Patty Kim to reintroduce minimum-wage increase bill

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, announced she is reintroducing her legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage, which would help struggling families pay their bills and reduce their reliance on government assistance programs. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 14 percent of Pennsylvanians are living in poverty,” Kim said. “Now is the time to start making Pennsylvania’s working families our top priority by increasing their wages.” Kim announced the reintroduction of the legislation, H.B.250, during a daylong event advocating for a minimum-wage increase hosted by the Raise the Wage Coalition, a statewide alliance of worker, religious, community, women’s and labor groups. Kim’s bill would increase the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour and then to $10.10 per hour a year later. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost the earnings of a full-time worker by more than $5,900 to $21,008. For a single mother with two children who works 40 hours per week, this would get her family above the poverty line, which is $19,790 for a household of three. Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only makes $15,080, which is more than $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to use government assistance programs just to get by. House Bill 250 also includes an annual cost-of-living Read more


Schlossberg, Parker, bipartisan group seek changes in rapist child support law

(Feb 09, 2015)

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, and Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Phila., announced today at a news conference that they are partnering with Rep. Joseph Hackett, R-Delaware, to support legislation that would that would update Pennsylvania’s domestic relations law as it pertains to support and custody of children conceived by rape or incest. Read more


DeLissio outlines bipartisan plan for 3.2% severance tax on Pa. natural gas

(Feb 09, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., and others called on the state legislature during a Capitol news conference Wednesday to pass a severance-tax bill that would enact a 3.2 percent tax on natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania. The bill’s other prime sponsors are Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks; Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery; and Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny. The bill would keep in place the impact fee passed into law in 2012. "Our proposal, like that of so many other states, is to tax the value of the natural gas produced. Added together, the impact fee and the 3.2 percent drilling tax would equal approximately 5 percent of the value of natural gas sold," DeLissio said. "Pennsylvania, now the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation, is the only major gas-producing state that does not impose a drilling tax. "Including a severance tax on the value of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas production would generate additional funds above the existing impact fee, while still protecting host communities who benefit from the fee." During the news conference, DeLissio stated that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year will need to address a greater than $2 billion structural deficit. This deficit was created by the current budget’s reliance on one-time transfers and other unsustainable revenue streams, she added. "If a severance tax had been passed in 2012 instead of the Read more


State House passes Sainato bill to extend death benefits to Pa. Civil Air Patrol

(Feb 03, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed state Rep. Chris Sainato's bill that would extend the same death benefits to members of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol that are available to other emergency responders. The state's Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides $100,000 to families of emergency responders who die while performing their duties. The bill authored by Sainato, who serves as Democratic chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, would amend the act to include the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported, nonprofit organization that serves as an official civil auxiliary arm of the United States Air Force. It consists of 2,200 volunteers who support emergency service responders across the country by conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing disaster relief and performing homeland security missions. “These volunteers work alongside of police, firefighters and other emergency responders during dangerous situations,” said Sainato, D-Lawrence. “They deserve to have the same benefits as their peers.” Sainato said the Civil Air Patrol has provided valuable assistance in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country. Members of the organization helped communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware recover from Hurricane Sandy. They also Read more


Schweyer: Legislation introduced to protect public transportation workers (with video)

(Feb 02, 2015)

State Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, announced today that his first piece of legislation has been introduced. House Bill 279 would stiffen penalties for aggravated assaults against public transportation company employees, such as those who work for LANTA. The bill would add this category of employees to the list of victims for which the alleged assailants are subject to an enhanced offense of a first- or second-degree felony. Read more


Mullery bill would give Game Commission responsibility to issue antlerless hunting licenses

(Jan 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Gerald Mullery has reintroduced a bill to give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the responsibility to distribute antlerless deer hunting licenses. Currently, the Game Commission determines the number of antlerless licenses to be allocated, but county treasurers distribute the permits. To apply for a doe license, Pennsylvania hunters must fill out a form, write a check and drop an envelope in the mail. They can mail the form and check to any treasurer's office in the state; however, most hunters send it to their home county. Mullery, a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said the current system is outdated, inconvenient, and, in some instances, ineffective. "Hunting and fishing licenses are available online, and Pennsylvanians should be able to obtain an antlerless license the same way," Mullery said. "It's time to modernize this antiquated system." Mullery said the current system led to Luzerne County hunters being shut out of a doe license last year when the treasurer's office, citing staff cuts, failed to process applications on time. "A modern system run by the Game Commission would have prevented that inexcusable mistake," Mullery said. H.B. 231 is expected to be referred to the Game and Fisheries Committee. Read more


Galloway appointed to House Appropriations Committee

(Jan 22, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 22 – As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives reorganized for the 2015-16 Legislative Session, state Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, was appointed to the Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Committee is directly involved in preparing the annual state budget, holding yearly hearings at which the numerous state agencies outline their requests and needs for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee also reviews and evaluates the Governor's Executive Budget proposal each year. The committee has jurisdiction over the offices of the Auditor General and the State Treasurer, as well as the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority. "It is both a great honor and a great responsibility to be appointed to this committee," Galloway said. "I will work to find a fair and equitable balance between the needs to raise revenue and to control spending, while ensuring we continue to support those who need the most help." Galloway was sworn in to begin his fifth term representing the 140 th Legislative District on Jan. 6. In addition to the Appropriations Committee, Galloway was appointed as Democratic vice chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, and as a member of the Professional Licensure and Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees. ### Read more


PA House of Representatives swearing-in day, 2015-16

(Jan 07, 2015)

Pennsylvania lawmakers took the oath of office for the 2015-16 Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 6. The ceremony marked the beginning of the 199th session of the General Assembly. Read more


Hope for Hannah legislation becomes law

(Dec 28, 2014)

Pennsylvania's children have a new protection thanks to Hannah's Law, named after Hannah Ginion of Bristol Township, who suffered from the rare genetic disorder called Krabbe disease. Hannah passed away on Dec. 28, 2014. Read more


Pa. Budget in Crisis: Smoke and mirrors will not lift state to new heights

(Dec 12, 2014)

Four years of misguided Republican priorities culminated in late June with the passage of a smoke-and-mirrors budget filled with one-time fixes. Now Pennsylvania faces a financial crisis. Pennsylvania likely needs more than $2 billion just to balance next year's budget. That figure doesn't include additional revenue necessary to begin restoring GOP education funding cuts that resulted in higher local property taxes, larger class sizes and the loss of 27,000 school jobs. Read more


Full Medicaid expansion makes fiscal, moral sense

(Dec 11, 2014)

House Democrats remain focused on providing full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for uninsured Pennsylvanians. The state moved toward that goal earlier this year when the federal government approved portions of Gov. Tom Corbett’s alternative plan for expanding Medicaid while preserving important protections to recipients. Read more


Dermody outlines concerns with budget outlook heading into 2015

(Dec 10, 2014)

Pa. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says he’s concerned about the state’s fiscal future, as outlined by the Corbett administration’s mid-year budget briefing. Dermody says funding gimmicks in Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 state budget and massive business tax deductions have helped contribute to the commonwealth’s $2 billion budget deficit, which will be passed on to Gov.-elect Tom Wolf. Read more


In the News: Dept. of Human Services name change better reflects mission

(Dec 08, 2014)

House Bill 993, which renamed the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, was signed into law as Act 132 during the 2013-14 Legislative Session.According to advocates for the change, renaming the department was long overdue, and as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the name change better reflects the department’s mission.“[The name change] is a good first step,” said Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County, one of numerous Pittsburgh-area nonprofits that was involved in the renaming campaign.“The second step is to recognize that these are important, vital services. … These services are vital to helping people live in a safe and dignified way,” such as helping frail seniors, helping foster children and helping people with disabilities.”Pennsylvania was the only state still using the name Department of Public Welfare.In order to mitigate costs associated with the transition, the law also allows the department to use the name Department of Public Welfare on badges, licenses, contracts, deeds, stationery and any other official documents until existing supplies are exhausted.The act also establishes an anonymous Department of Human Services fraud tip line to report suspected fraud or abuse. It can be reached at 1.844.DHS.TIPS. Read more


Apply for health insurance by Feb. 16

(Dec 07, 2014)

The open enrollment period for health care coverage is now underway. If you or someone you know is in need of health insurance, please consider visiting the federal Marketplace at Applicants have until Feb. 16, 2015 to enroll. Everyone, no matter what age, needs health insurance. A random accident or unexpected illness could put you in danger of losing not only your good health but also your financial future. Read more


Marcellus Shale tax would provide valuable revenue to Pennsylvania

(Dec 06, 2014)

As Pennsylvania faces a nearly $2 billion structural deficit brought on by years of Republican budgeting full of one-time gimmicks and smoke and mirrors, a Marcellus Shale tax could provide much needed help in closing the hole left by Republican leadership. Read more


Dermody: Four years of Corbett’s disastrous agenda leaves huge hole in Pennsylvania’s budget

(Dec 05, 2014)

For the past four years, House Democrats have vigorously fought against Gov. Tom Corbett’s misguided agenda. We fought against his devastating cuts to our schools because we realize Pennsylvania’s children deserve the best education possible. We fought against his handouts of corporate tax breaks to prevent Pennsylvania’s middle class from shouldering too much of a tax burden. We advocated for a reasonable Marcellus Shale tax, as every other gas producing state has, to ensure drillers are paying their fair share for our resources. Read more


HEROIN: What you need to know about Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan Law

(Dec 05, 2014)

Landmark legislation passed during the 2013-14 Legislative Session now allows first responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as naloxone, a life-saving opioid-overdose antidote. The law also allows individuals such as friends or family members who might be in a position to help a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Additionally, Act 139 provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses. Read more


PHOTOS: Navy marks 73rd anniversary of attack on Pearl Harbor

(Dec 04, 2014)

The U.S. Navy marked the 73rd anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor with a ceremony at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building on Dec. 5. Read more