As the Pennsylvania House and Senate prepare to return to session this fall, a bicameral group of lawmakers has vowed to fight anti-LGBTQ legislation that is being prepared by some House members. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 5 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., is condemning the efforts of House Republicans to stop PennDOT from offering gender-neutral driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania. In July, PennDOT announced its plans to let gender-queer and non-binary individuals select a neutral option for gender on driver’s licenses. This week, Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, announced plans to introduce a bill blocking the change. “Sometimes we see really dumb ideas come out of Harrisburg and this bill is a prime example. Allowing all Pennsylvanians to have an ID that reflects their gender identity is common sense and doesn’t infringe on the rights of anyone else,” Kenyatta said. “There is no good reason to block this change from happening, other than to play politics with the lives of those who are already marginalized. “I fully support the Wolf administration’s initiative to add an ‘X’ to the forms so that non-binary, trans, and other queer Pennsylvanians have an option that they feel best represents them,” Kenyatta continued. “This bill should never make it to the floor and if it does it should be soundly defeated. We have serious things to focus on like stemming gun violence, restoring General Assistance, and expanding job opportunities for all Pennsylvanians. This is silly season. “ Kenyatta also called on other House members to join him in his vehement opposition to the bill which he Read more
State lawmakers hosted a press conference Wednesday to raise awareness about wage theft and the illegal misclassification of workers as independent contractors that costs Pennsylvania hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 5 – Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center announced this week that its board of directors will thank state Rep. Joe Ciresi at an upcoming meeting for securing a $40,000 grant. “This grant will help provide students with transportation to co-op jobs, where they can get hands-on experience and training,” said Ciresi, D-Montgomery. “The funds will also allow WMCTC to create a job training program specifically designed for single mothers to get training in automotive skills that will enable them to learn the basics required to land an entry level position at a shop. These jobs are in high demand and pay well. By ensuring that these initiatives are properly funded, WMCTC remains a leader in providing technical skills and opportunities for students who want to land a job in these fields.” The WMCTC meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9 at 77 Graterford Road, Limerick, PA 19468. For more information, call Ciresi’s district office at 484-200-8265. ### ATTENTION EDITORS: Media coverage of this event is invited. Read more
DARBY, Sept. 5 – To help students get the tools they need to have a successful school year, state Rep. Joanna McClinton hosted her third annual Back to School Resource Fair at the Darby Borough Recreation Center. "The beginning of the new school year is a time of promise and all kids deserve a good start when they head back to class," McClinton said. "With our young people in line to become the next generation of leaders, I am pleased to host this event as an opportunity to ensure they have the resources they need to become successful in their educational journey.” McClinton said more than 300 families attended the fair and 350 children received supplies and book bags to start the school year strong. Students also received free haircuts and styles from Yasmeen’s Clean Cuts, BBC Beauty Academy, Chocolate City Hair Studios, and JJFades. There were more than 15 local exhibitors in attendance – including representatives from Oak Street Health, Health Partners Plans, Salvation Army, Evelyn Graves Ministries, Maternity Care Coalition, Delaware County Community College, Compassionate Care Provider – providing information on health care and school safety to attendees. Entertainment was provided by the Royal Excellence Dance Troop and Pearson’s Entertainment. McClinton also honored newly appointed Deputy Police Chief Joseph Gabe Jr. of the Darby Borough Police Department with a citation. “I would like to thank Aetna for Read more
ERIE, Sept. 4 – As a member of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, recently took part in course and field exercises at the committee’s tour of the Allegheny County Fire Academy. The academy tour involved Bizzarro running into burning buildings, climbing ladders and putting out fires. The Erie legislator said he has a whole new appreciation for Pennsylvania’s hardworking volunteer and paid firefighters. “Today, we’re getting hands-on experience of what they have to go through every single day,” Bizzarro said. “I had the privilege of suiting up in full fire-fighting gear and practicing many of the procedures and tactics that firefighters use to respond to fires and emergencies throughout the state. It was challenging and exhilarating and helped me gain a whole new level of gratitude for those who are constantly on call.” The Allegheny County Fire Academy offers fire, rescue, hazardous materials and terrorism training to emergency service personnel and private industry emergency response teams. Bizzarro and the committee discussed what legislators can do at the state and federal levels to improve public safety efforts and ensure firefighters have the resources needed to respond to emergent situations. “I’ve always been a strong advocate for the women and men who fulfill the calling to run into these most dangerous situations,” Bizzarro said. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on toxic conditions in school buildings and emergency funding at the Horace Furness High School. Fiedler requested the hearing to discuss what more the state can do to improve conditions in Philadelphia schools for students and staff. The hearing ended with a tour of the high school to see the conditions firsthand. Legislators from across the state joined Fiedler, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. “Nearly half of the school buildings in Philadelphia are decades old with antiquated systems, including heating, cooling, lighting and electrical. These basic comforts are in dire need of replacement. In addition, these buildings have mold and other hazards that are creating serious health problems for our children,” Fiedler said. “We need to come up with policies that will ensure our schools receive adequate funding, so our children receive a quality education in hazard-free and safe environments.” Sturla added, “The children in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth should not have to learn in unhealthy and outdated conditions. The House Democratic Caucus seeks to provide all students with a high-quality education, so they are prepared to either go on to an institution of higher education or to join the workforce. I thank Representative Fiedler for her leadership in spotlighting Read more
HERMITAGE, Sept. 4 – A $29,785 grant will fund two traffic safety improvement projects in South Pymatuning Township, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. Longietti noted that the funding – which comes from fines collected under the state’s Automated Red Light Enforcement program – will support projects to install guiderails protecting motorists along Cascade Street and Shadow Drive and to erect safety signage warning motorists turning onto or merging from State Route 302/Tamarack Drive. “I’m delighted that we were successful in our efforts to obtain this funding,” Longietti said. “South Pymatuning is home to Dean Foods’ largest milk processing plant, and its 200 employees and multiple trucks make heavy use of State Route 302/Tamarack Drive, creating potentially dangerous traffic patterns entering and exiting the most heavily traveled portion of the township. “Funds from this grant will allow the township to erect signs warning motorists who are turning from Shadow Drive onto State Route 302/Tamarack Drive or merging from 302 onto Buckeye Drive that opposing traffic – including dairy trucks – is not required to stop at those intersections. The grant will also allow for installation of guiderails to protect motorists from steep embankments alongside nearby Shadow Drive and Cascade Street. Motorist safety is our No. 1 priority.” Longietti noted that the guiderail project will Read more
EBENSBURG, Sept. 4 – As part of his ongoing efforts to advocate for all Cambria County residents, state Rep. Frank Burns has sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, formally supporting Peoples Natural Gas Co.'s proposed rate decrease and encouraging the PUC to quickly approve the utility’s request. Burns, D-Cambria, said under an agreement negotiated this summer, residential customers would see an 8.6% drop in their monthly gas bills, beginning Oct. 1. “Many Cambria County residents will benefit from this rate reduction, including those who are struggling to make ends meet,” Burns said. “The average customer could see a reduction in their bill of about $7 dollars each month. During these challenging economic times, this kind of savings is very meaningful to them.” In April, Burns encouraged residents to attend public hearings hosted by the PUC on a proposed rate increase from Peoples Natural Gas. “When you speak up and make your voice heard, you get results,” Burns added. “I will continue to support and fight for all Cambria County residents – both locally and in Harrisburg –because it’s the right thing to do.” Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, today applauded the Wolf administration for securing a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support efforts in decreasing maternal deaths in Pennsylvania. Cephas wrote letters of support for the CDC grant that will fund the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, a multidisciplinary committee tasked with addressing the pressing issue of growing maternal mortality rates across the commonwealth. “Nearly a thousand women die from pregnancy-related complications each year across the country and many of these deaths were preventable. It’s also a problem here in our commonwealth,” Cephas said. “I am proud that Pennsylvania was awarded this grant to protect women, mothers, infants and their families.” Cephas has been a staunch advocate for addressing the rise in pregnancy-related deaths. She has coordinated meetings with stakeholders and the five delivery hospitals in the Philadelphia area to discuss potential solutions, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing, and sat on two panels to better assess the issue. In these discussions, Cephas said she also wanted to bring awareness to racial disparities and mental health issues as contributors to the increase in maternal deaths. “Black women are four times more likely to die from Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery, has announced her partnership with Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester, to introduce legislation that would require insurance companies in Pennsylvania to cover EpiPen injections for children with allergies. Hanbidge’s announcement comes shortly after Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass and enact such bipartisan legislation. “It’s unconscionable to think that we have the means available to us to save children’s lives, but that this life-saving treatment is becoming more unaffordable and, therefore, more inaccessible to the average Pennsylvanian,” Hanbidge said. “With our legislation, insurance companies in Pennsylvania would be required to cover the cost of doctor-prescribed, medically necessary epinephrine pens for children under the age of 18. Profits cannot come before the health and well-being of our children. As an advocate for children, I’m fighting to ensure Pennsylvania becomes the second state to require coverage of this life-saving intervention for our children.” Hanbidge noted that more than 100,000 Pennsylvania children suffer from some form of food or insect allergy and more than 1,000 of those children have an allergy so severe that exposure could be fatal. Although some insurance companies do cover the costs of EpiPen injections, many low-cost, short-term insurance plans that low-income families rely on do not cover these Read more
“Judges make life-altering decisions that impact our lives. I look forward to the dialogue about whether we should be selecting our judges differently than we are now.” Read more
KING OF PRUSSIA, Sept. 3 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on gun safety legislation. Briggs requested the hearing to discuss several bills: H.B 525, to require the safe storage of firearms; H.B. 673, to require universal background checks; and H.B. 1288, to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. Testifiers from the law enforcement, medical and social services communities discussed the bills. Briggs was joined by legislators from across the state. “We have to do something to curb the gun violence that is affecting communities throughout Pennsylvania – and we can,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery and Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “Today’s hearing was an opportunity to really examine these bills so that we’re prepared to take action when the House returns to session. I’m grateful to the testifiers who helped us explore these issues today, and I’ve urged Judiciary Chairman Rob Kauffman to swiftly bring these bills up for a vote in committee.” The legislators were joined by U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-PA, who testified from the federal perspective. “America’s gun violence epidemic claims more than 100 lives every day, and our communities have had enough. They know that the safety of our families, friends and neighbors is on the line – and that it’s time to implement common-sense gun safety Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 3 – Continuing his efforts to ensure that Pennsylvania’s special education students receive the resources they need to succeed, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced that he has been reappointed to sit on the House Special Education Funding Commission as it reconvenes this year to review its funding formula. First established in 2012, the commission developed a formula for determining how special education funding is distributed to school districts throughout the commonwealth. Longietti noted that the formula – which took effect for the 2014-15 fiscal year – dramatically changed how funding decisions were made. “Before the commission was established, funding for special education students was based on bare assumptions and general estimates that often failed to reflect real-world numbers and needs,” Longietti said. “The formula developed by the commission and later adopted into law factors in the actual number of students needing services in each district, the different levels of services needed, and the amount of funding needed relative to regular education students. “The result is a better way to allocate funding that treats districts fairly, eliminates guesswork, trims waste, and delivers services where they are actually needed. But like any formula that is based on real-world circumstances, the numbers, categories and criteria may need to be adjusted to keep pace with changing times and Read more
EXTON, Sept. 3 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, will hold three town hall meetings this month to address topics such as the cost of living, youth mental health and more. Sen. Katie Muth will co-host two of the three meetings. Town halls will take place on the following days: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 at the East Pikeland Township Building with Muth. 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at Henrietta Hankin Library Annex. 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 at Brandywine Wallace Elementary School with Muth. “I encourage my constituents to come out prepared with questions or concerns so we can have a productive discussion and attendees can leave feeling much more informed about their state legislature,” Otten said. “We’ll be covering topics that are important to the community and me, so I want to ensure everyone’s voice is heard at each meeting. When constituents express their views in an open forum like this, I can make better decisions on behalf of this community in Harrisburg.” “Coming together to discuss the issues that matter to our area is an important part of civic engagement and why I enjoy having the opportunity to host town hall meetings such as these. I look forward to hearing the questions and topics community members wish to discuss as it helps Representative Otten and me better understand how we can best serve those we’ve been elected to represent,” Muth said. Constituents can call Otten’s Read more
State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., and Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, released the following statement applauding Gov. Tom Wolf’s most recent charter school reform plan: “While I do support charter schools, I believe major revisions are needed to the 22-year-old law regarding the governance, financing and accountability of charter and cyber charter schools. “My mission has been to ensure that the original intent of the charter school law, which asserts that charter schools were to be innovative and to offer policies to be replicated, continues to be upheld in order to protect students and taxpayers. But we have not yet seen one substantial report that charter schools have created any educational model which could be replicated by other public schools. “Now, thanks to Governor Tom Wolf, with whom I am working closely, the charter schools will have to meet more requirements to improve accountability and transparency. “Over the past several legislative sessions I have pushed initiatives that would improve and strengthen charter school accountability. Most recently, we have introduced several individual bills calling on our colleagues who are concerned with public education in our state to move forward several measures, including imposing limits on fees charged for organizational management to making sure funds collected by charter schools for special education match the actual cost of Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 3 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, will host two informational events on REAL ID this month presented by a representative from PennDOT. These free events will include a short presentation and a Q&A session. The two events will take place at the following times, dates and locations: 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Sept. 9 at West Chester Area Senior Center, 530 E. Union St., West Chester, 19382 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26 at G.A. Stetson Middle School, 1060 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, 19382 “REAL ID can be a confusing and intimidating topic to approach, so I’m happy to help my constituents see if it’s something that would be right for them,” Comitta said. “My office and I are always here to help with any state-related matter, so please reach out to me if you cannot attend one of the presentations but would like detailed information on Pennsylvania’s REAL ID.” Constituents can call Comitta’s office at (610) 696-4990 with any questions. ### Read more
WEST WHITELAND, September 3 – State Rep. Kristine Howard (D-Chester) toured several active and dormant pipeline construction sites around West Whiteland Township today. The tour highlighted drilling procedures, as well as the safety mechanisms put in place by the township, the county, various regulatory agencies and the operators themselves. The tour, conducted by Township officials, broke down three procedures for laying pipes below the ground – trench, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) and boring. The tour also covered the various levels of quality assurance in place to prevent corrosion and leaks. “We need to make the switch to alternative fuels,” Rep. Howard said, “but as we make that transition, we must ensure our current pipeline infrastructure is safe. To that end, township officials meet regularly with operators, inspecting each site, to keep our community safe. To be clear, I am and always will be on the side of my constituents, but while these pipeline operators are here, I will work with my county and township counterparts to ensure these operators are good neighbors.” Read more
SCRANTON, Sept. 3 – Older residents with questions about Medicare or health insurance coverage should visit state Rep. Marty Flynn’s office during his monthly outreach next week. Read more
All shredding occurs on site, is brought back to the Proshred facility, baled and sent to a recycling company, where it is made into new paper products. Read more
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