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
Rep. Neuman joined 11-year-old Madison Wertz and the state auditor general’s office to launch a nationwide effort to help rape victims. Neuman, whose Act 27 of 2015 spearheaded efforts to catalog and reduce the thousands of rape kits in Pennsylvania, is urging House and Senate members to promote the www.change.org petition, “Funding the testing of Backlogged Rape Kits.” Read more
Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington, reports he has been named to head a key panel on the state Commission on Sentencing and has been named to five House committees, including a return to the House Judiciary Committee. Read more
Rep. Snyder reports that she has been named Democratic chairman of the Pennsylvania House Coal Caucus to support and advance the coal industry and its contributions to the state. “We have new opportunities to bolster a critical part of our energy portfolio and help the industry and its workers,” Snyder said. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, joined Gov. Tom Wolf and a group of bipartisan legislators today for a Capitol news conference to highlight details of a joint effort to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in the state.
In the Rotunda, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody joined Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, Majority Leader David Reed and other House members to announce the completion of recommendations from the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation.
“For the past several years, the General Assembly has been focused on the opioid and heroin crisis gripping our state,” Matzie said. “While there is still much to do to wipe this scourge from our communities, today represents progress in that fight. The recommendations from the task force will make a real difference in ending this crisis.”
The Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, which was created through the adoption of a resolution in 2014, made several legislative recommendations, including H.B. 1737 and H.R. 590, both of were recently approved by the House. Also announced at the news conference was a special legislative session focused on the opioid crisis, which is expected to be convened in September.
“This issue isn’t a partisan one. Individuals from all across our state and from all walks of life have fallen victim to addiction,” Matzie said. “As a member of the Health Committee, I have seen members from bo Read more
“It’s really a combination of excitement and relief,” said state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-16, Ambridge. “It’s the equal of hitting the lottery.”
Matzie said those who own property along the Ohio River are eager to see what Shell’s announcement means for potential peripheral businesses coming to the area. “For manufacturing to come back in any way … this is really the key,” he said Read more
HOPEWELL TWP. -- An estimated 221 overdoses have occurred in Beaver County since January -- 27 of which were fatal, according to the district attorney's office.
While seven of the overdose fatalities are still awaiting toxicology reports, 20 were ruled deaths as a result of an opioid overdose.
Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said the data comes from the county dispatch center. Since his election, Lozier has implemented a program requiring police and first responders to report suspected overdoses, fatal or otherwise, to the Beaver County 911 Center. Read more
AMBRIDGE, June 3 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today announced that the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation and various other projects across the state have been awarded grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation has been awarded a PHMC Cultural and Historical Support grant of $4,000. In total, 137 organization from 56 counties applied for and are receiving $1,997,605 worth of Cultural and Historical Support grants. Grant recipients were required to meet organizational requirements to be eligible for the grants, which are based on a calculation that uses the recipient’s operating budget.
PHMC also awarded 30 organizations today with $1,233,114 in Keystone Historic Preservation grants. The program is used to fund the preservation, rehabilitation and restoration of historic sites that are eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Pennsylvania’s legacy is rooted in important historical moments and breathtaking cultural offerings, and preserving the institutions that protect and promote these historic sites is important to both our state’s economy and its heritage,” Matzie said. “These funds will allow future generations to experience our state’s rich history.”
In total, PHMC awarded $3.23 million today to historical projects across the state through both grant programs.
Matzie has served on the Pennsylvania Historical and Mu Read more
AMBRIDGE, May 26 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said he is looking forward to a frank and productive discussion at next week’s Center for Rural Pennsylvania public hearing on Confronting the Heroin/Opioid Epidemic in Pennsylvania.
“Addiction is an issue that every part of this state is currently in the midst of battling,” Matzie said. “But rural Pennsylvanian communities face very different challenges than communities in Philadelphia or even Pittsburgh. Discussions like this one allow us to understand those differences better so that any intervention effort can be made more effective.”
The public hearing will start at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday June 2 at the Fez, 2312 Brodhead Road, Aliquippa, 15001.
“Personally, my childhood friend Amy Scherfel-Watkins’ son, Brooks, was a victim of a heroin overdose in Washington County last year. Since then, Amy, her husband and her family have been telling the story about the devastation their family has endured hoping to capture the attention of anybody and everybody,” Matzie said. “As she told me, if they can help even one person than their son’s purpose here on earth will be fulfilled. I echo those statements and believe as a parent and a policy maker it is my duty to do all that I can to end this epidemic that is affecting families across Pennsylvania and our nation.”
Matzie will join state Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman of the General Assembly’s Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and Beaver County state Sens. Elder Vogel and Came Read more
HARRISBURG, May 25 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, voted today for legislation containing the new Student-Weighted Basic Education Funding Formula, which is now on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to await his signature.
House Bill 1552 was amended in the Senate to include the formula, which was recommended by the Basic Education Funding Commission in 2015.
"This formula will help ensure that the quality of our students’ education isn’t determined by their zip code," Matzie said. "I have long supported a truly equitable funding formula and we are now able to ensure that our students will have a fair chance to achieve."
The new funding formula, which would take effect next school year, was designed to distribute education funds across the state in a more equitable manner while factoring variables including poverty rate, local effort and capacity and issues facing rural and small districts.
Matzie reached across the aisle to implement a Fiscal Code bill earlier this year that contained a temporary formula and said he was glad to support the effort to make it permanent.
"Governor Wolf has rightly pledged to sign this bill into law without delay so that schools across this commonwealth will be better able to, once again, start meeting the constitutional mandate of providing every child with a quality education," Matzie said.
HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today is encouraging any area businesses, municipalities, or other eligible organization to consider applying for a grant from the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program.
Matzie said that any organization currently contemplating projects that involve the development, rehabilitation or improvement of a public park, recreation area, greenway, or trail should consider apply for a GTRP grant.
"Making smart investments in our parks, trails and other green areas is a wise move that is bound to lead to further economic development and an increased quality of life for the region," Matzie said. "I encourage any eligible group to consider applying for a GTRP grant."
The goal of the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program, which is overseen by the Commonwealth Financing Authority, is to promote the preservation and use of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and river conservation.
The application deadline for project consideration at a September 2016 CFA meeting is Thursday, June 30.
Grants from the GTRP program are limited to $250,000 for any project. A 15 percent match of the total project cost is also required.
With identity theft ranking among the most common consumer frauds today, one might think Pennsylvania is working hard to protect residents from that crime. Instead, one state agency may be enabling thieves by selling driver's license information to vendors who aren't being responsibly monitored. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 16 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today that $1,318,940 in state grants will be headed to southwestern Pennsylvania to defray the cost of upgrading traffic signals.
The projects are funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s "Green Light-Go" program, which allows municipalities to request up to half of the funding needed for their traffic signal projects.
Matzie, who is chairman of the House Southwest delegation, said a $1,632 grant has been awarded to Ambridge Borough in Beaver County, part of the 16th Legislative District he represents, to replace light-emitting diode, or LED, modules at the intersection of Route 989 and Duss Avenue.
Southwestern grant recipients include:
• Monroeville Borough — $38,602 to replace vehicular and pedestrian indications with LED modules at 25 intersections throughout the municipality. These include seven intersections along Route 22 (William Penn Highway), four intersections along Route 48 (Mosside Boulevard), two intersections along Route 130 (Broadway Boulevard), seven intersections along Route 2048 (William Penn Highway), two intersections along Route 2054 (Northern Pike) and three intersections along Route 2057 (Haymaker Road).
• Monroeville Borough — $114,170 to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of Route 2054 (Northern Pike) and West Patty Lane.
• North Versailles Township — $17,953 to improve the intersection of Route 30 and Leuhm Avenue by in Read more
HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, reminds students that the application deadline for the scholarship program for 2016-17 is Friday, April 22. The PLBC will award up to 10 scholarships to high school seniors and current college students who will be enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year Pennsylvania college or university in the 2016-17 academic year. "I am pleased to announce that the PLBC will again play a role in helping minority students in their pursuit of higher education," Brown said. Pennsylvania students planning to attend an out-of-state historically black college or university may also apply and be considered for this scholarship. Brown said the students applying for the scholarship must be a minority student, have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, reside in the legislative district of and be sponsored by a PLBC member, and demonstrate leadership qualities. A 500-word essay on the student’s academic plans and career goals and a 150-word essay on what you most admire about the applicant's state representative must be submitted with the scholarship application. "Interested and qualified students must move quickly to apply before the deadline," Brown said. Only the first 250 applications submitted will be considered. The PLBC plans to award at least 10 scholarships this year. Each scholarship will be Read more
HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, has introduced two bills designed to help restore Pennsylvanians' faith in their state government by requiring legislators to disclose any income received from outside employment and its amount. Current state law only requires elected officials and public employees to disclose the source of any income they've earned from jobs outside of their government position. H.B. 567 also would require them to list the amount earned from the outside work. House Bill 566 would limit all outside pay for state legislators to 35 percent of the base legislative salary. "There is the perception that Harrisburg is broken because it's too indebted to powerful and influential special interests. I believe we contribute to cynicism from Pennsylvania residents when we do not require outside income to be reported," DeLuca said. "The comprehensive financial disclosure and limits of outside income put forth in my bills will help public officials, employees and legislators avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest, while at the same time reassure the public that we are working for them, not the special interests.” DeLuca's income disclosure bill is modeled after a Hawaii law that requires public employees and officials to report a range for each outside source of income. Those ranges would be: $1,000 - $74,999; $75,000 - $99,999; $100,000 - $149,999; $150,000 - Read more
HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, commended Gov. Tom Wolf today for his move to waive fees associated with background checks for volunteers working with children.
“I am proud to have worked with Governor Wolf to make sure that this vital action was taken," Matzie said. "By waiving the fees, we ensure that those who generously give their time to the children in our communities won’t be deterred from doing so because of cost."
Wolf today announced his administration would waive the $10 fee for the Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check and the $10 fee for the Department of Human Services child abuse check required by the Child Protective Services Law for volunteers working with children.
This decision is in response to new requirements enacted under Act 153 of 2014 to require criminal and abuse clearances every three years for employees and volunteers who are in contact with minors as a part of their duties.
Since the passage of Act 153, many legislators have worked to improve the law to alleviate some of this burden on volunteer organizations such as volunteer fire departments and EMS providers.
According to Matzie, Wolf today also said the Department of Human Services and the state police will be reducing the cost of both the child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants.
"This move keeps the safety provisions of Act 153 firmly in place, without discouraging people from v Read more
Harrisburg, March 18 – At a House Transportation Committee informational meeting earlier this week, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver, expressed his support for progress made on important infrastructure developments in Southwestern Pennsylvania. At the meeting, Matzie directed multiple questions to testifier Ellen McLean, chief executive officer for the Port Authority of Allegheny County, about the current and future use of CNG vehicles in their fleet, and continued public transportation access to the Golden Triangle. McLean told Matzie that the port authority intends to maintain a diversified fleet composed of both traditional and CNG buses for the foreseeable future. Matzie also expressed his concern over the possibility of new charges for passengers traveling from the stadiums to the Golden Triangle and was told that despite pending contract negotiations, the expectation is to continue the traditionally free rides. Matzie also asked McLean about the future of Bus Rapid Transit, specifically as it related to the Golden Triangle-to-Oakland route. McLean informed him that one of the major hurdles to that initiative is implementing bus-dedicated lanes throughout the area, although progress continues with the project. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 20 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a resolution authored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, that honors the freight rail industry. House Resolution 252 credits the U.S. freight rail industry with being the most efficient and productive system of its kind in the world. Additionally, the resolution honors the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which was completed by the state in 1834 as part of the Main Line of Public Works system; and the Allegheny Portage Railroad, which was also completed by the state in 1834 and was the first railroad to travel through the Allegheny Mountains. "The freight rail industry is the backbone of America's economic vitality and growth, and it plays an instrumental role in bringing American goods to market both nationally and internationally," Matzie said. "The food we eat, the cars we drive, the raw material we use to build our homes and operate our businesses undoubtedly have all been moved across the country on freight rails." Matzie said that freight rail, which has been serving the United States since 1830, has never been as important as it is today due to the industry's continued efforts in making it one of the most fuel-efficient means of transporting goods. Due to those efforts and advancements in technology, freight rail has consumed 69.8 billion fewer gallons of fuel and emitted 781 fewer tons of carbon dioxide since 1980. Read more
State Rep. Chris Sainato, Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, helped the Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network dedicate new vans for use by DAV volunteers to assist Pennsylvania veterans in getting to medical appointments and facilities. Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed state Rep. Chris Sainato's bill that would extend the same death benefits to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol that are available to other emergency responders. The state's Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides $100,000 to families of emergency responders who die while performing their duties. The bill authored by Sainato, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would amend the act to include the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported, nonprofit organization that serves as an official civil auxiliary arm of the United States Air Force. It consists of 2,200 volunteers who support emergency service responders across the country by conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing disaster relief and performing homeland security missions. “These volunteers work alongside of police, firefighters and other emergency responders during dangerous situations,” said Sainato, D-Lawrence. “They deserve to have the same benefits as their peers.” Sainato said the Civil Air Patrol has provided valuable assistance in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country. Members of the organization helped communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware recover from Hurricane Sandy. They also Read more
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