State Rep. Perry Warren, recognized the 150 th anniversary of the 14 th Amendment with H.R. 999. House Resolution 999, was introduced by Warren and adopted by the House of Representatives, commemorating the 150 th anniversary of the ratification of the 14 th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on July 9. Originally ratified in 1868, the amendment granted rights that previously had been denied based on race and has been used to combat other various types of injustice. “Now more than ever we must recognize the importance of upholding equality and moving society forward,” Warren said. “Honoring this part of our nation’s history reinforces the idea that we must continue to champion those efforts diligently.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced her bill that would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings in Pennsylvania was unanimously voted out of the House Health Committee. House Bill 562 would amend the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act by allowing low-income, underinsured and uninsured women ages 30 to 65 to qualify for the screenings through the Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program. Currently, only women ages 40 to 49 are eligible for the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates eight out of every 100,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. “About one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and some will be diagnosed with it at a young age. Many of them win the battle due to early detection,” Donatucci said. “We must ensure every eligible woman in the commonwealth has access to these potentially life-saving screenings.” According to Breastcancer.org, more than 40,000 women in the U.S. are expected to die this year from breast cancer, despite the decrease in death rates since 1989. House Bill 562 will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill protecting the New Jersey-Pennsylvania tax reciprocity pact passed the New Jersey General Assembly on Thursday and is on its way for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s review. The agreement at the heart of New Jersey S.B. 878 allows Pennsylvania residents who work in New Jersey to pay their income taxes in Pennsylvania and vice versa. Under the bill, should Murphy sign it, it would take an act of the New Jersey state legislature to undo the pact, which has been in place on good faith for more than 30 years. “This issue almost amounted to a tax grab on Pennsylvania residents when Governor Chris Christie threatened to break it a few years back, but thanks to cooler heads, it didn’t happen then, and with this bill the pact should be shored up and our residents can rest a little easier knowing that their tax obligations won’t shift on a political whim,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks. Warren earlier wrote the New Jersey State Legislature expressing his support in protecting the tax pact. “There are 46,000 Bucks County residents who work in New Jersey and would be adversely affected financially if this tax reciprocity agreement were terminated,” Warren said. “With the approval of NJ S.B. 878, my constituents will be able to budget and make work and life plans without fear that they will be compelled to pay New Jersey income taxes.” Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – Citing the growing cases and reports detailing the runaway culture of sexual harassment and misconduct in the Capitol, state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky today said the Republican response to merely study the problem is not enough. “It’s not time to study the problem; it’s time to act,” she said during a House Labor and Industry Committee meeting in which Republicans voted for H.R. 828, which would launch a yearlong taxpayer-funded study to look at sexual harassment and misconduct in state government. “There are bills sitting in this committee – and spread throughout other committees – that would allow us to take action right now on a problem we are all unfortunately well aware of. “Any woman in any workplace knows full well we have a problem with sexual harassment and misconduct that has gone unchecked for generations. We don’t need a study to tell us that there must be a fair and impartial process to investigate harassment claims and protections against retaliation against victims and whistleblowers.” Some of the bills that Krueger-Braneky referenced during the meeting today include: H.B. 1965 (state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky) -- would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate Read more
HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Rep. Helen Tai, D-Bucks, was sworn in today to represent the people of the 178 th Legislative District for the 2017-18 legislative session. Tai was assigned to the House Local Government, Environmental Resources and Energy, and Children and Youth committees. “It’s a distinct honor to represent my strong and devoted community,” she said. “I bring with me a love of public service and a vision to bring back good government for all and not just for special interests. “I look forward to helping end overspending by working smarter but also working harder for clean natural resources and economic opportunity.” Tai also introduced her first bill today, H.B. 2469, which would withhold legislator’s pay if the state’s General Fund budget is not passed each year by June 30. “I’m making good on a promise I made to my neighbors, constituents and fellow Pennsylvanians to hold the General Assembly accountable to taxpayers, families and businesses,” she said. “There are far too many late budgets coming out of Harrisburg. Every time the state misses payments for services, it costs the taxpayers their money. A law suspending lawmakers’ pay would help remind them of that.” Prior to joining the state legislature, Tai served for 4 1/2 years on the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors. Building on her two decades of experience partnering with Read more
HARRISBURG, May 9 – The House PA SAFE Caucus released the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement Tuesday that his administration opened a statewide grant program to reduce the threat of gun violence in Pennsylvania. “I am grateful for the governor’s initiative and leadership to combat gun violence,” said PA SAFE Co-Chair Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery. “These grant opportunities will help identify programs that work and can be replicated statewide. PA SAFE looks forward to working with the governor and municipalities to help stop the cycle of violence.” “Members of PA SAFE look forward to ensuring that Pennsylvania municipalities know that the state is investing in public safety and advocating on behalf of citizens who demand that their local, state and federal governments do more to fight the epidemic of gun violence,” said PA SAFE Co-Chair Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “We’re here to protect the interests of Pennsylvanians, and PA SAFE looks forward to growing these funding opportunities with the administration.” The $1.5 million in competitive grants is now available for any municipality in Pennsylvania to apply for through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency here . The first due date in the program is June 22. Applications will be chosen for grants beginning in July. According to the grant program guidelines, since 2014, Pennsylvania Uniform Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – A plan to stem the climate of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the Capitol would be part of a bipartisan package of bills to protect workers across the state, state Rep. Leanne Krueger Braneky testified today before the House Labor and Industry Committee. Her H.B. 1965, which is prime co-sponsored by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate claims made within the General Assembly. The changes are clearly needed following the discovery of assault allegations and secret taxpayer-footed payouts for cases against legislators who were accused of sexual assault and harassment over decades, Krueger-Braneky said. “I started working on this bill six months ago after publicly sharing that I am one of the over 80 percent of women who have experienced sexual harassment,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “After I shared my own story, women who work in this Capitol started to come to me to share their stories, and I learned that many of the alleged perpetrators were legislators. I heard stories from women who were discouraged from ever filing a complaint in the first place, stories from women who faced retaliation, and stories from women who believed legislators would never be held Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Margo Davidson today told members of the House Labor and Industry Committee that Pennsylvanians need her H.B. 2286 , which would extend the statute of limitations for filing complaints with the state’s Human Relations Commission. H.B. 2286 would extend the statute of limitations for filing a complaint with the HRC from 180 days to two years and provide plaintiffs a right to trial by jury. It also would provide that punitive damages and the award of attorney fees would be granted to a prevailing plaintiff. “This bill would ensure that victims and survivors have laws that represent substance in this fight against volatile workplace environments,” said Davidson, D-Delaware. “This bill also helps the many victims who hesitate to come forward due to fear of retaliation and fear of not being heard or believed. Workplace safety includes creating a culture where every employee feels safe and comfortable going to work.” Davidson presented testimony on her bill during a special Labor and Industry Committee hearing that examined a package of bills to reduce workplace discrimination and sexual harassment across the commonwealth. Davidson also referenced her #TimesUp legislation, which would expand the authority of the state Ethics Commission to investigate and take action on allegations of sexual harassment perpetrated by elected officials on all levels – including state and Read more
YORK, April 24 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, will visit the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center, 50 E. Boundary Ave. York, at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 26 to present a copy of H.R. 806, declaring April 16-20, 2018, as “Week of the Young Child” in Pennsylvania. “Our children, are indeed, our future,” Hill-Evans said. “And in recognizing the early childhood years, from birth through 8 years of age, we recognize that these are the years that lay the foundation of a child’s success in school and later in life.” According to Hill-Evans, “Week of the Young Child” was first established in 1971 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Since its inception, the annual celebration has highlighted early learning, young children, their teachers and families. “The purpose of H.R. 806 is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m proud of my colleagues in the House, along with the United Way of York County, the York Area Association for the Education of Young Children, NAEYC, other local organizations, schools and learning centers like Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center for keeping the importance of early childhood at the forefront.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 12 – Fourteen state representatives, including several members of the gun violence prevention group PA SAFE, testified before the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee this week during the first half of a two-week series of hearings on gun violence – hearings that could soon lead to long-awaited votes on several gun safety reform measures. The debate included topics regarding school safety, mental illness treatment, domestic violence and firearm law reforms. Though the hearings are scheduled to continue into next week, state Rep. Ron Marsico, majority chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has indicated in news reports that votes on particular bills might take place in the near future. These measures could include extreme-risk protection orders, also known as “red flag” orders; requirements for domestic abusers to surrender their firearms more quickly and safely, domestic violence lethality risk assessment training for police, and prohibiting accelerated trigger devices, including “bump stocks.” “The testimony offered at these hearings overwhelmingly show that legislators want to take concrete action to curb gun violence,” said state Rep. Madeleine Dean, co-chair of the PA SAFE Caucus. “I am grateful to the chairman for calling these hearings and especially for his willingness to take real action on reforms such as prohibiting incredibly dangerous devices such as bump stocks. Representative Read more
MEDIA, April 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali joined lawmakers and organizers from Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy at the county courthouse steps today to call for the advancement of H.B. 1400, for universal background checks on gun sales in Pennsylvania, and H.B. 1872, a statewide ban on multiburst trigger activators, including bump stocks. Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, is a cosponsor of both bills and said he hopes that the legislation will receive prompt votes following a set of public hearings on gun bills slated for next week in Harrisburg. “The issue of gun violence prevention has hit its tipping point, and it’s time these commonsense bills become law,” he said. “Expanded background checks for gun shows and private sales are widely supported by Pennsylvanians. A ban on devices designed to turn rifles into illegal machine guns is also supported by most Americans, especially since one was used in the Las Vegas shooting in October, our nation’s most deadly mass shooting. “The reaction to the most recent mass shooting in Parkland has shed much-needed light on the dark affairs that suppress the passage of sensible gun safety laws, and we lawmakers are here to pressure leaders in the Capitol so we can vote in the interests of our constituents.” The public hearings, called for by the House Judiciary Committee, will take place Monday through Thursday. Vitali also is a cosponsor of the following Read more
HARRISBURG, April 4 – Pennsylvania will lose about $442 million in revenue this year by forgoing a severance tax on natural gas harvested in the commonwealth, state Rep. Greg Vitali said today. The figures are according to House Democratic Appropriations Committee estimates assuming a 6.5 percent tax, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, with existing impact fees subtracted. Those figures, coupled with data from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, indicate that the commonwealth has lost over $1.68 billion in revenue since 2011 due to the lack of a severance tax, Vitali said. Vitali updated his Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature report with the new findings. The report also found that the drilling industry spent about $5.2 million in lobbying last year and $67 million between 2007 and 2017. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Another finding shows there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a Read more
YORK, March 23 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, released the following statement regarding yesterday’s tragic fire in York that claimed the lives of two firefighters and injured two others: “‘We may be helpless to stop bad things from happening, but perhaps God leaves us signs and road maps to recover and reconnect, provided we know where to look,’ according to Jennifer Gardner Trulson and I feel we need look no further than to each other,” said Hill-Evans. “We couldn’t prevent the tragedies from occurring, but with time there will be healing, recovery and a reconnection. “I would like to thank all of the rescue crew and first responders who were called to the scene of yesterday’s tragic building collapse. As a former member of York City Council and many years of shared community events, I’ve come to know these brave men and women who rise up and put others before self without a second thought. As a member of the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee in Harrisburg, it’s important to continue to address these unfortunate events and take action by doing all we can to ensure that those risking their lives continue to get the support they need in order to do their jobs to the best of their ability. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were lost, and those who are facing the days and weeks to come,” Hill-Evans said. “May we come Read more
YORK, March 23 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced today that Air Dynamics Industrial Systems Corporation received a $40,024 grant to enhance their York County-based facility. The money will support the purchase and installation of a solar power system. The Solar Energy Program funding request was approved Friday by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. “I’m pleased that our state is continuing to make these smart, green and wise investments into our communities and businesses,” Hill-Evans said. “It’s via these investments that our future generations will see expanded opportunities for economic and environmentally mindful growth.” The total project cost is $160,100, and will include installing a 72.93 kW commercial rooftop solar power generation facility on the roof of two of Air Dynamics Industrial Systems’ manufacturing buildings. Once completed, the project is anticipated to provide up to 128 percent of the company’s power demand and generate 79,134 kWh of electricity per year. The Solar Energy Program provides grants and loans to promote the use of solar energy in Pennsylvania. The program is administered jointly by the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection under direction of the CFA. Read more
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
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