Matzie: Bipartisan effort is our only option in ending opioid crisis

(Jun 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, joined Gov. Tom Wolf and a group of bipartisan legislators today for a Capitol news conference to highlight details of a joint effort to combat the opioid and heroin crisis in the state. In the Rotunda, Democratic Leader Frank Dermody joined Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, Majority Leader David Reed and other House members to announce the completion of recommendations from the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation. “For the past several years, the General Assembly has been focused on the opioid and heroin crisis gripping our state,” Matzie said. “While there is still much to do to wipe this scourge from our communities, today represents progress in that fight. The recommendations from the task force will make a real difference in ending this crisis.” The Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, which was created through the adoption of a resolution in 2014, made several legislative recommendations, including H.B. 1737 and H.R. 590, both of were recently approved by the House. Also announced at the news conference was a special legislative session focused on the opioid crisis, which is expected to be convened in September. “This issue isn’t a partisan one. Individuals from all across our state and from all walks of life have fallen victim to addiction,” Matzie said. “As a member of the Health Committee, I have seen members from bo Read more

 

Frankel, Sims hail bipartisan Pa. Senate action on nondiscrimination bill

(Jun 22, 2016)

State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian Sims, D-Phila., praised today's bipartisan, historic state Senate committee vote that sent a nondiscrimination bill to the full Senate. Read more

 

Bipartisan effort to pass wine and liquor modernization brings optimism for budget as deadline approaches

(Jun 10, 2016)

Bipartisan budget negotiations continued in Harrisburg this week with major action on legislation that will help close Pennsylvania’s budget deficit and increase consumer convenience with wine and liquor sales in the state. Gov. Wolf signed the wine and liquor modernization bill (H.B. 1690) into law on Wednesday. It allows wine to be sold in many more locations, including grocery stores that already sell beer, and permits the direct shipment of wine by licensed producers to consumers at their homes. The law also gives the Liquor Control Board more flexibility to set competitive prices, offer discounts and set state liquor store hours in ways that are more convenient for consumers, including Sundays and holidays. The measure is projected to increase state revenues by almost $150 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. House Democrats are encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral negotiations that took the wine and spirits convenience bill across the finish line. The General Assembly and Gov. Wolf must continue to work together to finalize a 2016-17 budget that is truly balanced , fixes the more than $1.5 billion deficit, pays the bills, supports human services and invests in education at all levels. If this week’s teamwork and collaboration is any indication, Pennsylvania will not be forced into a repeat of last year and will head down the path that starts to fix a broken Harrisburg and rightly puts people before politics. You can help move Read more

 

Sturla unveils plan that would generate $245 million annually for state budget and water-related programs

(Jun 06, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – At a Capitol news conference today, state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced he is introducing House Bill 2114, known as the Pennsylvania Water Resource Act. The Pennsylvania Water Resource Act would enact a water resource fee on 4.4 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals in Pennsylvania that has the potential to generate $245 million annually, based on current usage rates. The bill would exempt the 1.5 billion gallons of daily water withdrawals for agricultural and municipal water usages. “The Pennsylvania Constitution makes it clear that Pennsylvania’s public natural resources belong to the people of the commonwealth. This bill ensures that entities that are currently using our water for free would pay a nominal fee that will be used to fund water-related programs and projects while freeing up money for the General Assembly to close structural deficits in the state budget,” Sturla said. Water withdrawn from commonwealth waterways in excess of 10,000 gallons a day is already required to be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection. House Bill 2114 would result in a charge of 1/100th of a cent per gallon if water is withdrawn for use and eventually returned to the source. Water withdrawn and not returned beyond 10,000 gallons a day would be charged 1/10th of a cent per gallon. Revenue generated from H.B. 2144 would be used to fund water-related programs and general governmental operations in the Read more

 

Snyder: Bill would boost local highway maintenance

(Jun 03, 2016)

Rep. Pam Snyder's House Bill 2123 would provide fairer reimbursements to localities maintaining roadways once part of the state highway system. The reimbursement rate, which hasn’t been increased in 10 years, would increase the maintenance payment from the state Transportation Department to $6,000 a mile from $4,000. Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky appointed to bipartisan panel to address massive Pa. school construction and renovation 'logjam'

(Jun 01, 2016)

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, announced today that she has been appointed to the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee, also known as the PlanCon Committee, to work in a bipartisan way to review and make recommendations for a new PlanCon program. Read more

 

Sturla to unveil water fee bill to generate $245 million for state at Capitol News Conference Monday at 10:30 a.m.

(Jun 01, 2016)

HARRISBURG, June 1 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that he will host a news conference to discuss his House Bill 2114 that could generate $245 million annually from a water resource fee for major water withdrawals in Pennsylvania. Weather permitting, the event will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 6 on the front steps of the Main Capitol Building . In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Main Capitol Rotunda. Over 5.9 billion gallons of water are reported as used every day in the Commonwealth. Under the state constitution, Pennsylvanians own this water that is currently being used free of charge. Sturla’s legislation would use this revenue to fund state water-related programs, major watersheds, and an optional $3 billion Growing Greener bond. Cosponsors and stakeholders that helped to craft the legislation will attend. Media coverage is invited and encouraged. Read more

 

Productive budget discussions must include realistic proposals

(May 27, 2016)

House Democrats are eager to continue positive and productive discussions with Gov. Tom Wolf and Republicans in an effort to reach agreement on a 2016-17 budget that is truly balanced, fixes the deficit, supports human services and invests in education at all levels. But to continue to be productive, we must be realistic. Unfortunately, a group of Republican legislators this week broke from reality to put forward a report that is rife with untruths and inaccuracies. Taking discussions two steps back, these Republicans continue to mislead the public that Pennsylvania can pass budgets using short-term revenues, lapsed funds, phantom savings, improper cuts and other gimmicks. The so-called $3 billion in savings they allegedly found “under Pennsylvania’s couch cushions” is nonexistent. Most of the savings identified in the report are already accounted for in the proposed 2016-17 budget, and are necessary to meet the natural increase in the costs of maintaining current services and paying ongoing bills. Other savings identified in the report are wildly overstated or don't exist at all, such as $100 million (?!) in technology savings within CHIP, or $600 million in savings from pension reform that hasn't passed yet and that won't provide immediate budget savings anyway. Their large “savings” figure also includes an additional $1 billion cut from human services. This would further devastate state and local programs for senior Read more

 

DeLissio appointed to new Pa. Long-Term Care Council

(May 26, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 26 -- State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., has been appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council within the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council was established by Act 64 of 2015 to replace the Intra-Governmental Council of Long-Term Care, created in 1988. This Long-Term Care Council will broaden the previous scope and address topics ranging from facility based care to home and community-based services. "I am pleased to play a role on this new council," DeLissio said. "Our state ranks fourth in the country with the percentage of citizens 65 or older and citizens 85 or older are the most rapidly growing segment of seniors in the commonwealth. Our current system is difficult for consumers and caregivers to navigate and one of my goals as a member of the council will be to ensure that the continuum of housing and services is as seamless as possible." The council will consist of 35 members, and focus on six different areas of concentration: regulatory review and access to quality care; community access and public education; long-term care service models and delivery; work force; housing; and behavioral health issues of seniors 60 or older. When the law was under consideration in the House last year, DeLissio amended it to ensure consumers and caregivers were adequately represented on the council so the state could benefit from their first-hand Read more

 

Browne and Schlossberg applaud passage of rear-facing car seat bill

(May 23, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – State Senator Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, today applauded House passage of S.B. 1152, which would require infants younger than 2 to be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat while in a vehicle. Browne’s S.B. 1152, which is identical to legislation Schlossberg previously introduced in the House, is now on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature into law. Read more

 

Legislature must fix the deficit so that we can focus on education

(May 20, 2016)

This week Gov. Tom Wolf rightfully vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that continues to focus on school cuts rather than educational investment. Five years ago Republicans supported Gov. Tom Corbett’s $1 billion cut to K-12 schools. Those cuts created chaos in classrooms statewide. At the same time, Republicans pushed a new teacher evaluation system that is proving to have problems similar to the now-delayed Keystone Exams . Pennsylvania's first priority should be investing in its schools and hiring more teachers, not shortchanging kids by laying off their most experienced and dedicated teachers. It’s time to move forward, and time for Republicans and Democrats to come together on a state budget that puts a greater focus on educational investment from pre-school through college. Speaking of college, a new study shows public universities in Pennsylvania have been losing state funding at twice the rate of schools in other states. The Corbett cuts of 2011 contributed to that distinction and caused a loss of funding for various Pennsylvania universities of between 18 to 22 percent. As a result, the average tuition debt of college graduates in Pennsylvania is $33,264. Only graduates in New Hampshire face higher debt. High tuition rates and high student debt is hurting both access to education and Pennsylvania's workforce and businesses. The modest 5 percent increase in the 2015-16 budget still leaves state funding for most public universities in Read more

 

Bipartisan brain health/mental health checkup legislation introduced by Miller

(May 13, 2016)

On the heels of the fifth student suicide in the past six years in a nearby school district, state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, has introduced legislation that would require a mental health – or brain health – check-up that would at minimum include a depression screening for each student in Pennsylvania by age 14. "We know that many people who develop a mental health issue go untreated, and this lack of treatment can have lifelong repercussions," Miller said. "Knowing this, we need to recognize that mental health is arguably even more important than physical health and we need to improve our early diagnosis capabilities to get those who need treatment the help they need to improve their quality of life." Read more

 

If we want a better Pennsylvania, we need a budget that will fund it

(May 06, 2016)

The House began legislative action on the 2016-17 state budget this week by positioning a bill to serve as the placeholder for the final negotiated plan. Pennsylvania still faces a significant fiscal crisis, and Democratic and Republican legislators need to begin working with the governor RIGHT NOW to fix it. This year, Republicans acknowledge that the budget deficit is real, and the number is big. Because the 2015-16 budget was another status-quo effort, the negative impact of the structural deficit remains. The Independent Fiscal Office's revenue estimates this week were a reminder that Pennsylvania cannot balance the budget with another round of one-time revenues and accounting gimmicks. Compounding the problem is the fact that Pennsylvania's huge structural budget deficit makes it impossible to pay the bills we already owe. There's nothing left over to restore funding for education, public safety and other important investments Pennsylvanians want lawmakers to make. Additionally, if we don’t work to fix the deficit and invest in what matters, credit rating agencies will continue to downgrade Pennsylvania's bond status. Much in the same way that the five-year disinvestment in schools forced local property tax increases statewide, credit agency downgrades will significantly increase borrowing costs for critical school and infrastructure projects – another BACKDOOR TAX INCREASE on Pennsylvania citizens. No one wants a repeat of last Read more

 

Mullery introduces legislation aimed at helping to reform Harrisburg

(May 02, 2016)

HARRISBURG, May 2 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, introduced legislation that would help fix a broken Harrisburg by eliminating one of the perks given to elected officials and make members of the General Assembly more accountable. House Bill 2027 would require all legislators to contribute more towards the costs of their health insurance coverage. Under his legislation, each member of the General Assembly would be required to pay 10 percent of the annual premium for their health care starting January 1, 2017. Currently, members contribute 1 percent of their annual salary toward their health care coverage. "The time is long overdue for lawmakers in this commonwealth to pay a fair share of their own health care cost," Mullery said. "The savings gained could be used to invest in vital Pennsylvania programs." Mullery also introduced H.B. 2024, which would eliminate the automatic cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for members of the General Assembly, judges, and various elected and appointed positions of the executive branch, including the governor and lieutenant governor. Mullery said state legislators already make a base salary that is one of the highest in the nation. "Eliminating automatic pay raises is an important step in helping restore the public's trust in their elected leaders," Mullery said. Read more

 

This version of Harrisburg should be the rule, not the exception

(Apr 15, 2016)

Before adjourning for the spring primary, Pennsylvania's General Assembly showed this week how it can and should work in a bipartisan way to protect and assist Pennsylvanians, and advance the priorities of the public. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation to create a legal medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania. The new medical marijuana law will bring relief to thousands of Pennsylvania patients who need a more effective and less addictive way to manage the symptoms of serious health problems such as seizures, cancer, post-traumatic stress and more. Earlier in the week, the House also passed legislation reforming the state's statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases involving child sex abuse. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting criminal cases of child sex abuse, and allow child victims of sex abuse to bring civil cases up to the age of 50. While final passage of both bills in the House -- and the governor's pending signature in the case of medical marijuana -- was good news, it also ironically demonstrated how broken and ineffective the General Assembly has been in the past 16 months on many other issues and priorities important to the public. Pennsylvania did not have a final 2015-16 budget in place until March, and the legislature has made zero progress on issues such as raising the minimum wage, property tax relief, full funding for Read more

 

Sturla lauds House approval of medical marijuana

(Apr 13, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 13 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, voted today to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. “I was proud to vote for this legislation that will help to alleviate suffering for so many Pennsylvanians. We’ve seen so many stories of how medical marijuana will help patients with severe medical conditions and it is past time we give them a new option under the direct care of their doctor,” Sturla explained. Patients with serious medical conditions, a total of 17 qualified diagnosed conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder would be permitted to use medical marijuana under authorization from their physician. Under the bill, the commonwealth would license up to 25 growers and as many as 50 dispensaries. Each dispensary would be authorized to operate three locations. Medical marijuana would be dispensed as a pill, oil, topical form or in a form appropriate for vaporization or nebulization. The legislation would impose a 5 percent tax on gross receipts that a grower or processor gets from the sale of medical marijuana to another grower or processor. The taxes would establish the Medical Marijuana Program Fund. The Pennsylvania Department of Health would use 40 percent of the money for operations and outreach; 30 percent would be used for medical treatment research; 15 percent would go to help medical marijuana patients and caregivers with the costs of background checks or Read more

 

Clean slate legislation would give people a second chance

(Apr 13, 2016)

State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., today joined a bipartisan group of legislators including Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, and Sens. Scott Wagner, R-York, and Anthony Williams, D-Phila., district attorneys, and advocates to introduce first-of-its-kind clean slate legislation that would allow automatic sealing of criminal records in certain cases in Pennsylvania. Read more

 

Bizzarro introduces bill banning payment for serving on boards

(Apr 11, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has introduced legislation that would remove perceived conflicts of interest for public officials and employees serving on corporate or non-profit boards outside of government service. Bizzarro's H.B. 1981 would prohibit public officials and employees from receiving any salary or compensation for serving on a corporate or non-profit board. However, the public official or employee still would be permitted to receive reimbursement for actual expenses that are provided to other board members. "Pennsylvanians whose taxes pay the salaries and other compensation of elected officials and public employees expect those individuals to be responsive to their needs, not to special interests or other private groups," Bizzarro said. "Unfortunately, the growing influence of money in our elections and government has made the wealthiest voices the loudest and the ones with the most influence and access to government officials in Harrisburg. "We, as public servants, have an obligation to our constituents to ensure that we are just as responsive to the needs of Pennsylvanians and their families, as we are to a corporation or special interest group." The bill is introduced as part of a legislative reform package being offered by House Democrats to improve transparency in government and reassure the public that the public officials they elect, and the people they employ, are working in the best Read more

 

Davis: Fixing Harrisburg means ending gifts

(Apr 08, 2016)

Rep. Tina Davis reports that she has introduced legislation that would prohibit public officials and candidates in Pennsylvania from accepting any gift valued at more than $25. “People want reform – I want reform – but the fact is that true reform requires eliminating the gifts special interests lavish on government officials.” Read more

 

DeLuca bills would require public officials, employees to disclose amount of outside pay and limit legislators' outside pay

(Apr 08, 2016)

HARRISBURG, April 8 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, has introduced two bills designed to help restore Pennsylvanians' faith in their state government by requiring legislators to disclose any income received from outside employment and its amount. Current state law only requires elected officials and public employees to disclose the source of any income they've earned from jobs outside of their government position. H.B. 567 also would require them to list the amount earned from the outside work. House Bill 566 would limit all outside pay for state legislators to 35 percent of the base legislative salary. "There is the perception that Harrisburg is broken because it's too indebted to powerful and influential special interests. I believe we contribute to cynicism from Pennsylvania residents when we do not require outside income to be reported," DeLuca said. "The comprehensive financial disclosure and limits of outside income put forth in my bills will help public officials, employees and legislators avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest, while at the same time reassure the public that we are working for them, not the special interests.” DeLuca's income disclosure bill is modeled after a Hawaii law that requires public employees and officials to report a range for each outside source of income. Those ranges would be: $1,000 - $74,999; $75,000 - $99,999; $100,000 - $149,999; $150,000 - Read more

 

Matzie: Bipartisan effort is our only option in ending opioid crisis
Jun 23, 2016

Frankel, Sims hail bipartisan Pa. Senate action on nondiscrimination bill
Jun 22, 2016

Bipartisan effort to pass wine and liquor modernization brings optimism for budget as deadline approaches
Jun 10, 2016

Sturla unveils plan that would generate $245 million annually for state budget and water-related programs
Jun 06, 2016

Snyder: Bill would boost local highway maintenance
Jun 03, 2016

Krueger-Braneky appointed to bipartisan panel to address massive Pa. school construction and renovation 'logjam'
Jun 01, 2016

Sturla to unveil water fee bill to generate $245 million for state at Capitol News Conference Monday at 10:30 a.m.
Jun 01, 2016

Productive budget discussions must include realistic proposals
May 27, 2016

DeLissio appointed to new Pa. Long-Term Care Council
May 26, 2016

Browne and Schlossberg applaud passage of rear-facing car seat bill
May 23, 2016

Legislature must fix the deficit so that we can focus on education
May 20, 2016

Bipartisan brain health/mental health checkup legislation introduced by Miller
May 13, 2016

If we want a better Pennsylvania, we need a budget that will fund it
May 06, 2016

Mullery introduces legislation aimed at helping to reform Harrisburg
May 02, 2016

This version of Harrisburg should be the rule, not the exception
Apr 15, 2016

Sturla lauds House approval of medical marijuana
Apr 13, 2016

Clean slate legislation would give people a second chance
Apr 13, 2016

Bizzarro introduces bill banning payment for serving on boards
Apr 11, 2016

Davis: Fixing Harrisburg means ending gifts
Apr 08, 2016

DeLuca bills would require public officials, employees to disclose amount of outside pay and limit legislators' outside pay
Apr 08, 2016