HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – Angered by the hateful and cheap attacks on Jewish property throughout Pennsylvania, state Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny, reiterated his stand against racism today and said the cowards who vandalized property and forced evacuations must be caught and punished. “Pennsylvania is the Keystone State, but these acts of hate are the exact opposite of what unity and cohesion are about,” Markosek, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said during a break in annual budget hearings. “And, they are the exact opposite of what I believe.” Hundreds of headstones in the Mount Caramel Cemetery in Philadelphia were toppled while bomb threats were phoned into Jewish community centers in Harrisburg and York, plus to JCCs in 10 other states. “These are politically charged times, but the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and private memorials to deceased loved ones is an outrage that must not be allowed to happen,” Markosek said. “We must be united and raise our voices against this and all kinds of insolence, racism and hate. We must not become the divided nation some now want us to be, or think we have become,” he said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is seeking applicants from the 72 nd District for the Pennsylvania Legislative Appointment Initiative (LAI), which allows each state legislator to appoint a student from his district as a commonwealth scholar for admission to Valley Forge Military College. Any high school senior residing in the 72 nd District with a minimum high school GPA of 2.50 and a combined verbal and math SAT score of 1000 (or an ACT Score of 17) is eligible to apply. Interested students should contact Burns’ offices for an application. The deadline to apply this year is April 1. A student awarded the LAI Scholarship may receive the award for up to two years. The maximum amount awarded is $12,000 per year. “I encourage any eligible high school seniors to apply for the LAI through my office. The Valley Forge Military College uniquely prepares their cadets to be responsible citizens and leaders,” Burns said. “This is also a valuable opportunity to showcase our talented high school seniors throughout the district.” Interested students can check with their school guidance counselor for an application. Applications are also available in Burns’ district offices . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Reps. Jason Dawkins and Morgan Cephas, both D-Phila., plan to introduce a bill that would require funeral homes to provide pricing information when requested and post that information on their website, if they have one, in an effort to assist and protect grieving families. "No grieving family should be required to spend lengthy hours of their time researching the cost of providing funeral services for their loved one," Dawkins said. "This legislation would allow families more time to focus on mourning their loss and celebrating the life of the deceased while providing peace of mind that they aren’t being taken advantage of." The bill would require funeral directors to provide a written or printed list of prices and goods offered at the beginning of any conversation about prices, professional services offered and goods. The lists also would include preparation of the body, use of facilities, use of automotive equipment and casket options. Cephas said, "During the loss of a loved one, it can be very difficult for some to manage dealing with their grief and for many in my district, the financial hardship that comes along with final expenses. Too often during this vulnerable time people are taken advantage of by bad actors who lack transparency in disseminating information to individuals and families. This legislation works to provide consumers with additional information needed to make cognizant decisions Read more
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 28 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement today in regard to the recent acts of vandalism and terroristic threats made against Jewish institutions: "In the strongest possible way, I condemn these cowardly and hateful acts of terrorism aimed at Jewish cemeteries and Jewish Community Centers. These kinds of actions have one despicable purpose: to spread fear throughout our communities. "We’ve had enough. "Let me be clear: hatred of this kind has no place in Pittsburgh, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the world. Just yesterday, there were reportedly more than 90 anti-Semitic threats or acts of aggression reported across the country. While there’s no doubt that these acts have been committed by a small minority of people, it does not change the fact that we must speak up against this kind of intolerance and fear-mongering. "In the very near future, I plan to sponsor a resolution with my Jewish colleagues in the General Assembly condemning these acts of vandalism and terror. It is my hope that this resolution will run in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives when we return to session in March. "In the meantime, I am confident that the dedicated men and women in law enforcement will soon bring those responsible to justice." ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 28 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., held a Public Sector Job Fair on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the former Wakisha School, continuing his efforts to connect constituents with family-sustaining job opportunities. More than 26 employers from city, state and federal agencies participated in the fair, with over 150 attendees applying for jobs. Attendees were able to participate in workshops on expungement of criminal records by Community Legal Services, with the Free Library of Philadelphia tech-mobile on site to help process those applications. Staff from Pennsylvania CareerLink were also on hand to help with resume writing and provide follow-up services. “Working families and the middle class are the engines of our economy,” Thomas said. “I always have and will continue to work to connect constituents with family-sustaining job opportunities through events like our Public Sector Job Fair.” Several people were offered jobs at the fair and others are being given a second interview. One such position filled was a crane operator with the Department of Transportation. “I am thrilled that members of the community were able to not only learn about employment opportunities, but some also received job offers and second interviews on the spot,” Thomas said. February’s Public Sector Job Fair is one of two annual job fairs held by Thomas who also holds a Private Sector Job Fair each October. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, introduced H.B. 661 today, which would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to establish a media literacy curriculum for Pennsylvania’s students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12, in an effort to combat the rise of fake news on social media during the 2016 General Election. “This legislation would prepare Pennsylvania’s students with the critical thinking skills and knowledge to evaluate the accuracy of news stories on social media and other sources for themselves,” Briggs said. “During this past election cycle, it’s undeniable that we saw a rise in fake news on social media that put misinformation out into the public sphere for the purpose of misleading voters.” If passed, H.B. 661 would require the Department of Education, in consultation with the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, to develop a media literacy curriculum within 6 months of the bill’s effective date. According to the bill, the curriculum may include, but is not limited to: developing critical thinking skills; understanding how media messages shape culture and society; identifying targeted marketing strategies; naming techniques of persuasion; recognizing bias and misinformation; discovering parts of a story that are not being told; evaluating media messages based on personal experiences and skills. “It is imperative the next generation of Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 27 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., hosted an awards reception to announce the winners of his Black History Essay Contest.
At the event, which took place last week in his district office, the four winners of the essay contest were announced. Thomas presented each of the winning students with a tablet for them to use to further their educational career.
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 27 – In keeping with her legislative priorities, state Rep. Morgan Cephas announced she will host a town hall meeting for residents of the 192nd Legislative District. The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 at the Shephard Recreation Center, 5700 Haverford Ave., Philadelphia, 19131. Cephas said she and a panel of state, city and local officials will discuss several topics, such as the outlook and goals for the district, a public safety neighborhood review, a status update on nuisance liquor establishments and plans to address them, and a plan to strengthen neighborhood schools. “The purpose of this event is to provide a platform for community residents to learn about various resources available to them at the state and local level,” Cephas said. “It is also an opportunity for them to learn about my agenda for working toward a better quality of life for constituents who live in the 192nd legislative district.” Cephas added the attendees for the town hall meeting will be officials from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement, the Mayor’s Office of Education and the 19th Police District. Local organizations and vendors also will be there with resources to share. For more information, constituents can call Cephas’ district office at (215)-879-6625. Read more
PHILADELPHIA: Feb. 26 -- State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., issued the following statement in response to the criminal vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery. "I am truly shocked, saddened and outraged by the criminal vandalism that occurred at the Mount Carmel Cemetery today, in the Wissinoming part of my district. My heart goes out to the families who discovered the head stones of their loved ones desecrated by this act of hate and intolerance. After an act of such cowardice, I urge the perpetrators to do the brave thing and come forward and turn themselves in to the authorities. Should they not, I pledge to do everything in my power to help support the Philadelphia Police and the great officers of the 15th District in bringing them to justice. "For me representing the most diverse district in the Pennsylvania State Legislature that includes Mount Carmel, this heinous crime hits especially close to home. Just yesterday, I brought constituents of all races, religions, ethnicities and nationalities together for a hopeful forum about how to celebrate the rich diversity of our community. The energy was tangible, the ideas innovative, and the spirit warm and collaborative. We all left hopeful and committed to surmounting the barriers that too often divide us. "The juxtaposition of yesterday's hope and positivity with this morning's hate and prejudice underscores the scale of our task, and the resolve and determination we must have if we are to succeed. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, hosted an Energy Forum for local residents as a way to learn more about weatherization, how to save on energy costs and energy-saving techniques.
The forum was held Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the 18th District Police Station, 5510 Pine St. and was integrated into the station's monthly Captain's meeting.
"A big show of gratitude goes out to the station for sponsoring the forum and recognizing the significance of the event," McClinton said. "In particular, I'd like to thank Police Captain Robin Wimberly and Community Relations Officer Michael Davis for hosting us." Read more
More than $52,000 in grants will be available to three volunteer fire companies and one volunteer ambulance company from West Chester who applied for the funds through the Fire Company/Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program, state Rep. Carolyn Comitta announced today. Initiated in 2000, and funded by gaming revenue, the program is open to all fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads in Pennsylvania. Grant awards can be used for construction or repair of facilities, purchase or repair of equipment, debt reduction and training. “These monies will be of great aid to the three volunteer fire companies and volunteer emergency ambulance company in West Chester,” said Comitta. “It’s just one example of the ways that we can offer funding support to the 100 percent volunteer and 100 percent certified services that are so vital to our public safety. At a time when many volunteer fire companies and emergency service organizations are struggling to survive in Pennsylvania, these programs enable many to grow and thrive, not to mention provide first-class protection for all citizens across the commonwealth.” According to Comitta, the following received award notification from the program: First West Chester Fire Company, $15,000; Flame Fire Company No. 3, $15,000; Good Will Fire Co. No. 2 , $15,000; and Good Fellowship Club of Chester County, Inc. (EMS). $7448.21. In total, some $30 Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said he was relieved to learn at a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education currently has no plans to close Cheyney University.
At the hearing, Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, reassured Kinsey that the PASSHE board is currently focused on putting the struggling historically black university on a path to a sustainable future and that there were no plans to close the institution.
“After years of unequal funding, I am glad to see that Chancellor Brogan is clearly committed to ensuring a bright future for Cheyney University,” Kinsey said. “This historic African-American institution of higher learning has gone through some tough financial time recently and has often gotten the short end of the stick. But investing in this unique institution’s future is sure to pay dividends for countless students and the state for many years to come.”
Kinsey also asked Brogan multiple questions about enrollment trends at PASSHE schools and the search for a permanent president for Cheyney University.
“I applaud Chancellor Brogan and the PASSHE board for focusing on opportunities to grow and advance our state schools,” Kinsey said. “As a strong supporter of education, I firmly believe that our system of state schools is an invaluable asset to the state.”
CHESTER, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Brian Kirkland will hold a free Criminal Record Expungement and Sealing Clinic from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9 in Chester City Hall, 1 E. 4th St., 19013. “Expungement and criminal-record sealing laws are complex and not everyone will qualify, but my goal is to give interested constituents an overview of recent state laws and resources,” said Kirkland, D-Chester. “Many people who have been convicted of crimes and paid their debts to society are within their right to move beyond their past, and I’m happy to share relevant state law with them.” Only those convicted in Delaware County are eligible to attend this clinic. Qualifications for an expungement include : only non-conviction charges or summary convictions with no arrests in the past five years can be expunged; some second- and third-degree misdemeanor convictions may be sealed if 10 years have passed; must have no current criminal charges; and must not be serving probation time. Read more
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 23 – Gov. Tom Wolf announced that four state airports will share grants totaling nearly $6 million for upgrades, promoting services and educational opportunities. State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, is proud to report that Pittsburgh International Airport will receive the largest grant, $2.4 million. The grants are being issued through PennDOT's Multimodal Fund, which was created in 2013 as part of the state's transportation funding program under Act 89. The funds will be used for runway improvements, including repairing or upgrading joints and cracks in the runways, taxiways and apron areas. "These upgrades are critical for the future of the airport," DeLuca said. "We need to ensure the infrastructure is solid so the airport can maintain its record as one of the safest airports in the country. "Our local airport survived the loss of jobs when US Airways merged with American Airlines and eliminated the local hub. The airport is growing again, with a number of new carriers and routes recently being announced. Improving the runways and other parts of the tarmac are important for the long-term success of the airport." PennDOT's Multimodal Fund was created to provide Transportation Department funds for modes of transportation beyond the automobile, including trains, planes, waterways and also bicycle and pedestrian right-of-ways. The grant provides additional funding for a $1.38 million FAA Airport Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, announced today that the Philadelphia International Airport is the recipient of an $800,000 grant for the purpose of facility upgrades. The funding is being issued through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Multimodal Fund, which was created in 2013 as part of the state's transportation funding program under Act 89. "The Philadelphia airport is one of four airports across the state to receive funding of this sort," Donatucci said. "This distinction illustrates the focus that is being placed on the future of this airport." Donatucci added the funds will be used to extend an existing runway. "Infrastructure improvements are necessary to make sure a place like the airport is operating on solid ground," Donatucci said. "The airport is an economic engine for the city and the state and this grant will help to keep it running as such." PennDOT's Multimodal Fund was created to provide Transportation Department funds for nodes of transportation beyond the automobile, including trains, planes, waterways and also bicycle and pedestrian right-of-ways. Read more
JOHNSTOWN, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, today announced a $1.9 million state grant to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, to develop a Business Aviation Management Degree Program in conjunction with St. Francis University. Barbin said the state funds will go to upgrading and enhancing an existing airport facility; purchasing a flight simulator for the degree; assisting with the first five students’ tuition/room and board; and marketing the new program. Barbin said the local grant was one of four awarded to airports statewide, providing a combined $5.8 million. “That the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport received approximately one-third of the money awarded is a testament to the economic importance of that facility and this new academic program at Saint Francis,” Barbin said. “This investment will help the Johnstown area prepare for the jobs of the future, which looks more promising because of initiatives like this.” The grant is funded by the state Multimodal Fund created by Act 89, Pennsylvania’s far-reaching transportation funding plan. The fund established dedicated investments in transit, aviation, rail freight and pedestrian and bicycle modes, in addition to increasing highway and bridge funding. Read more
Rep. Joseph Petrarca announces that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe was awarded an $805,000 state grant to improve safety aspects of the main apron ramp.
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chairman of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus, said President Donald Trump has broken his promise to protect LGBT Americans. "By revoking the Obama guidelines that gave transgender students equal access to restrooms and locker rooms at school, President Trump has broken his promise to protect LGBT Americans. And he's done it in the worst way – abandoning vulnerable children to little or no protection in many states and school districts. It's shameful," Frankel said. "With this action, the Trump administration has given the clearest indication yet that it puts misguided ideology before the safety, health and welfare of LGBT students. President Trump, Education Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Sessions should be ashamed of abandoning transgender children across the country. "By punting this issue to the states, the Trump administration is picking winners and losers – some states will quickly pass laws to protect transgender students while other states will do nothing. 'States' rights' hasn't worked for African Americans denied basic civil rights, including equal restroom access, and it won't work for protecting transgender kids, either. "In her confirmation hearings before the Senate, Secretary DeVos said that a student’s zip code should not affect his or her educational opportunities. Unfortunately, with this shameful Read more
EBENSBURG, Feb. 23 – Slightly more than four months after he hosted a public hearing in Ebensburg on innovative job creation, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, is announcing a $1.9 million state grant to develop a Business Aviation Management Degree Program at Saint Francis University. Burns said the funding, awarded to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, will upgrade and enhance an existing airport facility; purchase a flight simulator for the degree; assist with the first five students' tuition and room and board; and market the new program . Burns, who brought the House Democratic Policy Committee to the Ebensburg Borough Municipal Building in October, said the testimony on employer needs and employee training using an innovative approach came to fruition with this grant. “Our testifiers – including Barry Surma, director of the St. Francis University Small Business Development Center, and RaNell Fenchak, director of the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport – made a convincing case for thinking outside the box and being attuned to employer needs with job training efforts,” Burns said. “This grant is one manifestation of a new way of thinking when it comes to economic development in Cambria County.” Other testifiers at the October hearing were Augie Didiano, president, Johnstown Building and Construction Trades Council; Don Arena, business agent, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 354; and Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., announced today that older residents will soon be able to apply for their SEPTA Key photo ID card at his district office.
Cruz said that constituents will be able to fill out their SEPTA Key application and get their picture taken starting on Monday, Feb. 27.
"SEPTA is an invaluable resource for getting around the city, especially for seniors who often rely on it taking them shopping, to appointments, and other various destinations, and I want to help make their trips easier," Cruz said. "My staff and I look forward to assisting our residents in getting their ID card."
SEPTA Key is the modern fare payment and collection system being used by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. It offers seniors an alternative to using their Pennsylvania driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
The new Key cards have contactless chips, so all riders will have to do is pass it across the face of the validator to pay for their ride.
Cruz said seniors should call his office at (215) 291-5643 to make an appointment to get their picture taken and get their ID card. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 3503 North B Street, Unit 7 in Philadelphia.
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