HAVERFORD, Aug. 3 – The natural gas industry spent $1.3 million lobbying the Pennsylvania General Assembly during the second quarter this year, state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, announced today. The latest figures, based on a review of the quarterly lobbying reports filed by 43 gas companies in Pennsylvania, also show that those companies spent more than $35,000 in gifts to undisclosed recipients in the second quarter. Range Resources spent $166,420 in lobbing – the highest among drilling companies, followed closely by Marcellus Shale Coalition, who spent $154,033. The second quarter numbers raise the total lobbying expenditures to more than $2.7 million in 2017. According to Vitali, the gas industry has now spent over $65 million dollars lobbying Pennsylvania government in the past decade. These lobbying efforts along with campaign contributions have resulted in legislation favorable to the gas industry, Vitali said. Vitali said that a damaging provision contained in the proposed Pennsylvania Tax Code, which passed the Senate last week, would privatize the environmental permitting process and allow gas drillers and other applicants to seek permit approval from third parties rather than the Department of Environmental Protection. Another provision in the Tax Code bill would allow a politically appointed advisory committee to decide on air quality permits for unconventional gas well sites. This provision is a direct attack on Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 2 – As he’s voluntarily done before, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria , is again refusing to accept a state paycheck during the current budget stalemate – a position confirmed in a letter circulated today from the House comptroller. “This letter will confirm that my office is holding your paychecks from July 1 until the rest of the budget is passed,” wrote comptroller Mary-Jo Mullen in the Aug. 2 correspondence. Burns said that he’s traditionally gone without a paycheck as long as the state budget is unfinished, most notably during the nine-month impasse of 2015-16, because of a strong belief that legislators should set an example. “I firmly believe that if the legislature didn’t get paid until this work was done, we wouldn’t keep having these budget impasses,” Burns said. “I may be in the minority in thinking like this, but my conscience won’t let me accept a payday from the taxpayers as long as this fundamental part of our job remains unfinished.” Burns said it’s philosophically and morally disingenuous for the legislature to approve a spending plan by the July 1 fiscal year deadline, but fail to pass the necessary revenue-raising legislation to complete the package. “This abdication of a fundamental duty is something my constituents are very upset about, and rightly so,” Burns said. “To them, it’s not a Democratic thing or a Republican Read more
Rep. Dan Deasy's employment center Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 1 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today joined students and activists to demand that Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education step in and save Cheyney University. Cheyney University, founded in 1837, is the nation’s first institution of higher learning for African Americans. The university faces financial struggles as funding has gone down and tuition has gone up. Since 2010, its enrollment has dropped by 50 percent from over 1,500 students to an estimated 746. If a solution is not formulated by Sept. 1, the university could lose its accreditation. “Each of us are here today because we have an obligation to fulfil: to save Cheyney University,” Kinsey said. “I am proud to stand here with my colleagues and friends as we demand that Cheyney receive fair and equitable funding. Cheyney University is our school, our system, and our responsibility. It’s up to us to save it.” While recent state budget conversations have been focused on securing funding for the Commonwealth’s state-related universities, Kinsey says legislators should focus on the 14 universities Pennsylvania actually owns. Since 2013, Cheyney University has had to borrow over $30.5 billion to stay solvent. If the university loses its accreditation, students would no longer be eligible for federal aid. Kinsey said this would be particularly devastating since nearly three-quarters of students are from low-income households and Read more
EBENSBURG, Aug. 1 – A state grant of $192,750 will bolster the pre-kindergarten education efforts of Community Action Partnership of Cambria County, state Rep. Frank Burns announced today. Burns, D-Cambria, said the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program funding flowing from the Pennsylvania Department of Education provides state funds to supplement federal allocations in the effort to expand high quality, pre-K services. “This money goes to existing Head Start grantees, such as our Community Action agency, to help them enroll additional 3- or 4-year-old children, or to expand full-day or full-year programs,” Burns said. “The value of getting an early start with education is well-documented, so any time our county secures additional funding for this purpose is cause for celebration.” Burns said participating Head Start programs have demonstrated the need for additional Head Start services in their service area; the ability to expand, either independently or in cooperation with a local school district, a licensed child care center or registered family child care home; the ability to comply with federal Head Start and state child care requirements for Head Start-provided extended day services, if applicable; and the ability to work collaboratively with child care, if a child care collaboration is used for extended day services. Read more
FILADELFIA, Julio 31 – El Representante Estatal Ángel Cruz, D-Phila., anunció que su oficina de distrito está equipada con contenedores de desechos biopeligrosos en los que los residentes pueden descartar adecuadamente jeringuillas encontradas en carreteras y espacios públicos. “Hemos registrado un aumento en el número de jeringuillas dejadas en lugares públicos y, respondiendo a la preocupación de muchos ciudadanos, decidí dar un primer paso para combatir este problema”, dijo Cruz. “Aunque la mayoría de las jeringuillas provenientes de los programas de intercambio son recogidas y descartadas de manera segura, miles son tiradas en los lugares que menos esperamos; lo que pone en riesgo la salud y la seguridad de los ciudadanos, incluyendo niños, personal de primera respuesta y hasta mascotas”. Los residentes del Distrito Legislativo 180 pueden desechar las jeringuillas entre 9 a.m. y 5 p.m. de lunes a viernes en la oficina del representante, localizada en 3503 N. B St., Unidad 7. “Cuando una persona sufre una herida ocasionada por una jeringuilla usada no hay manera de saber si quien la utilizó tenía alguna infección o enfermedad. Con esta campaña quiero asegurarme de que los ciudadanos saben qué hacer si encuentran jeringuillas en las calles”, añadió. Los contenedores de desechos biopeligrosos fueron Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., announced that his district office has acquired bio waste bins in which residents may properly dispose used needles found on the streets and in public places. “There’s been an observed increase in the number of syringes left on the street and in response to an increasing number of complaints and questions from concerned citizens, I’m taking a first step to combat the problem,” Cruz said. “Although, most of the used needles from exchange programs are collected and disposed of properly, every year thousands are carelessly discarded outside, creating hazards for the rest of the citizens, including children, first responders and even our pets.” Residents of the 180 th Legislative District can drop off needles between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at Cruz’s office, 3503 N. B St., Unit 7. “When someone is injured by a needle that has been thrown away, there is no way of knowing whether the person who used it had an infection. That’s why we are starting this campaign, to ensure people know what to do in case they find used needles on the streets,” he said. The bio waste bins were provided by Prevention Point, a private nonprofit organization aimed at promoting health, empowerment and safety for communities affected by drug use and poverty. More information can be obtained calling Cruz’s office at (215) 291-5643. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas will hold her first Constituent District Day from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19 at Tustin Recreation Center, 5901 W. Columbia Ave. This FREE event will feature activities for the entire family, including a basketball tournament, live music and entertainment, games, raffles, giveaways, food and refreshments. There will also be a number of different programs and groups that provide services to the community. “This event is about the people. I’m here serving as a state representative because they put their trust in me and it is not only my job, but my responsibility to cut the red tape and make the government more accessible to them,” Cephas said. “More than just fun for the whole family, I’ll meet with constituents one-on-one to make sure they know the broad range of services that my district office can help them obtain.” Cephas and her staff will provide assistance for constituents applying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, the Property Tax/Rent Rebate and other state government programs and benefits. “I hope I can meet more neighbors from my district to establish a dialogue, but more importantly, to keep the conversation open to better understand the issues and problems that concern them,” Cephas added. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., released the following statement recognizing Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: “I stand with my colleagues and friends as we speak out against the disparities that prevent Black women from receiving equal pay for equal work. “Today marks the day where Black women received the same pay that their white male colleagues received in 2016. They are forced to work an additional seven months to eventually receive the same pay for the same or similar jobs. In fact, Black women would have to work over 66 years to earn what a white man earns in 40 years. “We can no longer overlook the systemic barriers that cause this inequality based on gender and race, hurdles that inhibit Black women from thriving and achieving economic security. And the situation is exponentially worse when this discussion moves to policies and practices that continue to imperil Black women's ability to create financial wealth for themselves and their families. "My colleagues and I have fought for various solutions to address these issues, including proposals for increasing the minimum wage, providing women with paid leave and even prohibiting employers from firing women because they are pregnant or nursing. We must do more to correct this economic injustice.” ### Read more
State Representative Kevin Haggerty, D-Lackawanna, will attend a public meeting at the Lackawanna College to speak about property tax elimination on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Read more
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today said he is pleased with the $1.95 million in supplemental federal allocations to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten and Head Start services for eligible children in Luzerne County. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 31 – As Pennsylvania deals with yet another frustrating budget impasse, state Rep. Kevin Boyle is looking forward, seeking ways to prevent the commonwealth from finding itself in a similar situation in the very near future. Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, plans on re-introducing a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, requiring the General Assembly to stay in session until a state budget is adopted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as signed into law by the governor. “As legislators, we owe it to our constituents to conduct the people's business without needless delays and to concentrate on passing a responsible, complete, and balanced budget for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians,” Boyle said. For this legislation to be added to the state Constitution, the bill would have to be voted and passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and then go to Pennsylvania voters in the form of a ballot question. “We are only one year removed from the historical 2015-2016 budget stalemate that lasted nearly nine months from July 2015 to March 2016,” Boyle said. “It appears the General Assembly hasn’t learned its lesson.” Boyle said it’s been weeks since the start of the fiscal year and Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai has continued pushing for irresponsible funding schemes, which, in turn, has prevented the rest of the representatives from formulating a feasible Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced that she will join a Twitter storm from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 31 to highlight gender and racial pay discrimination. July 31, 2017 marks the day when African American women’s pay reaches the amount the average white, non-Hispanic man was paid in 2016. “I am excited to join the Twitter storm this year and to continue fighting for Black women to receive the full dollar they deserve,” Bullock said. “After hosting a roundtable discussion on the issue last year, I was confident that we could make the issue a priority in our state legislature. However, I am beyond disappointed that not much progress has occurred since then.” Bullock said pay discrimination prevents women of color from being able to fully support their families and calls it an economic justice issue. According to data collected by the Women’s Law Project, it would take African American women 107 years to achieve equal pay at the current slow rate of progress. Pennsylvania received a “D ” ranking from the Center for American Progress in terms of economic security. The 2016 report highlighted the disparities Pennsylvania women of color faced in terms of economic security. According to the report, African American women are paid 63 cents for every dollar a white male makes. In addition, nearly one-third of African American women in Pennsylvania live in poverty. “It’s Read more
HARRISBURG, July 28 -- A package of bills approved by the Pennsylvania Senate yesterday to help pay for Pennsylvania’s $32 billion spending plan contain numerous provisions harmful to Pennsylvania, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/ Montgomery. Vitali is calling on Gov. Wolf to reject this legislation According to Vitali, the most damaging provision, contained in the Tax Code, would privatize the environmental permitting process allowing gas drillers and other applicants to go to seek permit approval from third parties rather than the Department of Environmental Protection. “This would create a clear conflict of interest,” Vitali said. "Also allowing application fees to go to third parties would deprive the DEP of a much needed source of funds to run its programs." Vitali also said he is troubled by a provision in the Tax Code that would allow a politically appointed advisory committee to decide on air quality permits for unconventional gas well sites. "This provision is a direct attack on the methane reduction strategy proposed by Governor Wolf in January 2016," he said. "Reducing fugitive methane emissions from gas drilling operations is one of the most important things Pennsylvania can do to address climate change." Vitali also noted that the Fiscal Code bill the Senate passed also contains a provision to repeal the Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act of 1955. This fund collects monies from drilling on state lands and Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., hosted over 60 citizens for her 66 th Town Hall on Wednesday to discuss the concepts behind DeLissio’s legislation, H.B.1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan, a Medicare for all-style single-payer plan. She said the discussion was interactive and informative, as one participant later posted, "I am at a Town Hall meeting on single-payer; first great point; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all depend on health and therefore healthcare is a right and not a privilege." “H.B. 1688, to be re-introduced shortly, is NOT government run health care,” DeLissio said. “Health care providers and health care facilities would remain in the private sector. State government would be responsible for establishing a system in which a single, public or quasi-public agency organizes the health care financing to support health care access. Cost controls (including administrative costs, pharmaceutical costs etc.), and citizens having sufficient ‘skin in the game’ are critical components of this plan.” The discussion included questions pertaining to health care, such as: What do citizens want? What are citizens willing to pay for? How should it be structured? There are currently 32 countries on the list of industrialized nations that have universal health coverage. Norway adopted this type of coverage in 1912 and Israel Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., is seeking volunteers to join him and the Philadelphia Streets Department to collect improperly disposed of tires throughout the 180th Legislative District. The Tire Roundup will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 5. People who are interested will meet at Cruz’s district office at 3503 North B St., Unit 7, 19134. For more information, call Cruz’s office at 215-291-5643. “Tires that are lying around our neighborhoods are not only an eyesore, but they are a potential health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for insects that can cause West Nile virus and other illnesses,” said Cruz. “I urge everyone to join me in making our community look better and healthier by collecting tires so they can be disposed of properly.” The Philadelphia Streets Department’s Sanitation Division developed the tire roundup program in 1995 to address the serious problem of illegally discarded tires throughout the city. Read more
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today said he is pleased with amendments to the Administrative Code that would provide protections for employees at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institutions. Mullery said the new language passed by the Senate would require the Department of Corrections to hold public hearings before the agency can decide to close a state prison. A 30-day notice of the public hearing would have to be provided prior to scheduling. “This result is welcome news to the more than 400 employees at SCI-Retreat in my legislative district, and the thousands employed in corrections across the Commonwealth," Mullery said. In January, Mullery, along with Sen. John Yudichak and other members of the House and Senate Northeast Delegations, stood together to organize several hearings and informational sessions throughout the region to display the impact closure would have on the local economy. “This revision ensures the voices of employees, their families, local and state government officials, and all those in the community will be heard during the decision making process," Mullery added. SCI-Retreat, which is located in Newport Township, houses 1,103 inmates and employs more than 400 Luzerne County residents. Mullery is vice chairman of the Northeast Delegation. Read more
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, this week called on Speaker of the House Mike Turzai to return the House to session and take up Pashinski’s discharge resolution on House Bill 1416, legislation that would sequester people responsible for budget negotiations until a compromise is reached. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, and Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., are proud to announce the 60th Street Health and Wellness Community Summer Jam. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12 at 60th Street between Arch and Chestnut streets . It will feature health screenings and resources, children’s activities – including a moon bounce, main stage entertainment, food, refreshments and fun for the whole family. “We are excited to host this event, because it lets us interact with neighbors who want to ask questions and provide feedback on a wide range of matters,” McClinton said. “People from every neighborhood and community in the district are invited to come together to enjoy food, games, entertainment, win prizes, and learn about important community health partners in Philly.” Cephas said, “Often, people aren’t aware of everything that is available to them through the state. My job as a state representative is to help get that information to them, and this event is a great way for me to reach a lot of my constituents while we all enjoy ourselves.” Legislative staff will be available to answer any state-related concerns constituents may have, including on a variety of state programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Local and state agencies will also be available onsite. More information Read more
MT. LEBANON, July 27 – As more students with disabilities or a mental health diagnosis are successfully integrated into public schools, state Reps. Dan Miller and Mike Schlossberg are planning legislation to add those topics to the health class curriculum. Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, want Pennsylvania school districts to educate students in an age-appropriate manner about mental health, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities in order to help break down barriers, both in school and beyond. “Our bill would require the Department of Education to create curriculum guidelines for health classes that provide a framework for positive discussion and increased understanding,” Miller said. “Our hope is that by guiding this discussion in a positive way at each level, we will help decrease stigma and support a true inclusion experience – where more and more students know someone with a diagnosis, they can support each other, and no one sits alone.” Schlossberg, who has been very public about his own successful fight against depression, said a key goal of the legislative effort is erasing stigmas associated with disabilities and mental illness. “Stigma isn’t just some abstract, icky feeling. It has concrete, long-term damaging effects on a person’s ability to learn, become employed and build long-lasting relationships,” Schlossberg said. “This legislation would give schools the Read more
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