State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, Democratic chairman of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, announced today a $20,130 Food Service Equipment Grant has been approved for the Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School to help the school upgrade kitchen equipment and infrastructure in an effort to serve more nutritious meals. Read more
SCRANTON, April 10 – A staffer from state Rep. Marty Flynn's office will provide outreach assistance next week in South Abington Township. Read more
MERION STATION April 10 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D- Montgomery, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to discuss the importance of investment in early childhood development programs in Pennsylvania. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 13 at Saint Joseph’s University, Cardinal John P. Foley Campus Center, 390 N. Latches Lane. The current agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel One: Ailene Keys, MSW, LSW , maternal child health supervisor, Montgomery County Health Department Nadine Miller, program improvement administrator, Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth Maggy Saad , parent Cathleen Palm , founder, Center for Children’s Justice 10:50 a.m. Panel Two: Shaun Elliott , president and chief executive officer, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA Zakiyyah Boone , vice president of child care, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA Bruce Clash , Pennsylvania state director, FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS 11:30 a.m. Closing remarks Read more
HARRISBURG, April 10 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, plans to introduce a bill that would end conflicts of interest in tax-funded payments for charter school leases. "To ensure financial accountability for all public schools and protect Pennsylvania taxpayers, I will introduce legislation that would ban anyone who serves as a school director, founder, member of a board of trustees or administrator of any public school entity -- including a school district, charter school or cyber charter school -- from receiving reimbursements on lease payments for buildings or facilities used for charter school. The ban would also include executives or employees of charter school management companies," Roebuck said. "We need to prevent these conflicts of interest up front and also recover taxpayers' money to benefit students when there has been an inappropriate payment for one of these leases," Roebuck said. "Every dollar that goes to an inappropriate lease is a dollar that doesn't go to educate our kids." Roebuck said charter schools and traditional public schools should be treated equally under law since both receive tax dollars and both are considered public schools under Pennsylvania law. This legislation was first introduced last session in response to concerns raised about lease overpayments to charter schools. Since December 2012, the Office of the Auditor General has found Read more
State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, said she plans to introduce legislation in the near future that would require schools to provide a timely transfer of students’ records to another school. "My legislation would protect students and their families regardless of their choice of school," Madden said. Madden said the legislation would include students who transfer to another public school, including charter schools, or a nonpublic school. "It is necessary that a student be provided with the continuity of their education program and my bill would ensure that a student's records are transferred within 10 days from the school’s request for those records," Madden said. The Monroe County lawmaker said the school would also need to evaluate students’ needs and place them in the appropriate academic programs, and provide a complete and accurate record of their academic and attendance records. "Record keeping is vital to an education system’s information cycle and school records are an important means of accountability because they provide proof and they also provide data that reveal students' learning performances," Madden said. Madden said school records help administrators and teachers make decisions about their students. Madden represents the 115 th Legislative District. Read more
HERMITAGE, April 10 – Seeking to protect students and taxpayers, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, plans to introduce legislation that would limit charter school management organization fees to no more than 5 percent of tuition charged per student enrolled. Besides limiting overhead, Longietti said his forthcoming bill would require much more disclosure of financial documentation from for-profit and nonprofit school management organizations. “Currently, Pennsylvania law is deficient on placing limits paid – and revealing contracts made – with management companies, which can result in profit-making with public education dollars,” Longietti said. “Moreover, management company fees increase a school’s administrative costs and result in less money being available to educate the students.” Longietti added that it is difficult for authorizers, oversight bodies and taxpayers to see how their money is spent by these private companies unless such transparency is required by law. His legislation would apply to for-profit management companies that provide management, educational or administrative services to public school entities, including school districts, charter and cyber charter schools. Generally, a private organization or firm that manages public schools, including district and charter public schools, is referred to as an education management organization or a charter management organization. Longietti said research Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 7 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., co-hosted on Thursday a meeting on the issues relating to nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding blocks and neighborhoods. Both state and local government agencies were gathered to share their respective roles in combatting this issue. “This is an issue that has plagued Philadelphia neighborhoods for decades, and despite concerted community efforts it has been difficult, if not impossible, to get liquor licenses suspended or revoked,” DeLissio said. “The members of the Philadelphia Delegation of the PA House are conducting a series of these meetings across the city over the next few weeks. Delegation members will then compile and share all of the information and work to identify a meaningful pathway forward with the goal to ensure that liquor licenses are suspended or revoked timely when warranted.” DeLissio hosted a similar meeting in November 2015 on the topic, which, like Thursday's, included a broad array of city and state agencies that interact with establishments holding liquor licenses. This time, she said, there is a broader group of colleagues similarly engaged in the dialogue and she is hopeful that, at the very least, state and local agencies will work more cooperatively together, and if need be, local and state policy can be proposed to help ameliorate this plague. Among the testifiers were officers from Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 7 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., will host a “Policy Pow-Wow” from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 in her district office, 6511 Ridge Avenue, 19128. The Pow-Wow format is a deeper look at policy issues and includes a balanced look at the issues to be discussed. “When we did a series of three Pow-Wows in August, they were well received and constituents found them to be informative,” DeLissio said. The informal roundtable discussion will include S.B. 3, which is a legislative proposal to restrict abortion, and S.B. 10, which is legislation to address the issue of sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania. Space is limited, so RSVPs are requested, which can be made by calling 215-482-8726. DeLissio will host another Policy Pow-Wow at 7 p.m. Monday, May 15 to discuss the elimination of statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children and to talk about gun control. RSVP is requested and the location of discussion will be in her district office. “As I endeavor to continue my commitment to dialogue with constituents of the 194th Legislative District, I hope residents will find this format inviting and casual,” DeLissio said. “It is a pleasure sharing information with constituents, as well as learning from attendees.” The Policy Pow-Wows are BYOB - alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Light refreshments will be provided. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 7 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., stood up against the injustice of gender pay disparity on Equal Pay Day in the Capitol this week. Tuesday, April 4 was the symbolic day when a woman’s average salary catches up to a man’s average salary from the previous year. In Pennsylvania, women are paid on average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to Census data. “It has reached the point in this country, that a woman who graduated from college in 2009 can expect to work three more years than her male counterpart to repay her student loans,” DeLissio said. “That is a shame, and we can do something about it.” DeLissio told WBCB 1490 AM news this week that she and her colleagues are working hard to advance core pieces of legislation that would set a course toward pay equality in the work place: House Bill 931 -- Would allow employees to inquire about wages and disclose information about wages by prohibiting retaliatory actions against workers who discuss or file a complaint regarding pay inequities. House Bill 830 -- Would increase fines for employers who are convicted of willfully violating law, falsifying records, or interfering with an investigation under this act from the current amount of $50 to $200 per day of violation to an updated amount of not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000 per day of violation. Secondly, this legislation would increase the time Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 7 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., voted Wednesday against H.B. 741, which would reinstate the practice of mandatory minimum sentencing in Pennsylvania. DeLissio said that she based her vote on documentation that demonstrates the use of mandatory minimums is ineffective and unfair in combatting crime and recidivism and costly to the state – data and facts confirmed by Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel. Mandatory minimums also remove judicial discretion in sentencing. The objective of sentencing is to rehabilitate, deter, and punish accordingly. DeLissio said that determining the most appropriate sentence for an individual is complex and case-specific, and is therefore best addressed by judges familiar with the case, the defendant, and all of the relevant circumstances and information. DeLissio said many reports show that district attorneys do not consistently seek mandatory minimum sentences, even in cases where they are prescribed by law. The practice is used to leverage plea bargains, many times unfairly. “If the crime warrants a harsh sentence – which many do – then a judge is beholden to his or her duty to seek justice in those cases,” DeLissio said. “If a judge does not deliver on that duty, then he or she should seek another job, or voters can decide not to retain a judge for an additional term.” Analysis also shows that the part of H.B. 741 Read more
HARRISBURG, April 7 – State Rep. Neal P. Goodman was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors for working with the organization as he advanced a blight-fighting law he authored, Act 133 of 2016, through the legislature. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 7 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the House Republican budget bill unveiled this week has damaging cuts in it and leaves out commonsense ways to raise revenue. "House Republicans are advancing a set of budget cuts that would hit working families and the middle class so they can preserve tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. Those priorities are exactly backwards," Kinsey said. "Republicans drafted this budget bill in secret, with no Democratic input, and it shows. "I and most House Democrats agree with Governor Wolf that we need to pass overdue, commonsense ways to balance the budget like closing corporate tax loopholes, finally taxing natural-gas drilling like all the other major gas states already do, and raising the minimum wage – which would reduce the need for public assistance." Instead, Kinsey said, House Republicans are pushing a budget bill that would: Cut $50 million from Wolf's proposed increase for early childhood education; Cut $350 million from human services compared to Wolf's request; Cut $130 million from the Corrections Department compared to the governor's request, even though House Republicans also passed a mandatory-minimums bill this week that would raise prison costs by $66 million to $85 million per year; Cut assistance with child care expenses for low-income families; and Cut $12 million from the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 7 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on pretrial and bail procedure reform at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 at the Southwest Leadership Academy, 7101 Paschall Ave. McClinton is introducing legislation that would reform Pennsylvania’s pretrial and bail procedures to provide a fairer, effective and less costly criminal justice system. The bill would encourage and incentivize counties to establish pretrial service programs that utilize standards proven to reduce the monetary, and human cost of corrections. The current agenda is: 2 p.m. Welcome and opening remarks 2:10 p.m. Panel One: Keir Bradford-Grey , chief public defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner , Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice, City of Philadelphia 2:40 p.m. Panel from County Commissioners of Pennsylvania: Maureen Barden , fellow Kevin Barnhardt , Berks County commissioner 3:10 p.m. Panel from Pennsylvania Pretrial Association: Nicole Schnovel , board president (Berks County) Shannon Danley , board treasurer (Dauphin County) Maureen McManus , board director-past president (Lehigh County) Janice Radovick-Dean , board director-past president (Allegheny County) Robin Campbell , communications director, Pretrial Justice Institute 4 p.m. Closing remarks Read more
HARRISBURG, April 6 – This week in the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca successfully enhanced a bill that would reform the statute of limitations regarding child sexual abuse cases, while also defeating an unfair provision. The committee, of which Petrarca serves as Democratic chairman, reviewed and reported out S.B. 261, which would abolish the criminal statute of limitations for future criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse. For civil suits, it would extend the statute of limitations by 20 years, meaning that victims would have until age 50 to file a civil suit, rather than the current age of 30. Additionally, it would waive the sovereign immunity for public institutions, which would allow civil suits to be filed against them. Petrarca's amendment removed the cap on damages for governmental entities. "This amendment was important because it levels the playing field between individual offenders and public institutions," Petrarca said. "The amount of compensation victims receive should not be based on where they were abused." The amendment that Petrarca, and a bipartisan group of committee members, was able to defeat would have increased the standard to sue a public entity, thereby creating different standards for negligence between public and private entities. "To me, it just didn't make sense to make it more difficult for a victim to sue simply because his or her abuse happened at a public Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 6 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey, Isabella Fitzgerald, and Chris Rabb, all D-Phila., will host a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on concerns for people with intellectual disabilities. The public hearing will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 11 at SpArc Philadelphia, 2350 W. Westmoreland St., Philadelphia. Kinsey, Fitzgerald, and Rabb requested the hearing to collect input from local groups about how state government can better address concerns of the intellectual disabilities community. The current agenda is: 10:00 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel from Philadelphia Intellectual disAbility Services Larry Pace , director of operations Liat Richardson Owens , program manager 10:30 a.m. Panel Two: Kathy Brown-McHale , CEO, Special People In Northeast, Inc. Marsha Drenth , program director, Deaf-Blind Living Well Services Marian Baldini , president and CEO, KenCrest Services 11:10 a.m. Panel Three: Audrey Coccia , co-executive director, Vision for Equality Ed McNicholas , advocacy manager, Vision for Equality Marian Baldini , consumer and family satisfaction team manager, Vision for Equality Boyd Carroll , resident, Inglis House 11:50 a.m. Closing Remarks Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 6 – Philadelphia state Rep. Morgan Cephas today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "With the loosening of laws regarding liquor sales, businesses have greater opportunities to expand commerce and product lines, however, we are experiencing some unintended consequences of changing the laws," Cephas said. "It remains critical for local and state agencies to keep a watchful eye on nuisance establishments that are taking advantage of loopholes and this hearing, and others like it, is a step in the right direction." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. Cephas is currently working on a liquor control task force by bringing together local and state agencies, business owners and area residents that are immediately impacted by the operation of nuisance establishments. “As an organizer of this grassroots initiative and a member of the House Liquor Control Committee, I am using these opportunities to address growing concerns and attack this issue head on,” Cephas said. Among the testifiers were Officer Frank Gramlick from the 19th Police District of the Philadelphia Police Department, personnel from Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Pennsylvania Read more
WEST CHESTER, April 6 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta is inviting community members to an Evening with PennDOT from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 20 at Fugett Middle School. A panel of representatives from the state Transportation Department's District 6 will share information about how the department operates and makes decisions about roadway construction and maintenance projects. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions about local projects during a Q&A session at the end. “PennDOT plays such a big role in our community, keeping our roads in good shape so that we can go about our daily lives,” Comitta said. “But we don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes. This event is a great chance to learn more about the work that keeps us moving.” Fugett Middle School is at 500 Ellis Lane, West Chester. The event will be in the auditorium. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 5 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, strongly opposed a bill the House passed today (H.B. 741) that would revive several mandatory minimum sentences that have been struck down in the courts. "Mandatory minimums don't work. Between 1980 and 1995, when mandatory minimums were popular and in full effect here and in other states, violent crime actually increased nearly 20 percent," Harris said. "Mandatory minimums silence the voice of the voters who elect judges, not robots. Mandatory minimums remove discretion – just as with hats, one size does not fit all. "And apparently many of those who voted for mandatory minimums don't actually want to fund them. House Republicans also passed a budget this week that would cut $130 million more from the Corrections Department than the governor's budget would – even though the mandatory minimum bill would add another $66 million to $85 million per year in costs! For the same amount this bill would cost, we could provide drug treatment for more than 9,000 people." Harris said he hopes the state Senate will take a wiser approach. "I've been working on criminal justice reform with members of both parties in the House and Senate, as well as groups that range from progressive to conservative. There's strong public support in Pennsylvania for criminal justice reform and I still believe Read more
HARRISBURG, April 5 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, released the following statement regarding House passage of House Bill 741, a Republican-backed bill to reinstate several mandatory minimums that had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court: "I’m deeply troubled by the passage of House Bill 741 which would reinstate a number of mandatory minimum sentences that would not deter crime or reduce recidivism. H.B. 741 has never been the subject of a public hearing where judges, attorneys, criminal justice experts, victim advocates and those in the fields of corrections and parole could actually have input in this important bill. "I voted no on this bill for a number of reasons. Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately affect minorities and those unable to afford the best representation. These sentences tie the hands of judges and remove any discretion for the judge to fully consider all of the aspects of a given case, including the wishes of a victim who may actually prefer leniency in some cases. "Today’s vote on H.B. 741 was a classic case of legislative overreach as many in this body continue to hold on to the belief that the legislators know more than judges about how best to impose sentences. I would hope the Senate has the sense not to move this bill for the remainder of the session." Read more
HARRISBURG, April 5 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, issued the following statement regarding today’s Penn State trustee news. Read more
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