State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-W. Phila.) hailed the ribbon cutting at the Bakers Centre project as a major step forward in creating jobs and economic development in Northwest Philadelphia. Bakers Centre is a 220,000-square-foot, expansive shopping complex encompassing 30 acres located on Hunting Park Avenue, Fox Street and Roberts Avenue. It is the former site of the Tasty Baking Co.
The Senator was instrumental in securing more than $12 million in state funds for the project through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The development is expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs.
Bakers Centre is anchored by a 71,000-square-foot Brown’s ShopRite supermarket owned and operated by Brown’s Super Stores.
“I am especially proud to be partnering with Brown’s Super Stores on this important project,” said Hughes. “Jeff Brown has been instrumental in bringing high-quality supermarkets to neighborhoods that have been overlooked by other developers. His visionary approach is making Philadelphia a better place.”
The $60 million Bakers Centre project is being made possible by an innovative mixture of state, local, and private funding. The lead developer is US Realty Associates, Inc.
A $250,000 state grant will enable completion of the Baxter Trail portion of the N. Delaware Riverfront Greenway project, report State Sen. Mike Stack State and Rep. Michael P. McGeehan (both D-Northeast).
McGeehan said the Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded the grant through its Greenways, Trails & Recreation Program. It will assist the Delaware River City Corp. with finishing
construction of Baxter Trail, a two-mile portion of the greenway project.
“When completed, the trail will become a trunk line for the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile trail stretching from Maine to Florida,” McGeehan said. “I am pleased to have helped secure this important state funding, because this trail will eventually increase access to the Delaware River and its recreational facilities.”
McGeehan said the grant will also pay for construction of a 20-foot-high, 1,200-foot-long protective wall along the trail to safeguard users from activity at a nearby police shooting range and private gun club.
“We are making Philadelphia green again with the work we have done and continue to do to improve and connect the trails that wind through the city,” Stack said. “This will be a great quality-of-life improvement to the region, as have all of trail improvement projects that are either underway or have recently been completed.”
State Reps. James Clay (D-Kensington) and Rosita C. Youngblood (D-Northwest) will introduce legislation that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue to help provide quality education for students across Pennsylvania.
Clay and Youngblood have been ironing out the details of a proposal they announced over the summer that would allow Pennsylvania to remove the income-tax exemption for state lottery winnings, and levy a small fee on all gambling winnings collected on both residents and nonresidents of the Commonwealth. Both members believe the proposals could raise as much as $500 million for educational programs that are critical to improving student achievement and building a stronger education system in Pennsylvania.
Clay said he is offering two proposals that would remove an outdated exemption in the State Lottery Law and the Tax Code making it illegal to assess any taxes on lottery winnings.
“Pennsylvania is the only state in our region, and only one of two states nationwide, who conduct lotteries but do not require the winners to pay state income tax on the winnings,” Clay said. “Pennsylvania’s Lottery is growing each and every year, and we are definitely missing out on an opportunity to raise significant money. It’s a no-brainer!”
Youngblood, who is the Democratic chairwoman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said she agrees that Pennsylvania should look into joining the majority of states and potentially require lottery winners to pay a minimal fee on their winnings. But she also said she believes the State should explore issuing an additional fee on all gambling winnings, which would bring the Commonwealth closer to the percentages required by bordering states. Currently, casino and racetrack winnings are only subject to the state’s personal income tax, which is 3.07%.
“My proposal would require winners to pay an additional 5% fee on all gambling winnings, and would also apply to those who live outside of Pennsylvania,” Youngblood said. “With casinos paying out nearly $28 billion in slot-machine winnings alone, the Commonwealth could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for education statewide, and tens of millions for the Philadelphia School District.”
State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest) has lauded the House of Representatives Children & Youth Committee for their unanimous approval of SB 1116, her legislation to streamline and improve the investigation of suspected child abuse, an initiative resulting from the Task Force on Child Protection’s recommendations.
“As Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee – and as a survivor of child abuse – my top priority is to ensure our children don’t have to endure the same horrors I did,” Washington said after the meeting.
Washington’s legislation overhauls the duties and roles of multidisciplinary investigative teams, the entities responsible with investigating reports of child abuse.
Recognizing that language barriers can compound the frustrations and concerns for those seeking meaningful legal and behavioral information for the care of loved ones, State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-W. Phila.) hosted a Spanish-language event at El Concilio, one of Philadelphia’s oldest Latino social-service agencies.
With a growing constituency whose first language is Spanish, Williams said this free event was needed and necessary. “There are many non-parental and non-biological caregivers in our community needing help,” he told the audience during the event’s kickoff. “It is imperative that you know that you are not alone.
State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D-W. Phila.) released the following statement in support of HB 1728, which would require Pennsylvania’s public schools to display the motto, “In God We Trust”:
“When former Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase ordered James Pollock, then director of the Mint at Philadelphia and future Governor of the Commonwealth, to prepare a national motto for currency in 1861, and when Congress passed the Act of Congress making ‘In God We Trust’ the national motto in 1864, an important legacy in our nation’s history was forged,” Waters said.
“This motto is not divisive, nor does it alienate any particular group of people, as some would suggest; rather, it highlights a heritage and points to a common thread that weaves its way through all of our nation’s historical pieces — our national anthem, our pledge of allegiance, our national flag.”
Philadelphia City Council has approved a bill introduced by Councilmen Bill Green, David Oh, Brian O’Neill, Bobby Henon, Jim Kenney and Mark Squilla encouraging Mayor Michael Nutter’s Administration to begin sales of tax liens on delinquent real-estate accounts and providing important citizen-oriented protections.
“This is an important tool that we have to both raise additional funds for the City and School District,” Green said. “Using tax-lien sales, we can bring in an additional $50-60 million in revenue for the City and School District.”
The recent Pew report on the City’s tax-delinquency situation indicated up to $155 million, or 30% of the estimated $515.4 million in delinquent real-estate taxes, is collectable over the next few years if the City takes advantage of all of the tools available to increase collections.
“Lien sales can help us end our City’s unfortunate culture of noncompliance,” Henon said. “People have a responsibility to pay their taxes and we have a responsibility to make sure our City and schools get the funds they are entitled to.”
State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-S. Phila.) is urging the Republican chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee to hear his SB 1095, which protects organizations from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) and deters people from filing the damaging lawsuits.
“Our civic groups and the organizations who are out there trying to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods deserve to tell their story and to make sure my fellow legislators understand the difficulty they have in preventing and dealing with SLAPPs,” said Farnese.
Despite the fact that very few bills get a hearing, Farnese felt that it was important to petition State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), who is the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to hold a hearing so more stakeholders and organizations can formally weigh in on the legislation.
State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D-Northeast) awarded a citation to the Sgt. Patrick McDonald Scholarship Fund at its fifth annual football tournament. The foundation was established in 2008 by Officer McDonald’s family after the highway sergeant was killed in the line of duty.
After participating in the football tournament, Boyle presented the citation to Patricia McDonald, Patrick’s mother.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Northeast) announced he is holding a food drive to benefit local food banks.
Non-perishable food donations may be dropped off between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at either of his offices: 7518 Frankford Avenue or 7801-A Hasbrook Avenue.
Boyle said food banks often run low during the holiday season when demand is high. “With food-stamp benefits being cut for the first time in history, food banks will undoubtedly receive an increase in clients,” Boyle said. “It is important now more than ever that we assist those in need.”
Anyone with questions should contact Boyle’s office at (215) 331-2600.
HB 1474, known as Paul’s Law, aimed at prohibiting the discrimination of any potential organ transplant recipient on the basis of physical or mental disability. The legislation introduced by State Rep. John Sabatina (D-Northeast), is based on the situation of Paul Corby, a 24-year-old autistic patient who was denied a life-preserving heart transplant by the University of Pennsylvania hospital in 2011.
Corby was denied the life-preserving heart transplant due to the decision by the transplant panel that Corby could not be recommended due to his “psychiatric issues, autism and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior.” Currently, Corby is still awaiting a transplant.
“There are over 114,000 people in the United States that are on the waiting list for an organ transplant,” Sabatina said. “This list continues to grow and individuals with a mental or physical disability should have the same chance of receiving an organ transplant as any other person on that waiting list.”
State Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D-W. Phila.), along with children participating in the Fathers And Children Together Program, recently attended the 11th annual Great Family Gathering event, hosted by the Church of Christian Compassion and Pastor Lonnie Herndon.
Waters, as he has in the past, donated a significant number of turkeys to help make the event possible and the FACT children assisted in serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless.
“Every year when I attend this event, I am amazed by the outpouring of compassion and holiday spirit that is displayed,” Waters said. “We were able to feed over 5,000 homeless people this year, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are grateful and thankful.
“The event was made even more special this year with the addition of the FACT children and their mothers to the volunteer list. FACT serves children with incarcerated fathers.
Eligible residents who need help stretching their budgets have less than a month left to apply for property tax or rent rebates, State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Kensington).
“Pennsylvania’s property-tax/rent-rebate program can really help low-income residents who need assistance,” Tartaglione said. “This can make the difference for someone trying to decide if their money should buy food or medicine or go to pay a vital monthly bill, like heat. Don’t wait to apply.”
The deadline for applying for this annual reimbursement was Jun. 30 but the state pushed it to Dec. 31.
To qualify, homeowners or renters must be at least 65 years old, or 50 years old and a widow or widower, or at least 18 years old and disabled, or permanently disabled during the claim year, which would be 2012.
If a homeowner or renter earns less than $8,000/year, they can receive the maximum $650 rebate. Homeowners who make between $18,001 and $35,000 can receive up to $250, while the minimum eligibility for renters is a $500 rebate for those making between $8,001 and $15,000. Proof of age and income are required.
Interested homeowners and renters may call the Senator’s district office for help in submitting their applications, if needed. Applications may also be submitted through the Dept. of Revenue’s website: www.revenue.state.pa.us.
It costs nothing to apply.