DOYLESTOWN, June 13 – State Rep. Wendy Ullman announced today that the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency awarded $2.6 million in state grants to the 143 rd legislative district. “I’m thrilled that these programs have received these grants because they serve some of the most vulnerable populations in our community,” Ullman said. “It’s critical that these programs have sufficient funds to perform the vital work they do. I will continue to look for more opportunities to support Bucks County.” The following grants were awarded: Criminal Justice Advisory Committee (CJAC)-Byrne Justice Assistance Grant: $10,000 for the Central Bucks Regional Police Department for a technology upgrade CJAC-2019 County Jail-Based Vivitrol Program : $500,000 to the Bucks County Commissioners for the Bucks County Jail-Based Recovery Programs. CJAC-Residential Substance Abuse & Treatment (RSAT) Funds: $125,000 to Bucks County Commissioners for the Bucks County Corrections HEART Program. Victims Services Advisory Committee (VSAC)-2019-2021 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding (Competitive): $541,940 to A Woman’s Place to expand critical domestic violence services. VSAC-2019-2020 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding (Non-Competitive): $510,506 to A Woman’s Place for VOCA 19-20 Non-Competitive FA extension 15 months. $850,846 to Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) VOCA Project Extension Read more
NEWTOWN, June 13 – State Rep. Perry Warren announced today that the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) awarded $48,719 in state grants to Lower Makefield Township to upgrade its record management system. “This grant will help Lower Makefield upgrade its record management system, reduce costs and improve efficiency,” Warren said. “I will continue to look for opportunities to support municipal services in our communities.” Read more
ERIE, June 13 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, issued the following statement in response to news that members of UE Locals 506 and 618 yesterday ratified a four-year labor agreement with their new employer, locomotive manufacturer Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp., after 128 days of negotiations and a nine-day strike: “I’m exceedingly proud of the union for having the fortitude and determination to stand up and fight for its members. The negotiation process required the union to rewrite its entire contract from scratch, which was a long and difficult path with a lot riding on the outcome. Through it all, union leaders stood their ground to ensure Wabtec workers receive the benefits and protections they deserve. “I’m especially pleased that the new contract will provide workers with improved health and welfare benefits; five-year recall rights for laid-off workers; a commitment for new work equivalent to 100 full-time employees by the end of the contract; and a continued policy of volunteer, as opposed to mandatory, overtime, among other protections. It’s also a step in the right direction to see that new workers will be able to increase their wages over a 10-year period until they are on-par with the legacy employees. The negotiations proved that, in this day and age, labor and management can co-exist. “Most of all, I know members are relieved to return to Read more
ALLENTOWN, June 13 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer said people have more time to apply for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program because this week the deadline was extended until the end of the year. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, and Democratic chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee, today gave his thanks to the committee for reporting his bills out of committee with overwhelming support. Caltagirone’s two-bill package would accomplish two goals: House Bill 896 would expand the eligibility criteria for the Neighborhood Assistance Program to include homeless housing assistance projects located within land bank jurisdictions. House Bill 897 would expand the power of existing land banks to enter into partnerships with organizations in the private sector to create local solutions to address the lack of housing for the homeless population within their communities and would exempt all land bank transactions from both state and local realty transfer taxes. “I want to thank my colleagues for their support on this legislation,” Caltagirone said. “Between the two bills that I have sponsored, I truly believe that we can make a difference fighting against blight and homelessness across our state. Several other states have passed creative solutions to alleviating chronic poverty and the homelessness that follows. It is time Pennsylvania joins with them by working on substantive solutions tailored to our unique needs.” The Joint State Government Commission's 2016 study on homelessness concluded that one of the primary causes of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. While some can take Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – Raising awareness about the essential role bees and other pollinators play in producing many of the commonwealth’s foods is the aim of a resolution the House adopted unanimously today, according to the author, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. House Resolution 385, designating the week of June 17 to June 23, 2019, as “Pollinator Week” in Pennsylvania, also recognizes the critical contributions made by beekeepers and other groups that promote pollination. “It’s been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat,” Matzie said. “That’s not surprising considering the vital role they play in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring production of seeds in flowering plants. In fact, pollinators serve more than 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops, adding $217 billion to the global economy. “Unfortunately, honeybee colonies are declining as a result of pesticides, parasites and other factors, and their decreasing population could gravely impact our food supply. It’s my hope that this resolution will help raise awareness about the all-important role bees and other pollinators play so we can work toward better protecting them.” According to the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting pollinators and their ecosystems, honeybees alone account for $1.2 billion to $5.4 Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – The Northeastern Intermediate Unit was recently awarded a $399,099 grant for use in the Scranton School District, according to state Rep. Kyle Mullins. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – Public utilities and municipal authorities would be required to restore a roadway to the same or better condition as when they start underground work, under legislation introduced this week by state Rep. Gerald Mullery. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced the formal introduction of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring adequate mental health resources for students in public schools. Known as “Phillip’s Law,” the bill ( H.B. 1622 ) would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of school mental health professionals available to students, as well as make recommendations on how to increase their numbers to meet nationally accepted levels. It was introduced by Kenyatta and state Reps. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks, and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila. Kenyatta suggested the legislation following the death of an 11-year-old student from his district, Phillip, who committed suicide after school. The child’s family said he urgently tried to get the attention of support staff but was unable to connect. “When an 11-year-old takes his life, everyone must take stock of how and why children can get that far in their despair,” Kenyatta said. “The tragedy of Phillip’s passing sheds light on the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available or equipped to identify and intervene when a child is suffering. In fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff, and there certainly is not enough funding provided for it. But there should be.” Kenyatta recently created an action item on his website, www.pahouse.com/Kenyatta , to give Pennsylvanians the Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, the first Pennsylvania legislator to call on accused sexual harasser Sen. Daylin Leach to withdraw intimidating lawsuits he filed against three of his accusers, today lent her support to two bills introduced by Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, which address sexual harassment in the workplace – “#TimesUP - Sexual Harassment by Public Officials” and “Preventing Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace.” These bills together carry a bipartisan group of over 50 co-sponsors. The first bill would expand the duties of the State Ethics Commission, an independent state agency, to include investigating sexual harassment claims against officials and public employees at all levels of government in Pennsylvania. “A position of power should not exonerate wrongdoers,” Howard said. “This legislation will prevent the sort of legal extortion carried out by accused abusers like Senator Leach, who I called on back in February to withdraw lawsuits he filed against his less financially well off accusers.” Davidson’s legislation would help foster an environment within the legislature where victims of harassment and discrimination can come forward without fear of unwarranted retaliation. “For those who commit sexual harassment, we say, ‘Time’s Up,’” Davidson said. “Victims of sexual harassment involving people in positions Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, issued the following statement on House passage of H.B. 1524 , which would allow a tourist development project to acquire a liquor license for a flat $65,000 fee from the state Liquor Control Board, compared to current law where prospective business owners must purchase a liquor license from an existing licensee or be the highest bidder at a PLBC license auction: “Growing up in a family-run business, I know firsthand the struggles they face. It’s unfathomable that we would pass legislation that provides special advantages to big developers at the expense of mom-and-pop businesses in Pennsylvania. The sheer fact that this legislation is catering to one particular developer should outrage the public. “For the past 80 years, liquor licenses have been sold between two private businesses. This bill changes that by allowing the state to sell licenses directly to the developer for a flat fee, who can then turn around and sell them for a profit. We should be forcing these developers to look in the private sector for licenses and let the free market determine the price. “We’re rushing this bill through the legislature instead of taking time to do the right thing. There is a better way to accomplish the goals of this legislation and that is by overhauling antiquated liquor laws to allow restaurant licensees to sell across county lines. “Rather Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that her amendment to H.B. 357 has been adopted in the House chamber. “Certain charter schools have complicated our public school funding formula for years, and the funding that goes to public schools should not be going to these charters if they have plans to disband or terminate their charter,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m happy that my colleagues have agreed to my amendment that would make it illegal to allow more students to enroll at a charter school if they plan to eliminate their charter. Our tax dollars and our students should not be sent to a charter school if it is going to be shut down within less than a year.” Hill-Evans' amendment would make it so that upon notification of a nonrenewal or termination of a charter, a charter school may not enroll new students unless the charter school files an appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board. If that appeal is denied, the charter school must immediately stop enrolling new students. In 2013-14, the York City School District paid $9 million in charter school tuition to New Hope Academy, with nearly half a million attributable to New Hope’s enrollment growth between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The school closed in 2014. The latest to shut down is Helen Thackston Charter School after a legal battle over audit reports with the York City School District, and a decision not to appeal the court ruling ordering it to Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – Public schools that advertise “free” tuition or transportation would be required to state that taxpayer dollars are paying the cost under a bill that passed the state House of Representatives today, according to Rep. Mike Schlossberg. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, on Tuesday released the following statement on the passage of H.B. 3 , a bipartisan bill that would create an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual market plans, and enact a reinsurance program to reduce premium increases: “I am encouraged to see a bipartisan, consumer-oriented House bill quickly make its way through the House and move on to the state Senate. As Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, I was happy to quickly move this bill out of the committee and on to the House floor for a near-unanimous vote. This is good legislation – the type of legislation our constituents put us in office to draft and vote on. “I sponsored this legislation because, quite frankly, it’s a no-brainer. This is a bill that gives the commonwealth the opportunity to operate its own exchange at a lower cost than the federal government, while also reducing premium increases. It also would allow for the creation of a state reinsurance program, which would allow insurers to offer their products at a cheaper price by limiting their exposure to high, unpredictable medical expenses. “We have a great opportunity to help roughly 400,000 people struggling to afford quality health insurance for themselves and their families at no additional cost to the taxpayer. It’s my sincere Read more
As part of her ongoing fight for criminal justice reform, state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is teaming up with state Sen. Vincent Hughes to hold an Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic this Friday, June 14. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Bible Way Baptist Church, 1323 N. 52 nd St. Legal experts from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Philadelphia Defenders Association, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and Community Legal Services will be on hand to provide free information about the criminal justice system, explain eligibility requirements, and offer limited on-site application assistance. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Residents have more time to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2018, as the deadline to apply for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. “The program is a terrific way for qualifying residents to recoup a portion of their prior year’s housing expenses, and last year, nearly 572,000 applicants did just that,” Longietti said. “It’s helpful that the deadline has been extended, but I’m urging residents who meet the eligibility requirements to apply sooner, rather than later. Rebates take about six to eight weeks to process and are mailed out in the order claims are received and processed.” Longietti noted the program applies to residents who are 65 or older, widows or widowers 50 or older, and individuals with disabilities who are 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 annually for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security benefits are excluded when calculating income. Those eligible may qualify for a standard rebate of $650, although supplement rebates for some qualifying homeowners can boost that amount to $975. Spouses, personal representatives, or estates may file claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and meet all the other requirements. Longietti said that his district office has applications, and any Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Pennsylvania is one step closer to meaningfully controlling insurance premiums for residents insured through Affordable Care Act-based health insurance plans after the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to permit the commonwealth to create its own insurance exchange and reinsurance program, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. The federal government currently runs the insurance exchange – the means by which insurance plan choices, rates comparisons and other key information is delivered to consumers. “Today’s vote is a great example of what we can accomplish on both sides of the aisle when we work together,” said Bizzarro, a member of the House Insurance Committee and one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “Pennsylvania’s more than 400,000 residents who rely on private insurance plans under the ACA are facing the prospect of escalating premiums. This bill would allow us to stabilize and hopefully reduce those premiums by taking the private ACA market out of federal control and placing it in the hands of the state, where it belongs. “The best part of the plan is that it would not impose any new costs on the state because it is based on what we’re already spending. The federal government – which currently runs the exchange – is expected to fund 75% of reinsurance program costs, while the remaining 25% would be paid for by the savings generated by converting Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, on Tuesday released the following statement on the passage of H.B. 3 , a bipartisan bill that would create an authority to operate a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act individual market plans, and enact a reinsurance program to reduce premiums: “Today we have a win in the fight to provide all residents with affordable access to quality health coverage. Today’s near-unanimous passage of House Bill 3 shows in overwhelming fashion that all members of the House of Representatives recognize the need to provide residents with top-tier health coverage that in part also will save taxpayer money and stabilize premiums. “From the time this bill was introduced to the time it was quickly passed through the Insurance Committee, it was evident that the full House was working in unison to get this bill to the House floor for an affirmative vote. I’m encouraged to see the support behind this bill, and I’m hopeful it quickly makes its way to the governor’s desk so that it can be signed into law.” H.B. 3 now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks, said she was proud to announce that state Sen. Sharif Street, D-03, would be introducing a companion bill in the state Senate that is modeled on Ullman’s legislation, H.B. 1322, which would create a 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania. Ullman’s bill is part of the House Democrats’ “Zero Waste PA” legislative package, which is aimed at reducing single-use plastics and addressing pervasive issues of litter and the various environmental harms caused by a “throwaway” society. “ We all know litter is unsightly and pollutes our streets, countryside and waterways, but it is also COSTLY,” Ullman said. “PennDOT spends upwards of $10 million a year cleaning up litter. Reducing the amount of beverage containers in the litter stream will bring a significant cost savings to taxpayers. “The fact that beverage containers alone make up about 6% of our waste stream and half of all litter shows that we need to do more to promote recycling in Pennsylvania. My legislation will support and reward recycling, which will ultimately reduce waste throughout Pennsylvania and keep our outdoor areas beautiful and free from litter.” Ullman’s 5 cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania would include a redemption rate of 5 cents on returnable containers and a handling fee of 2 cents per Read more
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