HARRISBURG, May 15 – State Rep. Steve Malagari will soon introduce legislation that would exempt detection dogs from licensing fees in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Dog Law already exempts the payment of licensing fees for service dogs and police dogs, but not for detection dogs. Malagari’s bill would remedy the situation and include detection dogs under the exemption. “Detection dogs are trained to protect our communities in emergency situations – sniffing out accelerants, explosives and narcotics. Given that, it’s fitting that we offer the same exemptions for those dogs as we do for police and service dogs,” said Malagari, D-Montgomery. “My bill would support the handlers who work with these dogs in recognition of the vital service they provide.” Malagari circulated a memo seeking support for the bill today. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 15 – Saying the move falls squarely in line with his written request in 2017 to hold Big Pharma accountable, state Rep. Frank Burns is applauding the state attorney general’s decision to sue the maker of OxyContin for contributing to the opioid crisis plaguing Pennsylvania. Burns, D-Cambria, commended Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a former Democratic House colleague, for filing the suit against Purdue Pharma for its over-zealous marketing of the drug, which included a mind-boggling 531,000 visits to physicians’ offices and pharmacies. “My good friend Josh Shapiro has taken this company to court, alleging a multi-pronged, illegal effort to market OxyContin, an addictive opioid that doctors overprescribed and, in some cases, illegally prescribed to patients,” Burns said. “This lawsuit is exactly the type of action I had in mind when I wrote letters to Mr. Shapiro and Governor Tom Wolf , asking them to take action against the makers and peddlers of prescription opioids.” Burns said he recognized early on that pharmaceutical companies were lining their pockets and putting profits ahead of the addiction and deaths of thousands of Pennsylvanians each year. He added that Shapiro’s lawsuit accuses Purdue Pharma of targeting vulnerable populations, including the elderly and veterans, which is unconscionable. “Hearing that makes my blood boil – and makes me glad that Mr. Shapiro is going to make this Read more
HARRISBURG, May 14 – The state House of Representatives today unanimously approved Rep. Mike Zabel’s resolution marking the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, whose experts have helped exonerate eight Pennsylvanians since 2009. Pennsylvania has marked 67 exonerations in its history, according to the National Registry of Exonerations and according to the project, the wrongfully convicted served over 800 years of prison time while innocent. Since 2009, the project’s experts have exonerated cases for eight Pennsylvanians. “Thanks to fantastic public collaboration, including from the state, the project has accomplished nothing short of miracles for wrongfully convicted Pennsylvanians and their loved ones,” Zabel said. “Few can imagine the horror and terror of serving time for a crime you did not commit, and the project will work until no one has to.” The project also provides clinical training to tomorrow’s law, journalism, criminal justice and forensic science professionals while collaborating with law enforcement agencies and the courts to address systemic factors of wrongful convictions. Attending Monday's ceremony were Pennsylvania Innocence Project Executive Director Marissa B. Bluestine, members of the board of directors Jeffery Bresch from Pittsburgh and Board President Howard Scher from Philadelphia, as well as founding board members David Richman and Read more
State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Democratic Whip, issued the following statement today upon the passage of H.B. 321:“Unfortunately, with the passage of House Bill 321, it seems as though some legislators in the House who consider themselves pro-life are simply pro-birth. I say this because today we heard verbose speeches about the value of the life of a child born with Down syndrome, and make no mistake, there is abundant value in their life. The value of their life was never in question. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 14 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, said legislation that would prohibit child marriage in Pennsylvania before the age of 18 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee today and can now be considered by the full House. Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford/Fulton/Franklin, and Warren are the bill’s co-prime sponsors. “This bill is about child protection. Studies have shown that a child often does not have the capacity to make a decision to marry before 18, and a child under 18 does not have the legal rights of an adult,” Warren said. Warren added that child marriages are often coercive and exploitative and increase the risk of domestic violence while undermining the child’s long-term educational, health and economic opportunities. Under current Pennsylvania law, a marriage license may be issued to an applicant younger than 16 with court approval. A marriage license also may be issued where an applicant is older than 16 but younger than 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian. The Warren/Topper bill (H.B. 360) would repeal those exceptions and set the minimum age at which a marriage license may be issued to 18. Warren said the issue of child marriage was brought to his attention in 2017 by two constituents, including Newtown Borough Councilor Tara Grunde-McLoughlin. “When I speak about this bill,” Warren said, “invariably someone asks, ‘Child marriage – is that a thing?’ It is, Read more
HARRISBURG, May 14 – Saying ‘enough is enough,’ state Rep. Frank Burns is urging swift action on efforts to crack down on welfare fraud, citing a report this week from the state inspector general, which charged 178 people with fraud that cost the state nearly $890,000. “How is it possible so many people are scamming the welfare system of close to $900,000? The system is broken and it’s time the legislature stops ignoring the problem and takes action,” Burns said. “It’s a slap in the face to the people who truly need assistance and to the hardworking taxpayers of Pennsylvania.” Burns, D-Cambria, a longtime advocate of welfare reform, recently signed on as a supporter of legislation to create a pilot program to move welfare recipients to full-time jobs in one year. The “welfare to work” bill would establish a public-private partnership designed to wean welfare recipients off the system by letting them continue to collect benefits while gradually phasing in pay for their full-time work. Burns has sponsored a variety of welfare reform bills, including measures that would require drug testing for individuals to receive public assistance and would place photo IDs on welfare benefits cards – both efforts that could prevent welfare fraud, he added. “People who can work should be working, not living off the system, and the vast majority of people in my district feel the Read more
HARRISBURG, May 13 – The House today unanimously passed legislation that would allow Pennsylvania National Guard members to earn educational benefits for their spouses and children after completing a service obligation and committing to serve an additional six years, according to state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, one of the bill’s two prime sponsors. Sainato, who is Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, co-authored H.B. 1324 to establish the Military Family Education Program with Republican chairman state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-Chester/Delaware, as an incentive to boost Guard retention rates while providing a deserved benefit to family members. “This legislation shows what can happen when a committee works together in a bipartisan fashion,” Sainato said. “Majority Chairman Barrar and I went to Fort Indiantown Gap; we met with stakeholders; we worked with the governor; and we have been focused on this legislation ever since. It’s a shining example of what can be accomplished when you work together to focus on legislation that’s truly needed. “It’s clear that we need retention in the National Guard, so this legislation would be a win-win for everyone. For our higher educational institutions, for our Guard members who do so much to protect our safety and for their families, who sacrifice so much as well.” Sainato said the program would be similar to the Read more
HARRISBURG, May 13 – State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, said $513,588 in state funds was recently awarded to two local schools to enhance and implement school safety and security initiatives. Howard said the funds will be provided through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee. This committee is the result of Act 44 of 2018 , and is responsible for establishing the standards schools must meet when performing school safety and security assessments. Grant recipients in Howard’s district include: West Chester Area School District, receiving $400,050. Great Valley School District, receiving $113,538. According to Howard, school districts can choose how the funds will be used. Eligible purposes include, but are not limited to, safety and security assessments, emergency preparedness, violence prevention, intervention training programs, training of school police officers and counseling services for students. "Ensuring the safety of our children is my top priority, especially when they are in a learning environment, which is a place where all children should unquestionably be and feel safe," Howard said. "I’m thankful that these two schools in my district will receive these state funds, because these were competitive grants that I know the school districts worked hard to secure." Further information about the grants can be found Read more
HARRISBURG, May 13 – Continuing his commitment to supporting law enforcement officers, state Rep. Frank Burns said Monday the House of Representatives unanimously adopted his resolution designating May 12 through May 18 as “National Police Week” and May 15 as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” in Pennsylvania. As chairman of the House Blue Lives Matter Caucus, Burns, D-Cambria, said he introduced H.R. 125 to remind all Pennsylvanians of the critical roles police officers perform every day to keep order in a nation governed by laws. “Law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe deserve our appreciation and respect,” Burns said. “I strongly believe that most law-abiding citizens respect police officers and the job they do, protecting people and safeguarding law and order.” Burns said the roots of his resolution trace to 1962, when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week on which that date fell as “Police Week.” Also, continuing a tradition that began in 1982, Burns said a memorial service also will be held in Senate Park in Washington, D.C. Read more
SCRANTON, May 13 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Marty Flynn. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 13 – State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, and Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh/Berks, will be introducing legislation aimed at creating trauma-informed school environments in Pennsylvania. “House Bill 1415 seeks to ensure that adverse childhood experiences are recognized in the school setting, where children arguably spend the most time, so they get the support they need to reach their full potential,” Sappey said. Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs include all forms of abuse, neglect and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur under the age of 18. The more ACEs one child has, the greater the probability for high-risk health behaviors, chronic health conditions, emotional and behavioral dysfunction and early death, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “This legislation would help teachers and staff in schools to get the training they need to recognize the signs of childhood trauma and assist in overcoming the hurdles students face in school due to the severe impacts on their brain development and functionality, as revealed by decades of research,” Sappey said. This bill would instill trauma-informed and focused policies, procedures and practices inside the classroom, such as requiring newly elected school board members, educators and other school staff members who have direct contact with children to complete training on trauma-informed approaches to education. Some Read more
HARRISBURG, May 10 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced a recently awarded 2018-19 Senior Community Center Grant that will benefit The Center at Journey’s Way. The Roxborough-based senior center will receive a grant of $48,600, funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s $2 million in statewide funding earmarked for senior centers, as announced by Gov. Tom Wolf this week. The source of the $2 million is the Pennsylvania Lottery. “These grants will help refurbish senior centers and create new programs and services, and it’s great news for the folks at Journey’s Way,” DeLissio said. “Our older citizens deserve the best, and that includes top-notch facilities and programs at our senior centers. I thank the efforts of the Department of Aging, the Pennsylvania Lottery and Gov. Wolf in awarding this funding.” The Center at Journey’s Way is part of Intercommunity Action, which provides aging, intellectual and developmental disability, and behavior health services. At Journey’s Way, one can participate in a full range of activities and programs to receive valuable information, find challenging volunteer positions, and access services designed for older adults. “With experiences such as reuniting with an old friend, forming new relationships, learning new things, or taking a trip, Journey’s Way supports seniors to live life to the fullest,” DeLissio said. Read more
COATESVILLE, May 10 – State Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, invites constituents to join him from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18 for his cleanup of the Old Evergreen Cemetery, located at 206 Cemetery Road, Coatesville, 19320. Williams said the Old Evergreen Cemetery has historical significance to the local African American community. Many African American veterans were laid to rest at the cemetery dating back to the Civil War. Then, following Coatesville’s first wave of the Great Migration between the 1900s and 1920s, dozens of black families buried their loved ones there until the cemetery reached capacity in the 1960s. “This cleanup event seeks to brighten the cemetery and honor those resting there, to show their legacies as veterans and Coatesville’s first African American migrants have not been forgotten,” Williams said. “The grounds of the Old Evergreen Cemetery hold many stories, and it is important for us to help preserve them.” According to Williams, before it was a cemetery, a church of the Religious Society of Friends, otherwise known as a Quaker church, stood at the location. It later became the site of the Saint Paul Methodist Church, which is now on Merchant Street in Coatesville. Williams added that the cemetery’s Quaker roots play a significant role in its meaning to the African American community. “Historically, Quakers were conductors on the underground railroad, so the location of the Quaker Read more
HARRISBURG, May 10 — State Reps. Carolyn Comitta and Christina Sappey welcomed Bayard Rustin High School’s Golden Knights ice hockey team to the House chamber on Wednesday, commemorating their Pennsylvania Cup State Championship victory. This is the Golden Knights’ seventh Class A Pennsylvania Cup State Championship win, and it also marked their sixth consecutive championship win, which broke the state’s record. In the 11-to-3 victory against Montour High School’s Spartans, team captain Matt Owens had a hat trick and an assist, teammate Nicholas Ferraro contributed a goal and four assists and goalie Joel Keller stopped 29 out of the 32 shots he faced. “I’m happy to recognize the Golden Knights in the House chamber. Their demonstrated dedication and commitment continually leads them to victory, and our community is very proud of their record-breaking accomplishments,” Comitta said. The Golden Knights have also earned nine Flyer Cups, breaking the regional record by winning six of them in a row, and also won first place in nationals in 2017 and placed third this year. “I’m extremely proud of these young athletes,” Sappey said, “They constantly strive for perfection, and when they work together as a team under incredible coaches, they achieve exactly that. It’s admirable how they embody persistence, dedication and determination year after year on the ice.” Read more
HARRISBURG, May 10 – Increasing transparency in pharmacy benefit manager pricing practices is the goal of legislation recently introduced by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. Matzie said he introduced H.B. 941 with co-prime sponsor, state Rep. Doyle Heffley, D-Carbon, to address PBM practices in the state’s Medicaid program – in which nearly 90 percent of the state’s Medicaid patients are served by managed care companies that contract with PBMs. “Greater transparency is essential because these third-party PBMs – which are charged with deciding what drugs will be covered and how much to reimburse pharmacies – wield a tremendous amount of power through their rate-setting, yet are operating with little transparency,” Matzie said. “At the same time, they are having a profound impact on small, independent pharmacies. “Over the past two years, I have been hearing increasing complaints from local pharmacies about how PBMs are slashing drug reimbursement rates, especially with regard to Medicaid patients. As these third-party companies set rates well below the costs paid by local pharmacies, these small, trusted businesses are being forced to close their doors. “The situation is threatening both the health of our local economy and the well-being of our area seniors, including some of our most vulnerable citizens who rely for their medications on these local neighborhood pharmacies. It’s time Read more
DOYLESTOWN, May 10 – State Rep. Wendy Ullman today presented a ceremonial check for $1.5 million to Doylestown Borough Mayor Ron Strouse, representing the state’s commitment to help develop a new municipal complex to serve Doylestown Borough and Central Bucks County. Ullman was instrumental in securing the state grant funding, which comes from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. “I worked very hard to secure state funding for this project because of its immense value to the citizens of Doylestown and the region, to the many visitors to the county seat, to the businesses of our community, and of course, to our local economy.” Ullman said. Ullman said the RACP grant funding will go toward the redevelopment of the aging PennDOT Broad Street maintenance facility in Doylestown Borough to a new borough hall, regional police facility and municipal park. The overall project cost is $11 million. The Borough has already secured funding from Chalfont and New Britain Borough for the new regional Central Bucks police facility. Heritage Conservancy has entered into a 99-year lease of the property with Doylestown Borough. The Conservancy, in partnership with the Borough, also applied for a state grant to convert the property’s maintenance yard into a new “Broad Street Gateway Park.” Bucks County Open Space fund has already contributed funds for the park. Ullman said, "When state and local governments Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, today announced $60,000 in state funding is headed to Communities That Care of Greater Downingtown to expand the organization’s number of Youth Prevention Councils. Otten was instrumental in securing the state grant, which comes from Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funding for community improvement initiatives. “This grant will enable CTC of Greater Downingtown to continue its mission of creating a safe, supportive community that promotes mental and behavioral health and positive choices for our youth,” Otten said. “Together we advocated for this funding, and together we’ll continue to work to address the growing youth mental health crisis in our communities and support our kids through their teens and into adulthood.” CTC of Greater Downingtown Executive Director Bethann Cinelli echoed the sentiment, saying, “CTC is grateful for Representative Otten’s efforts in securing this grant to allow us to grow our Youth Prevention Councils, giving students the lead in educating and supporting their peers about positive mental health and prevention of substance abuse.” Otten said CTC plans to use the grant funds to more than quadruple the number of Youth Prevention Councils in the Downingtown area schools and community from three to 14 and create smaller “mini-grants” to empower the student Read more
Frankel was joined Thursday at the Tree of Life building in Squirrel Hill by state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, and state Sens. Jay Costa and Lindsey Williams. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – Three businesses in Centre County have been awarded a total of $17,000 in grants from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program, state Rep. Scott Conkin, D-Centre, announced today. The funding can assist small businesses with lowering their energy consumption and help cut costs and environmental waste, said Conklin. “Small businesses can significantly reduce their energy use, reduce or eliminate their environmental impacts, and be more competitive,” said Conklin. “Businesses can use these funds to install energy saving LED lighting, replace inefficient heating and cooling systems, and switch from traditional chemical-based X-ray systems to digital equipment. It’s a win for the environment and for our businesses.” Grants were awarded to the following businesses (including the amount and project): Edmond M Kotary, DMD – $5,000, intraoral scanner. Mark B. Casteel Chiropractic Clinic – $5,000, medical x-ray. Videon Central – $7,000, HVAC. Nearly $1 million in grants were approved by DEP for 201 projects statewide, with nearly $3.4 million in matching private investment from the recipients to complete their projects. Eligible small businesses had fewer than 100 employees and were required to reduce their waste or energy consumption by 25 percent or more. More information about the grants can be found Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – As a former attorney, state Rep. Anita Kulik, D-Allegheny, saw firsthand the stress divorce proceedings can inflict on a couple, especially when a family pet is involved. On Wednesday, Kulik introduced H.B. 1432 , which would establish the following factors for judges to consider when deciding the proper guardianship of a pet: Whether the animal was acquired prior to or during the marriage. The basic, daily needs of the animal. Who generally facilities veterinary care and social interaction for the animal. Who usually ensures compliance with local and state regulations, such as licensing. Who provides the greater ability to financially support the pet. “Current state law provides no special provisions for pets,” Kulik said. “Ultimately, the pet is instead reduced to an inanimate object during divorce proceedings. This bill will assist judges in determining what is best for the pet and the family.” Kulik said under the legislation, parties going through a divorce also would be able to enter into an enforceable agreement outside the divorce decree that provides for the possession or care of a pet. House Bill 1432 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Read more
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