Protecting Our Children

(Apr 25, 2019)

In 2017, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a special “ State of the Child ” report, which provided detailed information about our state’s child-welfare system. Among its recommendations was to provide children and youth caseworkers with access to all records concerning a child who is the subject of an investigation, including medical, scholastic and substance abuse treatment records. I have introduced a bill, H.B. 835 , that would provide this access to help caseworkers get a clear picture of what challenges these children are facing at home, as well as at school, in order for them to make the best decisions on their behalf. Currently, caseworkers have access to medical records in one section of state law, and they can get access to other records, once a request is made to the state Department of Human Services secretary. However, there is no clear authority for these agencies and caseworkers to request drug and alcohol treatment and school records directly. That results in significant delays for caseworkers, who need this necessary documentation to properly assess a child’s situation and take needed steps to protect them. My legislation would provide access to these documents, but it would also limit the scope of the records’ access only to the child involved in an investigation , not to other children or adults in the home. Just like with other records, these records would still be subject to the same Read more

 

Petrarca’s measure to stabilize fund dedicated to organ and tissue donation passes House, heads to Senate

(Apr 16, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 16 – A measure designed to stabilize the state’s fund to promote organ and tissue donation passed unanimously in the state House and will move to the state Senate for consideration, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. House Bill 30 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, which was included on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms, did not take into account changes to the state’s Vehicle Code allowing for biennial vehicle registrations, Petrarca said. The measure would take biennial registrations into account and increase the voluntary checkoff contributions for those registrations from $3 to $6. “With April designated as National Donate Life Month, I am pleased my bill received unanimous support in the House,” Petrarca said. “Stabilizing this vital fund will allow us to provide life-saving transplants for thousands in our great state.” In addition to promoting organ and tissue donation, the fund also pays for the expenses of living donors and provides grants toward the development and implementation of programs to encourage organ and tissue donation statewide. Read more

 

Petrarca: Bill to provide caseworkers with increased access to records

(Apr 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 15 – A bill that would provide caseworkers with additional information, including medical and scholastic records, on at-risk children was approved by the state House Children and Youth Committee meeting today, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said he introduced H.B. 835 following a recommendation from the state Auditor General’s Office to provide children and youth caseworkers with access to all records concerning a child who is the subject of an investigation, including medical and scholastic records. “Currently, these caseworkers have access to medical records in one section of the law, and law enforcement and scholastic records are available to the Department of Human Services by request, but no clear authority exists for caseworkers to request drug and alcohol treatment and school records directly,” Petrarca said. “In order for caseworkers to make the best decisions for these children, they need a complete and accurate picture of what’s going on inside a child’s home.” By mandating caseworkers review these records, it would also detect any false abuse reports, and the records would only pertain to the child involved in an investigation, not to any other children or adults in the home, Petrarca added. The additional records would still be subject to the same confidentiality standards as other documents and related materials Read more

 

Petrarca: House passes bills to protect seniors’ access, eligibility to PACE and PACENET

(Apr 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – Thousands of Pennsylvania’s seniors who rely on the state’s prescription drug assistance program can rest assured that cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security and savings bond interest won’t affect their access or eligibility, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced today. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said he was pleased with the passage of H.B. 684 , which amends the state’s lottery law to exclude savings bond interest as income when seniors apply for PACE or PACENET, and H.B. 754 , which extends a moratorium on increases in income due to Social Security cost-of living adjustments for PACE and PACENET recipients. “Seniors who are living on fixed incomes should never have to choose between buying food and the prescriptions they need to stay healthy,” Petrarca said. “I was pleased to vote yes on both bills and support my colleagues’ efforts to help them keep their access to affordable medicine. It’s the right thing to do for our seniors, who can – and should – receive this assistance.” Both bills now head to the state Senate for further consideration. Seniors can apply or learn more about PACE and PACENET by calling the state Department of Aging at 1-800-225-7223 or by visiting https://pacecares.magellanhealth.com . Petrarca added that for assistance in applying for PACE or PACENET, seniors can call or visit his Read more

 

Petrarca: $250,000 state grant to fund transportation project in Leechburg Borough in Armstrong County

(Apr 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 2 – The borough of Leechburg will receive a $250,000 state grant toward an extensive roadway pavement project in Armstrong County, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced today. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said the award through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multimodal Transportation Fund will provide funds for the milling and re-paving of roads that were recently disturbed by a Pennvest sanitary sewer system separation project. “This grant is good news for Leechburg, as it will provide the needed funds to re-pave several roads and ensure our residents’ safety,” Petrarca said. “Once completed, this project will decrease the amount of time needed for emergency vehicles to respond, improve safety for school students as they arrive and leave school, and increase pedestrian safety.” The Multimodal Transportation Fund provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to Pennsylvanians. These state funds can be used for the development, rehabilitation and enhancement of transportation assets to existing communities, including lighting, sidewalk enhancement, and other related components to ensure pedestrian safety. Read more

 

Petrarca: Federal funds available to communities to reduce, prevent violent crimes

(Mar 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 26 – Nearly $302,000 in federal funds are available to educational institutions, local governments, faith-based and non-profit organizations for programs focused on reducing violent crime, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. Project Safe Neighborhoods grant funds, available through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, are focused on creating and fostering safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in violent crime, including – but not limited to – gang activity and felony possession and use of firearms, Petrarca said. “Communities and organizations can work together to effectively combat crime in our communities, and these grants can help make that happen,” Petrarca said. “A variety of projects can be considered for funding, including outreach strategies to keep at-risk youth safe, data collection and analysis related to assessing the effectiveness of violence reduction efforts, and the hiring of additional county prosecutors to prevent and disrupt drug and illegal gun trafficking operations.” Priority for funding will be given to multi-organization collaborations across all levels of law enforcement, Petrarca added. The deadline to apply is April 15. More information on the grant can be found by clicking on the following link and choosing “Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN)–Western District”: Read more

 

Petrarca issues statement on the passage of S.B. 113

(Mar 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 20 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, has issued the following statement in response to the passage of S.B 113 , which would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act and prohibit public employees, who plead guilty or who are found guilty of crimes related to their employment – including conspiracy, bribery and perjury – from collecting their taxpayer-funded pension benefits. “The public puts their trust in these public employees, including elected officials. When they commit such crimes, it is an affront to the public’s trust and they should be held accountable for their actions and face appropriate consequences, and that includes losing their taxpayer-funded pension. I applaud the passage of this measure in the House chamber." The bill has been sent to the governor’s office. 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

 

Petrarca: Manufacturing PA Initiative provides partnership between Latrobe business and university, spurring growth, innovation

(Mar 11, 2019)

LATROBE, March 11 – A Latrobe-based manufacturing company will benefit from a collaborative state program designed to connect manufacturing companies and research institutions with the best and brightest graduate and undergraduate students, state Rep. Joe Petrarca announced today. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said Kennametal in Latrobe and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have established a partnership through the Manufacturing PA Initiative fellowship program. This program works by connecting university students with local manufacturers. Once paired, the students begin working on a research project to develop new technologies and promote innovation, added Petrarca. “These partnerships are a win-win for everyone involved,” said Petrarca. “Kennametal benefits through the students’ research in technology and innovation, and students gain valuable, hands-on experience, with the goal of this experience leading to a successful career in the manufacturing industry.” A total of 17 projects were announced, each designed to advance innovation in a variety of manufacturing sectors, including steel production, advanced medical and aerospace. Carnegie Mellon University is one of eight universities taking part in the fellowship program. For more information, please visit the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program website: http://manufacturingpa.org/projects/index.html Read more

 

Petrarca: Offices in Vandergrift, Derry and Latrobe have income tax and Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms

(Feb 26, 2019)

VANDERGRIFT, Feb. 26 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today said his offices in Vandergrift, Derry and Latrobe have state and federal income tax forms and applications for the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program available for residents. “February traditionally begins the peak period for filing personal income taxes before the April 15 deadline,” Petrarca said. “Our offices will also have applications for eligible residents to begin claiming rebates on property taxes or rent paid in 2018.” Petrarca noted claimants must reapply for rebates each year, since the rebates are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid annually. The deadline to apply is June 30, but it is routinely extended until the end of the year. Petrarca added that the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your rebate. The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2018 and met all other eligibility criteria. “We also want to remind residents to be on the lookout for scams and 'phishing' schemes in any emails or letters Read more

 

Petrarca: Grant to fund food service equipment for Apollo-Ridge Elementary School

(Feb 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 15 – A state grant of nearly $7,500 will allow Apollo-Ridge Elementary school to purchase needed equipment for its cafeteria, including a display case, a refrigerated deli display and a countertop, state Rep. Joseph Petrarca announced. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said the grant is part of a package of competitive grants awarded to 79 elementary, middle and high schools statewide through a program administered by the state Department of Education. “We know students who have access to nutritious food perform better in the classroom, and these needed enhancements will go a long way to ensure Apollo-Ridge Elementary School can continue to provide the essential meals students need every day to learn and grow,” Petrarca said. The funding for the grants is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is awarded to schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and have 50 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Schools often use the grants to purchase new refrigerators, freezers, stoves and dishwashers. Read more

 

Petrarca: $55,000 in PAsmart job training grants for Armstrong, Indiana counties

(Feb 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today announced a total of $55,000 in job training grants through PAsmart , a program designed to increase STEM and computer science education and on-the-job training to prepare workers with the skills businesses need. A $30,000 Next Generation Advanced Manufacturing Partnership grant and a $25,000 Next Generation Business Services Partnership grant were awarded to the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board, a consortium of local businesses, colleges, universities and community partners, to support economic growth and development in Armstrong, Butler and Indiana counties. “These grants will be extremely helpful in encouraging employers and community organizations to work together to provide vital job training to help our communities succeed and grow,” Petrarca said. “These investments will ensure our state has a highly trained and educated workforce now and in the years to come.” The PAsmart program was launched in 2018 to provide funding for computer science and STEM (science, technology, education and math) education, and support apprenticeship and industry partnership efforts with businesses throughout the commonwealth. Read more

 

Petrarca: $1.3 million in state grants to fund transportation projects in Armstrong, Westmoreland counties

(Feb 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 1 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today that $1.3 million in state transportation grants have been approved for a variety of roadway and traffic projects in Armstrong and Westmoreland counties. Petrarca said the awards through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Transportation Fund will provide for paving in Parks Township and traffic signal replacement in Leechburg in Armstrong County. In Westmoreland County, Petrarca said $400,000 will be used for improvements along the Route 119 corridor (3 rd and 4 th streets), including a new roadway; installation of ADA-compliant sidewalks, ramps and signals; and $100,000 will help Latrobe replace sidewalks in three downtown railroad underpasses, install curb ramps and update lighting. “These grants come as welcome news to our communities,” said Petrarca. “Ensuring our residents’ safety whether walking or driving should always be a top priority, and these vital improvements will ensure our roadways are accessible to everyone.” The Multimodal Transportation Fund was created by Act 89 of 2013. Program eligibility and project selections were made based on safety benefits, regional economic conditions, technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability. Read more

 

Petrarca announces $1.8 million in state funding to build new sewage collection system for Derry Township, Keystone State Park

(Jan 30, 2019)

Petrarca announces $1.8 million in state funding to build new sewage collection system for Derry Township, Keystone State Park HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – Funding to construct a new sewage collection system in Westmoreland County was approved by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, announced today. The $1.8 million loan will allow the Derry Township Municipal Authority in Westmoreland County to begin construction to connect the Keystone State Park to the New Alexandria sewage treatment plant and add additional residents to sewer treatment services. “I’m pleased this funding from Pennvest will allow the township to rectify issues for residents who have had to deal with failing on-lot septic systems,” Petrarca said. “These funds also ensure that residents and visitors to Keystone State Park can continue to enjoy a variety of recreational activities free from any public health concerns that could have occurred with an outdated sewage treatment system.” The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.6 million. The 20-year loan is approved at 1 percent interest for the first five years and 1.74 percent for the balance of the term. The remaining $774,000 in project costs will be covered through local grants and contributions. Construction is scheduled to begin in April and finish by January 2020. Petrarca noted that without this state funding the project’s Read more

 

Petrarca: $210,000 to support computer science, STEM education

(Jan 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 17 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, today announced several schools and an intermediate unit in his district are recipients of PAsmart targeted grants. The following school districts – for the corresponding schools -- each received $35,000 in funding for programs under the PAsmart initiative : Apollo-Ridge School District: Apollo-Ridge Elementary School, Apollo-Ridge Middle School, Apollo-Ridge High School. Blairsville-Saltsburg School District: Saltsburg Elementary School, Saltsburg Middle-High School. Derry Area School District: Derry Area Middle School and Derry Area High School. Kiski Area School District: Kiski Area Upper Elementary. Leechburg Area School District: Leechburg High School. The Armstrong Regional Intermediate Unit 28, which provides services and support for schools in Indiana and Armstrong counties, received $35,000 in funding for programs in the following schools: Homer Center Elementary School, Penns Manor Elementary School, Penns Manor Junior/Senior High School, Indiana Area Junior High School and Indiana Area Senior High School. “These state funds will go a long way to prepare our students for the future demands of an ever-changing workforce,” Petrarca said. “This investment ensures they will have the vital computer science and technology skills to succeed and provides the right support and training for our teachers to guide Read more

 

Petrarca sworn into office for start of 2019-20 legislative session

(Jan 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 1 – State Rep. Joseph Petrarca today was sworn into office to represent the 55 th Legislative District, which includes portions of Westmoreland, Armstrong and Indiana counties. “I am honored to again represent the communities within the 55 th District and will continue my efforts to keep the state fiscally responsible without new taxes and make our streets safer, including protecting law enforcement and first responders," Petrarca said. "As a founding member of the Organ Donation Advisory Committee, promoting organ and tissue donation statewide also remains a priority. Last fall, I was proud to help update the state's organ donation law, to help ensure life-saving organs go to those who need them. I also was proud to support a new law to protect and support child sex trafficking victims, as well as support continuing efforts to protect animals from abuse.” Petrarca was re-elected to his 13 th term in office on Nov. 6. He was recently appointed to represent Pennsylvania on the National Council of State Legislatures’ Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. This marked the second time Petrarca has been selected to serve on a National Council of State Legislatures committee, having previously served on its transportation committee. The 55th District covers Latrobe, Avonmore, Derry, East Vandergrift, Hyde Park, New Alexandria, Oklahoma, Vandergrift, West Leechburg, Youngstown, and Bell, Derry, Read more

 

Petrarca appointed to national law and justice committee

(Dec 12, 2018)

The committee represents state legislatures' interests to the federal government in various ways. Read more

 

Arnold Palmer airport to receive $300,000-plus grant

(Dec 06, 2018)

Several significant projects at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport will receive grant funding. Read more

 

2019 Capitol Scenes Calendar

(Nov 29, 2018)

Check out my 2019 Capitol Scenes Calendar Read more

 

Three career and technical centers receive state funding for equipment purchases, upgrades

(Nov 28, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 28 – State funding awarded Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education will allow three career and technical centers located in Armstrong and Westmoreland counties to purchase needed equipment students will use for hands-on career training, announced state Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana. “I’m happy to announce this funding, especially since it will benefit our hard-working students and adults who are pursuing vocational careers in our region,” Petrarca said. “Without this funding, these institutions wouldn’t be able to provide the top-of-the-line training that is crucial to ensuring these individuals are prepared to enter the workforce.” Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center received $22,702 in state funding. The grant will assist in purchasing welding, machine-tool and cabinetmaking equipment. Northern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center also received $2,000 in state funding to purchase cyber security equipment. Lenape Technical School, located in Armstrong County, was awarded $7,248. The grant will assist in purchasing health and medical assistance services equipment. In addition to the state Department of Education’s 2018-19 Competitive CTC Equipment Grant funding program, the commonwealth has secured an additional $10 million for career and technical education in the 2018-19 state budget. Read more

 

Protecting Our Children
Apr 25, 2019

Petrarca’s measure to stabilize fund dedicated to organ and tissue donation passes House, heads to Senate
Apr 16, 2019

Petrarca: Bill to provide caseworkers with increased access to records
Apr 15, 2019

Petrarca: House passes bills to protect seniors’ access, eligibility to PACE and PACENET
Apr 11, 2019

Petrarca: $250,000 state grant to fund transportation project in Leechburg Borough in Armstrong County
Apr 02, 2019

Petrarca: Federal funds available to communities to reduce, prevent violent crimes
Mar 26, 2019

Petrarca issues statement on the passage of S.B. 113
Mar 20, 2019

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

Petrarca: Manufacturing PA Initiative provides partnership between Latrobe business and university, spurring growth, innovation
Mar 11, 2019

Petrarca: Offices in Vandergrift, Derry and Latrobe have income tax and Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms
Feb 26, 2019

Petrarca: Grant to fund food service equipment for Apollo-Ridge Elementary School
Feb 15, 2019

Petrarca: $55,000 in PAsmart job training grants for Armstrong, Indiana counties
Feb 07, 2019

Petrarca: $1.3 million in state grants to fund transportation projects in Armstrong, Westmoreland counties
Feb 01, 2019

Petrarca announces $1.8 million in state funding to build new sewage collection system for Derry Township, Keystone State Park
Jan 30, 2019

Petrarca: $210,000 to support computer science, STEM education
Jan 17, 2019

Petrarca sworn into office for start of 2019-20 legislative session
Jan 01, 2019

Petrarca appointed to national law and justice committee
Dec 12, 2018

Arnold Palmer airport to receive $300,000-plus grant
Dec 06, 2018

2019 Capitol Scenes Calendar
Nov 29, 2018

Three career and technical centers receive state funding for equipment purchases, upgrades
Nov 28, 2018