Legislation written by State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Northeast) has passed the State House. It gives emergency-vehicle designation to Philadelphia Prison System prisoner-transport units.
â€œThis bill is important because it grants prisoner transport vehicles emergency vehicle designation which will allow them to operate using flashing lights,â€ Boyle said. â€œThere is no doubt this will reduce risks associated with prisoner transfer.â€
Prisoners are transported across Philadelphia almost every day. All of these transfers can potentially lead to problems if there are traffic issues or one of the prisoner transport units gets into an accident.
Boyle explained that prison transports are subject to high volume traffic, which poses a risk when moving prisoners from location to location. Also, the complex infrastructure of the City of Philadelphia makes it necessary for prisoner transport units to have a clear path to facilities.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
City Councilman at Large David Oh has introduced legislation to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to require a minimum funding level in accordance with ARC (Annual Required Contribution) and impose greater financial discipline tied to a more-conservative index in the management of the Cityâ€™s pension system.
â€œAs I have said on so many occasions, cities are the driving force of economic growth in America and throughout the world. However, many large cities in the US, including Philadelphia, face severely underfunded pension systems that leave us vulnerable to financial crisisâ€ said Oh. â€œThe bankruptcy of Detroit and current financial troubles of Chicago are due to severely underfunded pensions. If we do not address this situation in a permanent way in Philadelphia, we could very well be next in line.â€
The bill requires the Cityâ€™s pension system be funded according to ARC guidelines that are set by the Government Accounting Standards Board. In addition, the bill requires the anticipated rate of return used in the pension system is tied to an average of the United States Dept. of the Treasury in the 5-year Constant Maturity Treasury Rate Series and the S&P 500 index.
Oh said, â€œThe reason to change this in the City Charter is to prevent future administrations from neglecting our pension system and managing our pension portfolios more responsibly. By creating a minimum required fund balance, we are better able to meet our pension obligations without needing to borrow money.â€
Councilman atLarge W. Wilson Goode, Jr., who has championed modification of the 10-year tax-abatement program, will move forward with legislation that would require the School Reform Commission to approve the continuation of the abatement of school district tax revenue by Jun. 30, 2014. The new law authorizes the School Reform Commission to determine whether certain tax exemptions from School District of Philadelphia real-estate taxes shall continue, consistent with State law.
State law provides for tax exemptions for certain improvements to, and new construction of, property.
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.), chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, has announced the PLBCâ€™s annual scholarship competition is open for the 2014-15 school year. The deadline to submit an application is Thursday, May 15.
The scholarships are available for high-school seniors and first-year college students who will be enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year Pennsylvania college or university.
Brown said the students applying for the scholarship must be an ethnic-minority student, have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, reside in the legislative district of and be sponsored by a PLBC member, and demonstrate leadership qualities.
A 500-word essay on the studentâ€™s academic plans and career goals must also be submitted.
Only the first 250 applications submitted will be considered. The PLBC will award at least five scholarships this year, with a maximum of 10 awards. Each scholarship will be $1,000.
To obtain an application and more details about the program, students can visit www.pahouse.com/plbc. If they have any additional questions about the PLBC Scholarship Program, applicants can contact Brown’s office at (717) 772-6955.
The unanimous House adoption of State Rep. Ed Neilsonâ€™s (D-Northeast) HR 637
It urges the US Congress to consider and adopt HR 456, which calls on state and local educational agencies to recognize dyslexia has significant education implications that must be addressed.
â€œI believe this resolution is important because once we accept the realities of this condition, we can implement interventions and offer resources that will truly change lives,â€ Neilson said. â€œDyslexia isnâ€™t a condition that kids can just grow out of. It is only through early diagnosis and treatment that it can be overcome.â€
Neilson is also the prime sponsor of HB 198, which would create a pilot program to provide evidence-based early screening and other intervention services for children with risk factors of dyslexia. Currently, HB 198 is awaiting consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.