Long awaited ride-sharing bill passes key committee vote

(May 04, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 4 – After several years of hearings and meetings, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today voted for bipartisan legislation at a House Consumer Affairs Committee meeting that would regulate transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, and allow them to operate in Philadelphia. Senate Bill 984, which was reported out of the committee with a 23-2 vote, would give companies like Uber and Lyft the authority to operate permanently within the state. Currently, transportation network companies operating in the state have been doing so under temporary authority granted by the Public Utility Commission. Matzie initially had concerns about background check and insurance requirements for the ride-sharing companies, both of which were addressed at the hearing. “In order to protect consumers, sufficient insurance requirements are vital. No one in Pennsylvania should have to worry about what could happen if a vehicle they are riding in as a passenger has an accident, regardless if it is a Lyft, Uber or traditional cab,” Matzie said. While the background check issue has been resolved, Matzie said he still remains concerned that the bill’s insurance requirements for ride-sharing companies doesn’t extend to those operating in Philadelphia. “Companies like Uber and Lyft use technology to revolutionize the market, but that doesn’t exempt them from the need to protect drivers. While I remain concerned about the insurance issue, especially in Philade Read more

 

Harrisburg Trying To Stop PennDOT From Selling Personal Information

(May 04, 2016)

There’s an effort in Harrisburg to stop PennDOT from selling personal information to third parties for a profit; KDKA's John Shumway reports. Read more

 

House adopts Matzie resolution recognizing World Asthma Day

(May 03, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – The State House of Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution 834, authored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, that designates May 3 as World Asthma Day in Pennsylvania. There is no known cure for asthma, a chronic lung disease that affects about 25 million people in the United States, but most patients are able to maintain their quality of life through proper diagnosis and treatment. "One in 12 individuals in the United States faces the challenges that come with asthma every day, including symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and chronic coughing," Matzie said. "While the disease may be daunting, patients should be empowered to know that they are able to take control of their asthmas and there is support to help them do just that." World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership to raise awareness about asthma and to improve asthma care throughout the world. The first World Asthma Day was observed in 1998 in more than 35 countries. Read more

 

Matzie bill would address PennDOT privacy concerns

(May 02, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 2 – In an effort to ensure constituents personal information is secure, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, reintroduced a bill today that would prohibit third parties from selling personal driver and vehicle information obtained from PennDOT for profit. Matzie, who introduced similar legislation in 2014, said recent media reports detailing the failings of third-party vendors used by PennDOT made it clear to him that a legislative remedy was needed. "Selling data when consumers are paying for services from the government is simply bad policy. While I would be thrilled to support infrastructure improvement efforts, this is not the way to do it," Matzie said. "Now it has come out that some of the vendors that PennDOT has been entrusting with our personal and sensitive information have been ignoring the procedures laid out by the state. This situation is precarious, especially as a data breach is inevitable under the current conditions." The transportation funding plan (Act 89 of 2013) gave PennDOT the authority to sell personal data such as information on drivers, registrations, titles and security interests to other individuals and businesses. The act also gave those third parties the authority to resell that information for an unspecified fee and without the payment of any additional fee to PennDOT. Matzie’s bill, H.B. 2039, would prohibit third parties from reselling information obtained from PennDOT. "Obviously there are situations where Pen Read more

 

Matzie announces $170,000 in fire, EMS grants in the 16th District

(Apr 20, 2016)

AMBRIDGE, April 20 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today that 14 fire and ambulance companies in his legislative district will receive more than $170,000 in state grants.The grants are from Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program and were awarded in February. In all, 2,538 grants were awarded statewide. The grants are funded partly by gaming revenue."Public safety has been and will remain one of my top legislative priorities," Matzie said. "This investment from the commonwealth will provide our first responders with the resources they need to ensure they are at the ready if called upon."Grant recipients include:•Aliquippa Bureau of Fire, $13,789;•Ambridge Volunteer Fire Department, $12,650;•Baden Volunteer Fire Department, $11,739;•Conway Volunteer Fire Department, $13,789; •East Rochester Borough Volunteer Fire Department, $11,511;•Economy Volunteer Fire Department, $13,106;•Freedom Volunteer Fire Department, $11,511;•Hopewell Township Volunteer Fire Department, $11,967;•Monaca No. 1 Volunteer Fire Department, $11,000; •Monaca No. 4 Volunteer Fire Department, $12,422;•Monaca No. 5 Volunteer Fire Company, $11,600;•Rochester Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 1, $13,789;•Rochester Volunteer Fire Department, $12,878;•Leetsdale Fire Department, $12,194;Grants can be used toward repairing, building or renovating facilities. Grant money also can be applied toward the purchase of new eq Read more

 

Matzie applauds passage of medical marijuana bill

(Apr 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 13 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today supported the final passage of a bill to legalize medical marijuana, sending the legislation to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. "I am glad that patients in this state are one step closer to being able to legally acquire the medicine they need," Matzie said. "Patients and their advocates have fought long and hard to accomplish this feat and I am glad the General Assembly was willing to listen to the will of the people." Matzie said legalizing medical marijuana will help people who are suffering in their daily lives, including children who are experiencing daily seizures, veterans enduring post-traumatic stress disorder and many others who need this medication to relieve their pain. "Today’s historic vote is bound to help Pennsylvanians from every corner of the commonwealth, including Leah and Olivia McGurk of Beaver County," Matzie said. "The McGurk family fought for the passage of this bill and are true inspiration that I will never forget." Under the bill, authorized doctors would be only be able to prescribe medical marijuana for the following conditions: intractable seizures, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntington's disease, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, autism and neuropathic pain and certain spinal cord injuries. A bipartisan task force met last year to craft an effective bill that would be supported by a House majority. Read more

 

Matzie welcomes the Quips to Harrisburg

(Apr 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 12 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today presented the Aliquippa High School Boys’ Basketball Team with an official citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to honor them for their historic season and state championship title. In March, the Quips defeated Mastery Charter School North 68-49 to win the 2015-2016 PIAA State Class AA Boys’ Basketball Championship. "The Quips worked tirelessly all season and just last month, right up the road from Harrisburg at the Giant Center in Hershey, their hard work paid off with a state championship," Matzie said. "That is a great accomplishment of course, but even more impressive is how the Quips ended the season – with a perfect record." The Quips went 14-0 in their conference and 30-0 overall for the season, making them only the 13th team from the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and only the 33rd team statewide to achieve a perfect season. "The Quips’ perfect season is sure to be discussed long after these young men have graduated, and their names are sure to serve as inspiration for many local athletes to come," Matzie said "But, as I am sure the whole team would agree, Head Coach Nick Lackovich and Assistant Coach Dwight Hines also deserves credit for leading their team to greatness." On Saturday, Lackovich was named Class AA Coach of the Year by the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Sports Writers. Seniors Chucky Humphries and Jassir Jordan were also recognized with Cla Read more

 

Canadian Pacific drops takeover attempt of Norfolk Southern Railway

(Apr 11, 2016)

Opposition to Canadian Pacific was so strong that the state House of Representatives adopted a resolution that urged the federal government to stop the “hostile” takeover of Norfolk Southern. State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-16, Ambridge, was a co-sponsor of that resolution and said Monday it was “great news” to hear about the abandoned takeover. “These are family-sustaining jobs, career jobs, and the one thing we can’t afford in Beaver County is a bump in the road,” Matzie said. “And that would have been a big bump.” Matzie said he met with Norfolk Southern representatives last week and that company officials were “feeling good” the takeover wouldn’t happen. “It’s good news for Beaver County, and it’s good news for employees of Norfolk Southern,” he said. Read more

 

Matzie introduces proposal to expand use of digital college textbooks

(Apr 08, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today that he intends to introduce legislation that would require publishers to offer an identical digital equivalent for any college textbook sold within the state. Matzie’s proposal, which he said would be officially introduced shortly, would allow Pennsylvania college students to realize significant savings by having the option to purchase a digital textbook. Matzie said publishers may also realize savings, as the cost in publishing and selling an electronic textbook is considerably less than a conventional book. "I am always looking at ways to make higher education more affordable in Pennsylvania," Matzie said. "While the cost of tuition continues to increase at colleges and universities across the country, Pennsylvania should be focused on providing attainable, quality education that can attract students both from within the commonwealth’s borders and beyond." Matzie said his proposal would also allow students to access course material on electronic devices that the majority of students already own and are comfortable with. "Nearly 90 percent of college students already own a laptop or mobile device. These products are replacing traditional methods of print and defining how we receive information," Matzie said. "Under my proposal, students would still have the option to purchase a traditional textbook if that is their preference. But I am confident many students will find the convenience a Read more

 

Matzie resolution designates April as ‘Limb Loss Awareness Month’

(Apr 04, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a resolution authored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, that designates April 2016 as “Limb Loss Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Matzie said he introduced his resolution to draw attention to the nearly 2 million Americans who have had a limb amputated. “Losing a limb is a lifetime condition that can result in various physical, emotional and financial challenges,” Matzie said. “The men, women and children who wake up every morning and continue on with their life despite limb loss are true heroes who face and overcome adversity every day.” “Limb Loss Awareness Month” is a nationwide awareness campaign started in 2011 by the Amputee Coalition. In 2012, President Barack Obama officially recognized the awareness month in a letter addressed to the public. “This year’s awareness campaign will culminate on Saturday, April 23, which is being calling ‘Show Your Mettle Day’ by the Amputee Coalition,” Matzie said. “The concept is simple, individuals with limb loss are being encouraged to show the world their ‘mettle,’ the ability to overcome adversities, by showing off their ‘metal,’ whether that be a prosthetic device or wheelchair. It is my hope that this awareness campaign not only draws attention to the challenges faced by those with limb loss, but also highlights the strength and fortitude of the amputee community.” Read more

 

Experts say urgency needed to keep lead out of drinking water

(Mar 29, 2016)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Experts say more needs to be done to assure there is no lead in the region's drinking water and that there needs to be a sense of urgency about it. Experts say this in not just a problem for schools; this is a problem for anyone who lives in a home or works in a building that was built before 1978. "We have to build a lead free community," Dr. Andrew Unger said. Read more

 

Emotions run high as state House overwhelmingly approves medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

After a lengthy emotional debate that saw some lawmakers choking back tears while speaking, the state House easily approved a medical marijuana bill Wednesday and nearly all southwest Pennsylvania legislators supported the measure. “Once this bill becomes law, patients in Pennsylvania who suffer from debilitating diseases will be able to legally acquire, with their doctor’s consent, the medicine they need,” said state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-16, Ambridge. “While I can understand the concerns I heard from my colleagues on the other side of this issue, I believe the scientific evidence supporting medical marijuana is clear. Not only can it provide relief, it can at times offer hope to patients who would otherwise have none.” Read more

 

Matzie applauds passage of medical marijuana bill

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, praised today’s House passage of legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. “Once this bill becomes law, patients in Pennsylvania who suffer from debilitating diseases will be able to legally acquire, with their doctor’s consent, the medicine they need,” Matzie said. “While I can understand the concerns I heard from my colleagues on the other side of this issue, I believe the scientific evidence supporting medical marijuana is clear. Not only can it provide relief, it can at times offer hope to patients who would otherwise have none.” The House passed an amended version of S.B. 3, which originally passed the Senate in May 2015. The amended bill would allow patients with serious medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and glaucoma, to use the drug. Under the legislation, patients only would be able to use medical marijuana in the form of a pill, oil, liquid, tincture, topical ointment, or through vaporization or nebulization. “I think of Leah and Olivia McGurk of Beaver County who may be helped by passage of this bill; their courage and the strength of their parents and siblings have been nothing short of miraculous,” Matzie said. “The McGurk's fight for passage of this bill for their girls and others is an inspiration that I will never forget." Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states Read more

 

Matzie resolution highlights the need for government transparency

(Mar 14, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 14 – In an effort to highlight the importance of open and transparent government, the state House of Representatives adopted a resolution today sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, designating March 13-19 as “Sunshine Week in Pennsylvania.” Matzie’s legislation, H.R. 717, also stresses the necessity of constitutional principles, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press, in ensuring a free and transparent government. Sunshine Week was first established by the American Society of News Editors in 2005. “It is no coincidence that Sunshine Week is celebrated in mid-March; in fact, it was chosen specifically to coincide with James Madison’s birthday,” Matzie said. “Madison, who is considered the father of the U.S. Constitution, believed an informed public and a transparent government were needed to maintain a free democracy.” Matzie said the intent of Sunshine Week is to spark a discussion about the importance of open government and public access to government documents and meetings. While initial participation in the observance week was mostly limited to journalists, it has grown considerably since its inception and is now celebrated by civic groups, libraries and open government organizations across the country. “With the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers left us with a tremendous gift and an incredible duty,” Matzie said. “It is our obligation to protect this country and the ideals it st Read more

 

Matzie celebrates the founding of Pennsylvania with Charter Day

(Mar 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 7 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution last month, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, which designates March 8 as "Charter Day" in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 680 commemorates the charter that King Charles II of England granted William Penn on March 4, 1681 to repay him for the debt owed to Penn's father, Admiral Sir William Penn. "William Penn and King Charles II are inexorably linked to the founding of our great commonwealth and the eventual founding of America," Matzie said. "In fact, the likeness of King Charles II still survives to this day on a 323-year old, four-page parchment charter that is currently on display at the State Museum in Harrisburg. The charter defined the land that we now know as Pennsylvania and deeded it to William Penn." Matzie said his resolution also honors the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, which Penn drafted to serve as the colony's first constitution and contained rights such as freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and a guarantee of free elections. "Charter Day is more than a simple celebration of the founding of Pennsylvania. It also commemorates the establishment of many American traditions we value to this day," Matzie said. "As a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission, I thought it was my duty to introduce a resolution to highlight the historical significance of the day." Read more

 

Matzie raises MS awareness through House resolution

(Feb 29, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 29 – In hopes of raising awareness of multiple sclerosis, earlier this month the House of Representatives adopted Rep. Rob Matzie’s H.R. 679, designating March 7 through March 13, 2016, as “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania. “In the United States alone, there are about 200 new cases of MS diagnosed each week, but it remains a largely misunderstood disease,” said Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny. “MS isn’t fatal, it isn’t contagious. But it does affect the lives of sufferers and their love ones greatly. It is my hope that this week of awareness will ignite an understanding that can encourage active efforts to help people suffering with MS far beyond the designated week.” “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” is annually arranged by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in an effort to increase education about this debilitating disease. Matzie said that by designating a full week to awareness of this disorder, Pennsylvanians will hopefully obtain a greater understanding on how to help those coping with MS. “My father has coped with this horrible disease for many years. Unfortunately, he was misdiagnosed for decades believing his vision issues were caused by optic nerve damage,” Matzie said. “His situation serves as an example of the need for awareness and understanding of symptoms which lead to a proper diagnosis. “ MS is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system. It can differ in severity, with about 90 percent of th 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

 

Matzie’s proposal would strengthen homeowners’ earthquake coverage

(Feb 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today that he intends to introduce a bill that would require insurers in Pennsylvania to cover all types of earthquakes for homeowners who have purchased earthquake insurance. Matzie’s legislation would require insurers to cover both naturally occurring earthquakes and those caused by human activity, including methods used to find natural gas deposits. "While Pennsylvania experiences a relatively low level of earthquake activity when compared to a state like California, it is still a real concern for homeowners especially with the abundance of natural gas in many areas of the state," Matzie said. "Homeowners who have purchased earthquake insurance shouldn’t be on the hook for damages due to the origin of any seismic activity." Matzie said seismic testing caused several structures in his district to sustain damage, but homeowners were initially informed that their claims would not be covered despite having earthquake riders as part of their homeowners’ insurance. Matzie contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance and alerted them to the problem and began researching a legislative fix. Following that, last year the insurance commissioner issued a notice to insurance companies informing them that earthquake endorsements to homeowners’ insurance policies in Pennsylvania cannot exclude coverage for earthquakes that may be caused by human activity. However, Matzie remains concerned that this d Read more

 

Matzie supports resolution that urges feds to prevent Norfolk Southern takeover

(Feb 10, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today said he was pleased the House of Representatives adopted a resolution he co-sponsored that would urge the federal government to carefully review any plans submitted to acquire Norfolk Southern Corporation. House Resolution 649 directs the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to carefully review any plans submitted by Canadian Pacific Railway to acquire Norfolk Southern Corp. Norfolk Southern is the current target of a hostile takeover by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. “Norfolk Southern is a vital economic engine to Beaver County and the commonwealth in its entirety,” Matzie said. “Besides employing hundreds of Pennsylvanians, Norfolk Southern should be credited with connecting our region to the rest of the country and globe.” Norfolk Southern owns the Conway railyard, which is an essential component of Beaver County’s regional economy and provides the state with rail access to major ports and short lines. “This was an important vote and I think it showed the commonwealth’s solidarity on this issue,” Matzie said. “I am glad that we can, in a bipartisan way, put this forth and let the federal government know our intention to do what we can to ensure the jobs at Norfolk Southern continue to work in the commonwealth.” 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