HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, joined a number of state representatives and senators to offer a series of bills to update and modernize Pennsylvania’s voting rules. DeLuca featured H.B. 945 , which would create a process to allow same-day voter registration and H.B. 946 which would create an early voting window. “During the May primary election, only about 17 percent of all eligible Allegheny County voters found the time to go to the polls,” DeLuca said. “Our democracy only works when we, the people, vote. “The District of Columbia and 13 states now have same-day registration. The opportunity to register on Election Day can raise voter participation dramatically. Those states and Washington, D.C. had a voter participation rate of 68.8 percent in 2012, more than 10 percent higher than states without that option. “More than two thirds of the states also have an early-voting window. My bill would permit early voting from 15 days before the election through the day before Election Day. More than 30 percent of all the votes in the last two presidential elections were cast during early voting periods,” DeLuca said. Both bills are currently awaiting further consideration in the House State Government Committee. Other bills highlighted by others at the media event aimed at improving voter turnout are focused on automatic voter registration, no-excuses absentee voting and providing paid time Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 13 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., announced that the deadline for the 2016 Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2017. The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded; and cost-of-living adjustments cannot be the sole basis to disqualify an applicant. "There is no charge to apply. If you need help with applying, need an application or have a question, just call or stop by my office," Brown said. "The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. If you qualify, this is too important to miss." The state Revenue Department automatically calculates the supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners. Brown's office is at 1435 N. 52nd St. and can be reached at 215-879-6615. Applications can also be filed online at www.revenue.pa.gov . ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 13 – State Reps. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Aaron Bernstine, R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence, introduced legislation that would help provide opportunities for Pennsylvania’s youth to get a jumpstart in Pennsylvania’s competitive workforce. “Providing our young people with a quality education is a priority for me, and I would like to see them have a chance to get real-world workforce experience while they are still in school,” Solomon said. “This program would help our students obtain a better idea of what path they would like to pursue after high school, whether it’s college or other secondary education or perhaps remain with the company where they received workforce experience.” House Bill 1522 would establish a pilot grant program that would provide incentives to schools and local businesses to collaborate in providing work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and jobs for high school students during the school year, the summer and after the student graduates. In addition, the bill would encourage a dynamic relationship between schools and businesses to create curricula that bring real-life experiences into the classroom that prepare students for life after high school. Solomon said while Pennsylvania offers job training programs and partnerships for adults, there are no prospects for high school students. “By offering our young people with these opportunities, it would benefit them along Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Reps. Margo Davidson and Leanne Krueger-Braneky are inviting community members to a Pennsylvania State Budget Town Hall at 6 p.m. Friday, June 16, at Penn Wood Senior High School, 100 Green Ave., Lansdowne. The lawmakers will offer information about the next fiscal year’s state budget, currently being debated in Harrisburg. There will be time to hear questions and concerns. “We have concerns about the current budget proposal that is currently being debated in the Senate, and we want to make sure constituents know how it could affect our communities,” Davidson said. Davidson and Krueger-Braneky said the House-passed budget bill contains many cuts that would be harmful to Pennsylvanians. It underfunds early childhood education, cuts funding for 1,200 Pennsylvanians who need treatment for substance use disorder, and cuts home and community-based services for over 300 seniors. There are also concerns about the Fair Funding Formula, cuts in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and significant reductions in county justice, corrections and health care services. “We’ve still got a chance to fix the budget before it becomes law, and we want to hear your priorities,” Krueger-Braneky said. Davidson added, "Residents have a right to know how the state budget and state government actions will affect their daily lives." Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 12 – State legislators representing four north Philadelphia schools are welcoming $1.5 million from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration to leverage and connect schools to the large array of health-related services that are available for Philadelphia’s children. The funding is intended to improve health, school attendance and academic achievement for children who attend community schools in the North Philadelphia Health Enterprise Zone, or HEZ. The four schools are James Logan Elementary, William Cramp Elementary, Edward Gideon Elementary/Middle and Bethune Elementary. "This investment is another example of how we are putting people -- in this case, our children -- first," said Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila. "Investing in the health and wellness of our children is one of the most effective uses of state funding, and I applaud the governor for his commitment to James Logan Elementary and the kids in our community." Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., said, "Governor Tom Wolf continues to be a strong partner in restoring the education cuts of the Corbett years. I and my Democratic colleagues will keep working with him to reinvest in our kids. I am glad to see that Gideon School will be included in this pilot program." Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., said, "Helping students to be healthy helps them to succeed in school as well, and I welcome this opportunity for students at William Cramp Elementary." Rep. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 5 – State Rep. Emilio Vazquez, D-Phila., will host a free Senior Fair from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Mann Older Adult Center & Rivera Recreation Center, 3201 N. 5th St., 19140. Vazquez invites those in attendance to join him for lunch at 12:30 following the fair. During this time, there will be a keynote speaker from the Senior Law Center. "This event will bring state and local resources together in one roof, so it’s one-stop shopping for seniors in my district," Vazquez said. "This is the first event that I am sponsoring as a state representative, so I want to make sure seniors know about all of the programs that can benefit them." Assistance will be available in English and Spanish. Vazquez said while interested attendees do not need to RSVP to attend the fair, registration is required for lunch. RSVPs or questions should be directed to Vazquez’s office at (215) 457-5281. Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the House Consumer Affairs Committee has approved her measure that would cover motorcycles under Pennsylvania’s Automobile Lemon Law.“If you buy or lease a new motorcycle with defects affecting its safety, value and use, the manufacturer should fix it – the same as with cars and trucks," Snyder said. Read more
YARDLEY, June 9 – State Rep. Perry Warren announced today that Lower Makefield Township will receive $319,000 in Pennsylvania Department of Transportation funding for area traffic improvements. Projects were selected by an eight-member committee based on criteria such as benefits and effectiveness, cost and local and regional impact. Awards are: $59,000 to re-time and interconnect with fiber communication the traffic signals at the intersections of Yardley-Newtown Road at Mirror Lake Road and Creamery Road. $260,000 to upgrade the existing traffic signal at the intersection of Route 2024 (Big Oak Road) and Makefield Road by installing emergency pre-emption and upgrading pedestrian facilities between school zones. “The state has again recognized Lower Makefield Township as an excellent investment for infrastructure improvement,” Warren said. “These projects will help continue to grow our community into a regional residential and economic leader, while keeping motorists and pedestrians safe.” Read more
Rep. Brandon Neuman reports that the U.S. Air Force has notified him that the July 4th Canonsburg Parade is eligible for a flyover by military jets. An estimated 40,000 residents are expected to take in the parade and activities. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 9 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., released today the following update regarding improvements along Henry Avenue. The Pennsylvania Transportation Department's Highway Safety Improvement Project for Henry Avenue was initiated in 2012 by PennDOT and is a safety study paid for with federal funds. The study has included community involvement, and the outcome of the study is a number of recommendations for traffic calming measures to influence and encourage a decrease in speed. The study is in two segments; one segment, also known as SIP, runs from Port Royal Avenue to the Wissahickon Creek Bridge and the second segment, known as SI2, is from that bridge to Abbottsford Road. PennDOT met with civic associations in 2012 and 2013 to get input from the community and held a public meeting in September 2014. The input from citizens has been incorporated into the safety improvement design. “There are many reasons to become involved with a civic association, and this is a major one,” DeLissio said. “Input from residents is crucial to inform the decisions made in our community. “In fact, I hosted three additional meetings to the PennDOT meetings to give the community further opportunity for review and input. At both the Oct. 8, 2015 and Feb. 11, 2016 meetings, PennDOT staff, the city Streets Department, local and state law enforcement and the city councilman’s office were all in attendance. At these Read more
Citing a growing need due to Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at helping grandfamilies who take temporary custody of young relatives.“I’ve been working on this legislation for several years, but with families being broken apart by the opioid epidemic, it’s necessary now more than ever to help grandparents and other family members who are caring for grandchildren or nieces and nephews,” Pashinski said. “It’s easy to overlook, but grandfamilies often encounter unique legal problems where the law is unclear, such as making medical decisions or enrolling a child in school.” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 12 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today announced he is hosting a Summer Kick-Off from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 24 at Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, 8500 Pickering St., Philadelphia. “I'm very excited to bring the community together and meet new people in my district," Rabb said. “We will have something for everyone, so bring your entire family.” According to Rabb, the event is free and will feature a number of different programs and groups that provide services to the local community, vendors, main stage entertainment, food and refreshments. Rabb said children and youth will have the opportunity to make a pledge against bullying and gun violence. The pledge will honor the role that young people, through their own decisions, can play in reducing bullying and gun violence. Representatives from local and state agencies will also be available to provide information about a variety of social services. Attendees can ask questions and receive help regarding any state-related issue. “I like to hear first-hand what issues our constituents face in their daily lives, and my staff will be available to provide on-the-spot assistance,” he added. For more information, contact Rabb’s office at (215) 242-7300 . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 9 – State Rep. Vanessa Brown, D-Phila., has announced that she will host her sixth annual Summer Reading Program to encourage elementary school age students to read during the summer months. Participants of the Summer Reading Program are required to commit to reading at least one hour each day during the summer months. They will be provided with a reading diary and game board with specific instruction provided in each reading packet. The program will run from Sunday, June 25 to Saturday, Aug. 5. Studies suggest that summer reading is important for students so that they can maintain and strengthen literacy skills gained during the school year. When students become good readers at an early age, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond. This is because at a certain age children transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. In addition, students who can least afford to lose ground as readers are more likely to suffer from summer reading loss and fall behind their peers. "It is important that we prepare our children to be successful in life by simply teaching them to read well," Brown said. "I want to remind parents that educating our children does not end during the summer months – it is a yearlong commitment to excellence. This is why I am excited to host my sixth annual Summer Reading Program." In 2016, the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia reported that 37 Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 9 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio said that she is eager for action on a plan to consolidate four health and human service departments into a newly formed Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services. The plan is a core component of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2017-2018. House Bill 1000 is the implementing legislation, and DeLissio said she is proud to be listed second as a co-sponsor of this legislation. House Bill 1000 would unify the departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services into one new Department of Health and Human Services. Teresa Miller, the current insurance commissioner, has been named the secretary designee of the proposed new agency. “The delivery of services, particularly to our older adult citizens, will benefit from this unification as there will be one agency to handle the myriad of services often used by seniors, who now have to make contact with no less than two to three agencies to obtain the services that they need,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. “I have attended a number of hearings on the unification effort and have been present at other presentations and meetings on this topic. All of the details are still being discussed, but the framework is in place and the concept has tremendous merit.” DeLissio said that in addition to delivering services in a more easy-to-navigate agency after the unification is complete, the costs of operating Read more
Money comes from red light violations in Philadelphia EBENSBURG, June 9 – Noting that his reminder to apply from a year ago has paid off, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today announced a $195,967 grant to Upper Yoder Township for signal upgrades at Woodmont Road and Menoher Boulevard (State Route 0271). Burns said the source of funding – PennDOT’s 2016 Automated Red Light Enforcement Program – comes from red light violations in Philadelphia. An eight-member committee then distributes the money statewide for relatively low-cost projects that improve safety, enhance mobility and reduce congestion. “Last year, I wanted to make sure that municipalities in the 72 nd Legislative District were aware of this grant opportunity, so I publicized it and offered them application assistance by contacting any of my constituent service offices,” Burns said. “It’s great to see that Upper Yoder Township is getting nearly $200,000 – and I hope that we have additional successes in next year’s round of funding.” Burns said the grants can be applied for and used for improvements to traffic signals, roadways at intersections with traffic signals, or school zones – and such things as installing guiderails or making roadside safety enhancements. Burns said any municipality interested in applying for 2017 funding should contact one of his offices. Read more
CENTRE COUNTY, June 9 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, today announced a $108,964 state grant to Patton Township to fund the Valley Vista Drive School Crossing Project. Conklin said the source of funding – PennDOT’s 2016 Automated Red Light Enforcement Program – comes from red light violations in Philadelphia. An eight-member committee then distributes the money statewide for relatively low-cost projects that improve safety, enhance mobility and reduce congestion. “It is great to report that a project in the 77 th Legislative District has qualified for some of this funding,” Conklin said. “But it’s even better to report that because of this money, a school crossing will be made safer for our children.” Conklin said the ARLE grants can be applied for and used for improvements to traffic signals, roadways at intersections with traffic signals, or school zones – and such things as installing guiderails or making roadside safety enhancements. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 8 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., will join local clergy and community leaders 11 a.m. Friday, June 9 for a community meeting and open discussion on strategies for change in response to a recent proliferation of gun violence in north central Philadelphia. The meeting will take place at Cambria Recreation Center, 2901 N. 12th St., Philadelphia. Media coverage is invited . Thomas will be joined by representatives of the 12th and Cambria Advisory Council, the Father’s Day Rally Committee, Dar Es Salaam, the Philadelphia Anti-Drug and Anti-Violence Network, the Southwest NU Stop Program, as well as faith leaders from the area. The meeting follows a May 26 news conference Thomas held to address gun violence in north central Philadelphia. Within the last 30 days, 33 people have been shot in the area, including 12 additional people since the May news conference. “I am calling on the heads of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and the task forces of local universities,” Thomas said. “No amount of gun violence is acceptable, but the level of gun violence in north central Philadelphia in the past 30 days is intolerable and unacceptable. We must work together and find a way to deal with the current surge in violence.” Thomas said the explosion of violence and lawlessness in north central Philadelphia within the last 30 days includes: 29-year-old man killed in the 3000 Read more
DRAVOSBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced that Allegheny County Airport will receive a $112,000 grant through the state’s Aviation Transportation Assistance Program. The grant will pay for half of the total renovation cost of an equipment storage building on airport grounds. “Our local airport is both historic and an important part of the local transportation infrastructure,” Kortz said. “When the airport opened in 1931, it was the third-largest airport in the country and was the only airport with hard-surface runways. The airport is still used by many small private and commercial planes. “This grant, and the renovations it will help pay for, is one step in keeping the airport modern enough to support today’s needs.” Nine airports throughout the commonwealth were named as grant recipients under this program. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta today voted for meaningful pension reform, saying it is past time to address Pennsylvania’s pension crisis. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to vote on this very important issue,” Comitta said. “Senate Bill 1 might not be perfect, but it is an important, positive step to move Pennsylvania forward.” Senate Bill 1 , which passed 143-53 , is expected to save the state $1.4 billion over 30 years. It does so by increasing employee contributions for new hires of the State Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System while reducing benefits, beginning in 2019. Current employees can opt in as well. It would not affect current employees who choose not to opt in or retirees already receiving benefits. The plan offers future public employees a choice among three retirement savings options – two hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plans and a defined contribution retirement plan. The element of shared risk provides better protection for future generations of taxpayers, Comitta said. Comitta said the bill, which has the support of Gov. Tom Wolf, is the result of years of bipartisan work and compromise. “I’ve spent my entire career working on initiatives that have brought diverse stakeholders together to affect change that improves people's lives, and this is a great example of collaboration,” Comitta said. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, today announced the passage of a pension reform bill, Senate Bill 1, by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. “Today, I joined 142 of my colleagues in passing the first meaningful pension reform bill in seven years,” Warren said. “This bipartisan, bicameral effort represents a big step toward ending the gridlock in Harrisburg while supporting our schools and saving taxpayers money.” Senate Bill 1 is the product of months of discussion and compromise between Democratic and Republican legislators. “I wish we had more lawmakers like Perry Warren,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “He approached this decision seriously and listened to many people before casting his vote. The bipartisan pension reform bill that he supported will continue to pay down our debt, protect taxpayers by shifting risk and reducing Wall Street fees, provide long-term relief to school districts and provide workers with a fair retirement benefit. It’s a bipartisan pension solution that Perry Warren helped to move forward by voting to send this bill to the governor.” Republican Leader Dave Reed said during remarks on the bill today that its passage would not be possible without bipartisan support. “Passing the budget bill in April and now sending a public pension reform bill to the governor shows we are serious about changing how Pennsylvania government Read more
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