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

Bill to make orally administered cancer treatments more affordable passes Pa. House

(Feb 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Chris Sainato has voted for a bill that would put the cost of orally administered chemotherapy treatments within reach of more Pennsylvanians. The bill (H.B. 60) passed the state House today 197-3. "Pennsylvanians fighting for their lives should have affordable access to chemotherapy," said Sainato, D-Beaver/Lawrence. "It should not matter if the treatment recommended by a doctor is ingested or injected." 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. Sainato said the median annual household income in Pennsylvania is $50,000, so the course of treatment would be unaffordable to many residents. House Bill 60 would prohibit insurance companies from placing oral anti-cancer medications on a specialty tier or charging a co-insurance payment for the medication. Sainato noted that the LBFC study found that more than 30 percent of people who were prescribed a drug on a specialty Read more

 

Mullery introduces bill to name area bridge after corrections officer

(Feb 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, has introduced a bill that would designate the bridge on S.R. 3005 over the outlet of Lily Lake in Conyngham Township as the Senior Officer Eric J. Williams Memorial Bridge. A corrections officer at the U.S. Penitentiary, Canaan, Williams was attacked and killed by an inmate in February 2013. He was 34 years old. "Officer Williams was dedicated to serving his community, his commonwealth and his country," Mullery said. "His courageous service will never be forgotten and this legislation is just one small way we can remember him. "He owned a cottage at Lily Lake, so it is entirely fitting to name the nearby bridge in his memory," Mullery said. Williams was a 1996 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School, and graduated from King's College with a criminal justice degree. Before he began serving as a federal corrections officer on Sept. 11, 2011, he spent years working as a police officer. The bill (H.B. 629) is expected to be referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. Read more

 

Caltagirone bill to provide training to police and judges on mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism passes House, heads to Senate

(Feb 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said the House passed his legislation that would provide training for law enforcement training and judges related to individuals suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism within the criminal justice system. Under Caltagirone's bill, H.B. 221 , police officers and the minor judiciary, such as magisterial district judges, would receive training on the recognition and proper de-escalation techniques to be used when interacting with individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism. The bill also calls for instruction on diversionary options for these individuals. "Incarcerating individuals with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or autism is not always the best option," Caltagirone said. "This bill addresses the issue on the front end by providing our police and minor judiciary with more early-detection training so they can identify these individuals as quickly as possible. "Moreover, with proper training our law enforcement officers may be able to avoid dangerous situations if they can quickly identify an individual experiencing a mental breakdown and use proven crisis intervention techniques to de-escalate a situation." Caltagirone added that according to recent estimates, over 50 percent of all female inmates and more than 20 percent of all inmates in state prison receive mental health treatments. Read more

 

Matzie honors Pennsylvania's origins with a Charter Day resolution

(Feb 24, 2015)

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution today, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, which designates March 8 as "Charter Day" in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 96 commemorates the charter that King Charles II of England signed on March 4, 1681 granting William Penn a tract of land, which would eventually become known as Pennsylvania. The 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. Read more

 

Gainey supports S.B. 3

(Feb 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 24 – State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, today issued his support for a Senate bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the commonwealth. Introduced by state Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer, S.B. 3 would regulate the medical cannabis industry in Pennsylvania to ensure a controlled, but safe and quality product, while also permitting universities to conduct medical research and study of the drug. Gainey, who introduced his own version of the bill last session, said that the use of medical cannabis has been proven to benefit people of all ages in relieving pain and other debilitating symptoms, from providing children relief from seizures and veterans an alternative to dangerous narcotics for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, to offering pain relief for senior citizens and people suffering from cancer. "We have an obligation as state legislators to ensure that our sick friends, family members and neighbors have access to the best medicine available that can help them," Gainey said. "It seems unjust to deny people medicine that will help them feel better, especially when we routinely prescribe far more toxic medications for many of the same conditions that can be relieved by medical marijuana. "Senate Bill 3 would make the option of medical cannabis as a treatment legal." Gainey said that the licensing and application fees provided for in the bill would cover the cost of implementing the Read more

 

Burns: Liquor privatization plan bad for local businesses

(Feb 23, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 23 – In a committee action, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today voted against a liquor bill he said would put small beer distributors out of business because they won’t be able to compete with big-box retailers. “I voted against the bill because it will hurt our mom-and-pop beer distributors,” Burns said. “It's inherently unfair to these small businesses. It will cost them their livelihood, as well as eliminate thousands of family-sustaining jobs, if this convoluted bill becomes law.” House Bill 466 would sell off Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and allow private businesses to purchase licenses to sell wine and liquor. The first licenses would be open to large existing beer distributors. Burns said remaining licenses would go to market, where big-box retailers’ buying and selling power would be too much for local businesses to compete. “I believe this legislation would put local distributors out of business by allowing competition from out-of-state companies to buy the licenses,” Burns said. “That means corporate retail giants like WalMart and Sheetz could sell beer at their cost, not making a profit, just to get people into the stores. That is something the small-business beer distributor cannot afford to do, so it would drive them out of business.” Burns added, "This plan will not create jobs, but create more Read more

 

Burns: Veterans home improves care, saves taxpayers money

(Feb 23, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, today said the results of an audit conducted by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home increased patient care while saving taxpayers more than $478,000. The audit found the cost for therapy services decreased from $102 to $3 per hour after the facility and the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs decided to contract out therapeutic services in 2011. That resulted in more physical, occupational and speech therapy services. "Providing the best quality of care to our veterans should always be top priority," Burns said. "I commend the facility for working with the department for coming up with a plan that not only resulted in giving more care to our veterans, but also saving taxpayers thousands of dollars." The Auditor General’s office conducted the audit after receiving requests from some constituents. The office also looks periodically at veterans homes in the commonwealth. Read more

 

Flynn announces Property Tax/Rent Rebate assistance is available in his office

(Feb 23, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 23 – State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, said his office has applications available for the state's popular Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. “Eligible residents can claim rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2014, and the deadline is June 30, 2015, so I recommend my constituents get a head start on filing their claims,” Flynn said. “If help is needed, don’t hesitate to come to my office for free assistance.” Flynn's office is located at 409 N. Main Ave. in Jay's Commons, Scranton; the phone number is 570-342-4348. This program benefits Pennsylvania residents 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and disabled people 18 or older. The filer’s income must not exceed $35,000 a year for homeowners or $15,000 a year for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. Applications can also be filed online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. Additionally, changes to the program last year, which Flynn supported, now allow rebate claims to be filed by spouses, personal representatives or estates on behalf of deceased claimants who meet all qualifying criteria and lived at least one day in 2014, rather than the entire year. Another change excludes Social Security cost-of-living adjustments from being considered, in case the COLA pushes an applicant out of eligibility. Last year, more than $276 million in property tax Read more

 

DeLissio holds conversation on Town-Gown matters

(Feb 20, 2015)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 20 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., facilitated a meeting with a coalition of universities comprising St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia, Temple and LaSalle, as well as representatives of the civic associations in the 194th Legislative District to discuss liquor control enforcement as it pertains to students who attend the universities and frequent the bars and neighborhoods in the 194th. The goal of the group, also known as the Town and Gown Coalition, was to address the needs of the community and the universities regarding responsible drinking by students and to identify ways to encourage students to be responsible neighbors and students on and off campus. Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. was represented by Josh Cohen, special assistant to the majority leader. “It was promising to hear about the university-led programs in place for students to educate them on the perils of excessive drinking and underage drinking,” DeLissio said. “Representatives of the civics also offered ideas on how to welcome students as neighbors and to help students learn to be good neighbors while living in the community.” Police Sgt. Dan Steele, a liquor enforcement officer, discussed the role of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and the fact that liquor licenses are renewed every two years. He also said that complaints are reviewed by BLCE in conjunction with that renewal process. Steele Read more

 

Wheatley invites minority, women and disadvantaged business owners to the Capitol for Lobby Day

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, invites owners of minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses to the state Capitol for his annual Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Businesses Lobby Day on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Wheatley said the business leaders will lobby for Wheatley's H.B. 85 , which is designed to improve the participation of minorities, women and the disadvantaged in state contracts and purchasing. The day’s schedule includes: 10 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. - Registration at the Capitol Media Center (Room 1 East Wing). 10:20 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. - Press Conference in Capitol Media Center. 10:45 a.m. - Lobby Day Participants will be recognized on House floor. 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. - Luncheon in Rep. Wheatley’s office (Room 36 East Wing). 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. - Participants visit legislators to lobby for H.B. 85. Wheatley said his bill would level the playing field for small businesses to compete with larger businesses for state contracts. "Small businesses need our support to help them survive and eventually thrive in the marketplace,” Wheatley said. “My bill includes things we can agree to, on a bipartisan basis. In fact, similar legislation has already passed the House unanimously in the past, so I am hopeful we can get my bill to the governor’s desk this session.” ### Read more

 

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Greg Vitali unveiled legislation designed to encourage Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during a news conference today in the Capitol. He was joined by representatives of environmental organizations, a professor and a legislator who voiced support for the legislation. "Pennsylvania has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality because it produces almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases," said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "The legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf must find ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy." To work toward that goal, Vitali has introduced three bills that would increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, permanently fund the Sunshine Solar program and reduce the demand for energy. "Too much of our energy comes from dirty sources that harm the environment and our communities -- but it doesn't have to be that way," said Elowyn Corby, PennEnvironment’s global warming and clean energy associate. "We can harness abundant and pollution-free energy from the wind and the sun. Legislation like this shows how Harrisburg can help us get to the clean energy future Pennsylvanians deserve." Joanne Kilgour, director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, said increasing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to require Read more

 

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, has again introduced legislation (H.B. 474) that would ensure all victims of DUI accidents can be fully compensated for their injuries and damage to their property. Under current state law, a victim of an accident where the drunk driver is convicted of a DUI or is placed in Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition may receive full tort coverage. However, if the drunk driver dies as a result of the accident, even if his or her blood shows he or she was driving under the influence, the victim does not receive full tort coverage. "Drinking and driving is one of the top safety issues faced by Pennsylvanians," Mullery said. "In 2013, there were 11,041 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania, and deaths in these crashes accounted for 32 percent of the total traffic deaths in the state. Of all the alcohol-related deaths, 77 percent were the drunk drivers." Mullery said Pennsylvania must attack the problem aggressively and give as much assistance as possible to the victims of these DUI accidents. Read more

 

Bizzarro: Bill would protect against theft of older adults' prescription medication

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has reintroduced legislation that aims to cut down on the theft of prescription medication from older adults. Read more

 

Mullery: Don’t pay to apply for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

(Feb 18, 2015)

NANTICOKE, Feb. 18 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery is reminding residents that they don’t have to pay to complete application forms for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Mullery, D-Newport Township, said a local senior citizen brought to his attention a mailing from a private company in Harrisburg, offering to fill out senior citizens' Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms, and asking for income and homeownership information, as well as a $47 processing fee. “Anyone who receives one of these letters should throw it in a trash can where it belongs, because there’s no need to pay to complete forms for a state-sponsored program such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program," Mullery said. "Seniors can receive free assistance with the forms by contacting my office." Mullery has an office located at 156 South Market St., Nanticoke, He also maintains an office at 532 Centre St., Freeland. The phone number for the Nanticoke office is 570-740-7031. The phone number for the Freeland office is 570-636-3500. In addition, Mullery’s staff will hold workshops throughout his legislative district to provide free assistance with applying for the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. The workshops will be held Thursday and March 5 at the Plymouth Active Adult Center, 160 E. Main St., Plymouth; March 5 at the Freeland Active Adult Center, 701 Chestnut St., Freeland; March 19 at the Read more

 

Schlossberg seeks to strengthen credit freeze protections

(Feb 18, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, recently introduced legislation to combat identity theft by permitting a parent or legal guardian to obtain a security freeze on behalf of any minor or adult under their care. The move would prevent credit reporting agencies from releasing credit information to a third party without prior authorization, said Schlossberg, giving parents and legal guardians access to a crime-fighting tool already in place for themselves. Read more

 

DeLuca to discuss limiting outside income for legislators Feb. 25

(Feb 18, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, will host a news conference to discuss legislation that would limit outside income for legislators and update disclosure requirements for public officials when declaring outside income. Read more

 

Matzie applauds Wolf's quick work on CHIP Buy-in Plan

(Feb 13, 2015)

State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf's ability to work with the legislature and the federal government after it was announced the families enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program Buy-in Plan will not face tax penalties in 2015. Read more

 

DeLissio’s February Town Hall will take place over the phone Feb. 26

(Feb 13, 2015)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 13 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced today she will hold her February town hall meeting over the phone at 7 p.m. Feb. 26. Residents of the 194 th Legislative District will automatically receive the call if their phone number is in the constituent database. To "attend" the meeting, residents must stay on the line. “February’s Town Hall will be my 43rd in 51 months,” DeLissio said. “I welcome the opportunity to engage as many constituents as possible and having the call in the comfort of people’s homes is a great way to hear as many of those voices as possible.” The meeting will consist of an hour-long dialogue similar to a radio talk show, with constituents encouraged to ask questions about state-related legislation and matters. Constituents can listen in, ask questions and take part in polls using their touch-tone phones. Those who don’t have questions answered during the session can record them after the meeting, and they will be forwarded to DeLissio’s office. Residents also can email a question before the telephone town hall to Townhall@pahouse.net . Read more

 

Youngblood, Grove: Rename Negro Mountain after the hero Nemesis, not his race

(Feb 13, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 13 – State Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood , D-Phila., and Seth Grove , R-York, have joined forces to introduce a resolution urging the federal government to officially rename a Somerset County mountain in honor of a French and Indian War hero. Youngblood said Negro Mountain, a 30-mile-long ridge of the Allegheny Mountains spanning from Maryland north into Somerset County, took its name from a battle during that war. In 1756, a clash broke out between Native Americans and volunteers, including British-born pioneer Thomas Cresap. History reports that a black frontiersman named Nemesis was mortally wounded during the battle, but instead of taking shelter, he told the remaining members of his party to leave, bravely sacrificing himself so they could retreat to safety. All accounts highlight that the mountain took its name from this battle, notably from the heroism of Nemesis, who gave his life to protect the other volunteers. Youngblood and Grove said it is time for Nemesis to receive the respect and recognition he deserves. "During a time when people of color were identified more as property than as individuals, it might have seemed a fitting honor to name the site of this battle ‘Negro Mountain,’” Youngblood said. “Although the term ‘Negro’ may not be seen by some commonwealth residents as a derogatory term, it’s outdated. And the fact remains that the hero of this battle had a Read more

 

Petrarca's offices available to help with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

(Feb 13, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said his offices have application forms for the state Department of Revenue’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. Eligible residents can claim rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2014. This program benefits Pennsylvania residents 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and disabled people 18 or older. The filer’s income must not exceed $35,000 a year for homeowners or $15,000 a year for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded. The deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2014 is June 30. Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. “It's free to apply and I encourage my constituents to remember that filing assistance is available cost-free at any one of my office locations,” Petrarca said. Petrarca's offices are located at 239 Longfellow St. in Vandergrift; 620 N. Chestnut St. in Derry; or in the Latrobe Municipal Building at 901 Jefferson St., Latrobe. Applications can also be filed online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. Additionally, changes to the program last year, which Petrarca supported, now allow rebate claims to be filed by spouses, personal representatives or estates on behalf of deceased claimants who meet all qualifying criteria and lived at least one day in 2014, rather than the entire year. Another change also excludes Social Security Read more

 

Bill to make orally administered cancer treatments more affordable passes Pa. House
Feb 24, 2015

Mullery introduces bill to name area bridge after corrections officer
Feb 24, 2015

Caltagirone bill to provide training to police and judges on mental illness, intellectual disabilities and autism passes House, heads to Senate
Feb 24, 2015

Matzie honors Pennsylvania's origins with a Charter Day resolution
Feb 24, 2015

Gainey supports S.B. 3
Feb 24, 2015

Burns: Liquor privatization plan bad for local businesses
Feb 23, 2015

Burns: Veterans home improves care, saves taxpayers money
Feb 23, 2015

Flynn announces Property Tax/Rent Rebate assistance is available in his office
Feb 23, 2015

DeLissio holds conversation on Town-Gown matters
Feb 20, 2015

Wheatley invites minority, women and disadvantaged business owners to the Capitol for Lobby Day
Feb 19, 2015

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions
Feb 19, 2015

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law
Feb 19, 2015

Bizzarro: Bill would protect against theft of older adults' prescription medication
Feb 19, 2015

Mullery: Don’t pay to apply for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
Feb 18, 2015

Schlossberg seeks to strengthen credit freeze protections
Feb 18, 2015

DeLuca to discuss limiting outside income for legislators Feb. 25
Feb 18, 2015

Matzie applauds Wolf's quick work on CHIP Buy-in Plan
Feb 13, 2015

DeLissio’s February Town Hall will take place over the phone Feb. 26
Feb 13, 2015

Youngblood, Grove: Rename Negro Mountain after the hero Nemesis, not his race
Feb 13, 2015

Petrarca's offices available to help with Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
Feb 13, 2015