PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 21 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will co-host a weekly radio program from 11 a.m. to noon every Thursday on radio station WTTM, 1680 AM. The program, entitled "Voices from the Inside," will focus on the state's prison system and reducing crime. McClinton will be joined by co-hosts state Rep. Leslie Acosta, D-Phila., Esteban Cabrera and author Hugh Taft-Morales. "I am excited to have this opportunity to discuss our criminal justice system," McClinton said. "This new program will offer a voice to those currently incarcerated and will promote the sharing of ideas between prisoners and us on the outside. Thanks to Rep. Acosta, who developed the idea and invited me to participate in such a meaningful program. "By meeting those currently in prison, I hope that the listeners will understand the need for changes and improvements in our current system. We need to establish more humane methods to house our prisoners and work with them so they can be rehabilitated and can return to society and contribute. We waste so much money incarcerating those who have committed minor offenses and by locking them up for extended periods of time, we make it harder for them to blend back in to society and hold a meaningful job. "Additionally, we will be discussing community programs which may reduce violence and crime." The program will air live at 11 a.m. every Thursday on 1680 AM, and it can also Read more
Rep. Rob Matzie reports that the state House unanimously adopted his resolution designating Jan. 30 as “Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Day.” “All of us benefit by honoring and understanding the outstanding achievements of commonwealth citizens with disabilities,” Matzie said. Read more
State Rep. Neal P. Goodman today testified before the Senate Policy committees and made the case to keep SCI-Frackville open. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, has been reappointed Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee for the 2017-18 legislative session. "I am pleased to continue as chairman of this important committee," Petrarca said. "As chairman, my priorities remain the advancement of legislation that will protect Pennsylvania residents and communities, and address issues regarding the judicial and criminal justice systems. "As one of the busiest committees in the House, the Judiciary Committee has hundreds of pieces of legislation referred to it each session." The committee reviews all legislation relating to aspects of the civil and criminal court systems, law enforcement and corrections. The committee also oversees the state police, Attorney General's Office, Department of Corrections, State Ethics Commission, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing and the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission, among others. The committee also is responsible for evaluating prison staffing and inmate populations and housing conditions. Petrarca said that as chairman, he will continue advocating for seniors, children and victims of crime, as well as law enforcement, to help make Pennsylvania a safer and better place to live, work and raise a family. Prior to becoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2015, Petrarca was Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – Amid high hopes that his proposal to make assaulting a law enforcement officer a hate crime will become law, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, has reintroduced his Blue Lives Matter bill for the current legislative session. House Bill 158 is a replica of H.B. 2261, which Burns introduced in July but which wasn’t advanced in the Republican-led legislature by the end of the year, necessitating its reintroduction to remain viable in 2017-18. “With assaults on police officers trending upward, in the commonwealth and across the nation, I would find it incredible if a majority of my colleagues don’t support this proposal,” Burns said. “This is about as bipartisan an issue as you can get: letting our police, corrections, probation and parole officers know how much we appreciate the jobs they bravely perform every day.” Burns, whose bill obtained swift backing from the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police last summer, said he is tired of publicly cataloging an ever-increasing number of assaults on law enforcement, such as the December death of a Pennsylvania state trooper shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute. However, since the number of police deaths nationwide skyrocketed 56 percent last year and since local police departments fear a sharp decline in applicants, Burns said he feels compelled to use these examples to beat the drum for passage of a Blue Lives Matter bill. Burns’ Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, offered the following statement after a public hearing and rally that were held today at the state Capitol regarding the potential prison closings being proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 20 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has appointed Dr. I. William Goldfarb to the state’s new Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. Goldfarb, a Pittsburgh-based surgeon, will join the panel that is responsible for advising the Pennsylvania Department of Health on matters related to implementing the Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2016. “Dr. Goldfarb is a respected medical professional who has helped thousands of patients in western Pennsylvania over the years,” Dermody said. “I’m honored that he will serve on the advisory board because I know he recognizes a great opportunity to help many more people in coping with and treating a variety of diseases.” The advisory board consists of 15 people with expertise in medicine, patient advocacy and law enforcement. They are responsible for examining laws related to medical marijuana in Pennsylvania and other states; reviewing written comments from individuals and groups about the topic; and issuing a written report in spring 2018 about whether any provisions of the state’s medical marijuana law or regulations should be revised. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 20 – State tax forms for Pennsylvania income tax filing, schedules and instruction booklets are available for free at state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio’s district office, 6511 Ridge Ave. Her office also can help low-income and older adult constituents find free tax preparation services in the area. Federal income tax forms are available at local IRS offices, or may be downloaded by going to the IRS website at www.irs.gov . “Over the past few years, my office has received feedback from constituents on the challenges many have encountered obtaining the Federal tax forms. As a courtesy to my constituents, my office is carrying the federal 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and the 1040EZ, the Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents, however instruction booklets and schedules are only available by contacting the other locations mentioned or by visiting the IRS website.” The deadline to file federal and state income taxes this year is Tuesday, April 18. “I encourage residents of the 194 th Legislative District to visit my office for these and for other state related materials such as the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Property Tax Rent Rebate applications,” DeLissio said. Read more
LEVITTOWN, Jan. 20 – A new law passed by the General Assembly last session will help municipalities retain dwindling numbers of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders, said state Rep. Tina Davis, who voted for it. Act 172 of 2016 allows municipalities to grant tax credits on Earned Income and property taxes to active volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service volunteers. The tax credit can be up to 20 percent of the volunteer's tax liability. “This is a great opportunity to not only say thank you to those who volunteer and put themselves in harm’s way for others, but to attract and recruit more volunteers,” said Davis, D-Bucks. “Our ranks of volunteer first responders have been steadily decreasing, and we need to be doing more to reverse this trend. “Volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations save Pennsylvania taxpayers nearly $10 billion each year.” Municipalities may base the credit on the number of calls a volunteer responds to; the volunteer's level of participation in training; or time spent on fundraising, equipment maintenance and other functions. Local officials say the hours required for training, responding to incidents and raising funds keep potential volunteers away. The number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania has dropped from 300,000 in 1977 to about 50,000 today. Read more
With the December closure of the Allentown Unemployment Compensation Service Center due to a funding dispute in Harrisburg, state Rep. Peter Schweyer is reintroducing legislation from last session to extend funding for one year for Act 34, the unemployment compensation system’s Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund. “When the Allentown service center closed, 88 people lost their jobs,” Schweyer said. “Beyond that, there are thousands of out-of-work people who count on these service centers for help with benefits, training and assistance in finding new employment that were impacted.” Schweyer’s legislation would extend funding through 2017 and ensure that a transfer of up to $42.5 million would be used for operational purposes and up to $15 million to allow the start of technological upgrades to the benefits delivery system. “The House passed legislation last session that would have avoided the situation we’re in right now,” said Schweyer. “The House vote was 175 to 13, with overwhelming bipartisan support. However, it went nowhere in the Senate and our service center, along with those in Altoona and Lancaster, were forced to close as a result. Not only did those people lose their jobs, but it created additional strain on an overwhelmed system.” Schweyer plans to attend a noon rally at the state Capitol Rotunda on Monday, Jan. 23, organized by the Service Read more
WEST CHESTER, Jan. 20 – State lawmakers must still act quickly to bring Pennsylvania in line with federal REAL ID requirements, despite an extension to comply offered Thursday by the federal Department of Homeland Security, said state Rep. Carolyn Comitta. Pennsylvania received an extension through June 6 to resolve non-compliance issues related to Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and requirements under the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. Due to the act, parts of which were to be effective Jan. 30, Pennsylvanians with only a driver’s license or state ID could have been denied access to facilities such as military installations and federal agency offices. Beginning January 2018, updated licenses will be required for all air travel. “Pennsylvania has had time to respond to these requirements but has not acted,” said Comitta, D-Chester. “Barring another extension, if we do not address these concerns quickly and thoroughly, millions of Pennsylvanians could be left without access to places of employment, federal services and eventually even air travel. “My House colleagues and I are encouraged by the promise of quick action in the House, and we’ll be looking for the Senate to act quickly, as well. Legislatively speaking, June 6 is a lot closer than it appears.” REAL ID requirements were put in place by the federal government in 2005, but Pennsylvania does not meet these standards due to the passage of Pennsylvania Act 38 Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 20 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., announced he has introduced a resolution to remember the lives lost under Germany’s Nazi regime.
House Resolution 32 recognizes Jan. 27, 2017 as “International Holocaust Remembrance Day” in Pennsylvania.
Neilson said this day is recognized each year in the U.S. to honor Holocaust victims and educate people about the history of the Holocaust to help prevent future acts of genocide.
Join State Rep. Angel Cruz for his fourth annual Police Recruitment Drive on Thursday, February 2. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Matt Bradford will serve as the Democratic chairman of the House State Government Committee during the 2017-18 session, according to Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. "I'm honored to be asked to lead this important committee and I look forward to getting to work quickly on a wide array of issues,” Bradford said. “I also hope to work with the majority chairman to promote productive discussions among all committee members.” Bradford noted the committee handles many hot-button issues such as voting rights, discrimination, redistricting, government reform, lobbying disclosure, state agency procurement and labor agreements, campaign finance and election laws. “Many of the questions considered in the State Government Committee come down to protection of people’s most basic rights. I’m committed to standing up for what’s right,” Bradford said. “This is a new role for Matt on a key legislative committee,” Dermody said. “I know he’s well prepared for it and will provide valuable leadership.” Bradford, an attorney, has served in the House since 2009 and represents the 70 th District which includes Norristown, East Norriton and Worcester townships, and part of Plymouth Township. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today joined fellow legislators and Mayor Jim Kenney in calling for passage of a statewide law to protect minors from anti-LGBTQ "conversion therapy." "As someone who firmly believes in the Golden Rule -- not to mention as a father who loves my children unconditionally -- I am sickened that such malevolent chicanery has been allowed to be practiced on members of the LGBTQ community. We all have an obligation to protect children from harm whether or not we are parents or guardians ourselves. I believe this includes protecting our young people from this discredited practice that can do so much damage to already marginalized youth," Rabb said. "I think it would send a powerful message if the most populous city in the commonwealth affirms the wisdom of the city of Pittsburgh by passing a ban on this oppressive practice. I want to go even further and protect kids across the state," Rabb said. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, will again be the lead sponsors of the legislation in the House and Senate. Sims, the state's first out LGBT legislator, said, "In his first weeks in office, Representative Rabb is already demonstrating his commitment to the LGBT community, including the vulnerable young people who are at risk from so-called 'conversion therapy.' He understands the need to protect all kids." Rabb represents Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., Mayor Jim Kenney and other elected officials today called for passage of statewide legislation to protect minors from anti-LGBT "conversion therapy." Sims and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, are the lead sponsors of the legislation in the House and Senate. "In a time of extreme divisiveness, elected officials should seize every opportunity to find areas of common ground. Together, the legislature disagrees on many issues, including those considered LGBT-specific. Today we have a chance to heed the advice of dozens of professional medical associations, and ban a practice that inflicts innocent children with pain and fear. To those still peddling this barbarism as medicine, you cannot fix what is not broken and we will not rest until you are driven from this Commonwealth," said Sims, the state's first out LGBT legislator. State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said, "As adults, we have a duty to protect children, ALL children! We should not endorse or promote, through our silence or our advocacy, any practice that has been proven to be destructive to the developing spirit of a child. This legislation would give our kids the protection that young people already have in California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and next door in New Jersey." The elected officials were joined by Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 18 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders in the House and Senate for seeking an extension to give the state time to comply with the federal REAL ID requirements, while reminding them that a legislative fix is needed to address the federal government’s concerns.
In a letter sent last week, addressed to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, Wolf and legislative leaders in both chambers requested an extension to give the commonwealth time to resolve compliance issues.
“Repercussions from our state’s noncompliance with these security standards will soon be interfering with the lives of Pennsylvanians and it will only get worse,” Neilson said. “We need to fix this and we need to fix this now. The only way to do that is by repealing the noncompliance legislation the General Assembly passed in 2012.” Read more
READING, Jan. 18 – Reading is in line to receive state grant money aimed at fighting blight in the city, state Rep. Tom Caltagirone and state Sen. Judy Schwank announced today. The Department of Community and Economic Development approved a $32,400 grant through its Early Intervention Program to hire a consultant to develop a blight action plan, create a land bank and provide technical help to the city’s Code Enforcement Department. “This project is a great example of how we must work together to revitalize and grow communities in Reading,” said Caltagirone, D-Berks. “Blight is a persistent problem that grows without intervention, and I look forward to quick action based on this funding.” “Reading’s urban blight doesn’t represent what our city has to offer and must be addressed for the city to grow,” said Schwank, D-Berks. “This grant will bring us one step closer to unveiling the city’s potential.” Read more
State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, has reintroduced Libre’s bill, H.B. 13 , that would set stricter penalties for animal abuse. “It’s appalling that the maximum punishment for abusing animals is the same as a traffic ticket for beating a horse to death in broad daylight and capturing it on video, putting a firecracker under a turtle’s shell and leaving an abandoned dog to die,” Bizzarro said. Last session, Bizzarro championed this legislation (formerly H.B. 869 ) to change the landscape for animal protection in Pennsylvania. The legislation unanimously passed the state Senate and made it out of the House Rules Committee twice, but failed to secure a final vote before the legislative session ended. “I am fully committed to getting the bill passed in both chambers and signed into law by the governor this session,” Bizzarro said. “We must seek justice for Libre and for all of the animals who suffer at the hands of offenders. It's time to finish what we started." The bill is named after a Boston terrier puppy named Libre. Libre captured national media headlines after being found in critical condition at a Lancaster County farm. The puppy and his mother were both surrendered by their owner and nursed back to health. The puppy became the face for animal rights supporters across Pennsylvania. In 2016, he even roamed the state Capitol halls and visited with legislators to generate support on the issue. The Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 17 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and fellow legislators today toured the site of the state's largest investment in an LGBT project. Pennsylvania is providing $1.5 million toward consolidation and expansion of the Mazzoni Center, which provides health services to LGBT people. Those touring the site with Sims included state Sens. Larry Farnese and Anthony Hardy Williams and state Rep. Maria Donatucci, all D-Phila., and City Councilman Bill Greenlee. "I’m very pleased to see the Commonwealth extending support to this important project, which will have a substantial impact on the health and well-being of the many people Mazzoni Center serves, which includes some of the most vulnerable individuals in Philadelphia," Sims said. "In addition to what it will do in terms of bricks and mortar and the provision of essential services, this award represents an important affirmation of the values of fairness and inclusion, and the idea that all Pennsylvanians deserve equal access to quality health care. This was a joint effort to secure this funding with my colleagues and Governor Tom Wolf's administration." The project will include internal demolition; the building of an additional 10,000 square feet; expansion and upgrading the mechanical, plumbing, electrical, paint and data capabilities; and furnishing of 1328-1338 Bainbridge St. The project will increase by more than 30 percent the Mazzoni Center’s capacity to Read more
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