HARRISBURG, June 23 – Legislation that includes language offered by Rep. Mike Schlossberg that would require bridges throughout Pennsylvania to have safety fencing installed on them to help prevent suicides is on its way to the governor’s desk. Read more
CARMICHAELS, June 22 – Noting increases of $100 million for basic education and $70 million for school safety, state Rep. Pam Snyder today said the completed 2018-19 state budget addresses many key needs without the tax or fee increases disliked by many of her constituents. Snyder, an affirmative vote when the spending plan passed the House 188-10 earlier this week, reserved comment until several budget-related bills crucial to completing the package also received legislative approval. “I’m happy that this year, approval of the new state spending plan occurred early, rather than at or past the June 30 deadline,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Westmoreland. “While this budget isn’t perfect – none of them ever are – the reality is that since it provides increases in many important areas without raising taxes, I joined the majority of my colleagues in supporting the plan.” However, Snyder said she initially remained cautious of offering her full stamp of approval, based on last year’s situation where the spending plan was approved on time, but full implementation was delayed because of wrangling over the necessary package of budget-related bills. Snyder said the 2018-19 budget also contains an additional $30 million for vocational education programs, $20 million more for Pre-K Counts, $5 million more for Head Start and $15 million more for special education. In addition, Snyder noted that it provides more Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – The Senate and House finally passed legislation, originally introduced in 2011 by State Rep. Margo Davidson, to provide students, teachers and parents an avenue to improve school safety across the commonwealth. The bill (S.B. 1142) would establish the Safe2Say Program, which provides methods of anonymous reporting concerning unsafe, violent or criminal activities in schools or the threat of such dangers. “I have been fighting for this ever since I first authored nearly identical legislation some seven years ago,” said Davidson, D-Delaware. “It passed the House in two legislative sessions unanimously and now finally supported unanimously by the Senate.” “The need to make our schools safe is as critical now as it was back then. The bottom line in a student’s first priority in school should be to learn not worry about their well-being. This hotline will help prevent senseless violence while giving children a secure place to learn and a place to turn when they become aware that there is danger at their school.” “I am particularly pleased that this school safety measure now comes with a budget of $60 million that will go to district schools like Upper Darby and William Penn school districts to implement a wide range of safety measures, including mental health counseling, which is another key legislative priority I have championed.” The legislation requires the state attorney general to: Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne and Representatives Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, both D-Lehigh, today announced they secured a $10 million supplement for the Allentown School District in the Fiscal Year 2018-19 General Fund Budget which passed the state Senate and House of Representatives and will be sent to the governor for his signature. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill that would give people with low-level, nonviolent criminal records an opportunity to have their record sealed from public view is now awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature after passing in the Senate, said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila. The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of House Bill 1419 , which Harris introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year. “I’m pleased to see real and meaningful change happening in Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “This legislation will help fix many inefficiencies and inequities of the criminal justice system in our commonwealth, by clearing the darkness, shining a light and creating a path to do what is right for our people. There’s still work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. I look forward to the governor’s signature in the upcoming weeks.” Harris added Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long from the Philadelphia Eagles along with former Eagles player Torrey Smith were very supportive of H.B. 1419. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by former offenders to automatically seal their records. The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records: Non-violent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Tom Caltagirone today applauded the unanimous House passage of a bill to help steer more funding toward pediatric cancer research. The House adopted S.B. 1091, which mirrors Caltagirone’s H.B. 407, and would allow someone renewing a driver’s license, identification card or vehicle registration online to make a donation to the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. The bill now heads to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature. “This is yet another major step in our fight to better fund research and find a cure for pediatric cancer. I want to thank Senators Scott Martin, Ryan Aument, John Sabatina and John Rafferty for helping to take this measure over the finish line,” said Caltagirone, D-Berks. “Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States,” Caltagirone said. “Children in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are fighting for their lives, and we have to do everything we can to support the research that could save them.” Caltagirone has introduced several bills that would combine to raise over $10 million a year for pediatric cancer research without impacting the General Fund. House Bill 46 was signed into law last year as Act 39 and established a check-off box on Pennsylvania's state income tax form to allow taxpayers to designate a contribution for childhood cancer research. Caltagirone has also sponsored H.B. 404 to establish a Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced her bill that would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings in Pennsylvania was unanimously voted out of the House Health Committee. House Bill 562 would amend the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act by allowing low-income, underinsured and uninsured women ages 30 to 65 to qualify for the screenings through the Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program. Currently, only women ages 40 to 49 are eligible for the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates eight out of every 100,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. “About one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and some will be diagnosed with it at a young age. Many of them win the battle due to early detection,” Donatucci said. “We must ensure every eligible woman in the commonwealth has access to these potentially life-saving screenings.” According to Breastcancer.org, more than 40,000 women in the U.S. are expected to die this year from breast cancer, despite the decrease in death rates since 1989. House Bill 562 will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery said he is pleased to hear the announcement that ON SemiConductor will expand its operations in Mountain Top. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill protecting the New Jersey-Pennsylvania tax reciprocity pact passed the New Jersey General Assembly on Thursday and is on its way for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s review. The agreement at the heart of New Jersey S.B. 878 allows Pennsylvania residents who work in New Jersey to pay their income taxes in Pennsylvania and vice versa. Under the bill, should Murphy sign it, it would take an act of the New Jersey state legislature to undo the pact, which has been in place on good faith for more than 30 years. “This issue almost amounted to a tax grab on Pennsylvania residents when Governor Chris Christie threatened to break it a few years back, but thanks to cooler heads, it didn’t happen then, and with this bill the pact should be shored up and our residents can rest a little easier knowing that their tax obligations won’t shift on a political whim,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks. Warren earlier wrote the New Jersey State Legislature expressing his support in protecting the tax pact. “There are 46,000 Bucks County residents who work in New Jersey and would be adversely affected financially if this tax reciprocity agreement were terminated,” Warren said. “With the approval of NJ S.B. 878, my constituents will be able to budget and make work and life plans without fear that they will be compelled to pay New Jersey income taxes.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – On Thursday, the state House of Representatives unanimously adopted state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro’s resolution designating September 2018 as “Light the Night Walk Month” in Pennsylvania. “ House Resolution 995 is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), and it recognizes the organization’s main fundraising program, its Light the Night Walk, which is held annually in numerous places across the country,” Bizzarro said. “Ten communities across the commonwealth, including Erie, have scheduled Light the Night walks in September and October to honor both survivors and those who lost their lives to blood cancers.” Bizzarro said the LLS has raised more than $1.2 billion for critical research initiatives aimed at identifying treatments and potential cures for blood cancers. “Being a leukemia survivor, I can tell you firsthand that participating in or simply attending one of the many Light the Night events is quite a touching experience,” Bizzarro said. “Some walk in memory of loved ones who have battled the disease in the past, while survivors carry lanterns and are joined on the walk by friends and family. It’s a great experience for a great cause.” In addition to Erie, other communities planning walks in the fall include: Scranton, Wrightsville, Wayne, Pittsburgh, Breinigsville, Johnstown, Harrisburg, Doylestown and Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas is applauding the movement of legislation this week that would address illegal trespassers and give law enforcement the proper tools necessary to crack down on violators. “Squatting is a growing issue that’s putting the safety of our middle neighborhoods at risk,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “At this point, there are questions as to who is authorized to issue punishment for violators. This bill (H.B.1931) would clear up the confusion and give police departments the legal authority to enforce the law.” The House passed this legislation, authored by Rep. John Taylor, R-Phila., that would give officers the right to remove a person from a residential property if there’s probable cause. The officer would first have to allow enough time to present evidence before acting, such as providing a signed affidavit from the property owner stating the person is trespassing. “Too often squatter situations turn into a ‘he said, she said’ fiasco, where it’s hard to prove who’s lying and ends up just being a costly legal nightmare for property owners,” Cephas explained. “This is a bipartisan solution that would focus on uncovering the truth, hold violators accountable and keep our communities safe.” The bill is headed to the Senate for consideration. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, released the following statement about the general appropriations bill for the 2018-19 fiscal budget that the House passed on Wednesday: “Passing House Bill 2121 in a timely fashion with no additional state taxes is a plus. I’m proud that the House came together in bipartisanship to get this accomplished. “I’m particularly pleased about the $4.5 million in new funding to provide home visiting services to families affected by substance abuse in order to continue to fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic that has plagued the entire state of Pennsylvania. As the co-chairman of the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Caucus, maintaining support for those who are suffering from addiction is a priority. “I am also happy to know that $60 million will be committed to school and community safety. Unfortunately gun violence in schools is becoming a disgusting trend, and we must work together to keep our kids safe while they earn their education.” Additionally, Gainey noted the $140 million surplus for basic, special and early education. “I’m particularly happy about the surplus in funds for early education for Pre-K and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance,” Gainey said. “As you know, I am a strong advocate of Pre-K programs and educating children early, because statistics show that Pre-K has lifelong benefits for students as they Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, released the following statement about President Trump’s immigration policies: “As a father of three, I can't help but feel the hurt, pain, and anger of what's transpiring in our country today regarding the sanctioned human right violations as children are being ripped away from the arms of their parents simply because they seek a better life. “As a lawmaker, I feel compelled to fight for those who are least capable of fighting for themselves. This is an issue where none of us can sit silently by and not take a stand. Placing children in cages, separating families and condoning government-sanctioned abuses is intolerable and must be stopped immediately. “I applaud Governor Wolf and those governors who refused to send troops to the border because of this unjust policy. I stand with the families and many of my colleagues to continue to demand an immediate change of our immigration laws.” Wheatley joined other legislators and organizations during a rally today in the Capitol Rotunda that denounced the actions of family separations at the border separating the United States and Mexico. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Reps. Paul Costa, Austin Davis, Ed Gainey and Jake Wheatley, all D-Allegheny, released the following joint statement today regarding the police shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose that occurred during a traffic stop on Tuesday night in East Pittsburgh: “First and foremost we send our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Antwon Rose. “Secondly, it is our hope that the district attorney and the Allegheny County Police Department conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation of what occurred between Antwon and the police officer in a way that is transparent and honest, in order to keep a level of trust between the community and police. “Lastly, it is our expectation that the investigation into what occurred is a fair, transparent and public process to ensure justice is served.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., and colleagues today unveiled a package of legislation that would help incarcerated women and parents in Pennsylvania. "I'm glad that we're having vital, bipartisan discussions about criminal justice reform. I think it's crucial for those discussions to include women and girls of color," said Cephas, chairwoman of the Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. "Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. Since 1985, the rate of incarcerated women has increased at nearly double the male rate. The ACLU reports that African-American women and women of color are significantly overrepresented in the prison population. African-American women are 30 percent of incarcerated women in the United States, but only 13 percent of the female population. In addition, Hispanic women are 16 percent of incarcerated women but only 11 percent of all women in the U.S." Cephas plans to introduce a bill to create a Women and Girls Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. "I believe this would aid the commission in its work as it specifically relates to research and programs that will have a direct impact on women and girls." Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the PLBC, said, “This package of legislation would help support incarcerated women in the commonwealth’s prison Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny, voted Wednesday in favor of the $32.7 billion state spending plan for 2018-19, citing the bill’s emphasis on education, career training, school safety and fighting the opioid addiction crisis. “House Bill 2121 – the general appropriations bill the House passed – does a good job of addressing the commonwealth’s most fundamental needs without increasing the tax burden on residents,” Ravenstahl said. “The bill would increase education funding by $100 million and provide $40 million for specialized career and workforce development. It would also provide critical funding for school safety and additional funds to combat the opioid crisis. “Although the bill isn’t perfect, it would accomplish a lot by providing funding where it’s most needed for Pennsylvania’s working families while sparing residents the burden of extra taxes. It would also allow us to replenish the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which would help us build up a reserve to address future needs. I support this practical bill, which I think will yield tangible benefits for the commonwealth.” The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., issued the following statement following the passage of the budget in the state House: “We continue to take positive steps toward the financial health of our commonwealth. The spending plan passed by the legislature Wednesday reflects outstanding investments in public education, the opioid epidemic, and supports our seniors and human services. It also replenishes the Rainy Day Fund, which was currently empty after balances were spent during the past two recessions. “I’m thrilled to see $140 million more earmarked for basic, special and early education; and significant increases for career, technical and higher education, as well. Extra investments for school and community safety, support for older Pennsylvanians and citizens with disabilities also are allocated. While there is still work that needs to be done, this budget envisions the direction we must take to move our commonwealth forward and improve the quality of life in our state. “The 2018-19 budget is balanced, there are no tax increases and it was done in a timely manner for the first time in more than a decade. I’m glad we were able to reach bipartisan support to fund important services and initiatives and maintain existing programs that benefit all Pennsylvanians.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – Citing a strong investment in kindergarten through 12 th grade education and school safety, state Rep. Tom Caltagirone voted today for Pennsylvania’s 2018-19 General Fund budget. The budget bill, H.B. 2121, passed the House 188-10. The budget now goes to the Senate for a vote that is expected to happen Friday. Caltagirone said that he welcomed the increase in basic and special education funding for the Reading and Governor Mifflin school districts. “At a time when the Reading School District is considering a 4 percent tax increase to make up for the $3.8 million deficit, I am proud to be able to bring an additional $5,031,122 home for the district, and hopefully this funding can help them avoid a tax increase as well as provide our students with the resources they need to achieve great things. “Not to be outdone, I was able to get Governor Mifflin a 2.5 percent increase in basic education funding. “I am happy we are able to pass a budget on time with no tax or fee increases, but we also prioritize programs that matter most to the people I represent. “We increased funding for education. We made a $70 million investment in school safety, and this budget begins to replenish the Rainy Day Fund for the first time since 2006. “We are providing more funding for child care, fighting the opioid crisis, reducing the waiting list for people seeking services for intellectual disabilities and at my Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – The Democratic Women’s Caucus, which includes 21 diverse women from across the state, has condemned President Donald Trump’s actions separating families at U.S. borders. “Trump’s immigration policy is inhumane and a national embarrassment. Many of our colleagues have co-sponsored H.R. 1000 urging the president to immediately reverse this outrageous policy,” the caucus said in a joint statement. Trump today signed an executive order expressing some level of desire to keep families together, but will not renounce so-called zero-tolerance border patrol policies. State Rep. Emilio Vazquez, D-Philadelphia, is one of several key co-sponsors of the House resolution, as this policy adversely affects Latinos disproportionately. He and state Rep. Helen Tai worked on the resolution. Tai, who is the prime sponsor of the resolution, is the newest member of the Women’s Caucus, a woman of color and only the second Asian woman to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. There are currently no Latinas serving in the state House of Representatives. Women and women of color are underrepresented in government on the local, state and federal levels. “These facts are important because I believe that we would not see so many anti-immigrant and anti-family policies if more women and more diversity including women of color, Latinas, and others had their voices heard. It could lift our public discourse, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee considered several gun safety reform measures at meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. The bills that were approved by the committee include: H.B. 1872, which would ban devices such as “bump stocks” that assist in rapid firing. H.B. 2060, which would ensure that domestic abusers be required to relinquish weapons to an appropriate authority. H.B. 2227, which would allow concerned family members and law enforcement to file for extreme risk protective orders to prohibit firearm possession by individuals who are at risk or causing harm to themselves or others. H.B. 273, which would allow people with mental or physical health concerns to voluntarily surrender their firearms. H.B. 2266 and H.B. 2267, which would require expedited reporting of mental health records to state police. Of the bills considered, only H.B. 1400, requiring universal background checks, failed by one vote, 13 to 14. “Today was a historic day for Pennsylvania and the effort to enact overdue firearm reforms,” said PA SAFE Co-Chair Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery. “While I am disappointed that universal background checks failed to be reported out — despite overwhelming public support — I am eager to continue progress on these other life-saving bills for full passage as soon as possible. And I am determined to have universal background check for all firearm sales in Read more
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