Featured News

Howard joins in announcing new state task force to strengthen juvenile justice system

Briggs introduces legislation to reduce polystyrene pollution

(Mar 18, 2019)

KING OF PRUSSIA, March 18 – State Rep. Tim Briggs introduced legislation to reduce the amount of polystyrene material that pollutes the environment. House Bill 627 would prohibit food establishments from using single-use polystyrene containers (solid or foam) to dispense prepared foods. “We’ve all seen takeout cups and containers littering the sides of our roadways. Polystyrene can take hundreds of years to decompose, and in the meantime it clogs our local waterways and poses a threat to birds and marine life,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “My legislation would mean less of this material ends up in our waterways and in our landfills, and it would help us to reduce our overall impact on the world around us.” Briggs introduced similar legislation last session. In the fall, he joined environmental groups to announce 15,000 signatures were collected on a petition supporting the ban. Microplastics – tiny particles often resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic materials – have been found in birds and fish, and last year, were found in human stool samples for the first time, leading to questions about the impact on human health. “Every day, we are reminded that our disposable society is creating a growing waste problem. It’s time to change the way we live and think,” Briggs said. “We have to do everything we can to keep our air and water clean, and that includes encouraging the use of materials Read more

 

Petrarca’s bill to stabilize fund dedicated to organ and tissue donation

(Mar 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 18 – Ensuring the stability of the state’s fund to promote organ and tissue donation is the goal behind a measure that was unanimously approved by the House Transportation Committee, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. Petrarca’s bill would address an oversight in the Senate bill that created Act 90 of 2018, which increased the voluntary contribution amount to the Robert F. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund from $1 to $3. This voluntary checkoff is included on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms. However, Petrarca said the act didn’t take into account recent changes to the state’s Vehicle Code allowing for biennial vehicle registrations. “Pennsylvania has been a leader in promoting organ and tissue donation,” Petrarca said. “Unfortunately, the fund itself has had significant financial challenges in recent years. My legislation would consider biennial registrations and increase the voluntary checkoff contribution for those registrations from $3 to $6 in an effort to stabilize this valuable fund.” In addition to promoting organ and tissue donation, the fund also pays for the funeral expenses of donors and provides grants toward the development and implementation of programs to encourage donation. House Bill 30 will now head to the House for further consideration. Read more

 

Otten bill offsetting Turnpike expansion with more green space passes House

(Mar 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 18 – The state House of Representatives last week passed Rep. Danielle Friel Otten’s bill to allow Marsh Creek State Park to release a parcel of land adjacent to the Turnpike in exchange for land that would expand the park’s trail network and protect local wetlands and wildlife habitat. The land along the turnpike, consisting primarily of rock and road berm, was originally purchased with public Project 70 funds, so it cannot be sold or transferred unless it’s replaced with land of an equal or greater value. H.B. 387 would release that strip of land from Project 70 restrictions but transfer Project 70 protections to the new larger wooded, wetland parcel to be acquired by the park. “Under this plan, we’re showing that development doesn’t have to cost the county’s beautiful and important natural spaces,” said Otten, D-Chester. “This is a win for conservation, Chester County residents, and all Pennsylvanians.” The new parcel is part of a larger, 57-acre land preservation project coordinated among the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Lands Trust, and the Turnpike Commission. The parcel of land released under the bill would allow the Turnpike Commission to widen the road. The bill now awaits consideration in the state Senate. Read more

 

One Fair Wage means a better life for millions of working Pennsylvanians

(Mar 18, 2019)

It’s time to give hard-working Pennsylvanians their first pay raise in more than 10 years. Many of the men and women in Pennsylvania we entrust with taking care of the people most important to us -- our infants and small children while we work, our older family members, our loved ones with physical and cognitive disabilities -- don't earn enough to raise their own families. These working Pennsylvanians make tremendous sacrifices every day to support our families; we need to show them that we support theirs. Our One Fair Wage proposal makes sure the working people who watch our children, clean our homes and hotel rooms, prepare and serve our food, and even care for our parents and grandparents earn a wage allowing them to support themselves and their families. When we raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $12 per hour, guarantee it’s raised annually until it reaches $15 an hour, and tie future raises to the actual cost of food, rent and medicine we make sure workers don’t fall behind again, and also make sure workers can afford to be customers, growing a stronger economy for everyone. And, for the first time in our state’s history, One Fair Wage would set the tipped wage at the same level as the minimum wage. Right now the tipped wage is – and we’re serious -- $2.83 per hour. After taxes, that’s a take-home pay of about $80 a week. The tipped wage has created a system of unfair pay that hurts women and people of Read more

 

Burgos appointed to serve on Governor’s Census Commission

(Mar 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 15 -- State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., was appointed to serve on the Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission as Pennsylvania prepares for the 2020 census. Gov. Tom Wolf formed the commission to make sure Pennsylvania is taking the appropriate steps to achieve a complete and accurate count of the population. Burgos said that the commission will be making recommendations on methods and policies that will help make the 2020 census more accurate and easier to achieve. “I am looking forward to working with, and facilitating the most complete and accurate census count in 2020. Including implementing strategies to reach hard-to-count populations and hard-to-enumerate areas,” Burgos said. “This is an important appointment as the commonwealth prepares for the census next year. We need all people to be counted, from our biggest cities to our small and rural communities Pennsylvania may suffer deep consequences if the population is miscounted. “From losing seats in Congress to receiving billions of dollars less in federal funds for a variety of services and programs, there is a lot at stake. It is why the work of this commission is so important, and why it is an honor for me to be chosen for this important work,” he said. Some of the organizations joining Burgos on the commission are the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Service Employees International Union and the NAACP. Burgos was appointed Read more

 

Rabb to reignite effort to reform special elections for Pa. legislature

(Mar 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 12 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., announced today that he plans to re-introduce legislation to reform the special election nomination process for the Pennsylvania legislature. “Far too often, special elections across the commonwealth fail to honor our participatory democracy, where the people, not a political party, are supposed to be in charge of choosing a candidate,” Rabb explained. “My bill aims to prevent nominees from being hand-picked, putting the responsibility solely in the hands of voters, and restore public faith in the special election process for senators and representatives in the General Assembly.” Under Rabb's bill , people interested in running in a special election would be required to: File their candidacy with the political party in each county of the legislative district. Pay a modest filing fee. Prepare, or publicly opt out of preparing, a short video announcing their candidacy, which would be posted on the Department of State's website and made available to the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Rabb's bill also would require political parties to advertise and hold a public meeting to consider each person who seeks nomination as a candidate in a special election. “The whole point of an election is to choose the best person fit to serve, period,” Rabb said. “Instead, current special election rules favor a process that deters a wide variety of candidates from Read more

 

Hohenstein, Policy Committee talk mental health in substance use treatment and recovery

(Mar 06, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Friends Hospital that focused on the role of mental health in substance use disorder treatment and recovery. Hohenstein and colleagues from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, heard testimony from local officials and advocates on how they can work together to provide better treatment to those with substance abuse problems. The conversation included ways the legislature can help pave a path to provide better assistance to successful long-term recovery. “The stigma associated with mental health is often a major challenge to overcome. That can start a difficult spiral leading to substance abuse issues. I’d like to thank Chairman Sturla and my colleagues for having this conversation that will ultimately help our friends and family seek the help they need,” Hohenstein said. Sturla added, “Any time we can come together to help people know that we can empathize with what they’re going through, I think is helpful. People don’t look at a cancer patient and say, ‘You’ve had 30 days of treatment, we can’t do anything more for you right now,’ and we need to stop doing that with substance abuse issues.” The committee heard testimony from Lynn Kovich, deputy secretary for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pennsylvania Department of Human Read more

 

Kenyatta, Burgos discuss eliminating toxic poverty at Policy Committee hearing

(Mar 05, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, March 5 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Danilo Burgos, both D-Phila., hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing to discuss the health impacts of deep poverty and how to reverse the trend. The freshmen legislators brought together legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and local officials and advocates to discuss how they can work together to create better opportunities to break the cycle of toxic poverty. “Poverty is a public health crisis and we must address it as such. Toxic poverty systemically diminishes educational opportunities for our kids and in communities hardest hit,” Kenyatta said. “Securing a family sustained job that can build generational wealth and lift folks out of this cycle is too often out of reach. Today’s discussion further emphasized that eradicating poverty is the moral and economic issue of our time and brought light to how we can work together to invest our resources in educating our communities, children and adults, and reduce the need for correctional and unnecessary medical costs.” “The poverty cycle is hard on families. It’s a depressing cycle that is difficult to overcome,” Burgos said. “If we can work together as a community to empower people, address the mental and physical toll poverty takes on individuals and help lift them up, we can make real change that improves life for Read more

 

Kenyatta introduces bill to strengthen protections against cyberattacks

(Mar 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 4 – With the ongoing attempts of cyberattacks targeting Pennsylvanians, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., has introduced legislation that would help protect the commonwealth’s cyber infrastructure. “From email and phone scams to personal data breaches, it is unconscionable the number of attempted cyberattacks occurring in Pennsylvania. With everyone constantly connected on their phones, computers and other electronic devices, the amount of potential attacks will only increase,” Kenyatta said. “We have to protect Pennsylvanians’ personal information and the creation of the Cybersecurity Innovation Commission would do just that.” House Bill 225 would create a Cybersecurity Innovation Commission to safeguard Pennsylvania’s data by conducting cybersecurity audits, improving security and privacy standards and analyzing the protocols. The commission also would work with businesses to make sure they are up-to-date on the newest technology. During recent House Appropriations Committee budget hearings, officials with the Governor’s Office of Administration testified that while they follow national federal guidelines and best practices to defend the commonwealth against cyberattacks, they still have seen an increase in the number of threats, with 18 billion in 2018. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Pennsylvania ranks 18th in the nation for the amount of identity theft cases. Read more

 

Schlossberg, Policy Committee discuss voting rights at public roundtable

(Feb 26, 2019)

ALLENTOWN, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion at the Dubbs Memorial Community Center on protecting voting rights in Pennsylvania. The roundtable focused on a new legislative package from the House Democrats titled Your Vote Counts. The package includes provisions that would allow for early voting, additional time for absentee ballots to be submitted, time off to vote, and mail-in ballots. Schlossberg has a bill in the package that would allow voters to submit an updated signature for the voting book. Schlossberg was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “We have an obligation to make the voting process accessible and free from undue hardships. Any efforts to obstruct democracy have to be dealt with. This package includes reasonable efforts to make voting more accessible in Pennsylvania,” Schlossberg said. Sturla added: “Pennsylvania had record voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election; 58 percent of registered voters cast their ballot. While it’s great to know that a record number of voters showed up for the midterm elections; I’d love to see all registered voters have their voices heard at the polls. Your Vote Counts is a way to improve voter turnout and help more Pennsylvanians take part in democracy.” Panelists who participated in the roundtable were Rev. Dr. Read more

 

McClinton announces appointment of deputy caucus chairs

(Feb 26, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 26 – House Democratic Caucus Chair Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced the appointment of four legislators to serve in the newly-created role of deputy caucus chair for the 2019-2020 legislative session. The newly appointed deputy caucus chairs are: State Rep. Morgan Cephas, Philadelphia County State Rep. Ed Gainey, Allegheny County State Rep. Frank Burns, Cambria County State Rep. Michael Schlossberg, Lehigh County “As the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the House Democratic Caucus chair, I am committed to ensuring that our new members have the information and mentorship they need to best serve their communities. I also know it is equally important to work hand-in-hand with our experienced members to better meet the needs of all of our constituents. For those reasons, I’m grateful to be joined in this effort by four deputy caucus chairs who represent a cross-section of our caucus in terms of gender, race and geographic location,” McClinton said. In their new roles, the deputy caucus chairs will work closely with the 24 new members of the House Democratic Caucus to provide peer mentoring in areas such as messaging, legislative goals, district office outreach and constituent services. The deputy caucus chairs will also work with McClinton to prepare special informational presentations for legislators and to encourage all members to routinely attend daily caucus meetings Read more

 

Fiedler introduces net neutrality bill to protect consumers (with video)

(Feb 22, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., this week introduced legislation that would protect Pennsylvanians’ internet use. House Bill 544 would make it illegal for internet service providers to block lawful internet content, impair internet traffic or engage in any other activities that negatively affect the web experience of Pennsylvania residents. “Most people get their internet access from a handful of big companies, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Under current law, the company you pay for your internet service could prevent you from going to a competitor’s website, interfere with speech that criticizes the company, or even block your access to a union website during a labor conflict at work,” Fiedler said. “We rely on the internet for so much of our communication with work, school, government and family, and for financial transactions including purchases and bill paying. We need to protect our equal access to information on the internet. In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle the rules of net neutrality, which is the expectation that the company people pay for internet service will treat all data on the internet equally. House Bill 544 was referred to the House Consumer Affairs Committee. Read more

 

Briggs appointed to PASSHE Board of Governors

(Feb 22, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, announced today that he has been appointed to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors by House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “As a proud graduate of West Chester University serving on the PASSHE Board of Governors is a great honor and an incredible responsibility. I thank Leader Dermody for this opportunity to support and strengthen our state’s institutions of higher education,” Briggs said. “As a Board member, my top priority is ensuring Pennsylvania’s students have access to quality higher education opportunities at a reasonable cost.” The 20-member Board of Governors is responsible for planning and coordinating development and operation of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. The Board establishes broad educational, fiscal, and personnel policies, and oversees the efficient management of the State System. Among other tasks, the Board appoints the chancellor and university presidents, approves new academic programs, sets tuition, and coordinates and approves the annual State System operating budget. “PASSHE Universities provide quality higher education to over 100,000 students at 14 campuses statewide, at an often more affordable cost than other state-related intuitions,” Briggs said. “At the same time, the system has seen declining enrollment while struggling to Read more

 

Legalization of General Adult-Use Cannabis in PA

(Feb 14, 2019)

Let us know what you think. Take this survey. Read more

 

House Democrats fight to protect your right to work without fear

(Feb 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – To better protect workers, independent contractors and even volunteers at businesses of all sizes, House Democratic lawmakers announced new proposals today to help end workplace discrimination and harassment. The “Work Without Fear – It’s Your Right” plan is designed to give people the tools they need to protect themselves and their coworkers while also helping companies make sure everyone knows the rules. The plan includes: The PA Fairness Act – sponsored by Rep. Dan Frankel, Allegheny County – finally brings Pennsylvania into line with surrounding states by making sure nobody can be fired from a job or denied housing because of who they are or who they love. Until now, we’ve been counting on individual counties and cities to do the right thing and people and our economy has suffered. Give Victims Time for Justice – sponsored by Rep. Margo Davidson, Delaware County, and Rep Mary Isaacson, Philadelphia – gives victims the power to choose when to seek justice and guarantees them a right to trial by jury to seek damages by extending the timeline to file a complaint beyond the current 180 days. Ignorance is No Excuse – sponsored by Rep. Melissa Shusterman, Chester & Montgomery counties, makes sure workers and employers have the facts by requiring Employment Fair Practices notices posted in the workplace to include clear descriptions and examples of abuse so everyone is on the Read more

 

House Democrats fight for healthy people and a stronger economy

(Feb 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – To make sure attacks on healthcare coverage don’t hurt Pennsylvania’s working families, a group of House Democratic lawmakers are introducing a package of proposals to make sure people can always afford to see a doctor when they get sick. The “Healthy People, Stronger Economy” plan protects consumers even if special interests are able to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The plan contains four bills putting people first, including: Protecting Your Coverage, Protecting Your Health – sponsored by Reps. Tony DeLuca and Dan Frankel, both of Allegheny County – recognizes that a consumer paying for an insurance plan that doesn't cover items as basic as hospitalization and emergency services has insurance that is almost worse than having no insurance at all. The bill guarantees all insurance plans sold in the state cover 10 essential benefits: emergency services; hospitalization; prescription drugs; maternity & newborn care; mental health & substance abuse disorder services; prescription drugs; rehabilitation; laboratory services to aid in diagnosis and treatment; chronic disease management; ambulatory patient services pediatric services, including oral and vision care. “If the Federal Health Care Reform law is ever abolished by the United States Supreme Court or the Congress, you could be left with health insurance policies that don’t cover the essential services Read more

 

House Democratic leadership statement on Wolf budget plan

(Feb 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – House Democratic leaders responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019-20 budget proposal presented today. “We support the governor’s plan to make Pennsylvania a national leader in education and workforce development without raising taxes on working people. He is beginning this year’s budget talks with a responsible framework for the budget hearings and bipartisan discussions yet to come. “House Democrats have a Plan For Pennsylvania that closely tracks many of Governor Wolf’s priorities. It’s about having quality schools, good jobs for workers, affordable health care and fairer treatment of all Pennsylvanians in their daily lives. We are fighting for families all across the state. “We are especially pleased that the governor continues to address the need to fix our criminal justice system. His vocal support for fairer justice means a lot. “House Democrats share many of the governor’s ideas and look forward to working with him and with our Republican colleagues to deliver a balanced budget that will continue the substantial progress Pennsylvania has made in recent years.” Read more

 

Why are PA House Democrats focusing on economic security for working families?

(Feb 04, 2019)

Many Americans have become discouraged with today’s politics of personal destruction and the influence of big money in campaigns. They are looking for something different. People want to vote for candidates up and down the ballot who will stand up for their ideals and fight for their interests. In 2018, more than 120 candidates for the General Assembly embraced the We The People – Pennsylvania policy agenda. Inspired by public meetings with everyday Pennsylvanians from across the state and drawing on the best policy research, We The People – PA created a policy agenda that should serve as a roadmap for legislators like my colleagues and me. Pennsylvania House Democrats are proud to support the We The People campaign – and in doing so we join a national effort this week led by the State Innovation Exchange to fight for working families across the country. By talking with voters, the We The People – PA campaign learned that, regardless of where we come from, what we look like, how we call our family or how we work to make ends meet, we have a common vision of what a state government that works for us would look like. We deserve a government that offers a path to prosperity that will work for all of us, not just the wealthiest 1 percent. Prosperity for all comes from raising wages and benefits so that working people and the middle class can afford to buy more from our businesses. It comes from making sure families can secure the basic Read more

 

PLBC hosts Black History Month event at state Capitol

(Feb 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – In commemorating Black History Month, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus hosted an event in the Main Capitol Rotunda. This year’s theme was “Black Migrations,” observing the movement of people from African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. “The African-Americans who embarked on the journey of migration were all trailblazers in their own right. They broke culture barriers while facing extreme prejudice and economic, political and social challenges,” said Rep. Stephen Kinsey, PLBC chairman. “The program provided us with the opportunity to not only celebrate the achievements our ancestors pursued that ultimately laid a foundation in our history, but also to remember the struggles they endured; for these struggles continue to plague people of color in today’s society.” “The Great Migration changed the course of the lives of many African-Americans and their children. Some families attained success, others found that racial injustices and disparities weren't limited to the south,” said Rep. Donna Bullock, PLBC vice chairman. “Through Black History Month programs, like our showcase at the state Capitol, we have a responsibility to honor our ancestors' journey, celebrate our achievements, defend democracy and fight injustices everywhere.” The program also included speaker Dr. Chieke E. Ihejirika, professor at Lincoln Read more

 

PA legislators work for open, honest government

(Jan 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – A bipartisan group of legislators is fighting to put people first by changing the way the House of Representatives operates to make it more transparent and accountable to the people instead of the special interests. The legislators are offering several reforms to the House rules after they were not given an opportunity on opening day of the House's 2019-20 session to consider proposed changes to current rules that often prevent substantive debate on important issues, require lawmakers to vote on measures with little or no notice, sideline important legislation with so-called “poison pill” amendments to change the original intent, and allow widely popular legislation to languish in committee. According to the lawmakers, people believe their government is broken and that special interests matter more than regular citizens. They said their plan would reassure Pennsylvanians that they have an opportunity to be heard and that the will of the people, not the demands of the special interests, become the laws of the state. The proposed rules reforms the legislators are fighting for include: Ensuring votes are taken in committee on popular bills (Reps. Pam DeLissio, Joe Webster). Giving citizens more time to offer input on House Rules by making the rules adopted on January 1st temporary for 75 days and creating a special committee to study, gather public comment and recommend changes to be voted on and approved by the full Read more

 

Briggs introduces legislation to reduce polystyrene pollution
Mar 18, 2019

Petrarca’s bill to stabilize fund dedicated to organ and tissue donation
Mar 18, 2019

Otten bill offsetting Turnpike expansion with more green space passes House
Mar 18, 2019

One Fair Wage means a better life for millions of working Pennsylvanians
Mar 18, 2019

Burgos appointed to serve on Governor’s Census Commission
Mar 15, 2019

Rabb to reignite effort to reform special elections for Pa. legislature
Mar 12, 2019

Hohenstein, Policy Committee talk mental health in substance use treatment and recovery
Mar 06, 2019

Kenyatta, Burgos discuss eliminating toxic poverty at Policy Committee hearing
Mar 05, 2019

Kenyatta introduces bill to strengthen protections against cyberattacks
Mar 04, 2019

Schlossberg, Policy Committee discuss voting rights at public roundtable
Feb 26, 2019

McClinton announces appointment of deputy caucus chairs
Feb 26, 2019

Fiedler introduces net neutrality bill to protect consumers (with video)
Feb 22, 2019

Briggs appointed to PASSHE Board of Governors
Feb 22, 2019

Legalization of General Adult-Use Cannabis in PA
Feb 14, 2019

House Democrats fight to protect your right to work without fear
Feb 11, 2019

House Democrats fight for healthy people and a stronger economy
Feb 08, 2019

House Democratic leadership statement on Wolf budget plan
Feb 05, 2019

Why are PA House Democrats focusing on economic security for working families?
Feb 04, 2019

PLBC hosts Black History Month event at state Capitol
Feb 04, 2019

PA legislators work for open, honest government
Jan 29, 2019