HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today voted in favor of H.B. 2060 , legislation that would strengthen the Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act and convictions of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence that require relinquishment of firearms by limiting the third-party safekeeping options available for firearms. “We’ve heard of far too many incidents of needless violence where perpetrators have used guns obtained from friends and family after a PFA order has been issued,” Dawkins said. “Prohibiting family and friends from taking weapons from the convicted individual and reducing the maximum time for relinquishment of firearms from 60 days to 48 hours are essential for victims of domestic violence when facing imminent threats from their abusers.” The legislation, voted out of the House Judiciary Committee today, is similar to Dawkins’ H.B. 2097 , which aims to create a statewide notification system to alert victims of domestic violence, the general public, and law enforcement agencies when a known domestic violence abuser attempts to purchase or transfer a gun at a licensed firearms dealer. “I’m glad to see more legislators who understand the importance of protecting victims of domestic violence by limiting their abuser’s ability to possess and procure firearms,” Dawkins said. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – On Monday, a House bill that would require the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to create a database to be used by beneficiaries in search of unclaimed life insurance benefits unanimously passed the House, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced. “The passing of this legislation is a significant benefit for family members of a decedent,” said Longietti, a co-sponsor of H.B. 152 . “The creation of a database that allows family members to see if their loved one had a life insurance policy or annuity contract in place will provide families with death benefits during their time of need.” Under the legislation, insurers would be required to maintain a valid email address with the state’s Insurance Department. The department then would be tasked with maintaining an electronic database of this information so that family members know how to reach a company to determine whether a life insurance policy or annuity contract is valid. Additionally, insurance companies are required to participate in the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners , which provides a method for searching for life insurance policies and annuity contracts in effect. “I have had a number of families come to my office in hopes of tracking down a life insurance company to see if the policy they found at the home of decedent was valid. Other times, they’re simply trying to determine Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, and state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, co-chairs of the 140-member Early Childhood Education Caucus, today joined Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera at the Capitol to welcome children from Hansel and Gretel, a high-quality Keystone 4 child care center, to commemorate Early Childhood Action Day. Longietti, Rivera and other legislators participated in a block tower building competition to highlight the importance of continued state investments in high-quality child care. As part of the event, advocates distributed a recent poll of 602 Pennsylvania residents conducted by Magellan Strategies that demonstrated strong support for funding high-quality child care. Key findings from the poll show: Seventy-seven percent support and 55 percent strongly support increased funding for high-quality child care programs. Seventy-seven percent believe high-quality child care is very expensive and 82 percent believe the government needs to do more to make programs affordable for families. “We know that investing in our children early, when the infrastructure of their brains is being formed, is the best first step we can take to promote their lifelong success,” Longietti said. “We have to make sure these types of investments reach our most vulnerable populations, and that can only be accomplished by funding programs like Pre-K, child care, home visiting, and early intervention at a level that Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today announced he will introduce legislation that would create a commission to review the potential adverse impacts of deactivating coal and nuclear electric plants before making decisions on whether to close those plants. Matzie, co-chairman of the House Nuclear Energy Caucus, said the proposed commission would make decisions on deactivations only after hearing from state and local government officials, affected employees, business owners and other stakeholders. “Over the last several years, we have witnessed the closing of a record number of Pennsylvania-based coal and nuclear electric plants,” Matzie said. “But no entity exists to examine the negative impacts ahead of time. These closings affect local economies, they affect electric reliability and they affect the environment. “What’s worse, there’s no requirement to give any sort of notice to the workers whose livelihoods are changed forever by the decision to close. We need to have a level of input and oversight. This legislation would provide employee protections such as minimum requirements for severance payments and the continuation of health care benefits. So it is not just industry focused, but worker focused as well.” Matzie said the proposed legislation also would require the owner of a coal fired plant to remediate the facility and the surrounding area in order to receive approval to Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – On Monday, H.B. 152 , which would assist beneficiaries in determining if a decedent had a life insurance policy in place, unanimously passed the House, according to state Rep. Tony DeLuca. “I’m happy to announce the passing of House Bill 152,” said DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “This is an important bill for consumer protection, and I’m glad to see that my previous legislation, House Bill 2434, was amended into this bill as a means of guaranteeing consumers are given the ample protection they deserve.” House Bill 2434 , which was amended into H.B. 152 by the state Senate, would establish criteria to ensure people have been reasonably informed about various policy features of an annuity before it is purchased; including surrender fees, investment advisory fees and tax penalties, among other consumer protections. If signed into law, DeLuca’s provision would update the suitability of annuity transactions of the Insurance Company Law and would prohibit an insurer from issuing an annuity recommendation to a consumer, unless there is a reasonable basis to believe that the annuity is in the best interest of the consumer. “Determining suitability would be based on the consumer’s information, including age, income, financial experience, risk tolerance and other factors,” DeLuca said. “Having this protection is of the utmost importance to our senior citizens, but this also provides all Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – The House Judiciary Committee today voted on several gun safety bills, including legislation authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila., which would deal with people with mental health issues and firearms. House Bill 273 would establish a voluntary "no firearm purchase list" that the Pennsylvania State Police would maintain. A person could request to be placed on the list for at least one year and up to five years. State police also would inform a person 20 days before his or her time ends on the list and provide a way for reenlistment should that person desire. “This bill is similar to legislation that created the existing voluntary gambling self-exclusion list. It would help people who are struggling with mental or physical health issues and who fear they may be a danger to themselves or others,” Donatucci said. “If my legislation could save at least one life, then it is truly worth it.” In addition to Donatucci’s bill, the following pieces of legislation were voted out of the committee and will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote: H.B. 2060 – Would require a person to surrender his or her firearms 48 hours after being convicted of domestic violence. H.B. 2227 – Would prohibit someone who could be an extreme risk of causing harm to himself, herself or others from possessing firearms. H.B. 2275 – Would prosecute someone convicted of attempted rape, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., issued the following statement concerning sexual harassment studies mandated by two resolutions adopted by the state House of Representatives Monday: “I’m deeply troubled by the partisan gamesmanship disguised as progress that we witnessed in the House of Representatives yesterday. Hundreds of women are assaulted in Pennsylvania every day. It is time for action, not studies on sexual harassment. “As of today, 25 substantial pieces of legislation to protect women in Pennsylvania are being held hostage across House committees. One of them is mine, H.B. 2282 , to protect interns, who often become easy targets because of their age, low rank in office settings, and because they often lack knowledge about their employment rights. “Meanwhile, the Republican delegation advanced two GOP-authored resolutions: one to establish a 'Task Force on Harassment and Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace' and another to direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a taxpayer-funded study on harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace in state government and report the findings within 12 months. “I voted against these resolutions because a study isn’t going to empower victims or make those who witness harassment feel safe enough to report these incidents without fear of retaliation. A study isn’t going to make the reporting process easier or help victims understand Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – A bill that would mandate school security drills, H.B. 2215, introduced by state Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna, passed the House of Representatives and moves to the Senate for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, and fellow members of the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee heard testimony this morning from the director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athlete Association – the state’s governing body for high school athletics – and others to address concerns that private schools have an unfair advantage over public schools under the current state playoff system – particularly when it comes to high school basketball and football. A central topic: how to deal fairly and effectively with situations in which students transfer schools. PIAA rules prohibit student athletes from transferring for athletic reasons. While the rules are designed to prevent abuses of the system – such as when a student moves to a school to compete in playoffs and then moves back – Matzie noted that many students transfer for legitimate socio-economic, safety or family-related reasons. “Every case is different,” Matzie said. “We need to consider those circumstances.” PIAA recently tightened the rules to mandate that if a student transfers during the season, he or she must sit out 21 days before becoming eligible to complete in PIAA-sanctioned events. And if a student is eligible to participate in 50 percent of a season at one school, he or she would not be eligible to play that season at the transfer school. But problems persist. As one charter school representative Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – The House today unanimously passed legislation that would remove a significant obstacle preventing chiropractic students from completing their education in the commonwealth, according to state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny. Currently, state law prohibits anyone without a license from engaging in chiropractic care. By creating an exception for students who practice under the direct supervision of a licensed chiropractor, Ravenstahl said S.B. 892 would allow students to obtain the hands-on experience they need to gain their credentials. “The commonwealth has long recognized the health benefits of chiropractic care,” said Ravenstahl, whose nearly identical H.B. 1737 was reported out of the House Professional Licensure Committee last September. “But the law forces chiropractic students to travel out of state to gain the vital clinical experience they need. It’s a huge roadblock and a major reason there are no chiropractic schools or programs here. “Lifting the practice restriction for students would spur the establishment of state chiropractic schools and increase the chances of students studying and remaining here to practice. Allowing the profession to grow and flourish will do the same for jobs and the state’s economy.” The bill, which is supported by the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association, now heads to the governor’s desk. Read more
SCRANTON, June 18 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Marty Flynn. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, announced today that five areas in the 1st Legislative District, which he represents, have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department as Qualified Opportunity Zones. The Erie communities were nominated under a federal program that gives private investors tax incentives for investing capital gains in distressed, low-income communities. “I’m excited by the prospect of better jobs and housing opportunities that private investment can bring,” Harkins said. “Infusion of capital can stimulate the kind of development that will breathe new life into these low-income communities and open doors for the hardworking families living there.” Under the program – which is administered by the U.S. Treasury Department under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – states nominate a certain percentage of census tracts as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Private investors receive tax benefits for investing capital gains in these areas and adjacent tracts. Pennsylvania had 1,197 low-income census tracts eligible for Qualified Opportunity Zone status and was given the opportunity to nominate 25 percent, or 300 tracts. In April, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he had made the nominations after gathering input from various sources across the state and examining where areas of need intersected with investment opportunities. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, announced today that nine areas in the 35 th Legislative District he represents have been approved as “Qualified Opportunity Zones.” The areas – which include three in Clairton, three in McKeesport and three in Duquesne – were nominated under a federal program that attracts private investors to low-income communities through tax incentives. “I’m excited to see us move forward with this program,” Davis said. “Infusions of capital into these distressed areas could make a huge difference to residents in terms of jobs and housing opportunities. Our hardworking Pennsylvania families deserve the hope and promise that revitalization can bring.” Under the program – administered by the U.S. Treasury Department under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – states may nominate a certain percentage of census tracts as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Private investors receive tax benefits for investing capital gains in these areas and adjacent tracts. Pennsylvania was given the opportunity to designate 300 low-income community tracts as opportunity zones. In April, the governor announced that he had made the nominations after gathering input from individuals and organizations across the state, and examining where areas of need intersected with potential investment opportunities. Read more
CARMICHAELS, June 18 – State Rep. Pam Snyder said the state Public Utility Commission’s recent action to take control of utility pole attachments away from the federal government is a positive outgrowth of her work that procured the governor’s commitment to expanding high-speed internet. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the PUC voted to begin rulemaking to allow it to take jurisdiction over pole attachments – a duty that has defaulted to the Federal Communications Commission because the state has not assumed it. “What we’re seeing is a newfound appetite by the PUC to take over this responsibility, which is welcome news to those of us fighting to bring modern broadband to under-served areas,” Snyder said. “One of the criticisms of federal oversight of pole attachments is that it’s inadequate because of weak enforcement. “If the commonwealth takes this over, as we hope, Pennsylvania can have more of a direct say in the infrastructure development needed to expand broadband to rural areas. That would benefit residents, hospitals, schools and businesses as they compete in the high-tech era.” Snyder has partnered with state Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, a York County Republican, in pushing to bring modern broadband internet to 800,000 Pennsylvanians who lack it, many of them living in rural areas. In addition to introducing a package of bills and resolutions to accomplish that objective, Snyder Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee will consider several gun safety reform measures at its meeting Tuesday. The voting meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 140 of the Main Capitol building. The agenda includes several measures that the PA SAFE Caucus has advocated for. The list of bills to be considered include: H.B. 1400, which would close a loophole to create universal background checks for gun purchases 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 Find the full agenda at this link . The PA SAFE Caucus is a group of legislators who believe in reducing all types of violence in society, through adequate funding for mental health services; best use of new and existing law-enforcement tools; resources to curb the effects of addiction and illegal drugs; and solutions that reduce gun violence and promote public safety. Read more
YORK, June 15 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, released the following statement regarding a ruling today that Helen Thackston Charter School must close by the end of the month. “Today’s ruling came about after both the York City School District and Helen Thackston Charter agreed to leave the fate of the school in the hands of a York County judge. “I support the decision from both sides to allow the judicial system to determine what’s in the best interest of all parties involved and therefore support today’s ruling. “Education is the backbone of our children’s success. Quality schools provide countless possibilities in the classroom and give them the proper tools to flourish in the workforce. I will continue fighting to make sure that our younger generation has access to these opportunities.” ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 15 – State Rep. Mike Driscoll, D-Phila., witnessed the signing of legislation that minimizes financial uncertainty and encourages fairer treatment for contractors and subcontractors in Pennsylvania. House Bill 566, signed into law as Act 27 of 2018, allows contractors to suspend their work if they are not paid per contract terms. “This law will significantly impact the lives of many Pennsylvania families. Contractors and subcontractors often face a greater risk of going unpaid because they are compensated in full after the services are provided,” said Driscoll, co-sponsor of the bill. “I think our legislation will strike the right balance in making sure contractors are paid for the work they do. Consequently, we’ll help support families who depend on that income.” Under the new law, contractors and subcontractors will be able to stop working on a project if payment is not received per contract guidelines. To be eligible to suspend work, 30 days from the end of the billing cycle must pass. Then, they would have to provide written notice via mail or email and wait an additional 30 days. If payment is not received, they would have to provide at least 10 calendar days of notice by certified mail. If payment is not received during those 70 days, work may be suspended without penalty. The law becomes effective in 120 days. Read more
CARMICHAELS, June 15 – The federal government has approved Cumberland Township, Greene County, as a Qualified Opportunity Zone, giving tax incentives to those who invest in businesses, real estate and other ventures within its borders, state Rep. Pam Snyder announced today. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said the designation was meted out to 300 low-income communities across Pennsylvania, as a means to help economically distressed areas garner investments that could secure their turnaround. “This is a valuable tool in attracting development to Cumberland Township,” Snyder said. “These Qualified Opportunity Zones provide an incentive for investors to put their unrealized capital gains to work, in ways that have a direct impact on promoting growth.” Snyder said the program gives investors tax benefits for investing their capital gains in low-income community census tracts, as well as certain tracts adjacent to low-income tracts. It applies to private investors making private equity investments in funds that will then invest in businesses, real estate, and other ventures in low-income communities. The incentive offers deferral, reduction, and potential elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes. The fund model also will enable a broad array of private equity fund managers and investors to pool their resources, increasing the scale of investments going to under-served areas. Snyder said the Cumberland Township designation was Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – A $50,000 “Teacher in the Workplace” grant will help Erie county educators strengthen their curricula with information about real-world business and industry trends, opportunities and needs, according to state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie. “This funding will allow teachers direct access to local businesses, where they can learn about the latest in-demand careers and the skills that will help students master them,” Harkins said. “Teachers can then carry this cutting-edge information back to students. When it comes to business and industry, there’s no substitute for learning based on real-world knowledge.” The grant, which was awarded to the NWPA Teacher in the Workplace workforce development board, is one of 48 grants, totaling more than $2 million, to programs statewide. The grants are funded through federal money made available from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 15 – The House Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the week of June 18 to June 24 as “Pollinator Week” in Pennsylvania, according to the resolution’s author, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. H.R. 971 recognizes the significant role pollinators such as honey bees play in the production of the state’s food supply. The resolution also recognizes the important work of beekeepers and other groups that promote pollination. “Bees and other pollinators are a critical link in our ecosystem,” Matzie said. “Assisted by the efforts of beekeepers and other groups that promote pollination, they produce about one-third of all foods and beverages, including so many of the foods we take for granted. Honey bees alone account for between $1.2 billion and $5.4 billion in U.S. agricultural productivity.” Matzie noted that according to Pollinator Partnership – a nonprofit group that promotes and protects pollinators and their ecosystems – pollinators serve more than 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops, adding $217 billion to the global economy. They also promote healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize the soil, protect crops from severe weather and support other wildlife. In addition to the work of Pollinator Partnership, the resolution recognizes the efforts of the Pennsylvania Beekeepers Association, the state Department of Agriculture, the Read more
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