State lawmakers highlight bills to end youth homelessness

(Nov 15, 2023)

"Housing insecurity should not be a barrier to a quality education," Rep. Donna Bullock said. "One of the most troubling consequences in youth homelessness, however, remains the number of children forced to live on the streets because of the difficulty experienced by their parents or guardians.” Read more

 

Smith-Wade-El’s legislation to authorize sending of electronic transmissions passes House

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El’s H.B. 1477 passed the House yesterday. The bill would amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code to enable municipalities to make certain transmittals and submissions, including proposed comprehensive plans/land use ordinances and amendments to such, through electronic means. “This bill would codify what is already current practice—emailing plans and land ordinances—in order to eliminate the confusion about whether such transmissions are permissible,” said Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster. “The bill is in response to a request for clarification from planners and consultants within the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. I believe this bill, when passed, will help cut the red tape and streamline processes in DCED.” This bill was introduced as H.B. 1592 in the 2021-22 session. Inquiries about this legislation can be directed to Smith-Wade-El’s office at 717-283-4218. Read more

 

Matzie: House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hears testimony on bill to set appliance energy efficiency standards

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – The PA House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee on Tuesday heard testimony about legislation that would set minimum energy efficiency and water conservation standards for some new consumer appliances sold in the state, Majority Chairman Rob Matzie announced. Matzie, D-Beaver, said proponents of H.B. 1615 testified about how the bill would benefit public health, the environment and consumer pocketbooks. “We heard a lot of positives about this bill, including how it would save PA consumers and businesses hundreds of millions annually, cut hundreds of tons of air pollutants and reduce water use by billions,” Matzie said. “We also heard that other states have implemented similar laws. “While the testimony is certainly promising, the committee will continue reviewing the bill’s potential impact on all stakeholders – including the Public Utility Commission, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association and others – before moving forward with a vote.” Matzie said the bill – which is co-sponsored by state Reps. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, and Thomas Mehaffie, R-Dauphin – would not apply to the sale or purchase of used appliances and would not require consumers to switch from existing appliances they already own. The products listed in Read more

 

House Children & Youth Committee approves Bullock resolution to bring awareness to youth experiencing homelessness in PA

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – A resolution ( H.R. 255 ) introduced by state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., designating Nov. 13 through Nov. 17, 2023, as “Pennsylvania Education for Youth Experiencing Homelessness Awareness Week” and Nov. 15, 2023, as “Red Shirt Day” was approved by the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee on Tuesday. The resolution would show statewide solidarity with children experiencing homelessness and encourage Pennsylvanians to wear red on Wednesday, Nov. 15 for “Red Shirt Day.” “Today, as many as 40,000 Pennsylvania students are without adequate housing,” Bullock, chair of the Pennsylvania House Children and Youth Committee, said. “Housing insecurity presents a unique set of educational challenges for children and youth experiencing homelessness, and we must encourage schools, communities and individuals throughout the commonwealth to plan for and support assistance programs for youths experiencing homelessness as they look to complete their education.” Read more

 

Health Committee approves Frankel bill to protect workers from secondhand smoke

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, celebrated approval of his bill to close loopholes in Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act in the House Health Committee Wednesday, saying that it’s long past time for the commonwealth to step in and ensure workers are protected from the hazards of secondhand smoke. “We are the Health Committee – it’s in the name. We cannot refuse to act while thousands of Pennsylvanians are forced to choose between an absolutely undebatable health hazard and their ability to put food on the table,” said Frankel, who is majority chairman of the committee. House Bill 1657 would ban smoking – including the use of e-cigarettes – in the state’s bars, clubs and casinos that were allowed to permit smoking due to loopholes included in the Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act when it was passed in 2008. Frankel noted that much has changed since the prior bill passed, including an avalanche of public health data supporting smoking bans and a sharp decline in the popularity of smoking . A growing body of evidence shows that the feared economic consequences of smoking bans never came to pass and that there are far more consumers who won’t choose to subject themselves to smoking environments than smokers who will shun establishments where they cannot smoke. “It’s preposterous to argue that Read more

 

Salisbury introduces bill to increase financial assessment thresholds for charitable organizations

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – State Rep. Abigail Salisbury, D-Allegheny, introduced legislation today that would raise the monetary threshold amount that subjects charitable organizations to more extensive financial oversight, including mandatory audits. Among other things, Salisbury’s bill would raise the current threshold for a mandatory audit from $750,000 to $1 million, a move she said better reflects current day charitable donations. “Increasing the monetary thresholds that trigger third-party audits or review would cut out red tape and help charitable organizations do what they were created to do – get dollars into the hands of people needing them,” said Salisbury, who serves as House Democratic chair of the Pennsylvania Charitable Nonprofit Caucus . “The current thresholds for subjecting organizations to greater regulation have not been reviewed since 2017, and it’s time to move the line to better reflect current day standards.” Under H.B. 1824 : Charitable organizations receiving annual contributions of $1 million or more would have to be audited by an independent certified public accountant. Under existing law , the audit requirement applies to organizations receiving $750,000 or more. Charitable organizations receiving annual contributions of at least $500,000 but less than $1 million would be required to have a review or audit of their financial statements performed by an independent certified Read more

 

Bullock natural hair braider bill approved by PA House Professional Licensure Committee

(Nov 15, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – A bill ( H.B. 1820 ) introduced by state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., that would create a license exemption for natural hair braiding passed the PA House Professional Licensure Committee today. The legislation would exempt hair braiders from having to obtain a cosmetology license to practice braiding. “Natural hair braiding has been commonplace in the African American community for centuries,” Bullock said. “The techniques have been passed from generation to generation and are learned from early childhood and do not require formal training to do. Natural hair braiding does not involve any chemical treatments, applying heat, cutting or coloring of hair.” More than 33 states have exempted hair braiders from licensing laws, recognizing that natural hair braiding is a safe, cultural practice that is distinct from hairdressing and barbering. “Natural hair braiding doesn’t require formal training and continues to be a technique used often within the African American community,” said state Rep. Regina Young, D-Delaware/Phila., a co-prime sponsor of the legislation. “This legislation recognizes natural hair braiding as a safe and natural cultural practice that should not require license to practice. Natural hair braiding requires simply this: a comb, a brush and a head full of hair to work with.” Read more

 

House adopts Steele’s resolution to audit potential revenue from severance tax on oil and gas

(Nov 14, 2023)

“With global temperatures up 1.1 degrees since industrialization first began, we do not have time to exclude the oil and natural gas industry from the conversations about climate change,” Steele said. “Instead, we must act collaboratively to decarbonize our economy, one of the biggest challenges we face in Pennsylvania today. We have an opportunity to set Pennsylvania up as a worldwide energy leader in the coming carbon neutral economy, and that path begins with gathering as much information as we can about the current lay of the land.” Read more

 

Takac celebrates his first bill to provide veterans more efficient access to resources passing in the House

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, June 7 – House Bill 1086 , which would help connect veterans with government and community resources, passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan support by a vote of 190-13, state Rep. Paul Takac, D-Centre, announced. Takac’s bill would update state law to allow the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to transmit information from the voluntary Veterans Registry to veteran and community outreach partners that participate with the Pennsylvania VETConnect Program. “This legislation will help ensure that veterans have the opportunity to connect with all of the resources available to them,” Takac said. “As a member of the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I am committed to making sure our veterans and their families get all the help they need. This legislation originated with a request by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and allows for the sharing of information in the voluntary veterans registry with veteran and community outreach partners who participate in the PA VETConnect program. “By allowing this improved flow of information, the department, their partners, and the PA VETConnect program will be able to work together to provide more resources and serve veterans in a more direct, efficient, and effective way. Improved coordination between these organizations will help target and connect veterans who may need assistance with employment, Read more

 

House passes legislation to provide cost-of-living increase to retired public servants

(Nov 14, 2023)

“These are our former teachers, our children’s teachers, maintenance workers at the schools, public employees who have kept our state government running and the list goes on, who are living under poverty wages," Deasy said. "We made a promise to these folks that while you likely won’t get rich working the jobs you had, you would not go hungry in retirement. The day has come to fulfill that promise." Read more

 

Venkat’s bill to alleviate medical debt passes House

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Arvind Venkat’s bill, the Medical Debt Relief Act , passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan support. This bill would establish the Medical Debt Relief Program within the Department of Health to discharge medical debt of eligible residents by contracting with a medical debt relief coordinator. Pennsylvanians would be eligible for relief if they have a household income at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or medical debt equal to 5 percent or more of the individual’s household income. Venkat, D-Allegheny, introduced the Medical Debt Relief Act to address the impact medical debt has on the cost and accessibility of health care for patients, providers and the public. “By establishing the Medical Debt Relief Program, we can alleviate medical debt for working Pennsylvanians, improve health care institutions and providers’ finances and reduce the costs for all Pennsylvanians,” Venkat said. “As an emergency physician, I’ve witnessed patients delay medical care due to the rising cost of health care, to the point of dying as a result. Through this bill, it is my hope that we can alleviate Pennsylvanians’ medical debt so that they may receive the health care they need.” The House passed the Medical Debt Relief Act by a vote of 114-89. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. Read more

 

PA House passes Benham bill to increase public safety in nighttime economies

(Nov 14, 2023)

Bill would create grant program, streamline reporting of underage drinking Read more

 

Legislators Reach Across the Aisle to Speed Up Road Projects

(Nov 14, 2023)

“It can take five to 10 years to get a road or bridge constructed using current state government practices,” added state Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., majority chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Neilson was the prime sponsor of the bill. “It was a pleasure to work with Rep. Struzzi on this much needed legislation,” Neilson said. “It shows that great things can happen when we work together.” Read more

 

Legislation geared toward proper use of state grant funding passes state House, heads to state Senate

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced that his legislation, House Bill 842, which would prevent the misuse of state grants or loans, was passed by the state House. Also known as the Clawback Act, H.B. 842 would require all new state grant and loan programs to include language to address the misuse of funding when entities fail to meet program guidelines and metrics. “Our state’s grant programs are essential tools designed to support the needs of our residents,” Kenyatta said. “These programs do so much good, but it’s imperative that we enact legislation to address the potential misuse of state grants in order to protect taxpayers’ money.” State Rep. Jenifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, who also is a prime sponsor of this legislation, echoed Kenyatta’s remarks. “Ensuring accountability in grant and loan programs isn't just about financial prudence; it's a commitment to safeguarding taxpayer trust in the system that serves our communities, “O’Mara said. “When taxes veer from their intended purpose, the very foundation of a functional system begins to crumble.” Another co-prime sponsor, state Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, noted the importance of the bill. "If you apply for and receive state funding for a project, then you should adhere to the stipulations that come with the funding," Madden said. "Misuse of grant Read more

 

Abney introduces bill for PA to join Social Work Licensure Compact

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – Rep. Aerion A. Abney, D-Allegheny, introduced a bill today that would add Pennsylvania to the list of states who are members of the Social Work Licensure Compact. The legislation ( H.B. 1841 ) would allow licensed commonwealth social workers or those eligible for a license to apply for the ability to provide their services across multiple states. A comprehensive data system would also be created, so the public could be kept safe and informed with regards to social worker license status and any adverse actions associated with them. “Often an underappreciated profession, an increased demand for social workers became evident through the pandemic and continues as people deal with ongoing traumas,” Abney said. “My bill would be a win-win for social workers seeking employment opportunities and individuals in need of personal and emotional assistance.” Abney holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. The bill has been referred to the House Professional Licensure Committee. Read more

 

Matzie elected vice chair of Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – State Rep. Rob Matzie was elected vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee as the bicameral, bipartisan committee met yesterday to approve the 2022 annual report of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Matzie, who is the committee’s longest-serving member, said the group’s work in overseeing PIAA-sanctioned sports includes ensuring student athletes have opportunities to participate and thrive in a broad range of competitive settings. “School sports can play such a key role in developing a student’s character and confidence, instilling a sense of fair play and teaching other critical lessons outside the classroom,” Matzie said. “But we need to ensure the system is evolving so it includes new opportunities and reaches more students. “At today’s meeting, I asked the PIAA about progress toward expanding high school sports to include women’s flag football, which is rapidly increasing in popularity and has been designated an Olympic sport. I was satisfied to hear that the board is monitoring the sport’s growth here in the commonwealth with an eye toward seeing it become an established competitive sport.” At the meeting, Matzie also expressed his hope to see increased livestream coverage of student competitions and discussed his concerns regarding Read more

 

Salisbury’s bill to permit remote work capabilities passes House unanimously

(Nov 14, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – State Rep. Abigail Salisbury’s bill that would allow employees of licensees in the sales finance industry to work remotely unanimously passed the House Monday. The legislation, H.B. 1580 , applies to workers at licensees who qualify under the Consumer Discount Company Act and the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act. “Fueling the well-being and morale of workers while keeping businesses competitive now moves a step closer to becoming reality,” Salisbury, D-Allegheny, said. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting my bill that is a win-win for a prosperous economy and the people who make it possible.” State Rep. Tim Twardzik, R-Schuylkill, is co-sponsoring Salisbury’s legislation, which does not change any requirements pertaining to licensing, examination or regulation by the Department of Banking and Securities. Salisbury’s legislation now heads to the state Senate for consideration. Read more

 

Hohenstein bill protecting public from wild animals passes House

(Nov 13, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13 – A bill ( H.B. 1451 ) sponsored by state Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., which would protect the public from unsafe encounters with wild animals, passed the House today by vote of 109-94. The legislation was proposed following a decision by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to move away from a safety measure that prohibited direct contact between the public and wildlife, particularly exotic wildlife. This legislation would protect the public and exotic animals by preventing the public from feeding or having direct physical contact with exotic animals without having a sufficient barrier in place. “We have to remember that wild animals are wild, and their intrinsic instincts are going to make them unpredictable,” Hohenstein said. “Scratches, bites and such from exotic animals can be very harmful to individuals and to the public at large by spreading viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.” Read more

 

Fleming Appointed to the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee

(Nov 13, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13 – State Rep. Justin Fleming, D-Dauphin, has been appointed by House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Phila., to the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee. The committee oversees issues involving sports and athletic competitions sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. The committee also receives an annual report from the PIAA with recommendations for the General Assembly. Fleming said he brings a unique perspective to the committee as a lettered high school athlete in baseball at Susquehanna Township High School. “Athletics offers kids opportunities to learn critical physical, emotional and intellectual skills that will serve them their whole lives,” Fleming said. “As a former student-athlete and the father of two children who participate in athletics, I have an interest in the committee’s issues and look forward to working with my colleagues, as well as the PIAA to ensure all student-athletes are competing safely and fairly.” The six-member committee consists of two members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the House minority leader, two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate and one appointed by the Senate minority leader. Read more

 

House Democrats Introduce Eviction Record Sealing Legislation

(Nov 13, 2023)

HARRISBURG, Nov.13 – State Reps. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, Elizabeth Fiedler, Rich Krajewski and Majority Appropriations Committee Chairman Jordan Harris, all D-Phila., held a news conference today to highlight their legislation, House Bill 1769, that would seal some records in certain cases such as no-fault evictions. “We all deserve a safe, warm place to call home, but for millions of renters across the commonwealth, one mistake or emergency can lead to an eviction,” Smith-Wade-El said. “After evictions, households can struggle for months to find housing, which can break up families, risk employment, and lead to homelessness. This legislation would help give Pennsylvania’s renters a fair chance at finding housing by establishing procedures for limited access to eviction records. This legislation is a commonsense step that would make it easier for working-class Pennsylvanians to access housing.” According to the legislators, as soon as an eviction is filed, it becomes a permanent mark on someone’s background, making harder to find housing. The record remains even if the case was withdrawn, the tenant endured domestic violence, or the court found in favor of the tenant. Evictions disrupt workforce development for large swaths of communities and strain existing social support systems throughout the state. These records can put vulnerable people in difficult and dangerous situations, putting survivors of domestic violence Read more

 

State lawmakers highlight bills to end youth homelessness
Nov 15, 2023

Smith-Wade-El’s legislation to authorize sending of electronic transmissions passes House
Nov 15, 2023

Matzie: House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hears testimony on bill to set appliance energy efficiency standards
Nov 15, 2023

House Children & Youth Committee approves Bullock resolution to bring awareness to youth experiencing homelessness in PA
Nov 15, 2023

Health Committee approves Frankel bill to protect workers from secondhand smoke
Nov 15, 2023

Salisbury introduces bill to increase financial assessment thresholds for charitable organizations
Nov 15, 2023

Bullock natural hair braider bill approved by PA House Professional Licensure Committee
Nov 15, 2023

House adopts Steele’s resolution to audit potential revenue from severance tax on oil and gas
Nov 14, 2023

Takac celebrates his first bill to provide veterans more efficient access to resources passing in the House
Nov 14, 2023

House passes legislation to provide cost-of-living increase to retired public servants
Nov 14, 2023

Venkat’s bill to alleviate medical debt passes House
Nov 14, 2023

PA House passes Benham bill to increase public safety in nighttime economies
Nov 14, 2023

Legislators Reach Across the Aisle to Speed Up Road Projects
Nov 14, 2023

Legislation geared toward proper use of state grant funding passes state House, heads to state Senate
Nov 14, 2023

Abney introduces bill for PA to join Social Work Licensure Compact
Nov 14, 2023

Matzie elected vice chair of Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee
Nov 14, 2023

Salisbury’s bill to permit remote work capabilities passes House unanimously
Nov 14, 2023

Hohenstein bill protecting public from wild animals passes House
Nov 13, 2023

Fleming Appointed to the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee
Nov 13, 2023

House Democrats Introduce Eviction Record Sealing Legislation
Nov 13, 2023