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

 

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

 

Liquor sales in PA should be about consumer convenience and small businesses, not big profits for a few huge corporations

(Apr 24, 2017)

Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are scheduled to move several liquor privatization bills this week. They all have one thing in common: Pennsylvania consumers aren't demanding any of them and the Pennsylvania Senate is unlikely to consider them. Consumers are happy with the modernization and convenience changes made last year to Pennsylvania's liquor laws -- there is no widespread public support for comprehensive privatization for privatization's sake. There are only a few groups pushing to rush forward with more liquor changes so soon after last year's consumer-friendly improvements -- the chain grocery stores; big-box retailers and mega-wholesalers that want to corner the market at the expense of consumers and small, family-owned businesses; and the newspaper publishers who want to reap millions of dollars in advertising sales. By pushing expanded alcohol sales, the state risks jeopardizing public safety in many counties and municipalities, reducing revenues for the Pennsylvania budget, and killing thousands of family-sustaining jobs in every community in the state. Creating thousands more wine and liquor retailers will saturate the market in many counties and municipalities. Access to a wide variety of wine and liquor selections in well-lit, clean and safe state stores will be replaced by a limited choice of major-brand items relegated to one or two aisles in chain grocery stores and Read more

 

Rep. Bizzarro named 2017 Humane Legislator of the Year

(Apr 24, 2017)

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro was honored with the Humane Legislator of the Year award by The Humane Society of the United States. Read more

 

Burns rallies support for PHEAA scholarships for volunteers while participating in Cambria County Fire School

(Apr 24, 2017)

PATTON, April 24 – The Volunteer Recruitment Service Scholarship Act proposed by state Rep. Frank Burns to help boost sagging membership in the unpaid emergency services field took center stage during a noon news conference yesterday at the Cambria County Fire School. Before suiting up to engage in scheduled afternoon training sessions with firefighters, Burns, D-Cambria, outlined the merits of his H.B. 48 , which would provide state scholarships to fire company, ambulance service and rescue squad volunteers. Burns said he drafted the bill with a two-fold mission: as a means to allow emergency services to attract and retain volunteers, and as a way to help young people defray the cost of higher education while introducing them to important community service. “We are all aware of the serious manpower shortages facing, in particular, the volunteer fire departments that have served our communities so well for so long,” Burns said. “The situation is reaching crisis proportions, and I believe that offering Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency scholarships to volunteers is one way to think outside the box to solve this problem.” Under Burns’ bill, recipients would be required to be a member of a volunteer organization for at least six months and maintain active volunteer status, have graduated from high school or have received a high school equivalency diploma. They would also have to enroll in a degree-producing curriculum Read more

 

Hill-Evans charter school bill would protect students, taxpayers

(Apr 21, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans has introduced legislation that would offer additional protections for students and taxpayers in the event of a charter school’s closure. Under House Bill 1249 , a charter school that has been notified that its charter will not be renewed or will be terminated may not continue to enroll new students unless the charter school has filed an appeal. If the school’s appeal is denied by the state Charter School Appeal Board, the charter school would have to immediately stop enrolling new students. “In York, we know how difficult the closure of a charter school can be. We shouldn’t allow charter schools to continue enrolling students if they know they are going to close,” Hill-Evans said. “It’s unfair to those children and unnecessarily disruptive to their education.” Making this change would also alleviate concerns about charter schools that are anticipating closure enrolling more students in order to artificially inflate any payments based on enrollment when a school closes its doors. The bill only applies if a charter school hasn’t appealed a non-renewal or termination decision or if that appeal has been denied, Hill-Evans said. H.B. 1249 has been referred to the House Education Committee. Hill-Evans initially offered the bill as an amendment to the Republican-backed House Bill 97 – legislation she said that falls short of providing much-needed reform Read more

 

Dawkins introduces bill to eliminate state government language barriers

(Apr 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced a bill to require state departments and agencies, elected row offices, and the General Assembly to craft language access plans to better serve Pennsylvania residents with a limited ability to speak or write in English. House Bill 1241 would require these language access plans to identify all languages spoken by at least 3 percent of the population they serve, and provide vital documents and informational materials in those languages. It also requires that oral, in-person interpretive services be provided in languages encountered at least weekly. “All Pennsylvanians should have equal access to their government,” Dawkins said. “Our departments and agencies cannot fulfill their missions if there are 500,000 people in the state they can’t communicate with. This is a matter of protecting our residents’ health, rights and well-being.” The bill would require state agencies to submit their language access plans to the secretary of administration, who would provide central coordination and technical assistance. The secretary also would make these plans available online for the public to review. In addition to entities under the authority of the governor, the attorney general, auditor general and treasurer as well as the state House and Senate would be required to publish and implement language access plans under the bill. “As the population of non-English Read more

 

Pa. charter school reform bills' goal: Treat all public schools equally

(Apr 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 19 – House Democrats today unveiled a package of eight charter school reform bills designed to treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "I am hopeful we can pull together bipartisan support for these bills that improve efficiencies and accountability, which means that there will be more money available for education. Providing high-quality education to all Pennsylvania students should be the ultimate goal of our educational system," said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, has introduced a bill ( H.B. 1199 ) that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. "The auditor general's office has identified millions of dollars in questionable charter school leases. We need to prevent these conflicts of interest up front, and we need to recover taxpayers' money to benefit students when there has been an inappropriate payment for one of these leases. Every dollar that goes to an inappropriate lease is a dollar that doesn't go to educate our kids," Roebuck said. Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, introduced a bill ( H.B. 1198 ) that would bring charter schools in line with school districts by imposing limits on the surpluses that charter schools may accumulate. "My legislation Read more

 

Snyder readying bill to safeguard gas well impact payments

(Apr 19, 2017)

Rep. Pam Snyder is drafting legislation that would clarify fees from low-producing natural gas wells and ensure fuller payments to communities and programs. Read more

 

House approves Snyder bill on minors’ health services

(Apr 18, 2017)

State Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed her legislation that would eliminate confusion over when a minor’s consent is needed for mental health examinations and other health services. Read more

 

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

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

Liquor sales in PA should be about consumer convenience and small businesses, not big profits for a few huge corporations
Apr 24, 2017

Rep. Bizzarro named 2017 Humane Legislator of the Year
Apr 24, 2017

Burns rallies support for PHEAA scholarships for volunteers while participating in Cambria County Fire School
Apr 24, 2017

Hill-Evans charter school bill would protect students, taxpayers
Apr 21, 2017

Dawkins introduces bill to eliminate state government language barriers
Apr 19, 2017

Pa. charter school reform bills' goal: Treat all public schools equally
Apr 19, 2017

Snyder readying bill to safeguard gas well impact payments
Apr 19, 2017

House approves Snyder bill on minors’ health services
Apr 18, 2017