HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, today announced his support for a bipartisan package of legislation that would enhance the quality of career and technical education programs throughout Pennsylvania. This four-bill package aligns with the House Democrats’ Plan4PA to give students throughout the commonwealth a quality education that would jumpstart their careers in vocational and technical job fields. “As Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, I am committed more than ever to improving the delivery of Career and Technical Education programs to those who need them the most,” Roebuck said. “These past few years, numbers have risen to more than 67,000 Pennsylvania high school students being able to participate in CTE programs. This bipartisan package of bills – especially my two bills – would build upon the success we have already seen, while also giving stakeholders a voice to make much-needed changes.” In 2015, the House unanimously adopted H.R. 102 to establish the Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness. The subcommittee, co-chaired by state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, made several recommendations that resulted in this package of legislation, including calling for a central database of resources. “Young Pennsylvanians contemplating career paths have access to a wealth of resources from Read more
Synder: It’s high time to expand high-speed Internet service HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – Millions of Pennsylvania residents have access to some form of high-speed broadband Internet access, but the same can’t be said of hundreds of thousands of people who live in rural areas of the state, said Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Westmoreland. “Despite the passage of measures back in 1993 and 2004 to ensure all areas of our state have access to a modern broadband telecommunications network by 2015, that obviously hasn’t happened and it’s extremely frustrating,” Snyder said. “Pennsylvanians, regardless of where they live, need access to quality, reliable broadband service, and I am dedicated to making that happen.” Snyder said she has introduced legislation to address several issues related to lack of access in underserved and unserved areas of the state: House Bill 305 would direct the state Department of General Services to conduct an 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. House Resolution 63 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 (Act 67 of 1993 and Act 183 of 2004). House Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – As more and more Pennsylvanians turn to solar energy to power their homes, a bipartisan group of legislators on Tuesday introduced legislation to allow for community solar projects. State Rep. Peter Schweyer is part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers, which also includes Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Luzerne, and Rep. David Millard, R-Columbia, to unveil H.B. 531 to open this renewable energy market to even more residents. “As our environment and economy rapidly change, it is important that we support and sustain our communities,” Schweyer said. “By enabling community solar projects, we give individuals and businesses the opportunity to engage in renewable clean energy opportunities. I’m excited to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to advocate for this important bill.” At this time last year, the number of solar energy system installations in the state had increased 24 percent over the same period in 2017. At nearly the same time, the cost to install large solar farms decreased 11 percent while the cost of rooftop systems decreased 26 percent. Solar is becoming increasing popular and even more cost-effective for consumers. “All too often, Pennsylvania property owners interested in relying on solar power to meet their energy needs learn their homes are not properly situated to have solar panels on their roofs. I am one of those homeowners,” Kaufer said. Read more
State Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, will host an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 at his new constituent service office, located at 100 W. Main St., Suite 110 in Lansdale. Read more
EBENSBURG, Feb. 19 – Rural or volunteer fire departments serving communities with fewer than 10,000 people should consider applying for state grants with an application window that runs from Feb. 26 through May 2, said state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria. “As these grants are designed to help unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas, this program is a natural fit for many of our communities,” Burns said. “It should be of particular interest to our small and rural areas – and my office stands ready to help with applications.” The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants, awarded through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, are for a maximum $10,000 and can be used for: Purchasing wildfire suppression equipment. Wildfire protective gear. Mobile or portable radios. Installing dry hydrants. Wildfire prevention and mitigation. Wildfire training. Certain projects involving converting and maintaining federal excess vehicles received from the DCNR Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression. Burns said a priority will be placed on projects that include purchasing wildland fire suppression equipment and wildland fire protective gear. Priority also will be given to fire companies which have established goals and objectives, and have developed plans to meet them. Brittany Blackham, who is available in Burns’ Portage office at (814) 736-7339, serves as an in-house grant writer and can Read more
On the one year anniversary of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10), State Representative Perry Warren (D-31), and former State Representative Helen Tai joined students and gun safety advocates in front of Council Rock North High School to call for the passage of safe storage firearm legislation. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 15 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., joined Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday for a news conference to discuss a major drug bust in Kensington. Yesterday, more than 160 agents and officers representing all levels of law enforcement executed search warrants at 13 residences and of 15 vehicles. Eleven people were arrested in connection with the drug trafficking operation. “The breakup of this drug operation is a testament to what can happen when state, local and federal law enforcement work together. I’m grateful to Attorney General Shapiro and his office for their work,” Kenyatta said. “While we must actively and aggressively pursue criminal justice reform, we must also work to stem this tide of poison flowing into our communities. “I remain dedicated to doing all we can to fund drug treatment programs and workforce development initiatives. We must enhance social services to help folks get off of drugs and remain off of drugs. I stand ready and willing to work with law enforcement to ensure that those who make our communities less safe are held accountable and taken off the streets.” The estimated street value of the heroin, fentanyl and other drugs distributed by this criminal operation is roughly $7.7 million. In addition to 983 grams of crack cocaine and 4,900 grams of heroin and/or fentanyl, agents also recovered three handguns, $13,000 in cash, and a piece of heavy machinery Read more
SPRINGFIELD, Feb. 15 – State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, is encouraging constituents of the 165th Legislative District to attend her senior breakfast at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at American Legion Post #805, 2340 West Chester Pike, Broomall, 19008 . "It’s important that our seniors know that we are here to help," O’Mara said. "I will be sharing with them how the governor’s new budget will advance initiatives that improve seniors’ lives. My staff and representatives from other state and county agencies will be there with helpful materials, including senior handbooks, estate planning books and other informational pieces." Residents with questions about the event are encouraged to call O’Mara’s office at 610-544-9878 or by email at RepOMara@pahouse.net . Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 15 – A state grant of nearly $7,500 will allow Apollo-Ridge Elementary school to purchase needed equipment for its cafeteria, including a display case, a refrigerated deli display and a countertop, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said the grant is part of a package of competitive grants awarded to 79 elementary, middle and high schools statewide through a program administered by the state Department of Education. “We know students who have access to nutritious food perform better in the classroom, and these needed enhancements will go a long way to ensure Apollo-Ridge Elementary School can continue to provide the essential meals students need every day to learn and grow,” Petrarca said. The funding for the grants is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is awarded to schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools often use the grants to purchase new refrigerators, freezers, stoves and dishwashers. Read more
Lt Gov. John Fetterman is conducting a statewide listening tour to hear from Pennsylvania residents about how they view proposals to legalize general adult-use marijuana. I also want to know what you think. Please provide your viewpoint and comment by filling out the form below. http://www.pahouse.com/Survey/?id=1177 Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 15 – Legislation introduced this week by state Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., would help police across the commonwealth remove illegal trespassers from residential properties. House Bill 546 would help address situations where people illegally move into a home or an apartment but claim to live there legally when police arrive. Law enforcement would have the authority to remove someone from a home if they have probable cause to believe the person is trespassing. Under the bill, the accused would be granted adequate opportunity to prove they live there legally before police can remove them. “There are cases when it’s one person’s word against another’s, so police often hesitate to remove the trespasser because the property owner could be attempting to evict rightful tenants illegally,” Neilson said. “There are certain situations when an owner may have to take legal eviction action, which could be expensive and time-consuming. My legislation would help eliminate that potential step for the property owner.” The bill would not affect landlord-tenant disputes, and a property owner making a false statement could be held criminally and civilly liable. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 15 – In his continued effort to connect with young people in his district, state Rep. Chris Rabb announced he will host his third annual millennial brunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at Mt. Airy Nexus, 520 Carpenter Lane, 19119. Rabb said the brunch is a great opportunity for residents, students, activists and leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 to gather for food and networking and to get information about what they can do to improve their schools, help fight crime and improve their neighborhood. Residents interested in attending are urged to call Rabb’s office at 215-242-7300. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced that the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will host a Black History Month program to celebrate the Tuskegee Airmen. The ceremony will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at New Covenant Church of Philadelphia, 7500 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119. "The Tuskegee Airmen’s excellent combat record served as an example to all who doubted the leadership skills of black Americans'” Kinsey said. “Even before the civil rights movement took shape, these heroes helped open doors for black Americans in the military and beyond.” The event will feature a panel discussion with members of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen hosted by Junious R. Stanton. Speakers include Tuskegee Airmen and women Nathan O. Thomas, Dr. Eugene Richardson, Bertram Levy and Alma Bailey. Read more
STATE COLLEGE, Feb. 15 – Citing concerns from several school districts statewide that the current high school sports playoff system is unfair, state Rep. Scott Conklin introduced legislation that would establish separate playoffs for public and private schools. Conklin, D-Centre, said the current system’s rules, as mandated by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, which operates all state championship tournaments, gives an unfair advantage to private and parochial schools, which aren’t confined by geographic boundaries that public schools must follow. “As a result, many of those private schools’ sports programs have become so large that they’re now dominating playoffs, and that’s not fair,” said Conklin. “My legislation would change a 1972 law, removing a mandate that these schools compete with public schools, and allow for separate playoffs.” Conklin discussed his bill during a news conference at the Penn Stater Hotel and Convention Center in State College, where the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Clinic was being held. Read more
KENNETT SQUARE, Feb. 14 – State Rep. Christina Sappey today announced she was appointed to the General Assembly’s Local Government Commission. The commission, created in 1935, is a bicameral, bipartisan legislative service agency that provides the General Assembly with research and analysis on matters affecting local governments. “I’m honored to receive this appointment. I am ready to join my colleagues on the commission and eager to learn from them,” said Sappey, D-Chester. “Local governments play a huge role in our everyday lives, and I look forward to tackling some of our larger, more complex local government issues in a way that best serves local governments and the taxpayers.” Sappey’s record of working with residents, local governments and state agencies to address traffic concerns, protect natural resources and preserve open space will allow her to contribute to the commission’s vision of bridging gaps between constituents and local governments throughout the commonwealth. Sappey was recommended for the commission by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and appointed by House Speaker Mike Turzai. The commission is made up of five House members and five Senate members. Sappey also was appointed to the House Local Government Committee, as well as the Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees. Learn more about the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – A state grant of nearly $27,000 will allow Union Memorial Elementary School to purchase a new electric combination oven, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today. “This is a terrific investment,” Sainato said. “A combination oven – which enables cooking through steam, convection or a combination of both – will improve the taste, appearance and nutritional quality of the school’s meals. Food that’s better-looking and more flavorful is key when we’re trying to get elementary school kids – who are notoriously picky eaters – to eat healthy. Multiple studies have shown that kids who have regular access to nutritious meals perform better.” Sainato added that the new equipment will also help the school serve more students more quickly. The funding is part of package of competitive grants awarded to 79 elementary, middle and high schools through a program administered by the state Department of Education. Funding for the grants is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is awarded to schools which participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools often use the grants to purchase new refrigerators, freezers, stoves and dishwashers. Read more
UPPER DARBY, Feb. 14 – State Reps. Margo Davidson and Mike Zabel, both D-Delaware, will host a free shredding event from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Barclay Square Center Shopping Center parking lot, 1500 Garrett Road. Residents of the 163 rd and 164 th Legislative Districts can bring documents that contain personal or confidential information to be shredded for free on-site. “I want to help my constituents protect themselves from identity theft by offering a safe and free way to dispose of sensitive materials like bank statements, credit card statements, credit card applications, canceled checks, income tax information, insurance records and retirement or pension information,” Davidson said. The event is part of Davidson’s Financial Fitness Month offerings to support constituents’ financial health. “Identity theft can damage your finances and your credit score. I encourage everyone in my district to take advantage of this opportunity to get rid of those old papers safely and in an environmentally friendly way,” Zabel said. No electronics will be accepted. Read more
State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, is demanding answers after an apparent racial incident occurred in Brushton in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – The state must delay a plan that mandates shared ride services for Medical Assistance recipients go through statewide or regional vendors instead of county or locally based services, state Rep. Pam Snyder said. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington – along with state Reps. Aaron Bernstein, R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence, and Johnathan Fritz, R-Wayne/Susquehanna – said they will be introducing legislation that would ask the state Department of Human Services to hold off until a thorough review is conducted, citing concerns about access, as well as community needs and resources. “Pennsylvanians on Medical Assistance need safe, reliable transportation to their appointments – that point we all agree upon – but we need to ensure that any state requirements allow for flexibility, especially in the more rural and sparsely populated areas of our state,” Snyder said. “While we appreciate the department’s efforts, several issues arose in our communities showing a lack of understanding about local needs and resources, and that must be addressed first. Any transportation changes for MA recipients could cause confusion and result in significant impacts to their health care and needs. This plan could also adversely affect the senior shared ride program, and that also is a big concern of mine, if it were to go forward without a thorough review.” Last year, the state Human Services Code included the Read more
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