HARRISBURG, April 14 – Six state lawmakers are asking Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate allegations that Penn National withdrew from a casino and horse racetrack project in Lawrence County to block it from competing with a nearby casino the company owns. State Rep. Chris Sainato, one of the authors of the letter, said allegations of fraud and criminal conduct contained in a lawsuit filed against Penn National are troubling. "I, along with my colleagues have called on Attorney General Kane to promptly investigate these allegations, which include alleged criminal conduct, and to take all appropriate action," said Sainato, D-Lawrence. "Clearly, the citizens of Lawrence County would be harmed by lost tax revenue, economic stimulus and jobs if these allegations prove true and if the project were lost." "State and local officials have invested time and energy to bring this project to the area," said state Sen. Elder Vogel, another author of the letter. "We want to make sure that the entire process has been conducted in an honest manner." Sainato and Vogel, R-Lawrence/Beaver/Butler, represent Mahoning Township, which is the site of the proposed project. The letter also is signed by state Reps. Jaret Gibbons, Mark Longietti, Robert Matzie and James Marshall. Penn National had partnered with Endeka Entertainment for the casino/racetrack project in Mahoning Township, known as Lawrence Read more
HARRISBURG, April 14 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, announced today that survivors and advocates for statute of limitations reform in cases of child sexual abuse will be at the state Capitol to encourage House Judiciary Committee action on bipartisan legislation to protect victims better. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 13 – From the mid-1700s until the 1970s, industrial hemp was an important agricultural component of the Commonwealth’s economy. If two lawmakers have their way, the crop could soon return to Pennsylvania fields. Reps. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) and Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna) today introduced legislation, House Bill 967, that would take the first step toward allowing Pennsylvania farmers to again cultivate industrial hemp. The product, which is widely used in a variety of everyday consumer items, is currently allowed to be grown only in pilot programs reserved for universities and agricultural research facilities under a provision of the 2014 federal Farm Bill. Diamond and Flynn said their bill would bring Pennsylvania in line with current federal law. Because it is considered likely that federal regulations will ease further in the near future, the bill would put the state ahead of the pack once domestic production is permitted to get into full gear. “Industrial hemp is a common and safe agricultural product that is grown worldwide,” said Diamond. “It is one of world’s most durable fibers and can be found in products ranging from automobile dashboards to home insulation. It’s also been used as a soil fertilizer and is in a wide array of building materials and food items. Pennsylvanians are missing out on these economic benefits, while we continue to import products containing industrial hemp from overseas. Read more
State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phlia., announced today that he plans to introduce legislation which would amend the Liquor Code to allow businesses to apply for extended use permits, which would authorize the sale of alcohol beyond 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 13 – State Rep. Schweyer, D-Lehigh, today said his resolution to raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking was approved unanimously. House Resolution 192 designates April 2015 as “Alcohol Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Schweyer said this resolution was written to encourage adults to take steps to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. “It goes without saying that consumption of alcohol by minors is a dangerous practice,” Schweyer said. “We have a responsibility as a society to remind minors about the dangers of consuming alcohol, while also reminding adults that they have a significant role to play in preventing this behavior.” Read more
Rep. Tina Davis is sponsoring a free community shredding event on Saturday, April 25, for the safe disposal of unwanted, confidential documents. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on April 25 at the Ben Franklin Middle School in Levittown.
TAYLOR, April 10 – State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich is working with local community leaders to organize a regional spring cleanup event to remove litter and winter debris from roadsides, creeks and riverbanks, and parks and recreation areas in Taylor, Moosic and Old Forge. Read more
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, announced the PLBC will sponsor a Know Your Rights Symposium from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the Global Leadership Academy Charter School, 4701 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia. Another PLBC member, state Rep. Ronald Waters, D-Phila./Delaware, is expected to join Brown at the event. "We have all heard the horror stories about violence occurring between police and members of various communities," Brown said. "The goal of this event, and others planned around the state, is to inform citizens what their rights are and how to interact with police officers so that we don't have those incidents in Pennsylvania." The symposium will bring together representatives from the law enforcement community, including Philadelphia Police Capt. Altovise Love-Craighead and members of the legal/criminal defense field including Public Defender Charlie Cunningham, as well as members of the local religious community. "The symposium participants will discuss what rights citizens have, how law enforcement interprets those rights and how both sides can work toward a positive interaction," Brown said. "I expect both the law enforcement community and the general public will see the discussion as a way to develop a framework for better communication and understanding on both sides." ### Read more
Rep. Snyder’s Tele-Town Hall proved very successful as residents weighed in on a variety of subjects and poll questions. A link is available to download an audio recording of the session. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 9 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement in regard to UPMC’s decision not to renew the Medicare Advantage contract with Highmark customers: "I applaud Governor Wolf for standing up for the senior citizens in southwestern Pennsylvania and I pledge to work with his administration closely to ensure that UPMC abides by the contractual mandates it agreed to in the consent decree," Frankel said. "UPMC appears to be engaging in an unethical revenue enhancement strategy that does nothing to strengthen health care in our community. Instead, all this maneuver does is jeopardize the health care and well-being of 180,000 senior citizens. "This is not the behavior that we expect from an organization that is deemed a purely public charity and enjoys all the benefits of a public charity, including tax exemptions, federal and state tax dollars, and philanthropic donations. "I urge UPMC to come to its senses for the benefit of our most vulnerable citizens. It’s time for UPMC to rededicate itself to the charitable mission it has been entrusted with. That starts with renewing the Medicare Advantage contract and bringing a sense of security and stability to seniors and their health care." ### Read more
HARRISBURG, April 10 – As keynote speaker at the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center’s annual dinner, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, will share his personal experience as a victim of sexual abuse. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 9 – In light of recent news unveiling the fiscal woes of Penn Hills School District, state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, has asked Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to conduct a full audit of the district’s budget. Read more
BETHLEHEM, April 9 – State Rep. Daniel McNeill, D-Lehigh, and state Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh/Northampton, will host a senior fair from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 17 at the Westgate Mall, 2285 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem. Over 80 state and local organizations will be available to share information on programs and services benefiting older Pennsylvanians in the Lehigh Valley. McNeill and Boscola said the fair will also include free health screenings, refreshments and door prizes. "This event will provide a one-stop shop for seniors who want to learn more about what programs and services from the state and in our area are available to them," McNeill said. "There is plenty of free parking and the mall is accessible via the LANTA bus 105 route. I encourage all seniors to attend." Residents can get more information about the senior fair by calling McNeill’s Whitehall office at (610) 266-1273 . ### Read more
HARRISBURG, April 9 – At the request of state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, the 20-member board charged with setting tuition rates for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities today agreed to a general tuition freeze for the 2015-16 school year in exchange for a restoration of state funding. Hanna is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Board of Governors, which voted on his motion to commit to the tuition freeze during its regular quarterly meeting. According to Hanna, Gov. Tom Wolf is seeking to restore the massive higher education cuts made by former Gov. Corbett in 2011-12. Wolf’s proposal commits $45.3 million in additional state funding for PASSHE schools in the 2015-16 budget but is asking the board to freeze tuition for the upcoming school year in exchange for those funds. Wolf’s plan is to completely restore the funding from Corbett’s cuts by the end of his second budget. “As a member of the legislature since 1991 and a PASSHE board member since 2004, I am always seeking ways to keep our outstanding state-system universities affordable for Pennsylvania’s middle-class families and all students who want to attend them,” Hanna said. “The majority of our board has that same desire and chose today to put its faith in the General Assembly and Governor Wolf to restore the state funds that Corbett took from our students. “I plan to work Read more
LACKAWANNA, April 9 – State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of implementing a statewide public school employee benefit program. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 9 – A bipartisan group of state legislators from western Pennsylvania released the following statement today in response to the announcement that UPMC does not intend to renew the Medicare Advantage contract with Highmark customers: "UPMC has broken its promise to seniors in western Pennsylvania. They made a promise to our seniors, and now they are purposely using our seniors to create leverage against Highmark to gain an advantage in a financial dispute. Their actions are unconscionable. UPMC was warned by the Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner and Secretary of Health that such tactics would constitute a breach of the carefully crafted consent decree. They disregarded that finding and are now sticking it to our seniors. Totally unacceptable," said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, said, "It’s truly unfortunate that the devious scare tactics and anti-patient behavior continue, this time at the expense of some of our most vulnerable citizens. UPMC is now threatening to hold hundreds of thousands of Highmark Medicare Advantage customers as hostages just to gain some legal standing. Rest assured, we will be monitoring this developing issue and will support our seniors in any way we can." House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, said, "The communities that I represent are tired of being held hostage by the actions of UPMC, which continues Read more
HARRISBURG, April 9 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery announced Luzerne County has received two grants totaling $3,857 for its recycling program “I appreciate Luzerne County’s efforts to help our environment by reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills,” said Mullery, D-Newport Township. “Plus, recycling programs in Luzerne County and across the state create jobs and help our economy.” Mullery said the county received a $1,866 grant for recycling 311 tons of material in 2012, and a $1,991 grant for recycling 331.8 tons of material in 2013. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection awarded the grants under the Recycling Performance Grant Program. The program provides incentive to help Pennsylvania municipalities increase the amount of materials recovered through recycling, and to promote economic growth through job creation and market expansion. Read more
SCRANTON, April 8 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing with committee chairman Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, to discuss the issue of public education funding. The hearing, held in Scranton High School, focused on how local districts have been impacted by decreased state funding over the last few years, and what Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget will mean for them. ”When it comes to our children's education, it is important that we make sure our school districts have the tools to help our children succeed," Flynn said. "Today's hearing was a way for us to learn how districts have struggled to continue to do that in the wake of the Corbett administration's decreases in state funding for education.” Flynn added, “Governor Wolf’s ‘Jobs that Pay, Schools that Teach, and Government that Works’ initiative is one to improve an entire society. By ensuring Pennsylvanians have access to fundamental resources like a good education and well-paying jobs, he’s making it possible for our citizens to better provide for themselves and their families and achieve the American dream.” Echoing that sentiment, Sturla said, "The testimony we heard today here in Representative Flynn's district was not unique in that a majority of school districts across the state have been faced with difficult decisions because of the previous Read more
WILKES-BARRE, April 7 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from leaders in education, along with state officials, concerning funding for education in Pennsylvania at a hearing requested by state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne. The meeting was held at Wilkes University and focused on Gov. Tom Wolf’s "Schools that Teach" plan, which is part of the governor’s three-step approach to strengthen the commonwealth. Pashinski said the governor’s proposal will not only help restore funding for education in two years, it will also reduce school property taxes by more than 50 percent to homeowners. "The governor’s plan is truly a win-win for the people of Pennsylvania," Pashinski said. "House Democrats and I believe this proposal is a strong investment to provide a solid education and better future for the youth of this commonwealth and connect the economic improvements to a quality education. "Gov. Wolf’s budget also provides property tax relief, which will help rebuild the middle class in this state." Pashinski co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman. "As a former educator, Rep. Pashinski has always been an advocate for quality education," Sturla said. "By initiating this hearing, he is showcasing his strong support in Gov. Wolf’s plan for moving Pennsylvania in an upward and Read more
LACKAWANNA, April 7 – State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna, announced today that he will chair a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to look at his H.B. 348 that would study the cost-effectiveness of a new statewide public school employee health care benefit program.
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