More rape kits would be tested under Schlossberg bill

(Jun 05, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – Victims of rape would be able to have their rape kits tested anonymously and without a police report, under legislation introduced by state Rep. Mike Schlossberg. Read more

 

Charlton, Solomon Bill to Establish Commission to Plan America’s 250th Birthday Passes Senate

(Jun 05, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Alex Charlton, R-Delaware, and Jared Solomon, D-Phila., today announced their bill to establish the Pennsylvania Semiquincentennial Commission passed the Senate. “It’s extremely important for us to recognize Pennsylvania’s integral role in the founding of the United States,” Charlton said. “The semiquincentennial in 2026 is a chance for all Pennsylvanians to engage in a shared undertaking of national unity, as well as remembering the Pennsylvanians who had an enormous impact in the past, present and future of our great nation.” House Bill 1793 would establish a commission to plan, encourage, develop and coordinate the commemoration of the 250 th anniversary of the founding of the United States. The commission would submit a comprehensive report that includes the specific recommendations of the commission to the governor and the General Assembly by September 2018. “By our Commonwealth playing host to the nation’s 250 th birthday, we hope for an extensive, expansive, and exciting dialogue in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, a dialogue that brings together all Pennsylvanians and all state and local governments to plan how we welcome the world to our state for this yearlong celebration,” Solomon said. “I thank Rep. Charlton for his leadership and partnership on this bill, and I look forward to exploring together what infrastructure investments are needed throughout our Read more

 

Frankel, Sims: Supreme Court ruling shows need for Pa. Fairness Act

(Jun 04, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Leading pro-LGBT legislators in Harrisburg say today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a discrimination case shows the need to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The bipartisan legislation ( H.B. 1410 / S.B. 613 ) would include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the types of discrimination banned statewide in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. "This is about much more than cake – this is about people being denied a job or a place to live just because of who they are. That's still legal in much of Pennsylvania, it's wrong and it's time to fix it," said state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the legislature. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first out LGBT person elected to the legislature, said, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision appears to be narrow, based in large part on comments made by some Colorado officials. The door is still wide open for states to protect their LGBT residents and visitors, and Pennsylvania should act. The people are ahead of the legislature: Polls have shown consistent 70-percent support for this in Pennsylvania for eight years. The Fairness Act has bipartisan support in the legislature, and there should be hearings and votes on it." Frankel, lead House sponsor of the bill, said, "Many Pennsylvanians are stunned when they learn state or federal law doesn't already protect LGBT people in the Read more

 

Matzie commends gaming board’s swift regulatory response on sports betting

(May 30, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 30 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today commended the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on its swift action in approving temporary regulations that will move the commonwealth one step closer to offering sports betting. In a May 16 letter, Matzie urged the board to act quickly so that Pennsylvania – which already is positioned to offer sports betting – can compete with neighboring states also gearing up to offer such betting. “I applaud the gaming board’s swift action,” Matzie said. “We called on the board just two weeks ago to act as quickly as possible in approving temporary regulations so the state could take advantage of legislation already in place. This was the intent of my letter: get the ball rolling sooner rather than later, so that the commonwealth can benefit from this billion-dollar industry. The board heard us and rose to the occasion.” Last year, Matzie worked to ensure that language from his sports-betting bill was included in gaming legislation signed by the governor so that Pennsylvania would be competitively positioned to offer sports betting if and when it became legal. That happened earlier this month, when a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for states to offer sports betting. Days later, Matzie wrote the board, warning that neighboring states New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Delaware were also moving quickly to offer sports betting and that Read more

 

PLBC applauds PIAA vote to change headgear policy

(May 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris and state Sen. Shariff Street, both D-Phila., applauded the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s vote to change its policy on headgear following protest from the Muslim community. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with Street and members of the PLBC, joined the protest after 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King was excluded from participating in a basketball game because she refused to remove her hijab. Harris said, “I applaud the PIAA for protecting the rights of children of all faiths in this commonwealth to participate in athletic events while maintaining their religious and cultural identities. I thank my colleague Senator Street for taking the lead on this issue on behalf of the Black Caucus. Additionally, I thank members of the Muslim community and of all faiths for standing up against this injustice, but lastly, and most importantly, I thank young Ms. Nasihah Thompson-King for the strength of her convictions." Street said, “The PIAA’s historic decision to remove guidelines that unduly burden the free exercise of religion for student athletes is in compliance with the law, morally sound and victory for American values, the foundation of which was established here in Philadelphia in our great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The collective action of my colleagues, the Muslim community and, most importantly, the courage of Nasihah Read more

 

Matzie warns against shuttering power plants at Nuclear Energy Caucus meeting

(May 23, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – Premature closure of the state’s five nuclear power plants would bring severe consequences, both for the state’s working families and its ability to meet residents’ energy needs, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, warned today at a meeting of the House Nuclear Energy Caucus at the state Capitol. As co-chairman of the caucus, Matzie, who called for today’s meeting, reiterated concerns that doing away with an essential industry would cut off critical jobs and jeopardize energy security for residents of southwestern Pennsylvania. “Job retention is more important than job creation,” Matzie said. “These are people who have put down roots – they work in the community – they coach Little League – they give back to their communities. Without the benefit of a large employer that has the ability to give back to the people who work so hard in those plants, it’s only going to get worse.” In addition to job retention, Matzie said shuttering the nuclear plants would severely impact Pennsylvania’s energy security. “Energy security is the term we use, but to the folks out there what that means is that, when you flip the switch, the light comes on. The heat works in the winter and the AC works in the summer.” Matzie asked panelist Kris Anderson, a representative from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, what would have happened if the state Read more

 

House committee advances Solomon-Mehaffie bill to assist parents with child care decisions

(May 23, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 23 – The House Children and Youth Committee today advanced bipartisan legislation, co-authored by state Reps. Thomas Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) and Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), which would help parents and caregivers with the difficult decision of which child care to send their children. House Bill 1742 would require all state-licensed child care centers to post their Keystone STARS rating in a prominent location, on their websites and in informational enrollment materials given to parents. “Parents are faced with dozens of decisions every day that impact the well-being of their child, their family and their family’s future,” Mehaffie said. “With this bill, we hope to make one of the more daunting choices a little easier by putting each facility’s quality rating front and center.” The Keystone STARS program, operated by the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning, sets quality requirements for early childhood educators based on a four-star rating system. All licensed child care centers that meet the state’s health and safety requirements are required to be part of the Keystone STARS system. The Keystone STARS performance standards are grouped into four levels. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, early learning programs, partnerships with family and the community, and leadership and management. The lawmakers added that they hope the new display requirements Read more

 

Matzie urges gaming board to act quickly in issuing sports betting regulations

(May 17, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 17 – Calling the timing critical, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, is urging the state Gaming Control Board to act quickly in issuing the regulations needed to implement sports betting provisions in Pennsylvania’s gaming law. Read more

 

Matzie: Supreme Court clears the way for sports betting in state’s casinos

(May 14, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 14 – A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will clear the way for Pennsylvania’s casinos to offer sports betting, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today. Matzie worked to ensure that language from his sports-betting bill was included in gaming legislation Gov. Wolf signed last year so that the state would be competitively positioned to offer sports betting if and when it became legal. “It only took us to 2018 to do what should have been legal for years.” Matzie said. “I believed when I first introduced this language last year that the commonwealth was in a good position to regulate sports betting in all forms and that we needed to put the cart before the horse and be ready. With the inclusion of my language and some tweaks to the gaming bill last year, Pennsylvania is ready.” The Supreme Court’s decision struck down a 1992 federal law that barred state-authorized sports betting, with a few exceptions. New Jersey challenged the law, arguing that Congress overstepped its authority in enacting it. The high court agreed, holding that although Congress has the authority to regulate sports gambling directly, if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Matzie said that given the prevalence and popularity of sports betting, the court’s decision is likely to generate great business for the state’s casinos, and he is encouraged that his efforts have helped Pennsylvania Read more

 

Rabb fights to stop sexual assaults in police custody by closing dangerous loophole

(May 11, 2018)

HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is fighting to close a dangerous legal loophole in Pennsylvania’s sexual assault law by pushing legislation that would better protect all residents. Currently in Pennsylvania, a police officer who sexually assaults a person in custody can use sexual consent by the individual as a defense in court. Rabb plans to introduce a bill that would: Expand the commonwealth’s definition of institutional sexual assault to include law enforcement officers and any person in the officer’s custody. Eliminate sexual consent as a defense. Make any sexual contact between an officer and a person in custody a third-degree felony. “Police officers are supposed to use their authoritative power to protect the public, not prey on the innocent,” Rabb said. “I find it ludicrous that this major oversight in our legal system has received such minor attention. Everyone has rights and no one deserves this type of mistreatment, no matter what your criminal history.” Similar legislation has passed in New York state. According to a Buffalo News database , more than 700 allegations of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers across the country, between 2006 and 2015, showed a repeating pattern of officers using their position to force women in custody to perform sexual acts. In at least 26 cases, charges were dropped or the officer was acquitted. Read more

 

Have your voice heard at a telephone town hall!

(May 09, 2018)

Pennsylvania needs state lawmakers who will put working families first and build an economy that works for everyone. The number one way to do that? Pass a state budget that allows working families to succeed. House Democrats want to hear from you! We have four telephone town halls coming up soon to talk more about our Plan for Pennsylvania that puts people first. Please join one of the following telephone town halls to let us know what matters to you. Click one or all links to register and have your voice heard! Thursday, May 17, 6 p.m.to 7 p.m. Education Funding (with host Rep. Austin Davis) Register : https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/youre-invited-to-a-telephonetown-hall-on-517/ Thursday, May 24, 6p.m. to 7 p.m . Raising Wages (with host Rep. Patty Kim) Register: https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/youre-invited-to-a-telephonetown-hall-on-524/ Thursday, May 31, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Infrastructure investments and Putting Pennsylvanians Back to Work (with host Rep. Perry Warren) Register: https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/youre-invited-to-a-telephonetown-hall-on-531/ Thursday, June 7, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Access to Affordable Health Care (with host Rep. Maureen Madden) Register: https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/youre-invited-to-a-telephonetown-hall-on-67/ Read more

 

Bridge formally dedicated for fallen officer Gary Skerski

(May 08, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, May 8 – The life and legacy of the late Officer Gary Skerski was memorialized today as state Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., police officers and other public officials joined to formally dedicate the bridge that now bears his name. The Officer Gary Frank Skerski Memorial Bridge was dedicated at 10 a.m. today with Skerski’s family, a great number of police officers, representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police and city and state officials in attendance. Dawkins sponsored the law that renamed the bridge on Castor Avenue over Frankford Creek for Skerski, who was shot and killed in May 2006 while responding to a reported armed robbery at a café near Arrott and Adams avenues in the Frankford section of the city. Skerski had served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years. “Officer Skerski gave his life protecting our community,” Dawkins said. “There is nothing we can do to replace his life or repay him for his valor. However, we can give his name a prominent spot in our community, near the place where he laid down his life protecting the people and the city he so bravely served. “This bridge will also be a solemn and constant reminder of Officer Skerski and how valuable it is to have police protection in the community. It was an honor and privilege to sponsor the legislation that dedicated this bridge in his name,” he said. In addition to Dawkins, state Reps. Angel Cruz and John Taylor, Read more

 

House passes Harkins bill that would create online career resource center

(Apr 30, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 30 – Students in the commonwealth would benefit from a new online career resource center under a bill the House passed unanimously today, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie. House Bill 2203—part of a bipartisan package of career training and technical education bills that passed today—would call on three state agencies to work together to develop and maintain a central clearinghouse of career and technical education information. “The commonwealth provides a wealth of career training and technical education information through its agencies,” Harkins said. “But there’s no central location that puts information about today’s high-tech, high-skill jobs in one place for easy access by students, their parents and educators. A one-stop concept would ensure that young Pennsylvanians making key decisions about their future have all the information they need at their fingertips.” Harkins’ bill would call on the state departments of Education, Labor and Industry and Agriculture to collaborate in developing and maintaining the online database. It would function as a clearinghouse of information on educational and career options, available career and technical education resources, and data and statistics on employment opportunities and compensation. “Students in today’s fast-changing career landscape need to keep up with the latest opportunities and Read more

 

Policy Committee looks at Cephas bill to give second chances to students

(Apr 26, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 25 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on her H.B. 2210 that would expunge student disciplinary records for nonviolent offenses. Cephas requested the hearing to discuss the importance of ensuring nonviolent offenses would not have long-term negative impacts on students’ future outcomes. Cephas was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “I am excited to have the House Democratic Policy Committee here in Philadelphia to discuss my legislation. Giving students the opportunity to make amends and seek redemption for past actions is important. When it relates to nonviolent offenses, allowing them the chance to show their community they are sorry for their actions and ready to learn and grow from those mistakes is a big step in growing up and should not have a permanent negative impact on their future,” Cephas explained. Sturla added, “Mistakes are a part of life and a nonviolent infraction should not have a long-term negative impact on kids’ lives. Rep. Cephas’ bill is a great chance for those who have made mistakes to do what the school district asks to give them a clean slate and not let those mistakes forever impact the course of their future.” Testifiers included: Jeff Hullrung, school board president, Unionsville-Chadds Ford School District; James Plunkett, Read more

 

DeLuca bill would increase frequency of school safety drills

(Apr 26, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 26 – Schools throughout the commonwealth would hold school safety drills as frequently as fire drills under a bill recently introduced by Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny. “I introduced this bill because the realities of today’s world demand that our schools—and the students and staff in them—be as prepared as possible for an attack we hope will never come,” DeLuca said. “Just as we recognize that preparedness and training are key components of surviving a fire or other building disaster, we need to ensure that students, teachers and other school staff are also prepared to face the possibility of an armed attack.” Currently, Pennsylvania schools are required to have fire drills at least once per month. DeLuca’s H.B. 2259 would require schools to alternate safety drills with fire drills on a monthly basis. Pennsylvania recently enacted a law requiring schools to have one safety drill per school year. DeLuca said that while this is a good start, it isn’t sufficient to train students, teachers and administrators how to deal with the possibility of a sudden, violent incident. “Having these drills every other month would help ensure that if trouble strikes, everyone will know his or her role,” DeLuca said. “My hope is that it would also help students, teachers and other staff feel empowered, knowing that they are practicing a plan of action. I’m encouraging all of my Read more

 

Rabb says his non-discrimination bill could have prevented Starbucks incident

(Apr 25, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 25 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., said a bill he recently introduced could have prevented the recent racist incident at a Center City Starbucks that did nationwide damage to the images of Philadelphia and the company. "My bill would require all employers with payrolls of four or more workers to provide training for their workforce regarding all forms of discrimination and harassment. I believe that, if this were already state law, it could have prevented the racist incident at Starbucks," Rabb said. "I am confident this bill will be a win-win-win for workers, employers and customers. In the long run, my bill would save money for businesses. Think of it as prevention – spend a much smaller amount now on training, so you don't have to spend a lot more later on lawsuits and settlements, not to mention all the lost business from public-relations damage. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Rabb's legislation ( H.B. 2282 ) also would include interns in the definition of "employee" in Pennsylvania's non-discrimination law. "We can't allow discrimination or harassment to take place against any employee. Interns are often the most vulnerable, since they are just starting out in their careers and don't want to risk getting a bad reference. They can become easy targets because of their age, low rank in office settings, and because they often lack knowledge about their Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky advocates for #MeToo General Assembly Act, package reform

(Apr 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 24 – A plan to stem the climate of sexual harassment and discrimination inside the Capitol would be part of a bipartisan package of bills to protect workers across the state, state Rep. Leanne Krueger Braneky testified today before the House Labor and Industry Committee. Her H.B. 1965, which is prime co-sponsored by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, would clearly define sexual harassment in state law, install a bicameral nonpartisan Office of Compliance, require elected officials to reimburse taxpayer settlements for sexual harassment, and establish standard procedures to investigate claims made within the General Assembly. The changes are clearly needed following the discovery of assault allegations and secret taxpayer-footed payouts for cases against legislators who were accused of sexual assault and harassment over decades, Krueger-Braneky said. “I started working on this bill six months ago after publicly sharing that I am one of the over 80 percent of women who have experienced sexual harassment,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “After I shared my own story, women who work in this Capitol started to come to me to share their stories, and I learned that many of the alleged perpetrators were legislators. I heard stories from women who were discouraged from ever filing a complaint in the first place, stories from women who faced retaliation, and stories from women who believed legislators would never be held Read more

 

DeLuca to introduce bill requiring transparency in school personnel separation agreements

(Apr 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 24 – State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, announced that he will introduce legislation in the near future that would require transparency in all school district personnel separation and settlement agreements. “School districts pay their employees with public tax dollars, and Pennsylvania taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent,” DeLuca said. “Just as elected officials should be held accountable and remain transparent with their finances and other benefits, so should school districts. Both need to be good stewards of the public funds.” DeLuca’s proposal would prohibit school districts—unless otherwise ordered by a court—from entering into agreements that contain confidentiality clauses barring disclosure of the terms reached with departing staff. He said the measure is needed to ensure continued trust and confidence in the state’s public officials. “Too often these agreements are conditioned on the terms being kept from the public,” DeLuca said. “Making deals that are closed off from public scrutiny creates doubt as to what is being done. The bill I’m planning to introduce would mandate that school personnel actions be made in the light of day, not in secret. I’m urging my colleagues to join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.” Read more

 

Rabb fights back against fracking hazards with new legislation to protect the public

(Apr 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 24 – As he recognizes the importance of Earth Week, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is not only fighting for clean energy, but also is pushing for stricter safety regulations for the natural gas drillers. He said he is planning to introduce legislation that would require well operators to release an annual report laying out the specific impacts their natural gas extraction technique, best known as fracking, is having on the surrounding communities. The information would include: The amount a well operator spent or has agreed to pay for temporary water supplies for affected residents; The impact of operations on infrastructure and public resources, such as sources of public drinking water supplies, roads, bridges, and publicly owned parks and wildlife areas; and The number of nondisclosure agreements a well operator has signed with individuals. “This dangerous and unconventional procedure has triggered unnecessary accidents at the expense of innocent lives for more than a decade,” Rabb said. “The public has a right to know the risks associated with fracking and well operators need to be held accountable for these hazards.” The public would have access to these reports through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website . Rabb added, “The best way to eliminate these risks is to look towards the future by utilizing clean energy resources that not only provide little risk but Read more

 

Dawkins talks gun violence and domestic abuse at Policy Committee hearing

(Apr 24, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 24 – As part of the House Democratic Caucus’ Plan4PA, state Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today hosted a public hearing on gun violence and domestic abuse issues at the Northeast Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Dawkins was joined by House Democratic Policy Committee chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and legislators from across the state to discuss how to reduce gun violence, protect victims of abuse and Dawkins' H.B. 2097 to create a statewide notification system to alert victims of domestic violence, the general public, and law enforcement agencies when a known domestic violence abuser attempts to purchase or transfer a gun at a licensed firearms dealer. “We have a responsibility to help protect victims of abuse. I am glad my colleagues could be a part of this open discussion with those who provide services to victims of abuse to understand the drastic need for our intervention,” Dawkins said. Sturla added, “Rep. Dawkins’ legislation is a great step in protecting victims of abuse. Victims and law enforcement have every right to be notified when perpetrators are arming themselves so that they can be on alert.” Testifiers included: Julie Brancroft, director of public affairs, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Patty McGlone, social worker and community education coordinator, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; and Susan Pearlstein, supervising attorney of Family Law Unit, Read more

 

More rape kits would be tested under Schlossberg bill
Jun 05, 2018

Charlton, Solomon Bill to Establish Commission to Plan America’s 250th Birthday Passes Senate
Jun 05, 2018

Frankel, Sims: Supreme Court ruling shows need for Pa. Fairness Act
Jun 04, 2018

Matzie commends gaming board’s swift regulatory response on sports betting
May 30, 2018

PLBC applauds PIAA vote to change headgear policy
May 24, 2018

Matzie warns against shuttering power plants at Nuclear Energy Caucus meeting
May 23, 2018

House committee advances Solomon-Mehaffie bill to assist parents with child care decisions
May 23, 2018

Matzie urges gaming board to act quickly in issuing sports betting regulations
May 17, 2018

Matzie: Supreme Court clears the way for sports betting in state’s casinos
May 14, 2018

Rabb fights to stop sexual assaults in police custody by closing dangerous loophole
May 11, 2018

Have your voice heard at a telephone town hall!
May 09, 2018

Bridge formally dedicated for fallen officer Gary Skerski
May 08, 2018

House passes Harkins bill that would create online career resource center
Apr 30, 2018

Policy Committee looks at Cephas bill to give second chances to students
Apr 26, 2018

DeLuca bill would increase frequency of school safety drills
Apr 26, 2018

Rabb says his non-discrimination bill could have prevented Starbucks incident
Apr 25, 2018

Krueger-Braneky advocates for #MeToo General Assembly Act, package reform
Apr 24, 2018

DeLuca to introduce bill requiring transparency in school personnel separation agreements
Apr 24, 2018

Rabb fights back against fracking hazards with new legislation to protect the public
Apr 24, 2018

Dawkins talks gun violence and domestic abuse at Policy Committee hearing
Apr 24, 2018