HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – Pennsylvania state legislators are making a bid to assist hundreds of workers idled by Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s six-month lockout who are about to see their unemployment benefits expire. Reps. Frank Dermody and Joe Petrarca this week teamed up to introduce a bill that would provide financial help to workers who were locked out of their jobs and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. "Workers and their families are in severe financial distress after being locked out of their jobs for half a year," Dermody said. “These workers helped make ATI what it is today. They take pride in the work they do and they want to get back to doing it. Until that happens, we need to help them weather the crisis.” The bill (H.B. 1857) introduced by Dermody and Petrarca would provide temporary unemployment benefits to any Pennsylvania workers who see regular unemployment benefits expire after being locked out of their jobs. Only unemployed workers affected by a lockout would be eligible and the state Department of Labor and Industry reports the locked-out ATI employees are the only ones in Pennsylvania currently affected. “Hundreds of people would rather be working, but instead they are about to lose unemployment benefits through no fault of their own,” Petrarca said. “Their families are suffering along with them, as well as all the local businesses that depend on the daily spending generated by Read more
HARRISBURG, March 17 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, supported legislation this week that would end the nine-month budget standoff and help ensure community organizations and schools do not have to close their doors. The House passed a supplemental budget bill and several budget-related bills Wednesday evening, including bills to fund Penn State, which included its agricultural and cooperative extension services, and the University of Pittsburgh, and were sent to the governor. "It was important for me to support these proposals, that while not perfect, would help bring an end to the uncertainty of whether our communities' most vulnerable residents will continue to receive needed services. Families will receive financial assistance to help send their students to college, students will be able to attend school without threat of closure before the end of the school year, and seniors will continue to have access to state programs," Petrarca said. "Also, important to me is that this budget would not require any new state taxes." The governor signed a scaled-down budget bill in December, which authorized the flow of emergency funding to schools, counties and human service providers, but it was not a complete budget and left many areas and services unfunded. "I am hopeful that Wednesday's votes will bring an end to Pennsylvania's budget impasse so that we can wholly concentrate on crafting a budget Read more
HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer praised today’s House passage of legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. The House passed an amended version of S.B. 3, which originally passed the Senate in May 2015. The amended bill would require a prescribing doctor to be registered with the Department of Health before they would be authorized to prescribe the use of cannabis for the following conditions: intractable seizures, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntingdon's disease, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, autism and neuropathic pain for which traditional therapies are contraindicated as well as other neuropathies and certain spinal cord injuries. The main amendment of the bill was the result of a bipartisan task force, of which Schweyer was the only Lehigh Valley member, which worked together for months to craft a bill that would be acceptable to a majority of legislators. "It’s a great day in Pennsylvania and while it took a long time, we are closer than ever to finally seeing the legalization of medical marijuana," Schweyer said. "I’m proud to have been a part of a working group of legislators from both sides of the aisle who put politics aside and placed the health and well-being of people at the forefront. "There is a real need for this critical treatment Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today supported a resolution that authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Kathleen Kane and to determine whether she should be subject to impeachment. “I think many people share my concern about the conduct of the attorney general, especially in light of the suspension of her law license," said Petrarca, Democratic Judiciary Committee chairman. "Today's adoption of this resolution is the first step in a very deliberative process to determine if her actions merit impeachment." The resolution directs the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts to investigate Kane's conduct and make recommendations to the committee. The subcommittee will take testimony, review documents, and subpoena and interview witnesses during the course of its investigation. "I sincerely hope that a thorough and unbiased investigation will take place with the goal of making a report in a timely manner," Petrarca said. The resolution was adopted 170-12. Adoption of H.R. 659 is just the first step in the impeachment process under the Pennsylvania Constitution. Depending on the subcommittee's findings, another House resolution would be needed to formally file one or more counts of impeachment, which then would have to be approved by the House. If adopted, the Senate would conduct the trial, and requires a Read more
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, issued the following statement following Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2016-17 budget address today:
"Unfortunately, today’s budget address comes at a time when we still are without a budget for the previous fiscal year. That is a disservice to all Pennsylvanians and shows a serious gap in leadership in state government. We now have two budgets on our plate and are stuck in a static position because some members of the General Assembly would rather put politics before people.
HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong, has introduced a four-bill package designed to improve safety for railroad employees. "Rail freight transportation is on the increase in the United States," Petrarca said. "Not only because of an increase in consumer goods shipping, but also because it's a way to transport crude oil long distances. Believe it or not, crude oil is the single, fastest-growing rail-transported commodity in the U.S. "Because rail freight transportation is a $60 billion industry, supporting 221,000 jobs across the country, and because it reduces road congestion, highway fatalities and fuel consumption, it's important that we continue to ensure the vitality of this industry, while also protecting the health and safety of its employees and the general public." Petrarca worked with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen to develop these bills. The first bill (H.B. 1090) would establish uniform requirements for drivers hired by contract carriers to transport railroad crews. Railroads contract with these carriers to transport small groups of railroad employees to and from crew change points and between terminals. "In many instances, railroad workers are sleeping or otherwise not paying attention to the transport driver," Petrarca said. "This bill would help ensure workers' safety during these transports with driver standards regardless of the Read more
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, today echoed Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for the General Assembly to return to session, in light of the governor’s line-item veto of a $30.3 billion budget plan passed by the Senate last week.
“The Republicans passed a fiscally irresponsible budget that increases the deficit and cuts education funding by $95 million,” McCarter said. “Governor Wolf’s line-item veto rejects the Republican’s education cuts and out-of-balance budget, while still directing emergency funding for key services.”
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, announced today his office will be participating in the local Toys for Tots program as well as sponsoring a food drive.
“The holidays are a time to be thankful for everything we have, including time to spend with friends and family,” McCarter said. “However it’s important to remember that not everyone is as fortunate, and many people need just a little help to brighten their holidays. Donating an unwrapped toy or helping to put food on a struggling family’s table may seem like a small gesture, but it can really change a family’s holiday season.”
KING OF PRUSSIA, Oct. 22 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, today announced that after a lengthy review process by multiple departments as required by state law, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has finally signed a new lease to relocate and expand the Liquor Control Board's King of Prussia retail operation.
Construction is underway on the new Premium Fine Wine & Good Spirits store on West Dekalb Pike near Henderson Road, in the former Sports Authority. The new, larger space will feature many more customer friendly enhancements such as wine tastings, a full-time sommelier and an updated store design to enhance the shopping experience.
“I am happy to announce that what has been speculated in the community for over a year is finally confirmed and moving forward," Briggs said. "I applaud the PLCB for listening to its customers and expanding its operation to include many more choices for those in King of Prussia and surrounding communities. I have no doubt that this new location will become a flagship for the PLCB."
The existing store on South Gulph Road will close and relocate to the new location when it is complete. The new Premium Fine Wines & Good Spirits is expected to open in the first half of 2016.
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, issued the following statement in response to the Republican attempt to pass a stopgap budget rather than negotiate a real budget with Democratic leadership and Gov. Tom Wolf:
“Republican leadership again has called members of the House back to Harrisburg for another game of political showmanship. Pennsylvanians deserve a quality budget that funds our education system and human services, but instead all we get are half-measures and ploys that will only further exacerbate Pennsylvania’s deficit and provide no relief to our citizens.
State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, released the following statement on the Republican attempt to override Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of H.B. 1192, the General Appropriations bill for the 2015-16 fiscal year:
“Again during this budget season, the Republican leadership has chosen a stunt over real negotiations and a true attempt at compromise. We saw this in June and I hoped we wouldn’t see it again, but today they decided to waste taxpayer time and money in a game of political showmanship.
State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, joined the bipartisan Disability Caucus and the Arc of Pennsylvania, along with numerous other cooperating organizations, to call for broader support of multiple legislative measures aimed at increasing independence and opportunity for those with disabilities. Read more
State Rep. Mark Longietti announced that Laurel Technical Institute in Sharon has received a $149,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to upgrade equipment, provide scholarships and increase the use of technology in its classrooms. Read more
Harrisburg - June 16 - The state Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved a Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) resolution today calling on Congress to prohibit the transfer of Apache helicopters from Johnstown into active duty Army until a force structure analysis is completed. "The Army would do well to examine the efficacy of moving the Apache helicopters from Johnstown until further study is done," Wozniak said. "The unit is well established at the airport, has a large economic footprint and is essential to our security." Wozniak has joined with state Rep. Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria) and Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria) in seeking to stop the transfer of the 1-104 th Attack Battalion and the repositioning of Pennsylvania Army National Guard units. Barbin is a member of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The National Commission on the Future of the Army is now studying active duty and National Guard force structuring alternatives. The report is due in February 2016. Wozniak said that it was important for the state legislature to make its sentiments clear about the restructuring of the National Guard components in the state because the National Defense Authorization Act is before the U.S. Senate and will be subject to a House-Senate conference in the near future. "There is so much uncertainty both in regard to the report on the structure of the Army and with the composition and positioning of Read more
The state Senate’s Transportation Committee on Tuesday voted out state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s bill that would name a bridge in Conyngham Township in honor of a local federal corrections officer killed in the line of duty.
HARRISBURG, June 16 – Legislation recently reintroduced by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings through the state Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program.
Donatucci’s H.B. 1309 would allow women between the ages of 30 and 65 to qualify for the HealthyWoman program if they meet other eligibility guidelines. The program, designed to serve low-income, underinsured and uninsured women who make up to 250 percent below the federal poverty level, is currently open to eligible women 40 to 64, women under 40, if they are symptomatic, and women 65 or older if screenings are not covered by Medicare Part B.
Rep. Dan Deasy has introduced legislation that would authorize local area agencies on aging to investigate those holding powers of attorney when there is reason to believe that an older Pennsylvanian is being exploited. Seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually from elder financial abuse and exploitation, and only about one in every five such cases ever come to light. Read more
A bill that includes state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s legislation to ban nicotine products from school grounds, including increasingly popular "vaping" products and electronic cigarettes, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today he is sponsoring two pieces of legislation intended to strengthen and create awareness of the Pennsylvania honey industry.
Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted Matzie's H.R. 364, which designates the week of June 15 to June 21 as “Pollinator Week” in Pennsylvania.
"The bee population has been declining rapidly, which is alarming because these pollinators serve an indispensable role in the world of agriculture," Matzie said. "Without bees and professional beekeepers, we would only be able to produce a fraction of the food we do now, so it is my hope that this resolution draws attention to this issue."
Matzie has also introduced H.B. 1266, which would establish regulations and a standard of identity for honey in the state. Currently, Matzie explained, official U.S. grades are displayed on honey products to designate the quality of the product, but the system is strictly voluntary. This results in many products on the market labeled as "pure honey" while in reality they are adulterated with sweeteners or antibiotics.
"Consumers have a right to know what they are buying," Matzie said. "But this legislation is also important for the industry. Honey producers that take the time and effort to produce pure honey should have the right to market their product as such, and this bill will ensure that right is protected."
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, has been named Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Carroll said, "I have been extremely fortunate to have had a substantial role with the Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy committees. I fully expect to continue serving as a leading voice in these policy areas for the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties while fulfilling my responsibilities in my new role as chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I look forward to serving the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in this new additional role, where I will oversee legislation dealing with the important agriculture and food sector in Pennsylvania." Dermody added, "Mike has earned the chance to lead this committee. He knows the importance of farms, food and agricultural research to Pennsylvania’s economy and he understands that thousands of jobs depend on keeping agriculture strong. As a chairman of a standing committee, his responsibilities within the caucus have been raised to include oversight of the committee while continuing to advance transportation and education policies important to House Democrats." Carroll is serving his fifth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more
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