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Republican leadership ignores task at hand

(Jan 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12 – As Pennsylvania’s budget impasse approaches its 200 th day, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody commented on the unfinished work and said Republican leaders have failed to engage in substantive discussions since December. “Pennsylvania still needs a full-year budget and what we need from House Republican leaders is seriousness. Three weeks ago we were on the cusp of getting such a budget finished, less than a day away, but the Republican leaders instead shut the House down and sent everyone home. “The House resumed session this week and lawmakers returned hoping to get real work done, but all we got was more delay and distraction,” Dermody said. “The House Republican leaders dictated that rather than work on a real balanced budget, the House would spend its first two legislative days of 2016 considering bills to inadequately fund local schools for the remainder of the fiscal year, increase funds to a select group of universities even though there’s no budget to fund those appropriations, and reject a negotiated bipartisan funding plan that would be fairer to all schools. “Pennsylvania continues to make history with this budget impasse and the House Republican leaders are on the wrong side of that history. “They need to stop playing games and concentrate – along with the governor and the rest of the legislature -- on passing a complete, balanced and full-year state budget that fairly Read more

 

Goodman bills would help prevent trail camera theft, require additional education for Game Commission violators

(Dec 15, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 15 – State Rep. Neal P. Goodman today introduced legislation that would add trail cameras to a section of the state’s Game Code that addresses theft or destruction of hunting property, such as tree stands, blinds and decoys. In addition, H.B. 1764 would increase penalties for violations of this section of the Game Code from a second-degree summary to a first-degree summary. A first-degree summary violation is punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $1,500, and a possible jail sentence of up to three months. “As trail cameras have become more popular, there has been a spike in the amount of them being stolen,” said Goodman, a Schuylkill County Democrat and avid outdoorsman. “Hunters spend a significant amount of money on trail cameras and other equipment, and the goal of my legislation is to help protect their investment.” As an additional deterrent, the bill also would require any licensed hunter found guilty of this section of the Game Code to lose their hunting and trapping privileges for a year. Goodman also introduced legislation, H.B. 1765, that would require any hunter who had their hunting privileges suspended to take a remedial hunter education and safety course before receiving a new license. “I believe the fact that a hunter’s license has been suspended is proof enough that they are in need of the additional education and attention provided by the remedial hunter education course,” Goodman Read more

 

House passes Goodman bill to protect veterans’ access to prescription assistance programs

(Nov 24, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 24 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed state Rep. Neal P. Goodman’s legislation that would allow state veterans to participate in a prescription drug assistance program if a state veterans benefit or federal disability payment puts them over the income limit. “Our veterans should not be excluded from PACE and PACENET just because they receive a small stipend or bonus as a result of their service to our country,” said Goodman, D-Schuylkill. Goodman thanked his colleagues for supporting H.B. 493, and said he’s hopeful the state Senate will take up the legislation soon. Some of the veteran benefit programs addressed by Goodman’s bill include the Blind Veterans Pension and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension, both of which provide a maximum of $1,800 to a veteran per year. The Persian Gulf Veteran’s Bonus Program, which provides a one-time stipend of up to $525 to veterans of the first Gulf War, also is addressed in the legislation. That program was recently extended until 2018 through a law Goodman authored. Goodman also noted about 95,000 veterans receive federal Veterans Administration disability payments. PACE and PACENET provide prescription assistance to Pennsylvanians 65 or older. The income limits for PACE eligibility are $14,500 for a single person and $17,700 for a married couple. PACENET income limits are slightly higher. For a single person, total income can be between Read more

 

Goodman bill to help more veterans qualify for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program wins committee’s OK

(Nov 18, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee today voted out state Rep. Neal P. Goodman’s legislation that would allow Pennsylvania veterans to participate in the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program if a state veterans benefit puts them over the income cutoff. “Many Pennsylvania veterans, including those who were blinded, lost a limb or were paralyzed as a result of their service, receive small stipends from the state that could push them over the income limit for this popular program,” said Goodman, D-Schuylkill. “It’s unfair to exclude them simply because they are receiving a few extra dollars because of their service to our country.” Goodman said he learned that the law needed to be fixed after finding out that veterans’ benefit payments put one of his constituents over the PTRR income limit. Goodman thanked committee members for advancing House Bill 493, and said he looks forward to a vote by the full state House. Some of the veteran benefit programs addressed by Goodman’s bill include the Blind Veterans Pension and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veteran Pension, both of which provide a maximum of $1,800 to a veteran per year. The Persian Gulf Veteran’s Bonus Program, which provides a one-time stipend of up to $525 to veterans of the first Gulf War, also is addressed in the legislation. That program was recently extended until 2018 through a law Goodman authored. The Property Read more

 

Goodman’s campaign finance reform bill seeks transparency, accountability for ‘dark money’ groups

(Nov 16, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – State Rep. Neal P. Goodman has introduced legislation that would make it easier to identify the funding source for advertisements independent organizations use to influence the outcome of an election or a political dispute, such as the ongoing budget impasse. House Bill 1695 would require 501(c) and 527 groups that engage in electioneering and issue-advocacy activities to file campaign finance reports detailing their spending if it exceeds $1,000, as well as the names of donors contributing $100 or more. These groups are sometimes called “dark money” groups because of their lack of disclosure. Goodman’s legislation also would require these advertisements to include a statement informing voters of the organization paying for the advertisement and where they can review its campaign finance reports. “During the past several years, Pennsylvanians have been bombarded with ads from these groups,” Goodman said. “Our residents should know the identity of groups that seek to shape public opinion, and, more importantly, where their money comes from.” Goodman said that this is an issue that concerns both Democrats and Republicans. State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, a Chester County Republican, has introduced the same legislation in his chamber. Both bills are modeled after a 2013 Delaware law, Delaware’s Election Disclosure Act, which was upheld after being challenged in federal courts. Goodman said Read more

 

Republican plan would weaken public health and safety for political gain

(Oct 20, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 20 – House Democratic leaders today denounced a vote made by House Republicans attempting an end run on state regulations that protect public health, safety and more. The House voted on legislation that would add lengthy delays to the nonpartisan Independent Regulatory Review Commission process of finalizing regulations proposed by state government agencies. Under the bill (H.B. 965), the chairmen of standing committees could potentially bring the regulatory process to a halt by using a provision that prohibits IRRC from acting on a proposed regulation for a specified number of calendar days or “legislative” days, whichever is longer. Because of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, all committee chairmen are Republicans. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, said the timing of the bill is significant. “Changing IRRC and ‘reforming’ the regulatory process only seems to interest Republicans when a Democrat moves into the governor’s office,” Dermody said. “A similar push was made when Governor Ed Rendell was in office. No significant attempt was made during Governor Tom Corbett’s time in office but now, yet again, Republicans want to revisit IRRC. “This legislation is a dangerous abuse of power that has no place in the checks and balance system that separates us from dictatorships,” Dermody said. House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, Read more

 

Sturla calls on Republicans to address structural deficit in ongoing budget negotiations

(Oct 07, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said he voted today to eliminate the structural deficit and adequately fund education and human services. “Structural deficit spending has been going on for seven years now and it’s catching up with the state. Pennsylvania has received five credit downgrades in the past three years. The amendment that was defeated today would have addressed the deficit and went a long way in restoring the cuts to education and human services over the past administration’s tenure,” Sturla explained. Sturla said that while he is disappointed that the legislation did not pass, he pleased that legislators across the aisle are acknowledging the state’s fiscal problems. “It took 99 days for Republicans to finally acknowledge that there is a structural budget deficit. Moving forward, that information needs to be just as much a part of negotiations as adequately funding schools, human service and property tax relief for our most vulnerable citizens,” Sturla said. “It’s taken years for the poor fiscal management of years’ past to catch up with the state and result in credit downgrades. We need to act now to improve our finances because it will take years of sound decisions to climb out of the hole.” Sturla also noted that a modest personal income tax would keep Pennsylvania among the lowest personal income taxes in the nation. “The structural budget Read more

 

Sturla calls on Republicans to end political gamesmanship and move a responsible Pa. Budget

(Aug 25, 2015)

HARRISBURG, August 25 – Two months past the June 30 state budget deadline, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, called on Republicans to stop wasting time and negotiate a responsible budget for all Pennsylvanians. “Today’s political stunt was a waste of time and attempted overrides of a line-item budget that was vetoed by the governor. It’s a charade that makes it appear as though the same people that are responsible for the 10 percent cuts to human services are now looking out for our most vulnerable citizens. The bottom line is, today’s stunt won’t filter money to these organizations any faster and it won’t restore those cuts.” Sturla said Republicans should work on a budget that doesn’t contain accounting gimmicks and adjustments that result in structural deficits, and ultimately have led to five credit rating downgrades for the state over the last three years. “This is an unconstitutional process that is giving false hope to our local human service providers. I would implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to stop with the political gamesmanship and invest their time engaging in meaningful negotiations and concessions that move Pennsylvania forward, restore their cuts to education and human services and lift Pennsylvania from the bottom of the pack in job creation.” Read more

 

Sturla says 2015-16 budget perpetuates mistakes of years past

(Jun 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said he voted against a Republican spending plan that fails to restore education funding, address the structural deficit or bring any property tax relief to Pennsylvania homeowners. “For the past four years, Republicans who controlled the legislature in both the House and Senate, along with a Republican governor, passed one irresponsible budget after another. Four years of mismanagement eliminated 20,000 teachers and school staff resulting in larger class sizes, declining test scores and skyrocketing local property taxes. It caused the Commonwealth credit rating to be downgraded multiple times and allowed the Commonwealth to drop from seventh in job creation to 50 th . We cannot afford another year of the same irresponsible policies that have placed the state in its current fiscal predicament and that’s what this budget proposal does,” Sturla said. Sturla said the plan over-projects future revenues and relies on one-time revenue sources and accounting gimmicks, guaranteeing a built-in structural deficit for next year. “This is another budget that runs the state into the ground. It puts off Social Security payments as an accounting gimmick to ring in a ‘balanced’ budget. Pennsylvania families can’t fudge the numbers to balance their budget and there are serious ramifications for putting off paying the Commonwealth’s obligations. The numbers tell the story and Read more

 

Basic Education Funding Commission releases new funding formula, recommendations

(Jun 18, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 18 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said a proposed new bipartisan funding formula that he helped to create as a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission is a step forward in the process to equitably fund education in Pennsylvania. “The first order of business should be for Pennsylvania to restore the deep basic education cuts that were made under former Governor Tom Corbett and then begin the process set forward in this new funding formula to bring equity, accountability, transparency and predictability to the process,” said Sturla, Democratic Policy Committee chairman. “The recommended Basic Education Funding Formula is a direct result of a bipartisan commitment to invest in one of Pennsylvania’s most valuable asset, our kids. Thanks to the commission members' hard work, cooperation and willingness to compromise, the formula will serve all students into the future. The formula, unanimously approved by the commission today, provides schools with an equitable distribution of state funding that coupled with additional funding should meet the needs to educate students in all districts. ”Because cuts made by the previous administration were not done in a formulaic method, it would be nearly impossible to restore that funding through a formula,” Sturla said. “That is why it is important that we first adopt Governor Tom Wolf’s $400 million school funding restoration and help students in Read more

 

Miller joins the Arc, others calling for support at disability rights rally

(Jun 16, 2015)

State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, joined the bipartisan Disability Caucus and the Arc of Pennsylvania, along with numerous other cooperating organizations, to call for broader support of multiple legislative measures aimed at increasing independence and opportunity for those with disabilities. Read more

 

Donatucci measure would expand state program for more cancer screenings

(Jun 16, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 16 – Legislation recently reintroduced by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings through the state Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program. Donatucci’s H.B. 1309 would allow women between the ages of 30 and 65 to qualify for the HealthyWoman program if they meet other eligibility guidelines. The program, designed to serve low-income, underinsured and uninsured women who make up to 250 percent below the federal poverty level, is currently open to eligible women 40 to 64, women under 40, if they are symptomatic, and women 65 or older if screenings are not covered by Medicare Part B. Read more

 

Deasy: Bill would protect seniors from exploitation through powers of attorney

(Jun 15, 2015)

Rep. Dan Deasy has introduced legislation that would authorize local area agencies on aging to investigate those holding powers of attorney when there is reason to believe that an older Pennsylvanian is being exploited. Seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually from elder financial abuse and exploitation, and only about one in every five such cases ever come to light. Read more

 

Bill that includes ban on vaping products in schools passes state House

(Jun 15, 2015)

A bill that includes state Rep. Gerald Mullery’s legislation to ban nicotine products from school grounds, including increasingly popular "vaping" products and electronic cigarettes, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today. Read more

 

Carroll named Democratic chairman of Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee

(Jun 12, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne/Lackawanna, has been named Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. Carroll said, "I have been extremely fortunate to have had a substantial role with the Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy committees. I fully expect to continue serving as a leading voice in these policy areas for the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties while fulfilling my responsibilities in my new role as chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I look forward to serving the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in this new additional role, where I will oversee legislation dealing with the important agriculture and food sector in Pennsylvania." Dermody added, "Mike has earned the chance to lead this committee. He knows the importance of farms, food and agricultural research to Pennsylvania’s economy and he understands that thousands of jobs depend on keeping agriculture strong. As a chairman of a standing committee, his responsibilities within the caucus have been raised to include oversight of the committee while continuing to advance transportation and education policies important to House Democrats." Carroll is serving his fifth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Read more

 

Schlossberg applauds Wolf for fee waiver, urges colleagues to pass change into law

(Jun 11, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, commended Gov. Tom Wolf during a news conference today for his move to waive background check fees for volunteers while calling on his colleagues in the General Assembly to follow suit by codifying the exemption into law. Read more

 

House passes Pashinski bill to establish Kinship Navigator Pilot Program (with video)

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State. Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, announced the House today passed his bill that will focus on assisting grandparents raising grandchildren in Pennsylvania. House Bill 662 would establish a Kinship Navigator Pilot Program in the commonwealth to determine the needs of kinship caregivers and assess the feasibility of establishing a permanent program. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 191,000 children in Pennsylvania are being raised by 80,000 grandparents. Nearly 20 percent of these grandparents raising their grandchildren live in poverty. Pashinski said many grandparents in his district face challenges raising their grandchildren, including lack of a support network and absence of respite for the caregiver. “Grandparents often are not prepared financially or emotionally to provide for their grandchildren,” Pashinski said. “When taking on the role of parent, grandparents also often face custody battles that are costly, time-consuming and complicated. “These grandparents need qualified support and guidance to help them navigate the complexities of the system. It’s time for Pennsylvania to step up and help our grandparents and grandchildren by establishing a Kinship Navigator Pilot that would assist them in finding support they need to keep their family together.” Pashinski added that at least a dozen states have established similar and successful programs, including neighboring Read more

 

Donatucci reintroduces bill to modernize Equal Pay law

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – Fifty-two years after President John F. Kennedy signed the federal Equal Pay Act into law, state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced she has reintroduced legislation to update Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law. Donatucci’s H.B. 1250 would increase fines for employers that knowingly violate state law, falsify records or interfere with investigations under the act. It would also allow employees to file a legal action up to three years after the violation. Read more

 

Freeman introduces bill to let housing authorities set up police departments

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced a bill that would let public housing authorities form their own police force. "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh housing authorities already have this ability under current law, but smaller cities in the state face the same problems with criminal activity that larger cities do," Freeman said. "All public housing authorities should have the ability to set up their own police force in order to better combat crime. "A public housing police force also would greatly enhance community policing efforts, making public housing projects safer for their residents and their families, especially children." Under Freeman's bill, the housing authority police officers would patrol public housing projects. They would be required to complete the same course of instruction and accreditation as is required for municipal police officers under state law. Funding for these police forces would come from public housing authority budgets. While every housing authority would have the option to form a police force under Freeman’s bill, they would not be required to do so. "Some authorities may choose to simply hire a detective rather than create a full-blown police force," Freeman said. "Either way, they could determine what would be the most appropriate approach to enhancing law enforcement efforts." Besides reducing crime and enhancing public safety, Freeman Read more

 

Caltagirone introduces bill to legalize video gaming

(Jun 10, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 9 – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, today said he has introduced legislation that would create the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Act. Specifically, H.B. 1182 would legalize video poker for adults 21 and older at establishments that are licensed to sell liquor such as bars, taverns and clubs. Establishments would be permitted to operate up to five video gaming machines and would be subjected to a criminal background check performed by the Pennsylvania State Police before being awarded a license. "We're staring at a $2 billion budget hole and we're sitting on a potential gold mine," Caltagirone said. "This is a prime time to enact a new revenue source to help spur economic development throughout struggling cities and towns and get our state back on track." The legislation also would create the Municipal Economic Development Fund. Money within the fund, acquired through video gaming profits, would be distributed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development as grants for local municipalities' economic development projects. Caltagirone added the funding formula for how video gaming proceeds would be distributed includes 50 percent to the licensed establishment, 20 percent to the licensed operator, 29 percent to the Municipal Economic Development Fund, and 1 percent to the host municipality. "This bill could provide an additional and needed revenue source for local Read more

 

Republican leadership ignores task at hand
Jan 12, 2016

Goodman bills would help prevent trail camera theft, require additional education for Game Commission violators
Dec 15, 2015

House passes Goodman bill to protect veterans’ access to prescription assistance programs
Nov 24, 2015

Goodman bill to help more veterans qualify for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program wins committee’s OK
Nov 18, 2015

Goodman’s campaign finance reform bill seeks transparency, accountability for ‘dark money’ groups
Nov 16, 2015

Republican plan would weaken public health and safety for political gain
Oct 20, 2015

Sturla calls on Republicans to address structural deficit in ongoing budget negotiations
Oct 07, 2015

Sturla calls on Republicans to end political gamesmanship and move a responsible Pa. Budget
Aug 25, 2015

Sturla says 2015-16 budget perpetuates mistakes of years past
Jun 27, 2015

Basic Education Funding Commission releases new funding formula, recommendations
Jun 18, 2015

Miller joins the Arc, others calling for support at disability rights rally
Jun 16, 2015

Donatucci measure would expand state program for more cancer screenings
Jun 16, 2015

Deasy: Bill would protect seniors from exploitation through powers of attorney
Jun 15, 2015

Bill that includes ban on vaping products in schools passes state House
Jun 15, 2015

Carroll named Democratic chairman of Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee
Jun 12, 2015

Schlossberg applauds Wolf for fee waiver, urges colleagues to pass change into law
Jun 11, 2015

House passes Pashinski bill to establish Kinship Navigator Pilot Program (with video)
Jun 10, 2015

Donatucci reintroduces bill to modernize Equal Pay law
Jun 10, 2015

Freeman introduces bill to let housing authorities set up police departments
Jun 10, 2015

Caltagirone introduces bill to legalize video gaming
Jun 10, 2015