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
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, spoked out against H.B. 741, which aims to revive mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related offenses. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. McClinton said a letter that she received from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association stated that mandatory minimums work to improve public safety, something that she said she wrestles with. “I wonder where the safety has improved,” McClinton said. “Time and time again, I look at the unfortunate homicide rate in Philadelphia and the number of non-fatal shootings where I live and they are always high, no matter how many people are behind bars serving 10-20, 25 to life.” House Bill 741 seeks to revive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that were ruled unconstitutional in cases before both the Pennsylvania and U.S. supreme courts. It also would increase sentences for certain offenses. “This bill would potentially get more support if there were studies that showed crime was reduced, that neighborhoods are safer, that people stop selling drugs at the same intersection where someone gets arrested,” McClinton said. “Where is the decreased recidivism? Why hasn’t it happened yet in my community? Why are there drugs readily available and we have all these sentences, yet nothing has changed?” McClinton has been a strong advocate on criminal Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – A bill that would create a task force to examine the opioid epidemic’s impact on infants and children has cleared the House Children and Youth Committee, according to its Democratic chairman, state Rep. Scott Conklin. House Bill 235 , of which Conklin, D-Centre, was prime co-sponsor, seeks to identify strategies, make short- and long-term recommendations, improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting women, and promote the health, safety and permanency of at-risk infants and young children due to parental alcohol and drug abuse. “This bill aims to help the truly innocent victims of the opioid abuse crisis plaguing our commonwealth – infants and children,” Conklin said. “The scope of the problem is staggering, as parental substance abuse was a factor in 56 percent of the infant protective custody cases in Pennsylvania in 2014.” Conklin also noted that between 2010 and 2014, more than 7,500 infants covered by Medicaid – 61 percent of whom died before reaching age 1 – were found to suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome because their mothers had used heroin or prescribed opioids during pregnancy. The task force would include representatives of the state departments of Human Services, Health, and Drug and Alcohol Programs; three members each from the state House and state Senate; and four appointed by the governor. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., will soon move her district office from 1991 N. 63rd St. and will host an open house for constituents at the new location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, March 31, at 5921 Lancaster Ave., 19151. "Please come see the new office on March 31 and find out how my staff and I can help you and your neighbors with state services, such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, PACE prescription-drug coverage for seniors and CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program," Cephas said. Cephas represents the 192nd Legislative District in west Philadelphia, which is home to more than 60,000 residents from the Wynnefield, Overbrook Farms, Morris Park, Overbrook Park, Overbrook, Haddington, Hestonville and Carroll Park areas. For more information, constituents can call Cephas’ office at 215-879-6625. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – With a moment of reckoning fast approaching in Congress, several Democratic state lawmakers outlined the catastrophic effects a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on Pennsylvania patients and families, people struggling with addiction to painkillers, and hospitals. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said the reckless action contemplated by President Trump and congressional Republican leaders puts the entire nation at risk. “If they are successful, the fallout will be felt in every Pennsylvania town and city, in every hospital emergency room, in every doctor’s office,” Dermody said. “We just can’t afford for that to happen. It would devastate our Commonwealth and lead to disease and deaths that can and must be prevented.” Rep. Anthony DeLuca, the Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, noted the opposition of AARP and other groups representing older Americans. He said the stakes could not be higher. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act would send us back to a time when too many people couldn’t afford to buy health insurance, had no primary care physician, and all too often ended up in an emergency room with a medical crisis,” said DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “Emergency care is the most expensive kind of treatment and all of us end up paying for it when patients lack insurance.” Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Phila./Montgomery, emphasized the human impact of doing Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Joseph A. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, voted in favor of legislation that would increase the annual income limit for retired people to qualify for vehicle registration fee exemption. “Thousands more of Pennsylvania’s retired residents would qualify to pay only $10 per vehicle per year, instead of the usual $36. This bill is welcome news; the income limit has not been raised for almost 20 years,” Petrarca said. Under H.B. 188, which was approved 186-11, any person who is retired and receiving Social Security or other pension with a total annual income of up to $23,500 would qualify for the reduced vehicle registration fee. This would be an increase of more than $4,000 over the current income limit and make nearly additional 130,000 retirees eligible for the program. Petrarca said that during the last 15 years, senior citizens have received different adjustments to their retirement plans that have elevated their income over the eligibility limit for this program by a narrow margin, which makes this bill necessary. “We want to make sure that, after all those years of hard work, service and dedication, we provide the resources our senior citizens deserve,” Petrarca said. The bill (H.B. 188) has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Read more
State Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the House Human Services Committee has approved her legislation that would eliminate confusion over when a minor’s consent is needed for mental health examinations and other health services. Read more
ALLENTOWN, March 22 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg issued the following statement regarding Mayor Ed Pawlowski: Read more
HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, applauded the unanimous passage Tuesday of two bills: one that would honor women veterans and another that would ensure more existing monuments that recognize military service are well kept. Through H.B. 215, which Sainato co-sponsored, passenger car and truck owners would be able to honor women veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces by purchasing a special license plate. The special plate would have a fee of $35, of which $15 would be directed to the Veterans’ Trust Fund for programs and resources that assist women veterans. “As chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I’m pleased to see that my colleagues in the House agreed that we should recognize the significant contributions of women in our Armed Forces,” Sainato said. “With this bill, we not only honor their hard work and sacrifice, but designate funding to help them as well.” The bill would also create special plates for recipients of the Legion of Merit, which would be available for a $20 fee. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers 39 other military license plates, including plates that honor veterans of the various branches of military and those who served in Vietnam, Korea, World War II or the Persian Gulf. The House also unanimously passed H.B. 247, which would enhance a fund to preserve all memorials and monuments honoring Pennsylvania’s military veterans. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Perry Warren introduced legislation today to establish a commuter and commerce toll tax credit program. House Bill 926, which is similar to a bill originally introduced in 2015-16 by former state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, would offer an annual state income tax credit of 50 percent of tolls paid, with a $500 cap per filer. Eligible tolls would include those on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and bridges across the Delaware River. Individuals, corporations and small businesses with tax liability would be eligible. “Many of our working families and local businesses use tolled routes frequently and would benefit from the relief this tax credit would bring,” Warren said. “Due to recent shifts in tolling rates and routes that remain un-tolled in Pennsylvania, commuters in the southeast wind up disproportionately paying for the rest of the state’s transportation infrastructure spending. This bill seeks to remedy that situation." The tax credit would also be extended to Pennsylvania residents and Pennsylvania-based companies that shoulder additional costs when accessing the toll bridges operated under the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, the Delaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the Burlington County Bridge Commission. A U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Report found that Pennsylvania has the fourth most toll-road miles with 533, behind Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, and other members of the House Transportation Committee joined the Senate Transportation Committee today in hosting a public hearing on Highly Automated Vehicles Testing legislation. Today's hearing focused on S.B. 427 , which would allow the expansion of the testing of Highly Automated Vehicles on Pennsylvania's roads. Currently, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber have received limited approval to test these vehicles. "Western Pennsylvania can become a leading center for this emerging technology," Matzie said. "Between Uber's self-driving vehicles, which began testing on the Pittsburgh streets last September and the technological research centers developing around Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, we are in a prime location to lead the way. "Last September, I was able to take a test drive through the streets of Harrisburg in Carnegie Mellon's autonomous Cadillac. The ride was eye-opening and convinced me that self-driving vehicles are definitely part of our future. This bill can give us the opportunity to become an important part of that future." Nine states currently allow testing of HAVs, including California, Florida, Michigan and Virginia. Today's hearing included testimony from Dr. Raj Rajkumar, a professor in the Electric and Computer Engineering Department and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as representatives from Read more
CONSHOHOCKEN , March 21 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, will co-host a town hall meeting on redistricting with Fair Districts PA at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27 at Colonial Elementary School, 230 Flourtown Road in Plymouth Meeting. “Redistricting 101: A Conversation with Fair Districts PA and Rep. Mary Jo Daley” will feature discussion and a question-and-answer segment. Every 10 years following the most recent U.S. Census, the boundaries of Pennsylvania's state House and Senate districts, as well as its congressional districts, must be redrawn to reflect changes and shifts in population. These plans are drawn by five people – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and a fifth member selected by the legislative leaders. If the four members are unable to agree on the fifth member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court selects the final member. According to Daley, who is a member of the State Government Reform Caucus, politics often plays too big of a role in the process, and bringing attention to the matter is the only way to affect change. “Redistricting reform is one of the most important topics we have to deal with in the legislature because it affects nearly every partisan vote we face in session,” she said. “Too often, the party in power has too much influence on drawing political boundaries, and the process becomes nothing more than gerrymandering. Read more
EBENSBURG, March 21 – U.S. jobs should go to U.S. workers, which is why state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is again backing a measure to require construction industry contractors to verify that their employees are legal citizens. Burns previously sponsored H.B. 1881 and plans to do so when it’s reintroduced for the current legislative session, stating, “This bill is about saving Pennsylvania jobs, by penalizing unscrupulous contactors who hire illegals for personal gain.” Under the bill, private construction contractors would have to have their employees approved by the E-Verify system run by the Department of Homeland Security. Construction firms that hire illegal workers would face penalties affecting their licensing and would risk debarment for willful violations. Burns believes this legislation would level the playing field for contractors who do the right thing and hire legal workers. “If we are serious about stopping illegal immigration, then we must stop companies from hiring and exploiting illegal workers for profit,” Burns said. “Currently, there are 35,000 illegals working in the construction industry. These are jobs Pennsylvanians should have.” Burns acknowledges that for generations, immigrants have come to the United States in search of a job; however, he is also aware that illegal immigration is a constant drain on our country’s resources. “It’s time we hold corporate America Read more
The Pa. House Game and Fisheries committee approved legislation ( H.B. 275 ) sponsored by state Rep. Gerald J. Mullery, D-Luzerne, that would allow hunters to apply for doe licenses online. The legislation now awaits a full House vote. “It’s time to upgrade our antiquated system and provide sports enthusiasts with a more convenient and efficient way of applying for and receiving hunting licenses,” said Mullery, who serves as Democratic vice chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee. Currently, hunters apply for antlerless deer licenses by sending an application to a county treasurer or similar official. Mullery said many counties do not always have the financial resources or staff to process license applications in a timely manner. “In this day and age, there is no reason why a Pennsylvania resident should not be able to get an antlerless license online,” Mullery said. The Luzerne County lawmaker said the current system is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. That state agency is responsible for determining the number of antlerless licenses to be given out, while the actual distribution of permits is the responsibility of each county Treasurer’s office. While applying for a doe license, hunters across the state fill out a form, write a check and submit it to the county treasurer in their hometown. “We have a lot of hunters out there who were excluded from participating in hunting in the past because of the Read more
CHESTER, March 21 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland will host a re-entry clinic for ex-offenders from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 at St. Luke’s Christian Church on the corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue. The orientation will provide evidence-based services built on best practices designed to break the cycle of recidivism. This orientation was created especially for: Men and women recently released from prison looking to live a productive life in the community; Family members of prisoners who will be released in the next few months; Those who rectified past mistakes but consistently have doors shut on them because of those mistakes. Kirkland, D-Chester, and his staff will be on hand to make available a collaboration of government services, faith-based providers and business owners whose goal is to provide resources and options to those re-entering the community. Those with questions can contact Malcom Yates at (610) 876-6420 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more
State Rep. Anita Kulik, is sponsoring a free document-shredding event from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 22, at the Carnegie Borough Building for residents of Carnegie and Roslyn Farms to safely dispose confidential documents. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his strong opposition to H.B. 741, which aims to revive mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related offenses. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee today. "Bringing back mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses is bad policy, and the majority of the public supports putting this era behind us," Dawkins said. "We need to ensure that judges can use their discretion and expertise to best serve the public in each case that comes before their court, instead of making demands from Harrisburg." House Bill 741 seeks to revive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that were ruled unconstitutional in cases before both the Pennsylvania and U.S. supreme courts. It also would increase sentences for certain offenses. "We need to face head on the challenges that our communities face with drugs and addiction," Dawkins said. "Increasing the prison population and placing greater strain on the Commonwealth’s budget will only make it harder to deliver the solutions that our constituents are demanding." Dawkins has been a leader on criminal justice issues in the House, where he has spoken out against mandatory minimums and introduced legislation to bring needed reforms to the state’s sentencing laws. ### Read more
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today adopted a resolution (H.R. 99) designating March 15 as Transit Workers’ Awareness Day in Pennsylvania. Schweyer informed colleagues that transit workers are part of the state’s infrastructure. Pennsylvanians from all 67 counties, whether rural or urban residents, rely on public transportation to get where they need to go. “Transit workers provide care to their passengers whether they are riding to work, school, a doctor’s appointment, the hospital or the store,” Schweyer said. “The backbone of the transit system is the transit workers who keep the system running safely and dependably.” Schweyer said mass transit also helps relieve traffic congestion and reduces the impact on the environment. He said transportation technology is constantly evolving, producing safer, cleaner running and more reliable vehicles. The Allentown legislator said transit workers are required to pursue vigorous and continuous training to keep up with technological changes and ensure riders who rely on these services get where they need to be. “These hard-working individuals are deserving of the recognition I give them today,” Schweyer said. Schweyer represents the 22 nd Legislative District. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, hosted an entrepreneurial inclusion summit Monday in the Capitol complex . The event recognized Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Day in Harrisburg. Wheatley addressed the participants and highlighted the quest for equality in bidding for state contracts, which began in the 1980s with a select committee that was established by then-state Rep. Gordon Linton of Philadelphia. "Has the state progressed?" Wheatley asked. "Yes, but we still have real work to do." Wheatley concluded his remarks with the acknowledgement that minority business owners are, "not looking for a handout, but actually looking for people to get out of their way." Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Jordan Harris, D-Phila., pointed out that minority business owners are equal to any others. "When the playing field is level, we will excel," he said. Women's Caucus Chairwoman Margo Davidson, D-Phila., recognized the growth in the number of woman-owned businesses, from 8 million to 10 million over the last decade. Following the remarks, minority business owners from Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, shared in a networking luncheon with a number of state agencies and then were recognized in the House chamber before visiting individual legislators. State agencies that participated in the networking luncheon included: the departments of Community Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 20 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC is disappointed at the return of the police secrecy bill the House passed today and is calling for Gov. Tom Wolf to veto it again. Similar to a bill Wolf vetoed at the end of last session, H.B. 27 would block the release of the name of a police officer who discharges his or her firearm or uses force that results in death or serious injury until the completion of an official investigation that is not defined and that could take up to 30 days after the incident. "This bill would further erode the trust between citizens, specifically people of color, and our police forces at a time when police-community relations are too often strained," Harris said. "Hiding the name of a police officer involved in a potentially deadly encounter is not the way to improve trust between law enforcement and communities that have historically been marginalized by those in power. "We need more trust between police and the people they serve, not less." Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chairwoman of the PLBC, said, "Transparency is a goal we strive for at all levels of government. Police departments perform a highly skilled and dangerous job for the people, but they also should remain accountable to the people. I believe those ideas are not mutually exclusive and that acknowledging this will help build better relations among Read more
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