Featured News

Johnson-Harrell, Policy Committee meet to discuss gun violence as a public health epidemic

Schlossberg joins colleagues and health experts to support bipartisan vaccine proposal at Capitol news conference

(Mar 02, 2015)

Legislators, experts and advocates today spoke in support of legislation that would limit the types of immunization exemptions granted in Pennsylvania, during a Capitol news conference hosted by state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Becky Corbin, R-Chester. At the news conference, Schlossberg explained that currently the state allows three exemptions for childhood immunization – medical, religious and philosophical. Schlossberg's and Corbin's legislation, which they intend to introduce shortly, would eliminate philosophical immunization exemptions, currently the most common type granted in the state. Read more

 

Trout Season opens April 18; Kortz has trout stocking schedules

(Mar 02, 2015)

State Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, announced that the 2014 Pennsylvania trout stocking schedules are now available for pickup in his constituent service offices, 751 Pittsburgh-McKeesport Blvd. and 5101 Old Clairton Road, Pittsburgh. Read more

 

Petrarca meets with governor, discusses priorities for district

(Feb 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 27 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca met with Gov. Tom Wolf this week during one of the bipartisan meetings Wolf has scheduled with lawmakers at the Governor's Residence. Petrarca said he was able to sit down with the governor and talk about some of the issues facing the 55th Legislative District. "My constituents are working-class families, and they've ended up shouldering the financial burden for schools and the state's roads as a result of some poor fiscal decisions by past administrations," Petrarca said. "As a result, they're struggling and we must do something to ease their burden." He also discussed St. Vincent College, a current economic driver for the region, and the Laurel Valley Connector project, which has the potential to enhance the region's business environment. "By connecting the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport at Routes 30 and 981 with the turnpike and I-70, the Lehigh Valley Connector has the potential to improve economic conditions in the region by cutting travel time between the airport and one of our important business districts, while also alleviating congestion on other roads and stimulating economic investment in the southwest part of Westmoreland County," Petrarca said. Updating the state's organ donation law and the Department of Corrections ever-increasing budget also were discussed with the governor. As Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Petrarca Read more

 

Bizzarro: Liquor privatization plan robs state of valuable revenue

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – Citing the potential for consumer inconvenience and significant revenue losses, state Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, today voted against House Bill 466, which would privatize the state’s wine and spirits stores. Read more

 

Donatucci denounces GOP liquor privatization plan

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, expressed concern over today’s House passage of H.B. 466, which would privatize Pennsylvania’s wine and spirits store system. Read more

 

Kinsey: Legislature should have better reviewed privatization plan

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – Pennsylvania House Republicans’ plan to divest the state’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores will likely add to increased crime, alcohol dependency and abuse, and should have been the subject of more public hearings, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey said today following his vote against the measure. “Looking beyond the fiscal impacts of the bill for a moment, it’s important to remember that this bill has just as much to do with health and social implications,” said Kinsey, D-Phila. “House Bill 466 potentially exposes children, teens and folks with alcohol addiction to a controlled substance, more frequently and at locations frequented by families. “Alcohol is addictive. We are effectively giving people the opportunity to consume a product that can become a dangerous addiction and lead to severe health problems and crime. “With Pennsylvania facing a $2.3 billion budget deficit, I think it was unwise for us to dismantle an established revenue source that was bringing in over $100 million annually. I believe that we should modernize our wine and spirit stores, and in the process maintain and sustain employment for thousands of our hard-working citizens.” The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Pashinski votes against liquor privatization bill

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, today voted against the bill to privatize liquor sales, noting it would cost consumers and the state more and do little to help Pennsylvania’s current fiscal crisis. Pashinski said the plan (H.B. 466) would result in higher prices with fewer selections and could require consumers to go from store to store to search the items they want. "Supporters of this bill say that it’s more convenient to consumers, but with 30 different kinds of licenses, it becomes more confusing and less convenient," Pashinski said. "When you realize you may have to travel to several stores to find the wine or spirit you desire, you may end up shelling out more money for gas along with paying the higher price for the liquor, so it’s really financially inconvenient in the end." Pashinski said the GOP-sponsored plan claims that privatizing the liquor stores would generate $1 billion in revenue for the state budget; however, only about $167 million of that would be available in the first year. In addition, the state would lose $80-100 million per year that liquor stores contribute to the state, as well as the transition costs estimated at $1.4 billion which would negate any real profit from the sale. "As we deal with a budget deficit of more than $2 billion, privatizing the state’s wine and spirits shops would be fiscally irresponsible," Pashinski said. "We need to Read more

 

Schlossberg: Privatization plan would demolish long-term cash asset

(Feb 26, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, released the following statement in opposition to a liquor privatization plan that passed the state House of Representatives today, which would cost taxpayers millions in annually recurring state revenue: “It is financial madness that we are considering selling a long-term cash asset to cover a short-term budget shortfall. Fiscal responsibility isn’t just spending as little as possible; it’s making sure that you have the revenue to meet your expenditures. We currently have a budget deficit that is $2.3 billion – and climbing. This isn’t a one-year problem; this is a long-term problem, and one that will continue to get worse. The liquor system provides $80 million annually to the general fund. It is insanity to think that we can climb out of our current budget hole by selling that long-term asset. Read more

 

Flynn: Selling off liquor stores not right for Pennsylvania

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, voted against a liquor bill Thursday that he said was wrong for Pennsylvania: "There are many things wrong with this proposal, not the least of which is looking at this sell off as a financial windfall for the state, solving the fiscal problems we're facing. "This is essentially a fire sale of a valuable, revenue-generating asset. The Liquor Control Board generates $80 million in profits annually for the state's General Fund. Even if we were to get the full amount that is being claimed from the sale of licenses, which is unlikely, it's a one-time proposition. We'll still end up losing a steady source of revenue in exchange for a one-time payment that will not responsibly address the projected $2.2 billion structural deficit facing the state. "We have to get what the system is worth, and this proposal does not offer that, but instead will increase prices, decrease selection and eliminate 5,000 family-sustaining jobs," he said. "Liquor store privatization has adverse ramifications on jobs, tax revenue and our society. I think the state can offer increased customer convenience without these negative impacts to our commonwealth; advances in consumer convenience have already been made, and that should be allowed to continue." Read more

 

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton has introduced two bills to help small towns. The first bill (H.B. 659) would let communities extend their participation in the Main Street Program for up to five years. The second bill (H.B. 660) would make more small cities eligible for the state's City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program. "Our small towns and cities face many of the same challenges of larger, urban areas, but sometimes they get overlooked," Freeman said. "My legislation would help ensure their success by assisting them with downtown revitalization and stimulating economic development and job creation." The state's Main Street Program provides grants to help revitalize downtown districts and pay for a full-time Main Street manager who works with local officials and merchants to implement a downtown revitalization plan. Current involvement in the program is limited to five years. Freeman's bill would provide administrative support funding for up to an additional five years with approval by the Department of Community and Economic Development, which funds the program. "Unfortunately, we have seen in numerous cases that the current five-year time frame to turn around a traditional downtown is too short. A community just begins to see the progress brought on by Main Street initiatives only to see the plug pulled prematurely, often causing the downtown's success to suffer," Freeman Read more

 

Harris: Privatization bad for Philadelphia, bad for Pennsylvania

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., today stated he will be voting against H.B. 466, the liquor privatization bill, due to the negative impact it will have across Pennsylvania and specifically in Philadelphia. “This bill is simply the wrong choice at the wrong time for Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “Our state is facing a budget deficit approaching $2 billion, and the other side of the aisle has decided now is the appropriate time to sell off an asset that brings in $80 million annually to the General Fund budget. This is simply not the time to entertain this idea. “In addition, nearly 4,000 hard-working Pennsylvanians will suddenly be without a job. These are family-sustaining jobs that provide good benefits and a living wage. The inclusion of minor grants for furthering their education and additional points on a civil service test for employees who lose their job do not go nearly far enough to ensure that our state store workers are taken care of. “The bottom line is that House Bill 466 is not the answer for Pennsylvania, and I refuse to vote for decreased income for the General Fund and increased unemployment throughout our state.” Read more

 

Galloway hosting tax rebate events

(Feb 26, 2015)

LEVITTOWN, Feb. 26 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, and his staff will host forums to help senior citizens in his legislative district fill out and submit Pennsylvania’s 2014 Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications. The dates, times and locations are as follows: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Thursday, March 5, Bristol Borough Area Active Adult Center, 301 Wood St., Bristol 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Friday, March 20, Falls Township Senior Center, Trenton and Oxford Valley roads, Fairless Hills "The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is funded from Pennsylvania Lottery profits, and is meant to help reimburse low- and fixed-income homeowners for the property taxes they paid in the previous year," Galloway said. "Also, some seniors who rent their homes may qualify for rent rebates." Seniors 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older and permanently disabled adults between the ages of 18 and 64 may be eligible for the refunds, depending on their income level. Homeowners may have earned up to $35,000 and renters may have earned up to $15,000 in the 2014 calendar year, with only half of the applicant’s Social Security, Supplemental Security and federal railroad Retirement Tier 1 earnings counting toward the limit. The maximum rebate is $650, depending on the person’s income. "My staff is trained to help determine if you qualify, and to complete the forms if you may be eligible," Galloway said. "Please Read more

 

DeLuca calls for legislators to limit outside income

(Feb 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, today hosted a news conference to unveil legislation that would require additional disclosure of lawmakers' outside income and place a limit of that income as well. "The Pennsylvania General Assembly is a full-time legislature that is paid full-time and works hard in Harrisburg and in our respective legislative districts. Our constituents deserve our full attention and the only clock we should be punching is the one for them," DeLuca explained. Read more

 

Matzie raises awareness for multiple sclerosis

(Feb 25, 2015)

In hopes of raising awareness for multiple sclerosis, the House of Representatives adopted Rep. Rob Matzie’s H.R. 88, designating March 2 through March 8, 2015, as “Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania. “With over 400,000 Americans affected by this disorder, it’s time to increase our awareness across the state,” Matzie said. “This week provides individuals living with MS, along with their families, friends and supporters, an opportunity to help educate others about this disease.” MS is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system. It can differ in severity, with about 90 percent of the diagnosed population having relapsing-remitting MS, where they experience periodic relapses, followed by partial or complete recovery. MS affects about twice as many women as men, with an elevated chance of diagnosis in women between 20 and 40. While connections have been made between diagnosis of the disease and environmental and genetic factors, no specific cause has been discovered and there are no known cures. Read more

 

Driscoll: Budget deficit needs addressed before considering privatization

(Feb 25, 2015)

A vote on Pennsylvania House Republicans' plan to sell off state liquor stores without first holding public hearings is imprudent and rash, said state Rep. Michael Driscoll today, especially while the state anticipates a multibillion-dollar structural budget deficit. "With the $2.3 billion deficit currently facing the state, it is essential that we act with caution and forethought to ensure that a stable source of revenue, and a provider of family-sustaining jobs, isn't destroyed needlessly," Driscoll said. "Voting on this legislation, which would have a major impact on the state’s economic landscape, without first holding public hearings is simply irresponsible." While the House passed similar legislation last year, Driscoll said that even small changes in a bill of this magnitude can have serious unintended consequences. In addition, Driscoll, who is one of 26 new House members this year, said each freshman member should have the opportunity to get their questions answered before any vote. Read more

 

Readshaw bill requiring self-reporting of criminal convictions passes House

(Feb 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 -- House Bill 209 , introduced by state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, unanimously passed the House this afternoon. The bill would require all licensees under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to report criminal convictions to the authorizing board within 30 days of the conviction. Convictions subject to reporting would include felony, misdemeanor or drug violations. Currently, each board can establish its own reporting criteria and timeframe. "This is a common-sense bill which would make reporting convictions easier and consistent across all licensing boards," Readshaw said. "The more consistent we can make our rules, the easier it will be to ensure they are being complied with." The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs oversees 29 individual licensing boards: 13 are business-related boards such as architecture, cosmetology and real estate, while 16 boards are health-related, including dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. The bill moves to the Senate for further consideration. ### Read more

 

House adopts Cruz resolution honoring Rep. Rosita Youngblood as first African-American female member of House leadership

(Feb 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., thanked House members this week for their unanimous adoption of House Resolution 86 , which honored Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila., on her accomplishment of becoming the first African-American female elected to a House leadership position. "This is a tremendous honor for Representative Youngblood, and I couldn’t think of a more deserving candidate," Cruz said. "Since taking office over 20 years ago, she has dedicated herself to not only improving the lives of her constituents, but also the lives of women and minorities across the state. I am positive she will continue to be a perfect example of how to use public service for the greater good of her community and all of Pennsylvania." Following her election to an 11th term in the state House, Youngblood was elected by members of the House Democratic Caucus to serve as the Democratic Caucus secretary, becoming the first African-American female to hold a leadership position in the history of the General Assembly. "There are truly no words to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the support from my colleagues in the House," Youngblood said. "It is overwhelmingly humbling to be recognized by my peers, colleagues and friends, and I truly appreciate each and every one of them, especially Rep. Cruz, for their kindness and support. To become the first ever African-American woman elected to a House leadership Read more

 

Oral chemotherapy bill passes House

(Feb 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, on Tuesday voted for a bill that would require health insurance providers that cover intravenous cancer chemotherapy to cover oral chemotherapy treatment equally. The bill (H.B. 60) passed the House and was sent to the Senate. "Chemotherapy in pill form is the newest option for chemo. It is more convenient for patients because it can be taken at home and has fewer side effects, compared to the traditional intravenous chemotherapy, which also requires a hospital visit for its administration," Longietti said. "However, oral chemotherapy also is more expensive. This bill would put oral chemotherapy more in line with other chemotherapy treatments." Intravenous chemotherapy treatments are usually covered under a health plan's medical benefit and require a minimal payment. Orally administered treatments are covered under a health plan's pharmacy benefit. Some insurance companies have placed orally administered treatments on "specialty tiers," requiring those who need the drugs to pay as much as one-third of the cost. Typically, a person will pay $1,500 to $3,000 per prescription for a specialty tier drug, according to a study by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. Longietti said this is unaffordable for many patients. House Bill 60, which Longietti co-sponsored, would prohibit insurance companies from placing oral Read more

 

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications available at Bizzarro's offices

(Feb 25, 2015)

ERIE, Feb. 25 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has announced constituents can obtain applications for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program at his various Erie County offices. Read more

 

Conklin releases statement on Keith Olbermann suspension; commends PSU students' fundraising effort

(Feb 24, 2015)

STATE COLLEGE, Feb. 24 – Centre County state Rep. Scott Conklin released the following statement on the announcement of ESPN's suspension of Keith Olbermann for a week. The suspension is a result of comments Olbermann made against the Pennsylvania State University's student body relating to the university's annual pediatric cancer fundraiser, THON: "I commend ESPN's decision, but more importantly, I commend the fundraising effort of Penn State students. "The only headlines we should be reading are ones praising the charitable acts of Penn State students. The only focus should remain on the millions raised to fight pediatric cancer. It is unfortunate that Mr. Olbermann decided instead to attack the integrity of this great university and its student body. "He was totally off target. When you have young people raising almost $14 million to help sick children in this country, to have someone of his credentials use his personal prejudice against Penn State -- a university high in academics, high in achievement -- is unacceptable. "There should be nothing but congratulations for these young people," Conklin said. Read more

 

Schlossberg joins colleagues and health experts to support bipartisan vaccine proposal at Capitol news conference
Mar 02, 2015

Trout Season opens April 18; Kortz has trout stocking schedules
Mar 02, 2015

Petrarca meets with governor, discusses priorities for district
Feb 27, 2015

Bizzarro: Liquor privatization plan robs state of valuable revenue
Feb 26, 2015

Donatucci denounces GOP liquor privatization plan
Feb 26, 2015

Kinsey: Legislature should have better reviewed privatization plan
Feb 26, 2015

Pashinski votes against liquor privatization bill
Feb 26, 2015

Schlossberg: Privatization plan would demolish long-term cash asset
Feb 26, 2015

Flynn: Selling off liquor stores not right for Pennsylvania
Feb 26, 2015

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs
Feb 26, 2015

Harris: Privatization bad for Philadelphia, bad for Pennsylvania
Feb 26, 2015

Galloway hosting tax rebate events
Feb 26, 2015

DeLuca calls for legislators to limit outside income
Feb 25, 2015

Matzie raises awareness for multiple sclerosis
Feb 25, 2015

Driscoll: Budget deficit needs addressed before considering privatization
Feb 25, 2015

Readshaw bill requiring self-reporting of criminal convictions passes House
Feb 25, 2015

House adopts Cruz resolution honoring Rep. Rosita Youngblood as first African-American female member of House leadership
Feb 25, 2015

Oral chemotherapy bill passes House
Feb 25, 2015

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program applications available at Bizzarro's offices
Feb 25, 2015

Conklin releases statement on Keith Olbermann suspension; commends PSU students' fundraising effort
Feb 24, 2015