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
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., will host an education forum at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30 at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, 901 S. Broad St. Sims invites the public to join him, elementary school principals, policy experts, academics, and community leaders for a discussion about education and engagement in Philadelphia. "Together we’ll explore how entire communities can use their unique assets to support local public schools and move our vision for Philadelphia schools forward. Dr. William Hite, the Philadelphia School District superintendent, will kick off the forum and help us welcome panelists, parents and attendees," Sims said. "A panel of principals from five neighborhood elementary schools will join us and each will share their school's accomplishments as well as opportunities for growth. It's a great way for parents, community members and those who are new to the area to learn more about how to get involved with the amazing public schools in Center City." The principals are: April Brown, Waring Elementary; Zack Duberstein, Vare-Washington Elementary; Lisa Kaplan, Jackson Elementary; Dan Lazar, Greenfield Elementary; and Lauren Overton, Meredith Elementary. Sims said a second "all-star" panel will focus on sharing best practices for engaging entire communities in supporting local public schools through fundraising, program development, community partnerships and Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to be eligible to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. House Bill 222 seeks to make transparent a presidential candidate’s financial interests before being elected to the highest office in the nation. “The need for this tradition is clear,” Briggs said. “Many Americans, not to mention the national security community, want to know whether presidential candidates have personal or business interests that could undermine their commitment to act in the best interests of the United States should they become president. “More importantly, all Americans, whether they supported the president's election or not, must know whether there are any financial interests that may affect his or her decision making while serving.” Briggs’ introduction of the bill follows President Donald Trump’s recent reversal on his pledge to release his tax returns following what he described while campaigning as a routine audit. “President Trump’s refusal to release a most basic, yet vital, piece of information could be categorized as a text-book bait and switch,” Briggs said. “One or more states’ refusal to place a candidate on the ballot, on the other hand, could easily prevent something like this from ever happening again. All public Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Perry Warren hosted the Council Rock North boys cross country team at the Capitol Tuesday, in honor of the team's 2016 PIAA Class AAA championship. The team and its coaches, Dave Marrington and Rob Rogers, were honored with House citations and a presentation in the chamber of the House of Representatives in which state Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks, participated, as well. They also met with state Sens. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, and Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks, for lunch and photos in the Senate and Rotunda. The 2016 title is the 10th state championship for the Council Rock boys cross country program, the second for coach Marrington and the first since the high school split between CR North and CR South in 2003. Photos from the event can be downloaded here . “The community is very proud of what these student-athletes have accomplished,” said Warren, D-Bucks. “Their accomplishments reflect on a job well done by their coaches, parents and educators. We are truly fortunate to have such high achievers in our neighborhoods.” Read more
State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., spoke in support of H.R. 22 yesterday, which recognizes January 2017 as Human Trafficking Month, acknowledging that although Pennsylvania has improved laws to help the victims of human trafficking, there is still work to be done. Read more
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny, expressed his dismay at the state's decision to close SCI-Pittsburgh in a measure to save costs. The announcement was made this morning, after the Department of Corrections considered five prisons throughout the commonwealth for possible closure. The relocation of nearly 2,000 inmates and final closure is expected by the end of June and the DOC estimates the closure will save the state up to $81 million annually. “I believe the decision to close SCI-Pittsburgh, and only SCI-Pittsburgh, is a shortsighted solution to a long-term budget problem,” Ravenstahl said. "While the statewide prison population has been shrinking and savings may be available, closing such a vital part of Pittsburgh's employment community will cost the city much in lost wages and opportunities. "Western Pen not only employs more than 500 local residents, it also maintains a top-notch medical wing, offering support for those going through drug withdrawal when they enter the prison system and a comprehensive oncology unit. The state is responsible for providing our prisoners adequate health care and this move will only weaken that commitment. "I appreciate the way local residents pulled together to help fight this decision, including the 848 people who signed my online petition and other elected officials. We must now turn our fight to helping all those who will be Read more
YORK, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans released the following statement regarding Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement today to close State Correctional Institute-Pittsburgh. “Governor Wolf is delivering on a promise to reform the state’s criminal justice system and save taxpayer money,” said Hill-Evans, D-York. “I see his action as both a commitment to lowering incarceration rates in Pennsylvania and a cost-saving measure to help balance the state’s budget. “Although a decision like this is always difficult, Pennsylvania simply cannot afford to spend money on monolithic prisons when we have better-targeted forms of rehabilitation and new courts that are better suited to intervene in cases involving low-level drug offenses or in cases involving veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. “I see a new path in Pennsylvania toward offender-reintegration and a renewed focus on getting people back into the workforce while receiving the help and rehabilitation they need.” Read more
King of Prussia, JAN. 26 – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that daytime lane restrictions are scheduled on northbound and southbound U.S. 1 at the Oxford Valley Road Interchange in Falls and Middletown townships, Bucks County, from Monday, January 30, through Friday, February 3, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, for the rehabilitation of the Oxford Valley Road overpass. Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the construction areas because slowdowns may occur. The work schedule is weather dependent. Crews began construction on November 14, 2016 to rehabilitate the Oxford Valley Road bridge. The bridge remains open to traffic while the contractor repairs structural damage sustained when the bridge was struck by an oversized truck on June 29, 2015. Crews will replace two steel beams and repair three steel beams. Construction on the bridge is scheduled to finish in June 2017. The three-span, steel-I beam bridge was built in 1972. It is 167 feet long and 90 feet wide. The bridge is not structurally deficient or posted with a weight limit. The structure carries 31,000 vehicles a day. The work is part of PennDOT’s $11,766,000 project to replace six structurally deficient culverts in Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties, and rehabilitate four structurally deficient bridges in Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Under this project, the contractor also will replace deteriorated culverts Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public roundtable on blended learning at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 at the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, Conference Center, Room 104, 1020 New Holland Ave., Lancaster. Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, said the roundtable will feature a presentation by Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 about their Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Solutions program (LLVS) in support of local school districts and students. LLVS is similar to a cyber school but operates at a fraction of the cost. The discussion will also address blended learning practices and two local school districts will share how LLVS has impacted their students. Speakers participating in the roundtable include: Colette Cairns , Education Innovation Specialist, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 Ken Zimmerman , Instructional Media Technology, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 Larry Mays , Director of Student Services, School District of Lancaster Liz Lubeskie , Coordinator of Online Learning, Manheim Central School District Blended learning is a blend between online courses, hybrid learning, and traditional learning practices. The roundtable is open to the public and media coverage is invited. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she is currently seeking co-sponsors for her first piece of legislation as state representative. The legislation would extend mandated insurance coverage for ultrasound screening and an MRI if a mammogram indicates dense breast tissue or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk of breast cancer due to family history, or because of her prior personal history of breast cancer, positive genetic testing or other factors as deemed necessary by a physician. “Whether it’s a mother, sister, daughter, wife or a friend, everyone in Pennsylvania has known someone or has been impacted by someone who has battled breast cancer,” Fitzgerald said. “My legislation would allow women to easily get these life-saving screenings to prevent this deadly disease.” Fitzgerald said if her legislation became law, Pennsylvania would be among the first states in the nation to require full insurance without co-pays for all breast screenings and supplemental imaging, including MRI and breast ultrasound, for women with dense breast issue. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, has issued a statement upon the announcement that SCI-Mercer will not be closed as part of a cost reduction plan announced by Gov. Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced that the only prison that will be closed is SCI-Pittsburgh, the oldest prison that was under consideration for elimination. "The community dodged a major bullet this morning," Longietti said. "I believe the community's united stand in presenting our case made a real difference. "I appreciate that the governor and the closure committee had a very tough decision. All five locations under consideration provide a real benefit to their communities, but I believe we made a very strong case for the value of SCI-Mercer to the community. "Now that this decision is behind us, I will continue to work with our local economic development professionals and elected officials to foster economic opportunities and job growth in Mercer County." According to the Wolf administration, the prison closure plan is one step in the effort to reduce the projected 2017-18 state budget deficit. The closure of Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, including the relocation of up to 1,900 inmates, is expected to be completed by the end of June. Many are expected to be moved to SCI-Camp Hill where 1,000 beds were recently made available. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, praised today’s decision by the Wolf administration to keep the three prisons open in northeastern Pennsylvania that had been considered for closure. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 26 – Pennsylvania House leadership appointed Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., to serve on five key standing committees for the 2017-18 legislative session. She will serve on Aging and Older Adult Services, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Children and Youth, Health and State Government. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and identifying ways that we can improve various programs and better prioritize how our funds are utilized to improve the lives of our citizens across the commonwealth,” DeLissio said. "I am very pleased to continue the important work with my colleagues who join me on these five committees. With these appointments, I am better positioned to advance legislation critical to enhancing the quality of life for all our citizens, particularly our children and older adults who are at risk. “With a new legislative session beginning, it is as important as ever to reach across the aisle, and a great deal of that starts in committee,” she said. “My commitment is to closely examine the legislation that comes before the committee so that we advance quality, meaningful bills that meet the needs of Pennsylvania families. “Additionally, I look forward to engaging in issues that advance redistricting reform, updating and improving our voting system, and assuring equitable funding for basic education, in addition to supporting high quality pre-K.” Furthermore, DeLissio Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, has introduced a measure that would restore the 24-hour period House members must wait before being able to vote on legislation amended by the Senate. The change to the waiting period from the previously established 24 hours to six hours was tucked into the overall House rules package, which was voted on Jan. 3 with very little notice. The rules were approved by a 167-32 vote. "On the first day of the new legislative session, the House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank-and-file House members and the general public," Vitali said. "This rule will be the most damaging around budget time. Frequently, House and Senate leaders surreptitiously insert provisions in large, budget-related bills that many rank-and-file members and the public would find highly objectionable." Vitali said some examples of this furtiveness from last session include when provisions were inserted into the fiscal code to cancel regulations to make gas drilling safer, delay measures to address climate change and transfer millions of dollars from a fund for high energy efficiency buildings for natural gas development. "Six hours is simply not enough time for even the most diligent legislator to find and raise a cry -- or the public to give input -- on the objectionable provisions, especially considering the multitude of Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Mike Driscoll, D-Phila., and Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, are preparing to reintroduce legislation that would establish the Keystone Retirement Security Program.The legislation, which will be similar to last session’s H.B. 2396, would provide private sector employees without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan the opportunity to save for retirement through automatic payroll deduction. Each participant in the program would have the opportunity to set the amount deducted from each paycheck, up until a certain percentage. “Retirement security is a serious issue for the state, especially as a large number of residents begin to retire without the savings needed to meet their expenses,” Driscoll said. “Ignoring this ‘Silver Tsunami’ would have devastating effects on both future retirees and the financial well-being of the state as a whole. Currently, there are over 2 million workers in the state without access to this type of retirement savings account, which is simply unacceptable.” Read more
Rep. Snyder reports that she has been named Democratic chairman of the Pennsylvania House Coal Caucus to support and advance the coal industry and its contributions to the state. “We have new opportunities to bolster a critical part of our energy portfolio and help the industry and its workers,” Snyder said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today secured adoption of a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in light of the recent national holiday. "Everyone knows the stirring line 'I have a dream,' but we need to remember the complete Dr. King, who was considered a radical in his time, who fought against poverty as well as racial injustice, in part because those two things are linked," Rabb said. Rabb's resolution ( H.R. 39 ) includes passages such as: "People in cities, suburbs and small towns across our diverse nation have joined in homage to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who organized and mobilized against and resisted the bigotry, structural inequality and kleptocratic features existing within American society;" and "The prescient expressions of equality and solidarity in the Rev. Dr. King's career-defining speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also ring true in today's political and social context." The resolution also quotes these lines from Dr. King's 1963 speech about the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness made in Philadelphia at the nation's founding: "America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., has been appointed to seven committees for the new legislative session. Kinsey will serve on the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the state budget; the Finance Committee, which handles tax legislation; the Health, Human Services and Transportation committees; the Ethics Committee, which receives complaints about alleged violations of House rules; and the Rules Committee, which some consider to be the most powerful House committee since it is in charge of facilitating the flow of legislation in the House. Kinsey will serve as the Democratic chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and the Democratic chairman of the Human Services Subcommittee on Drug and Alcohol. In addition to serving on seven committees, Kinsey is also a member of the West Chester University Council of Trustees and the board of the Pennsylvania Business Minority Development Authority. "I embrace the opportunity to advocate for my constituents and the people of Pennsylvania on so many important issues," Kinsey said. "We have quite a few old issues that have not been resolved under the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, such as pensions and sustainable funding for our schools, as well as funding for our social services programs. With the change that has happened in Washington, D.C., I have grave concern about whether federal dollars will continue to come to our state to support such Read more
State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, announced today that he has been elected a vice chairman of the Democratic Southeast Delegation in the House of Representatives. “I’m excited at the opportunities this position will provide and look forward to working with my colleagues to positively influence and promote the best interest of our communities across southeastern Pennsylvania,” Warren said. The Southeast Delegation comprises 22 Democratic members. The delegation’s website is www.PaHouse.com/Southeast . Warren represents the 31 st House District, consisting of Lower Makefield Township, most of Morrisville Borough, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township and Yardley. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 – Flanked by Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris and four-time Olympic medal-winning wrestler Bruce Baumgartner, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, joined the call for quality Pre-K programs at a Capitol news conference today. Longietti, who serves as co-chairman of the joint House/Senate Early Childhood Education Caucus, said high-quality Pre-K programs have a demonstrated, positive impact on student achievement. “In Pennsylvania, when we have invested in our children early, we have realized results, such as an 80-percent reduction in at-risk behaviors among 3-year-olds participating in PA Pre-K Counts,” Longietti said. “In Mercer County, the United Way’s ‘Success by Six’ Pre-K summer program has demonstrated consistent achievement results, according to a longitudinal study following participants over time.” Longietti said it is particularly important to reach at-risk and disadvantaged children, because studies have shown that 60 to 70 percent of the achievement gap between low- and high-income children in high school was already present by the time they were in kindergarten. Longietti drew a parallel to sports in his district, noting that the Reynolds High School wrestling program, which has won several state championships, is fed by a junior wrestling program that starts teaching athletes at a very young age. He said the same concept applies to the Hickory High School football program, Read more
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