HARRISBURG – Republican House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) and the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), announced today the committee has launched its first investigation. Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Alleghey/Westmoreland) request the committee investigate the implementation of a recently enacted lobbying disclosure law. “The spirit of the law was to make lobbying more transparent in Pennsylvania and the committee has been tasked with finding out if this is indeed the case,” Grove said. “The aim of the committee is to provide oversight within state government. It is extremely fitting Leader Cutler requested this investigation as it is a law he drafted for which we are providing oversight.” Specifically, the Republican and Democratic leaders requested the committee review the Department of State’s implementation of transparency provisions to determine if the goals are being met. Under the law, the Department of State must publicly post on its website filings from lobbyists within seven days of receipt. “I’m very much looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure transparency. The unique nature of this committee’s structure allows truly bipartisan work, and I'm looking forward to what we can accomplish together,” Bradford said. The nine-member Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – Looking to provide relief to commonwealth residents whose homes are affected by and prone to landslides, state Rep. Anita Kulik, D-Allegheny, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would create a Landslide Insurance and Assistance Program. “Unpredictable weather is most often accompanied with unpredictable natural disasters. In western Pennsylvania, we deal with landslides, which sadly is a disaster that typically is not covered by most insurance policies, leaving families with insurmountable financial damage,” Kulik said. “It takes an emotional and financial toll on families, which is why I am introducing a bill of this manner that will provide the necessary financial assistance to those in need.” Kulik’s bill, H.B. 1433 , looks to establish the program within the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. It is intended to provide sound insurance coverage to homeowners, as well as assistance to local governments that want to mitigate the risk of landslides in their communities. Kulik introduced similar legislation last session as a companion bill to S.B. 1131 , which was introduced by state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. House Bill 1433 has been referred to the House Insurance Committee. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – State Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester, announced today that Coatesville Area School District will receive a $138,000 grant to enhance and implement school safety and security efforts. “You can’t put a price on the safety of our children, so I’m very grateful that Coatesville Area School District is receiving this grant to better ensure the well-being of its students,” Williams 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. It will be the choice of the school district to determine how exactly 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. Further information about the grants can be found here: https://www.pccd.pa.gov/schoolsafety/Pages/default.aspx . Read more
LANSDALE, May 9 – State Rep. Steve Malagari announced that Craft Bilt Manufacturing Co. was awarded a state grant for energy efficiency improvements. The funds come through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant program. The program provides matching grants to enable small businesses to purchase energy-efficient or pollution-prevention equipment or adopt waste-reduction processes. Craft Bilt, in Souderton, was awarded $6,913 for energy-efficient lighting. “Supporting small businesses that want to make energy-efficient upgrades is good for everyone – the projects can help businesses save money and reduce their impact on our environment,” said Malagari, D-Montgomery. “I applaud Craft Bilt for pursuing this grant, and I am glad to see the state award these funds.” The department awarded nearly $1 million in matching grants for 201 small businesses statewide. More information on the grants is available here . Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, today announced that she was selected to serve as Democratic co-chair of the House Firefighters and Emergency Services Caucus, a position that will help her craft solutions for the issues that emergency services are facing across Pennsylvania. “As the daughter of a veteran Philadelphia firefighter, I know firsthand about the issues and concerns firefighters and emergency first responders face,” O’Mara said. “In this leadership role, I hope to ensure these brave men and women, who put their lives on the line daily, are well represented in Harrisburg.” One ongoing concern that the caucus is working to solve is the dwindling number of volunteer firefighters across Pennsylvania, where volunteer fire service has been a long tradition. The state has a total of 2,354 fire departments and companies, both volunteer and career; 2,448 of those fire services are strictly volunteer; while, 22 are paid departments and 72 are paid-volunteer combination companies. Pennsylvania also accounts for 12 percent of the nation’s 20,000 volunteer fire services. As for statewide personnel, there are currently roughly 50,000 volunteer firefighters, a stark decrease from an estimated 300,000 volunteer firefighters in 1977. O’Mara said that her hometown of Delaware County is also suffering the blow of declining numbers among its 67 fire departments Read more
State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, today joined a number of his fellow lawmakers to introduce a legislative plan that calls for investment in school student supports and programs that go beyond physical safety improvements. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – Two small businesses in Westmoreland County have been awarded a total of $13,200 in grants from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. The grants can assist small businesses with cutting their energy use, saving money and reducing environmental waste, Petrarca said. “Small businesses can use these funds to install more efficient equipment, including energy-saving LED lighting, replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems, and switching to digital equipment,” Petrarca said. “These grants can play a vital role in helping these businesses reduce their carbon footprint and be innovative at the same time.” Grants were awarded to the following businesses (including the amount and project): Quality Mould, Inc. – $7,000, HVAC Specialty Seal Group – $6,200, LED lighting Nearly $1 million dollars in grants were approved by the Department of Environmental Protection 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 at this link: Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – A Mercer County small business is receiving a $7,000 matching grant to help it operate in a more environmentally friendly manner, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. The funding to Sharon’s Chadderton Trucking Inc. – awarded under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Program – will allow the company to purchase an auxiliary power unit. These systems reduce the amount of diesel fuel a truck burns – and resulting emissions – by providing power for climate control and electrical devices without idling. “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to help procure this funding for Chadderton Trucking,” Longietti said. “Companies that take steps to ‘go green’ are not only benefiting the environment by reducing our carbon footprint, they’re helping their own bottom line. The equipment funded by this grant will increase fuel savings while reducing fuel emissions and maintenance costs. Chadderton Trucking has been an important employer in the local trucking and transportation sector for the past 90 years, and this grant will enhance its ability to compete and thrive.” The Small Business Advantage Program provides 50 percent matching grants, up to a maximum of $9,500, to enable Pennsylvania small business to purchase energy-efficient or pollution-prevention equipment or to implement waste-reduction processes. Since Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State matching grants totaling $65,335 will help 12 small businesses in Erie adopt greener practices, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins, and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding is provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant program. “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to help these seven small businesses in our district procure funding,” Harkins said. “Taking steps to be more responsible stewards of the environment helps recover natural resources and also makes economic sense for businesses, because energy-efficient practices are more cost-efficient in the long run.” Merski agreed, noting, “Greener practices translate to less waste, a healthier work environment, and greater efficiency for these companies, which helps their bottom line. It’s an investment that pays off for everyone.” Bizzarro added that businesses that work to protect the environment set a good example for others. “Small businesses can be a positive force for change by inspiring other companies and private citizens,” Bizzarro said. “By ‘going green,’ small-business owners encourage others in the community to do the same. It sends a great message.” The grant recipients, projects and amounts, by legislative district, are as follows: First Legislative District: Two Penny Corporation – HVAC – $7,000 Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., today gave a statement on a Muslim American Society video that has come out of Philadelphia and is currently circulating in the media. “As stated by the Muslim American Society, the video that came out of Philadelphia was disturbing and the persons who organized the event and posted the video were only renting space from MAS Philadelphia,” Johnson-Harrell said. “The person in charge has been dismissed immediately, and local sensitivity training and proper supervision for future programs will be introduced. I wanted to note that all religions have sections of their holy books that they might not be particularly proud of. For example, Timothy 2:12, ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.’ Or Peter 2:18, ‘Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.’ And one of my least favorite, Exodus 21:7 through 8, ‘When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.’ However, I choose to take the teachings of love, hope, and compassion to heart. Allah is love. God is love. We all can agree that we do better when we choose to love rather than pick at our differences. We can do better and I hope to lead by Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – A bill introduced today by state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, would ensure that public schools throughout the state have at least one certified librarian per building. Longietti said he introduced H.B. 1355 – part of a package of student-centered bills known as "Beyond Safe Schools" – to ensure that students have the skills they need to compete and thrive in the Information Age. “Research and critical thinking skills are more important now than ever before, as our society is bombarded by often-misleading information from online and social media news outlets,” Longietti said. “Librarians fulfill an essential need by teaching these skills, which help students navigate large amounts of material and distill out reliable information. “Unfortunately, current law does not require school districts to employ a librarian, and the number of certified school librarians has declined. Some school districts have no certified librarian at all, while 115 school districts have one certified librarian serving the entire district. My bill would restore these positions to ensure that our students get these essential research and critical-thinking skills at a time when they need them the most.” The “Beyond Safe Schools: Safe and Supportive Schools” package aims to save lives and save money, deliver better graduation rates, reduce suspensions and expulsions and lead to more successful outcomes for Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – The House today unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, designating May 18-24 as “National Safe Boating Week” in Pennsylvania. Bizzarro said he introduced H.R. 312 to help ensure that a popular pastime does not turn deadly for residents. “In 2017, there were more than 4,000 boating accidents in the United States and more than 650 reported deaths,” Bizzarro said. “Of those who died, nearly 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket. It’s especially tragic when residents die preventable deaths while enjoying favorite recreational activities. “I hope that while area residents enjoy the unique recreational boating opportunities that are afforded by Lake Erie and Presque Isle – and enhanced by the work of our Fish and Boat Commission – they remember how far simple safety precautions can go and what a difference they can make.” Bizzarro added that the message is an important one throughout the commonwealth, where there are more than 85,000 miles of rivers and streams and 735 miles of shoreline. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, issued the following statement today in response to Exelon Generation’s statement that it will cease operations at its Three Mile Island nuclear plant. “It’s disappointing to hear that Exelon is continuing down this path, when a minimal investment in their own plant would afford us the time in the legislature to work on a solution that would be fair to all,” Matzie said. “Let’s be clear, the federal government has shirked its responsibility to the nuclear industry and foisted that burden onto the state. We have had less than two months to examine and internally debate legislation that is as complex and as far reaching as anything we’ve seen in decades. We responded with a sense of urgency by holding no less than four hearings and countless meetings focusing on legislation that, by any assessment, is not guaranteed to save TMI and does nothing to protect workers or the community. “Make no mistake, when the nuclear industry asks the legislature to ‘value carbon-free energy,’ they mean asking the ratepayers of Pennsylvania for $3 billion. They should expect to have that request thoroughly vetted. “What’s more, in my opinion, there has been significant movement toward a potential resolution over the last few weeks, making this announcement even more concerning. Regardless, I remain committed to working toward a policy that balances Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – A bill to ensure children of active-duty military families receive in-state tuition rates, even if their parent is reassigned to another state, was unanimously approved in committee today, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced. Burns said his measure, H.B. 1050 , would ensure military families are guaranteed the in-state tuition rate as soon as a student enrolls or registers at a community college or submits an enrollment deposit to a four-year public college or university, even if their military parent is later reassigned to another state. “Guaranteeing the in-state tuition rate is the right thing to do. Military families shouldn’t be penalized when they are reassigned out of state,” Burns said. “It is crucial that we protect the opportunities our military families have earned.” Burns added his legislation continues to garner support from both parties. “With today’s vote, we are one step closer to helping our military families and addressing this oversight,” Burns said. House Bill 1050 now heads to the full House for further consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 -- State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today announced 24 fire and emergency medical services companies in the 55 th Legislative District have been earmarked to receive state grants totaling $304,360. “Our local firefighters and emergency services workers are faced with so much, from decreased personnel and budget cuts, to faulty facilities and inadequate equipment -- this is all in conjunction with risking their lives in dangerous situations on a daily basis,” Petrarca said. “I am hopeful these grants can provide some relief in making their courageous efforts somewhat easier.” Petrarca said the grants are as follows: Armstrong County Apollo Volunteer Fire Department Hose Company No.2 -- fire company - $11,842. Apollo Volunteer Fire Department Hose Company No. 3 -- fire company- $11,842. Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company -- fire company - $11,512. Lower Kiski Ambulance Service Inc -- EMS - $7,155. Parks Township Volunteer Fire Department -- fire company - $11,677. Indiana County Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department -- fire company - $12,337. Westmoreland Avonmore Volunteer Fire Department -- fire company - $11,512. Bell Township Volunteer Fire Department -- fire company - $12,007. Derry Township Volunteer Fire Department #1 of Bradenville -- fire company - $12,502. Free Service Fire Unit Number 6 -- fire company - $11,677. Freewill Volunteer Hose Company No. 3 Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced her bill today, “Removing Barriers to Graduation,” that would help schools partner with non-profits to support students, offer mental health services and prevent dropouts. Hill-Evans’ bill is part of the House Democrats’ legislative package, “ Beyond Safe Schools,” which would invest in identifying students in need of care and ensuring school district resources and state funding support would be available to stop problems before they start, doing more than just providing more locked doors and security cameras, and recognizing that students are more likely to see a security guard in their school than a nurse or counselor. “I am particularly concerned that schools don’t have enough qualified professionals to detect poor mental health in students and how to help them,” Hill-Evans said. Hill-Evans said that mental health conditions are associated with higher rates of dropout among students. Low educational achievement correlates to low wages and limited life opportunities. Furthermore, dropping out of school itself has been associated with higher rates of depression. “We need to safeguard our children’s mental health to help them reach their full intellectual, emotional and social potential,” Hill-Evans said. “My proposal would ensure that schools have the behavioral health resources necessary Read more
WHITEHALL, May 8 – State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, today announced her office will host its monthly veterans outreach program May 20. A veteran’s outreach specialist from the American Legion will be present in McNeill’s office – 1080 Schadt Ave. – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 to discuss programs and services available for veterans and their families, as well as the application process for the different services. The specialist also will be available to discuss pensions, other forms of compensations, educational opportunities, health care and benefits. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help. Those interested in meeting with the adviser must schedule an appointment through McNeill’s office at 610-266-1273. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Reps. Joe Ciresi and Joe Webster will hold a Spotted Lanternfly Prevention and Mitigation Forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Perkiomen Valley High School, 509 Gravel Pike, Collegeville 19426. A panel of experts will discuss the spotted lanternfly, how to prevent it and how to get rid of it. Guests on the panel will include Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Richard Roush, dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “We all need to be well informed in order to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. “I’m pleased to be able to help bring together expert panelists to help residents know what’s at stake.” Webster added: “We’ve seen the spotted lanternfly spreading throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. We wanted to host this forum to make it easy for community members to understand how they can help control this pest.” The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that can threaten Pennsylvania’s agricultural crops such as grapes, hops and hardwoods, and is affecting quality of life for residents in heavily infested areas, according to the Department of Agriculture. Montgomery County is part of a quarantine area designed to stop the movement of the spotted lanternfly to new areas and slow its spread within the quarantine. Anyone with questions can contact Ciresi’s office at 484-200-8265 Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – The House today unanimously adopted a resolution designating May 11 as “National Train Day” in Pennsylvania, according to the author, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. House Resolution 295 recognizes the history and importance of railroads in the commonwealth and throughout the country. “National Train Day has special significance here in Pennsylvania because of the way railroads transformed our economy and way of life,” Matzie said. “With rail transport, industries flourished throughout the state, smaller towns became urban centers, and the demand for iron and coal catapulted the commonwealth into an industrial powerhouse. Pennsylvanians are aware of this rich history and proud of how the railroads are an essential part of our industrial roots.” Matzie added that rail travel remains an important mode of transportation that eases congestion on our roads and in the skies, links cities and rural communities, and provides a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation that contributes to our energy security. National Train Day was first established in 2008 to educate the public about the rich history of our nation’s trains and the advantages of rail travel. The day is marked annually on the Saturday closest to May 10, which is the day the nation’s first transcontinental railway was completed in 1869 in Promontory, Utah. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., today announced that PHEAA applications are available for the Commonwealth’s new PA Forward Student Loan Program, currently offering borrower-friendly loans for undergraduate and graduate students, and parent borrowers. “As costs for college continue to increase, we need to make sure that loans and other means to make college more affordable are readily available and known,” Roebuck said. “I’m happy to shine some light on this new loan program to help lower monthly payments and reduce the amount that students have to pay over their lifetime. This is critical to reducing the crippling debt of the next generation.” A PA Forward Refinance Loan will be offered later this year to combine all of a borrower’s federal and private loans into one convenient monthly payment, which could help lower their monthly payment and/or reduce the amount they pay over the life of the loan. Roebuck said with first-year borrowing limits on federal loans as low as $5,500, and the annual average cost to attend college in Pennsylvania over $43,000 a year, many students have trouble affording the full cost of attendance even after taking advantage of available grants, scholarships, campus-based aid, and federal loans. If family savings are insufficient, students often must rely on private student loans, many of which come with stricter credit requirements, higher interest rates, and few Read more
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