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Dermody calls on Republicans to rethink emergency response cuts

(May 03, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody remarked on the warning issued by Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Richard D. Flinn Jr. about deficiencies within a Republican budget plan. “The PEMA director offered a needed reality check for my House Republican colleagues who voted for a budget put together by their leadership in early April,” Dermody said. “Their bill poses a real danger to the state’s ability to respond to emergencies around the clock. “Crisis situations usually happen without warning and are rarely limited to normal business hours. The state must invest wisely in PEMA so its personnel can remain on watch 24 hours a day.” Dermody noted the House Republican budget, which passed without any Democratic votes, also would slash $4.7 million in disaster relief funds earmarked as a required state match for federal flood relief funds for households and businesses hurt by severe October flooding in Bradford, Centre, Lycoming and Sullivan counties. “Without that state money, we will lose considerable federal aid. It mystifies me that every Republican representing those four counties carelessly voted to cut this money, but they did,” he said. “Because of how federal and state dollars flow to emergency management agencies, the Republican budget cuts threaten the jobs of some county emergency staff, as well as the state employees who work to Read more

 

Democrats will fight to restore funding for veterans

(Apr 28, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 28 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody remarked on the assessment made public today by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs about the threat posed by a Republican budget bill passed on April 4. “It’s astonishing that my House Republican colleagues would vote to cut funding and degrade services for our state’s military veterans, but that’s just what they did,” Dermody said. “Is it possible these Republican legislators just didn’t realize what they were doing? The contents of the bill were disclosed just one day before the House Republican leaders insisted on bringing it to a vote, so perhaps those who voted yes didn’t understand the harm it would do to veterans in their districts. “I’m proud to say not one House Democrat voted for the bill. “Fortunately the budget process still has a long way to go. Democrats will keep fighting on the side of veterans to reverse the callous Republican budget cuts to veterans’ outreach programs, services and health care. “We can do no less for the men and women who served our nation honorably.” Read more

 

House Democrats look to protect online privacy of consumers

(Mar 31, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 31 -- House Democrats will seek ways to restore online privacy protections for Pennsylvania residents after Republicans in Congress voted to allow telecom companies and other internet service providers to sell and share customers' web browsing history without their consent. The mostly party-line vote by Congress does away with rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in October that required companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to get customers' explicit permission before storing, sharing or selling sensitive data like Social Security numbers, health information, children's information, even the tracking of a person’s whereabouts from minute to minute. The FCC rules also required internet service providers to inform consumers and law enforcement when a potential harmful data breach occurred. "Donald Trump ran a populist campaign but his vision for the FCC and protecting consumers' privacy is shaping up to be the exact opposite," Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. "These big companies want to change the rules midstream and Congress just voted to let them do it. “Unless states like Pennsylvania take action, this powerful special interest will be allowed to exploit people's private information and personal browsing habits for its own profit. The consumers who our government is supposed to be working for will be left with no protection at all," he said. Dermody noted that Read more

 

Democrats appeal to Congress to keep health care law

(Mar 22, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – With a moment of reckoning fast approaching in Congress, several Democratic state lawmakers outlined the catastrophic effects a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have on Pennsylvania patients and families, people struggling with addiction to painkillers, and hospitals. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said the reckless action contemplated by President Trump and congressional Republican leaders puts the entire nation at risk. “If they are successful, the fallout will be felt in every Pennsylvania town and city, in every hospital emergency room, in every doctor’s office,” Dermody said. “We just can’t afford for that to happen. It would devastate our Commonwealth and lead to disease and deaths that can and must be prevented.” Rep. Anthony DeLuca, the Democratic chairman of the House Insurance Committee, noted the opposition of AARP and other groups representing older Americans. He said the stakes could not be higher. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act would send us back to a time when too many people couldn’t afford to buy health insurance, had no primary care physician, and all too often ended up in an emergency room with a medical crisis,” said DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “Emergency care is the most expensive kind of treatment and all of us end up paying for it when patients lack insurance.” Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Phila./Montgomery, emphasized the human impact of doing Read more

 

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications available in Dermody's office

(Feb 21, 2017)

My office has received Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications for eligible residents to begin claiming rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2016, and the staff is ready to help! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because rebates are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid annually. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2016 and met all other eligibility criteria. The rebates normally are distributed beginning on July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money! The deadline to apply, for now, is June 30, 2017, but it is routinely extended until the end of the year. Please ignore offers to assist with filing the application for a fee. My offices offer help at no charge, and the Revenue Department does not charge a fee to process your application. Applications also are available online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. Read more

 

Santoni appointed to Pa. Gaming Control Board

(Feb 07, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has appointed Dante Santoni of Reading, Berks County, to a two-year term on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Santoni served 20 years in the House of Representatives and served as Democratic chairman of the Gaming Oversight Committee. He voted for the 2004 law that permitted slots gaming at up to 14 venues and established the seven-member Gaming Control Board to regulate the new industry. “Dante Santoni is well versed in the issues and questions that come before the Gaming Control Board, and he understands the value of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry which employs thousands of people and delivers millions of dollars in tax relief every year,” Dermody said. Dermody noted that although the board was formed 12 years ago, it continues to deal with substantive questions relating to the maintenance and measured expansion of gaming in Pennsylvania. He said Santoni is well prepared to contribute his expertise to the board’s work. “He has a very important quality we always need in government, and that’s common sense,” Dermody said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve Pennsylvania in this new capacity,” Santoni said. Santoni is a graduate of Muhlenberg High School and earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Villanova University. Read more

 

Dermody praises Wolf move to shrink government, improve services

(Jan 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to combine four departments of the state government into one service-delivery agency has great potential and will be reviewed by legislators. “The governor’s not proposing to cut any services but instead to cut the size of the state bureaucracy itself. That’s something Democrats can support if we make sure that it’s done well,” Dermody said. “If this consolidation means less paperwork and confusion for all of us who depend on these services, then I’m all for it. So many programs in these four departments overlap with each other and help the same people – our parents, our children, our friends and ourselves. “It’s time to take a fresh look and see if we can cut down on costly duplication while improving the delivery of vital services to the people who rely on them,” Dermody said. “This will simplify things for all of us and should make it easier for all Pennsylvanians to see how much state government matters to us in our daily lives. “There are many unknowns in this process that we have to consider. House Democrats are eager to have this conversation and help move Pennsylvania forward.” Read more

 

Dr. Goldfarb to advise policymakers about medical marijuana

(Jan 20, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 20 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has appointed Dr. I. William Goldfarb to the state’s new Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. Goldfarb, a Pittsburgh-based surgeon, will join the panel that is responsible for advising the Pennsylvania Department of Health on matters related to implementing the Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2016. “Dr. Goldfarb is a respected medical professional who has helped thousands of patients in western Pennsylvania over the years,” Dermody said. “I’m honored that he will serve on the advisory board because I know he recognizes a great opportunity to help many more people in coping with and treating a variety of diseases.” The advisory board consists of 15 people with expertise in medicine, patient advocacy and law enforcement. They are responsible for examining laws related to medical marijuana in Pennsylvania and other states; reviewing written comments from individuals and groups about the topic; and issuing a written report in spring 2018 about whether any provisions of the state’s medical marijuana law or regulations should be revised. Read more

 

Senate Republicans desert workers in need of help

(Nov 18, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said reduced services for thousands of unemployed Pennsylvanians and the imminent furlough of up to 600 workers are the direct result of a refusal to act by state Senate Republican leaders like Scott Wagner. Read more

 

PA House Democrats choose leaders for 2017-18

(Nov 15, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – Returning and newly elected members of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus chose their leadership team today for the 2017-18 legislative session. "As the minority party we face a continuing challenge, but we embrace it and look forward to working with Governor Tom Wolf to keep getting things done," Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. "House Democrats will continue to fight hard at the Capitol and in our communities for a Pennsylvania that works better for all people, not just the special interests. "We want a Pennsylvania that offers good jobs that support careers and family. We want a state with quality public schools, clean air and water, and a place that offers a fair opportunity for everyone who wants to work hard and make to their life better," he said. "We look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to fight for policies that support these values and against the worst and most extreme ideas of those who would take Pennsylvania, its economy and its residents backwards." House Democrats elected the following legislators to leadership positions for the 2017-18 term: Democratic Leader Frank Dermody , 33 rd Legislative District (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties). Representative since 1991. Democratic Whip Mike Hanna , 76 th Legislative District (Clinton and Centre counties). Representative since 1991. Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel , 23 rd Legislative District (Allegheny County). Read more

 

Dermody backs careful pension changes for future public employees

(Jun 14, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 14 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody today joined 135 of his House colleagues in approving a landmark pension reform bill that maintains benefits for current public employees and retirees while changing the pension structure for most future state and school employees. "The people of Pennsylvania want the legislature to address the state's public pension challenges," Dermody said. "This bipartisan approach to pension legislation is a huge step forward and a vast improvement to other failed attempts in recent years. The House’s amendment to the bill (S.B. 1071) would shift some financial risk away from taxpayers and would reduce future pension costs while protecting retirement security for current employees and people who already retired. “Public workers have been regularly paying their share into the system. They deserve a secure retirement," Dermody said. "At the same time, this legislation maintains a comparable level of security for teachers, state employees and other public servants hired in 2018 or later,” he said. “That's important for making sure those future workers won’t have to rely on public assistance or other safety net programs when they retire – at significant cost to state taxpayers. "Moving forward on this now will let us turn our attention to the state's larger retirement challenge: the difficulty that all workers, not just public employees, face in Read more

 

Dermody and Costa welcome action to improve wine purchases

(Jun 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 7 – The House of Representatives today passed a bill that would modernize and expand retail sales of wine in Pennsylvania and take other steps to increase consumer convenience. Read more

 

Dermody praises Wolf action to end budget impasse

(Mar 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 23 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody believes Gov. Tom Wolf made the right decision in choosing to let the remainder of Pennsylvania’s 2015-16 budget become law without his signature. “Harrisburg is broken and because of that Pennsylvania faces a budget emergency. The governor is taking steps to buy us all some time,” Dermody said. “In talking with Republican leaders during the last week it’s heartening that they acknowledged the state’s large budget deficit. The problem is identified. Now we must continue working to fix it,” Dermody said. Dermody said the spending plan that will become law at 12:01 a.m. Monday doesn’t adequately meet current needs and it fails to solve the state’s continuing budget imbalance. But the measure will allow delayed payments to flow to school districts, service providers and other entities after months of unpaid bills. “Although this marks the end of the 2015-16 budget impasse, it’s really more of a stopgap measure. It will quickly become clear that we have not yet raised the necessary revenue to pay for the things the state’s obligated by law to do,” Dermody said. “The problem remains, we lack the resources to pay our bills. A majority of legislators in both parties agree on this. After five years of deficit spending it’s time to face economic reality. “This can never Read more

 

House Democratic leader praises Wolf action on fair pay

(Mar 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 7 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody praised Gov. Tom Wolf for acting today to raise the wages of the lowest-paid workers performing jobs for the state. "Governor Wolf's executive order affects a limited number of Pennsylvanians but it’s a clear call to action," Dermody said. "It’s time for the legislature to work together and increase the minimum wage for more than a million other Pennsylvania workers who need and deserve a raise. "House Democrats enthusiastically support the governor's action and once again call on Republican leaders to move bills introduced by Rep Patty Kim ( H.B. 250 ) and other legislators to raise the minimum wage for workers statewide,” he said. Pennsylvania has not adjusted its minimum wage in almost 10 years and every adjacent state requires a minimum wage above Pennsylvania's rate of $7.25. “Our workers need a raise,” Dermody said. "These other states clearly are not losing jobs to Pennsylvania, nor are they underperforming Pennsylvania economically. “The data and years of research show that a fair increase in the minimum wage would help full-time working adults to afford modest housing and other necessities without damaging Pennsylvania businesses or the economy." The Democratic leader noted that a statewide boost in the minimum wage would immediately help more than 1 million workers and contribute to closing the state’s $2 Read more

 

Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms available at my office

(Feb 15, 2016)

Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2015 tax year are available at my district office – and my staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2015 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The oft-extended deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2015 is June 30, 2016, and the rebates normally are distributed by the Deparment of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. Read more

 

State measure would ease financial burden on locked-out workers

(Feb 11, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – Pennsylvania state legislators are making a bid to assist hundreds of workers idled by Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s six-month lockout who are about to see their unemployment benefits expire. Reps. Frank Dermody and Joe Petrarca this week teamed up to introduce a bill that would provide financial help to workers who were locked out of their jobs and have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. "Workers and their families are in severe financial distress after being locked out of their jobs for half a year," Dermody said. “These workers helped make ATI what it is today. They take pride in the work they do and they want to get back to doing it. Until that happens, we need to help them weather the crisis.” The bill (H.B. 1857) introduced by Dermody and Petrarca would provide temporary unemployment benefits to any Pennsylvania workers who see regular unemployment benefits expire after being locked out of their jobs. Only unemployed workers affected by a lockout would be eligible and the state Department of Labor and Industry reports the locked-out ATI employees are the only ones in Pennsylvania currently affected. “Hundreds of people would rather be working, but instead they are about to lose unemployment benefits through no fault of their own,” Petrarca said. “Their families are suffering along with them, as well as all the local businesses that depend on the daily spending generated by Read more

 

PACE prescription programs benefit seniors

(Feb 10, 2016)

PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare are Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. As of this year, the legislature passed a law excluding Social Security Medicare Part B premiums from being counted towards income levels. Read more

 

Dermody: Put People Before Politics

(Feb 09, 2016)

Pa. House Minority Leader Frank Dermody says it's time for lawmakers to put people before politics and take Pennsylvania down a path where schools are funded, those in need get help and our homeowners don't face higher property taxes every year. Read more

 

CHIP offers kids protection and parents peace of mind

(Jan 29, 2016)

Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. Read more

 

Republican leadership ignores task at hand

(Jan 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12 – As Pennsylvania’s budget impasse approaches its 200 th day, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody commented on the unfinished work and said Republican leaders have failed to engage in substantive discussions since December. “Pennsylvania still needs a full-year budget and what we need from House Republican leaders is seriousness. Three weeks ago we were on the cusp of getting such a budget finished, less than a day away, but the Republican leaders instead shut the House down and sent everyone home. “The House resumed session this week and lawmakers returned hoping to get real work done, but all we got was more delay and distraction,” Dermody said. “The House Republican leaders dictated that rather than work on a real balanced budget, the House would spend its first two legislative days of 2016 considering bills to inadequately fund local schools for the remainder of the fiscal year, increase funds to a select group of universities even though there’s no budget to fund those appropriations, and reject a negotiated bipartisan funding plan that would be fairer to all schools. “Pennsylvania continues to make history with this budget impasse and the House Republican leaders are on the wrong side of that history. “They need to stop playing games and concentrate – along with the governor and the rest of the legislature -- on passing a complete, balanced and full-year state budget that fairly Read more