HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, announced today that the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education in Clinton County and ClearWater Conservancy in Centre County both received Environmental Education Grants through the Department of Environmental Protection. Hanna said a total of 79 projects statewide are receiving more than $1.18 million in Environmental Education Grant funding. Out of that statewide award, the PA Institute for Conservation Education Wildlife Leadership Academy received $41,292 and the ClearWater Conservancy Central PA Water Project received $49,987. "These critical education grants better our environment by promoting a sense of connection through community involvement,” said Hanna. “By providing funding for projects that enhance sustainable living, air quality, energy and promote the connection of children with nature, to name a few, DEP has proven to be a leader in environmental education.” According to DEP, projects addressing water education and climate change were prioritized. In addition, for the first time, grants were provided to applicants that illustrated a desire to educate, empower and enable disadvantaged communities to champion environmental and public health issues. Further developments in this grant program included 26 general grants of up to $50,000 for projects with a broad or statewide focus and 53 traditional mini-grants of up to Read more
HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans has introduced legislation that would offer additional protections for students and taxpayers in the event of a charter school’s closure. Under House Bill 1249 , a charter school that has been notified that its charter will not be renewed or will be terminated may not continue to enroll new students unless the charter school has filed an appeal. If the school’s appeal is denied by the state Charter School Appeal Board, the charter school would have to immediately stop enrolling new students. “In York, we know how difficult the closure of a charter school can be. We shouldn’t allow charter schools to continue enrolling students if they know they are going to close,” Hill-Evans said. “It’s unfair to those children and unnecessarily disruptive to their education.” Making this change would also alleviate concerns about charter schools that are anticipating closure enrolling more students in order to artificially inflate any payments based on enrollment when a school closes its doors. The bill only applies if a charter school hasn’t appealed a non-renewal or termination decision or if that appeal has been denied, Hill-Evans said. H.B. 1249 has been referred to the House Education Committee. Hill-Evans initially offered the bill as an amendment to the Republican-backed House Bill 97 – legislation she said that falls short of providing much-needed reform Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 20 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., will hold a free shredding event for residents of the 194 th Legislative District from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29, in the lot behind the Magisterial District Court, 925 Montgomery Ave. in Narberth (it is located next to Staples). Availability is on a first-come basis. Shredding will take place at the designated time or until the truck is full. There is a limit of four bags per household (standard storage/banker boxes or grocery bags). "Safe disposal of documents with personal information is one of the best defenses against identity theft,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. "Shredding also is a great way to dispose of unneeded paper in an environmentally friendly way, and I am happy to offer this service to my constituents." DeLissio said common types of unwanted items that should be shredded include credit card statements, credit card applications, bank statements, canceled checks, income tax information, insurance records and retirement or pension fund information. This is a rain or shine event, and all shredding will be done on site. Shredded paper will be recycled. For more information, constituents can call DeLissio’s office at 215-482-8726. Read more
Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced that Saint Vincent College has been awarded a $50,000 state environmental education grant to advance its Screen to Stream program exploring local watersheds. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 20 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio (D-Montgomery/Phila.) held meaningful conversations on legislative issues with constituents during her recent “Policy Pow Wow,” held in her district office. The Pow-Wow format allows for a deep and balanced look at policy issues. About 20 people gathered April 12 for discussion on two subjects: Senate Bill 10, known as the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement (SAFE) Act, which is related to the issue of sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 3, the Pain Capable/Dismemberment Legislation, one of the strictest abortion-ban laws in the country. “I was happy to hear from constituents interested in both of the subjects,” DeLissio said. “Those who attended were genuinely interested in understanding all points of view and understanding the process that has gotten the legislation to this point. My primary concern about the process is that no hearings were held in the Senate and no hearings are scheduled in the House on either of these bills. I’m glad I could host this event to help my constituents better understand what is happening in Harrisburg.” Several attendees said they appreciated the opportunity to listen, share and learn. “Conversation on these two topics was informative, lively and very timely,” said John Gray of Roxborough. Sara Stroman, from Manayunk, said, “I think these policy Pow Wows are fantastic and that Read more
HARRISBURG, April 20 – State Reps. Mary Jo Daley and Stephen McCarter, both D-Montgomery, will host an environmental town hall meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 27 at the Ambler Borough Hall, 131 Rosemary Ave., in Ambler. Both Daley and McCarter are members of the bipartisan, bicameral Climate Caucus, which was formed to provide a free-flowing and informal discussion forum for legislators to address all manner of issues relating to climate change in Pennsylvania -- jobs, industry, manufacturing, clean air, clean water, and specific regional impacts among them. Both said the need for detailed, up-to-the-minute information and dialogue surrounding climate change is now greater than ever. “I am delighted to co-host a Town Hall in Ambler Borough on the environment along with my colleague, Representative Steve McCarter,” Daley said. “We are also pleased that Matt Stepp of PennFuture will join us for a lively discussion on important issues that affect all of us.” The evening will include a discussion about the following topics: Impact of climate change; Environmental protections and regulations nationwide and within Pennsylvania; Impact of budget and regulatory changes on clean air and water; What citizens can do to help protect the environment in Pennsylvania Storm water management; and Methane; “Our climate is changing. 2016 was the nation’s second-warmest year on record and the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 20 – Philadelphia state Reps. Donna Bullock and W. Curtis Thomas today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to stop-and-go establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "This is an opportunity to put this issue under a microscope. Coming together allows concerns to be addressed, particularly the community's, and provides an avenue for all of us to be part of the solution," Bullock said. "I remain committed to working with all stakeholders to bring an end to the negative consequences associated with the nuisance establishments that are disrupting neighborhoods." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. "The fact of the matter is stop-and-gos lead to additional illegal activity in locations where the crime rate is too high already. Doing nothing is not an option," Thomas said. "Today's actions ensure that we are continuing the conversation on how we can answer the public's call to provide them with the safest neighborhoods possible." Among the testifiers were Clarence Dupree from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Capt. Kpana Massaquoi of the Philadelphia Police Department's 22nd Police District, Sgt. Christopher Clark from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, and Read more
State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced two bills that would require the state’s auditor general to annually audit the General Assembly’s expenses and its legislative services agencies. Freeman said the legislation is being introduced as both a bill and an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to address any concerns regarding the constitutionality of having an executive branch office audit the legislature’s finances. The Northampton County legislator said completed copies of the audits would then be available to the public. “We need to have greater transparency and more accountability as to how the legislature spends taxpayers’ money,” Freeman said. "An outside, unbiased auditor, such as the state’s auditor general, should be reviewing our expenses and issuing a report instead of a company that we pay to perform an internal audit on ourselves.” As it now stands, the General Assembly is audited by a certified public accountant hired by the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission. Freeman said the auditor general recently held a news conference offering his department’s services to leaders of the Senate and House to help increase openness. “We continually talk of financial transparency, so this is a chance for us to open the books and reveal just how taxpayers’ money is being spent by the legislature,” Freeman said. After the audits, Freeman’s bills would Read more
In light of congressional Republicans overturning internet privacy rules set to take effect later this year, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, is joining fellow House Democrats to prepare a package of bills aimed at protecting Pennsylvanians' online privacy. Read more
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously adopted an amendment authored by state Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, that would require schools to provide a timely transfer of students’ records to another school. Madden’s amendment covers students who transfer to another public school, including charter schools, or a nonpublic school. “My amendment protects students and their families regardless of their choice of school,” Madden said. The proposal was adopted into H.B. 97, which is expected to be voted on final passage when the House returns to session Monday. Madden said it is necessary that a student be provided continuity in their education program and her proposal ensures that a student’s records are transferred within 10 days from the school’s request for those records. The Monroe County lawmaker said the school would also need to evaluate the student’s needs and place him or her in the appropriate academic program, and provide a complete and accurate record of academic and attendance records. “I am hopeful that our schools will have more accountability because records provide proof and they also provide data that reveal students’ learning performance, which are vital to an educational system’s information cycle,” Madden said. Madden represents the 115 th Legislative District. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced a bill to require state departments and agencies, elected row offices, and the General Assembly to craft language access plans to better serve Pennsylvania residents with a limited ability to speak or write in English. House Bill 1241 would require these language access plans to identify all languages spoken by at least 3 percent of the population they serve, and provide vital documents and informational materials in those languages. It also requires that oral, in-person interpretive services be provided in languages encountered at least weekly. “All Pennsylvanians should have equal access to their government,” Dawkins said. “Our departments and agencies cannot fulfill their missions if there are 500,000 people in the state they can’t communicate with. This is a matter of protecting our residents’ health, rights and well-being.” The bill would require state agencies to submit their language access plans to the secretary of administration, who would provide central coordination and technical assistance. The secretary also would make these plans available online for the public to review. In addition to entities under the authority of the governor, the attorney general, auditor general and treasurer as well as the state House and Senate would be required to publish and implement language access plans under the bill. “As the population of non-English Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – Public schools that advertise “free” tuition or transportation would be required to state that taxpayer dollars are paying the cost, under an amendment that was adopted by the state House of Representatives today, according to its prime sponsor Rep. Mike Schlossberg. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 19 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., strongly supports the package of charter school reforms House Democrats announced today, which would treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "Both charter schools and traditional public schools are considered public schools under Pennsylvania law. Both receive tax dollars. I firmly believe that all of these public schools and their students should be treated equally under law," Rabb said. Rabb said the proposed reforms House Democrats unveiled today include: H.B. 1199 , introduced by Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., which would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases and potentially help to recover millions of dollars from leases the state Auditor General's Office has identified as questionable. H.B. 1204 , introduced by Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, would provide a clear process for administrators to follow when closing a traditional or charter school building. Her bill would also allow the state to develop a database of unused or underused school facilities to ensure their potential sale or re-use benefits the taxpayers who paid for them. Rabb said, "Often these closings can be damaging to a neighborhood and this legislation would do a lot to address that." H.B. 1202 would require charter schools to use the same teacher evaluation system already in use Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, announced Wednesday that Yeadon will receive a $9.5 million low-interest loan to complete sewer upgrades in the borough. The loan was approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. The project consists of replacing 12,750 feet of clay pipe, repairing 49 manholes and replacing 217 connections from the sewer line to private property line. Cracks and shifting in the existing pipes is causing inflow and infiltration into the sewer line. “Having solid infrastructure is so important for our communities,” Davidson said. “This loan allows Yeadon to complete much needed work to ensure the sewer system will be in good shape for years to come.” Pennvest serves Pennsylvania communities by funding sewer, storm water and drinking water projects. The projects contribute to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and residents’ health, as well as provide jobs and opportunities for economic growth. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – Periodic flooding, sinkholes and erosion in Unity Township will be remedied by a $2.05 million state grant, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D- Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. Petrarca said the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding will enable installation of 6,800 feet of new storm sewer pipe, along with related inlets, end-walls, rip-rap and trench paving. “The township’s existing storm sewer system is deteriorated to the extent that it has collapsed in some areas and flooding occurs every one to two years,” Petrarca said. “Because of related erosion, sediment is being deposited into nearby streams, adversely affecting water quality. “This project represents a major upgrade to the Unity Township system, benefits the public health and creates 10 related construction jobs.” Petrarca said he was happy to work to get this funding and added that the project will benefit a service area of 8,470 people. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, announced today a $3.4 million investment through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. The over $3 million low-interest loan would allow the Easton Suburban Water Authority, which serves parts of Northampton County, to replace approximately 1.6 miles of distribution piping, and install control valves, hydrants and service laterals. "The Easton Suburban Water Authority's existing distribution facilities serve a population of 96,000 and are in need of upgrading. It’s no longer able to supply reliable water pressure during peak demand or meet recommended fire flows," Freeman said. While consistent with land use and farmland preservation efforts, this project would provide a number of major advantages. Our area would benefit from the prevention of further deterioration within its water supply and protection against health hazards. It would also improve documented low flows for drinking water and fire flow uses. Pennvest provides low-interest loans for the design, engineering and construction of publicly and privately owned drinking water distribution and treatment facilities, storm water conveyance and wastewater treatment and collection systems. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila.\Delaware, announced today that the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary was awarded a grant for $7.9 million to construct a freshwater mussel hatchery. Originally proposed last year, the grant was approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. “This hatchery will produce hundreds of thousands of mussels annually and contribute to the improvement of water quality in both the Susquehanna and Delaware estuaries,” McClinton said. The focus of this project is to restore historic populations of native mussel beds. Riparian buffers are normally used to play a key role in removing nitrogen and partially protecting a stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. Instead of buffers, the hatchery will be designed to filter out nutrients, particularly nitrogen, which run off the land and into hundreds of streams in both watersheds. It will provide for 4.3 million mussels in these areas and remove a higher amount of nitrogen. “In the years to come this investment will prove a positive environmental impact, as well as a financial one with significant cost reductions,” McClinton said. Pennvest serves the state of Pennsylvania by distributing grants and low-interest loans for design, engineering and construction of publicly and privately owned drinking water distribution and treatment facilities, storm water conveyance and wastewater treatment and Read more
HARRISBURG, April 19 – House Democrats today unveiled a package of eight charter school reform bills designed to treat all Pennsylvania public schools – both traditional and charter – and their students equally under law. "I am hopeful we can pull together bipartisan support for these bills that improve efficiencies and accountability, which means that there will be more money available for education. Providing high-quality education to all Pennsylvania students should be the ultimate goal of our educational system," said Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee. Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, has introduced a bill ( H.B. 1199 ) that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. "The auditor general's office has identified millions of dollars in questionable charter school leases. We need to prevent these conflicts of interest up front, and we need to recover taxpayers' money to benefit students when there has been an inappropriate payment for one of these leases. Every dollar that goes to an inappropriate lease is a dollar that doesn't go to educate our kids," Roebuck said. Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne, introduced a bill ( H.B. 1198 ) that would bring charter schools in line with school districts by imposing limits on the surpluses that charter schools may accumulate. "My legislation Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder is drafting legislation that would clarify fees from low-producing natural gas wells and ensure fuller payments to communities and programs. Read more
Rep. Rob Matzie salutes trains, the rail freight industry and its workers with two measures adopted unanimously by the state House of Representatives. Read more
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