|House Democratic Legislative Review|
Recent legislative activity by PA House Democrats
February 4, 2011
IN THE NEWS
House Democrats welcome Maria Donatucci to legislature
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody congratulated Rep.-elect Maria Donatucci on her victory in Tuesday’s special election in the 185th Legislative District and said he looks forward to welcoming her to Harrisburg as the newest member of the House of Representatives and the Democratic Caucus. Once the result of the special election is officially certified by the Department of State, a swearing-in date for Donatucci will be announced by the House speaker.
"Maria was a full partner with her late husband Bob Donatucci during his many years of service in the House, so she already knows what it takes to be a great representative," Dermody said.
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com.
Staback recognized for poaching law
State Rep. Ed Staback, D-Lackawanna/Wayne, received an award this week from the Pennsylvania State Game Commission for his efforts to improve Pennsylvania's poaching laws. Legislation that was sponsored by Staback and passed last year, known as Act 54 of 2010, rewrites much of the penalty section of the Game Code. It significantly increased fines and penalties for violations of the Game Code relating to the illegal killing of game or wildlife, especially for the illegal taking of big game. Under the new law, illegally shooting a deer out of season or at night with a light carries at least a $1,000 fine, up from the customary $200 to $300, with the possibility of up to three months in jail. The punishment for shooting other big game or multiple deer is increased from summary offenses to misdemeanors and, in some cases, felonies.
"I'm honored that the Game Commission felt fit to recognize me," Staback said. "I worked with the commission on the poaching bill for more than two years, and I'm pleased that there finally are stiff consequences for poachers. All around the state, reports are coming in of law enforcement and judges taking these kinds of offenses very seriously. There already have been high fines and jail time invoked for the worst offenders."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Staback.
DeLuca to introduce bill to fund adultBasic
State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, intends to introduce legislation that would provide a funding source so 40,000 working Pennsylvanians could remain insured under the state's adultBasic health insurance program. DeLuca said his measure would authorize the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner to borrow funds from existing state accounts and use the medical malpractice catastrophic fund surcharge as the basis for repayment. The CAT fund is currently fully funded and the surcharge is not needed to pay the claims of the fund. In addition, the surcharge is currently dedicated to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCare) fund, which has a balance in excess of $120 million.
"I have devised a viable funding mechanism for adultBasic and now let's explore the possibly of passing the bill in the House and state Senate," DeLuca said.
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/DeLuca.
Costa to offer bill expanding Pa.’s use of automated red light cameras
State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Allegheny, plans to reintroduce legislation that would allow Pittsburgh and other cities the option of installing automated red light cameras. Costa’s legislation would allow second-class and second-class A cities (Pittsburgh and Scranton) and all third-class cities the option of using red light cameras at some intersections. A locally appointed system administrator and the secretary of Transportation would have to agree upon the locations for the red light cameras and public notices would have to be posted listing locations for all area residents.
"Research is clear – red light cameras help to reduce the number of traffic fatalities," Costa said. "These devices not only save lives, but in doing so can help to drive down the cost of insurance for consumers."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Costa.
Josephs introduces redistricting legislation
A bill that would reform the way legislative districts in Pennsylvania are drawn every 10 years has been introduced by state Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila. Josephs, Democratic chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, said her bill (H.B. 134) would make the state reapportionment process more open and transparent by strengthening the public comment process and requiring more statewide hearings at all stages of development of the redistricting map. It also would require data and information to be made available online.
"Pennsylvania's legislative districts should be drawn in an open and nonpartisan process," Josephs said. "This bill would give the public more of a vested interest in how legislative districts are drawn."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Josephs.
Mundy reintroduces bill to improve juvenile justice system
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, has reintroduced legislation to expand the role of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission in response to Luzerne County's "Cash for Kids" scandal so it can make more recommendations to improve the juvenile justice system. Mundy's bill (H.B. 226) would expand the duties of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission by allowing it to analyze court cases and trends in the system. The nine-member commission would use the information to make recommendations for improving the system to juvenile judges and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
"We have to give our judges and others in the juvenile justice system the tools to recognize and prevent the kind of corruption and violation of children’s rights we experienced in Luzerne County," Mundy said. "My bill seeks to better educate juvenile court judges and other officials so they can continue working to improve the system."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Mundy.
Curry introduces bill to end gerrymandering
State Rep. Lawrence Curry has reintroduced legislation to end the practice of dividing up municipalities and precincts to benefit a particular political party when redrawing legislative districts. Curry's H.B. 529 would prohibit in most cases the division of any precinct in the state for either congressional or legislative reapportionment; make it more difficult for the Legislative Reapportionment Commission to split a municipality or county; and allow citizens to submit suggestions for legislative and congressional reapportionment to the reapportionment commission for consideration.
"We need to take backroom dealing out of the process of designating legislative districts, and draw the lines so districts are compact, contiguous areas that give our citizens fair representation in government," said Curry, D-Montgomery/Phila.
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Curry.
Mundy reintroduces bills to protect Pennsylvania's waters from gas drilling
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, recently reintroduced a package of bills to ensure Pennsylvania's environment, particularly its drinking water supply, is protected from the natural gas drilling industry. House Bill 233 would put a one-year moratorium on the issuance of new natural gas drilling permits in the Marcellus Shale deposit. House Bill 230 would create a buffer around drinking water supplies. House Bill 234 would create an online tracking and reporting system for Marcellus Shale waste, such as drilling mud and chemically treated water used to fracture shale to release gas. And, House Bill 232 would restrict drilling and site preparation in floodplains, improve the disposal of waste water and better control erosion and sedimentation where gas is drilled in these areas.
"With thousands of gas wells expected to be drilled in the next decade, we have to make sure appropriate law and regulations are in place," Mundy said. "We must ensure that drillers do the job right; prevent problems to the extent possible and, when problems do occur, that they are dealt with effectively."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Mundy.
Galloway reintroduces eVerify legislation
State Rep. John Galloway has reintroduced his eVerify legislation that would save Pennsylvania construction jobs by requiring contractors to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. House Bill 379 would require state contractors and subcontractors that work on public projects to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. House Bill 380 would require all contractors in the construction industry to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. Both bills would require use of the Social Security Number Verification Service to verify existing employees and the E-Verify Program for newly hired employees. Contractors that violate these rules could be barred from state projects or, in the case of private construction work, may face forfeiture of state licenses or certifications.
"These are job-saving bills that would protect taxpaying Pennsylvanians from losing their construction jobs to illegal immigrants," said Galloway, D-Bucks.
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/Galloway.
DeLuca intends to reintroduce bill to limit outside income for Pa. General Assembly members
State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, intends to reintroduce legislation that would limit the amount of outside income members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly could earn while serving as elected state officials. DeLuca said the measure would restrict state representatives and senators from earning more than 35 percent of their base state salary at another job.
"In our General Assembly, we are paid a full-time salary for full-time work," DeLuca said. "My legislation is designed to limit members from working positions outside the legislature on a full-time basis."
-- Read more at www.pahouse.com/DeLuca.