PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., attended a meeting at the White House on Oct. 12 to establish a better working relationship among the White House, federal agencies and Pennsylvania House members. “Pennsylvania state representatives were invited by White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Justin Clark, and it was a great opportunity to bring the voice of my district to Washington,” DeLissio said. “The day began with a tour of the East Wing of the Capitol, and representatives then gathered to meet with numerous departments and agencies of the White House. The group met with senior staff from the following departments: Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Energy, Small Business Administration, Dept. of State, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Veteran Affairs, including Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the deputy chief of staff to President Donald Trump. “The purpose of these meetings was to ensure lines of communication, which are critical to enhancing policy outcomes at the state and federal levels. I look forward to accessing the contacts made, and I intend to call upon these newly formed relationships for assistance when warranted.” Read more
LOCK HAVEN, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today said the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is rescheduling two public sessions it had planned regarding connecting the Bloody Skillet and Whiskey Springs ATV trail systems in Sproul State Forest. "Although I am disappointed with the meeting delays, I look forward to seeing the report and finding a way to make this connector trail possible," Hanna said. “This trail and additional riding opportunities statewide are imperative to growing rural tourism throughout the state." The hearings are now scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the Durrwachter Center on the campus of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Lock Haven, Clinton County. Both rescheduled hearings, originally scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 9, are part of the ATV Connector Feasibility Study underway to consider construction of a motorized trail that would connect the existing Bloody Skillet ATV trail system in northeastern Centre County to the Whiskey Springs ATV trail system in western Clinton County. Hanna said DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry has hired the Larson Design Group to study connecting the two trails, and the firm is reviewing conceptual routes with the intent of having the connector pass through Renovo. Larson has not yet completed its report, so DCNR moved the hearings to ensure that a full proposal with an accurate cost Read more
EBENSBURG, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, presented the 2nd Annual Charlie Vizzini Volunteerism Award to co-recipients Tiffany A. Jones and Conner C. Hagins, both of Johnstown, at a banquet last night. “These two young people exemplify the community-minded spirit found throughout the 72nd Legislative District and Cambria County,” Burns said. “It is an honor to recognize the many good works they unselfishly have performed over the years. Our communities are better because of their efforts.” Jones has been especially active in St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where as a member of its Youth Group she’s volunteered to help people with yard work, painting, odd jobs and other home-related projects they cannot physically perform or afford. Jones has traveled to a remote part of Peru to deliver toiletries and other items to a village where they conducted a Bible School for youngsters. Her other volunteer activities include Relay for Life to fight cancer, packing boxes for a food pantry, helping with volunteer fire company bingo, and becoming a Junior Firefighter and auxiliary member. Jones has completed Emergency Management Technician training and is waiting to take the written half of the certification, before starting classes at Penn Highlands Community College this fall. Hagins started Cuddles for Kids more than a decade ago, and the nonprofit charity has donated 107,000 items worth an estimated $500,000 to Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., will host a "Be You" health and wellness summit Oct. 28 that will focus on LGBTQIA people of color, but all are welcome to participate. LGBTQIA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and allies. The summit will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 28 at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. It will include free resources on: Legal rights Meditation Preventing sexually transmitted infections, or STIs At-home workouts PrEP and PEP , which are categories of medication that can reduce the chances of being infected with HIV when taken before or after sex, respectively Quick healthy recipes The summit also will include exhibitors and on-site HIV testing. Workshops at the summit will include: Social justice: your rights when dealing with law enforcement as an LGBTQIA person of color; and your rights legally and inside of the courtroom (domestic violence, discrimination/harassment). Stress management: everyday practices that participants can use to reduce and manage stress, with a focus on workout tips, healthy cooking tips and breathing techniques. Sexual health awareness and sexuality: community conversation aimed at educating participants on STIs by looking at sexual behaviors and how to reduce the risk of the transmission of STIs. Additionally, this conversation will focus on PEP and PrEP as means of HIV prevention and Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – Sticking to his position of never voting for a tax increase, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, voted against this week’s revenue and administrative code bills that would raise state taxes and fees, and require repayment of huge borrowing. Petrarca said the net effect of both bills – H.B.s 547 and 118 – would be a series of targeted tax hikes totaling $85 million, fee increases on things such as death certificates, and the borrowing of $1.5 billion against future tobacco settlement funds that would need to be repaid with interest. "For the record, I have never voted for a tax increase – and I didn't intend to start now," Petrarca said. “Whether it’s through higher taxes on fireworks, a fee hike for getting a permit or a report, or the need to pay interest on a huge loan, the taxpayer ends up footing the bill. And I’m unequivocally on the taxpayer’s side, as I always have been.” Petrarca voiced particular concern about the wisdom of plugging a fiscal hole with massive borrowing that could take up to 30 years to be repaid. “That’s a tab that our children and grandchildren would likely end up paying off, which is completely unacceptable to me,” Petrarca said. “It’s extremely shortsighted to solve today’s budget dilemma by borrowing against future revenues. And if those tobacco revenues fail to come in, for Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – State Rep. Margo Davidson applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of H.B. 59 on Thursday. H.B. 59 would have established work requirements for the state’s medical assistance program, increased the applicant review process and limited benefits for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, said Davidson, D-Delaware. “This bill failed to consider that the majority of those receiving benefits that are not already working have been determined to be too severely disabled to work,” said Davidson. “Supporters of the bill also inaccurately claimed the bill would produce hundreds of millions of dollars in savings each year. In fact, those kind of pie-in-the-sky projections are what have contributed to the roughly $2 billion deficit we are facing today.” Davidson is chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, which on Wednesday announced support of a veto. “Governor Wolf was right to see through this imprudent proposal. We should be working to address our need for recurring revenue, not finding ways to place more of a burden on those who are already struggling,” Davidson said. Read more
State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, will host his 5 th Annual Community Police Service Award ceremony from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, 1203 Western Ave. The purpose of the event is to recognize the outstanding and committed service of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Detective Robert White. “Our office is looking forward to honoring and recognizing Detective Robert White for his exemplary service to the Pittsburgh community,” Gainey said. Invited guests include Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh Chief of Police Scott Schubert, Pittsburgh Assistant Chief of Police Lavonnie Bickerstaff, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police staff, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle and White’s family and friends. For more information, contact Melvin Hubbard El in Gainey’s office at (412) 665-5502. Media coverage is invited . Read more
State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, issued this statement on this week’s vote on 2017-18 state budget-related legislation. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., has joined Rep. John Taylor R-Phila., to introduced two bills that would amend the Crimes Code to address chronic nuisance issues that cause problems for downtowns and neighborhoods throughout Pennsylvania. “During the last 10 years, we have provided innovative new laws to help local governments, like Philadelphia, fight blight,” Taylor said. “This legislation gives us new tools in that struggle. Nuisance acts depress property values and deter investment in our communities, large and small.” “The nuisances outlined in the legislation threaten the public health, safety and welfare of residents in neighborhoods across our commonwealth,” Solomon said. “These two bills would not only assist with decreasing these petty acts, but also help improve the appearance of our communities both big and small in all 67 counties.” The first bill, House Bill 1812, groups littering, loitering, and disorderly conduct under the umbrella of "chronic nuisances," and creates incrementally higher penalties for such incidents with this grouping. The bill increases existing fines for the following offenses when committed two or more times within a two-year period; graffiti, scattering rubbish, public drunkenness, loitering and public nuisances. Fines will be doubled for a second offense, and tripled for a third or subsequent offense. Under current law, the fines vary. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, announced that his office will host a free senior wills clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Wharton Square Park, 2300 Wharton St., Philadelphia. Residents 55 and older in the 186th Legislative District will have the opportunity to speak with legal professionals about the creation of a living will, power of attorney and health-care directives. Constituents can have a will drafted and printed on site. Limited spots are available, and attendees are required to RSVP to Harris’ office by calling (215) 952-3378. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, and members of the House Finance Committee today approved seeking a higher tax on the companies extracting record volumes of natural gas from shale formations deep under Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania is facing a serious budget crisis and this is one sensible step toward fixing it. We need to start collecting this recurring revenue from companies that can easily afford to pay it,” Wheatley said. Currently, Pennsylvania is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the country, but is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. The bill (H.B. 1401) would impose a severance tax on natural gas extraction based on a well's production volume and the average annual price of natural gas. Drillers would be prohibited from passing the tax onto landowners. Wheatley said the measure could be considered by the full House as early as next week, if Republican leaders permit it to happen. “We’ve already wasted too much precious time arguing about a sensible tax that every other natural gas state already uses,” Wheatley said. “We’ve forfeited millions of dollars in untapped revenue that should have been used to pay for schools, health care and many other things the state is obligated to provide. “I and most members of the House believe we should activate this new revenue stream and make the gas drillers carry their share of the load, Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced he will hold a community meeting to discuss upcoming legislation and critical issues facing the commonwealth and communities. The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at the New Bethel A.M.E. Church of Germantown, 6153 Germantown Ave. Kinsey will lead a discussion about some of the critical issues recently debated or coming up in Harrisburg, including the budget, public safety, education, community initiatives and events, and other state-related issues. “Part of my responsibilities as state representative is to keep people informed,” Kinsey said. “Community meetings provide the perfect setting to allow me to update folks on the legislative process, to let them know what I am working on in Harrisburg, and for me to obtain vital feedback on what issues are important to my constituents.” Kinsey will be joined by city and state officials, as well as representatives from the 14th Police District, Streets Department and PECO, among other agencies. Community members are encouraged to attend the meeting. Residents can contact Kinsey’s office at 215-849-6592 for more information. No reservations are required. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, announced today that sewer upgrades are set for two communities in Cambria County, after both received financial assistance to address sewage runoff issues to protect residents and area waterways. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority is funding a 30-year, 1-percent interest loan for $856,623 along with a $343,377 grant for West Taylor Township to begin its $1.2 million sanitary sewer rehabilitation and extension project. The project is expected to wrap up next year. It calls for updated pipes and sewer lines, fixing malfunctioning septic systems and adding an additional 35 residential units to the system, among other things, in an effort to cut down on the threat of sewer overflow into Laurel Run. To deal with an aging sewer system, Pennvest also granted Johnstown a 30-year, 1-percent interest loan totaling $10.9 million to cover the entire project of installing new sewer equipment, including lines and manholes, to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows, prevent wet weather sewage from coming into contact with the public and reduce the chances of it seeping into the Conemaugh River. The work is expected to be completed in 2019. “These upgrades are essential in protecting our communities and local waterways from sewage contamination,” Barbin said. ### Read more
YEADON, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, announced that she will host a Property Tax/Rent Rebate session at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Yeadon Public Library, 809 Longacre Blvd. McClinton is hosting the event to assist constituents with completing their 2016 Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is administered by the state Department of Revenue and funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Individuals who are 65 or older, at least 50 and widowed, or are permanently disabled and 18 or older are eligible to receive a rebate if their income falls below a certain threshold. The annual household income for property owners must be $35,000 or less, and the annual household income for renters must be $15,000 or less. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but some homeowners can qualify for a $975 rebate. Constituents will need to bring proof of identification, income and paid taxes for 2016. Information on the Yeadon Borough Homestead Exemption program will also be offered. This event is open to the community. ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, hosted a senior Legislative Luncheon for residents in the 191st Legislative District. The luncheon took place Oct. 13 at Presbyterian Homes, Mary Fields Building, 2000 S. 58th St. “Our seniors are our most treasured residents,” McClinton said. “That’s why I was excited to host my senior Legislative Luncheon. The luncheon is only one of my many initiatives to ensure that our wisest neighbors have access to the resources they need.” McClinton said there were more than 75 seniors in attendance. McClinton provided attendees with a legislative update on what has been going on in Harrisburg as well as information on various state-related resources available to seniors. “I would like to thank AARP, Traci’s Bio, the Greater Philadelphia Health Action, Inc., PECO and Penn Medicine for making this event a success. With their help, we were able to provide our seniors with many of the resources they have been searching for,” she said. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield/Elk, are pleased that their legislation to help Pennsylvania’s veterans and their families get the support they need was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “I want to thank the Committee chairmen and my Senate colleagues for their unanimous support of this important legislation,” Solomon said. “With this bill, Representative Gabler and I hope to ensure that all veterans, their families and support workers know about all the benefits they can avail themselves of, and to ensure that all State agencies work together towards the common goal of providing that vital support.” H.B. 1231 would expand and codify the existing Department of Military and Veterans Affairs registry’s reach by bringing other agencies into the process of identifying veterans who stand to benefit. Currently, the DMVA manages an online registry that lists roughly 7,000 of the more than 894,000 veterans in Pennsylvania. That represents less than 1 percent of veterans in the commonwealth. The bill awaits full Senate consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – Leaders of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus said the state senators who voted today to deny health care to transgender young people should be ashamed of themselves. "Shame on every senator who voted to add discrimination against trans young people to what had been a simple, clean, bipartisan renewal of the Children's Health Insurance Program, a commonsense, popular program that covers hundreds of thousands of kids in Pennsylvania," said co-chair Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. House Bill 1388 passed the House 194-0 in June. Today, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted to add an amendment that would deny reimbursement for gender or sex reassignment surgery, transition services, including physician's services, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prescription drugs or even counseling services. Co-chair Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, said, "You wouldn't deny a child an appendectomy, or a cast for a broken leg, or reconstructive surgery for a cleft palate. Why block some of our most vulnerable kids from getting vital medical care? This amendment is evidence of a profound lack of understanding of transgender children's medical needs." Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the only out LGBT member of the legislature, said, "This bill picks on some of the most vulnerable children in Pennsylvania. This bill is the opposite of pro-family. This bill would cut off funds for Read more
EBENSBURG, Oct. 18 – Largely because of its heavy reliance on borrowing $1.5 billion against future tobacco settlement funds, state Rep. Frank Burns was a resounding “no” vote on Tuesday night’s revenue bill, which passed the House 102-88. Burns, D-Cambria, was one of 42 Democrats to vote against H.B. 542, citing his belief that large-scale borrowing, which has to be paid back with interest, doesn’t equate to sound fiscal management. “I don’t even own a credit card because I know the dangers in borrowing money to pay debt,” Burns said. “I’m in Harrisburg to represent the 72 nd Legislative District, and my constituents don’t want the state borrowing money that they, their children and their grandchildren will have to repay.” Further, Burns said the revenue bill – technically known as a tax code bill – also contains $85 million in tax hikes in obscure areas, such as fireworks sales and changes to the withholding of rent, royalty and other income paid to non-residents of Pennsylvania. “Even though Republicans handily control the legislature, with 121 votes in the House and 34 in the Senate, due to their own internal disagreements they have for months failed to deliver a plan to fund the budget they moved through the process back in June,” Burns said. “The Senate still needs to agree to what the House approved last night, which means it’s still not a done Read more
EBENSBURG, Oct. 18 – Continuing his trend of securing state funding for vital infrastructure development, state Rep. Frank Burns today announced $10.57 million in low-interest loans for two huge projects in the 72 nd Legislative District. Burns, D-Cambria, said the Ebensburg Municipal Authority is getting $9 million for sanitary sewer improvements, including replacement of 60,500 feet of main line piping, while Reade Township will receive $1.57 million to replace 10,000 feet of water line and 420 residential meters. Burns said the awards were finalized today by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Authority, commonly known as Pennvest. “I thank the Pennvest board for continuing to support projects of this type, because such funding is crucial for these improvements to see the light of day,” Burns said. “The real beneficiaries are going to be the 3,148 people in Ebensburg and 1,746 residents of Reade Township whose sewer and water service, respectively, will be greatly enhanced.” Burns said that addressing his district’s outdated infrastructure has been one of his top priorities since taking office, and the $10.57 million announced today will be added to the long list of projects made possible by state funding during his tenure. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 18 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, announced today that Homestead is the recipient of a $1.2 million low-interest loan to address storm runoff around Barrett Elementary School on East 12th Avenue, Homestead. The borough will work with Steel Valley School District and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to install four infiltration trenches with 18,900 cubic feet of storage. "This green infrastructure project around the school is designed to address the potential health hazard of combined sewage overflows into the Monongahela River during wet weather," Costa said. "Its capacity will be enough to handle a worst-case weather scenario -- a 100-year, 24-hour storm." The total project cost is $1.8 million, with $618,525 of that cost being paid for by a state H2O grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development. The rest will be funded by the 30-year low-interest loan, at 1 percent interest from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. Without this funding, Costa said, residential customers would see their bills increase by 4 percent. About eight jobs are expected to be created by the project. Pennvest serves Pennsylvania communities by funding sewer, storm water and drinking water projects. The projects contribute to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and residents’ health, as well as provide jobs and opportunities for economic growth. Read more
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