HARRISBURG, June 12 – Nicotine-based products and electronic cigarettes would be banned in Pennsylvania schools, under legislation passed unanimously Tuesday by the state House of Representatives and authored by Rep. Gerald Mullery. Read more
State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio D-Montgomery/Phila., announced her participation with the inaugural group of stakeholders in the launch of the PA State Council to Engage Cuba. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – Citing the growing cases and reports detailing the runaway culture of sexual harassment and misconduct in the Capitol, state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky today said the Republican response to merely study the problem is not enough. “It’s not time to study the problem; it’s time to act,” she said during a House Labor and Industry Committee meeting in which Republicans voted for H.R. 828, which would launch a yearlong taxpayer-funded study to look at sexual harassment and misconduct in state government. “There are bills sitting in this committee – and spread throughout other committees – that would allow us to take action right now on a problem we are all unfortunately well aware of. “Any woman in any workplace knows full well we have a problem with sexual harassment and misconduct that has gone unchecked for generations. We don’t need a study to tell us that there must be a fair and impartial process to investigate harassment claims and protections against retaliation against victims and whistleblowers.” Some of the bills that Krueger-Braneky referenced during the meeting today include: H.B. 1965 (state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky) -- would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, sponsored H.B.2324 , which was supported by the District Attorney’s Association as part of a package of bills protecting sexually exploited victims. The legislation improves the Rape Shield Law to protect defendants from introducing evidence of prior sexual victimization and by adding the crimes of child endangerment, human trafficking; sexual exploitation of children and corruption of minors as additional crimes subject for Rape Shield Law. “Victims of sexual abuse deserve protection of the court, not only in instances where defense counsel seeks to introduce evidence of prior sexual conduct, but also where defense counsel tries to avoid the law by reference to prior sexual victimization,” Barbin said. “The law requires the trial judge in both instances to insure evidence must be reviewed in the ‘judge’s chambers’ before it can be introduced.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – At a Capitol news conference today, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, spoke on the importance of legislation establishing a framework for the Growing Greener III program, which is designed to protect the state’s water, land and other natural resources while stimulating economic growth. House Bill 2485 is currently in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Matzie, a co-sponsor, is urging the committee chairman to move the bill to the House chamber, citing the success of prior Growing Greener programs and the program’s ongoing importance, both statewide and to residents of western Pennsylvania. “Since the Growing Greener program began nearly 20 years ago, it has been a proven success,” Matzie said. “But funding has declined by 75 percent. It’s absolutely critical that we establish the necessary framework to get Growing Greener III up and running. “Under the first two iterations of Growing Greener, over 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land were restored. This was vital to all Pennsylvanians, but particularly to those in the southwest. This work needs to continue and expand. “Equally essential is Growing Greener’s role in the continued development of brownfields. Exciting, large-scale manufacturing development is happening in Beaver County and southwest Pennsylvania as we speak, and reclaimed brownfields are a big part of the reason why. “Growing Greener has Read more
SCRANTON, June 12 – A staffer from state Rep. Marty Flynn's office will provide outreach assistance next week in South Abington Township. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 12 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, welcomed more than 200 constituents to her shredding event to help them properly dispose of old papers containing personal information. The event was held in the parking lot of Motivation High School and was co-hosted by state Sen. Anthony Williams. “With identity theft being a constant threat, it’s important for people take the precautionary steps to protect themselves from becoming a target of theft,” McClinton said. “I am proud to see this year’s event resulted in nearly four tons of paper being shredded.” McClinton added she wanted to thank the Burns’ Family Fresh Grocer Supermarkets for sponsoring the event. Constituents shredded documents containing information such as Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account numbers, credit card applications, canceled or unused checks and bank statements, among others. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today said that the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2017 has been extended to Dec. 31. “This program can be a huge help to seniors and those who struggle to find ways to pay their property taxes,” Petrarca said. “If you’re eligible for this program, I highly suggest taking a closer look at its ability to benefit you and your family.” Petrarca said constituents 65 or older, widows or widowers 50 or older, and permanently disabled individuals ages 18 to 64 qualify for the benefits under the program. Homeowners with income up to $35,000 annually and renters with income up to $15,000 annually qualify, and may receive a rebate of up to $650. Some homeowners may qualify for a maximum rebate of $975. Half of Social Security benefits are not considered when determining income eligibility. Petrarca said application forms are available in his offices and that he and his staff are able to help constituents complete the forms. His offices are located at 239 Longfellow St., Vandergrift; 620 N. Chestnut St., Derry; and in the Latrobe Municipal Building, 901 Jefferson St., Latrobe. Applicants also can obtain Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms and related information on the Department of Revenue’s website at www.revenue.pa.gov . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 12 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced today that she has been selected to participate in the Henry Toll Fellowship Program, a prestigious leadership boot camp organized by The Council of State Governments. “I’m happy to be part of this year’s cohort. I’m looking forward to meet government officials from all across the country to exchange insights on public policy and issues we may have in common,” Bullock said. “It’s a nontraditional program and we will be working out of our comfort zones. I know it will be challenging both physically and mentally, but the experience will help me bring a new perspective to the work I do every day in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.” The training will be held from Friday, Aug. 24 through Tuesday, Aug. 28 in Lexington, Ky. The Toll Fellowship Program, named after the Council’s founder Henry Wolcott Toll, is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, the program brings 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government, for an intensive five-day, five-night leadership boot camp. The program’s sessions are designed to stimulate personal assessment and growth, while providing networking and relationship-building opportunities. CSG is the only national organization serving all three branches of state government. It offers a region-based forum that Read more
Thanks to more than a year of openness and verifiable reports, we already know there is an atmosphere of sexual harassment and misconduct at workplaces throughout Pennsylvania and the nation that has negatively impacted women. It has happened and, frankly, is still happening. To truly protect women in the workplace and all victims of harassment, it’s time to act. Yet Harrisburg Republicans are stalling, playing for time. Today the House Labor and Industry Committee is meeting to vote on two resolutions (H.R.s 828 and 829) to further study the issue. While these resolutions are helpful in offering additional transparency on an issue that has plagued women in the workplace for far too long, the time for mere studies of workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation is long over in Pennsylvania. A study isn’t going to empower victims and those who witness harassment to 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 the protections available to them. A study isn’t going to prevent workplace incidents from being swept under the rug. To give victims voice and justice, the committee TODAY can also pass several bipartisan bills introduced by House Democrats to make meaningful change. These bills, ready for a vote now, would give employers the tools they need to remove discrimination and harassment from the workplace and Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – The deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2017 under the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. “The extension is great news for the many eligible Pennsylvanians who benefit from this program,” Kortz said. “They include residents 65 and older; widows and widowers 50 and older; and people with disabilities 18 and older. It costs nothing to apply, and my offices can help. Stop by to determine whether you’re eligible. We can also provide application forms and help you fill them out.” Kortz’s Dravosburg Office is located at 751 Pittsburgh-McKeesport Blvd. and can be reached at 412-466-1940. His Pittsburgh Office is located at 5101 Old Clairton Road and can be reached at 412-886-2870. Kortz noted that the program’s income eligibility limits are $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. For purposes of calculating income, half of Social Security is excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, although supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. Kortz asked that constituents seeking assistance bring proof of local (county, borough and school) property taxes and proof of income, such as an IRS Form 1099. Residents can learn more about the program and download an application from the state Department of Revenue’s website. The Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today announced that his legislation, H.B. 2420 , which designates the naming of a bridge after an African-American Civil War soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, unanimously passed the House. If voted into law, a portion of Pennsylvania Route 286 would be named the First Sergeant Alexander Kelly Memorial Bridge. It is located on what is also known as Washington Street, over the Kiskiminetas River between Saltsburg Borough in Indiana County and in Loyalhanna Township in Westmoreland County. Petrarca said Kelly, who was born on April 7, 1840, in Saltsburg, serves as an important historical and honorable figure within his district, the commonwealth and the nation. “First Sergeant Alexander Kelly is an American hero who enlisted and rose to the rank of sergeant in the Sixth United States Colored Troops,” Petrarca said. “During the Civil War, he helped fellow soldiers through his bravery and leadership and it’s only fitting that we honor him by naming a bridge in his memory.” Kelly was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in seizing the flag, and rallying the troops during a time of confusion. After the war, Kelly served as a watchman for the Pittsburgh Police. He died on June 19, 1907, and is buried in St. Peters Cemetery in Pittsburgh. “Sergeant Kelly’s sacrifice and service will never be forgotten,” Petrarca Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 11 – State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., is seeking constituents interested in a $3,000 college scholarship for young women. As a member of the National Foundation for Women Legislators, Youngblood can nominate one or more young women to participate in NFWL's Annual Constitution Essay Scholarship Contest. The prize is a $3,000 college scholarship; an all-expense-paid trip to NFWL’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.; and an award that is presented at the event. To qualify, an applicant must be a: • Female U.S. citizen • High school junior (class of 2019) or senior (class of 2018) and • Planning to attend a college or university in the United States. Those interested should send an email to Youngblood's office by July 6 explaining why they should be nominated. Email can be sent to the office through the form at www.pahouse.com/youngblood/contact / Youngblood represents the 198th Legislative District in northwest Philadelphia. Constituents with questions about the program or any state-related issue can call her office at (215) 951-3394. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Margo Davidson will host her 5 th annual Veterans Fair from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 14 at East Lansdowne Borough Hall. Veterans and their families can attend to learn more about the services and benefits available to them, including topics such as health care, housing, employment and education. The Pennsylvania Mobile Veterans’ Outreach Van also will be on site. Free notary service will be available, and other state services will be provided. “Our veterans sacrifice so much to protect our freedom, and I’m happy to do anything I can to help them in return,” said Davidson, D-Delaware. “It’s a small way to show appreciation for everything they’ve done for us.” East Lansdown Borough Hall is at 155 Lexington Ave., East Lansdowne, Pa. 19050. Anyone with questions, or anyone wanting to RSVP, should call 610-259-7016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, today said that the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2017 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31. Schweyer said constituents 65 or older, widow or widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older qualify for the benefits under the program. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income and any COLAs are excluded. “I encourage residents to find out if they are eligible as soon as possible so they don’t miss out on this program,” Schweyer said. “Rebates for this program will be distributed beginning on July 1.” Constituents can obtain applications and get help filling them out by visiting Schweyer’s district office at 1912 S. Fourth St., Allentown, or by calling 610-791-6270 . Schweyer said applications usually take 4 to 6 weeks to process. Last year nearly 600,000 seniors and people with disabilities benefited from the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, the program delivered more than $262 million to income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities who applied for rebates on rent and property taxes paid in 2016. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975. Applicants may obtain Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Recently it was announced that the deadline to apply for the state Department of Revenue’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31. This program is targeted to provide property tax and rent relief to older and disabled adults, so I encourage you to apply if you qualify. The maximum standard rebate is $650. Eligibility includes: Pennsylvanians 65 or older; widows and widowers 50 and older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. Residents who have an income limit of $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters; half of Social Security income is excluded. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may also file rebate claims on behalf of claimants who lived at least one day in 2017 and meet all other criteria. For more information, call my office at 412-793-2448 or click here . Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today applauded the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission’s decision to postpone the vote on the risk assessment tool, scheduled for this Thursday. “The commission made the right decision,” Sims said. “If the tool can’t be shown to be accurate enough for courts to use and if we don’t know whether the tool is fair to racial minorities, if it doesn’t actually identify candidates for alternative sentencing but only people who might get accused and arrested, we can’t move forward – at least not without further information. “Along with the Risk Assessment Task Force, I look forward to working with the commission in the future to ensure equal treatment for defendants and develop fair and unbiased instruments. We cannot have a fair criminal justice system within our state if the guidelines we use are imbalanced and unfair.” The Risk Assessment Task Force was created by Sims and Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Marni Snyder in spring 2016 to bring together a diverse field of practitioners, scholars, jurists and advocates concerned about the implementation of risk assessment tools in criminal case sentencing. It includes both prosecutors and members of the defense bar, to evaluate the proposed tools from a balanced perspective. Read more
ALLENTOWN, June 11 – Residents are reminded about the free shredding and public safety event Saturday at Salisbury High School sponsored by state Rep. Jeanne McNeill, Fountain Hill and Salisbury Township. Read more
This week Gov. Wolf took executive action to reverse the gender wage gap. It’s time for the legislature to follow with an equal pay law for all women. JOIN THE FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY On Tuesday the governor signed an executive order to have all commonwealth agencies adhere to rules that will address some of the root causes of gender pay inequity. His order pledges the following actions: Commonwealth agencies will no longer be able to inquire about a job applicant’s current compensation or history at any state of the hiring process. Applicants will not be prevented from volunteering information about their current compensation level or salary history; however, no hiring agency under the governor's jurisdiction can request that an applicant disclose that information. Compensation decisions for positions will be governed by job responsibilities and the position’s range of compensation, as well as the applicant’s knowledge, skills, competencies, experience or other factors other than gender, except where compensation is based on: A collective bargaining agreement A seniority system A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, sales goals and incentives All Commonwealth agency job postings will clearly disclose a position’s pay scale and pay range. Pennsylvania women make 79 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual wage gap of $10,762. This Read more
NEWTOWN, June 8 – State Rep. Helen Tai’s constituent service office will be located at 842 Durham Road, Suite 22, Newtown, which is at the intersection of PA-232 and PA-413 in Wrightstown Township. The office will be open for constituents Friday, June 15. The hours, once the office is open, will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tai will host an open house there from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, July 9 spotlighting the state services that she and her staff provide. Constituents of the 178th Legislative District are encouraged to attend; no RSVP is required. Light refreshments will be served. “Excellent public service begins with accessibility,” said Tai, D-Bucks. “I’m happy to announce this new location and look forward to connecting with all our neighbors in the district.” The temporary phone number to reach the office is 215-534-8845. A permanent number is expected to be assigned July 10. Constituents can check www.pahouse.com/Tai for updated contact information. Services provided at the office include help with any state government program or service including with PennDOT, unemployment compensation, birth certificate applications, state tax programs, state health care and prescription-drug programs, financial aid for higher education, issues with public utilities, and more. Read more
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