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Howard joins in announcing new state task force to strengthen juvenile justice system

McClinton makes history in House Democratic leadership elections

(Nov 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton today was selected by her peers to serve as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 2019-20 legislative session. McClinton represents the 191 st District in parts of Philadelphia and Delaware County and has served in the House since 2015. McClinton is the first African-American and woman to hold the caucus chairman leadership position. The chair is responsible for conducting caucus meetings on each day of voting session and helps Democratic members understand the legislation called up for votes in the House chamber. “It is an honor to have the confidence and trust of my peers to help lead the House Democratic Caucus into the future, a future that includes better public education, fair wages for working people, a more equitable justice system, sustainable environmental policies and earnest and honest approaches to combat the opioid and gun-violence epidemics plaguing our state and nation,” McClinton said. “Last week’s midterm elections showed politicians across the state and nation that people are looking for strong leadership and a desire for lawmakers to collectively make a difference. While the priorities of urban and rural legislators may vary, we in the House Democratic Caucus have a sincere desire and plan to put people first and work together to build a strong economy that works for all of us.” All of the Democratic members returning to Read more

 

House Democrats choose leaders for new session

(Nov 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13 – Members of a significantly stronger House Democratic Caucus today re-elected Rep. Frank Dermody to lead them in the 2019-20 session along with a leadership team featuring several new faces. “More Democratic candidates successfully flipped seats to our side this year than in any election in the last 44 years,” said Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland. “I’m honored to be chosen to continue leading the House Democratic Caucus as we go forward together, fighting for our Plan For Pennsylvania .” Dermody noted that 30 of the 93 Democrats elected to the House are women, the largest number ever. Overall, 24 new people are joining the House Democratic ranks to serve their first term as lawmakers. In other caucus elections held today, Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia was chosen as Democratic whip, responsible for making sure that Democrats attend session and understand the specifics of legislation. Harris, 34, was first elected to the House in 2012 and is currently chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Rep. Matt Bradford of Montgomery County will chair the Democratic side of the House Appropriations Committee. He has served in the House since 2008 and previously was Democratic chairman of the State Government Committee. Rep. Joanna McClinton will be the new caucus chair, responsible for conducting caucus meetings on each day of voting session. She represents the 191 st Read more

 

More than words; how Pennsylvania supports veterans

(Nov 09, 2018)

As Veterans Day nears, it’s important for us to extend our sincere appreciation to all veterans, active service members and their families who sacrifice immensely to defend our freedom. Below are a number of programs and services available to help veterans and their families. Please share this list with any veterans in your life. Veterans Temporary Assistance Temporary help is available for veterans and their beneficiaries who need aid for essentials such as shelter, fuel, clothing and food. If eligible, a veteran or their beneficiary can qualify for up to $1,600 in a 12-month period. The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program Any honorably discharged veteran who is 100 percent disabled, a resident of Pennsylvania and has financial need can apply for this program, which provides real estate tax exemption on principal dwellings. Educational Gratuity Program Children of honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities or children of veterans who died in service during a period of war or armed conflict qualify for up to $500 per semester/term to help defray educational costs. Military Family Relief Assistance Program Eligible Pennsylvania service members and their family members who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control can apply for up to $3,500 in grants. This program is available for active and past service members. Veterans’ Trust Fund Grant Read more

 

Dermody comments on Brown verdict

(Oct 31, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 31 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody expressed sadness at the guilty verdict issued today in the Dauphin County trial of Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown. “The 10 years of good work that Vanessa did for her district still matters to many people but will be overshadowed by her conviction. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.” Although Brown is unopposed for another term on next week’s election ballot, she must relinquish her seat in the House no later than the day she is sentenced. “I haven’t yet spoken to Representative Brown but she will do what she must to conform to the rules of the House and also because it’s in the best interest of her constituents,” Dermody said. “She waged a long legal battle and mounted a defense against the charges, but the verdict rendered today means she must face the consequences.” Upon the vacancy in the 190 th District taking effect, a special election to fill the seat for the duration of the 2019-20 session will be scheduled by whomever is the House speaker. The district is centered in West Philadelphia, mostly to the north of Market Street including a large section of Fairmount Park. Read more

 

Solomon champions quality child care in Pa.

(Oct 30, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 30 – With a thriving child care center in his district as the backdrop, state Rep. Jared Solomon today highlighted the ongoing need for quality child care in underserved areas in the 202nd Legislative District and throughout the commonwealth. Solomon held a news conference at Bustleton Child Learning Center and was joined by Aliya Johnson-Roberts, the center’s executive director. The center recently opened and is an expansion of Pratt Street Learning Center, which received a STAR 4 rating from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Keystone STARS program . "I am excited to celebrate Bustleton Learning Center and how they provide such high-quality child care to the children of my district," Solomon said. "Not only did they breathe new life into a vacant building at a vital intersection for our neighborhood, they are also a fantastic community partner that welcomes local groups and families to use this great space." Solomon helped transfer the vacant building at Bustleton and Magee avenues into the Bustleton Child Learning Center through the Fund for Quality , a grant program that strives to create and maintain high-quality child care. "State Representative Solomon has been really active and supportive from the beginning. We are really excited to be the high-quality program moving into the area. He not only supports us in the early child care but in becoming a HUB in the community. We are thankful Read more

 

Statement on Pittsburgh shooting

(Oct 27, 2018)

OAKMONT, Oct. 27 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody issued the following statement in response to this morning's shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh: "I thank police and first responders for their quick response and bravery during the situation. "Please join me in keeping the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. As Pennsylvanians, we must come together to offer the victims, their families and the community whatever assistance and support they need. "Moving forward, I and my colleagues in the legislature will continue to support law enforcement and our local communities, and by working together, we can help make our state a place where all people are safe in their homes, schools and daily lives, and where we all respect the contributions, dignity and humanity of every Pennsylvanian." Read more

 

Frankel, Sims condemn Trump administration move to narrow civil rights protections for transgender people

(Oct 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian K. Sims, D-Philadelphia, today jointly condemned efforts by the Trump administration to roll back federal civil rights protections for transgender people. Their actions were prompted by news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to impose a restrictive definition of gender as a biological, immutable condition determined at birth and limited to “male” or “female.” Doing so would remove protections available to transgender people under current civil rights laws such as Title IX, which bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government assistance. “This administration is attempting to legislate transgender men and women out of existence. But it doesn’t work that way. People won’t feel differently about their own bodies and lives just because Trump tells them to ,” said Frankel, who is co-chairman of the House LGBT Equality Caucus. Sims said, “The Trump administration’s proposal is designed to erase the legal identities of transgender Americans by destroying decades of American jurisprudence and precedent that unquestionably recognizes the scientific and medical reality of transgender existence. This is an abhorrent and dehumanizing attack on the transgender community that will undoubtedly cause millions of Americans to suffer. The federal government’s planned assault on Read more

 

Senior prescription program expanded to help more people

(Oct 23, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 23 – Thousands of additional Pennsylvania seniors will be able to receive help paying for their prescription medicines thanks to a new state law. Act 87, signed into law today, increases seniors’ access to the state’s prescription drug assistance program (PACENET) by raising the program’s income limits to keep pace with rising costs. The law increases the maximum income limit for PACENET to $27,500 for individuals and $35,500 for married couples. In addition, the new law allows pharmacists to fill partial prescriptions so PACE/PACENET participants’ refills can be synchronized for the same day. It’s estimated this expansion will allow for an additional 17,000 seniors to be eligible for PACENET statewide. The new law supports the priority of putting people first in the House Democrats’ Plan for Pennsylvania , which focuses on working together to build a stronger Pennsylvania through good jobs, affordable health care, quality schools and a fair economy. Read more

 

Bipartisan grandparents raising grandchildren legislation signed into law

(Oct 23, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 23 – Bipartisan legislation crafted by state Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, and Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, Republican chairwoman of the House Children and Youth Committee, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf today signaling a major victory for grandparents raising grandchildren across Pennsylvania. “We’ve been fighting for this legislation for years, so to finally get it through not only the House, but also the Senate and on to be signed into law by Governor Wolf is a tremendous win for grandparents raising grandchildren in Pennsylvania,” Pashinski said. “I’m incredibly appreciative for the support Chairwoman Watson gave these bills, along with the support of my colleagues in the House and Senate and Governor Wolf himself. Governor Wolf was a vocal advocate for this bipartisan package of bills and I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly on more grandparents raising grandchildren issues in the future.” “This legislation is a win for the thousands of grandparents across this state who need some help,” Watson said. “Temporary guardianship will allow grandparents to be able to make decisions for their grandchildren, especially at a time of crisis. These children – many of whom are the latest victims of the ongoing opioid crisis – need a sense of permanence and Read more

 

Opioid, alcohol safe-harbor bills could save lives

(Oct 12, 2018)

WEST CHESTER, Oct. 12 – Two bills introduced by state Rep. Carolyn Comitta could help people overdosing from opioids or who are in danger after drinking while underage. The two bills would extend the immunity protections to victims in either case, including cases of self-reporting and Good Samaritan intervention. Comitta was joined during a news conference today in West Chester by state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, an early co-sponsor of the bills. “The opioid epidemic has proven to be the biggest public health crisis in a generation,” said Comitta, D-Chester. “Too many among us have witnessed firsthand its ravaging effects on our family, friends, neighbors and children. “Victims have been overlooked far too long and deserve compassion rather than punishment for making their best attempt to survive.” Daley is the state representative for Mary Ciammetti, whose son died from alcohol poisoning after a party. She said these protective bills could have saved Christian Ciammetti’s life. “When we look at the legislation introduced in Harrisburg, we have to ask ourselves: will it make a positive impact on Pennsylvania and will it help foster a healthier, better life for our constituents,” Daley said. “In this case, the answer is most undoubtedly yes. These bills will save lives. No one should have to choose between acting to save their life and admitting to a mistake that millions of people can make. Read more

 

Pennsylvania receives extension for REAL ID

(Oct 11, 2018)

Pennsylvania has been granted a REAL ID enforcement extension by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through August 1, 2019. This extension means that Pennsylvania residents will not face access issues when entering federal facilities or boarding domestic commercial aircraft through at least that date. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards will be available from PennDOT at the customer’s option beginning March 2019. PennDOT is encouraging customers to pre-verify for REAL ID the required documentation as soon as possible, giving them ample time to prepare. More information about what documents will be required is available on PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website . More information about REAL ID, including frequently asked questions , can be found at www.dmv.pa.gov . Read more

 

Democrats move to increase protection from harassment and discrimination

(Oct 02, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 2 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are proposing a change to House rules to protect staff and legislators from sexual harassment and discrimination at the state Capitol and in legislative offices spread across Pennsylvania. “Meeting people and working closely on projects is at the core of every lawmaker’s life and work, but that interpersonal contact must never put anyone at risk of discrimination or harassment,” Dermody said. Dermody initiated discussion with Republican leadership more than two years ago on finding better ways to respond to workplace complaints involving members of the House. That led to a draft proposal to update House rules to authorize the House Ethics Committee to investigate complaints of discrimination or harassment concerning House members and require additional anti-sexual harassment and discrimination training for all lawmakers in each new legislative term. While Dermody hopes that Republican leadership will join him in supporting the change, he introduced House Resolution 1117 now to give all new and returning House members time to understand the proposal before the next session begins Jan. 1. He noted that House Democrats went further in taking steps to protect staff people, revising the caucus’s employee handbook with stronger policies against workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation. “We provided more detailed definitions and Read more

 

Comitta introduces legislation prohibiting loaded firearms in vehicles

(Sep 25, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, this week introduced legislation that would prohibit motorists from carrying loaded firearms in their vehicles. Comitta modeled the legislation in the wake of the June 2017 road-rage killing of Bayard Rustin High School graduate Bianca Roberson. “Bianca was a talented student with a bright future that was cut short due to a senseless act of violence,” Comitta said during a Capitol news conference announcing the bill today. “What happened to Bianca should never have happened. We cannot allow residents of the commonwealth to live in danger of firearm violence as a result of road rage.” H.B. 2669 would prohibit a person from carrying a loaded firearm in any vehicle, with the exception of firearms related to game hunting, law enforcement, military personnel or security drivers. A person who is found carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle would be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense, and a first-degree misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. “It might seem like a simple change, but studies show that drivers who have a firearm in their vehicle may be more prone to anger and more likely to engage in aggressive driving than those who did not have a gun,” Comitta said. “That gun should not be further ready to use. We already know that the mere presence of a gun in a home increases suicide rates and the Read more

 

Republicans kill worker protection proposals in committee; silence supporters

(Sep 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – House Democrats on the Labor and Industry Committee walked out of a meeting today, citing Majority Chairman Rob Kauffmann’s second time silencing open debate over worker protection bills and his apparent agenda to only consider and advance partisan bills in this shortened fall session. Republicans advanced five bills, all of which Committee Minority Chairman John Galloway said are anti-worker special-interest bills: H.B. 297 would make it legal to pay construction workers less for certain work. H.B. 861 would make it illegal to require employers to provide sick leave or adopt equal pay provisions, even in places where local governments have already made these protections law. H.B. 1781 would allow employers to ask that workers sign away their workers compensation rights. H.B. 2571 seeks to prohibit public workers from deducting their union and fair share dues to the organizations that represent them. H.B. 2593 would widen the timeframe for union resignation. “Not one of these Republican bills helps a worker stay safe on the job or get paid fairly,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “If this committee is what stands between Pennsylvania workers and unfair laws, then they are sorely misrepresented. “We walked out in solidarity with workers, whom government is sworn to protect.” Democrats who attempted to amend in protections for families with children with disabilities, veterans, Read more

 

In wake of town hall, Burns files bipartisan legislation seeking justice, protections for childhood sexual abuse victims

(Sep 19, 2018)

Burns introduced legislation calling for a nationwide investigation into the Roman Catholic Church and providing further protections for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Read more

 

Davis, Policy Committee examine child custody issues

(Sep 17, 2018)

LANGHORNE, Sept. 17 – State Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on child custody issues at the Middletown Township Municipal Building in Langhorne. Davis was joined by Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state legislators from across the commonwealth. Two bills for custody cases involving domestic violence and child abuse allegations were discussed: Davis’ H.B. 956 (updates court procedures) and H.B. 2058 (improves custody and visitation adjudications) that she is co-sponsoring. “Today’s hearing was an important discussion about the child custody crisis and what we legislators can do to improve how the courts handle cases of child and domestic abuse,” Davis said. “As a lawmaker, I am deeply concerned by how the courts fail to read the signs of domestic abuse and, as a result, award the custody of a child to their abuser. We must strengthen child custody laws to prevent this from happening again.” Sturla added: “Our most vulnerable citizens and children need to have strong protection by the courts. I commend Representative Davis for requesting this hearing, so we could explore her important legislation.” The committee heard testimony from Kathryn Sherlock, mother of Kayden Mancuso; Danielle Zarenkiewicz, mother; Danielle Pollack, ambassador, CHILD USA; Amy Tielemans, president, Pennsylvania Association of Marriage and Family Therapy; Diane Read more

 

PLBC applauds state funding for gun violence reduction initiatives

(Sep 07, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 7 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus applauded the announcement made today by Gov. Tom Wolf that more than $1.5 million in funding will be allocated across the commonwealth to help reduce gun violence. "The crisis created by the illegal gun violence epidemic cannot be averted without those on the frontlines of this fight having access to the resources and tools needed to do the work of healing those affected,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., PLBC chairman. “The PLBC is proud to stand with Governor Wolf as we begin to ensure that our communities have the support and tools needed to begin to address this public health crisis." “The PLBC has been working hard to address gun violence in our community as a public health issue, because we understood that resources follow public health concerns. Today’s grant is a result of our collective work with Governor Wolf, city officials, and local advocates,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chair of the PLBC. “As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I hope to bring more resources to Philadelphia to address gun violence in and around our schools.” “It is no secret there is a gun violence epidemic in the commonwealth. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and all points in between, shootings are taking lives one or two at a time, destroying our communities and families,” said state Rep. Chris Read more

 

Warren introduces bill to require near-universal background checks in Pa.

(Sep 05, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 5 – State Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks, today announced he has introduced H.B. 2621, which would expand background check requirements in Pennsylvania by eliminating all exceptions to the requirement except for family transfers. Currently, the Crimes Code requires background checks for the sale of all handguns, or sales conducted by a federally licensed dealer. Background checks are not required for the private sale of “long guns.” “I’ve introduced this legislation to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the residents of the commonwealth by preventing unauthorized people from purchasing firearms,” Warren said. “As a representative and vice-chairman of the House PA SAFE Caucus I have always been – and will continue to be – an advocate for legislative initiatives that respect the Second Amendment while promoting gun safety.” House Bill 2621 contains language from H.B. 1010, introduced in the previous session, including the elimination of most background check exemptions or the “gun-show loophole” and would require that all firearm sales, regardless of the barrel length, be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff. Private sales currently exempted from background checks include “any shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, any rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or any firearm with an Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky, Moms Demand Action, Domestic Abuse Project advocate for H.B. 2060

(Sep 04, 2018)

MEDIA, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky today in the County Government Center joined Moms Demand Action, Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County and other elected officials to call for the passage of H.B. 2060, legislation to tighten the time frame and manner in which court-ordered defendants in domestic violence cases have to surrender their firearms. Under the legislation, those convicted of a domestic violence crime would have 48 hours to give up their firearms to a law enforcement agency, a federally licensed firearms dealer or their lawyer. Under current law, people convicted of domestic violence have 60 days and can give their guns to a relative, friend or neighbor. “Statistics show that a woman is five times more likely to be shot and killed by a domestic abuser when guns are present, so the stakes are high to get this bill signed into law,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “The Senate unanimously passed legislation nearly identical to House Bill 2060, so I don’t see any reason this should not be the first bill on the agenda when we return to session later this month. “This legislation can turn victims into survivors by giving them the confidence to file a PFA, because they can know that the guns in the household will be more safely addressed. “One more life lost due to inaction is one too many. The speaker of the House and the House majority leader need to schedule a floor vote this Read more

 

Briggs appointed Democratic chairman of the House Health Committee

(Aug 27, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 27 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, was appointed as Democratic Chairman of the House Health Committee on Monday. “From health insurance to the opioid crisis, health care matters are some of the most challenging and important issues we face today,” said Briggs. “I’m honored to be named to lead this committee, and I look forward to working to better ensure a healthy future for all Pennsylvanians.” Briggs noted that the committee considers a variety of health-related matters, such as women’s access to reproductive health care, regulations related to opioid prescribing guidelines, public health emergencies, cancer screening programs and more. “I’m committed to making sure everyone in Pennsylvania has access to quality health care, and as chairman, I’ll work to advance legislation that promotes public health and wellness,” said Briggs. “Tim is a fantastic lawmaker because he studies the issues closely, listens to competing views and keeps an open mind,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “He’s the kind of person the House of Representatives needs to guide our committee work in a productive direction instead of partisan bickering.” Briggs was first elected to represent the 149 th Legislative District in 2008. He also serves on the House Appropriations, Judiciary, Transportation, Professional Licensure and Tourism and Recreational Read more

 

McClinton makes history in House Democratic leadership elections
Nov 13, 2018

House Democrats choose leaders for new session
Nov 13, 2018

More than words; how Pennsylvania supports veterans
Nov 09, 2018

Dermody comments on Brown verdict
Oct 31, 2018

Solomon champions quality child care in Pa.
Oct 30, 2018

Statement on Pittsburgh shooting
Oct 27, 2018

Frankel, Sims condemn Trump administration move to narrow civil rights protections for transgender people
Oct 24, 2018

Senior prescription program expanded to help more people
Oct 23, 2018

Bipartisan grandparents raising grandchildren legislation signed into law
Oct 23, 2018

Opioid, alcohol safe-harbor bills could save lives
Oct 12, 2018

Pennsylvania receives extension for REAL ID
Oct 11, 2018

Democrats move to increase protection from harassment and discrimination
Oct 02, 2018

Comitta introduces legislation prohibiting loaded firearms in vehicles
Sep 25, 2018

Republicans kill worker protection proposals in committee; silence supporters
Sep 24, 2018

In wake of town hall, Burns files bipartisan legislation seeking justice, protections for childhood sexual abuse victims
Sep 19, 2018

Davis, Policy Committee examine child custody issues
Sep 17, 2018

PLBC applauds state funding for gun violence reduction initiatives
Sep 07, 2018

Warren introduces bill to require near-universal background checks in Pa.
Sep 05, 2018

Krueger-Braneky, Moms Demand Action, Domestic Abuse Project advocate for H.B. 2060
Sep 04, 2018

Briggs appointed Democratic chairman of the House Health Committee
Aug 27, 2018