Harkins bill would set safety rules for public employers

(Apr 28, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, held a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda this morning to introduce legislation he authored in direct response to the workplace accident and death of a Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority employee last fall. H.B. 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, was introduced in memory of Erie resident Jake Schwab, a mechanic with EMTA who lost his life due to a workplace incident in November. As a public transit authority, EMTA is exempted from OSHA regulations, so the details regarding the incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track. "Under my bill, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would have the authority to perform workplace safety inspections and levy fines," Harkins said. "Because this accident was with a public transit authority, a private insurance company handled the investigation and the records are private." The Harkins bill would provide on-the-job safety protection to public employees by establishing Occupational Safety and Health Administration-equivalent safety rules for public employers, including the commonwealth, all legal political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and any nonprofit organizations currently exempt from the OSHA standards. Schwab's widow, Tiffany, expressed her family's support for the legislation, saying," Don't you expect your loved ones to Read more

 

Pa. House OKs Bizzarro bill to protect against elder abuse

(Apr 21, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 21 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, said the state House of Representatives today unanimously passed his legislation to provide extra protection against elder abuse committed by people acting with power of attorney. Read more

 

Bizzarro and Teplitz call for statewide veterans' courts

(Apr 15, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 15 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, and state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin/Perry, today held a joint news conference at the state Capitol to reintroduce their legislation that would establish veterans’ courts statewide. Read more

 

Pashinski, Policy Committee examine education funding in Pa.

(Apr 07, 2015)

WILKES-BARRE, April 7 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from leaders in education, along with state officials, concerning funding for education in Pennsylvania at a hearing requested by state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne. The meeting was held at Wilkes University and focused on Gov. Tom Wolf’s "Schools that Teach" plan, which is part of the governor’s three-step approach to strengthen the commonwealth. Pashinski said the governor’s proposal will not only help restore funding for education in two years, it will also reduce school property taxes by more than 50 percent to homeowners. "The governor’s plan is truly a win-win for the people of Pennsylvania," Pashinski said. "House Democrats and I believe this proposal is a strong investment to provide a solid education and better future for the youth of this commonwealth and connect the economic improvements to a quality education. "Gov. Wolf’s budget also provides property tax relief, which will help rebuild the middle class in this state." Pashinski co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman. "As a former educator, Rep. Pashinski has always been an advocate for quality education," Sturla said. "By initiating this hearing, he is showcasing his strong support in Gov. Wolf’s plan for moving Pennsylvania in an upward and Read more

 

Sims, Conklin: Make Pa. voting easier by making registration automatic

(Apr 07, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 7 – State Reps. Brian Sims, D-Phila., and Scott Conklin, D-Centre, plan to introduce legislation reforming Pennsylvania's voter registration system by instituting automatic registration of all eligible voters, with provisions for opting out. "Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans, but one which many forgo due to the burdens associated with voter registration, and the time and financial costs resulting from going to the polls. As technology continues its rapid advance, legislators must find efficient and less taxing methods for helping the citizens of Pennsylvania to exercise this fundamental right," Sims said. Conklin said, "Under our proposal, the responsibility of voter registration would be passed from eligible voters onto the Pennsylvania Department of State and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Beginning July 1, 2015, the secretary of the commonwealth would initiate a program to automatically register eligible voters whose information is provided to PennDOT for obtaining a driver’s license or non-driver identification card. The Department of State would use the PennDOT data, which includes information on whether a person is a citizen, to register voters. These newly registered voters would then be sent a postcard with information on how to opt out of registration altogether and how to choose a party affiliation. Under our proposal, a newly registered voter would have 21 days to opt out of Read more

 

Democratic Policy Committee examines Patty Kim’s bill to increase Pa.’s minimum wage

(Apr 02, 2015)

Kim’s bill, H.B. 250, would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour after 60 days and then to $10.10 per hour a year later. It also includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment beginning January 1, 2016. Read more

 

Bizzarro introduces measure to curb animal cruelty in Pa.

(Apr 02, 2015)

HARRISBURG, April 2 – State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro, D-Erie, has recently introduced legislation designed to prevent animal cruelty and prohibit convicted animal abusers from further caring for animals they have harmed. Read more

 

Kinsey bill would make academic fraud criminal offense in Pennsylvania

(Mar 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 26 – Perpetrating academic fraud, like what occurred over two decades involving no-show classes at the University of North Carolina, would be criminally punishable in Pennsylvania under a bill proposed by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila. His bill, which will be introduced into the House Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks, would legally define academic fraud as a felony. "When a college or university cheats for its students to keep scholarships or to remain competitive in an athletic arena, it is literally stealing from students and in many cases taxpayers," said Kinsey, D-Phila. "That is a crime, and it’s time we treat it as such." Academic fraud is not currently punishable in criminal courts. Under the proposal, a person would be charged with a third-degree felony if he or she attempted to or helped a student obtain a credit, grade or test score by fraudulent means, or changed a score, grade or credit in exchange for goods or services. A perpetrator involving student athletes would be charged with a second-degree felony if he or she accepted goods or services for teaching a no-show class, steered a student athlete into a no-show class for the sake of athletic eligibility, attempted to or forged a grade or credit, or systematically conducted fraudulent business to ensure a student athlete’s academic eligibility. UNC last year disclosed academic fraud, which is believed to have taken place Read more

 

Schweyer introduces two resolutions to raise awareness for protecting minors

(Mar 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, recently introduced two resolutions he said will bring awareness in April to protecting the Pennsylvania youth. House Resolution 187 will recognize April 18 through 25 as “National Infant Immunization Week” in the commonwealth. “Following a schedule and immunizing early in life is one of the best ways parents can protect their children,” Schweyer said. “Taking these two important steps is so easy and they prevent families from facing potentially deadly consequences. “As a parent and a former health care executive, it goes without saying that I support immunizations. My wife and I have made sure that our children are fully immunized, and we encourage all parents to do the responsible thing when medically possible and vaccinate their children, too.” House Resolution 192 would designate April 2015 as “Alcohol Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Schweyer said this resolution is aimed at keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. “It goes without saying that consumption of alcohol by minors is a dangerous practice,” Schweyer said. “We have a responsibility as a society to remind minors about the dangers of consuming alcohol, while also reminding adults that they have a significant role to play in preventing this behavior.” Schweyer said he is optimistic the House will unanimously Read more

 

Schweyer: Legislation for more liquor licenses to enhance economic development

(Mar 24, 2015)

Often times, our mid-size cities (like Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton) struggle to get new restaurants to locate downtown. One key tool to help entice these businesses into economically disadvantaged areas is the Economic Development Liquor License. Currently, third-class cities (like Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton) may be awarded two economic development licenses per year, per county. But if a county has more than one mid-size city (for example, Lehigh County includes both Allentown and Bethlehem), the cities have to compete with each other for these economic development tools. I introduced legislation recently that would amend the current state liquor code by allowing up to three new liquor licenses per year in these counties instead of two, enhancing the chances for economic development. It also would ensure that no single municipality could be awarded more than two of these economic development licenses. I believe this would ensure that every city has the ability to entice good restaurants to their economically disadvantaged areas and help kick start their economic recovery. Job creation, economic revitalization and community development are certainly priorities of mine – and the state should partner with the private sector and our local municipalities. If passed, this would be a small change to the liquor code, but it could have a big impact on cities struggling to find new investors in their under-developed sections. Read more

 

Harkins, Policy Committee examine commonwealth’s commitment to education funding

(Mar 24, 2015)

ERIE, March 23 – Requested by state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today on Gov. Tom Wolf’s education funding proposal to collect input from local school superintendents and a fair education funding advocate. “House Democrats and I believe the key to a better future starts with a solid education that requires a stronger investment from the state,” Harkins said. “Hearing the testimonies of our local superintendents brings the need for, not only more funding, but also a fair funding formula into clear focus.” Harkins co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as House Democratic Policy Committee chairman. Sturla added, “Representative Harkins has been a strong advocate for education investment and he recognizes that Schools that Teach is a critical part of Governor Wolf’s plan for moving Pennsylvania in an upward and positive direction. I thank him for hosting this important hearing today.” The hearing was held at Erie's nationally recognized Barber National Institute, which Harkins said is a leader in providing educational support for children and adults dealing with developmental or mental disabilities, as well as those on the autism spectrum and others dealing with hearing disabilities. Those testifying included: Jay Badams, superintendent, Erie School District; Shane Murray, superintendent, Iroquois School District; Read more

 

Schweyer, Policy Committee examine commonwealth’s job market, ways to make state economically competitive (with video)

(Mar 19, 2015)

ALLENTOWN, March 19 – The House Democratic Policy Committee today heard from leaders in the business, labor and job-training industries, along with state officials, concerning Pennsylvania’s economy at a hearing requested by state Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh. The meeting focused on creating a competitive job market, specifically with regard to the manufacturing sector. “House Democrats are leading the way in developing policies that will help create family-sustaining, private-sector jobs,” Schweyer said. “Today’s conversation with leaders in business and labor was incredibly informative and will prove to be most helpful in the coming months.” The hearing was held at Allentown Economic Development Corp., located in the 22 nd Legislative District represented by Schweyer and based in a former Mack Trucks assembly plant transformed into a manufacturing-focused business incubator. "We are happy that Representative Schweyer asked AEDC to host the committee hearing at Bridgeworks Enterprise Center and that he is taking a deep interest in the creation of manufacturing jobs in Allentown,” said R. Scott Unger, AEDC executive director. “These types of jobs provide livable wages to Allentown families that are typically higher than service-sector wages in the city." Schweyer co-chaired the hearing with state Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, who serves as Democratic House Policy Committee chairman. “I commend Read more

 

Conklin to lead Children and Youth Committee

(Mar 13, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 13 – Centre County state Rep. Scott Conklin has been appointed to serve as the Democratic chairman of the Children and Youth Committee in the House of Representatives. “I’m honored and very excited to take on this job and contribute to the success of Governor Tom Wolf’s ambitious agenda to improve the lives of children,” Conklin said. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said Conklin was a natural choice to lead the committee’s Democrats. “With his background as a former county commissioner, Representative Conklin is very familiar with how children and youth services are delivered through county agencies,” Dermody said. “Scott also was part of the concentrated and successful effort to improve Pennsylvania’s child protection laws in the last three years.” Conklin will work with the committee’s majority chairperson, Rep. Katharine Watson of Bucks County. “This House committee is known for the ability of members to put partisan differences aside and work productively for the protection and benefit of children,” Conklin said. “I look forward to continuing that tradition.” Conklin was first elected to the House in 2006 and currently is serving his fifth term. Read more

 

Rozzi announces career technical center’s ‘out of this world’ opportunity

(Mar 06, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 6 — State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, today announced the Reading Muhlenberg Career Technology Center will be involved with making parts for the international space station. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is partnering with the Reading Muhlenberg CTC Shop to machine parts for use by space station astronauts. John Keck, liaison between NASA and the local career and technology center, will visit Reading Muhlenberg CTC at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 10 to examine students’ progress. Read more

 

Wolf budget would improve environmental protection

(Mar 05, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali commended Gov. Tom Wolf on proposing a budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that would increase environmental protection and invest in renewable energy and conservation. “Considering the difficult fiscal challenges the Commonwealth faces, Pennsylvania’s environment fares very well in this budget,” said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. The proposed budget increases state funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection by 5.6 percent to $147 million. The Department received about $200 million in state funding in fiscal year 2007-08 and has been cut most years since then. The budget also would provide an additional 50 oil and gas inspectors to DEP, with funding coming from a severance tax proposed by the governor, according to Vitali. Wolf’s budget increases funding for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by 10 percent, from $137 million to $151 million. Unfortunately, Vitali said, $117 million of this amount would come from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which receives its revenues from gas drilling on public land. The other $34 million would come from the General Fund. “Funding so much of DCNR with Oil and Gas Lease Fund money is a big problem because this money should be used for conservation purposes only,” Vitali said. Wind, solar and energy efficiency Read more

 

Freeman introduces bill to encourage student success through peer tutoring

(Mar 04, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 4 – State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation to create a tutoring program where 11th- and 12th-graders could tutor elementary school-aged children for academic credit. "This proposal could be a valuable resource for every one of Pennsylvania's school districts, not only because it is designed to boost student achievement at little-to-no cost to taxpayers, but also because it would get students to succeed by helping each other," Freeman said. "The one-on-one tutoring can help both sets of students. High school students serve as positive role models for the younger students who receive help with their studies. While the older students receive academic credit for helping the young students to achieve, they also hone their own understanding of academic subjects by taking on the responsibilities of being a tutor." Freeman's plan also includes a provision that would encourage 11th- and 12th-grade students who are not meeting their academic potential to participate as tutors. He said that students who become tutors improve their own academic performance because they begin to take their own studies more seriously in order to help the young students they are tutoring. "Helping someone by sharing your expertise, can, in turn, bring out the best in yourself. That's a wonderful gift to share with others," Freeman said. The bill (H.B. 723) is expected to be referred to the House Read more

 

Schlossberg joins colleagues and health experts to support bipartisan vaccine proposal at Capitol news conference

(Mar 02, 2015)

Legislators, experts and advocates today spoke in support of legislation that would limit the types of immunization exemptions granted in Pennsylvania, during a Capitol news conference hosted by state Reps. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Becky Corbin, R-Chester. At the news conference, Schlossberg explained that currently the state allows three exemptions for childhood immunization – medical, religious and philosophical. Schlossberg's and Corbin's legislation, which they intend to introduce shortly, would eliminate philosophical immunization exemptions, currently the most common type granted in the state. Read more

 

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs

(Feb 26, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton has introduced two bills to help small towns. The first bill (H.B. 659) would let communities extend their participation in the Main Street Program for up to five years. The second bill (H.B. 660) would make more small cities eligible for the state's City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program. "Our small towns and cities face many of the same challenges of larger, urban areas, but sometimes they get overlooked," Freeman said. "My legislation would help ensure their success by assisting them with downtown revitalization and stimulating economic development and job creation." The state's Main Street Program provides grants to help revitalize downtown districts and pay for a full-time Main Street manager who works with local officials and merchants to implement a downtown revitalization plan. Current involvement in the program is limited to five years. Freeman's bill would provide administrative support funding for up to an additional five years with approval by the Department of Community and Economic Development, which funds the program. "Unfortunately, we have seen in numerous cases that the current five-year time frame to turn around a traditional downtown is too short. A community just begins to see the progress brought on by Main Street initiatives only to see the plug pulled prematurely, often causing the downtown's success to suffer," Freeman Read more

 

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions

(Feb 19, 2015)

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

 

Mullery looks to close loophole in DUI law

(Feb 19, 2015)

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

 

Harkins bill would set safety rules for public employers
Apr 28, 2015

Pa. House OKs Bizzarro bill to protect against elder abuse
Apr 21, 2015

Bizzarro and Teplitz call for statewide veterans' courts
Apr 15, 2015

Pashinski, Policy Committee examine education funding in Pa.
Apr 07, 2015

Sims, Conklin: Make Pa. voting easier by making registration automatic
Apr 07, 2015

Democratic Policy Committee examines Patty Kim’s bill to increase Pa.’s minimum wage
Apr 02, 2015

Bizzarro introduces measure to curb animal cruelty in Pa.
Apr 02, 2015

Kinsey bill would make academic fraud criminal offense in Pennsylvania
Mar 26, 2015

Schweyer introduces two resolutions to raise awareness for protecting minors
Mar 26, 2015

Schweyer: Legislation for more liquor licenses to enhance economic development
Mar 24, 2015

Harkins, Policy Committee examine commonwealth’s commitment to education funding
Mar 24, 2015

Schweyer, Policy Committee examine commonwealth’s job market, ways to make state economically competitive (with video)
Mar 19, 2015

Conklin to lead Children and Youth Committee
Mar 13, 2015

Rozzi announces career technical center’s ‘out of this world’ opportunity
Mar 06, 2015

Wolf budget would improve environmental protection
Mar 05, 2015

Freeman introduces bill to encourage student success through peer tutoring
Mar 04, 2015

Schlossberg joins colleagues and health experts to support bipartisan vaccine proposal at Capitol news conference
Mar 02, 2015

Freeman introduces bills to expand participation in Main Street, CRIZ programs
Feb 26, 2015

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

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