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, Dec. 9 – The House Transportation Committee today amended and reported out a bill, authored by state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, to strengthen provisions intended to keep infants safe while traveling in a vehicle.
"On Monday, at a public hearing held by the House Transportation Committee, I was pleased to see wide, bipartisan support for efforts to improve child safety in Pennsylvania," Schlossberg said. "After a productive and frank discussion, it was clear that there was sufficient support to strengthen my bill by amending it to offer even better protections for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. I fully support that effort."
House Bill 1551, which originally would have required children younger than 1 to be secured in a rear-facing car seat, was amended by the committee to require children to be secured in a rear-facing car seat while in a vehicle until age 2 unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer’s specification of the car seat in use.
Schlossberg noted that this change to his bill follows recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. During the House Transportation public hearing, Ted Leonard, executive director of the Pennsylvania AAA Federation, voiced AAA’s support for efforts to enhance the requirement to secure children under age 2 in rear-facing car seats or until that child reaches the maximum height and weight for the car seat as noted by the manufacturer.
"As a father of two young children, I find it hard to belie Read more
HARRISBURG, Dec. 7 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, has introduced H.B 1692, which would make it easier for family members to commit a loved one for drug and/or alcohol treatment.
“Too many families watch their loved ones deal with alcohol or drug abuse problems and can only standby while they spiral into despair, or worse,” Readshaw said. “I have been working with family members, law enforcement, the district attorney, the minor courts and others to ensure that my bill would offer remedies for families seeking help for their loved one.
"I introduced this bill at the request of my friend, a constituent who recently lost his son because of a drug overdose," he added.
Readshaw said that Pennsylvania families are the front lines of the opiate epidemic in this Commonwealth, and this bill is an effort to provide families with another avenue of resources.
House Bill 1692 would provide for involuntary treatment requirements and procedures for individuals suffering from alcohol and other drug abuse; and imposing duties on the Department of Health and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Presuming the person has a reasonable benefit of recovery and the individual presents an imminent danger or imminent threat of danger to self, family or others as a result of alcohol and other drug abuse, or there exists a substantial likelihood of such a threat in the near future, a family member would be able to petition the Court of Common Pleas to initiate proceedings for in Read more
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 2 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny announced the state's heating assistance program, LIHEAP, is accepting applications for the winter.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides federal aid to eligible families to help pay winter heating bills and cover emergency heating equipment needs.
"LIHEAP ensures that qualified households can pay for their heating costs, such as gas, oil or electricity," Readshaw said. "Emergency funds are also available for households without heat or fuel, or those facing cut-off from a supplier.
"My staff can help complete the application."
Household income limits to qualify vary according to family size:
Household Size Maximum Income
The household income level increases by an additional $6,240 for each additional person.
"Since this program is based on federal money, the state budget impasse should not affect the funding for this program," Readshaw said.
Applications also can be completed online at www.compass.state.pa.us, and can be obtained at local county assistance offices, which can be found at www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/CAO-locations.aspx.
HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, and state Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., announced today that they will host a private advance screening of the film “Spotlight” on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Midtown Cinema, 250 Reilly St. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Turning Point are the event sponsors.
A complimentary reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., prior to the movie. Remarks will be offered by the sponsors and hosts in support of legislation that would modify the Pennsylvania statute of limitations to allow victims to seek civil action against abusers and the institutions that shield them.
“Spotlight” is the true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child sexual abuse and cover-up within the local Boston Archdiocese.
More information about the event is available by contacting Rozzi’s Harrisburg office at (717) 783-3290. To reserve tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/private-advance-screening-of-spotlight-tickets-19499631924. Seating is limited.
HARRISBURG, Oct. 28 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, will host a flu shot clinic from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Concord Presbyterian Church, 1907 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh, 15210.
Pneumonia shots also will be available.
"The earlier you can get a flu shot, the longer you are protected through the flu season," Readshaw said. "It is important to remember that flu is not just a nuisance. It can be a serious, even fatal, illness, especially for those young children, elderly and anyone who may have a weaker immune system."
While the flu vaccinations are not free, the costs are covered by all Medicare Part B plans as well as many other medical insurance plans. Vaccination recipients must bring their insurance cards when they get their shots.
Readshaw reminds people who may have the flu to see a doctor as quickly as possible. There are treatments which may lessen the severity of the illness if taken quickly enough.
KING OF PRUSSIA, July 15 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, said today that he voted to complete the 2016-17 state budget with revenue to fund important investments made in education and programs to combat the state’s opioid abuse crisis because the plan would help put Pennsylvania on the right path moving forward.
The House and Senate voted to send Gov. Tom Wolf a conference committee report that raises the revenue necessary to pay for the approximate $31.6 billion spending plan passed on June 30. Lawmakers also passed a fiscal code and school code bill, pieces necessary to finalize the 2016-17 budget process.
"This budget is far from perfect, but it does make critical investments in education and human services that will put our state on the right path moving forward," Briggs said. "This was another difficult year financially for the state and, with it being an example of divided government where we have a Democratic governor and large Republican majorities controlling the House and Senate, to see a budget get completed without a protracted impasse like last year is encouraging."
The spending plan passed on June 30 included an extra $200 million for basic education, $30 million more for pre-K and Head Start and a $20 million increase for special education. It also included a 2.5 percent increase in higher education spending.
"The increase in education funding is a great win for our students and will go a long way in restoring the devastating cuts made by the Read more
State Rep. Neal P. Goodman and state Sen. David G. Argall congratulated the Pioneer Mine Tunnel & Steam Train in Ashland for winning a grant to paint and erect a salvaged headframe and hoisting drum as exhibits. Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder applauds the selection of the 90-foot-high coal refuse site in Fredericktown, Washington County, for reclamation under a $30 million federal pilot program taking aim at abandoned mine sites. Read more
State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, issued the following statement today after voting against House Bill 1198, the revenue package to fund the general appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016-17:
“As someone who has worked with small business owners for over a decade prior to entering public office, I cannot in good conscience vote for tax increases that predominately affect those business owners and low-income families. Balancing the budget on the backs of small-business owners who are the backbone of our community and low-income families that struggle to make ends meet is the opposite of what we were sent here to do. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, welcomed passage of legislation designed to increase the number of available substitute teachers in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. "I have introduced two bills to reduce the substitute teacher shortage, and I'm pleased this legislation would take a major step forward in achieving that goal," Roebuck said. The education bill that passed the House and Senate today (H.B. 1606) would allow some university students who are training to be teachers to serve as substitute teachers for limited time periods. They would have to pass background checks and would be limited to substituting for 10 days per school year for any one teacher and 40 days overall per calendar year. "Substitute teachers play a vital role in maintaining momentum and continuity in the classroom. When students’ regularly assigned teachers are unavailable due to illness, hiring shortages or professional development needs, substitute teachers help fill in the gaps so student learning is not interrupted," Roebuck said. "When substitutes are not available, many schools rely on other teachers to fill in during their prep periods – time that should be dedicated to thoughtful planning, professional collaboration or other academic preparation. When neither substitutes nor a teacher on a prep period are available, students must do without a teacher in Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, said the budget package the legislature is completing today finally closes most of Pennsylvania's tobacco tax loopholes, a change Frankel has long advocated. "I'm glad we are finally closing the tobacco tax loophole for nearly all tobacco products except for cigars, although I would have preferred that we go with experts' recommendations to tax tobacco by price rather than weight. It is the best we could do under the current composition of the legislature. Even so, ending these exemptions is a major step forward for public health and for tax fairness," Frankel said. "Studies have shown that higher prices for tobacco products discourage young people from using them and getting hooked into a longtime addiction, and closing these loopholes avoids putting more of the tax burden on other taxpayers. "The revenue bill that closes the tobacco loopholes is the largest piece of finishing the budget. Another prolonged budget process like last year's would benefit no one. This budget agreement gets us on the road to restoring more of the Corbett-Republican cuts to education and human services, and Democrats look forward to restoring more of those cuts as the Wolf administration continues," Frankel said. The revenue bill (H.B. 1198) passed the House and Senate today, and now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf, who said he will sign it into law. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – Faulting its heavy use of back-door tax hikes on the likes of tobacco products, income tax on lottery winnings and downloaded internet data including apps to raise more than $1 billion, state Rep. Frank Burns voted "no" on today’s revenue bill. Burns, D-Cambria, issued the following statement explaining his position: "As a fiscally conservative Democrat, I cannot in good conscience vote ‘yes’ on a bill that amounts to a billion-dollar tax hike on certain groups like roll-your-own smokers, users of smokeless tobacco and those who download books, apps, music or movies from the internet. "Likewise, I have strong reservations about borrowing $200 million from other state funds in order to help balance the 2016-17 state budget. That’s a smoke-and-mirrors tactic, because sooner or later, the state’s going to have to repay that money. And it’s very likely another tax or taxes will be raised in order to do that. "Finally, imposing the state’s personal income tax on lottery winnings over $600 was something that never came up in any big way prior to approval of the new spending plan June 30. It’s just further proof that Pennsylvania has become a ‘spend first, tax later’ state, which is not sound budgeting and does a huge disservice to our residents. "We’ve got to stop playing ‘spin the wheel and see where it lands’ to come up with revenue Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives cast the final vote on the tax code bill, positioning it to become law, so too did the House vote on exempting land banks from the state realty transfer tax. House Bill 1198, which passed today, contains Rep. Joseph Petrarca's proposal to exempt from the state portion of the realty transfer tax all real estate transactions involving a land bank. Land banks are entities that focus on converting vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent and foreclosed properties into productive use. When the law was passed in 2012, Petrarca said the intent was to exempt land banks from all state and local taxes, including the realty transfer tax. However, the Revenue Department continues to assess the tax on land banks for certain transactions. "We want to encourage redevelopment of blighted properties in our communities, not hinder it, which is what the assessment of the realty transfer tax does. My legislation was designed to correct that oversight, and I am pleased this proposal to eliminate collection of the state realty transfer tax has received support in the General Assembly," said Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. "Today's action is progress for community land banks, but I will continue to work to address the elimination of the local realty transfer tax, as well." Petrarca said that land banks do good work in communities. For example, in his district, the Westmoreland County Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – Noting a lack of appetite for a repeat of last year’s budget battle, state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., said passage of the 2016-17 budget, including the money to pay for it, will ensure Pennsylvania avoids another breakdown in Harrisburg like the one that rattled communities across the state last year. The legislature has now sent the budget bill and companion revenue package to the governor, Youngblood said, avoiding a repeat of partisanship that served as the hallmark of last year’s budget impasse. “I voted in favor of a new state budget because we simply could not let what happened last year happen again. Too many people were caught in the middle of a partisan fight that left everyone bruised in the end,” Youngblood said. “This budget ensures that nonprofits and public schools will have their funding now, not months from now as we saw with last year's budget debacle.” Youngblood said the new budget boosts school funding by $250 million, including an additional $25 million for pre-K programs and $20 million more for special education. Additionally, Youngblood said higher education spending saw a $40 million boost, which benefits state-owned, state-related and community colleges and universities across the state. The budget also includes an extra $15 million to treat heroin abuse and ensures that those who rely on and provide social services won’t suffer from uncertainty as they did Read more
HARRISBURG, July 13 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today voted for a revenue package to complete the 2016-17 state budget, which increases funding for schools and human services, and helps to fight the state’s opioid epidemic. The spending plan is paid for with a revenue package passed by the House and Senate today that relies on a menu of revenue-generating options such as liquor modernization, expanded gaming, tobacco taxes, and new tax rules that treat books, movies and music downloaded online the same as those purchased in stores. The revenue package does not include any broad-based tax increases. "Despite the continued push from many House Republicans to put off negotiations on this revenue package, a bipartisan compromise was accomplished," Mullery said. "Pennsylvania did not need a repeat of last year and a prolonged impasse that resulted in schools threatening to close and human services not able to provide the needed services." The spending plan includes a $250 million increase for pre-K through 12 education funding, including $200 million for K-12, $30 million for pre-kindergarten and Head Start, and a $20 million increase for special education. It also dedicates $15 million to combat heroin and opioid addiction, including funds for emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 12 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said a bill that passed the Senate yesterday would weaken the regulations on unconventional oil and gas drillers. Specifically, the new language in the bill, S.B. 1229 , would make three critical changes to the regulations, including limiting the reporting requirements for waste production from oil and gas drilling from once a month to twice a year. Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said reducing reporting requirements will make it more difficult for the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that waste is being disposed of properly. The bill also would increase the amount of time (from nine to 24 months) unconventional oil and gas drillers have to restore well sites, which will delay when a landowner can put the land to productive use, Vitali said. Lastly, the bill stops DEP from issuing adequate standards for the construction of fresh water storage impoundments for oil and gas operations. Vitali argued that adequate standards are important because a breach of water could jeopardize the health of nearby residents and pollute local streams. The regulations were fully vetted, having been subject to 12 public hearings and nearly 28,000 public comments, but this language that Vitali said weakens the regulations was added at the last minute in to an unrelated bill on horse breeding. “This last minute sneak attack on Read more
HARRISBURG, July 12 – Buoyed by its swift netting of 11 co-sponsors in one day, state Rep. Frank Burns has introduced his legislation to elevate assault on police, corrections, probation and parole officers to hate-crime status. In the works weeks before the tragic Dallas sniper attack that killed five police officers and wounded seven others, H.B. 2261 would fulfill Burns’ vision of creating added deterrence. It would put employment as a law enforcement officer on par with race, color, religion and national origin as covered classes under Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law. The legislation would make an attack against one of the listed law enforcement officers an offense one degree higher than it currently is; for example, a second-degree misdemeanor would become a first-degree misdemeanor. “I’ve already heard from a few outside of my district who aren’t happy with this legislation, but I believe it’s necessary to send a clear, unwavering signal of support for those who risk their lives to protect us,” Burns said. “Their job is dangerous enough as it is. If we expect police to go to work every day with an intentional target on their back, then it won’t be long before no one will want to be a police officer.” As there is nothing partisan about the goal of H.B. 2261, Burns said the bill has strong bipartisan support and deserves to move swiftly through the legislative committee approval Read more
HARRISBURG, July 12 – A bill giving emergency vehicle designation to Philadelphia Prison System prisoner transport units sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montco., was signed into law by Governor Wolf on Friday, July 8. "My bill, H.B. 898 , is important because this designation allows prisoner transport units to operate using flashing lights when transferring prisoners," Boyle said. "There is no doubt this will reduce risks associated with prisoner transfers." Due to the vast State Road prison complex, prisoners are transported across Northeast Philadelphia every day. All of these transfers can potentially lead to problems if there are traffic issues or one of the prisoner transport units gets into an accident. Boyle explained that prison transports are subject to high-volume traffic, which poses a risk when moving prisoners from location to location. Also, the complex infrastructure of the City of Philadelphia makes it necessary for prisoner transport units to have a clear path to facilities. The bill also allows high ranking fire department officials, such as a fire chief or assistant in chief, to use flashing lights when responding to emergencies in both fire department and privately-owned vehicles. "I am thrilled that this bill is finally a law because it will definitely make Philadelphia’s streets safer," Boyle said. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, July 10 – The state House of Representatives today unanimously passed, and sent to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk, legislation including language sponsored by Rep. Marty Flynn that would establish an industrial hemp research pilot program in Pennsylvania. Read more
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