Rep. Ryan Bizzarro said Saturday’s House session, purportedly called to consider a 21-day-late revenue package for the new state budget, amounted to a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. “Perhaps Saturday’s debacle will move House Republicans to start working with others,” Bizzarro said. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 22 – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf allowed S.B. 624 to become law Friday. The new law reduces protections to streams where coal companies seek to mine underneath them and interferes with pending litigation, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. The bill passed both the Pennsylvania House and Senate and was presented to the governor on July 11. He had until Friday to either sign it, veto it or let it become law by his inaction. “This is a triumph of special-interest group influence over good environmental policy,” Vitali said “The law is also unconstitutional.” Vitali said S.B. 624 violates Article III, Section 32 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which prohibits special legislation. Senate Bill 624 is directed at one particular coal company, Consol Energy, in one particular location, Ryerson Station State Park, Vitali said. Introduced by Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the bill directly affects a pending case before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB Docket No. 2014-072-B) relating to Consol Energy’s longwall mining activity in and near this Greene County state park. Vitali said the law also violates Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (the Environmental Rights Amendment), as recently interpreted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Longwall mining activity by Consol Energy under Ryerson Station State Park has already caused permanent damage to Read more
ALLENTOWN, July 21 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer is leading an effort to collect school supplies at his Allentown office, 1912 S. Fourth St. Read more
PITTSBURGH, July 19 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, invites residents of the 23rd Legislative District to participate in a live Tele-Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 27. The district includes part or all of these Pittsburgh neighborhoods: Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Greenfield, Oakland, Point Breeze and Regent Square. Residents of Frankel's district will receive an automated phone call at about 7 p.m. that day inviting them to join the meeting. To participate, people simply need to remain on the line once they receive the call. "This is a great way to bring district residents into a community discussion in a more convenient way for them, without them having to leave the comfort of their homes,” Frankel said. "I look forward to talking with my constituents about a variety of issues that have an impact on them and their families. I enjoy meeting with constituents in person as well, and groups that would like to invite me to speak should contact my office at 412-422-1774." During the live event, Frankel will discuss and take questions on a variety of state issues, and participants will be asked to weigh in on poll questions using their touch-tone phones. Anyone who doesn’t have a chance to speak during the phone meeting will be able to record a question at its conclusion. Questions will be forwarded to Frankel's office for a future response. Those interested also may email questions to Frankel before the Tele-Town Read more
FOLSOM, July 19 – Following a series of safety issues, state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, released the following statement calling for a halt to the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline: “I am calling for an immediate moratorium on construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline until the state Department of Environmental Protection can ensure proper safeguards are in place to protect safety and property of local residents. “Monday’s 1,500-gallon spill of bentonite drilling fluid in Middletown Township is just the latest in a series of pipeline and drilling-related incidents damaging local streams and water supplies. What happened this week was worse than a spill: at least one aquifer was impacted and potentially, a private drinking well in the area. Enough is enough. There have already been three documented spills of drilling fluid in the Chester Creek in Brookhaven and drinking water has been compromised in nearby Chester County. It is reckless and potentially dangerous to allow construction to continue until steps are taken to protect residents, their property, and our water supply from future spills. “The state Department of Environmental Protection does not have the authority to oversee private water wells. In most other counties, the local Health Department has jurisdiction in this area to keep people safe. However, what makes a bad situation worse is that Delaware County is the largest county in the Commonwealth Read more
Rep. Dan Deasy reports that a telephone scam is making the rounds where fraud artists claiming to be state Treasury employees threaten arrest if unpaid taxes are not paid. Read more
CHESTER, July 19 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, has announced plans to introduce three new pieces of legislation that would bolster the state’s ability to protect private wells for its citizens, enhance interagency communication and create pipeline siting authority. These bills follow her recent announcement calling for a state Pipeline Safety and Communication Board. “After reading the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Report from February 2016 and speaking with residents, municipal officials, first responders, the secretary of Department of Environmental Protection and the chair of the Public Utility Commission, it was clear to me that we could be doing a lot more to ensure better communication and safety as it pertains to pipelines,” Comitta said. “Talking with these agency heads helped to identify what was needed and areas where legislation would be helpful to them. I am happy to respond to this need.” The first bill would address the PUC’s lack of siting authority for intrastate pipelines. A second bill would amend the PUC Confidential Security Information Disclosure Protection Act in order to permit agencies to communicate sensitive information with each other. The disclosure act was passed after 9/11 with the intent to protect information from getting into the wrong hands; however, it overreaches and restricts sharing of certain information between agencies, an unintended Read more
HARRISBURG, July 19 – State Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria/Somerset, today announced the award of nearly $15 million in Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding to three sanitary sewer/storm water projects in the 71 st Legislative District. “This massive injection of state funding is welcomed and necessary, as we resolve current issues and position Cambria County for future growth,” Barbin said. “I’d like to thank the Pennvest board for approving these projects – and thus improving the lives of our residents.” Barbin offered the following insights on where and how the money will be spent: $8.13 million is going to the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority for its Hornerstown and Ohio Street Interceptor Storm Water Separation Project, to replace and rehabilitate approximately 12,050 feet of sewers. $5.58 million is going to the city of Johnstown for its Ohio Street Sanitary/Storm Water Separation Project, to replace collection pipes, manholes and 20,000 feet of service laterals in the Ohio Street and Moxham areas. $1.28 million is going to Franklin Borough for phase two of its Sanitary Sewer Improvement Project, to replace 3,885 feet of nearly 100-year-old pipe – as well as replacing 36 laterals and 16 manholes, among other things. Barbin noted that the Johnstown city and Johnstown Redevelopment Authority awards, as well as $668,682 of the Franklin Borough award, consist of long-term loans Read more
HARRISBURG, July 19 – State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, announced today that he will host a Vietnam Veterans Ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Lock Haven University Price Auditorium. Hanna says the purpose of the event is to honor Vietnam War veterans who live in the 76th Legislative District. “This momentous event is a way to honor the service and sacrifice so many have made for our great county,” said Hanna. To sign up for the event, Vietnam War-era veterans may call Hanna’s Lock Haven office at 570-748-5480 or his Milesburg office at 814-353-8780. Participants are asked to note whether they intend to bring a guest. Veterans and their guests must be confirmed no later than Aug. 18. Hanna has previously honored veterans who served in both World War II and the Korean War. Read more
Rep. Brandon Neuman reports that Chartiers Township has been approved for an $875,000, low-interest Pennvest loan to extend sewer lines to 50 families along McClane Farm Road. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 19 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said he is pleased with the funding appropriated to the cause of sickle cell disease on the 2017-18 state spending plan . “I’m glad the legislature kept sickle cell patients as a priority on this year’s spending plan and appropriated the necessary money to support individuals and families whose lives have been touched by the disease. Now we can continue research activities that can lead to improved treatment and, one day, a cure,” Kinsey said. Sickle cell funding for fiscal year 2017-18 reaches $1.26 million, the same amount appropriated for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The funds will be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. “I’ve been a strong advocate for sickle cell funding because this is a disease with a high prevalence among African-Americans and people who live in households with low family incomes. For this populations, attaining and maintaining high-quality health insurance is even more difficult,” Kinsey said. “We held events, rallies and meetings and the efforts have come to fruition.” Sickle cell anemia is a serious blood disorder that causes acute pain, severe anemia, infections and vascular blockages that can lead to widespread organ damage and death. It is a genetic disease, affecting 2 million Americans, most often African-Americans and Hispanics. Until the past few decades, most people with sickle cell disease did not Read more
Harrisburg – July 19, 2017 – State Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Representative Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) today issued the following statement in reaction to the House Republican leadership’s continuing refusal to call the House into session to work toward closure on the 2017-18 budget: “The House last met over a week ago without completing the work on revenue needed to finalize the state budget. Republican Speaker Mike Turzai has not advised lawmakers of when the House might reconvene. “This ongoing failure to finish our work on the budget means the state-related schools – the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple University and Lincoln University are in danger of not receiving any state appropriations this year. In addition, the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School is unfunded. “It’s disturbing that we have hit late July and still do not have a finished 2017-18 fiscal year revenue plan. Four parties in the budget talks have been around the table working toward an agreement, but consistently the House Republicans have refused to engage. “This bizarre situation is unconscionable. We have an incomplete budget and Pennsylvania families are wondering what happens next, especially those families preparing to send their children to college in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, these families and our state-related universities are being used as budget pawns by the House Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., released the following statement urging Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to call the House back to Harrisburg to wrap up the 2017-18 state budget: “On June 30, I voted for a budget that would increase education funding in Philadelphia by $34 million. While I have worked with my colleagues to find a way to pay for it, House Republican leaders have failed to come up with any clear solutions. However, Democrats have presented several solutions to generate new and more reliable streams of revenue our Commonwealth needs. “We can start by raising the minimum wage and implementing a shale tax on wealthy gas drillers. A minimum wage worker in Pennsylvania would have to work 83 hours a week in order to rent a modest one-bedroom home without any assistance. Not only would increasing the minimum wage give Philadelphia families more money in their pockets, but it would even save our Commonwealth about $50 million. “I am ready to get back to work and fight to balance our budget and make sure that Pennsylvanians receive the services they need. The Republican leadership needs to return to Harrisburg and let us do our jobs. Because if they don’t, our children who need that $34 million will be hurt the most.” ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – Members of the Philadelphia Delegation in the state House of Representatives today urged Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to call the House back to Harrisburg to wrap up the 2017-18 state budget. "The main spending bill was passed on June 30, on a bipartisan basis, and it became law on July 10. So now we have to pay for that budget. And we need recurring, sustainable revenue to do it. Another year of mostly using gimmicks, what I refer to as 'smoke and mirrors,' will put us at risk of more credit downgrades, which just cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more. Unfortunately, Republican leaders shut down the House without finishing the job," said delegation chair Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Legislators outlined three major solutions to Pennsylvania's revenue gap that should receive votes in the full House: A severance tax on natural gas drilling companies: "Pennsylvania has already given away more than $2 billion in potential revenue by writing the natural gas law to favor the industry and shortchanging Pennsylvania residents. We simply want a severance tax comparable to the one every other natural gas-producing state in the nation have already put in place," said Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila. Closing corporate tax loopholes: "Without closing the so-called Delaware loophole here in Pennsylvania, we lose hundreds of millions in revenues each year by allowing large corporations to avoid state Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila. today announced she will host a National Night Out event for residents of the 203rd Legislative District. It will be held 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1 at Masjidullah, Inc., 7433 Limekiln Pike, 19138. Fitzgerald said there will be games and activities, food, information about state and local resources and a chance to meet with officers from the 14th and 35th police districts. “Public safety is one of my top legislative interests, so I felt it was fitting to host this event,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s great to have the community come together and have some fun while getting to know the law enforcement in their neighborhood. “This event is a great way for everyone to work together and help crack down on crime.” National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the announcement of Chancellor Frank Brogan’s retirement from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: “Chancellor Frank Brogan – our Commonwealth’s top higher education official – will be retiring in September. I would like to thank Chancellor Brogan for his lifelong commitment to public service and his impressive career as an educator. As a former educator myself, as well as a trustee at my alma mater Millersville University, I fully understand the challenges that he faced while making critical decisions about the future of our State System. “While we will miss Chancellor Brogan’s leadership, his retirement does provide us with an opportunity to refocus our System. Currently, our System is at a crossroads. Several of our state colleges and universities are facing uncertain futures. Simply put, we don’t know what could happen. As a member of the task force to redesign Cheyney University – our nation’s first Historically Black University – it is vital that the General Assembly and the new chancellor recommit ourselves, and the resources needed, to meet the needs of all of our state schools. The future of Cheyney University must be made a priority by both parties. Doing otherwise is unacceptable. “I have full faith that our Read more
EYNON, July 17 – Area veterans are invited to take part in the monthly support program next week at the office of state Rep. Kevin Haggerty. Jeff Saunders of the American Legion will be in Haggerty's Eynon office -- 307 Betty St., Suite 4 -- from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 24 to provide information on services available to veterans and their families, including retirement, benefits and more. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help, but anyone interested is recommended to schedule an appointment through Haggerty’s office at 570-876-1111. Read more
GLENSIDE, July 14 – Seniors age 65 or older can obtain a free SEPTA Key Senior Photo ID card any weekday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the district office of state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, 115 E. Glenside Ave., Suite 8, Glenside, PA 19038. SEPTA is in the process of transitioning to electronic key cards for all of its services, including the Seniors Ride Free program, which allows seniors to ride free at all times on buses, trolleys and subways, pay $1 on regional rail for travel within Pennsylvania and pay 50 percent of the weekday fare for travel to and from New Jersey and Delaware. “In an effort to provide our seniors every chance to benefit from these programs, I wanted to ensure that my office would be available,” McCarter said. “Many seniors within this community rely on SEPTA services for work, shopping and medical appointments, so it’s important that we provide the necessary information and support to make their trips a little easier.” McCarter’s office has processed more SEPTA Senior Key applications than any other legislative office in southeastern Pennsylvania so far. Seniors should bring a state-issued proof of birthdate (such as a photo driver’s license or Pennsylvania non-driver’s photo ID) to McCarter’s office. Applicants will then fill out a form to have a photograph taken; SEPTA will mail the completed key card directly to the applicant when it is ready. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 14 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., joined her colleagues from both sides of the aisle to push for a reasonable measure to help bring in sustainable revenue for Pennsylvania – a severance tax on the extraction of Marcellus Shale resources. DeLissio signed a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai urging him to bring to a vote a fair tax on Marcellus Shale. She also supported a discharge resolution calling on the House to bring up H.B. 113, a severance tax measure sponsored by Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery. “With Pennsylvania’s credit ratings at risk, we cannot continue to borrow our way out of this fiscal crisis or to continue to use one-time transfers as we have for the past two administrations that I have been in office,” DeLissio said. “A fair severance tax is supported by an overwhelming number of Pennsylvania residents, and it would help us generate the recurring revenue that we desperately need.” DeLissio is a co-prime sponsor with colleague Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, of H.B. 1401 , which would create a 3.2 percent severance tax on unconventional natural gas extraction, in addition to the existing impact fee. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a severance, or drilling, tax. Support for a severance tax is growing on both sides of the aisle. House Bill 1401 has bipartisan co-sponsors, DeLissio said, and Republicans and Democrats signed the letter Read more
Rep. Pam Snyder reports that the Greene County commissioners have been awarded a $750,000 federal grant for waterline work in Monongahela Township. The grant is crucial to alleviating water shortage and quality issues that have plagued residents for many years. Read more
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