HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced that he would be co-sponsoring legislation referred to as “Phillip’s Law,” which would provide for a study on school mental health professionals. “It is with a deeply saddened heart that I ask for support from my colleagues,” Kenyatta said. “An 11-year-old student from my district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. This tragedy has brought to light the fact that our school mental health professionals are not always available due to budget constraints and, in fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff. We need to take an honest look at the number of mental health professionals in our schools and how we can provide the best access to our students to prevent tragedies like this in the future.” Kenyatta’s bill would require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios. Phillip’s family said that Phillip had tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told that he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his younger brother, Phillip left school and later that day took his own life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, is among 60 state representatives and six state senators who signed a legal brief by the House Democratic Caucus, supporting state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit against UPMC. The lawsuit seeks to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decrees that expire on June 30. “We are not going to sit back and trust that UPMC will do the right thing by voluntarily extending the decree,” Kortz said. “This is about ensuring access to affordable care for everyone, regardless of the insurer. I join my colleagues in the House and Senate in supporting the lawsuit filed by the attorney general to protect all Pennsylvanians to ensure patient care is not jeopardized.” Shapiro filed suit to modify the consent decrees in February, arguing that UPMC is obligated, as a charitable organization funded by taxpayer dollars, to protect patients’ access to affordable care. Shapiro filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month, asking the court to either expedite review of the consent decrees before they expire, or to keep them in place while the lawsuit is ongoing. The House Democratic Caucus’s amicus curiae brief provides additional support for the lawsuit. Read more
YEADON, May 7 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton welcomed more than 300 constituents for a family-friendly day of fun and entertainment during her Delaware County Community Day. “Thankfully, the weather held out, and it turned out to be a great day to celebrate our community and empower neighbors with resources,” McClinton said. “Whether in my office or on Church Lane, I always love to talk with my constituents and hear about the issues that are impacting their lives. It’s great to host events such as Delaware County Community Day, which provide a relaxed environment where we can all connect.” The event featured 35 vendors that provided community resources, giveaways, and tips on healthy living; entertainment by Evelyn Graves Ministries, Royal Excellence Step Team, Feet of Faith Dance Company, Soul on Demand Band, and local youth rappers, singers and poets; children’s activities including bouncy houses, face painting and dancing; and free food. McClinton said she wanted to thank AETNA as the prime sponsor of the event, and to JEVS at Home, Mercy Health System, Lowes, Fresh Grocer and Philadelphia Water Ice Company for partnering with her to make this event possible. “I am thrilled that we were able to provide this event for the over 300 neighbors who attended. I cannot thank the vendors, sponsors and staff enough. They went above and beyond to make this event truly all about the community,” McClinton said. You can Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., has been selected to participate on a subcommittee of The Council of State Governments’ national Future of Work Task Force. “The CSG Future of Work Task Force will bring together a diverse group of state officials to explore how states can best navigate the challenges and opportunities of the new economy,” CSG Executive Director David Adkins said. “The task force will examine how technology creates new jobs and eliminates existing jobs, and it will share success stories and best practices and provide guidance on how states can best embrace the innovative and ever-evolving opportunities in the new economy.” Bullock will serve as a member of the Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee. The subcommittee will explore how states can promote and encourage equity and inclusion in the new economy by examining and addressing issues and barriers that underserved communities face. “I’m beyond excited to take the reins and get to work on just how we support inclusive and diverse job and career growth,” Bullock said. “Ever since I came to the legislature, I have been working to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, gender or economic standing, has the same opportunities to succeed, and this Task Force will only give me more tools to advance these policies.” Bullock serves as vice chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and secretary of the Read more
HARRISBURG, May 7 – The House unanimously adopted a resolution Monday designed to raise awareness about undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma – one of a group of soft-tissue cancers expected to kill more than 5,000 Americans this year, according to the resolution’s author, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. “According to the American Cancer Society, about 12,750 Americans will be diagnosed with UPS and other soft-tissue sarcomas this year,” Bizzarro said. “It’s found most often in the arms and legs and can cause fast-growing masses that can affect the bones and muscles. The primary treatment is surgery, but as with all cancers, early diagnosis is key.” Bizzarro said because UPS and other forms of sarcomas are relatively rare, it’s important to raise awareness about them, especially because the causes of UPS are still largely unknown. “Knowledge is important in the fight against cancer,” Bizzarro said. “Because soft-tissue sarcomas are relatively rare, this can slow advances in treatment and cure. We all know someone who has fought a long and difficult battle against cancer, whether it’s a common or less common form. I urge everyone to support programs and organizations that are working to enhance research and awareness of UPS so we can combat this diagnosis with a stronger hand in the future.” Read more
YORK, May 7 – The White Rose Senior Center and Crispus Attucks Active Living Center are recipients of 2018-19 Senior Community Center grants, state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York announced today. “This grant money will improve the quality of life for many of our seniors by enabling more seniors to participate in the centers’ programs, attract a new generation of older adults, and provide a safe and healthy environment for participants,” Hill-Evans said. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging awarded $63,461 to White Rose Senior Center and $15,000 to Crispus Attucks Active Living Center in this year’s Senior Community Center Grants. Grant funding has been awarded to a total of 49 senior centers throughout Pennsylvania. The funding comes from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Hill-Evans’ office assisted with the grant applications, including the submission of letters of support. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – Members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee heard additional testimony today during a fourth public hearing to consider legislation that would provide ratepayer-subsidized credits to Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy providers, according to the committee’s Democratic chair, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. “The committee has been hearing from a broad segment of community stakeholders to fully understand the potential impacts of this bill,” Matzie said. “With our state’s working families in mind, we’re weighing a multitude of factors, including the impact on jobs, the economy and our communities; the cost to consumers; the need for a diverse energy portfolio; and the impact on other energy producers and industries, among other factors. "While the testimony and dialog from these public hearings has been extremely helpful, our inquiry remains incredibly complex, and it’s complicated by the fact that we’re dealing with issues ordinarily addressed by federal agencies. What’s clear, however, is that we need to move slowly and judiciously to ensure that any decision reflects the best interests of Pennsylvania’s working families.” Matzie noted that the committee heard testimony today from representatives of PJM, the regional transmission organization that monitors and coordinates electric generators and high-voltage transmission lines in Pennsylvania and a Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – A bill that would direct the state to take inventory of communications assets with the goal of providing broadband access to areas of the commonwealth without reliable service was approved in committee today, announced state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “I’m pleased that House Bill 305 is moving forward, because I strongly believe that all Pennsylvanians, regardless of where they live, should have access to quality, reliable broadband service,” Snyder said. “Today’s action means we’re one step closer to making that a reality.” Snyder’s bill would mandate the state Department of General Services to conduct a thorough inventory of all state department, agency, commission or institution-owned communication towers, poles, bridges and facilities to leverage existing assets to provide access to areas without broadband service. Snyder said two additional measures related to broadband access are being considered. House Resolution 63 , which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct an audit of, and investigation into, the compliance by non-rural telecommunications carriers with previous enacted broadband telecommunications laws, is in the Consumer Affairs Committee. House Resolution 64 , which would establish a bipartisan, bicameral commission to provide recommendations to deploy broadband services, is being considered in the State Government Committee. House Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – Members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee heard additional testimony today during a fourth public hearing to consider legislation that would provide ratepayer-subsidized credits to Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy providers, according to the committee’s Democratic chair, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. “The committee has been hearing from a broad segment of community stakeholders to fully understand the potential impacts of this bill,” Matzie said. “With our state’s working families in mind, we’re weighing a multitude of factors, including the impact on jobs, the economy and our communities; the cost to consumers; the need for a diverse energy portfolio; and the impact on other energy producers and industries, among other factors. "While the testimony and dialog from these public hearings has been extremely helpful, our inquiry remains incredibly complex, and it’s complicated by the fact that we’re dealing with issues ordinarily addressed by federal agencies. What’s clear, however, is that we need to move slowly and judiciously to ensure that any decision reflects the best interests of Pennsylvania’s working families.” Matzie noted that the committee heard testimony today from representatives of PJM, the regional transmission organization that monitors and coordinates electric generators and high-voltage transmission lines in Pennsylvania and a number Read more
ERIE, May 6 – Two popular Erie senior centers will benefit from a $5,213 grant, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. The grant – part of the state Department of Aging’s 2018-19 Senior Community Center package of grants – will fund enhanced resources at the GECAC R.B.W. Central City Senior Center and the Erie West Senior Center. Greater Erie Community Action Committee’s Agency on Aging oversees both centers. “I know this funding is going to be extremely helpful to the centers, which work so hard to provide area seniors with the resources they need to stay active and remain connected to the community,” Merski said. “Our seniors have spent their lives enriching our community. This funding allows us to do something in return by ensuring that they have access to the programs and resources so important to their well-being and vitality.” Merski noted that the grants, funded by the PA Lottery, may be used to make needed refurbishments to facilities or to create new programs or services to help seniors maintain their independence and wellness. Kim Malone, GECAC’s director of center services, expressed appreciation for the grant. “We’re very grateful for the opportunities the state provides,” Malone said. “The centers are wonderful places for our seniors to go, and any opportunity that permits enhancements to the buildings or programs is great news. We know our legislators have a Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Reps. Harry Readshaw and Bill Kortz, both D-Allegheny, have announced they will soon introduce legislation that would improve police departments’ hiring process by ensuring investigators have all the information they need to select the best candidates . Their bill would require an applicant’s previous employers to disclose employment information to the law enforcement agency seeking to hire the applicant as a police officer, or to a licensed investigator working on behalf of the law enforcement agency. The disclosure requests would be in writing and be required to have an authorization signed by the applicant and the employer conducting the investigation. If the previous employer refuses to disclose the information, a court would be able to compel the release of the employment information. “Law enforcement agencies take on the critically important duty of stopping crime and protecting the people of Pennsylvania,” Readshaw said. “Right now, if an officer is moving from one law enforcement agency to another, his previous employer isn’t required to disclose meaningful employment records to the receiving agency, which could include serious disciplinary actions. We need to make sure police departments have access to all the information they need to select the best and brightest men and women to uphold the peace and safety of our communities.” “Our legislation would also free an Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila., today held a Capitol rally to promote the passage of H.B. 635 and the expansion of what constitutes a hate crime. “Sadly, we continue to see acts of hatred and violence carried out across the commonwealth and the United States,” Boyle said. “We must change Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law to protect all people and combat this growing epidemic of hate crimes. Attacks like those against the Jewish community in California and Pittsburgh are just two examples in the upsurge of reported hate crimes in recent years. We need to take action and do whatever we can to prevent these tragedies.” Boyle has reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand the offense of ethnic intimidation to include malicious intention against the actual or perceived ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity of another person or group of people. April 27 marked the six-month anniversary of the Tree of Life tragedy in Pittsburgh, and another Jewish house of worship was attacked in California on the last day of Passover. Leaders of the Jewish community rallied behind Boyle to support his efforts to expand the state’s hate crimes statute. Boyle was joined by members of the state House and LGBTQ community, disability rights advocates and faith-based groups. For more information on this event and Boyle’s legislation, contact his office at (215) 331-2600. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – A $42,700 grant will enhance resources for seniors at The Center at the Mall, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today. The Beaver County community wellness center provides fitness and nutrition classes, programs, trips, and other activities for adults over 50. “I’m extremely pleased to see that our efforts to secure this funding were successful,” Matzie said. “Our seniors have invested so much of their lives enriching our community and making it what it is today. Providing resources that can help keep them healthy, active and engaged during their retirement years is a great way to give something back.” Matzie noted that the funding is part of a statewide package from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s 2018-19 Senior Community Center Grants that will allow senior centers to refurbish facilities, expand programming and attract a new generation of participants. The grants are funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. The grant announcement coincides with national Older Americans Month – a time to pay tribute to older adults and their contributions to the country and their communities. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 6 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila, today partnered with Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., along with Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Phila., to announce the introduction of legislation to help combat discrimination in the commonwealth. The legislation (H.B. 1404 and S.B. 614) would update Pennsylvania’s current nondiscrimination law – originally written in 1955 – to ensure that all residents, regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability -- and now sexual orientation, gender identity and expression – can participate in and contribute to the state’s economy. “It’s unacceptable that today, there are Pennsylvanians who must be afraid that they’ll lose their job or home simply because of who they are. As some of my colleagues have been advocating for this legislation for the past 20 years, it’s time we get serious about it. It’s literally lifesaving,” Sims said. It is currently legal in Pennsylvania to fire someone and deny them housing or business services solely based of the person being gay or transgender. A recent survey of Pennsylvania residents showed that 73 percent incorrectly believe discrimination against gay and transgender people in the workplace and in housing and business services is already illegal. The same study found 78 percent of Pennsylvanians are in support of updating the current Human Relations Act Read more
ERIE, May 6 – Calling attention to the importance of art education is the goal of a resolution the House passed unanimously today, according to the author, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. Bizzarro said he introduced H.R. 289, designating May 2019 as “Youth Art Month” in Pennsylvania, to raise awareness about the many positive benefits of exposing students to the visual arts. “Multiple studies show that kids who are exposed to the arts in school have better test scores and lower disciplinary rates,” Bizzarro said. “What’s more, because art is based on self-expression and isn’t focused on ‘one right answer,’ it has a great motivating effect on kids and enhances creativity and critical thinking, which are extremely important skills for adulthood. It also makes kids more empathetic by connecting them to the larger world outside. “Unfortunately, when budget challenges arise, art classes are often the first to be cut. It’s my hope that by raising awareness about the importance of art education, we’ll help ensure that kids have continuing access to this important subject.” Youth Art Month is part of a national effort organized by the Council for Art Education to emphasize the importance of art education. The event is celebrated annually across the country with public art displays in schools, libraries and art centers. Read more
SCRANTON, May 6 – Older residents with questions about Medicare or health insurance coverage should visit state Rep. Marty Flynn’s office during his monthly outreach next week. Read more
ERIE, May 6 – Erie fire and EMS services are receiving $41,623 in grants, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. “Erie’s firefighters and emergency medical workers answer the call tirelessly, despite tight budgets that can limit resources,” Merski said. “It’s my hope that these grants will ease some of those financial challenges and provide needed equipment, training and other resources that reinforce these essential front-line workers.” Merski said the grants – provided by Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program – are as follows: Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company – $12,502. EmergyCare Inc. – EMS – $7,155. Perry Hi-Way Hose Company – fire company – $14,811. Perry Hi-Way Hose Company – EMS – $7,155. The state Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. In addition to funding equipment and training, the money can be used for repairing, building or renovating facilities and for repaying debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. Read more
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