Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal

(Feb 07, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, released the following response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year: “This year’s budget proposal seems like a smart approach to helping all Pennsylvanians while rethinking government efficiencies. The governor intends to make consolidations and cuts where necessary, while not jeopardizing gains we’ve made in education and health care, especially for those suffering from addiction. “There are investments in education and efforts to help more individuals with intellectual disabilities. The plan also includes additional funding to battle the statewide opioid crisis. “I especially applaud his proposal that would require municipalities who currently receive local police coverage for free from the Pennsylvania State Police to share in the costs. I have been fighting for years on this issue because it is unfair for 20 percent of the state’s population to get free police coverage while the rest of us pay for them and our own local police. “At first glance, the plan seems like a good starting point and I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks about how it could impact our state agencies.” Read more

 

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage

(Jan 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on raising the minimum wage. Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, co-chaired the hearing at the YWCA, which discussed the effects of increasing the minimum wage. “Pennsylvania is long overdue for an increase in the minimum wage,” Kim said. “It’s been eight years since the floor was raised to $7.25 in Pennsylvania. In 2016, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage was about one-third below its 1968 level – even though productivity has doubled since 1968.” “When we talk about a minimum wage, we should be talking about a livable wage,” Sturla said. “Pennsylvanians who work 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. I support raising the minimum wage, and I’m glad the Policy Committee can bring more attention to the issue.” Currently, someone earning minimum wage who works 40 hours per week only earns $15,080, some $4,700 below the poverty line, requiring many people to rely on government assistance programs to get by. Testifiers were Sean Ramaley, deputy secretary at the state Department of Labor and Industry; John Traynor, owner of Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center and the Kitchen Bar; Mary Quinn, president and CEO of the YWCA Harrisburg; and Mark Price, Ph.D., a labor economist from the Keystone Research Center. For hearing testimonies, Read more

 

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Tim Briggs on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require U.S. presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to be eligible to appear on the Pennsylvania ballot. House Bill 222 seeks to make transparent a presidential candidate’s financial interests before being elected to the highest office in the nation. “The need for this tradition is clear,” Briggs said. “Many Americans, not to mention the national security community, want to know whether presidential candidates have personal or business interests that could undermine their commitment to act in the best interests of the United States should they become president. “More importantly, all Americans, whether they supported the president's election or not, must know whether there are any financial interests that may affect his or her decision making while serving.” Briggs’ introduction of the bill follows President Donald Trump’s recent reversal on his pledge to release his tax returns following what he described while campaigning as a routine audit. “President Trump’s refusal to release a most basic, yet vital, piece of information could be categorized as a text-book bait and switch,” Briggs said. “One or more states’ refusal to place a candidate on the ballot, on the other hand, could easily prevent something like this from ever happening again. All public Read more

 

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform

(Jan 26, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, has introduced a measure that would restore the 24-hour period House members must wait before being able to vote on legislation amended by the Senate. The change to the waiting period from the previously established 24 hours to six hours was tucked into the overall House rules package, which was voted on Jan. 3 with very little notice. The rules were approved by a 167-32 vote. "On the first day of the new legislative session, the House changed its rules to make it easier for House leadership to obscure the contents of important legislation from rank-and-file House members and the general public," Vitali said. "This rule will be the most damaging around budget time. Frequently, House and Senate leaders surreptitiously insert provisions in large, budget-related bills that many rank-and-file members and the public would find highly objectionable." Vitali said some examples of this furtiveness from last session include when provisions were inserted into the fiscal code to cancel regulations to make gas drilling safer, delay measures to address climate change and transfer millions of dollars from a fund for high energy efficiency buildings for natural gas development. "Six hours is simply not enough time for even the most diligent legislator to find and raise a cry -- or the public to give input -- on the objectionable provisions, especially considering the multitude of Read more

 

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus

(Jan 25, 2017)

Citing the very real threat posed by climate change, state Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery, was joined today by legislators and advocacy groups to announce the formation of the bicameral Climate Caucus. Read more

 

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee

(Jan 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Matt Bradford will serve as the Democratic chairman of the House State Government Committee during the 2017-18 session, according to Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. "I'm honored to be asked to lead this important committee and I look forward to getting to work quickly on a wide array of issues,” Bradford said. “I also hope to work with the majority chairman to promote productive discussions among all committee members.” Bradford noted the committee handles many hot-button issues such as voting rights, discrimination, redistricting, government reform, lobbying disclosure, state agency procurement and labor agreements, campaign finance and election laws. “Many of the questions considered in the State Government Committee come down to protection of people’s most basic rights. I’m committed to standing up for what’s right,” Bradford said. “This is a new role for Matt on a key legislative committee,” Dermody said. “I know he’s well prepared for it and will provide valuable leadership.” Bradford, an attorney, has served in the House since 2009 and represents the 70 th District which includes Norristown, East Norriton and Worcester townships, and part of Plymouth Township. Read more

 

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule

(Jan 13, 2017)

Gov. Tom Wolf will deliver his 2017-18 budget proposal to lawmakers and the public on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Three weeks of House budget hearings will begin on Tuesday, February 21 at the Capitol. Here's the schedule. Read more

 

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal

(Jan 05, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, plans to introduce legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to study the impact of federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act on Pennsylvania residents. "Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only put at risk the health care coverage of millions of Pennsylvanians, but also devastate our state’s finances. Pennsylvania has saved about $700 million a year from the law’s drug rebates, increased funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and closing of the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit 'donut hole.' Without the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania taxpayers would need to come up with this funding from somewhere else – at a time when we already face large, unsustainable budget shortfalls," Frankel said. "We also know the law has had many other benefits for Pennsylvanians, and we need to know what the impact would be if a new president and Congress take them away. These gains that are at risk include: enabling young people to stay on their parents' plans until age 26; free preventive care; federally funded Medicaid expansion that has helped to cover roughly 600,000 Pennsylvanians; banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and banning annual and lifetime limits on care. Losing any of these protections – let alone all of them – would have a major impact on Read more

 

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention

(Dec 19, 2016)

State Rep. Brandon Neuman is drafting legislation to further improve testing of evidence from sexual assaults. Neuman said his new measure will provide the next step toward finding a comprehensive remedy against domestic and sexual violence. Read more

 

Schweyer proposal would fund unemployment compensation centers

(Dec 12, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 12 – In an effort to limit the length of the imminent shutdown for unemployment compensation service centers in Allentown, Altoona and Lancaster, state Rep. Peter Schweyer plans to reintroduce legislation that would extend program funding for one year. Read more

 

Prescription donation program proposed by Pashinski

(Dec 07, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 7 – State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, plans to introduce legislation that would create the Prescription Drug Donation Program. Pashinski’s proposal would require the State Board of Pharmacy to establish a voluntary program under which health care facilities may donate unused prescription drugs to vendor pharmacies that would repackage and redistribute the donated drugs to community-based clinics that provide primary health care services to financially disadvantaged Pennsylvanians. “The high cost of prescription drugs often discourages people from seeking medical help in the first place,” Pashinski said. “Under my plan, we would increase the availability of prescription medications to Pennsylvania’s neediest residents.” In order for a prescription drug to be donated, it would have to be in the original unopened, sealed and tamper-evident unit dose packaging. Additionally, the legislation would require that entities volunteering to participate must be approved by the State Board of Pharmacy and comply with all applicable laws associated with safety and procedure. Pashinski is seeking co-sponsors for the legislation and will introduce it when the 2017-18 session convenes in January. Read more

 

New leadership for Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus ready to advance priorities for African-Americans and people of color

(Nov 16, 2016)

Calling it an extreme honor to have the opportunity to be a strong voice for African-Americans and people of color across the commonwealth, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., was elected Tuesday to serve as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Read more

 

Productive year for the Pennsylvania Legislature

(Oct 28, 2016)

Legislators marked the end of a very productive 2016 legislative year this week with a flurry of activity that saw final passage of new bills to battle the state's opioid crisis, modernize beer sales, approve ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft across Pennsylvania, and improve the state's unemployment system to help thousands of workers and their families and put the unemployment fund on firm financial footing. Read more

 

Galloway: new Unemployment Compensation rules will restore up to 44,000 workers to the program at no additional cost

(Oct 26, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, announced that the legislature today finalized an important update to the state's Unemployment Compensation program. The bill, if signed by the governor, will restore benefits for cyclical workers who currently make too much money during their busy season to qualify for benefits in the down times. When Act 60 of 2012 was passed to help stabilize the UC Trust Fund, part of that change required an employee to earn at least 49.5 percent of his annual earnings outside his highest earning quarter. "This bill removes that stipulation which unfairly hurts workers who made too much money in their busiest season," Galloway said. "Act 60's changes led to the unintended consequence of making these workers ineligible for the compensation they would otherwise be entitled to receive. Construction workers often fell into this trap. This bill drops the earnings requirement back to its pre-Act 60 limit, 37 percent outside the highest earning quarter. This will be a crucial change for these workers and other changes incorporated in the bill mean it will pay for itself and not affect the solvency of the fund." House Bill 319, which was amended in the Senate on Tuesday, received final Senate passage this evening and the House then moved to concur with the Senate changes. In addition to restoring the program eligibility to approximately Read more

 

Neilson applauds passage of payroll debit card legislation

(Oct 26, 2016)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., today applauded the final passage of legislation that would allow employers to pay wages through debit cards while also providing protections to limit fees on employees accessing those wages. Senate Bill 1265, which is similar to legislation Neilson introduced in the 2013-14 legislative session, would allow employers to pay wages through check, electronic fund transfer or payroll cards. "This legislation will help Pennsylvanians who are unable to open or maintain a bank account to still have convenient access to the wages they earn," Neilson said. "While a traditional bank account still has its advantages, these debit cards will allow employees to avoid the high cost and other fees associated with check cashing and money orders." This legislation, which now heads to Gov. Tom Wolf for his expected signature, would establish requirements and parameters for employers to use payroll debit cards in the payment of employee wages and penalties for those employers found to be in violation of the law. Read more

 

Schlossberg pushes proposals to allow seniors the opportunity to age in place

(Oct 04, 2016)

ALLENTOWN, Oct. 4 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, hosted a news conference today at Lehigh Valley Active Life to discuss two pieces of legislation he recently introduced that would offer older Pennsylvanians additional resources and enable them to receive health care while continuing to live in their homes. “Allowing a senior to age in place is good for the person and it is sensible public policy,” Schlossberg said. “Preserving an older Pennsylvanian’s opportunity to live in the independence of their home can offer between 72 and 74 percent savings when compared to the cost of a nursing facility and can significantly increase their quality of life.” House Bill 2371 would establish the Caregiver Tax Credit, which would allow taxpayers who qualify for the federal dependent care credit to apply for a tax credit against their state income tax liability. As of 2015, 23 other states have a similar tax credit in place. “As a state, we are getting older. In the past four years, our population over the age of 65 had increased by 8.9 percent and outpaced our overall population growth. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that older Pennsylvanians have the tools and resources they need to live happy and full lives,” Schlossberg said. House Bill 2372 would establish the Livable Home Tax Credit, which would offer a tax credit for homeowners or construction contractors renovating or building senior-accessible Read more

 

Krueger-Braneky, labor and environmental leaders release study on job creation impact of cutting methane emissions in oil and gas industry

(Sep 27, 2016)

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, joined Pennsylvania leaders today and released a first-of-its-kind report that estimates that thousands of jobs will be created in the United States by reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The U.S. EPA finalized standards to limit methane emissions from new and modified sources earlier this year. Read more

 

Putting retirement security within reach of every Pennsylvanian

(Sep 16, 2016)

Pennsylvanians looking for a more secure retirement -- and an easier way of getting there – would get that with the proposed Keystone Retirement Savings Plan. Read more

 

Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky hosts HDPC to study graduation exams and high-stakes testing

(Sep 12, 2016)

Pa. state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky hosted the House Democratic Policy Committee to her district for a public hearing on the how to improve standardized testing and graduation requirements. Krueger-Braneky says the system, including the Keystone Exams, is failing too many students who are otherwise educationally solid. Read more

 

Briggs: Delay school start times

(Sep 08, 2016)

KING OF PRUSSIA, Sept. 8 – As the new school year gets under way, state Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, is urging his colleagues in the General Assembly to seriously consider his legislation that would study the effects of a later start time to the school day for high school students in Pennsylvania. "Teens don’t get as much sleep as they should. While this is nothing new, and in fact science suggests their changing bodies are at least partly responsible, we should be doing everything in our power to allow them to get the 8½ - 9½ hours of sleep they need to be properly rested," Briggs said. Read more

 

Sturla comments on governor’s 2017-18 budget proposal
Feb 07, 2017

Kim holds Policy Committee hearing on raising minimum wage
Jan 30, 2017

Briggs introduces bill requiring presidential candidates to publically disclose tax returns
Jan 26, 2017

Vitali moves to restore House Rules reform
Jan 26, 2017

McCarter joined by legislators, advocacy groups to announce formation of Climate Caucus
Jan 25, 2017

Bradford named chairman of State Government Committee
Jan 19, 2017

House Appropriations Committee 2017-18 Budget Hearing Schedule
Jan 13, 2017

"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal
Jan 05, 2017

Neuman: Improved testing of rape kits deserves further attention
Dec 19, 2016

Schweyer proposal would fund unemployment compensation centers
Dec 12, 2016

Prescription donation program proposed by Pashinski
Dec 07, 2016

New leadership for Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus ready to advance priorities for African-Americans and people of color
Nov 16, 2016

Productive year for the Pennsylvania Legislature
Oct 28, 2016

Galloway: new Unemployment Compensation rules will restore up to 44,000 workers to the program at no additional cost
Oct 26, 2016

Neilson applauds passage of payroll debit card legislation
Oct 26, 2016

Schlossberg pushes proposals to allow seniors the opportunity to age in place
Oct 04, 2016

Krueger-Braneky, labor and environmental leaders release study on job creation impact of cutting methane emissions in oil and gas industry
Sep 27, 2016

Putting retirement security within reach of every Pennsylvanian
Sep 16, 2016

Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky hosts HDPC to study graduation exams and high-stakes testing
Sep 12, 2016

Briggs: Delay school start times
Sep 08, 2016