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 – Members of PA SAFE will hold a news conference announcing its re-formation and priorities at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 22 in the Capitol Media Center . Members of PA SAFE are legislators and advocates committed to reducing all types of violence in society through adequate funding for mental health services, best use of new and existing law-enforcement tools, resources to curb effects of addiction and illegal drugs, and solutions that reduce gun violence and promote public safety. Slated to speak are: PA SAFE Chairwoman Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery PA SAFE Co-Chairman Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila. Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila. CeaseFire PA Executive Director Shira Goodman. The news conference also will be streamed live at www.PaHouse.com/Live . Members of the media may also listen to the news conference by calling 717-787-9903 through 9910. 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 email@example.com . 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 – House Urban Affairs Committee Democratic Chairman Mike O’Brien, D-Phila., said the committee unanimously approved the following measures today, sending them to the full House of Representatives for a vote: House Bill 758 would establish a mixed-use incentive program. It is designed to provide tax abatement incentives to developers and property owners in order to encourage new construction in deteriorated areas of depressed communities and improvements to certain deteriorated commercial, commercial and industrial property. A primary focus of the legislation is to encourage mixed-use development. Such development would include projects that incorporate residential, commercial, industrial, cultural or institutional uses. "This bill would set the guidelines for a plan that stands to have a real impact on economic development," O’Brien said. "Bringing blighted properties down and pulling the values of homes and businesses up is a direction we need to keep moving in, especially in my district and all of Philadelphia." House Bill 595 would assign the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection to investigate and mediate complaints that occur in condos, cooperatives and planned communities. O’Brien said the bill would help assure that all residents living in these communities get a fair opportunity to have their complaint heard and find a reasonable solution. Under the 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
PHILADELPHIA, March 20 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., announced he will host a two-day event to help young people get job training. The Career, Technical and Building Trades Conference will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 23 and Friday, March 24 at the Berean Presbyterian Church, 2101 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, 19122. During the first day of this two-day event, representatives from Temple University will discuss careers in healthcare and Peirce College will talk about business and industry opportunities. There will also be personnel from barber and cosmetology schools on hand to discuss opportunities. Thomas said the second day will be a first time building trades conference for 18 to 34 year olds. Representatives from Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 and UA Local 420 Steamfitters as well as painters’, roofers’, and carpenters’ unions will be in attendance to discuss apprenticeship opportunities. “Many young people are not qualified for the jobs that are out there because they don’t have the proper training,” Thomas said. “This two-day event is a great one-stop shop for them to learn how they can get that training they need to succeed.” Lunch will be served. For more information, constituents can contact Thomas’ district office at (215) 560-3261. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution 137 today, sponsored by state Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, designating March 14, 2017, as “Charter Day” in Pennsylvania. H.R. 137 commemorates the charter King Charles II of England granted William Penn on March 4, 1681, to repay Penn for the debt owed to his father and defining the boundaries of Pennsylvania. “Charter Day honors the important roles both King Charles II and William Penn played in the founding of Pennsylvania and this great nation,” Matzie said. “Not only were they responsible for establishing our commonwealth’s boundaries, William Penn wrote a Frame of Government establishing democratic principles still in use today such as freedom of worship, the use of elected representative assemblies and fair trials featuring independent juries.” In addition to recognizing the significance of Penn and King Charles II, H.R. 137 encourages state residents, schools and other educational institutions to participate in “Charter Day” activities held across the commonwealth. These events included the 18 th Annual Charter Day, hosted by the State Museum of Pennsylvania Day on Sunday, March 12. “The likeness of King Charles II still survives to this day on a 336-year old, four-page parchment charter that is currently on display at the State Museum in Harrisburg until March 17,” Matzie said. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced the adoption of H.R. 136 today, designating the week of March 12-18, 2017, as “Sunshine Week” in Pennsylvania, highlighting the importance of open and accessible government. Established by the American Society of News Editors in 2005, Sunshine Week is celebrated by journalists, civic groups, educators, citizens and elected officials by discussing the importance of access to public information. The PA NewsMedia Association is responsible for organizing many of the Sunshine Week activities in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 136 also stresses the necessity to protect our constitutional principles, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the pursuit of a free and transparent government. “Each year Sunshine Week coincides with James Madison’s birthday, widely considered the father of the U.S. Constitution and an architect of the Bill of Rights,” Matzie said. “Madison reminded us that knowledge and information are required for a free society to govern itself. The press is an indispensable tool for informing the public and as a legislator I support making government information more open and accessible when possible.” At a time when public trust in government is extremely low, Sunshine Week emphasizes the need for government officials to ensure decision making processes are as public and accessible as possible. Sunshine Week highlights Read more
EYNON, March 20 – Area veterans are invited to take part in a new monthly support program at the offices of state Rep. Kevin Haggerty. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 17 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will host an event to provide helpful tools for current local business owners or for people aspiring to open their own small business. The Entrepreneurship Seminar will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 28 at the Ezekiel Baptist Church, 5701 Grays Ave. Attendees will learn what it takes to establish a business and secure the necessary finances to make it happen, how to effectively establish a business by promoting a brand in all forms of media, and hear experiences in effectively establishing a business and the paths taken to achieve inspiration. “Small businesses are the backbone to our community, so we must assist them with tools to help them grow and remain successful. If small businesses thrive in our neighborhoods, then job opportunities are available to more neighbors,” McClinton said. “I encourage everyone – business owners or those looking to take on a different pathway and own a business – to come be inspired and informed.” McClinton noted seminar participants include the Enterprise Center, the U.S. Department of Small Business Administration, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Office of Business Services, City of Philadelphia Department of Procurement, Southwest Community Development Corporation, Citizens Bank, African Cultural Alliance of North American, INC. and local entrepreneurs. For more information, constituents Read more
HARRISBURG, March 17 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced that the Belmont Hills Library has been awarded a $500,000 state grant from the Department of Education. The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund award was granted to help renovate and expand the library, including adding ADA restrooms and parking, fixing the main entrance automatic doors, making the heating, ventilation and air conditioning more efficient, installing LED lighting, and purchasing furniture, shelving and fixtures. "Libraries today are more than just buildings with books in them," DeLissio said. "While books are still a very important part of modern libraries, libraries also make a wealth of media available to the public, including movies, periodicals and newspapers. They provide access to technology and the internet, and they serve as a community gathering place. Our libraries educate, open minds and inspire people of all ages. This grant helps Belmont Hill continue to do that in our community." The grant was one of 27 awarded throughout the state, totaling $5.9 million. The funding is allocated to pay up to 50 percent of eligible costs in planning, acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public libraries, and is funded by a portion of the realty transfer tax. Read more
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