HARRISBURG, March 14 – PA SAFE Caucus members today outlined their legislative goals related to gun safety reform during a Capitol news conference, one month following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and coinciding with a national student walkout calling for immediate changes to gun laws across the country. Lawmakers spoke about their frustrations with trying to pass commonsense legislation as well as specific House bills that they would like to see move from committee. “The time is now to finally say enough is enough — to listen to the students whose wisdom and bravery is inspirational,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Madeleine Dean , D-Montgomery. “We can and must do something to combat this gun violence epidemic, not just to prevent mass shootings like in Parkland, but to combat the everyday violence that claims 33,000 lives a year in this country, and injures 80,000 others in the crossfire.” Members expressed their expectations ahead of a special set of hearings on gun laws scheduled for the week of April 9. "We are pleased to see that the House Judiciary Committee will give members a chance to speak about important gun safety proposals,” said PA SAFE Co-chair Dan Frankel , D-Allegheny. “But we also know that a hearing is not enough – we expect the chance to vet some of these bills on the House floor in the very near future.” “Family and close friends are often the first to notice Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – Members of the PA SAFE Caucus today said they applaud Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack’s decision to stop selling assault rifles from his stores. The Pennsylvania-based chain also will raise the minimum age for its gun sales to 21 and no longer sell high-capacity magazines or accessories for assault-style weapons. The change will go into effect for Field and Stream stores, which are under the Dick’s brand. “It’s encouraging to see that the efforts of young people and students from all over the country are starting to rub off on the people who can make a real change,” said PA SAFE Caucus Co-chair Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “As a Pittsburgher, I’m very proud that Dick’s made this decision, and I hope they will be joined by more businesses in doing the right thing and sending the message that assault weapons are not welcome in our communities anymore.” “Retailers have a tremendous ability to partner with what we’re trying to accomplish in the General Assembly,” said PA SAFE Caucus Co-chair Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery. “Accessories such as bump stocks and high-capacity magazines should have no place in the market, and we have bills for that. But right now, retailers can act more quickly than the legislature to help make sure these deadly weapons and accessories don’t end up in the wrong hands.” The PA SAFE Caucus comprises state legislators Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – Pennsylvania House Democrats and members of the PA SAFE Caucus are calling attention to the scores of gun safety reform bills that have received little to no attention under Republican leadership this session and in previous sessions. “Even before the tragedies at Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, many House Democrats have been introducing and proposing meaningful gun safety reform legislation,” said PA SAFE Caucus Co-chair Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “Each time tragedy strikes, we are faced with the reality that the majority party in Harrisburg continues to keep our legislation bottled up in committee without a vote or even a hearing. We are now joined by students across the Commonwealth and Americans everywhere to say that enough is enough.” House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said, “After the Parkland tragedy there’s been a surge of interest in making schools and other locations safer, and that’s certainly welcome. Most of the proposals now being offered were introduced by Democrats in the House as much as a year ago and have been stuck in a committee without any action. This has to change. Democrats want to work with the Republican majority on reforms that make sense and will save lives.” PA SAFE Caucus Co-chair Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, said, “The bills that PA SAFE advocates for are commonsense pieces of legislation that offer real solutions to the Read more
ABINGTON, Feb. 21 – State Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, released a statement today in response to the recent mass shootings in Parkland, Fla. – and across the nation – while calling on Pennsylvania House leaders to hold hearings and votes on sensible gun reforms currently in the state House Judiciary Committee. “After these all-too-frequent tragedies, and the outpouring of support for the victims, their families, and friends, I am reminded of the words of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords: ‘The truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough,’” Dean said. In the past six months, the nation has seen mass shootings in churches, concert venues and schools, adding to the 33,000 people a year who die from gun violence. The recent school shooting in Parkland — which claimed the lives of 17 people, many of them children — on Feb. 14 was the 30th mass shooting of 2018. Three of those shootings took place in Pennsylvania. “In the Pennsylvania legislature, we have the power and the responsibility to act. This is why Rep. Dan Frankel and I co-founded the PA SAFE Caucus, a group of legislators dedicated to combatting gun violence in our communities and passing commonsense firearm reforms. Those reforms include those related to universal background checks, reporting lost or stolen firearms, banning the sale of deadly devices such as bump stocks, the Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 1 – Legislation to ensure a free and open internet in Pennsylvania is being drafted, said state Rep. Tim Briggs, who will sponsor the bill. Based on a California bill, the legislation would prohibit an internet service provider from blocking, degrading or impairing lawful internet traffic based on content, application or service. It also would prohibit an ISP from allowing certain websites preferential treatment for a fee or sum. In December, the Federal Communications Commission took steps to repeal net neutrality regulations. Without these consumer protections, ISPs would be able to block, slow, or speed up websites depending on content or service agreements. “The loss of fair internet delivery is a big problem for consumers, but an even bigger impediment for new business, new ideas and the voices of people online who expect their democratic rights to outweigh powerful and moneyed interests,” Briggs said. “Allowing corporations to act as internet gatekeepers would be an alarming – if not terrifying – adjustment to how we inform ourselves and advocate for social progress, democracy and transparency. “My bill would stop that from happening in Pennsylvania. All websites, large or small, should be provided to the consumer at the same speed.” The bill also will have a procurement clause requiring the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to only purchase internet services from ISPs that abide by the principals Read more
This letter to the editor on President Donald Trump's solar panel tariff was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 26, 2018. President Trump’s solar tariff is bad for the environment and bad for the economy. Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to the world. This tariff is another in a long list of actions he has taken to make this problem worse. The tariff, announced Monday, will apply to all imported solar equipment for a four-year period. It is predicted that the tariff will increase solar installation costs by about 6 percent to 9 percent and reduce U.S. solar installations by 11 percent over the next five years. This is expected to translate into 23,000 lost solar jobs. To make matters worse, the tariff is being imposed at the same time the federal investment tax credit – an important incentive for solar investment – is being phased down. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 25 – The Delaware River Basin Commission is working to establish regulations banning fracking in the basin, a move supported by state Rep. Greg Vitali, who testified today at a public hearing on such rules. “I support a complete and permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. This position is consistent with the overwhelming majority of constituents I represent and is supported by Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment to our state constitution,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “It states in part that Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the ‘common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.’ “To date, about 11,000 unconventional wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, but there should be places where fracking does not occur, and the Delaware River basin is one of them. The watershed supplies drinking water to 15 million people, and the Delaware River has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and enjoys special protections. “Fracking turns pristine forests into industrial sites with truck traffic, gravel roads, fences and spills. The river basin should not be degraded by drilling, and I applaud DRBC’s efforts in protecting it.” DRBC has held hearings on draft amendments to its regulations and comprehensive plan to better provide for the planning, conservation, utilization, development, management and control of Read more
HARRISBURG, Dec. 21 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, has joined with residents from across Chester and Delaware counties and fellow lawmakers to call for a halt in construction on the Sunoco Mariner East II pipeline so that a safety risk assessment can be performed. Comitta joined state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, and several residents from Uwchlan, Middletown and East Goshen townships in a meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf in Harrisburg on Wednesday, where Comitta presented him a formal letter requesting the halt. Other letters from U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, state Sens. Andrew Dinniman and John Rafferty, and state Reps. Becky Corbin and Duane Milne were also referenced. A petition containing the names of 6,000 area residents also was presented to the governor. The citizen groups Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety and Goshen United for Public Safety were represented at the meeting. Goshen United is led by Caroline Hughes, an East Goshen Township resident. “I have been talking and meeting with constituents, state agency heads, township officials and Sunoco representatives regarding the Mariner East II project since I took office,” Comitta said. “Unfortunately, this project has experienced a record number of incidents and that is completely unacceptable. It’s past time to assess the safety risks so that our first responders and residents have the information they need to be safe, and it’s regrettable that this Read more
HARRISBURG, Dec. 6 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, joined a group of House Democratic lawmakers today to unveil Plan For PA, a comprehensive strategy that puts people first, supports good jobs, fights for quality schools and promotes a fairer tax structure. The plan involves several legislative initiatives sponsored among House Democrats. Davis is introducing a bill that would reinvest money made from Pennsylvania’s Business in Our Sites program into more shovel-ready projects. Sites targeted under the program are old or undeveloped properties that are planned and zoned for improvement. Initially, the Commonwealth Financing Authority allocated $300 million in BIOS grant and loan funds for businesses to improve sites and create jobs. Repayment on the loans is then used to fund more projects. Davis’s bill would allow the CFA to use its current portfolio as security to raise an additional $50-$100 million for even more projects. “Too many bills coming out of Harrisburg are falling tone-deaf on families out here in the real world,” Davis said. “Our plan is to put the focus back on families and the good jobs they need. Add that to other bills in the package focused on education and health care, and that’s how we improve things in Pennsylvania. It’s really that simple.” The House Democratic Plan for PA focuses on four components: A People First Plan for PA that protects the safety, health, financial Read more
Pictured are Darece Williford, Cheryl Spencer, DeLissio, and Denise Whittiker - three members of the Community Action Group with DeLissio. PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 3 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio on Wednesday joined Gov. Tom Wolf, members of the state Liquor Control Board, and state and local Philadelphia legislators for the signing of a bill that increases the state’s ability to better deal with “stop and go” nuisance establishments in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. The new authority is included in a Fiscal Code bill (H.B. 674), which the House passed last week. Under the legislation, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, the LCB can suspend the license immediately. The new law also gives local government entities the power to make recommendations to the LCB to investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. The bill was signed at the same location that two years ago DeLissio convened city, state and civic stakeholders to understand the problem from as many perspectives as possible and to identify, in particular, the barriers to a solution. “I brought the agenda and the stakeholder chart from that meeting to the bill signing,” DeLissio said. “The bill signing reflects the collective efforts of my colleagues in the House and Senate to give Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Kevin Boyle today unveiled a plan to protect access to birth control under health insurance coverages in Pennsylvania. The legislation, proposed by Krueger-Braneky, Boyle and Rep. Tina Davis, would require that all state-regulated insurance plans in Pennsylvania cover contraceptives and vasectomies. It would further require that plans provide coverage for any prescription or non-prescription method of birth controlled approved by the FDA. It also would: Eliminate most co-payments for birth control and vasectomies Enable women to receive 12 months of birth control at one time Lift pre-authorizations on intrauterine devices (IUDs) On Oct. 6, the Trump administration announced it would roll back the contraceptive coverage requirements within the ACA. The rollback allows any employer to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage in its health plan based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. At least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania depend on this coverage to access affordable, effective contraceptives. “Contraception is health care, and access to health care is a fundamental human right that is inextricably tied to economic mobility and freedom,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware . “By making basic preventive care like the pill a costly luxury, the Trump administration is sidelining girls and women – whether they are students, hourly wage workers, Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – State Reps. Tina Davis and Pam Snyder this week introduced H.B. 1882 , which would restrict convicted sex offenders from living near schools. Under the bill, a sex offender registered under Megan’s Law would not be allowed to live within 2,500 feet of a public, private or parochial school, pre-school or child-care facility in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State Police report that there are 21,685 registered sex offenders living in the commonwealth, convicted of offenses ranging from possession of child pornography to rape. “Right now, there are no laws preventing offenders from moving in right next door to the school attended by your child, grandchild, niece or nephew,” said Davis, D-Bucks. “Our legislation aims to address this problem and keep kids safe at school and on their way to and from school.” “We must do all we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens from those with a proven record of predatory – and in some cases violent – behavior,” said Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. “Our legislation simply mandates a buffer zone between an offender and a school or child-care facility to keep children safe. “It’s past time Pennsylvania had a law like this on its books.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, issued this statement on this week’s vote on 2017-18 state budget-related legislation. “Although I’m concerned about the continued lack of reoccurring and sustainable sources of revenue that don’t burden hardworking residents, it was a kind of a give-and-take. In the spirit of compromise, we’re called to weigh the good against the bad, to consider and make choices that will offer solutions to long standing problems in the end. “While not perfect, this plan gives an opportunity now for our colleagues in the Senate to address issues we’ve raised in the House and hopefully offer solutions that work fairly for all Pennsylvanians. “I look forward to going back into session and addressing those outstanding issues we still have before us in the House, as my colleagues and I are continuing to do all we can in order to ensure this legislature is ready and able to get on track to fulfill its commitment to our communities,” Hill-Evans said. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., joined House members and the PA Breast Cancer Coalition to kick-off Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Monday by turning the Capitol fountain pink for the month of October to remind women of the importance of mammograms and early detection. “Our goal clearly needs to be prevention and, short of that, early detection and access to treatment are imperative,” DeLissio said. “I am very grateful for the work of the PA Breast Cancer Coalition to educate women throughout the commonwealth and to ensure that short of prevention, people are getting their mammograms for the earliest possible detection and have access to care and treatment.” During the event, DeLissio announced that after 16 months she completed treatment for breast cancer at the end of August and is cancer free. “This journey was only possible with the love, support and prayers of my family, friends, staff and colleagues who were with me every step of the way. I am eternally grateful for all of that support.” In addition to Monday’s kick-off, on Tuesday the House adopted H.R. 435, recognizing October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Oct. 20, 2017, as National Mammography day in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the resolution encourages all women and men in the commonwealth to have discussions with their doctors about breast cancer and the value of being Read more
On Tuesday, in the Capitol of the state home to the most famous unstoppable mine fire in the world, 17 House Republicans proposed cutting coal-mine and industrial site clean-up funds to avoid taxing drillers and energy companies. The irony only pales to the absurdity and recklessness of the entire plan. Also filed under heartless, mindless and gutless: Proposed cuts to the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Treatment Fund while attempting to expand gambling across the state; Cuts to the Job Training Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, Industrial Development Fund and Manufacturing Fund as the rust belt creeps farther across the state; A suggested raid on the Motor License Fund – which is made up of money drivers already paid to fix roads and bridges that are in historic disrepair. Republican budgeting has become little more than a bonfire of tea party schemes that will consume Pennsylvania, its resources, air, water, health and economy before it burns out. Soon in Pennsylvania, it won’t take an actual fire to destroy a community. It will just take not learning from one. Read more
HARRISBURG, Aug. 18 - Following the events in Charlottesville, Va., the members of the Southeast Delegation released the following statement: “We, the members of the Southeast Delegation of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus, watched in horror the open display of hate and bigotry from neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday, August 12 th . A display that quickly turned violent and deadly. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who was killed in an act of hate-fueled terror, to the family and friends of the officers who died in the line of duty – Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke Bates – and to the many others injured and traumatized that day. “In the aftermath, we are standing together with our families, our communities, and colleagues for support and strength in the face of this inhumane, racist moment. And we rightly look to our leaders, of any party and stripe, to clearly and full-throatedly denounce hate — and to reaffirm our country’s founding principle that all are created equal. “That moral authority that we search for was grotesquely missing in our president. Instead, President Trump displays sympathy for fanaticism; blame for violence on both the purveyors and victims; and an unashamed ignorance. At a time when our country needs a leader who will unite us, this president, again, pushes us apart. “Sadly, this past weekend’s Read more
August 2017 is Pennsylvania Produce Month. I was proud to vote for the resolution recognizing the commonwealth’s vegetable growers, who continue to serve as national leaders in the production and processing of fruits and vegetables that feed families across the country. Family farms across the state produce nearly 300,000 tons of vegetables a year from approximately 50,000 acres. Late summer is a great time to find tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage and more. More than 4,300 family farms are currently operating in Pennsylvania. With produce ranging from the mushrooms grown in Chester County to the potatoes in Erie and Potter counties, Pennsylvania growers offer a variety of locally grown food items. I hope you will consider visiting a farmers’ market in our region. When you buy local, fresh produce, you’re fueling our local economy and keeping our farmers in business. I encourage you to check out Chester Market each year July to October from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. It’s located at 3117 W. Ninth St., behind the Fare and Square parking lot. The Commonwealth has several programs in place to make sure as many residents as possible have access to fresh produce grown in their communities, regardless of income. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides qualified participants with vouchers to purchase Pennsylvania-grown produce at more than 1,130 farmers' markets and farm stands. More than 160,000 Read more
HARRISBURG, July 10 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, urged Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today to veto S.B. 624, which would reduce protections to streams where coal companies seek to mine underneath them and would interfere with pending litigation. The bill passed the Senate today and is expected to be on the governor’s desk soon. “I urge you to veto this bill,” Vitali wrote in the letter . “The legislation is both unconstitutional and bad public policy.” 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, CONSUL in one particular location, Ryerson Station State Park, he said. Introduced by Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, the bill would directly affect 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 bill 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 the park. In 2005, mining by CONSOL permanently damaged Duke Lake in the park. “In addition to Ryerson Station State Park, the bill Read more
President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our country from the historic Paris Climate Agreement has put the health, safety and economy of Pennsylvania and the United States in peril. Climate change affects all things, from industries such as agriculture and tourism to the health and mortality of infants and children. It is the No. 1 most pressing challenge affecting every nation on the planet. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today announced the House unanimously passed his bill to require the Department of Transportation to provide a check-off box on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms for people to contribute to the first-ever pediatric cancer research fund in Pennsylvania. Caltagirone's legislation, H.B. 407, would provide Pennsylvanians the opportunity to donate money to the fund when they apply for a driver’s license or vehicle registration. The funds raised by the legislation would be distributed to eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct pediatric cancer research, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. "This is another historic step in our efforts to fund better treatments and hopefully a cure for pediatric cancer,” Caltagirone said. “The House action shows we have wide bipartisan support among state decision-makers. As we speak, children are fighting for their lives in Reading and Berks County, across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead the way in pediatric cancer research. “This bill would create an easy way for Pennsylvania residents to contribute to childhood cancer research directly in a manner that could save Read more
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