Featured News

Relief to restaurants, bars & clubs to help workers a top priority in House Democratic legislative package

State lawmakers announce grants to strengthen Berks County

(Jun 10, 2020)

State lawmakers Reps. Tom Caltagirone, Mark Rozzi and Sen. Judy Schwank today announced state grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency have been approved for two programs in Berks County. Read more

 

Galloway Introduces two COVID-19-related financial services bills

(Jun 10, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, announced that his Covid-19 related bills, which would waive penalties for early CD withdrawals during COVID-19 (H.B. 2580) and would waive fees for remote banking and ATM charges during COVID-19 (H.B. 2581), were both introduced and referred to the House Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday. “Families across Pennsylvania have been hard hit financially from the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Galloway said. “My bills are aimed at alleviating the pains that have ensued by removing penalties from early withdrawals of CDs and by making it illegal for financial institutions to charge fees for remote transactions or uses of ATMs. “If they were enacted, both bills would be in effect until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration issued by the governor has expired.” Galloway said that CDs, or a certificates of deposit, are popular products offered by banks and credit unions because they provide higher interest rates in exchange for leaving a lump-sum deposit untouched for a period of 6 months to 3 or more years.. At the end of the term, known as the maturity date, the depositor can withdraw his or her funds penalty free, and with a few dollars in earned interest on top of the initial deposit. According to Galloway, CDs are a safer and more conservative way for people to invest their money than Read more

 

Southeast Delegation issues statement supporting protests against racial injustice

(Jun 09, 2020)

The House Democratic Southeast Delegation today issued the following statement in response to the death of George Floyd and ongoing protests against racial injustice. Read more

 

Kenyatta, colleagues take House chamber to demand action on police reform

(Jun 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – At the start of today’s House session, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and other members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with numerous House Democratic colleagues, took control of the speaker’s rostrum to demand action on 19 bills from the House and Senate that would address police reform across the commonwealth. “For 13 days, folks have been protesting in the streets, demanding that we actually do something. Now we are here demanding that you actually do something,” Kenyatta said to House Republican leadership. “You should come up from your seats, come up here and demand that we don’t get to business as usual,” He told his white House colleagues. “That we don’t get the same speeches and lip service. We demand that we get meaningful police reform passed out of the Pennsylvania House. It’s the people’s house, and if we ain’t doing the people’s business, then we ain’t doing business." He expanded on why immediate action is crucial, saying, “We can’t go back to normal. The folks in our districts cannot allow us to come back home and say that we introduced a bill. They need movement. They need movement." Kenyatta’s call-to-action speech is in response to rallies and protests that have swept the nation following the highly publicized death of George Floyd, who was killed Read more

 

Briggs, as Democratic House Judiciary chairman, calls for action on police reform bills

(Jun 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, supported calls for a special session to take action on police reform legislation. “Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we’ve seen communities around Pennsylvania and the rest of the country come together in peaceful protests to speak out against systemic racism resulting in the loss of innocent black lives. These calls for justice are happening around the world, as well as up the street – and even in the House chamber,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “Our communities are demanding change. We must act now, and we must move legislation that will make meaningful reforms and strengthen police-community relations.” Democratic lawmakers have proposed numerous reform measures , which include outlawing the use of police chokeholds, improving access to police video footage, and improving oversight and accountability for law enforcement. The House Judiciary Committee will be at the forefront in considering many of these reform proposals. “ For too long, my Republican colleagues have allowed numerous reform bills to languish without bringing them up for action. We can’t wait any longer,” Briggs said. “I support calls from the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus to vote on these bills now, and I’ll urge my Republican colleagues to bring these measures up for a vote swiftly.” Read more

 

Petrarca: Bill would ensure child welfare workers and service providers have access to personal protective equipment

(Jun 05, 2020)

VANDERGRIFT, June 5 – Child welfare personnel and service providers are in significant need of personal protective equipment, and state Rep. Joseph Petrarca will soon introduce legislation to ensure they have vital access. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said his bill would provide additional funding to county welfare agencies and service providers to assist them in purchasing the PPE they need to conduct their work during the current pandemic. “We know that during this time, it’s vital to take steps to protect ourselves and others from this virus, and that includes wearing masks and other types of protective personal equipment,” Petrarca said. “I understand that this restricted face-to-face contact can be challenging for staff and the youth they serve, but it’s necessary to prevent the spread of this virus and also protect those who are vulnerable, including those with compromised immune systems.” More information can be found at this link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=31911 . Read more

 

Davis legislation would create grace periods for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency

(Jun 05, 2020)

LEVITTOWN, June 5 – State Rep. Tina Davis has announced that she will be introducing legislation that would require insurance companies to provide a 90-day grace period for the payment of insurance premiums during a disaster emergency. “Many Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs or had to close their businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now struggling to pay their bills,” Davis said. “People shouldn’t have their insurance canceled because of an inability to keep up with insurance premiums during this period of unprecedented economic hardship . By requiring insurance companies to provide a 90-day grace period for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency, my legislation would protect Pennsylvanians from having their insurance terminated at a time they need it most.” Currently, Pennsylvania has only recommended insurers grant a grace period to policy holders during the pandemic. Davis said that many states have required such grace periods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of natural disasters. Residents with questions should contact Davis’ office by phone at 267-580-2660 or email ( repdavis@pahouse.net ). Read more

 

Police Reform Working Group releases statement on progress toward reform

(Jun 04, 2020)

The Police Reform Working Group, a collection of elected officials and advocates working to bring accountability and transparency reforms to law enforcement, released the following statement on Gov. Tom Wolf’s adoption today of their request for a state-level deputy inspector general aimed at improving law enforcement conduct, as well as Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s, along with the Fraternal Order of Police’s, support of a confidential database to track complaints against police officers: Read more

 

Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people

(May 29, 2020)

Now, more than ever, is the time to come together and pass legislation that seeks to protect our frontline and essential workers, pay them fairly, assist those struggling without employment, health care or child care, and, above all, keep our citizens safe. Read more

 

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill

(May 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 29 – In May, state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, began his push to advocate for residents struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing legislation geared toward providing rental assistance to those in need. On Thursday, portions of his legislation were rolled into the final supplemental fiscal code bill. Davis said he was encouraged and thankful to see portions of his bill included in H.B. 2510, which passed the House on Thursday, and noted he was able to advocate for the inclusion of his legislation through his role on the House Appropriations Committee. “I’m grateful to see portions of my legislation included in this bill, most notably because it’s legislation that will benefit state residents which, by the way, is the reason we’re all here,” Davis said. “It’s my hope that members from both sides of the aisle can continue to work in bipartisan fashion, especially during times of crisis, so that we can do what is best for commonwealth residents.” Davis said his legislation was wrapped into H.B. 2510 under the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Specifically, section 191-C dedicates a minimum of $150 million to rental assistance through the proposed COVID Relief Rent and Mortgage Assistance Grant Program. Homeowners or renters may be eligible for assistance if they became unemployed after March 1, 2020, or their annual household income was reduced by 30% or Read more

 

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today issued a statement condemning comments made by PennAg Industries Executive Vice President Christian Herr about immigrant migrant agriculture workers during a House Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday. Herr, during a committee discussion about the vulnerability of farming employees —a workforce mostly comprised of migrants -- temporarily residing in farm labor camp housing in the wake of the pandemic, said that “ethnic families, close-knit families ride the buses to these facilities together,” describing their lengthy travels to commercial food processing facilities for employment that involves working for long hours and for low pay, while living in subpar employer-sponsored housing conditions as “cultural in many ways.” Burgos said he was deeply angered by Herr’s remarks, calling them insensitive and dehumanizing. He also said Herr’s assertion that the overrepresentation of migrants enduring these exploitative practices are their customary traditions absolves perpetrators instituting this predation of any accountability. “I am deeply disturbed that Herr is so morally bankrupt that he’s able to causally contort the systemic exploitation of marginalized people-- desperately trying to survive and provide for their families-- performing physically taxing labor in exchange for a pittance Read more

 

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening

(May 28, 2020)

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro expresses his opposition to HR836. Read more

 

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – A measure that would provide one-time crisis grants to each volunteer fire and emergency medical services company in Pennsylvania passed the House unanimously today, state Rep. Scott Conklin announced. Conkin, D-Centre, said S.B. 1122 would establish the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, setting aside $50 million in federal CARES funding for fire and EMS companies to provide services during the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-four million dollars of the funds would be used for grants to fire companies, with the remaining $6 million to be used for grants for EMS companies. “These men and women have been on the front lines in responding to our communities’ needs, now more than ever, and without the ability to fundraise to stay active, it’s imperative we give them the support they need and deserve,” Conklin said. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more

 

House members condemn failure to report possible Capitol COVID-19 exposure

(May 27, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 27 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said he and other House members were absolutely shocked to learn that a colleague received a positive COVID diagnosis more than a week ago, with several other colleagues self-quarantining this week, while no notice was provided to the people working closely with them at the Capitol. Dermody said several House members who have regularly attended session in Harrisburg throughout the pandemic were noticeably absent yesterday. Under a temporary House rule, all members may vote by proxy so that they don’t have to risk travel and gathering in person at the Capitol. “While we are pleased to learn that this House member seems to have recovered, it is simply unacceptable that some House Republicans knew about this for more than a week and sat on that knowledge,” he said. “Knowing how House members and staff work closely together at the Capitol, we should have been made aware of this much sooner. We should not have learned of it from a media report,” Dermody said. “In the last two weeks alone, there were six days of voting session here at the Capitol and more than 15 separate meetings of House committees voting on dozens of bills. For those members who journeyed to the Capitol in person, each of these meetings raises the risk of possible exposure. “What makes this situation even more galling is that some House members, a vocal few, have attempted to Read more

 

House Democrats oppose budget that would hike property taxes

(May 26, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 26 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, Democratic Whip Jordan Harris and Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford commented about today’s House vote on a partial state budget (H.B. 2387) which all 93 House Democrats opposed: “In a bipartisan rejection House Democrats stood united against the incomplete budget bill passed today. We have many questions with no answers about a $25 billion spending plan we didn’t even see in writing until today. “It’s clear that this budget doesn’t account for a multibillion-dollar revenue gap and just pushes the day of reckoning off until late November. How will the unprecedented deficit be closed? “The current plan fails to take care of homeowners struggling to pay school property taxes and will cause tax bills to increase by more than $300 million. Until we get more answers for the people we represent, Democrats will not support an incomplete budget that doesn’t meet the people’s true needs.” Read more

 

Democrats seek more support for Pennsylvania workers

(May 21, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – Democratic leaders said any review of Unemployment Compensation during the current pandemic should be aimed at fixing problems and putting workers’ needs first, rather than simply blaming the Department of Labor and Industry for factors mostly beyond its control. The House Labor and Industry Committee today received an update on benefits for unemployed claimants from senior leaders in the department including Secretary Gerard Oleksiak. “The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sudden, widespread economic dislocation and prevented people from working in numbers never seen before,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “It’s important to understand how the department is responding to the demand for its services while many people are still waiting for unemployment benefits. “It’s also clear that after being starved of resources for years the department is doing its best with the limited tools it has and is intently focused on getting people their benefits,” Dermody said. “We need to get payments in the hands of workers who have earned them,” said Democratic Labor and Industry Chairman Pat Harkins. “I’ve heard from many constituents about their difficulties getting unemployment payments. They are understandably frustrated and I can see why.” Harkins thanked Oleksiak for answering the committee’s questions and being Read more

 

Davidson, Zabel announce grants to help nonprofit organizations

(May 21, 2020)

State Reps. Margo Davidson and Mike Zabel announced the approval of Department of Environmental Protection Food Recovery Infrastructure Grants to fight hunger and prevent food waste in Delaware County. Read more

 

Kenyatta continues fight to end LGBTQ+ discrimination across Pa.

(May 21, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 21 – On the sixth anniversary of marriage equality being recognized in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., yesterday gave an impassioned speech in the House chamber urging his lawmaker colleagues to support his legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ residents and other minorities. The introduction of this proposal follows a similar amendment that would have outlawed employee discrimination at outdoor sportsman clubs across the state. The measure failed to pass the full House. Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, prefaced his speech with an emotional unprecedented public telling of his coming out story. He later expressed the dire need to pass this necessary measure in working toward a truly equal and accepting commonwealth. “I’ve never publicly talked about my coming out story, but I felt compelled to do it today,” Kenyatta said. “On this sixth anniversary of our state recognizing marriage equality, it is nice to celebrate this milestone, but we must also recognize we still have miles to go in this fight for civil rights and true equality. I will continue demanding an end to discrimination against our LGBTQ+ communities, and I will not stop until we are victorious. I once again fought to convince House Republicans to adopt my measure that would move this commonwealth forward in recognizing Read more

 

Kenyatta: Failure to pass anti-discrimination at sports clubs bill proves Pa. is losing fight for equal rights

(May 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – In a statement today, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said that Pennsylvania’s complacency in allowing discrimination to continue proves that the state has a long way to go in the fight for equal rights. His statement comes after legislation he introduced that would ban outdoor sportsman clubs from discriminating against an employee on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability failed to pass in the full House on Monday. Of his legislation that fell short of a few votes required to pass, Kenyatta, D-Phila, said, “The loophole in making discrimination permissible in sportsman clubs, or any entity, is for them to designate themselves as private. This leverages them the ability to continue to deny these marginalized groups membership and employment opportunities. If passed, my legislation would have served as the catalyst in dismantling discrimination and the suppression of civil rights in not just sportsman clubs, but also in all factions of our commonwealth. Its defeat, however, magnifies how ingrained and normalized discrimination is across our state.” Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, lamented on the reality that despite tirelessly serving residents across the commonwealth, there are parts where he is still unwelcomed. “I am a black openly Read more

 

Galloway’s children’s mental health bills voted out of committee

(May 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 20 – State Rep. John Galloway today announced his two bills to expand and support children’s mental health services in Pennsylvania’s schools were unanimously voted out of committee. “Our students are crying out for help,” Galloway said. “Earlier this year, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that the majority of the 40,000 calls last year to the anonymous tip line, Safe2Say Something, concerned students struggling with mental health issues such as suicide, self-harm, depression and anxiety. “Now it’s time to expand the mental health resources available for our children in the commonwealth.” According to Galloway, approximately one in six U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, only half of these children receive counseling. Those left with untreated mental health disorders often: struggle with behavioral and academic issues in school, such as delinquency and dropping out; have trouble with the criminal justice system; abuse drugs as a means to cope with their illness; become dependent on social services; and, in extreme cases, commit suicide. “Children’s untreated mental health issues are one of the most pressing issues our society faces,” said Galloway, D-Bucks. “Early detection and treatment of mental health issues literally saves lives, Read more

 

State lawmakers announce grants to strengthen Berks County
Jun 10, 2020

Galloway Introduces two COVID-19-related financial services bills
Jun 10, 2020

Southeast Delegation issues statement supporting protests against racial injustice
Jun 09, 2020

Kenyatta, colleagues take House chamber to demand action on police reform
Jun 08, 2020

Briggs, as Democratic House Judiciary chairman, calls for action on police reform bills
Jun 08, 2020

Petrarca: Bill would ensure child welfare workers and service providers have access to personal protective equipment
Jun 05, 2020

Davis legislation would create grace periods for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency
Jun 05, 2020

Police Reform Working Group releases statement on progress toward reform
Jun 04, 2020

Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people
May 29, 2020

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill
May 29, 2020

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments
May 28, 2020

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening
May 28, 2020

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide
May 28, 2020

House members condemn failure to report possible Capitol COVID-19 exposure
May 27, 2020

House Democrats oppose budget that would hike property taxes
May 26, 2020

Democrats seek more support for Pennsylvania workers
May 21, 2020

Davidson, Zabel announce grants to help nonprofit organizations
May 21, 2020

Kenyatta continues fight to end LGBTQ+ discrimination across Pa.
May 21, 2020

Kenyatta: Failure to pass anti-discrimination at sports clubs bill proves Pa. is losing fight for equal rights
May 20, 2020

Galloway’s children’s mental health bills voted out of committee
May 20, 2020