CENTRE COUNTY, June 19 – Separate resolutions honoring eight Penn State teams that earned Big Ten championships, introduced by state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, unanimously passed the House last week. Conklin said the resolutions coincided with “B1G Champs on the Hill” day, where Penn State coaches and athletes from the championship teams were recognized in Harrisburg for their accomplishments. “The 2016-17 academic year was one of great success for Penn State athletics, with eight teams winning Big Ten Conference championships,” Conklin said. “With much pride and rooting interest, I am proud to sponsor these resolutions honoring their achievements.” The football, wrestling, men’s ice hockey, field hockey, women’s soccer, women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, and men’s volleyball teams are those recognized by Conklin’s resolutions. “The Big Ten is one of the nation’s most respected and competitive sports conferences, so having this many champions in a single year is quite impressive,” Conklin said. “It is my hope that we have even more reasons to celebrate Penn State’s academic and athletic excellence in the years to come.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster and chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, said the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today in the Capitol to discuss college affordability in Pennsylvania. “College affordability is important to keeping education attainable and keeping Pennsylvania’s economy on the fast track. Educating the leaders of tomorrow and keeping them in the state has to be our goal. I will continue to support funding education so that we have the resources to attract and re-train the nation’s and the world’s brightest talent to our commonwealth,” Sturla said. “Whether we explore new endowment options to help individual schools make a quality education more attainable, or we guarantee access to universities for Pennsylvania students, we have to consider all options on the table to improve and invigorate our state system of higher education. We need an overall, long-term strategy for the system to accomplish this.” Testifiers included Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; Ken Mash, president, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties; and Mark Price, PhD, labor economist, Keystone Research Center. Hearing testimony is available at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 16 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., honored local students with Peer to Peer and Unsung Hero awards for the 2016-17 school year. The honors are awarded annually to students who live in the 194th Legislative District. They are nominated by their teachers, counselors and other school staff members. “Each year, the schools are contacted inviting them to identify two students who have excelled in contributing to good citizenship and/or displaying a behavior or action which may otherwise go unnoticed or unrecognized,” DeLissio said. “Congratulations to these students for their compassion and willingness to do the ‘right thing’ without expectation of recognition or an award. Our communities are the better because of their contributions.” The following schools participated and identified these graduating students to receive the following awards: AMY Northwest Middle School: Charlemagne Hunter – Peer to Peer; Bianca Hamilton – Unsung Hero; Cook-Wissahickon School: Samantha Sturkey – Peer to Peer; Nosaj Briddell – Unsung Hero; James Dobson School: Lilly Hammer – Peer to Peer; Kyree Keels – Unsung Hero; Thomas Mifflin School: Bree Johnson – Peer to Peer; Darrah Green - Unsung Hero; Lower Merion High School: Sylvia Coopersmith – Peer to Peer; Maya Tiob - Unsung Hero; Roxborough High School: Alliyah Maxwell – Peer to Peer; Shakuwra Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., released the following statement on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is observed annually on June 15. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established by a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. The resolution was taken up to recognize that by 2050, more than 20 percent of the world’s population will be 60 years old or older and to call attention to the deeply concerning situations many older persons face throughout the world. “It is important to continue to raise awareness against the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of our older adults in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” DeLissio said. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day assists in ensuring that this issue continues to receive the attention it needs to safeguard and put in place protections against potential abuse. “Elder abuse is a preventable crime and with the assistance of public officials, private health care providers, and concerned citizens working together, proper attention can be given to the prevention of and to the provision of services when appropriate. “Today, more than ever, our older adults are being targeted by telemarketers and scammers or being abused by some caregivers, even their own family members. As an advocate for good long-term care policy and as a former professional in the field of senior care and services, I am committed Read more
EBENSBURG, June 15 – Encouraged by news that Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has joined a consortium of state top prosecutors investigating drug manufacturers’ role in the opioid crisis, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is hopeful the findings will spur the lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies that he called for earlier this year. Burns said today’s announcement that Attorney General Josh Shapiro is among those investigating possible unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids falls directly in line with letters Burns sent to Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf in February. “I urge you to file a lawsuit against any and all pharmaceutical companies responsible for this crisis because of their negligence in informing consumers of the dangers of these types of drugs and their ruthless promotion of their use,” Burns wrote. “’Big Pharma’ is lining its pockets and the wallets of doctors who prescribe these medications, while the number of people addicted and affected in the commonwealth continues to rise.” Regarding today’s news, Burns said it’s clear that drug manufacturers’ role and potential legal culpability in the opioid plague have gotten the attention of Shapiro, his former Democratic colleague in the House of Representatives. “I commend the attorney general for making this bold move – and if the evidence leads where I think it will, I encourage Mr. Shapiro to file Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., today introduced legislation ( H.B. 1568 ) that would extend the moratorium exempting Social Security cost-of-living-adjustments from income used to determine eligibility for the PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The bill would extend the Social Security COLA moratorium until Dec. 31, 2019. The previous moratorium, Act 156 of 2014, expired on Dec. 31. If the moratorium is not extended, more than 450 individuals would become ineligible for the program. “It is important that we protect our older and disabled Pennsylvanians by ensuring that they have access to programs such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program,” Bullock said. “This program allows qualifying residents to maintain their independence. Many recipients of the program survive off of fixed income and will have no way to gain extra income if they become ineligible.” The PTRR program is administered by the 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 years 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. Each year hundreds of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster and chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, announced today that the Policy Committee will hold a public hearing to discuss college affordability. The hearing will be held 10 a.m. Monday, June 19 in the House Democratic Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg. Media coverage is invited. Testimony will include discussion of two recent reports from The Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center titled “Pennsylvania’s Great Working-Class Colleges” and “At Students’ Expense: Rising Costs Threaten Pennsylvania Public Universities’ Role in Upward Mobility.” The current agenda is: 10 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. – Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education 10:40 a.m. – Ken Mash, president, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties 11:10 a.m. – Mark Price, PhD, labor economist, Keystone Research Center 11:40 a.m. – Closing Remarks The hearing will stream live at www.pahouse.com/live . Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Hal English, R-Allegheny, today reported that their legislation aimed at not penalizing honest, ethical hunters for a mistaken harvest was unanimously approved by the House Game and Fisheries Committee. Specifically, the bill would remove the threat of a license suspension for those truthful hunters who make an honest mistake and then self-report the mistaken harvest by contacting the Pennsylvania Game Commission, turning in the animal and pleading guilty to the offense. "Given the facts that borders of wildlife management units and the special areas within them can be easily confused, and that the commission is now using staggered dates around the state for some big game seasons, hunters can think they are legally hunting when in fact they aren’t," Kortz said. "For hunters who make an inadvertent mistake, due to a few yards or recently changed dates, to face the same revocations as a common poacher who is hunting out of season or at night isn’t fair. “Current law can create havoc for bear and elk hunters. With different hunting dates for different wildlife management units, the difference of a few yards in the woods can mean the difference between a legal or illegal harvest," he said. “While the hunter must claim responsibility and pay a small administrative fine under this legislation, the bill would eliminate the three-year suspension of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – A resolution (H.R. 364) sponsored by state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., designating the week of June 12 through June 18, 2017 as Men’s Health Week in Pennsylvania was unanimously adopted in the House of Representatives. The state recognition coincides with international Men’s Health Week and is celebrated the week leading up to and including Father’s Day. Men’s Health Week seeks to increase awareness of preventable health issues and encourages the early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys. Many causes of premature death among men and boys are preventable, or can be treated if caught in the early stages. They include cardiovascular disease, lung and prostate cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and suicide. “I am glad that my colleagues are taking the issue seriously and have adopted the resolution,” Bullock said. “We need to make sure that men are comfortable discussing their health with their friends just as they are comfortable talking about sports or their job. Hopefully this encourages them to make their health a priority by visiting the doctor more often and undergoing the suggested tests and screenings.” Women living in the United States have a longer life expectancy rate than men by an average of five years. One contributing factor to this is that women are more likely to visit the doctor than men. A national survey by Cleveland Clinic found that Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., introduced House Resolution 404 urging the U.S. Congress to recognize and act upon the results of the Puerto Rican status plebiscite held on Sunday. “A majority of the voters rejected the continuation of Puerto Rico’s current unsustainable territorial status. More than 90 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of statehood,” Cruz said. “It’s time for Congress to act, to finally treat the American citizens of Puerto Rico equally.” Since Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory, Congress has passed statutes establishing a civilian government, extending U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, allowing the creation of a bill of rights and a constitution for the island. Yet, Puerto Ricans have only one nonvoting member in the U.S. House of Representatives and they cannot vote in presidential elections unless they move to one of the 50 states. “This is a matter of equal rights. Puerto Ricans are tired of existing as American citizens to whom their citizenship rights are denied. How is it possible that if an American citizen resident of Puerto Rico moves to the continental U.S. he or she will gain rights and vice versa he or she will lose rights? That doesn’t make sense.” The United States currently has 16 territories outside of the 50 states, of which only five are inhabited: Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Mariana Islands and American Samoa. Of Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – A bill introduced by members of the Philadelphia County Delegation to address the issue of “stop and go” nuisance alcohol-selling businesses has advanced out of the Liquor Control Committee to the full House of Representatives. H.B. 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. The bill was strongly supported by state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Youngblood and Donatucci, who is also the Democratic secretary on the House Liquor Control Committee, have held several public meetings on the issue this year. They have expressed their satisfaction with the Philadelphia Delegation coming together to unite around the issue. Donatucci, chairwoman of the House of Representative’s Philadelphia Delegation, said, “This was an effort on behalf of the entire Philadelphia Delegation, and without the hearings held earlier this year, we would have never gotten this far. Through cooperation and a united front, the delegation can accomplish great things for the city of Philadelphia.” Youngblood, the Democratic Caucus Secretary, said, “This legislation is a Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – A bill introduced by three Philadelphia state representatives to address the issue of "stop and go" nuisance alcohol-selling businesses today advanced out of the Liquor Control Committee to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. Harris said, "While the majority of business owners who sell alcohol are responsible business owners, there are those who have been able to operate using business practices that are not in the best interests of the communities that they provide service to; understanding that, we have created legislation that will provide greater state and municipal oversight of those businesses who have skirted the rule of law and created nuisances in our communities that in many cases have altered the quality of life for those residents who live in the areas these businesses serve." Bullock said: "A key part of this bill is allowing for more coordination between the state and local communities to regulate these nuisance businesses. Under this bill, the Liquor Control Board would be given the authority to look at the number of citations, police Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today announced Clinton County will receive $224,743 in grant funding through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s 2016 Community Development Block Grant Program. Hanna said the county will use the funding to purchase and install a new chlorine disinfection system for the Western Clinton County Municipal Authority. A portion of the funds also will be used to rehabilitate 11 th Street in the Borough of Renovo. “This funding is vital to resisting blight, sustaining infrastructure and improving quality of life in our communities,” Hanna said. “Improving our chlorine disinfection system and 11 th Street in Renovo provide added safety for our residents.” “The Clinton County Commissioners frequently use CDBG funding to garner additional money to meet important needs throughout the community,” said Assistant Planning Director Kate de Silva. “This year, CDBG funds helped leverage a $500,000 federal HOME program grant for owner-occupied home rehabilitations.” Hanna said Clinton and Centre counties have been fortunate to receive significant CDBG funding over the years and this award is no exception. “As a legislator, it is always important to me to be able to bring taxpayer dollars back to our community,” Hanna said. “The economic improvements we make today will have a lasting impact in our community for years to Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – The threshold under which clubs can retain 100 percent of money raised through small games of chance would rise from $20,000 to $30,000 under an amendment from state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D- Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, that passed the House yesterday. In addition to raising that cap by an additional $10,000, Petrarca’s amendment to H.B. 864 would hike the trigger for mandating a 60-40 split of all small games of chance proceeds from $40,000 to $60,000. Essentially, Petrarca’s legislation is designed as a way for small clubs to keep more of the money they make under the Small Games of Chance Act, by raising the amount they can keep initially as well as the ceiling that mandates the start of the 60-40 split required by current law. “Just as other things are indexed to account for inflation or are periodically updated to take into account rising costs, I am proposing that we update this several-years-old law in a practical and beneficial way,” Petrarca said. “Several small clubs, fraternal organizations and veterans groups in my district have approached me asking for a solution to what they see as a problem, which my bill will seek to address by updating the numbers that exist in current law.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, said the state House of Representatives today passed legislation that would raise the fundraising thresholds for club licensees under the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – Seeking to increase voter participation, cut election costs and reduce voter fraud, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today introduced H.B. 1546, which would permit voting by mail. Matzie said his bill was one of several proposed bills to bring Pennsylvania’s voting system into the 21 st century. Under Matzie’s legislation, any eligible Pennsylvania voter would have the option of casting their ballot by mail. “As elected representatives in state government, I believe it is our duty to find ways to make voting for our constituents easier, more accessible and more secure,” Matzie said. “One of those ways, as other states have shown, is to allow any eligible voter to cast their ballot for any and every election by mail.” Matzie said the ability to vote is the most basic tenet of U.S. democracy – and access methods should change with the times to enable participation by the maximum number of eligible voters “Currently, 22 states have provisions allowing certain elections to be conducted entirely by mail, and three of those states – Oregon, Washington and Colorado – hold all elections entirely by mail. California will begin holding all-mail elections in 2018,” Matzie said. Matzie’s bill directs the Department of State and the commonwealth’s county election boards to establish a vote-by-mail system in Pennsylvania. Voters would only have to request a mail-in Read more
Rep. Frank Burns reports that Cambria, Cresson and Jackson townships have been approved for community development grants totaling almost $272,000. “Improvement initiatives funded with these grants are important to keeping the region up to date," Burns said. Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder advocates for action on her legislation that would provide early voting and no-excuse absentee balloting for Pennsylvania voters. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – A sweeping review of the ways Pennsylvania collects revenue would be carried out by a new subcommittee under a resolution put forth by state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, which the House Finance Committee unanimously approved today. Wheatley said the Select Subcommittee on Tax Modernization and Reform called for by his H.R. 327 would be tasked with making a thorough review of the process, rates and methods by which the commonwealth collects revenue – and the collective impact on taxpayers. “Each and every year, we engage in our budget process from a perspective of spending and taxing – without much review of what we are spending and taxing, or what we want to create or achieve,” said Wheatley, the Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “It is my hope that the work of the select subcommittee will give us an idea as to what steps we need to take to ensure that all vital services our citizens look to their government to provide are sustained.” Wheatley added, “I believe that with the work of our select subcommittee, we can begin to change the current dynamic, looking at what it is we are trying to achieve as a commonwealth and what we expect from our government. By answering the broad questions, we can then thoroughly review our various revenue-generating mechanisms and ask: are they sustainable, are they functioning, and to what degree do we need any changes?” Noting that such Read more
Rep. Ryan Bizzarro reports that Edinboro and McKean Township have been approved for community development grants totaling more than $189,000. “Improvement initiatives funded with these grants are important to keeping the Erie region up to date,” Bizzarro said. Read more
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