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
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said the Pennsylvania House of Representatives took a major step toward better health care for state residents by voting today to establish a state-run health insurance exchange. “We have the opportunity to help 400,000 people struggling to afford good health insurance for themselves and their families,” Dermody said. “Currently these consumers have to buy their health insurance on the federal exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act. But the ACA also gives states the option to set up a state-specific exchange to connect insurance sellers with customers,” Dermody said. “By setting up a state-based exchange and leveraging federal funds to set up a re-insurance program to better manage risk in the individual market, we can better control premium increases in Pennsylvania.” Dermody noted that because the new state entity would be a full partnership with the federal government, it does not require new taxes or assessments. In fact Pennsylvania will be able to operate its exchange at a lower cost than the federal exchange and use those savings to provide additional insurance to Pennsylvania residents. He praised the bipartisan effort which led to today’s vote and thanked Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, as well as Reps. Tina Pickett and Tony DeLuca, the Republican and Democratic chairs of the House Insurance Committee. “We also got great support and suggestions Read more
LEVITTOWN, June 11 – State Rep. John Galloway said today that his district office will be accepting donations for the next month for the United Way of Bucks County’s Operation Helping Hand food drive. Nonperishable food donations can be dropped off at Galloway’s office at 8610 New Falls Road until Thursday, June 20th. Items especially needed include 100-percent fruit juice, cereal, peanut butter, canned chicken, tuna or salmon, canned fruits or vegetables, applesauce (no sugar added), oatmeal and pasta. “This is our fourth year participating in Operation Helping Hand, and I’m always amazed to see the generosity of our community,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “I’m happy to be able to play a part in helping needy families in our area.” Anyone with questions can call Galloway’s office at 215-943-7206. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, announced that legislation he spearheaded to provide funding for clean drinking water and infrastructure to remediate the toxic man-made chemicals known as pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, was voted with overwhelming bipartisan support out of the House Commerce Committee today. In 2006, when the federal government closed down the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Montgomery County, it discovered significant environmental issues, including contamination of the drinking water in some Bucks and Montgomery county communities as a result of the use of firefighting foam at the military installation. “It’s unfair that local ratepayers and taxpayers have had to bear the costs of removing harmful contaminants from their drinking water when the federal government is responsible for the contamination,” Galloway said. There continues to be ongoing runoff from the military base and the continued pollution of the aquifer. The environmental and drinking water issues have delayed the redevelopment of the former military base, which has cost the commonwealth tax revenue and job opportunities. “Something had to be done to resolve this issue that impacts the health and welfare of many Pennsylvanians,” said Galloway, the minority chair of the House Commerce Committee. “That’s why I was proud to spearhead this important legislation that will Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Touting his commitment to advancing legislation that benefits Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc of Pennsylvania, an advocacy organization, has named state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, its 2019 “Representative of the Year.” The Arc of Pennsylvania , a branch of the largest nationwide advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, each year honors a legislator who demonstrates exceptional leadership in advancing legislation that benefits residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. On Tuesday, the organization’s annual legislative breakfast took place in Harrisburg. Miller was in attendance, and the organization presented him with an award that honors his designation as representative of the year. “Pennsylvania has a moral, legal, and fiscal responsibility to provide ladders of opportunities for all of its citizens,” Miller said. “Despite the progress of years passed we are simply failing to meet our obligation to our citizens with a disability, and we have a lot to do. I’d like to thank the Arc of Pennsylvania for the award, but more importantly for the work, advocacy, and partnership. Any progress I make stands on the shoulders of the countless advocates who came before me and I thank everyone for the opportunity to serve.” In a letter to the Allegheny Democrat, Sherri Landis, The Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – The House Health Committee today unanimously approved a bill that would bring much-needed transparency to the practices of middlemen companies hired to manage prescription drug benefit plans, according to the bill’s prime cosponsor, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. Matzie said he introduced H.B. 941 with co-prime sponsor, state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, to address mercenary practices by pharmacy benefit managers that threaten to destroy local pharmacies and injure consumers – particularly those in the state’s Medicaid program, where 90 percent of patients are served by managed care companies that contract with PBMs. “Pharmacy benefit managers are supposed to be working on behalf of consumers to lower drug costs,” said Matzie, who is co-chair of the state Community Pharmacy Caucus. “Instead, we’re finding that they’re overcharging patients and taxpayers millions and engaging in predatory pricing practices. “We’ve invested these middlemen companies with tremendous power. As rate-setters, they determine what drugs will be covered and how much pharmacies will be reimbursed. At the same time, we haven’t imposed much-needed oversight to ensure that they don’t abuse this power. The state’s consumers and small businesses are now paying the price. “For two years, I’ve been hearing from local pharmacies about how PBMs are slashing drug Read more
COATESVILLE, June 11 — State Reps. Dan Williams and Danielle Friel Otten, both D-Chester, announced that five schools within the Coatesville Area School District will share $400,000 in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and its 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program. Schools within Williams’ legislative district that will receive these funds are Gordon Learning Center, South Brandywine Middle School and Scott Middle School; and schools awarded within Otten’s legislative district are Reeceville Elementary School and North Brandywine Middle School. According to Coatesville Area School District superintendent Cathy Taschner, the funds will go toward implementing before- and after-school programming. “The Coatesville Area School District is excited to be able to offer much needed before- and after-school programming for students through the 21st century learning grant,” Taschner said. “We want to thank our Chester County Intermediate Unit partners who have applied for this grant and included us in the process. We know that quality before- and after-school programming can improve academic performance, improve physical health, and provide a structured, safe environment for students. We look forward to the impact this grant will have on our students.” “This is a step in the right direction. All our Commonwealth’s businesses and citizens should be contributing to the costs required Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – The deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2018 under the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced today. “This 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 to the program, 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 by calling 412-466-1940. His Pittsburgh office is located at 5101 Old Clairton Road and can be reached by calling 412-886-2870. Kortz added 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 said that constituents seeking assistance must 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 Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, announced the unanimous adoption of resolutions she sponsored to bring awareness to issues important to Pennsylvanians. According to Donatucci, House lawmakers on Monday said yes to: Women’s Equality Day ( HR 379 ): The resolution celebrates the accomplishments of the many women who have fought for the right to vote and renews the state’s support for efforts to promote women’s equality. Aug. 26 falls in line with the national recognition of Women’s Equality Day. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Month ( HR 380 ): As many as 5 million women across the United States are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disease that can cause irregular ovulation or fertility and makes women more susceptible to serious conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Although causes for the disease remain unknown, experts identify several factors, including genetics, as suspected causes. To raise awareness of this disease, H.R. 380 recognizes September 2019 as “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Peace Day ( HR 381 ): Drawing from the United Nations International Day of Peace and the organization’s arm in Greater Philadelphia’s Peace Day Philly, H.R. 381 designates Sept. 21, 2019 as Peace Day, a day to promote peace, tolerance and acceptance throughout the commonwealth. “It’s reassuring to see my Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – A bipartisan measure that would establish a property tax reform program enabling school districts to exclude up to 100 percent of a homeowner’s school property tax bill has been introduced, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, announced today. Partnering with state Reps. Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, and Rosemary M. Brown, R-Monroe/Pike, Snyder said the bill would provide for the elimination of owner-occupied residential school property taxes via the homestead and farmland exclusion, also known as the property tax relief program. The measure would increase the state’s personal income tax by 1.8%. That increase – from 3.07% to 4.87% – represents the amount needed to offset the property tax exemption, Snyder added. “I hear from seniors and homeowners regularly about this property tax burden and how unfair and costly it is to them,” Snyder said. “We realize that school districts need adequate funding to operate, but not on the backs of taxpayers, including first-time home buyers and family farms. The personal income tax is considered one of the more stable taxes levied in our state, and this will ensure districts will have the necessary funding for their schools. “We’ve also seen how property taxes can fluctuate, due to economic downturns over the past few years, and we believe this measure is a viable solution for both taxpayers and school districts Read more
WEST CHESTER, June 10 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, has been appointed West Chester University’s political science department’s Legislative Fellow for the 2019-20 academic year. “The Department of Political Science is especially pleased that Representative Carolyn Comitta has accepted an invitation from the department to serve as our Legislative Fellow for the next two-year cycle,” said Professor of Political Science John Kennedy. “All of us are very excited about the vast knowledge and expertise that she brings, and her willingness to share these insights with our students.” During the upcoming fall semester, Comitta will actively participate in WCU’s Pennsylvania Government and Politics course taught by Kennedy. “As a West Chester University alum, I am delighted to serve as Legislative Fellow. I look forward to sharing experience and insights about the legislative process in Pennsylvania with the students in this program,” Comitta said. According to officials at WCU, the Legislative Fellow Program was established in 2001 along with other colleges within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to help build bridges between lawmakers and the faculty, staff and students who are part of these universities. The goal of the Legislative Fellow Program is to foster communication and understanding by working directly with a state legislator on both classroom and extracurricular projects. ### Read more
WHITEHALL, June 10 – State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, today announced her office will host its monthly veterans outreach program June 17. A veteran’s outreach specialist from the American Legion will be in McNeill’s office – 1080 Schadt Ave. – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, June 17 to discuss programs and services available for veterans and their families, as well as the application process for the different services. The specialist also will be available to discuss pensions, other forms of compensation, educational opportunities, health care and benefits. Legion membership is not required to take advantage of the help. Those interested in meeting with the adviser must schedule an appointment through McNeill’s office at 610-266-1273. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, today led a news conference regarding the introduction of her two bills addressing sexual harassment in the workplace, “Preventing Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace” and “#TimesUP - Sexual Harassment by Public Officials.” These bills together carry a bipartisan group of over 50 co-sponsors. The first bill would extend the amount of time a person has to file discrimination complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in order to give victims and whistleblowers more time to come forward. “The majority of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace goes unreported,” Davidson said. “Potential whistleblowers may fear the threat of retaliation or be uncertain whether the incident qualifies as harassment or discrimination. Often, it takes time for whistleblowers to build up the courage to come forward, but it is vitally important to the safety and productivity of our workplaces that they do so.” The second 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. “For those who commit sexual harassment, we say, ‘Time’s Up,’” Davidson said. “Victims of sexual harassment involving people in positions of power must have the Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, today joined fellow colleagues at a state Capitol news conference to unveil a package of bills addressing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace in Pennsylvania. Madden’s legislation would ensure that all workers across the state are safeguarded with legal protections against workplace sexual harassment and discrimination. Currently, these protections under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act only apply to employers with four or more employees. “Because of this, we have left these hardworking employees vulnerable to workplace harassment and discrimination and I plan to continue to defend them and change the laws,” Madden said. Madden’s legislation would protect 314,000 more workers, including full-time nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers, independent contractors and interns – from workplace harassment and abuse. According to the 2015 census, there are approximately 153,000 companies with four or fewer employees. ###rc/2019/agh l:\print\releases\sexualharrassment.115 Attention news editors: Madden video from today’s news conference can be downloaded here. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 10 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, welcomed more than 100 constituents to her annual paper shredding event on Saturday to help them dispose of old documents containing personal information. The event was held in the parking lot of Motivation High School and was co-hosted by state Sen. Anthony Williams. “Disposing of old documents containing private information in regular trash or recycling makes many residents vulnerable to identity theft,” McClinton said. “I’m happy this year’s paper shredding event was a success with residents taking the opportunity to properly and safely dispose of their old documents.” Residents’ documents were shredded on-site by Vital Records Control. Constituents were able to shred unneeded documents containing information such as bank statements, credit card information and medical records. Both lawmakers and their staff also assisted constituents with state government services and issues. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci announced she is seeking co-sponsors for her legislation that would crack down on an increasing problem in Philadelphia: home thefts through fraudulent property transfers. “In many cases, homeowners who are in poor health or who don’t have any close family or friends fall victim to this illegal practice. They don’t realize that someone has transferred ownership of their property,” said Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Donatucci said her legislation would help to prevent fraud cases by requiring companies or organizations that manufacture notary stamps to be licensed. The manufacturer would be assigned an identification number that would be included on the stamp to prove a legitimate, licensed company made it. In addition, when a notary public begins their commission, they would receive a Certificate of Authorization they would use to purchase a stamp from a list of permitted, licensed manufacturers. Donatucci stated this process would restrict unauthorized people from going to any store or online shop to have an illegal stamp made for themselves. “These unscrupulous people are scheming with someone who isn’t a notary but was able to purchase a seal online. They work together to sign over the property without the true owner knowing that it is happening,” Donatucci said. “With my legislation, we would be taking proactive measures to stop this type of illegal Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – As the official start of summer approaches, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca is urging all Pennsylvanians to take steps to keep pets safe during hot, humid weather. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, who has supported efforts to protect pets in Pennsylvania, including Libre’s Law , said it’s important for people to practice basic summer safety tips when the temperatures – and humidity – start to rise. “We know how uncomfortable those hot, summer days can be for us, but imagine what it’s like for your pet,” Petrarca said. “While most of us know to never leave pets alone in a parked car, too often we still hear of cases where this happens, or we hear about pets who are left to fend for themselves without adequate shade or water while outside. These timely reminders could potentially save a pet’s life.” Petrarca recommends these tips to keep your pet healthy, comfortable and safe during the summer: Never leave your pet in a parked car, even for a minute or even with the air conditioner running in your vehicle. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach over 100 degrees within 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, temperatures can rise to 120 degrees, which can cause your pet to suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Watch the humidity – if humidity is too high, it’s more difficult for your pet to cool themselves Read more
WEST NORRITON, June 10 – State Rep. Joe Webster announced that Lower Providence Police Department was awarded a $45,000 grant to help with municipal security upgrades. The grant, through the Department of Community and Economic Development, will be used for upgrades to the department’s video camera system, card access system and new doors. “These upgrades will better protect those who work for the township, as well as the many township residents who visit for services,” said Webster, D-Montgomery. “I was pleased to support the township’s efforts to improve security, and I’m glad that the state has awarded this grant.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – House Democratic leaders indicated that if vital legislation implementing Gov. Wolf’s plan to meet infrastructure needs throughout the state does not move quickly, they are prepared to take steps to force the issue. Speaker Mike Turzai referred the Restore Pennsylvania bill (H.B. 1585, sponsored by Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny) to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee last week. The panel’s chairman is a Republican who often brags of his refusal to advance any legislation sponsored by Democrats. The Restore Pennsylvania bill has 99 House co-sponsors from both parties. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said several of his colleagues are preparing a discharge resolution to get Wheatley’s bill out of the committee and brought to the full House for consideration. “The people of Pennsylvania need the benefits that Restore Pennsylvania will deliver,” Dermody said. “From flood control to blight remediation to increased broadband deployment across the state, the state has many unmet infrastructure needs for which no other realistic funding source has been identified.” Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla, who co-chaired a House-Senate policy hearing today on the RestorePA proposal, announced at the meeting’s conclusion that he’s ready to file the discharge resolution as soon as possible. “We heard a lot today about the benefits of this broad-ranging proposal,” Read more
MALVERN, June 10 – State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, announced today that a Keystone Historic Preservation Grant worth $25,000 has been awarded to Wharton Esherick Museum to expand upon its educational outreach and programming. The funds come from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which supports preserving, protecting and promoting historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania. Wharton Esherick Museum said they plan to use these funds to connect the two buildings on the property, Wharton Esherick Studio and Sunekrest, and eventually integrate Esherick’s 1956 Workshop, to create a master campus. Currently, the museum’s studio serves as its sole event and exhibit space. Wharton Esherick Museum’s executive director, Julie Siglin, said she’s looking forward to the upgrade, as the museum will be able to hold more visitors at a time and wheelchair accessible ramps will also be installed. “With the addition of Sunekrest, the museum is poised to expand its footprint by creating a master campus with increased exhibit and programming space, and improved accessibility,” Siglin said. “This planning process will allow us to explore the true breadth of that mission as we consider new ways to interpret his work and influence, beyond the walls of the studio.” “I’m excited to see this project completed,” Shusterman said. “It’s a Read more
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