EBENSBURG, Oct. 5 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement that the state Department of Human Services has opened its client service center in the Hiram G. Andrews Center: “This move adds 50 stable jobs to the Cambria County economy, which is located in the 72 nd Legislative District portion of the county,” Burns said. “We all know that our region has been decimated by the demise of the coal and steel industries, and diversification like this is key to the rebuilding process. I’m proud to have been an early and active catalyst for this project. “These jobs are basically being moved from Dauphin County, where DHS has had trouble retaining employees due to the availability of other job options. The employees will still report to the Dauphin County Assistance Office, which is made possible by the use of electronic communications and technology. “The even better news is that no one lost their job because of this shift. DHS believes in the quality in the stability of the Cambria County workforce, which is a sentiment I share.” Staff reported to the new location Sept. 23. Burns is hosting a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on economic development 10 a.m. tomorrow at Ebensburg Borough Municipal Building. Read more
EBENSBURG, Oct. 4 – Knowing many 72 nd Legislative District residents treasure their Second Amendment rights, state Rep. Frank Burns is reminding constituents to attend his Concealed Carry Seminar at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Co., 176 Adams Ave., Vinco. Burns said law enforcement representatives will speak on the rules and regulations regarding firearm transport and use in Pennsylvania – including primers on concealed carry, the Castle Doctrine, using firearms for personal protection and related legal liabilities. “I’m inviting everyone to come find out your rights as a law-abiding gun owner,” Burns said. “We live in an increasingly dangerous world and response to this event has thus far been extremely positive. Some who cannot make it at this time have asked us to schedule another one.” Anyone wishing to attend the Concealed Carry Seminar is asked to call Burns’ Portage office at (814) 736-7339. Burns said he is also prepared to update meeting attendees on his Blue Lives Matter bill, which seeks to make assault on a police, corrections, probation or parole office a hate crime, with commensurate stiffer penalties. Read more
EBENSBURG, Oct. 3 – Seeking up-to-date insights to help stoke the local economy, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on economic development at 10 am. Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Ebensburg Borough Municipal Building, 300 W. High St., Ebensburg, 15391. House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, will co-chair the hearing. Burns said he requested the hearing to further explore what more can be done to increase economic development in the region. Burns also plans to discuss his initiative to change state law to permit the hiring of a broker to facilitate the sale of state properties such as the dormant 327-acre SCI-Cresson prison site. The hearing agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel from local unions: Augie Didiano, president, Johnstown Building and Construction Trades Council Don Arena, business agent, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 354 10:40 a.m. Debi Balog, workforce development director, Johnstown Area Regional Industries 11 a.m. Barry Surma, director, Saint Francis University Small Business Development Center 11:20 a.m. Closing remarks Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 30 – Shocked over a state audit finding that 2,324 dead people received $693,161 in ACCESS card benefits during a 12-month period, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is renewing his call to place photo IDs on the cards, among other welfare reforms. Burns said the report released by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was an eye-opener, uncovering an instance of $800 in ACCESS card purchases seven months after that cardholder’s death, post-death ACCESS card spending of between $601 and $1,945 in nine of 30 cases examined more closely, and aggregate ACCESS card spending of $14 million in Florida and $6 million in North Carolina. “Clearly, our welfare system is being abused, which isn’t fair to the hardworking taxpayers of Pennsylvania,” Burns said. “I have long supported placing a photo ID on ACCESS cards as a means to cut down on fraud. Hopefully, with facts like those documented by Auditor General DePasquale, a majority of the legislature will start to feel the same.” Burns has favored adding photo IDs to welfare benefits cards as a means of cracking down on fraud as far back as 2011, when he was a co-sponsor of H.B. 487 , one of several bills that has sought the change, none of which had garnered enough legislative support over the years to become law. Burns has also sponsored or supported welfare reform bills that would require drug testing to receive public assistance, enhance income eligibility Read more
Pa. state Rep. Frank Burns joined advocates, survivors and legislators to call on House leadership to run H.B. 1947 with the retroactive component, giving victims of sexual abuse a chance to have their day in court. Burns was joined by Shaun Dougherty, a clergy abuse survivor from Altoona/Johnstown, who shared his story.
HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – After a March grand jury report documented widespread child sex abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, state Rep. Frank Burns was still trying to fathom the magnitude of a decades-long cover-up when Shaun Dougherty , a friend of more than 20 years, called him to detail his experience as one of the victims. “My heart dropped and I was speechless,” Burns recounted at a Capitol news conference held today to push for statute of limitations reform in such cases. Dougherty also wanted to know how close this change was to becoming law, telling Burns, “I don’t know if I want to come forward unless this has a real legitimate chance at passing.” In the face of a sickening pattern of abuse that included his friends like Dougherty and his classmates at Bishop McCort High School, Burns resolved to support the reform effort led by state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who hosted today’s event to help press for Senate approval of H.B. 1947, which the House passed earlier this year. “I could not sit there and do nothing,” Burns said. “Leaders in the past had done nothing. And that’s why we’re here (seeking justice) today. I promise each and every one of you: we will fight for you, and together we can change the world.” Dougherty, 46 and a U.S. Navy veteran, said the retroactive component of Rozzi’s statute of limitations reform bill is critically needed so that people like him can Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 22 – Responding to news that the state has dropped the minimum bid for the remaining former SCI-Cresson property from $730,000 to $500,000, state Rep. Frank Burns is reminding economic planners of his quest to obtain tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone status for the site. Burns, D-Cambria, said the state Department of General Services’ decision to lower the minimum bid for the 329 acres and related buildings, and to rebid the site for public purchase through Dec. 13, shows that the additional sweetener of KOZ status might be needed to foster redevelopment. "I am writing to respectfully request that any Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) expansion in Cambria County be designated at the former SCI Cresson Prison site located in Cresson Township," Burns wrote in an Aug. 23 letter seeking local support for his proposal. "This parcel of land has never been taxable in the past, therefore no tax revenue would be lost by designating this site as a KOZ. Future development at this former prison faces many challenges and expensive demolition, so offering this land as a KOZ would provide incentive for businesses to tackle such obstacles." Burns’ letter was separately sent to Cresson Borough and Cresson Township officials, the Cambria County commissioners, the Cambria County Redevelopment Authority, and the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 20 – As promised, state Rep. Frank Burns has sent a letter to the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asking for his support in bringing Burns’ Blue Lives Matter bill up for a quick vote. Introduced in July, Burns’ H.B. 2261 would add assault of a police, corrections, probation or parole officer to Pennsylvania’s hate crimes statute, with corresponding criminal penalties. Burns said the steady number of purposeful attacks on police officers nationwide since then is a driving force behind his quest for swift committee action. "In light of the recent shootings across the country and now close to home in Philadelphia , I believe we need to act quickly to protect those who are to protect us," Burns wrote to state Rep. Ron Marsico. "House Bill 2261 adds law enforcement officers, including state and county corrections officers, to the protected class of individuals under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes statute." Buttressing his belief that the law is needed, Burns pointed to the 78 percent increase in the number of shooting deaths of law enforcement officers nationwide in the past year, noting that through July, 32 were killed in firearms-related incidents compared to 18 during the same period in 2015. "It’s my hope that the House will take up this bill without delay, so Pennsylvania can send a clear, unified and strong message to would-be attackers that assaulting our law Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 19 – Cresson Volunteer Fire Co. with $3,900 and Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Co. with $7,036 are two of 142 rural departments in Pennsylvania awarded grants to help guard against fire threats in forests and undeveloped areas, state Rep. Frank Burns announced today. Burns said the grants come through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, with funding supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The money is awarded to volunteer fire departments in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents, and the maximum award is $7,500. “One of the main goals of this program is to help fire departments in areas where forest and brush fires are common,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “That is definitely the case in Jackson Township and Cresson, and I’m glad to have helped firefighters in those areas procure these needed state funds.” Burns said a key objective of the grant program is to better equip and train volunteers to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas. Grant recipients are selected based on vulnerability and adequacy of existing fire protection, he added. Aid is granted on a cost-share basis, with recipients supplying matching funds. The Bureau of Forestry will begin accepting 2017 applications online next spring. Burns said any volunteer fire department interested in applying for the next Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 15 – Cambria County will receive $120,775 in federal funds to provide short-term shelter for domestic abuse victims and housing/utility assistance for eligible homeless people, state Rep. Frank Burns and state Sen. John Wozniak announced today. Administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the funds will help the Cambria County Emergency Solutions Grant program with its emergency shelter and rapid re-housing activities. “With the recent loss of the Salvation Army and its 24 beds, it is more necessary and vital than ever to provide emergency shelter and homelessness funding,” said Burns, D-Cambria. Wozniak, D-Cambria/Bedford/Clearfield, said, “These monies will be used for operations and essential services at the Women's Help Center, a domestic violence shelter with 24 beds and four cribs, and for the 14-bed Martha & Mary House Homeless Shelter, which is the county emergency homeless shelter located in Dale.” The Community Action Partnership of Cambria County will continue to operate the rapid re-housing component activities, as that agency has in the past. That component of the program will provide rental assistance, case management, utility payments, and security deposits for eligible homeless individuals and families, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Burns and Wozniak said all proposed activities will be supplemented by various Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 14 – In the face of intensified attacks on police officers nationwide, state Rep. Frank Burns plans to push for a quick vote on his Blue Lives Matter bill when the legislature reconvenes Monday. Burns said Tuesday’s incident in Phoenix , where a driver purposely barreled his vehicle into three police officers, seriously injuring two of them, is the latest in a growing line of incidents where law enforcement is being targeted for harm. “More than ever, we need to send a clear message that this type of behavior will be dealt with harshly in Pennsylvania,” Burns said. “I intend to lobby my fellow representatives and write a letter to the House Judiciary Committee chairman, with the goal of swiftly moving my bill through the process.” Burns’ H.B. 2261 , introduced in July, would make such attacks a hate crime in Pennsylvania, with a commensurate stiffer penalty. The legislation has attracted 22 co-sponsors and is backed by the 40,000-member Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police. As crafted by Burns, the bill would make employment as a law enforcement officer a covered class under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law, on par with race, color, religion and national origin. It would stiffen by one degree the penalty for assaulting a police, corrections, probation or parole officer. “With the bipartisan support for this bill, it needs to move through the process and not languish in committee,” Burns Read more
Pa. state Rep. Frank Burns hosts his annual Senior Fair, bringing area seniors together to gain information important to their health and well being. Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 31 – Overwhelming majorities of respondents to polling conducted during state Rep. Frank Burns’ Telephone Town Hall meeting Tuesday night supported positions he’s staked out representing the 72 nd Legislative District. Burns said he was not surprised by results, gleaned from 2,691 who participated in at least part of the meeting, which showed: A whopping 98 percent believe welfare recipients should be required to take drug tests and prove U.S. citizenship. 95 percent think schools should be allowed to post the national motto “In God We Trust.” 85 percent support Burns’ proposal to make assaults on law enforcement officers a hate crime. 57 percent say Pennsylvania should not accept Syrian refugees, with another 38 percent saying they should be accepted only after rigorous vetting. “These responses fall in line with the values and positions of the majority of those I represent in Harrisburg,” Burns said. “It also was a pleasure – and democracy in action – to field questions from constituents during the Telephone Town Hall.” During the hour-long meeting, where people participated by staying on their phone line when the 7 p.m. call came through, Burns answered inquiries on property taxes, the drug problem, the state pension crisis, welfare fraud, job creation, the minimum wage, natural gas, buying American goods and helping seniors in need. Burns said the Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 29 – More than 150 people attended state Rep. Frank Burns’ complimentary lunch for veterans Sunday at Cresson Volunteer Fire Co., which attracted exhibitors including the Cambria County Veterans Administration, Senior Life, James E. Van Zandt Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown MountainCar Veterans Program. Participants also were able to obtain information from Burns and his staff about state programs for veterans, and to have one-on-one conversations with Burns to ask questions and provide feedback. "Once again, this event provided a wonderful opportunity for veterans to learn what is available to them, and for me as the 72nd Legislative District representative to learn more about their chief complaints and concerns," said Burns, D-Cambria. The spaghetti meal was again prepared by Burns’ mother, Aggie Burns, who operates the family’s Johnstown restaurant. Volunteers of all ages also helped at the event. Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 25 – Bringing democracy to the comfort of his constituents’ living rooms, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, will host his first-ever Telephone Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30. Residents can expect their phones to ring at that time, and if they want to ask a question, participate in issues-based polls, or just listen in, all they have to do is stay on the line. "While we constantly field and answer constituent questions and requests for help, and get their feedback on all manner of state-related topics, I realize that many living in the 72nd Legislative District are too busy to take the initiative to contact us," Burns said. "This will give everyone the opportunity to weigh in on issues they think are important – and to hear where I stand on the critical matters of the day. I urge everyone to pick up the phone if they have a question to ask, or just want to listen in." Burns said anyone who wants to ensure that their phone number is in the database used to make the call should contact his office at (814) 472-8021, which is the same number they can use to obtain more information. Those who want to send Burns a question in advance to answer during the telephone town hall can do so by emailing it to email@example.com . As a state legislator, Burns’ signature issues have been holding the line on taxes, welfare reform including drug testing and proof of citizenship for recipients, standing Read more
Pa. state Rep. Frank Burns brought together family and friends to the Cresson American Legion? to remember PFC Thomas A. Cooney, a Silver Star recipient who was killed in action during World War II. Burns arranged to have the Cooney Road bridge over Route 22 named in his honor as a small tribute to his sacrifice and as a reminder to everyone else of the high price of freedom. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Frank Burns hosted a "Heroes" Kids Fair at Patton Park where children and their families got to meet local police officers, fire fighters and emergency responders. Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 16 – In a ceremony organized by state Rep. Frank Burns, the family of a World War II Silver Star winner who died while serving with the U.S. Army in France will help dedicate the PFC Thomas A. Cooney Memorial Bridge at 11 a.m. Friday at Cresson American Legion Post 238. Burns sponsored H.B. 1260 to rename a bridge on a portion of Cooney Road spanning Route 22 in Munster Township in honor of Cooney, who was born April 28, 1917 and raised on a farm outside Lilly with his three brothers. While serving in the European Theater of Operation on Oct. 20, 1944, Cooney volunteered for a mine removal mission and continued in the face of enemy observation and direct hostile fire. He and his fellow Army engineers encountered heavy sniper and machine gun fire as they cleared mines along a strategically important road in France. Cooney was later killed in action along with three other engineers when a delayed-action mine detonated. Burns said his House bill to name the Cooney bridge was amended into a Senate bill (S.B. 1153) – a relatively common procedural occurrence – and was signed into law as Act 46 of 2016. The Cooney family includes his siblings Margaret, Charles, Edna, Thomas, James and Paul (and his wife Marcelle); nieces Joi, Patty, Cindy (deceased) and Joan Barret Garahan; nephew Tom Barret; and close family friend Carol Noon. Earlier this summer, Burns dedicated a bridge spanning U.S. 219 on Tower Road in Croyle Township as the Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 15 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is hosting a complimentary spaghetti lunch for veterans from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 at the Cresson Volunteer Fire Co., 223 Ashcroft Ave., Cresson 16630. Guests are welcome, but only veterans with a military ID qualify for the free lunch. Guests can eat for $5. To RSVP by Monday, Aug. 22, please call Burns’ Portage office at 814-736-7339. Burns has hosted the free meal for veterans in the past, as a way of showing appreciation for the sacrifices veterans have made in service to the country. “Once again, my staff and I have organized this event, and we’re encouraging all veterans who can make it to show up for food, camaraderie and recognition,” Burns said. “We’ll also be available to answer any questions veterans or their family members may have about state programs and services.” Read more
The 40,000-strong Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police has thrown its support behind state Rep. Frank Burns’ bill that would make assaulting law enforcement officers a hate crime, an endorsement Burns hopes will help propel the legislation to swift passage. Read more
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