PHILADELPHIA, March 23 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement supporting Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to support Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and not oppose the release of Philadelphia rapper Robert Williams, better known as Meek Mill: “I strongly support Governor Wolf for his support of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s position on not opposing the release of Meek Mill. However, I am also in support of freeing all the other 'Robert Williamses’ who are dealt an unfair hand from our criminal justice system. Williams is not a danger to himself, or society, and should be released. “Cases like Williams’, and so many others like him, are the reason why I have been a strong advocate of reforming our criminal justice system. This is why I worked with Governor Wolf to pass Act 5 of 2016 and to ban the box on all state-level jobs. This is also why I am working with the legislature to pass a clean slate bill into law so others like Williams do not fall victim to a broken criminal justice system.” ### Read more
BRADDOCK , March 23 – State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, announced today that he and the Port Authority of Allegheny County have scheduled a public meeting to discuss new service options related to the Bus Rapid Transit plans to better meet the concerns of local riders. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Rankin Christian Center, 230 Third Ave. “The regional benefits of Bus Rapid Transit cannot come at the expense of transit service provided today to residents of the Mon Valley or other communities,” Costa said. “I’ve made it clear to the Port Authority that it’s vital they find a way to implement BRT without cutting the daily service residents rely on.” As a result of Costa’s advocacy, and the direction of the Port Authority Board, CEO Katharine Kelleman and planning staff have worked to develop new bus service options. These options are intended to address the concerns that Costa and others in his district have raised and will be presented by the Port Authority at the April 12th meeting. In January, Costa called on the Port Authority to reconsider its service plan, which followed on the heels of concerns about the proposal expressed during authority-led community meetings. “I’m looking forward to hearing these new options firsthand,” Costa said. “It’s important for residents here that we maintain adequate public transportation routes to connect with jobs, Read more
HAVERFORD, March 23 – The natural gas industry spent $5.2 million last year in lobbying expenses in Pennsylvania to influence the General Assembly, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Vitali’s report, Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature , was first published in the first quarter of 2017. The public report draws from campaign reports, lobbying reports and ethics statements relating to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The report shows that the industry has now spent $67 million on lobbying activities in Pennsylvania since 2007. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” Vitali said. Another finding shows that there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a royalty-protection bill for Pennsylvania landowners,” Vitali said. The report also indicates that the gas drilling industry made almost $8 million in campaign contributions to the legislature between 2007 and 2017. “Until Pennsylvania’s campaign finance Read more
YORK, March 23 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, released the following statement regarding yesterday’s tragic fire in York that claimed the lives of two firefighters and injured two others: “‘We may be helpless to stop bad things from happening, but perhaps God leaves us signs and road maps to recover and reconnect, provided we know where to look,’ according to Jennifer Gardner Trulson and I feel we need look no further than to each other,” said Hill-Evans. “We couldn’t prevent the tragedies from occurring, but with time there will be healing, recovery and a reconnection. “I would like to thank all of the rescue crew and first responders who were called to the scene of yesterday’s tragic building collapse. As a former member of York City Council and many years of shared community events, I’ve come to know these brave men and women who rise up and put others before self without a second thought. As a member of the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee in Harrisburg, it’s important to continue to address these unfortunate events and take action by doing all we can to ensure that those risking their lives continue to get the support they need in order to do their jobs to the best of their ability. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were lost, and those who are facing the days and weeks to come,” Hill-Evans said. “May we come Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 23 – State Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on his H.B. 1197 that would add animal fighting to the list of offenses enforceable under Title 18. The public hearing will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 at the Ross Municipal Building, 1000 Ross Municipal Drive, Pittsburgh. Costa requested the hearing to discuss why animal fighting should be categorized under Title 18 and the impact changing the law would have on animals, violators and the community. House Democrats’ Plan4PA aims to protect communities and quality of life. He will be joined by animal advocates, law enforcement professionals and legislators from across the state. The current agenda is: 3 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 3:10 p.m. Mary Kennedy Withrow Executive Director, Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team Member, PA Department of Agriculture Office of Dog Law Advisory Board Member, Association of Professional Dog Trainers Member, Mayor William Peduto Animal Task Force 3:35 p.m. K. Michelle Welch Senior Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Animal Law Unit Virginia Attorney General’s Office 4 p.m. Erin Cassidy Police Officer, Pennsylvania Humane Society Member, All But Forgotten Humane Animal Rescue Board of Directors 4:25 Read more
HARRISBURG, March 23 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, issued the following statement in response to an announcement by the Port Authority of Allegheny County that it has developed new service options related to the Bus Rapid Transit plans to better meet the concerns of local riders: “The Port Authority’s announcement today is a step forward for Mon Valley residents, and I thank the board and CEO Kelleman for taking another look at its plans. I look forward to joining Senator Brewster and the Port Authority in April for a meeting in my communities to allow riders to get a first-hand look at the options, and to have an opportunity to provide feedback to the authority.” Davis and Sen. Jim Brewster will host a meeting along with the Port Authority in the district to present the new options in April. The date, time and location of that meeting will be announced soon. Read more
YORK, March 23 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced today that Air Dynamics Industrial Systems Corporation received a $40,024 grant to enhance their York County-based facility. The money will support the purchase and installation of a solar power system. The Solar Energy Program funding request was approved Friday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. “I’m pleased that our state is continuing to make these smart, green and wise investments into our communities and businesses,” Hill-Evans said. “It’s via these investments that our future generations will see expanded opportunities for economic and environmentally mindful growth.” The total project cost is $160,100, and will include installing a 72.93 kW commercial rooftop solar power generation facility on the roof of two of Air Dynamics Industrial Systems’ manufacturing buildings. Once completed, the project is anticipated to provide up to 128 percent of the company’s power demand and generate 79,134 kWh of electricity per year. The Solar Energy Program provides grants and loans to promote the use of solar energy in Pennsylvania. The program is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection under direction of the CFA. Read more
ERIE, March 22 – In efforts to improve quality healthcare access, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion with local stakeholders and community experts. Harkins hosted the meeting to build off the Blue Zones Project presentation last November in Erie to explore what more the state can do to help improve community health metrics and initiatives. Harkins was joined by legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Blue Zones are areas where people live the longest. If we can make it easier and more affordable for people to live healthy lifestyles, we can reduce medical costs and improve health and wellness for our communities. I’m excited to have hosted the Policy Committee today and look forward to continuing the discussion on adopting the Blue Zone practices for the well-being of Erie and our commonwealth,” Harkins said. Sturla added, “House Democrats’ Plan4PA is focused on putting people first and access to quality healthcare is a key component. I thank Representative Harkins and Health Committee Chairman Flo Fabrizio for their leadership on this issue statewide. I think much of today’s discussion can benefit communities across Pennsylvania and look forward to further discussion.” Panelists included: Melissa Lyon, director, Erie County Department of Health; Bill McCarthy, recently retired CEO of a large Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., said he is pleased with the Senate passage of S.B. 501, legislation that would close a gap in Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act. “Gun violence is a tremendous concern in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. Access to firearms often leads to tragic and deadly altercations between abusers and their victims and providing additional protections to those who have received PFA orders against abusers or who have had abusers convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence is the least we can do to ensure the continued safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Dawkins said. Under current law, people subject to a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order over domestic violence must surrender any firearms but can put them into the ownership of friends and family. Under S.B. 501 , guns could only be surrendered to the police, a registered gun dealer or licensed attorney, and the process would have to be done within 48 hours of the order being issued. “I want to congratulate state Sen. Tom Killion and my counterparts in the Senate for securing a unanimous passage. I’m looking forward to the bill’s consideration and vote in the House as well. We must pass this legislation and continue the work to provide additional safety measures for survivors of domestic violence throughout the state,” Dawkins said. The legislation is similar to Dawkins’ H.B. 2097 , which was Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 22 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., announced that she will host a Job Fair for residents in the 190th Legislative District from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at the Alain Locke Community School, 4550 Haverford Ave . Employers will be available to provide residents with information on job openings and other opportunities. There will also be various workshops on resume writing, interviewing skills, professional dress, job opportunities for returning citizens, and how to launch a start-up and non-profit organization. This event is free and open to the community. To RSVP, residents should contact Yolanda in Brown’s office at 215-879-6615 or email@example.com . ### Read more
MT. LEBANON, March 21 – U.S. Rep.-elect Conor Lamb has been added to the roster of officials who will participate in Friday’s 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Legislative Panel component of state Rep. Dan Miller’s 5 th annual Disability Summit. Lamb , a Democrat and Mt. Lebanon resident who recently prevailed in a special election to represent the 18 th Congressional District, will join a bipartisan group of elected leaders to talk about state policies and legislative initiatives that need to advance in order to increase independence and opportunity for everyone. Miller will serve as moderator for the “State Policies on Disabilities” discussion, which will include: State Sens. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington/Greene/Beaver; and Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny; and State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie; Jason Ortitay, R-Washington/Allegheny; and Dom Costa, Paul Costa, Austin Davis, Dan Frankel, Ed Gainey, Anita Kulik and Joe Markosek, all D-Allegheny. The panel is the final event in Miller’s 5th annual Disability Summit, scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Beth El Congregation, 1900 Cochran Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220. The one-of-a-kind western Pennsylvania event kicks off at 9 a.m. Thursday with keynote speaker Teresa Miller, secretary of the state Department of Human Services, and includes a Support Services Resources Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., before the day-long slate of sessions concludes at 8:30 p.m. Read more
ERIE, March 21 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, led today’s House Democratic Policy Committee public roundtable on community planning and its role in community and economic development. Bizzarro requested the meeting to gain further insight into plans that are set to serve as a blue print for community and economic development. The roundtable -- one in a series of meetings on the House Democrats’ Plan4PA -- featured input from professional planners, regional elected officials, state agency staff, and state legislators from all across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “I am confident today’s discussion helped everyone have a better understanding of how great Erie is and how community leaders, state and local officials can come together to make it even better. We gained great insight into the potential of our region and how we can create jobs and boost our local economy by investing and improving our community,” said Bizzarro. “I’m happy to host today’s Policy Committee discussion and look forward to seeing what’s next for Erie.” Sturla added: “As we look to provide better opportunities for our communities, it’s important that we make the accommodations necessary for today, while taking future community needs into consideration. Innovation and planning for the future can help Pennsylvania remain competitive in national and global markets. House Read more
ERIE, March 20 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion on his H.B. 1082 that would improve workplace safety in Pennsylvania. Harkins requested the meeting to continue public discussion on “Jake’s Law” that he introduced in memory of Jake Schwab. State legislators from across the state, and Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, joined Harkins, local labor leaders and Schwab’s widow, Tiffany Schwab. “Extending safety standards that exist under OSHA regulations is a reasonable accommodation that should apply to public employees. I’m glad my colleagues from across the state could take part in today’s discussion on how we can help improve workplace safety to help avoid tragic incidents like the one that took Jake’s life,” Harkins said. Sturla added: “House Democrats' Plan4PA is focused on putting people first. Uniform safety standards would do just that. Accountability and prevention of future fatal incidents depend on it. Thank you to Representative Harkins for bringing awareness to the disparity in safety standards and I hope we can work together to move this legislation for the safety and well-being of workers across the state.” Panel participants included: Chad Trainer, legislative director, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; Dave Henderson, director, AFSCME District Council 85; John Renwick, president, Amalgamated Transit Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 20 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., is seeking volunteers for two community cleanups that she is hosting along with two shredding events in April. The events will take place: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Tustin Recreation Center, 5901 W. Columbia Ave., 19151. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21, Rose Playground, 1300 N. 75th St., 19151. “These events are great opportunities for people to get out and enjoy the weather while helping to make their communities look better,” Cephas said. “I invite everyone to volunteer for the cleanup to create clean and green spaces in our neighborhoods.” For the shredding event, people can bring up to two bags or boxes of unneeded personal financial documents and any other papers that contain confidential information for shredding. Examples include documents that contain Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers, credit card applications, canceled or unused checks and bank statements. Constituents will also have the opportunity to sign up for recycling bins to comply with new city rules requiring all residents to have a recycling container. Constituents must bring their ID that matches their address. Cephas and her staff will provide state services to constituents including: applying for birth and death certificates, PennDOT applications and other state government programs and benefits. For more information or to volunteer with the cleanup, call Read more
CARMICHAELS, March 20 – In observance of Vietnam War Veterans Day, state Rep. Pam Snyder will host a free breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 29 at the Carmichaels American Legion Post 400, 205 E. George St., Carmichaels. While noting that all veterans and their families are invited, Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said that given the timing of the event, a special emphasis is being made to include those who served in the Vietnam era. “We feel that this is a way to show appreciation to all of those who’ve defended our nation, and the families that have supported them,” Snyder said. “But since our breakfast is being held on Vietnam War Veterans Day, we want to make an extra effort to include as many of them as possible.” Snyder said the meal will be prepared by the post’s Ladies Auxiliary. Snyder and her staff will be on hand to deal with state-related issues, and the Greene County Veterans Affairs Office will send a representative to answer Veterans Administration-related questions. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to RSVP at (724) 966-8953. Media coverage is invited. Read more
Hanna announces funding for municipal road projects throughout Clinton, Centre counties HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, today announced municipalities throughout the 76 th Legislative District received 2018 liquid fuels payments through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to help maintain local roads and bridges. Hanna said a total of nearly $489 million ($22.8 million, or 4.9 percent over 2017), was distributed throughout the state. “These municipal liquid fuel allocations are major investments in our local transportation infrastructure,” Hanna said. Centre/Clinton net allocations are: Centre County (Benner, Boggs, Burnside, Curtin, Haines, Howard, Liberty, Marion, Miles, Snow Shoe and Union townships; Howard, Milesburg, Snow Shoe and Unionville boroughs): $1.31 million Clinton County (in its entirety): $1.86 million “It is so important that we work to preserve and improve our roads throughout the commonwealth,” Hanna said. “I am happy to support this initiative and grateful to see this funding be used to improve construction, reconstruction, maintenance or repair of our public roads throughout Clinton and Centre counties.” Liquid fuels allocations are annual payments made on March 1 to municipalities to help pay for expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. There are 120,091 miles of public roads in Pennsylvania, with 72,933 of those miles owned by Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, announced that he has introduced a bill, HB 2160, to expand deer hunting opportunities for junior and senior license holders, active-duty resident military personnel and hunters with disabilities. The bill would allow these licensed hunters to harvest an antlerless deer during the first day of statewide regular firearm season. Currently, in most areas of the state, the first five days of deer firearm season are restricted to antlered deer only. “Allowing these hunters to harvest both doe and buck deer on opening day of rifle season will give these deserving license buyers a more successful, higher-quality hunt,” Barbin said. “I’m encouraging my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation.” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 20 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., will host three egg hunt and constituent service events for area children and families next week. The events will be held at noon on the following dates and locations: Tuesday, March 27 Ziehler Playground 200-64 E. Olney Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19120 Wednesday, March 28 Houseman Recreation Center 5091 Summerdale Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19124 Thursday, March 29 McIlvain Playground 5200 Penn St. Philadelphia, PA 19124 Dawkins said people of all ages are welcome. His staff will be on site answering questions and providing information on state programs and services. “I invite everyone to kick off the spring and Easter season with us. We’ll have fun for the whole family and important information about programs that could benefit families and loved ones,” Dawkins said. More information is available by calling Dawkins' office at 215-744-7901. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced that she plans to introduce legislation that would allow Pennsylvania high schools to expunge school suspensions for nonviolent offenses from a student’s disciplinary record. In July, Cephas, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color, presented testimony at a Philadelphia School Reform Commission meeting calling for alternatives to out-of-school suspensions and discussed in detail the consequences they have on students of color. "Following the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District proposal to provide students with a chance to clear their disciplinary record, I was encouraged to see how we could offer this opportunity to students throughout our commonwealth," Cephas said. "We are all aware that suspensions can hurt a student’s chances of getting accepted into college, but we must also be aware of how suspensions for extremely minor infractions impact our students’ ability to thrive within and outside of the classroom." Under Cephas’ bill, students would be eligible to have their disciplinary record expunged upon meeting the following requirements: The student completes community service or a resource-based alternative to community service. This includes, but is not limited to tutoring, mentoring, in-school suspension or job training; The student submits proof of completion of the Read more
PITTSBURGH, March 19 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, commented today on the recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania regarding the state's congressional redistricting maps: “I applaud today’s court decisions to allow us to move forward with fair Congressional maps for the 2018 elections. Pennsylvanians have been crystal clear – they want the opportunity to have their voices heard by voting in districts that aren’t gerrymandered for political gain. The court decisions today will allow for just that,” Frankel said. “I hope the unanimous rulings from Republican and Democratic judges today will encourage the Republican leadership in Harrisburg to cease any further challenges, whether it be more frivolous lawsuits that only serve to confuse voters, or any misguided and short-sighted attempts to impeach members of the judicial branch in Pennsylvania. Any legislation of that kind will be met with fierce opposition from Democrats and, I believe, the public.” Read more
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