Miller to introduce legislation regarding law enforcement concussion protocol

(Apr 10, 2017)

MT. LEBANON, April 10 – State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, announced that he will introduce a bill that would require the Pennsylvania State Police, in coordination with other interested groups, to establish a concussion protocol to be used for all law enforcement officers. Once introduced, the bill will become H.B. 1176. Miller is partnering with state Reps. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, and Barry Jozwiak, R-Berks, as main sponsors of the bill. He is currently inviting other representatives to sign on as co-sponsors. The bill would direct the Pennsylvania State Police, in consultation with the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association, union representatives of law enforcement officers, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and appropriate state agencies that have expertise in the area of traumatic brain injury, to develop a concussion protocol which will be used by all police departments to protect a law enforcement officer who suffers or who may have suffered a head impact or head injury while on the job. “This legislation recognizes the physical risks inherent with a career in law enforcement,” Miller said. “Injuries, assaults and crashes are just part of the job and concussion symptoms can be easily missed. Officers protect the public every day, and we have to be sure to cover them and their families when injuries like these occur. Documentation is key.” When the bill is introduced, it will be assigned to a House committee for Read more

 

Longietti seeks contractor transparency, financial accountability for school management organizations

(Apr 10, 2017)

HERMITAGE, April 10 – Seeking to protect students and taxpayers, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, plans to introduce legislation that would limit charter school management organization fees to no more than 5 percent of tuition charged per student enrolled. Besides limiting overhead, Longietti said his forthcoming bill would require much more disclosure of financial documentation from for-profit and nonprofit school management organizations. “Currently, Pennsylvania law is deficient on placing limits paid – and revealing contracts made – with management companies, which can result in profit-making with public education dollars,” Longietti said. “Moreover, management company fees increase a school’s administrative costs and result in less money being available to educate the students.” Longietti added that it is difficult for authorizers, oversight bodies and taxpayers to see how their money is spent by these private companies unless such transparency is required by law. His legislation would apply to for-profit management companies that provide management, educational or administrative services to public school entities, including school districts, charter and cyber charter schools. Generally, a private organization or firm that manages public schools, including district and charter public schools, is referred to as an education management organization or a charter management organization. Longietti said research Read more

 

Rep. Madden to introduce bill for timely transfer of students’ school records

(Apr 10, 2017)

State Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe, said she plans to introduce legislation in the near future that would require schools to provide a timely transfer of students’ records to another school. "My legislation would protect students and their families regardless of their choice of school," Madden said. Madden said the legislation would include students who transfer to another public school, including charter schools, or a nonpublic school. "It is necessary that a student be provided with the continuity of their education program and my bill would ensure that a student's records are transferred within 10 days from the school’s request for those records," Madden said. The Monroe County lawmaker said the school would also need to evaluate students’ needs and place them in the appropriate academic programs, and provide a complete and accurate record of their academic and attendance records. "Record keeping is vital to an education system’s information cycle and school records are an important means of accountability because they provide proof and they also provide data that reveal students' learning performances," Madden said. Madden said school records help administrators and teachers make decisions about their students. Madden represents the 115 th Legislative District. Read more

 

Republican healthcare failure boosts momentum for states to get more of their residents insured

(Apr 07, 2017)

Republicans' Affordable Care Act repeal and replace debacle seems to have had one unintended but beneficial consequence -- a renewed interest in Medicaid expansion in Red states that had previously rejected it. When congressional Republicans and Donald Trump tried to jeopardize the healthcare and financial security of millions of American middle class working families, they faced a backlash that state legislatures and governors felt, as well. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government offers funding for states that open up Medicaid to the middle class. Only 31 states have taken the money so far -- almost all of them led by Democrats. But after the ACA repeal plan died without a vote, several states where Republican opposition was blocking Medicaid expansion suddenly grew more receptive. In Georgia, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal announced he is now open to applying for a federal waiver that would let the state expand Medicaid. In Virginia, where the Republican-dominated legislature has denied Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's attempts to expand Medicaid, he is renewing his push. In deep-Red Kansas, the legislature voted to expand Medicaid and narrowly missed overriding the governor's subsequent veto. And, in Maine, where the legislature passed Medicaid expansion five times only to see it vetoed by the governor, frustrated voters finally took matters into their own hands and got the question placed on the ballot this coming Read more

 

Government working for you doesn't 'work' for the corporations

(Apr 06, 2017)

Earlier this year, Philadelphia became the first city in the United States to bar employers from asking potential workers to disclose their previous incomes. The city law is an important step toward ensuring #EqualPay for women and others who traditionally face wage discrimination. Now, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, with the support of several major corporations in the city, reportedly will challenge the city law in court in an attempt to have it overturned. In the wake of a complete failure by the Republican legislature to act on any significant worker-friendly legislation -- such as #EqualPay, #PaidLeave, or the #MinimumWage -- statewide, cities and municipalities in Pennsylvania are forced to take on the responsibility of protecting you and your family at the local level. Corporate special interests and their friends in Harrisburg are fighting against these worker protections vigorously -- in the legislature by proposing bills to pre-empt local worker-friendly legislation and at the local level by going to court. Evidence from other states where equal pay, paid leave, minimum wage and other worker-friendly measures are in place shows that these initiatives don't just support workers like you and your family, they boost the economy and help businesses and communities thrive. They put more money in your pocket, and in the pockets of other middle-class working families -- the engine that drives our economy. Read more

 

Pashinski, labor leaders call Open Workforce Initiative Package anti-worker, bad for Pennsylvania

(Apr 04, 2017)

Calling it part of a continued systematic assault on workers, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, joined labor leaders and fellow legislators today to call a package of bills known as the Open Workforce Initiative Package another anti-worker attempt to destroy unions and turn Pennsylvania into a “right-to-work” for less state. Read more

 

Vitali opposes proposed cuts to DEP in House Republican budget proposal

(Apr 04, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – Citing concerns for public safety, state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, voiced his opposition to House Republicans’ $8.9 million cut to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in their proposed 2017-2018 budget, which passed the House by a vote of 114 to 84 today. “The gross underfunding of the DEP continues to put the public at risk,” Vitali said. “The DEP has already been warned by the federal government that it is not adequately staffed to enforce safe drinking water, air quality and pollution standards. Since 2002, state funding for the DEP has been cut by about 40 percent, leading to staff being reduced by 600 positions. These proposed cuts will only serve to further endanger the health and lives of the people of Pennsylvania.” Vitali says these cuts are particularly dangerous as the DEP struggles to meet its minimum enforcement obligations. According to a letter from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the DEP has failed to conduct the minimum number of sanitary surveys of water systems, has a severely understaffed Air Quality Monitoring Division and has failed to meet required inspection compliance rates among other issues caused by understaffing of the agency. Last March the U.S. Department of the Interior warned DEP that it had an insufficient number of Surface Mining Compliance Inspectors. DEP’s failure to inspect its Read more

 

Warren works to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists

(Apr 04, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – State Rep. Perry S. Warren, D-Bucks, has introduced legislation that would keep suspected terrorists from buying or owning a firearm in Pennsylvania. House Bill 528 would require Pennsylvania State Police to determine whether someone is on the FBI’s terrorist watch list, which includes the no-fly list, before that person would be allowed to purchase a firearm or obtain one by transfer. Anyone denied would still have the right to appeal. Numerous polls, including some conducted after the 2016 terrorist attack on an Orlando nightclub, have shown that the vast majority support taking such steps to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. Warren said the bill, which was originally introduced in 2015-16 by previous state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, is a commonsense measure that will help reduce senseless gun violence. “Someone who can’t board a plane because of suspected involvement in terrorism shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a firearm, either,” he said. The bill, which has co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Read more

 

‘Free’ tuition ads would be prohibited under Schlossberg bill

(Apr 03, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit public school entities from advertising “free” tuition or transportation and require them to disclose that instructional and transportation costs are paid for by tax dollars. Read more

 

Longietti bill to double amount employer may pay directly to surviving relative easily passes House

(Apr 03, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 3 – State Rep. Mark Longietti’s effort to increase from $5,000 to $10,000 the amount an employer may pay directly to a surviving relative from a deceased employee’s final paycheck unanimously passed the House today. House Bill 203 , sponsored by Longietti, D-Mercer, seeks to update a section of the state’s Estate Code for the first time in more than two decades. The measure, which passed the House as H.B. 1974 in the last legislative session, now again moves to the Senate. “Under current law, if a deceased person’s final paycheck exceeds $5,000, the surviving relative must initiate formal estate proceedings with the county Register of Wills and the Court of Common Pleas,” Longietti said. “This results in a delay in receiving needed funds – and the surviving relative incurs a significant cost.” Longietti said by way of comparison, current law allows a relative to withdraw up to $10,000 from a deceased person’s bank account to cover funeral expenses, so he is seeking to put the final paycheck at that same threshold. A local attorney brought the issue to Longietti’s attention after he encountered a growing number of situations where the final paycheck exceeded $5,000. In those instances, Longietti said, the check must be made payable to the estate, meaning the next of kin gets zero until after formal estate proceedings commence and wind their way through the court system. Read more

 

The lifelong impact of the gender wage gap

(Apr 03, 2017)

Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day -- the day that marks how far into this year full-time women had to work to earn what their male counterparts earned last year. A new study finds that in the U.S., women on average have to work 50 years to earn what men earn in 40 years for the same or similar work. A 20-year-old woman just starting full-time work today stands to lose nearly $420,000 over a 40-year career compared to her male counterpart -- that's more than $10,000 a year lost, simply because she's a woman. While her male counterpart can retire at age 60 after 40 years of work, she would have to work until age 70 -- beyond Social Security's full retirement age of 67 -- to close that gap. In Pennsylvania , the wage gap costs women $430,480 over a 40-year career compared to a man. A woman in Pennsylvania has to work until she is 71 years old just to earn what a man does by the time he is 60. Most middle-class families today depend on two incomes to meet household expenses, raise their kids and send them to college, and prepare for retirement. They depend on women's wages more than ever before -- but companies and businesses that refuse to pay women the same as men are cheating these working women and their families out of nearly half a million dollars over their career. Not only is that unfair and wrong -- it's economically short-sighted. Ending the wage gap would allow more families to realize Read more

 

Washington continues its war on families

(Mar 31, 2017)

It seems Republicans in Congress are engaged in an all-out war against the best interests of working men and women and their families. This week, they wrapped up votes to dismantle online privacy protections for Americans so that internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are free to store, share and sell you private online data -- including your financial data, health records and browsing history -- for profit without your knowledge or consent. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate moved one step closer to torpedoing efforts by many cities and state governments -- including Pennsylvania -- to create a safe and easy way for private-sector workers to save for retirement. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Oregon have already approved plans that would enroll private-sector workers who don't have access to retirement plans at work into state-run IRAs that would move with them from job to job. Representatives Mike Hanna and Mike Driscoll have introduced a similar plan in Pennsylvania called the Keystone Retirement Savings Program . Workers could opt out, but otherwise, a small portion of their wages would automatically be deposited into a personal account managed by the Treasury -- similar to the state's 529 college savings plan. The plan would ease the cost and burden to businesses of providing access to retirement savings for their workers since employers would not contribute to the IRA accounts and the Read more

 

Republicans in DC are selling your privacy to the highest bidder -- we need to protect you and your family

(Mar 30, 2017)

Republicans in Congress have passed legislation doing away with internet privacy protections the FCC put in place last year. The vote means internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T can collect, store and share your sensitive online data like Social Security numbers, health information or children's information without your consent. It also eliminates the rule that required internet service providers to inform you when a data breach occurs and your private information may be compromised. Internet service providers want to change the rules in the middle of the game, and Republicans in Congress just voted to let them. Government is supposed to work for and protect you and your family, not the big companies that want to exploit your personal information and online activity for private profit. The legislature needs to put the FCC protections Congress just eliminated into state law here in Pennsylvania so we can protect our consumers in light of Washington's failure. Internet Service Providers are your on-ramp to the information superhighway. This allows them to gain access to your personal information -- some of it very sensitive. You should be in the driver's seat -- and at the very least in the know -- when these companies use that information to make a profit. To protect you and your family, we should: Require internet service providers to notify you about what types of information they Read more

 

PA must step up to protect its residents

(Mar 28, 2017)

Now that Republicans are in charge in Washington, the federal government seems poised to roll back nearly every kind of financial, health and safety, and consumer protection Americans once enjoyed. The goal is to help corporations increase their profits and evade their responsibilities, no matter how much it costs you. Already, Trump and Republicans in Congress are moving to eliminate policies aimed at giving all Americans -- not just corporations -- a voice in the health of their environment and how federal lands are used. They are dismantling financial protections for consumers and eliminating the rules that have prevented the Wall Street banks from steering the country into another financial meltdown. And in the latest move, Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation that would give big telecom companies such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T access to your private data -- including your Social Security number -- so they can sell it to the highest bidder. With Washington quickly becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, it will be increasingly important for states like Pennsylvania to step in to protect you and your family. This session, House Democrats will be asking Republicans in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to join us in putting you first with policies that: protect your opportunities, wages and benefits at work; protect your family's financial security and your retirement security; ensure your children have Read more

 

Rep. Frankel to host Policy hearing on Affordable Care Act/Medicaid Expansion Repeal Wednesday in Pittsburgh

(Mar 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Pittsburgh, announced today that he will host a House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss impacts of a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 29 at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, QiT Center, 26 th Floor, Centre City Tower, 650 Smithfield St., Pittsburgh. The current hearing agenda is: 10 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel One: Leesa Allen , deputy secretary for Medical Assistance programs, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Dr. Loren Robinson , deputy secretary for health promotion and disease prevention, Pennsylvania Department of Health Jessica Altman , chief of staff, Pennsylvania Insurance Department 11 a.m. Panel Two: Erika Fricke , health policy director, Allies for Children B.J. Leber , president and CEO, Adagio Health Susan Friedberg Kalson , CEO, Squirrel Hill Health Center Carmen Alexander , senior operations manager, New Voices Pittsburgh 11:50 a.m. Panel Three: Cassie Narkevic , health insurance enrollment counselor, Consumer Health Coalition Kristy Trautman , executive director, FISA Foundation AJ Harper , president, Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania 12:30 p.m. Panel Four: Christie Hudson, clinical social work/therapist Dr. Liz Cuevas , internist, AGH Internal Read more

 

'Deaths of despair' in economic stagnation and social immobility

(Mar 27, 2017)

In a decade increasingly dominated by Republican control of state legislatures, the very Americans they've promised to help the most have benefited the least. A new study from Princeton University shows a sharp rise in "deaths of despair" among middle-age working Americans. These skyrocketing rates of death from things like drugs, alcohol and suicide are unique in America -- they have occurred at the same time mortality rates have plunged among similar populations in other Western democracies. The Princeton study identifies a decades-long trend of economic stagnation and social immobility in the U.S. as an important factor. Wages stagnated or fell, benefits and pensions disappeared, and at the same time higher education and training became more necessary, both became less affordable and less accessible for many middle-class Americans. Working people without a college degree have experienced both real and perceived decreases in their economic and physical well-being. Real wages for working people without a college degree have fallen in the decades since the 1970s, while those people are far less likely to say they are in excellent or good health. “Traditional structures of social and economic support slowly weakened; no longer was it possible for a man to follow his father and grandfather into a manufacturing job, or to join the union,” the study authors write. Under Republican policies both in Read more

 

When you hear "right to work" -- ask "works for whom?"

(Mar 24, 2017)

Republican legislators in Pennsylvania are once again pursuing policies designed to reduce your wages while giving more power and influence to the corporations that pay the lowest wages and give Republicans the biggest contributions. Don't be lied to -- No one in Pennsylvania can be forced to join a union in order to get a job. This is federal law. Workers can't be forced to join a union if there is already one at the workplace, either. This is also federal law. And finally, workers cannot be forced to pay for union political activities in Pennsylvania -- even if they are union members. The only thing workers help pay for in union states like Pennsylvania -- without their written consent -- are the specific collective bargaining activities that directly benefit all of them. This is why Republicans are pushing so-called "right-to-work" laws so hard. These laws would allow workers who don't stand together with you to protect your pay and your job security to receive the same benefits you do. Republicans know that as these new laws shrink union funding and collective bargaining, even more power and influence will shift away from workers like you and toward the corporate CEOs and their lobbyists. "Right-to-Work" laws have nothing to do with creating new jobs or protecting yours. Workers in "right-to-work" states are NOT protected from being fired for any reason, or Read more

 

Fitzgerald/Kinsey host public meeting on 'Stop-and-Go' issues

(Mar 23, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 23 – Philadelphia state Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Stephen Kinsey today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to stop-and-go establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "This is an opportunity to address this issue head on. Bringing everyone together under one roof allows concerns to be addressed and provides an avenue for all of us to be part of the solution," Fitzgerald said. "I remain committed to working with local and state agencies and organizations to reverse the negative trend of consequences associated with the nuisance establishments that are taking advantage of the state's liquor laws." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. "Overwhelmingly, this boils down to a public safety issue. The residents of northwest Philadelphia, south Philadelphia, northeast Philadelphia and the entire city deserve to live their lives without the problems caused by stop-and-go issues," Kinsey said. "I am encouraged by the actions taken today to ensure that we continue the conversation on how we can answer the public's call to provide them with the best quality of life as possible." Among the testifiers were Inspector Anthony L. Washington, Northwest Police Division commanding officer and personnel from Pennsylvania State Police Read more

 

Trumpcare -- a costly broken promise to Pennsylvanians and all Americans

(Mar 23, 2017)

Congress is scheduled to vote on the Republican healthcare repeal legislation on today. House Democrats join with the governor, local officials, doctors, hospital administrators, and tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents to express our concern about the devastating impact a repeal would have in our state and on the health of our residents. Trumpcare will strip healthcare access for more than 1 million Pennsylvania residents and shift billions of dollars in costs to the state budget and our hospitals. The Medicaid cuts contained in the Trumpcare proposal could cost the state between $2.5 billion and $3 billion a year, kick more than a million people off of coverage and force the state legislature to make impossible decisions between paying for health care and funding schools, roads and bridges, clean air and water, and efforts to grow jobs and revitalize our communities and economy. The bill would sharply increase uncompensated care rates and expenses in Pennsylvania, costing hospitals billions and likely forcing some to close, particularly in rural and urban areas. Some of our more serious concerns about the Republican healthcare repeal legislation include: It allows insurance companies to charge older Pennsylvanians up to five times what they are allowed to charge younger Pennsylvanians for a policy. For many fixed-income senior citizens who would also lose the income-based premium assistance that is part of the Affordable Read more

 

Pa. House adopts Boyle resolution supporting Meals on Wheels as program faces federal cuts

(Mar 22, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, is calling attention to the value of the Meals on Wheels program in Pennsylvania as the program faces proposed cuts in President Donald Trump's budget. The state House today adopted Boyle's H.R. 175 , designating March 22, 2017 as March for Meals Day in Pennsylvania. March for Meals is the annual campaign the Meals on Wheels Association of America sponsors to raise awareness of senior hunger. "Research indicates that 10.2 million seniors across the country, and nearly 320,000 seniors here in Pennsylvania, face the threat of hunger," Boyle said. "Now, more than ever, we must remind ourselves of the importance of Meals on Wheels, which could be headed for the budget chopping block in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration in defending cuts to the program made claims that Meals on Wheels is 'just not showing any results' and the program 'sounds great…but doesn’t work.'" "But the truth is – Meals on Wheels has shown some great results here in Pennsylvania, and across the country. In fact, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Illinois, programs like Meals on Wheels improve the quality of life for seniors. "According to the study, Meals on Wheels is showing results by offering an effective and vital nutritional and health program for seniors. And Meals on Wheels is showing results by helping to offset Read more

 

Miller to introduce legislation regarding law enforcement concussion protocol
Apr 10, 2017

Longietti seeks contractor transparency, financial accountability for school management organizations
Apr 10, 2017

Rep. Madden to introduce bill for timely transfer of students’ school records
Apr 10, 2017

Republican healthcare failure boosts momentum for states to get more of their residents insured
Apr 07, 2017

Government working for you doesn't 'work' for the corporations
Apr 06, 2017

Pashinski, labor leaders call Open Workforce Initiative Package anti-worker, bad for Pennsylvania
Apr 04, 2017

Vitali opposes proposed cuts to DEP in House Republican budget proposal
Apr 04, 2017

Warren works to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists
Apr 04, 2017

‘Free’ tuition ads would be prohibited under Schlossberg bill
Apr 03, 2017

Longietti bill to double amount employer may pay directly to surviving relative easily passes House
Apr 03, 2017

The lifelong impact of the gender wage gap
Apr 03, 2017

Washington continues its war on families
Mar 31, 2017

Republicans in DC are selling your privacy to the highest bidder -- we need to protect you and your family
Mar 30, 2017

PA must step up to protect its residents
Mar 28, 2017

Rep. Frankel to host Policy hearing on Affordable Care Act/Medicaid Expansion Repeal Wednesday in Pittsburgh
Mar 27, 2017

'Deaths of despair' in economic stagnation and social immobility
Mar 27, 2017

When you hear "right to work" -- ask "works for whom?"
Mar 24, 2017

Fitzgerald/Kinsey host public meeting on 'Stop-and-Go' issues
Mar 23, 2017

Trumpcare -- a costly broken promise to Pennsylvanians and all Americans
Mar 23, 2017

Pa. House adopts Boyle resolution supporting Meals on Wheels as program faces federal cuts
Mar 22, 2017