley said. “When we give away money to one sector, we are cutting money in our budget.” Wheatley said while the GOP bills have the laudable goal of leveling the playing field for mom and pop shops and small businesses, the methods used by House Republicans at the committee level are disingenuous and not in the best interest of taxpayers. “I commend the work and the effort toward helping our small businesses succeed and our economy thrive, for it is a shared goal of House Democrats,” Wheatley said. “I was even pleased to hear the Republican sponsor of this package admit that big business has a more favorable tax environment Read more

 

Legislation would reduce penalty for forgetting hunting license

(Apr 25, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Hunters who forget their license when they go into the woods would face a reduced penalty under legislation introduced by state Rep. Gerald Mullery. “While it is important for hunters to have their license on them while in the woods, sometimes human nature gets the best of them and they just forget and leave it either at home or in their vehicle,” said Mullery, D-Luzerne. “My legislation would make the punishment less harsh for forgetfulness, which occasionally happens to people.” House Bill 1291 would reduce to $50 the penalty for people who have a hunting license but simply forget to bring it with them. Currently, state law treats hunting without buying a license and hunting but forgetting to bring a license as the same, with a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $500. “Hunting illegally without first purchasing a license is quite different than an individual forgetting to carry a valid license with them into the field. Although forgetting one’s license may be negligent, it is far different than knowingly and willfully breaking the law by engaging in illegal hunting and therefore should be treated differently,” Mullery said. The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Trappers Association have supported Mullery’s introduction of the measure in past legislative sessions. The bill is expected to be referred to the House Game and Fisheries Committee, of which Mullery is a Read more

 

Cephas bill to boost senior programs by up to $2 million per year advances to full House
May 22, 2017

Investing in tourism is investing in jobs and our communities
May 19, 2017

Schlossberg continues efforts to help sexual assault victims
May 17, 2017

Frankel reintroduces Pa. Fairness Act with bipartisan support, urges Turzai to send it to a committee that will give fair hearing
May 17, 2017

More join the fight to close the gender pay gap
May 17, 2017

Trumcare would hurt PA schools and the special needs children they educate
May 15, 2017

Let's pass a budget that doesn't undercut farms and food safety for your family
May 10, 2017

Galloway supports legislation to expand detox options
May 09, 2017

Rep. DeLuca’s pharmacy technician bill passes House
May 09, 2017

Republican budget puts people and families at risk
May 09, 2017

Getting our youngest Pennsylvanians off to a great start
May 08, 2017

Coolbaugh hosts minimum wage hearing
May 05, 2017

Trumpcare is especially tough on Pennsylvania
May 05, 2017

Frankel: Trump should scrap anti-LGBT 'right to discriminate' order
May 03, 2017

We can't have good schools on the cheap
May 02, 2017

House Democrats will fight for PA veterans
May 01, 2017

Pashinski, Policy Committee discuss Marcellus shale severance tax
May 01, 2017

Illegally setting body-gripping traps would face increased penalty under Mullery bill
Apr 27, 2017

Wheatley calls for realistic action from House Finance Committee
Apr 25, 2017

Legislation would reduce penalty for forgetting hunting license
Apr 25, 2017