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Dermody: Companies getting tax dollars for projects must deliver on promise of good wages for workers

Briggs: Amended cell phone bill would weaken current law on texting while driving

(Jan 15, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 15 – A House bill aimed at increasing safety on the roads was amended in a way that would actually weaken current state law and send Pennsylvania backward in efforts to stop texting while driving, state Rep. Tim Briggs said today. House Bill 37, passed by the House today, would prohibit the use of handheld communications devices while driving. But an amendment added to the bill Tuesday made it a secondary offense for adult drivers to text or use a hand-held device, meaning police officers would have to have another reason to pull a driver over in the first place. Texting while driving is currently a primary offense in Pennsylvania. “I support a ban on using phones and other devices while driving, but I voted against this bill. Years ago, we fought hard to make texting while driving a primary offense, and reducing it to a secondary offense through this bill is a step backward,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “Proponents of the changes say this will mirror seat belt law, which is a secondary offense for adults. But if we’re really concerned about safety, failing to buckle up should be a primary offense as well.” Currently, 48 states and Washington D.C. ban text messaging while driving, and it is a primary offense in all but three of those states. The overall goal is safety, Briggs said, and H.B. 37 as amended would make it more difficult for police to enforce a ban. “We’ve worked on this Read more

 

Burns votes to stop closures of state centers like Ebensburg

(Jan 15, 2020)

Legislators cast a bipartisan vote to stop closer of two state centers for the intellectually disabled in Pennsylvania Read more

 

PA House Democrats look to protect health coverage for state residents in face of threats to Affordable Care law

(Jan 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – House Democrats signaled today that they will move to force action in the PA House on critical legislation to protect access to health care for Pennsylvanians in the face of efforts by President Trump and Washington extremists and special interests to destroy the Affordable Care law. “The affordable care law gave millions more Americans access to health insurance, saved countless families from bankruptcy resulting from exorbitant health care costs, kept rural and urban hospitals open in Pennsylvania, and created and preserved thousands of health care jobs,” Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. “We’re standing up for people’s health care, not the agenda of political extremists and special interests. That’s why we want votes in the House on these bills to save lives and the financial well-being of Pennsylvania individuals and families.” The legislation House Democrats will attempt to force a vote on includes: Protect people with pre-existing conditions (H.B. 471 sponsored by state Rep. Peter Schweyer). Protects and preserves a person’s access to health insurance and the ability to see a doctor, even if they have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, breast cancer, high blood pressure or even pregnancy. “When people can’t see the doctor or access health care, they skip checkups, get sicker and sometimes die. Many people without insurance face bankruptcy,” Read more

 

Howard angered by Trump administration’s proposed environmental rule changes

(Jan 14, 2020)

MALVERN, Jan. 14 – State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, today expressed her dismay at the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the benchmark environmental protection law signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. Howard sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., imploring them to oppose the changes. The proposed changes would narrow the scope of NEPA, making the approval process easier for major energy and infrastructure promises by eschewing detailed environmental reviews. “The changes are reckless, plain and simple,” Howard said. “The Trump administration is stripping away existing legal constraints because their oil and gas friends think that the review process is long and cumbersome. Tough.” As it stands, major projects must be assessed for potential environmental impacts before receiving approval, and the public must be involved in the process. This allows environmentalists, tribal activists and other concerned citizens to have a voice, she said. However, by redefining “major federal action,” the new version of NEPA would exclude privately financed projects with minimal government funding from these requirements, including several controversial pipeline projects in Howard’s district. “By proposing arbitrary deadlines and page limits for environmental reviews in the name Read more

 

Boyle seeks to reform special election procedures in Pa.

(Jan 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 8 – Following the announcement of the date for special elections to fill three House vacancies, state Rep. Kevin Boyle announced he will be introducing legislation to regulate when these elections could be held in the future to save Pennsylvania taxpayers money. “Special elections have been scheduled for March 17 when the April 28 primary is only a little more than a month away. These special elections will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $1 million in added elections costs,” said Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery. On Tuesday, Speaker Mike Turzai announced the March date for the special elections to fill vacancies in the 8th, 18th, and 58th legislative districts. The speaker’s decision will inconvenience voters and election workers in Mercer, Butler, Bucks and Westmoreland counties. “Not only are these special elections a financial burden, but our counties are dealing with changes to new voting laws and voting machines. Our already overburdened county election workers should be concentrating on ensuring voters are educated on the new laws and new voting machines so they can make secure, informed decisions at the polls,” Boyle said. He added that he has introduced legislation that would require special elections to fill vacant seats in the House or the Senate to be held in conjunction with the next regularly scheduled general or primary election day. “As the Democratic chair of Read more

 

Mid-March special elections will add cost, confusion before April primary

(Jan 07, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 7 – Democratic Leader Frank Dermody criticized the decision of House Speaker Mike Turzai to hold three special elections just weeks before the April 28 primary, costing taxpayers well over $1 million in added election costs and creating unnecessary confusion in four counties that are working to implement new voting procedures at the same time. “There’s no good reason to hold these elections on a separate date so close to the primary. It’s a large cost, one that’s unbudgeted, and a needless complication that benefits nobody except a few political insiders,” Dermody said. Turzai today directed that the elections to fill vacancies in the 8 th , 18 th and 58 th districts will be held March 17. The speaker’s decision will inconvenience voters and election workers in Mercer, Butler, Bucks and Westmoreland counties. “Pennsylvania is in the midst of unprecedented changes to our voting laws and voting machines. County workers who should be focused on preparing for the smoothest possible April primary will have to conduct these additional special elections on very short notice,” Dermody said. The total cost of the additional elections will not be known for months, but Dermody said other recent special elections typically cost between $300,000 and $500,000 per election. Holding three of them on March 17 instead of six weeks later to coincide with the primary will add election costs at a time when Read more

 

Harris applauds passage of bipartisan occupational licensure reform

(Dec 18, 2019)

Citing the benefit to Pennsylvanians looking for employment as well as to the state’s economy, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic whip, applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation he authored with state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, that restructures how the state’s occupational licensure system looks at criminal records. “This legislation is about second chances, job growth and lower recidivism across Pennsylvania,” said Harris. “We know the number one way to lower recidivism and stop people from falling into the pitfall of crime is to give them a chance at secure employment and a better life, and that’s exactly what House Bill 1477 accomplishes. I’m thrilled to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially Representative Delozier again, to help give thousands of Pennsylvanians a chance to succeed and turn their lives around.” Read more

 

Freeman bill would provide voters with additional campaign contribution reports

(Dec 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Northampton, has introduced legislation that would require Pennsylvania House and Senate candidates to file campaign expense reports at more frequent intervals in order to create a more transparent record-keeping process during an election year. The legislation (H.B. 2142) would require candidates for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to also file campaign expense reports on or before the sixth Tuesday before the election. They are currently only required to file on the second Friday before the election, but this legislation would add the additional filing, matching the campaign expense report filing requirement of candidates for statewide office. "The change would provide earlier disclosure and greater transparency on who is contributing to candidates for the General Assembly," Freeman said. "This is information voters should have access to earlier in a campaign than they currently do." The currently required second-Friday expense report is filed just 10 days before the election. Freeman said that filing comes so close to the election that the information about where a candidate is getting contributions tends to get lost in the last week of campaign literature and other information. "This would put everything on the table and allow voters to see who is backing which candidates and what they stand for, or more importantly, who they stand with," Freeman said. "It Read more

 

Fiedler demands emergency funding to fix toxic school facilities

(Dec 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., hosted a rally in the state Capitol to today to demand emergency funding to fix unhealthy and unsafe school building conditions. “Make no mistake, the conditions in our schools are a public health emergency. No educator, student, or staff person anywhere in the state should ever wonder if they’re suffering from cancer or asthma because of the time they spent in one of our public schools,” Fiedler said. “The state has the financial ability to fix the asbestos, lead and mold. Let’s make people’s lives a budget priority.” Fiedler has introduced legislation that outlines $125 million in emergency funding to schools across the state with exposed asbestos, lead paint and crumbling buildings. She was joined at today’s rally by students, parents and teachers from affected schools and community organizations like POWER, PCCY, PFT, AFL-CIO, Vietlead and more. Read more

 

Cephas introduces legislation to lower maternal mortality rates

(Dec 18, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – In her continued effort to bring awareness to the disproportionate number of deaths of women of color during and after childbirth in the commonwealth, state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced she has introduced a package of bills aimed at addressing maternal mortality rates. “Pennsylvania has seen an increasing, disturbing trend in pregnancy-related deaths, with 11.4 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2012 to 2016. For women of color during that time period, that rate was more than double, at 27.2 per 100,000 live births. This is a clear indication that regardless of income and education levels, women of color are at an even greater risk than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications,” Cephas said. The bills introduced by Cephas are: H.B. 2107 – Would add severe maternal morbidity to the list of reportable events within the Pennsylvania Department of Health. H.B. 2108 – Would extend Medicaid coverage for pregnancy related and postpartum medical assistance. H.B. 2109 – Would extend Medicaid coverage to doula services and create a Doula Advisory Board. H.B. 2110 – Would require training to address implicit bias and culture competency that impact care and quality of care for patients of color, including women of color during pregnancy and childbirth. “While the death of any mother is a tragedy, Read more

 

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

(Dec 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 16 – Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, this morning joined Gov. Tom Wolf, justices and fellow legislators at a news conference with Pew Charitable Trusts on the creation of a Juvenile Justice Task Force, which will develop a report on steps the Commonwealth can take to strengthen the juvenile justice system. “This task force is a great step towards a safe, healthy and well-educated future for the children of Pennsylvania,” Howard said. “When it comes to the welfare of Pennsylvania’s youth—and to improving our communities across the commonwealth—there is much work to be done. This data-driven task force is the way forward, and I look forward to taking up its recommendations. “I am committed to supporting the membership of this task force in any way I can to develop and pass evidence-based recommendations that will ensure that our systems are fair, equitable and responsive to all youth.” Joining Howard and Wolf were Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, the Hon. Kim Berkeley Clark, the Hon. Douglas Reichley, Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia/Delaware, Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, and Sen. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland. Read more

 

Cephas to introduce legislation to protect older Pennsylvanians

(Dec 16, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 16 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced she is introducing legislation designed to protect older Pennsylvanians from abuse while living in assisted living and long-term care facilities. “No one deserves to be a victim of abuse, and that’s certain for our commonwealth’s aging population,” Cephas said. “Our seniors have worked their entire lives to provide for and raise their families while making significant contributions to their community. They should not be denied the appropriate level of care and compassion that they deserve.” The two bills, known as the Assisted Living and Long-Term Care Resident Bill of Rights, would explicitly convey the needs and rights of residents, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity, and ensure these needs are met. Some of these needs include mail privacy, access to health care, free from restraints, right to privacy, access to the local ombudsman, and the right to live free from neglect, intimidation and physical or verbal abuse. “While these things seem to be obvious, abuse against older Pennsylvanians is a far too common reality. More than 18,000 cases of abuse were reported between 2016 and 2017. For people of color and marginalized communities, the magnitudes of abuse are higher,” Cephas said. “My legislation would help address one of the most alarming health concerns Read more

 

Rep. Kirkland appointed to Gov. Wolf’s Special Council on Gun Violence

(Dec 04, 2019)

“I’m honored by the appointment, and I take very seriously the epidemic of gun violence in our commonwealth,” Kirkland said. Read more

 

Joint HDPC-PLBC hearing examines how to fight blight, decrease homelessness

(Dec 02, 2019)

State Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, today hosted a joint House Democratic Policy Committee and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus public hearing on affordable housing. Read more

 

Caltagirone to host joint HDPC-PLBC hearing on affordable housing Monday in Reading

(Nov 26, 2019)

State Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks, announced he will host a joint House Democratic Policy Committee and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus public hearing on affordable housing on Monday, Dec. 2 in Reading. Read more

 

Fitzgerald introduces legislation to protect gun owners, promote public safety

(Nov 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she has introduced a series of bills designated to protect law-abiding gun owners, children and residents in the commonwealth. “It’s unfortunate that anyone could potentially become a victim to gun violence here in Pennsylvania. Whether accidental or intentional, one life lost is one too many. We must put commonsense legislation in place to prevent senseless killings from occurring in the future,” Fitzgerald said. “My three bills would preserve the rights of Pennsylvanians who are carrying guns legally, safeguard our children from being killed accidentally and enforce a ‘cooling-off’ period for a person who may have experienced an unpleasant incident in their life and who looks to potentially commit an act of violence.” The bills introduced by Fitzgerald are: H.B. 2076 – Would require driver’s licenses and photo identification cards to indicate a person possesses a concealed carry permit. H.B. 2077 – Would require all firearms be safely stored whenever they are not in use. H.B. 2078 – Would establish a 72-hour waiting period for purchases of semi-automatic assault rifles. Fitzgerald is a member of the PA SAFE Caucus , which is made up of 70 members of the PA House and Senate who believe in reducing all types of violence in society through Read more

 

McClinton applauds passage of legislation outlawing sexual extortion

(Nov 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 21 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, today applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation she co-sponsored, which would outlaw sexual extortion in Pennsylvania and empower law enforcement and victim services organizations to help victims of this serious sex crime who previously fell between the cracks. “Finally, victims of this horrific crime will have an avenue to seek justice and perpetrators of sexual extortion – which the Department of Justice has said is the most significantly growing threat to children – can be held accountable,” McClinton said. “I am elated to see this legislation receive bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and I look forward to seeing Governor Wolf sign it into law.” McClinton introduced H.B. 1402 with Rep. Tedd C. Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. The House passed it unanimously in June. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday after making small improvements to the legislation. Today, the House unanimously passed the bill on concurrence, and it’s headed to Wolf’s desk for his signature. McClinton said previously that by specifically adding sexual extortion as a crime, we can protect individuals from people in power who demand sexual acts, images or videos from victims, usually for something of value to the victim. “Now, would-be perpetrators will not be able to lord intimate photos or other Read more

 

House unanimously adopts Bizzarro resolution designating Nov. 22 Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day

(Nov 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 21 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro announced the unanimous passage of his House Resolution 608 designating Nov. 22, 2019 as Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day. Bizzarro, D-Erie, championed the resolution to draw attention to the heroes communities across Pennsylvania have lost as well as those who may continue to be lost if this public health epidemic goes unaddressed. The date further serves as a reminder of the estimated 22 veterans who die by suicide daily. “Our nation’s veterans have served our country and we have an obligation to serve and support them. I want each and every veteran to know there are resources available to help them heal from the scars of war,” expressed Bizzarro. The resolution urges family members and care providers to initiate free and confidential conversations with Veterans Health Administration Providers via the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, online at veteranscrisisline.net/chat or via text to 838255. “The United States loses more than 8,000 veterans to suicide each year. That is more than the number of veterans who died in combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. We have to work earnestly to make sure these men and women who have given our nation so much know there is no shame in seeking help and make it easy for vets and their families to reach out,” Bizzarro explained. “In an effort to be a Read more

 

Legislators, advocates help raise awareness for bone marrow donor need

(Nov 19, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 19 – Inspired by a Pennsylvania teen who is in need of a bone marrow transplant, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, hosted a news conference to bring attention to the crucial need of bone marrow donors, especially people of color. Kinsey was joined by Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Phila.; Rep. Carol Hill-Evans; Sarah Speed, a cancer mom; and Michael Garbin from Be the Match. The news conference was held in honor of Juwan Adams, a senior at Abington Senior High School who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and who is currently waiting for a donor match. “At a 23% match rate currently, there is a crucial need for bone marrow donors among African Americans,” Kinsey said. “Juwan’s story is one of several that must be heard. Many of our young people are battling life changing diseases and require so much more than basic medical care. It’s important that everyone looks into being a donor if their health permits them, so they can be a hero for those who need and await lifesaving procedures.” Farnese said, “My father suffered from cancer and was the recipient of a bone marrow transplant, so I know how important these lifesaving registrations are. I hope that today’s event brings awareness about how easy it is to register and encourages my colleagues in Harrisburg and my constituents back home to sign up Read more

 

Driscoll introduces legislation to help protect Pa. workers, businesses

(Oct 31, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 31 – State Rep. Mike Driscoll, D-Phila., today announced he has introduced legislation that would help protect Pennsylvania employers and their workers from payroll processing fraud. House Bill 1976 would require a payroll processing company operating in the commonwealth to be fiscally bonded to cover any financial mistakes or fraudulent activity. The businesses served by the payroll processor would be protected in the event of errors or criminal activity. “Pennsylvanians work hard, and they should not have to worry whether the proper taxes are being taken out of their paychecks. Yet, there are some payroll processors that could create errors, resulting in both workers and employers paying in the end,” Driscoll said. “My legislation is designed to help avoid such issues and make the processors be responsible for their financial mistakes.” Under the legislation, the processing company would have to report annually to the Department of Revenue to ensure proper bond coverage is maintained. If found to not have proper coverage, a payroll processor would be fined $1,000 for the first offense and $5,000 for each subsequent offense. Read more

 

Briggs: Amended cell phone bill would weaken current law on texting while driving
Jan 15, 2020

Burns votes to stop closures of state centers like Ebensburg
Jan 15, 2020

PA House Democrats look to protect health coverage for state residents in face of threats to Affordable Care law
Jan 14, 2020

Howard angered by Trump administration’s proposed environmental rule changes
Jan 14, 2020

Boyle seeks to reform special election procedures in Pa.
Jan 08, 2020

Mid-March special elections will add cost, confusion before April primary
Jan 07, 2020

Harris applauds passage of bipartisan occupational licensure reform
Dec 18, 2019

Freeman bill would provide voters with additional campaign contribution reports
Dec 18, 2019

Fiedler demands emergency funding to fix toxic school facilities
Dec 18, 2019

Cephas introduces legislation to lower maternal mortality rates
Dec 18, 2019

Howard joins in announcing new state task force to strengthen juvenile justice system
Dec 17, 2019

Cephas to introduce legislation to protect older Pennsylvanians
Dec 16, 2019

Rep. Kirkland appointed to Gov. Wolf’s Special Council on Gun Violence
Dec 04, 2019

Joint HDPC-PLBC hearing examines how to fight blight, decrease homelessness
Dec 02, 2019

Caltagirone to host joint HDPC-PLBC hearing on affordable housing Monday in Reading
Nov 26, 2019

Fitzgerald introduces legislation to protect gun owners, promote public safety
Nov 25, 2019

McClinton applauds passage of legislation outlawing sexual extortion
Nov 21, 2019

House unanimously adopts Bizzarro resolution designating Nov. 22 Veterans Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day
Nov 21, 2019

Legislators, advocates help raise awareness for bone marrow donor need
Nov 19, 2019

Driscoll introduces legislation to help protect Pa. workers, businesses
Oct 31, 2019