HARRISBURG, March 14 – PA SAFE Caucus members today outlined their legislative goals related to gun safety reform during a Capitol news conference, one month following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and coinciding with a national student walkout calling for immediate changes to gun laws across the country. Lawmakers spoke about their frustrations with trying to pass commonsense legislation as well as specific House bills that they would like to see move from committee. “The time is now to finally say enough is enough — to listen to the students whose wisdom and bravery is inspirational,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Madeleine Dean , D-Montgomery. “We can and must do something to combat this gun violence epidemic, not just to prevent mass shootings like in Parkland, but to combat the everyday violence that claims 33,000 lives a year in this country, and injures 80,000 others in the crossfire.” Members expressed their expectations ahead of a special set of hearings on gun laws scheduled for the week of April 9. "We are pleased to see that the House Judiciary Committee will give members a chance to speak about important gun safety proposals,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Dan Frankel , D-Allegheny. “But we also know that a hearing is not enough – we expect the chance to vet some of these bills on the House floor in the very near future.” “Family and close friends are often the first to notice Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – Reflecting the reality that 28 million U.S. residents are at risk for an amputation, state Rep. Rob Matzie’s resolution declaring April as “Limb Loss Awareness Month in Pennsylvania” was approved by the House today. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said H.R. 743 is designed to raise awareness of the prevalence of amputation and the plights faced by the 2 million people in the United States who’ve already lost a limb. “The leading causes of amputation are vascular disease, trauma and cancer – and all ages, races and genders are affected,” Matzie said. “It is a lifetime condition and the general public is largely unaware of the challenges – physically, emotionally and financially – facing amputees and their families.” Matzie noted that the men, women and children who wake up every morning and overcome the adversity of limb loss are true heroes, who demonstrate strength and fortitude. According to the Amputee Coalition of America, the U.S. amputee population is projected to more than double by the year 2050 to 3.6 million; also, the estimated cost to U.S. private and public insurance agencies is at least $12 billion annually. Video of Rep. Matzie speaking about H.R. 743 is available HERE. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – PA SAFE Caucus members today outlined their legislative goals related to gun safety reform during a Capitol news conference, one month following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and coinciding with a national student walkout calling for immediate changes to gun laws across the country. Lawmakers spoke about their frustrations with trying to pass commonsense legislation as well as specific House bills that they would like to see move from committee. “The time is now to finally say enough is enough — to listen to the students whose wisdom and bravery is inspirational,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Madeleine Dean , D-Montgomery. “We can and must do something to combat this gun violence epidemic, not just to prevent mass shootings like in Parkland, but to combat the everyday violence that claims 33,000 lives a year in this country, and injures 80,000 others in the crossfire.” Members expressed their expectations ahead of a special set of hearings on gun laws scheduled for the week of April 9. "We are pleased to see that the House Judiciary Committee will give members a chance to speak about important gun safety proposals,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Dan Frankel , D-Allegheny. “But we also know that a hearing is not enough – we expect the chance to vet some of these bills on the House floor in the very near future.” “Family and close friends are often the first to notice early Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has adopted H.R. 652, introduced by state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, which recognizes Random Acts of Kindness Week in Pennsylvania. The goal of the resolution is to inspire and encourage as many people as possible to raise the consciousness of kindness through random acts. The grassroots organization, the Random Acts of Kindness Week Foundation, strives to make the world more humane. “People from all walks of life can support this important movement at schools, businesses, youth clubs, churches and synagogues, and hospitals and nursing homes,” Readshaw said. “Sometimes the world can seem hopeless, but I believe most people are kind. I sponsored this resolution because I believe in this movement and the goodness of people in my community, district and state.” The resolution acknowledged Random Acts of Kindness Week in Pennsylvania on Feb. 11-17, 2018. For more information about the movement, visit: www.randomactsofkindness.org . Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, said he is pleased that H.R. 671, which brings awareness to spinal cerebrospinal fluid leaks, has been adopted. A spinal cerebrospinal fluid leak, also known as intracranial hypotension, occurs when fluid around the brain leaks through the skull bone. The fluid supports the brain and spinal cord. Often times the condition is under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Traumatic leaks can happen as a result of surgery, head injuries and tumors or without any known cause. The most common symptom is a positional headache that is worse when upright, but is improved when lying down. “I’m delighted that this resolution was adopted, because bringing attention to CSF leaks will help many people who suffer needlessly,” Readshaw said. “My hope is that the public will understand and become educated about the condition, and that health care professionals will be able to more properly recognize and treat spinal CSF leaks.” Readshaw was prompted to introduce the resolution because his good friend Dr. Connie Deline suffers from the disease. Deline is the vice president of the Spinal CSF Foundation, a non-profit foundation that seeks to reduce the suffering of those with CSF. In addition to headaches, symptoms of CSF leaks can include nausea, vomiting, neck pain or stiffness, sensitivity to light and sound, numbness of arms and dizziness or vertigo, according to the Spinal CSF Foundation. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today announced the adoption of his H.R. 720, designating the week of March 11-17, 2018, as “Sunshine Week” in Pennsylvania, highlighting the importance of open and accessible government. Matzie said that Sunshine Week emphasizes the need for government officials to ensure decision-making processes are as public and accessible as possible, a stance he robustly supports as an elected official. Additionally, Matzie said it also promotes the steps citizens can take to become more active participants in their local, state and federal governments, such as Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act covering open public meetings and its Right to Know Law covering public documents. “A free and independent press remains vital as a check-and-balance on our democracy, and my stance has always been that access to government decision-making and public information should be as easy as possible,” Matzie said. “Sunshine Week coincides with the birthday of James Madison, one of our nation’s founders and a chief architect of the Bill of Rights, for a reason: Knowledge and access to information empowers those who are governed.” Sunshine Week was established by the American Society of News Editors in 2005 to spark discussion about the importance of open government and public access to government documents and meetings. Since its inception, the ASNE, the Reporters Committee for Read more
HARRISBURG, March 14 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced the creation of a new Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Reform. The subcommittee will be co-chaired by Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, and Sen. Sharif Street, D-Phila., both attorneys. Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., and Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, will also serve as members of the subcommittee. Harris said, “Criminal justice reform has become one of the leading issues in Pennsylvania and across our nation. I’m excited that our caucus will be spearheading this initiative and pushing for much needed reforms in the state legislature. While we have made some movement on providing second chances to returning citizens, there are countless other avenues that must be explored if we are to fully restructure our criminal justice system.” The subcommittee will push an aggressive legislative agenda and will also be vital in the creation of a criminal justice advisory group made up of formerly incarcerated people and expert legal practitioners. The advisory committee will be co-chaired by Keir Bradford-Grey, chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and Bill DeWeese, former state representative and the 135th speaker of the House. Among his many legal and legislative accomplishments, Street has supported numerous bills that would reform Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. One bill Read more
State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone calls on Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to freeze all rate increases pending investigation into tax windfall. Read more
The 15th Annual Civil War Preservation Ball was held in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Saturday, March 10. The ball raises money for the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, which provides funds for the repair and maintenance of monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park. This year’s ball brought the total raised in fifteen years to over $100,000! Dancers came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Virginia to "dance for preservation." You can see pictures of the event by clicking here and check others out on Facebook . Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., applauded the House Judiciary Committee's vote today to send his “clean slate” bill to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 1419 , which he introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year, would give people with misdemeanor nonviolent criminal records the opportunity to have their record sealed from public view. “For too long, our society has given lifetime judgments for nonviolent crimes. Citizens who have made mistakes are not criminals and shouldn't be treated as such,” Harris said. “This legislation allows our citizens who have made poor decisions in the past a pathway to productivity in the future.” Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by the former offender to automatically seal their records. The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records: nonviolent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a person has remained crime-free for 10 years. non-conviction records – sealing would be done as a matter of course, given that the presumption of innocence is one of the bedrocks of the American criminal justice system. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – A bipartisan pair of bills to help Pennsylvania consumers affected by data breaches passed the state House on Tuesday. These bills are sponsored by Commerce Committee Chairman Brian Ellis, R-Butler, and Rep. Mike Driscoll, D-Phila. Ellis’ H.B. 1846 would amend the Breach of Personal Information Act to further define “breach of security of the system” and “personal information” for clarification. The bill would require notice to Pennsylvania residents whenever there is a breach of security of the system. The notice would have to be in plain language, and include the date of the breach, the type of information subject to the breach and toll-free numbers to credit reporting agencies. This notice would have to be made within 45 days of learning of a breach. In addition, the breach would have to be reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General. If a state agency is the subject of a breach, the agency would have to provide notice of the breach to Pennsylvania residents without unreasonable delay. An agency under the governor’s jurisdiction would have to provide notice of the breach to the governor’s Office of Administration. If a county, school district or municipality is the subject of a breach, it would have to provide notice of the breach to residents without unreasonable delay as well. A county, school district or municipality would have to report its breach to the Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, announced today that the Clinton County Office of Veterans Affairs was awarded a $5,000 grant for veterans’ outreach equipment. Hanna said the Clinton County Office of Veterans Affairs is one of 13 county veterans affairs offices that are slated to receive $150,000 in grants. Further, 18 charitable or veteran service organizations are also expected to receive $650,000 in grants. This funding is provided by the Veterans’ Trust Fund and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The VTF is funded by Pennsylvanians who voluntarily make a $3 donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license or photo ID or renewing a motor vehicle registration. Additionally, proceeds come from the sale of the Honoring Our Veterans license plate and private donations. Since the grant program began in 2013, a total of $2.8 million has been awarded to organizations that serve Pennsylvania veterans. “This is a great program that really works to provide critical support services to our veterans,” Hanna said. “Our heroes deserve so much, and this funding is just one small way Pennsylvanians continue to give back to show their support for veterans and their families.” The county veterans affairs offices will utilize this funding for new, innovative or expanded programs or services. Nonprofit veteran Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg today joined several of his House colleagues and mental health advocates for a Capitol news conference to discuss the relationship between mental health and school safety. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – March 11 through March 17 will be recognized as “ Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania following today’s House’s adoption of a resolution introduced by Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. “My co-chairman of the House MS Caucus – Representative Marguerite Quinn of Bucks County –and I can’t thank members of the House enough for unanimously adopting House Resolution 726, which recognizes the week of March 11 as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week,” Matzie said. “This disease affects many families, including my own. The House’s action today and in years past is a testament to our ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the impact of this debilitating disease.” Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and most times disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system by disrupting the flow of information to the body and brain. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, paralysis, balance problems, blindness and depression. The severity of the disease differs from patient to patient, but about 90 percent of those diagnosed with MS will experience relapse-remitting symptoms, which means a patient can go long periods of time without any complications from the disease. Data also suggests women appear to be more susceptible to the disease than men, noting women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most at-risk for a positive diagnosis. “I urge all Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, announced today that he will introduce legislation that would authorize $15 million in funding to modernize the state’s education system by allowing students to learn high-skill careers in real-world settings. “Now more than ever, our state’s economic health depends on a well-educated and highly skilled workforce,” Davis said. “We need to modernize our education system to deliver the kind of specialized training our young workers need to compete in a 21st-century job market.” Davis said his bill would allow colleges and universities to partner with employers and labor organizations to form training programs for today’s high-skill jobs. The programs would enable students to gain real-world experience by earning college credits and industrial credentials through work-based learning in high-demand, high-growth occupations. “Devoting resources to strengthening career and tech-ed training pays off on so many levels,” Davis said. “It readies a new generation of workers to compete and succeed, and it helps rebuild our middle class by opening new doors in terms of wage growth and career advancement. Beyond that, it helps all of Pennsylvania by allowing workers to stay here, raise families and invest back into the local economy. The bottom line is, it just makes economic sense.” Davis’ bill would also authorize $8 million in funding for Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – The House today unanimously adopted Rep. Rob Matzie’s H.R. 676, recognizing March 11, 2018, as Charter Day in Pennsylvania. The resolution commemorates the charter England’s King Charles II granted William Penn on March 4, 1681, defining the land that is now Pennsylvania. The resolution also recognizes the early form of constitution written by Penn—the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania—for its enduring contribution to democratic principles. “Penn understood the danger of a ruler assuming absolute power, and he created a framework that would protect individual liberties such as freedom of worship,” said Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. “His far-thinking vision for a free, democratic commonwealth is still relevant today.” In addition to guaranteeing freedom of worship and providing a framework for challenging unconstitutional laws, the frame provided for other important checks on governmental power by limiting capital punishment and permitting the assembly to request impeachment of the governor. The charter document, sometimes referred to as the state’s “birth certificate,” is hand-printed on animal skin and still bears the likeness of King Charles II. It will be on exhibit March 9-16 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – Flanked by like-minded legislators and key advocates, state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, today emceed a Capitol news conference that sought to put any link between mental health and school shootings in proper context. Miller and other participants stressed the need to discuss that relationship in a way that will not add to stigma or reinforce negative stereotypes, noting that the roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population with a mental health issue should not unjustly shoulder blame for all acts of school violence. “Those of us who’ve been involved in the fight for parity, acceptance and support have come too far to allow any backsliding in the public’s perceptions of mental health,” Miller said. “The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, may have served as a catalyst for a larger discussion – a very important discussion at that – but our conversation needs properly tailored and addressed in an appropriate manner.” State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, who has openly and poignantly discussed his personal battle against depression, said, "We need to change the conversation surrounding mental health. The simple truth is that those who suffer from mental illness are far more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. That being said, if we want to deal with mental illness, we need to create programs and funding streams that actually address their issues." Tricia Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, announced today that Lock Haven University was awarded $30,000 in “It’s On Us PA” grant funding administered by the Department of Education to help combat sexual violence on campus. In 2016, Pennsylvania joined the national “It’s On Us” campaign as more men and women were coming forward with allegations of harassment and assault. Hanna said he hopes LHU will utilize this funding to implement new policies and position themselves as a leader by developing best practices that can be replicated across the state. “Funding totaling over $950,000 was awarded to 39 postsecondary institutions across the state,” Hanna said. “I’m very happy to see that LHU has taken this issue so seriously and that they have taken necessary steps toward addressing these problems and protecting our students on campus.” According to the Department of Education, the “It’s On Us PA” campaign brings together students, families, community members, teachers and school administrators to play a role in ending campus sexual assault. The movement has allowed individuals to feel safe enough to talk more openly about sexual violence and pledge to be part of the solution. Hanna said he applauds Gov. Tom Wolf for joining this national campaign to foster discussions around the commonwealth about ways to combat campus sexual assaults. Programs or Read more
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Michael Driscoll, D-Phila., announced he has introduced H.R. 706 , designating March 2018 as “Irish-American Heritage Month” in Pennsylvania. “Since the founding of this great nation, American citizens of Irish descent have been responsible for many significant contributions both within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States. Today, they continue to thrive and excel in many spheres of human endeavor, from academia to business and beyond,” Driscoll said. Celebration of Irish heritage is a long-standing tradition in the commonwealth, which hosts among the largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country each year. Irish heritage will be celebrated from Philadelphia, where the city's parade first took place in 1771, to Scranton, which hosts the second-largest St. Patrick’s parade in the country. “As a proud Irish-American myself, it is an honor to co-sponsor a resolution recognizing the impact Irish-Americans have been making since before our country’s founding. Thank you to my co-sponsors for their show of support and for extending their best wishes to the Irish community with House Resolution 706,” Driscoll said. The resolution’s co-sponsors include Reps. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, and Tim Hennessey, R-Chester/Montgomery. Read more
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