Rep. Wheatley's 2019 Capitol Scenes Calendar

(Dec 03, 2018)

Click here to download Rep. Wheatley's 2019 Capitol Scenes Calendar. Read more

 

IFO releases projection of $1.7 billion deficit

(Nov 19, 2018)

According to the latest report from the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania could be facing a $1.7 billion deficit for FY 2019-20. The size of the deficit highlights the pressing need for wide-scale tax reform – something I have been urging for years. We can’t reform the state’s budget with piecemeal measures – we need a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of why we face deficits. That’s why I prime sponsored the resolution creating the Select Subcommittee on Tax Modernization & Reform. The subcommittee would investigate the ways the commonwealth assesses and collects taxes and would determine whether those methods are outdated based on our state’s changing demographics, economy and workforce. The subcommittee would then develop proposals to ensure that our tax structure is not only fair for both individuals and businesses, but creates better safeguards to adequately generate the revenue we need to pay our bills. It’s also one of the reasons I’m re-introducing legislation to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis. It’s estimated that legalization could generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce and improve our schools. And it’s revenue that could relieve about one-third of the projected deficit in the coming fiscal year. So as we approach the start of a new legislative Read more

 

Wheatley: $450,000 in grants awarded to fund infrastructure improvements, greenway planning

(Nov 16, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 16 – A total of $450,000 in Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants will fund infrastructure development and greenway planning for several Pittsburgh sites, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, announced today. The grants – awarded by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – include $250,000 to the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County for the development of I-579 Cap Park, spanning a portion of I-579 in Pittsburgh. “The I-579 Cap Park project is going to revitalize this area in a major way by re-establishing a physical link between downtown Pittsburgh and the Hill District,” said Wheatley, who added that the project includes construction of pedestrian paths, an event lawn and amphitheater, ADA access, and related features, including lighting and landscaping “I’m thrilled that DCNR released the funding for this project, which is going to provide new connections and amenities for residents.” Wheatley added that two other grants include $160,000 to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc., to prepare a riverfront plan for the 178-acre Hazelwood Green site along the Monongahela River and a $40,000 grant to Pittsburgh City to prepare a master site development plan for the 13.4-acre Kennard Park in Pittsburgh. The grants are part of a $50 million package awarded statewide for various parks and conservation projects. Funding sources include the Read more

 

More than words; how Pennsylvania supports veterans

(Nov 08, 2018)

As Veterans Day nears, I wanted to share information on programs that benefit veterans and their families. To those from Allegheny County who have bravely served our country, thank you and Happy Veterans Day. Read more

 

Heating aid via LIHEAP now open

(Nov 05, 2018)

The 2018-2019 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – is accepting applications for heating assistance grants. LIHEAP offers cash grants of $200 to $1,000 that are sent directly to the utility company to defray heating costs for eligible households, and crisis benefits of up to $600 for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Remember: These are grants and do not have to be repaid. This season’s income guidelines for both LIHEAP cash and crisis grants are $18,210 for an individual, $24,690 for couples and increases for each additional person in the household. Please click here for more LIHEAP information. Please consider visiting my office if you need help filing a LIHEAP application. Besides my office, LIHEAP information is available by: Contacting local County Assistance offices by phone or in person. Calling the LIHEAP Client Helpline at 1-866-857-7095 or PA Relay at 711 for the hearing impaired. Applying online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us . Read more

 

Wheatley’s ‘Lights on Afterschool Day,’ resolution unanimously adopted by House

(Oct 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – In order to recognize how important afterschool programs are in the lives of children, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, sponsored a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the House earlier this month. House Resolution 1165 designates Oct. 25 as “Lights on Afterschool Day” in Pennsylvania, and aligns with the commemoration of the annual national event that highlights the benefits of afterschool programs and how they can influence a young person’s life by providing them with academic and lifetime successes. This year marks the 19th year of Lights on Afterschool, when more than a million people nationwide turn the lights on for afterschool, by opening their doors to showcase the skills students gain and the talents they develop at their afterschool centers. “As a parent, I understand the value of afterschool programs,” Wheatley said. “Not only does afterschool programming make learning more fun, it improves student achievement, reduces crimes by and against youth and promotes good social skills.” Wheatley noted that more than 11.3 million children nationally are alone and unsupervised after school, according to Afterschool Alliance. “Whether students and children have two working parents, or a single-working parent, many young people remain alone after school,” Wheatley added. “Afterschool care can be beneficial for families and it's imperative for me to continue Read more

 

Bill expanding funding for NAP heads to governor’s desk

(Oct 22, 2018)

HARRSIBURG, Oct. 22 – A bill that will help to rebuild low-income communities through projects aimed at affordable housing, crime prevention and workforce development, is currently awaiting the governor’s signature, said state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny. Wheatley, the Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee who helped push for H.B. 645 , said the legislation was necessary in order to keep making investments throughout local communities and to strengthen Pittsburgh’s economy and landscape. “Enhancing the quality of life for residents in Allegheny County and surrounding areas has and always will be important to me,” Wheatley said. “This program ultimately helps in so many ways through education, to employment and development, and even helps curb crime.” The Neighborhood Assistance Program, which serves as a resource for non-profits, businesses and distressed neighborhoods, seeks to improve the lives of people who live in distressed neighborhoods through the creation of partnerships between community-based organizations, businesses and corporate communities. The program was created in 1967. The bill would increase the NAP cap from $18 million to $36 million. “The bill helps Pittsburgh in particular and has served as a great asset to our area,” Wheatley added. “Our neighborhoods are more stabilized and healthy because of NAP.” More than 190 applications were received in the 2017-18 Read more

 

Wheatley’s petition to legalize cannabis doubles after introducing legislation

(Oct 05, 2018)

HARRSIBURG, Oct. 5 – Since launching a petition in support of legalizing the adult-use of cannabis more than a month ago, 16,373 constituents have signed the proposal as of today, said state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny. Wheatley’s petition was posted on his webpage on Aug. 20. In September, Wheatley formerly introduced his cannabis legislation, H.B. 2600 , and the number of signatures that were added to the petition nearly doubled from 8,222 in over a week. “I’m pleased with the support, and it’s clear to me that Pennsylvanians agree that the recreational use and possession of cannabis among adults 21 or older should be legalized,” Wheatley said. “This legislation is important because it would also expunge the criminal histories of those jailed for crimes associated with cannabis, and stop the criminalization of minorities who are caught using it.” The bill does not make it legal to use cannabis publicly, or drive under its influence. Wheatley said he will continue to push to have cannabis legalized this year and into the next legislative session. Read more

 

Scholarship dollars go to Pittsburgh families

(Oct 03, 2018)

On Friday, Sept. 28 I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful event at St. Benedict the Moor School, in Pittsburgh. The Bridge Educational Foundation – through the support of Braskem, Grane Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare and Waste Management – donated $38,000 in scholarship money to Pittsburgh families. The scholarship funds are made possible through Pennsylvania’s K12 Educational Improvement Tax Credit Programs. You can see photos of the event here . Read more

 

Wheatley applauds passage of domestic violence legislation

(Sep 28, 2018)

HARRSIBURG, Sept. 28 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, joined with domestic violence victims and their advocates when he voted in favor of a bill earlier this week that would increase protections for such victims and their families. House Bill 2060 , which passed the House, is designed to strengthen the Protection from Abuse Act by mandating that firearms be forfeited on all final PFA orders – and requiring convicted domestic abusers to turn over their firearms within 24 hours as opposed to 60 days. The legislation also would require defendants to relinquish their weapons to law enforcement officers, an authorized gun dealer, or an attorney; not a family member or friend. “Victims of domestic violence, both women and men, deserve to be protected and feel safe,” said Wheatley, who is also a member of the PA Safe Caucus, which aims to curb gun violence and promote public safety. “Families do not deserve to live in fear.” Wheatley, who has been an advocate for commonsense gun reform, said reducing the amount of time – from approximately two months to one day – that convicted abusers have turn over their weapons is a positive step in the right direction. In 2017, a record number of domestic violence victims were killed by guns, the most in the last 10 years, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence . Out of the 117 domestic violence victims in the commonwealth, 78 were killed by guns. Read more

 

Wheatley introduces legislation to legalize adult use of cannabis

(Sep 24, 2018)

HARRSIBURG, Sept. 24 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today introduced comprehensive legislation regarding the recreational use and possession of cannabis among adults 21 or older. House Bill 2600 would legalize the possession of cannabis products such as edibles, and up to six cannabis plants, but not more than three mature plants that are flowering. The bill does not make it legal to use cannabis publicly, nor to drive under its influence. Most importantly, Wheatley said, the bill would address the release, expungement and reinstatement of individuals who have been jailed or have criminal records due to cannabis-related crimes. “My bill would immediately release people jailed for crimes associated with cannabis,” Wheatley said. “Those who have criminal histories related to cannabis would be expunged, and professional and driver’s licenses that were revoked or suspended due to cannabis-related crimes would be reinstated. For far too long, the criminal justice system has unfairly punished Pennsylvanians, especially minorities, who are caught with cannabis.” Additionally, Wheatley said the bill would create significant savings to the commonwealth’s criminal justice system by allowing law enforcement to combat serious, violent crimes and let people get back to work to support themselves and their families. If the measure is passed, it would also impose a tax that could generate an estimated $500 million annually, based Read more

 

Wheatley says building development to get $237,000 for accessibility

(Sep 18, 2018)

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 18 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, announced the Commonwealth Financing Authority has approved funds to construct an accessible connection plaza at New Street and Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh. Wheatley said the $237,000 will help with the first phase of the development that will include a landscaped publicly accessed paved outdoor gathering and seating area. Additionally, the area will consist of a large central stair and low seating walls, which will create an overlook of the one-acre Neighborhood Park and downtown Pittsburgh. “This funding is imperative in making sure that the plaza of the Lower Hill residential development is easily accessible to those who have disabilities,” Wheatley said. “We want to be inclusive in that we don’t want any barriers that would stop anyone from being able to utilize outdoor spaces or seating areas.” The project also includes installing concrete steps, handrails, fire line pavement and a high retaining wall. The total projected cost is $312,000. The Commonwealth Financing Authority is a seven-member board created to administer and fund projects from programs that are part of the economic stimulus package passed by the General Assembly in 2004. The entity falls under the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Read more

 

Wheatley to speak at ‘Legalize and Liberate’ rally on Sept. 21

(Sep 12, 2018)

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 12 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, will be joined by elected officials and advocates in the fight for criminal justice reform and to legalize cannabis during a rally from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at the Pittsburgh City-County Building, 414 Grant St. Wheatley plans to soon introduce legislation that would legalize cannabis for adult recreational use in the commonwealth. If his measure is passed, it would also call for the immediate expungement of all criminal records for any cannabis-related conviction that would then be considered lawful under this legislation. “I’ve long advocated for the legalization of cannabis because it would help the state in many ways including fiscally, along with reducing crime and violence, and it would also help stop the criminalization of minorities who are caught using it,” said Wheatley, who also serves as Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the recreational use of cannabis and it is my hope that Pennsylvania will become the tenth state to do so.” Wheatley noted that over 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support the legalization of cannabis. Last month he launched a petition to support his upcoming legislation and so far it has garnered over 7,000 signatures. The petition can be viewed here . Two years ago, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical cannabis bill into law and most recently, Pittsburgh Mayor Read more

 

Wheatley: $4.5 million in state grants awarded for development

(Sep 06, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 6 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, today announced $4.5 million is being invested in his district for four projects that include constructing a cancer center at Allegheny General Hospital, upgrading the Kelly Building, renovating a performing arts center and developing the second phase of the Sixth Street Multiplex Development. The state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program awarded funding for the following: $1 million to the Allegheny Health Network for Allegheny General Hospital to construct a 50,000 square foot academic cancer center. $1 million to the Pittsburgh Trust for Cultural Resources for the second phase of its Multiplex development to revamp the old site of the Bally Total Fitness Club into a multiplex and live performance space. $2 million to the Hill Community Development Corporation for its New Granada Theater to restore the historic façade to include an 1,100 seat performing arts multi-purpose space and 100 seat black box presentation and community space, and small café, among other amenities. $500,000 to the McKnight Reality Partners for the development of the Kelly Building, in order to improve infrastructure to the multi-story office structure. “I have supported these projects and the grants will help them to improve the services offered within the community, particularly the offering of an academic cancer center on the campus of Allegheny General Hospital,” Read more

 

Broken justice is no justice

(Aug 22, 2018)

Last week we were again reminded of how far our country still has to go to reach collective equality. After a pizza shop employee here in Pittsburgh viciously attacked and beat a black woman inside the store, he was found not guilty of assault charges. The verdict, sadly, is not an isolated incident but part of a much larger problem that leaves so many citizens of color questioning why the criminal justice system has failed them. For the woman assaulted at the pizza parlor, that failure came in the form of a verdict that was manifestly against the weight of the evidence: the jury saw a video of the assault – which was not provoked by any violence on the victim’s part – but nevertheless acquitted the assailant. The case forces us to ask: Would the verdict have been different if the assailant had been black and the victim white? Was the verdict – the product of an all-white jury – tainted by racial bias? In the face of irrefutable video evidence, it’s hard to come up with an alternative conclusion to explain the result. This verdict is but one example; the system repeatedly fails people of color in other ways. For some – like the family of Antwon Rose – the failure comes in the form of unjustified use of deadly force. The officer who shot and killed the unarmed, 17-year-old high school honors student was at least charged in his death. In some cases, law enforcement are never even held accountable. And then there is the Read more

 

Wheatley launches online petition to legalize marijuana

(Aug 21, 2018)

State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, has launched an online petition in support of his House Bill 50 to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in the commonwealth. The petition, which is available online here , outlines the ways in which legalization would benefit the commonwealth and points to the success and popularity of the state’s medical marijuana program. “There are tremendous benefits to legalizing marijuana and few downsides,” Wheatley said. “It’s estimated that legalization would generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. That’s money to balance our budget, strengthen our economy, bolster our workforce and improve our schools. “What’s more, legalization would save taxpayers millions in enforcement costs while freeing up crime-fighting resources to combat serious, violent crime. Prohibiting recreational use of marijuana does nothing to meaningfully reduce access to this relatively safe drug. On the other hand, continuing prohibition allows organized crime – for whom marijuana is a major money-maker – to flourish.” Wheatley added that nine other states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana and are seeing huge benefits. He said he plans to encourage all of his colleagues to support the legislation. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in April 2016, Read more

 

Wheatley welcomes new legislative assistant and liaison officer

(Aug 15, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 15 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, announced that Phillip Battista has joined his staff as legislative assistant and liaison officer. “Phil comes to us after studying and teaching political science,” Wheatley said. “With this strong background, he brings great experience to the job. I’m excited by his energy, his enthusiasm and his interest in serving the community. He’s a great addition to the staff.” A Pennsylvania native, Battista grew up in Pittsburgh’s Knoxville neighborhood. He graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in history and from Duquesne University with a master’s degree in history. Battista left the Pittsburgh area in 2013 to study political science and obtained a second master’s degree in that field from the University of New Orleans. He spent three years working for the university as a professor in political science and a research analyst for the university’s Survey Research Center. Battista moved back to Pennsylvania earlier this year, motivated by a desire to return home to the Pittsburgh area. Read more

 

Wheatley welcomes new district office director of operations

(Aug 14, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 14 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, is excited to announce that Brandi Taylor will be joining his staff tomorrow as the new district office director of operations. “We’re so fortunate to have Brandi joining our team,” Wheatley said. “During her career, she has shown a special talent for inspiring, organizing and leading the community to bring positive change in so many areas. “Brandi has a wealth of experience in bringing together different segments of the community – including citizens, advocates, organizations, religious leaders, political and public figures, school administrators and students – for successful collaboration. She is an advocate and a passionate voice. She will be such a great addition to our staff.” Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Taylor moved to Atlanta in 1988 before returning home in 2008. Since returning to Pittsburgh, she has dedicated her career to promoting change through civic engagement in areas ranging from school reform to voter empowerment. Among other programs, Taylor has participated in the 2012 NEXT Leaders Northside Leadership Program through Coro; the 2014 Pittsburgh Parent Power cohort, led by Annenberg Institute of School Reform; and the 2015 Civic Leadership Academy, hosted by the City of Pittsburgh. Taylor also served as community liaison with The Black Political Empowerment Project – a non-profit organization established for the advocacy of Read more

 

Wheatley: Tax credits to help fund renovation of historic buildings

(Aug 10, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 10 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, announced today that projects to renovate four buildings in Pittsburgh’s 19 th Legislative District have received Historic Preservation Tax Credits totaling $530,000. The credits will leverage construction costs of about $50.5 million. “These buildings are a unique part of our history,” Wheatley said. “The renovations made possible by these tax credits will not only help us preserve this history for future generations, they will revitalize the surrounding residential and business districts and create new jobs. It’s an exciting development on the horizon.” The tax credits will be allocated to the following projects: 521 Armandale St. Rehabilitation of a historic row house in the Mexican War Streets Historic District, which will be turned into affordable housing. An $86,303 tax credit allocation will leverage $345,211 in estimated construction costs. 1010 Morrison St. Rehabilitation of a historic row house in the Old Allegheny Rows Historic District, which will be turned into affordable housing. A $43,697 tax credit allocation will leverage $182,855 in estimated construction costs. Arrott Building . Rehabilitation of an historic office building in the Fourth Avenue Historic District, which will be turned into a hotel. A $200,000 tax credit allocation will leverage about $43.2 million in estimated construction costs. Bonn Building . Rehabilitation Read more

 

Wheatley to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana

(Jul 25, 2018)

HARRISBURG, July 25 – Pointing to the success similar programs are having in other states, Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said he plans to introduce legislation which would legalize the sale of marijuana in Pennsylvania. “States from coast to coast have embraced legalization and those states are reaping the economic and criminal justice benefits,” Wheatley said. “It is time Pennsylvania joins with those states in leaving behind the ugly stigma of marijuana.” A recent report by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale estimated that legalizing marijuana could generate more than $580 million in annual tax revenue for Pennsylvania. Nine other states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for adult use, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue while reducing spending and criminal justice costs. “This is why it comes as no surprise that recent polling shows that a majority of Pennsylvanians support legalization,” Wheatley said. “This is an idea whose time has come.” Wheatley’s legislation would further establish a retail market for marijuana and expunge criminal records for any marijuana-related conviction that would be considered lawful under the act. Wheatley said marijuana legalization is the natural path forward given Pennsylvania’s successful medical marijuana program, for which more than 52,000 patients have registered. Passed in 2016, the state’s medical marijuana law Read more