A strong Pennsylvania depends on fair wages

Heroin and opioid overdose are the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals each year than motor vehicle accidents, claiming 10 lives every day. In 2015, more than 3,300 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose.

It’s why Democratic and Republican lawmakers, along with Gov. Tom Wolf, continue to work together to address this crisis. This week the bipartisan, bicameral PA HOPE Caucus, joined advocates, families and other public officials for a “Day of HOPE” in the Capitol Rotunda.

The hundreds in attendance called for funding, legislation and educational efforts that will keep people alive and offer them hope for their future.  

In addition to multiple public hearings held throughout the state to gather information about opioid use and abuse, House Democrats are advocating a number of measures that can be approved by the legislature this fall. They include:

  • Requiring insurance coverage for abuse-deterrent opioids.

  • Continuing education for doctors and pharmacists related to opioid prescribing and dispensing and pain management.

  • Seven-day limitation on opioid prescriptions in emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

  • Voluntary non opioid directives.

  • Seven-day limitation on opioid prescriptions for minors.

  • Medical school curriculum requirements related to opioid and pain management.

  • Requiring prescribers and dispensers to query the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program every time a controlled substance is prescribed or dispensed.

    The General Assembly is expected to ramp up efforts to approve legislation beginning next week.

    A strong Pennsylvania depends on fair wages

    House Democrats also continue to fight for fair wages for Pennsylvanians. There’s time left in this legislative session for majority Republicans to allow votes on legislation that would raise the minimum wage, ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and allow workers to take time off for illness or when their children are sick without fear of losing their pay or their jobs.

Sadly, House Republicans seemed more intent this week to inject their political agenda during a presidential election year. Despite the fact that there is no credible evidence of widespread fraud in previous elections, the House debated legislation that would allow people who live in any area of the state to go to a polling place of their choosing this November and serve as poll watchers. ProPublica reports that outside poll watchers may intimidate voters by raising constant challenges at the polling place – a polling place they’ve never been to but where the people who regularly work there know just about every voter who walks in the door. If the Republican bill passes, expect that to happen in urban and other election districts in Pennsylvania with large numbers of minority and other voters. 

House Democrats would rather see those who work year after year at local polling places paid fairly for their service. A Democratic amendment to the GOP bill would have increased the minimum compensation for individuals serving as judges or inspectors of election from $75 to $150. Clerks and machine operators would have seen their minimum compensation raised from $70 to $140.  Sadly, and typically, in the anti-worker GOP-led assembly, the amendment was defeated.

Be assured, House Democrats will continue to fight for working people and families.