Dawkins, Street call for life-without-parole reform in Pa.

(Jun 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins and Sen. Sharif Street, both D-Phila., were joined by their colleagues to push for criminal justice reform by giving some people who are serving life without parole a second chance. “We are locking away so many positive role models that could diffuse a lot of the crime that we are seeing throughout this nation and throughout this world,” Dawkins said. “There are some powerful stories being told of experience. These lessons are the one thing young people are missing. If they have the chance to hear the experience of the folks who spent 25, 35 or even 45 years behind bars, they may make different decisions about their lives.” House Bill 135, sponsored by Dawkins, would provide a chance for people to get parole after serving 25 or 35 years of a life sentence, regardless of their crime. They would go before the Board of Probation and Parole and would be released on parole if they deserve it and do not present a safety risk to the public. Dawkins added people convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer would not be eligible. The legislation also would create an Office of Reentry program to assist those who are released under the new eligibility standards. Street, who has a companion bill ( S.B. 942 ) in the state Senate, said their legislation highlights the growing need to reform parole for lifers in the commonwealth. “The economic and moral imperatives of this reform are clear. Read more

 

O’Mara bill to fund Veterans’ Trust Fund unanimously passes through House

(Jun 20, 2019)

According to the DMVA, increasing the voluntary contribution amount will nearly double the Veterans’ Trust Fund’s annual revenue to nearly $3 million. Read more

 

Snyder announces passage of broadband bill

(Jun 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 20 – A bill to direct the state to take inventory of communications assets with the goal of providing broadband access to areas of the commonwealth without reliable service passed unanimously in the House today, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington announced. “All Pennsylvanians, whether they live in an urban or rural area, should have access to reliable and affordable broadband service. It will allow more of our residents to have access to telemedicine, to take online courses, and to help our agriculture sector better compete,” Snyder said. “I’ve been advocating for expanded broadband service for three years, and I am pleased that House Bill 305 is moving forward." The bill would require the state Department of General Services to conduct a thorough inventory of all state department, agency, commission or institution-owned communication towers, poles, bridges and facilities to leverage existing assets to provide access to areas without broadband service. Snyder said two additional measures related to broadband access are pending further action. House Resolution 63 , which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct an audit of – and investigation into – the compliance by non-rural telecommunications carriers with previously enacted broadband telecommunications laws, is in the Consumer Affairs Committee. House Resolution 64 , which would establish a bipartisan, Read more

 

Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia

(Jun 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more

 

Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more

 

Legislation to provide clean drinking water reported out of House Commerce Committee

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, announced that legislation he spearheaded to provide funding for clean drinking water and infrastructure to remediate the toxic man-made chemicals known as pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, was voted with overwhelming bipartisan support out of the House Commerce Committee today. In 2006, when the federal government closed down the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Montgomery County, it discovered significant environmental issues, including contamination of the drinking water in some Bucks and Montgomery county communities as a result of the use of firefighting foam at the military installation. “It’s unfair that local ratepayers and taxpayers have had to bear the costs of removing harmful contaminants from their drinking water when the federal government is responsible for the contamination,” Galloway said. There continues to be ongoing runoff from the military base and the continued pollution of the aquifer. The environmental and drinking water issues have delayed the redevelopment of the former military base, which has cost the commonwealth tax revenue and job opportunities. “Something had to be done to resolve this issue that impacts the health and welfare of many Pennsylvanians,” said Galloway, the minority chair of the House Commerce Committee. “That’s why I was proud to spearhead this important legislation that will Read more

 

Snyder: Bipartisan bill would enable school districts to exclude property taxes

(Jun 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – A bipartisan measure that would establish a property tax reform program enabling school districts to exclude up to 100 percent of a homeowner’s school property tax bill has been introduced, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, announced today. Partnering with state Reps. Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, and Rosemary M. Brown, R-Monroe/Pike, Snyder said the bill would provide for the elimination of owner-occupied residential school property taxes via the homestead and farmland exclusion, also known as the property tax relief program. The measure would increase the state’s personal income tax by 1.8%. That increase – from 3.07% to 4.87% – represents the amount needed to offset the property tax exemption, Snyder added. “I hear from seniors and homeowners regularly about this property tax burden and how unfair and costly it is to them,” Snyder said. “We realize that school districts need adequate funding to operate, but not on the backs of taxpayers, including first-time home buyers and family farms. The personal income tax is considered one of the more stable taxes levied in our state, and this will ensure districts will have the necessary funding for their schools. “We’ve also seen how property taxes can fluctuate, due to economic downturns over the past few years, and we believe this measure is a viable solution for both taxpayers and school districts Read more

 

Snyder: Farm Bill package will ensure a strong agriculture future for Pa.

(Jun 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – Supporting Pennsylvania’s farmers and ensuring a strong agriculture future are the primary goals behind a comprehensive package of bills supported by state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington. Snyder said the PA Farm Bill is the first of its kind in the state’s history and would invest more than $24 million in the state’s agriculture industry, providing opportunities and resources to expand animal agriculture, remove regulatory burdens, implement disaster response resources, and increase marketing opportunities for Pennsylvania-grown products. “It’s no secret that our great state is a leader in agriculture: whether it’s food, dairy or meat, we are among the cream of the crop,” Snyder said. “It’s important that we continue to be proactive in supporting this great industry, but also ensure there are vital supports in place to ensure its strong future.” Snyder is the prime sponsor of H.B. 1520 , which is included in the PA Farm Bill package, and would create a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors. Additional bills in the package include the creation of an agriculture business development center to assist farmers, expansion of the PA Preferred program, and the establishment of a state-level specialty crop block grant program to encourage the farming of high-priority crops, such as hemp, hops and Read more

 

McClinton applauds unanimous approval of bipartisan bill to crack down on sexual extortion

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – A bipartisan bill that would include sexual extortion as a sex crime unanimously passed the House today, according to state Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, one of its authors. McClinton introduced the bill (H.B. 1402) with Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “Currently, there is no state law that adequately names sexual extortion as a crime, despite it being a growing form of sexual exploitation in which an individual misuses their power to demand sexual acts, images, or videos from victims, usually in exchange for something the victim is heavily dependent upon such as a service or something of value,” McClinton said. “I’m happy that my House colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, also agree that combatting this crime is very important.” McClinton said that sexual extortion can occur in any setting such as schools, workplaces, and community settings, but the most common setting is online. “Perpetrators hack people’s accounts to gain access to their intimate photos to extort them or manipulate victims by tricking them into sending pictures and then extort them to send more images or to engage in sexual acts,” McClinton said. The Department of Justice reports that 71% of sexual extortion cases involve victims under the age of 18, McClinton added, and is a significantly growing threat to children as they are considered easy targets because of their Read more

 

McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more

 

Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., to make Pennsylvania’s law that better deals with “stop and go” nuisance establishments ironclad, today was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee. Kenyatta’s bill (H.B. 1434) would move the language that cracks down on nuisance establishments, which was originally included in the state Fiscal Code (Act 44 of 2017), to the state Liquor Code. He said the Liquor Code is the correct place for this important law. “They key to holding ‘stop and go’ businesses accountable is to ensure the law is solid and enforceable,” Kenyatta said. “Since this landmark law passed in October 2017, we have seen an increase in investigations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and, ultimately, stricter compliance. However, the language of the law was placed in a state code that deals with financial matters of state government. It’s no place for liquor enforcement, and I am glad the members of the Liquor Control Committee agree.” Under the 2017 law, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food, or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, it can suspend the license immediately. The law also gives local governments the power to recommend that the LCB investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I am Read more

 

Burns bill guaranteeing in-state tuition for military families passes House

(Jun 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 3 – Providing in-state tuition rates to college students in active-duty military families in Pennsylvania – even if their parent is reassigned to another state before they can begin their education – is one step closer to reality following its unanimous passage in the House, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, announced today. House Bill 1050 , authored by Burns, would guarantee the in-state tuition rate for military families as soon as a student enrolls in a public college or university, regardless of where their military parent is later reassigned, Burns said. “These students shouldn’t be penalized because of their mother’s or father’s reassignment, which is beyond their control,” Burns said. “Veterans and their families count on us to ensure they get the benefits they deserve.” Under current law, Burns said dependents of military personnel in Pennsylvania who enroll at a public college or university in Pennsylvania are charged in-state tuition rates. However, the U.S. Department of Defense found some students lost the in-state rate, due to a parent’s reassignment outside of Pennsylvania, between the day the student was accepted to the college or university and the first day of the semester. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Burns: House minority leader tours Cambria County

(May 31, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 31 – Saying it bolsters his ongoing effort to put Cambria County on Harrisburg’s radar, state Rep. Frank Burns hosted House Minority Leader Frank Dermody on a fact-finding tour of the 72 nd Legislative District on Thursday. Dermody joined Burns during a visit to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center – one of the region’s largest employers – and in meetings with officials from Saint Francis University and several businesses and nonprofit organizations. “I had a great day with Representative Burns and share his excitement about all that’s happening in Cambria County,” said Dermody. “In Harrisburg, Frank Burns is a tireless advocate for the people back home, and he works hard to bring attention to the area’s needs and secure funding to address them. I am really grateful that he took the time to give me a firsthand view of the situation.” Burns, who has helped procure more than $6.5 million in state funding for his district in the first 150 days of the current legislative session, said he hopes the first-ever official visit by Dermody during his tenure as a state representative portends even greater things. “While our area has its challenges, progress is being made and I’m sure the strong showing by our business and nonprofit communities left a positive impression on Leader Dermody,” Burns said. “Though we’ll always have our differences, I’ve always been Read more

 

O’Mara bill to help fund Veterans’ Trust Fund passes committee

(May 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – A Pennsylvania bill to raise money for veterans’ care, sponsored by state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, is making its way through the House. The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee this month approved H.B. 857, which would create a space on individual tax returns to allow for a donation of not less than $5 to Pennsylvania’s Veterans’ Trust Fund. “Many of Pennsylvania’s veterans who have sacrificed dearly for our safety and freedom come home and, for a variety of reasons, end up in need of help, which is often provided by statewide charitable organizations, veterans’ service organizations and county veterans’ affairs offices,” O’Mara said. “We should do all we can to ensure that veterans receive the services they need.” The Veterans’ Trust Fund provides grants to charitable and service organizations that help veterans. The bill can now be voted on by the full House. Read more

 

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan occupational licensure reform

(May 22, 2019)

State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., Democratic whip, and Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, were joined by state Sens. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin/Perry, and Judy Schwank, D-Berks, to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate aimed at removing employment barriers for formally convicted people. Read more

 

Kenyatta introduces “Phillip’s Law”

(May 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 7 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced that he would be co-sponsoring legislation referred to as “Phillip’s Law,” which would provide for a study on school mental health professionals. “It is with a deeply saddened heart that I ask for support from my colleagues,” Kenyatta said. “An 11-year-old student from my district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. This tragedy has brought to light the fact that our school mental health professionals are not always available due to budget constraints and, in fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff. We need to take an honest look at the number of mental health professionals in our schools and how we can provide the best access to our students to prevent tragedies like this in the future.” Kenyatta’s bill would require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios. Phillip’s family said that Phillip had tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told that he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his younger brother, Phillip left school and later that day took his own life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Read more

 

House Democrats offering Beyond Safe Schools legislative package Wednesday in Capitol Media Center

(May 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 6 – House Democrats today announced they will unveil a legislative package to address school safety measures that intend to strengthen supports that go beyond physical safety measures. The news conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 8 in the Capitol Media Center. The media and public are invited to attend. The comprehensive package includes 15 pieces of legislation that address supporting Pennsylvania educators, programs and support services aiming to help students and educators feel more safe and secure at school. School security, trauma-informed training, mental health screenings, bullying prevention and support staff ratios are all addressed. Rep. Dan Miller, Education Committee Democratic Chairman James Roebuck, Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla and other sponsors and supporters of the package will attend. The package is part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools, and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com . Additional information about the package will be available at www.pahouse.com/beyondsafeschools . Read more

 

Academic records would transfer timelier under Madden bill

(May 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 3 – State Rep. Maureen Madden is reintroducing legislation that would require school districts and charter schools to share student records with one another within 10 days of receiving the request. Read more

 

Krueger calls for infertility awareness in PA

(May 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 2 – In a first-of-its-kind resolution approved by the House April 30, state Rep. Leanne Krueger calls for infertility to be recognized as a public health issue in Pennsylvania. The unanimously passed resolution, H.R. 253, officially designates the week of April 21 through April 27 as “Infertility Awareness Week in Pennsylvania,” echoing the National Infertility Association’s national week of awareness. “One in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy,” Krueger said. “Infertility does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or socioeconomic status; it’s an issue that any family can face, and it’s one for which help is available.” Krueger also noted her own difficulty in conceiving her son, who is now 7, describing the days of treatments and tests, many of which can be costly. “I was given the diagnosis of unexplained infertility,” Krueger said. “This diagnosis can be heartbreaking. It means that a doctor has confirmed that someone has a hard time getting pregnant, but they cannot figure out why and they’re not sure how to fix it.” Bringing awareness to infertility as a public health issue, she said, helps individuals and couples struggling to conceive cope and realize they are not alone. Krueger said anyone who has a documented issue with a healthcare provider or a question about healthcare Read more

 

Warren bill aimed at reducing flood insurance premiums passes House

(Apr 30, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 30 – State Rep. Perry Warren’s bill to create the Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force in Pennsylvania unanimously passed in the House of Representatives. This task force would be charged with combating rising premiums faced by owners of properties in flood zones. The task force would make recommendations on programs that offer premium discounts or incentivize local governments to support flood mitigation efforts, and spearhead necessary changes to the administration of flood insurance. Warren explained that flood zones can shift. Homebuyers initially may not be required to purchase flood insurance. Then, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency updates its flood maps, homeowners may find themselves in a newly defined flood zone. “Flood insurance can be a financial burden, as of course can being flooded,” said Warren, D-Bucks. “The insurance cost increases the overall cost of buying and maintaining a home.” Pennsylvania ranked eighth in the country for the most flood insurance payouts between January 1978 and March 2011, totaling $773 million, according to the National Flood Insurance Program. “Water and our waterways are great natural resources,” Warren said, “but they pose a flooding risk, and our communities here in Bucks County and throughout Pennsylvania will benefit from this task force and its efforts to mitigate both flooding and flood insurance costs.” Read more

 

Dawkins, Street call for life-without-parole reform in Pa.
Jun 26, 2019

O’Mara bill to fund Veterans’ Trust Fund unanimously passes through House
Jun 20, 2019

Snyder announces passage of broadband bill
Jun 20, 2019

Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia
Jun 17, 2019

Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)
Jun 11, 2019

Legislation to provide clean drinking water reported out of House Commerce Committee
Jun 11, 2019

Snyder: Bipartisan bill would enable school districts to exclude property taxes
Jun 10, 2019

Snyder: Farm Bill package will ensure a strong agriculture future for Pa.
Jun 06, 2019

McClinton applauds unanimous approval of bipartisan bill to crack down on sexual extortion
Jun 05, 2019

McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation
Jun 05, 2019

Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee
Jun 04, 2019

Burns bill guaranteeing in-state tuition for military families passes House
Jun 03, 2019

Burns: House minority leader tours Cambria County
May 31, 2019

O’Mara bill to help fund Veterans’ Trust Fund passes committee
May 28, 2019

Lawmakers introduce bipartisan occupational licensure reform
May 22, 2019

Kenyatta introduces “Phillip’s Law”
May 07, 2019

House Democrats offering Beyond Safe Schools legislative package Wednesday in Capitol Media Center
May 06, 2019

Academic records would transfer timelier under Madden bill
May 03, 2019

Krueger calls for infertility awareness in PA
May 02, 2019

Warren bill aimed at reducing flood insurance premiums passes House
Apr 30, 2019