PUBLIC SERVANTS AT WORK, Aug. 3, 2017

Filed under: Government,Latest News |

Boyle Seeks to Kill Delays

As Pennsylvania deals with yet another frustrating budget impasse, State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Northeast) is looking forward, seeking ways to prevent the Commonwealth from finding itself in a similar situation in the very near future.

Boyle plans to re-introduce a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, requiring the General Assembly to stay in session until a state budget is adopted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as signed into law by the governor.

“We are only one year removed from the historical 2015-2016 budget stalemate that lasted nearly nine months from July 2015 to March 2016,” Boyle said. “It appears the General Assembly hasn’t learned its lesson.”

Tina Commends AVI Fix

State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Kensington) said the bipartisan revenue package adopted by the State Senate would fix the Actual Value Initiative for Philadelphia and is a vast improvement.

These elements were part of a broad range of legislation considered by the Senate. Without the approved revenue package, the $31.9-billion General Fund budget approved by the General Assembly in late June would not be balanced.

“The changes in the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Code (HB 453) would fix the AVI for Philadelphia, which is important to my district and the entire city,” Tartaglione said. “The language would set the market value, cap future increases and prevent the loss of $270 million in state aid to the School District of Philadelphia over five years.”

The AVI fix language would set the maximum market value of property at $47 billion, then cap future increases based on the total increase for all districts. This would limit the amount of increase and help avoid large spikes, Tartaglione noted.

STATE REP. Pam DeLissio briefed a large turnout of constituents at Roxborough Memorial Hospital on Pennsylvania’s budget crisis and health-care issues. Photo by Wendell Douglas

DeLissio Unveils Health Plan

State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio (D-Northwest) hosted over 60 citizens for her 66th town-hall meeting last week to discuss the concepts behind DeLissio’s legislation, HB 1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan, a Medicare-for-all-style single-payer plan.

She said the discussion was interactive and informative, as one participant later posted, “I am at a Town Hall meeting on single-payer; first great point; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all depend on health and therefore healthcare is a right and not a privilege.”

“HB 1688 is not government-run health care,” DeLissio said. “Health-care providers and facilities would remain in the private sector. State government would be responsible for establishing a system in which a single, public or quasi-public agency organizes the health-care financing to support health-care access. Cost controls (including administrative costs, pharmaceutical costs etc.), and citizens having sufficient ‘skin in the game’ are critical components of this plan.”

Throughout the USA, single-payer type of legislation has been introduced in 20 states.

“It was clear from the discussion that citizens appreciate many of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and would like to see many of those aspects continue under any revision or new plan, including covering pre-existing conditions, the ability for a dependent to stay on a parent’s plan until 26 years of age and enforcing no lifetime caps,” DeLissio said.

McClinton, Bullock Seek Breaks for Prisoner Moms

State Reps. Joanna McClinton (D-W. Phila.) and Donna Bullock, D-N. Phila.) will introduce legislation to direct Pennsylvania courts to sentence the primary caretakers of children younger than 18 to individualized community-based sentencing programs.

The bill would require judges to determine if an offender is the primary caretaker of a child under 18, and if so, to hand down a sentence of non-confinement for low-level and non-violent offenses as long as they do not carry mandatory minimums. The offender would be required to complete a number of rehabilitative services instead of serving time in prison.

“The tough-on-crime stances in our Commonwealth are ineffective and are tearing families apart,” McClinton said. “Yes, individuals who break the law should be held accountable. However, if they have committed a low-level, non-violent offense, they should not be sent to prison where they would lose custody of their child.”

Over the past 30 years, the number of incarcerated women in the United States increased by over 700%, rising from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014. More than 60% of women in state prisons are reported to have a child under 18.

“Incarcerating women for low-level, non-violent offenses has detrimental effects on children,” Bullock said. “Countless studies show young children with incarcerated parents are more likely to become involved in troublesome activities and to even become incarcerated themselves.”

Fitzgerald, Murt on Homeless Rights

State Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald (D-Northwest) and Thomas Murt (R-Northeast) have introduced legislation to enact a “Homeless Bill of Rights” to protect fundamental civil and human rights of homeless people.

“Homelessness continues to be an issue in many communities across the Commonwealth. Local codes that outlaw loitering, vagrancy, sitting or lying on the sidewalk, begging, eating in public, and other behaviors disproportionately affect homeless people,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said HB 1664 would protect the homeless population’s rights to move freely in public spaces, and receive equal treatment by all government agencies, employers and health care providers. The legislation would also shield their right to vote and the confidentiality of personal records and information.

Murt emphasized there are key rights the homeless population needs to have protected. The Homeless Bill of Rights would establish that no person should suffer unnecessarily, be denied basic rights or be subject to unfair discrimination based on their homeless status.

“As the burdens of joblessness grow and the pressures on public resources increase, we have a responsibility to lessen the negative effects of homelessness,” Murt said.

ASSISTING State Rep. Jason Dawkins, L, at a criminal-record expungement workshop at St. Mark’s Church in Frankford were Wayne Jacobs, C, and attorney Shane Johnson. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Cephas Knocks Wage Bias

State Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-W. Phila.) released the following statement regarding Black Women’s Equal Pay Day:

“Today we recognize Black women, who must work nearly eight months extra to earn the same amount men do in one year. Among women in Pennsylvania who hold full time year round jobs, black women are paid 68 cents for every dollar compared to every dollar paid to a man.

“With countless women of color being the primary breadwinner in their homes, the wellbeing of their children depends on them being paid what they deserve. Female headed households already make several thousand dollars less than the overall median income in the City of Philadelphia simply because they are providing for their family by themselves. This means wage discrimination pushes them even further behind.

“As chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color, my goal is to ensure the current trend does not continue and that all women see pay equity sooner than later.”

Cruz Provides Needle Bins

State Rep. Angel Cruz’s (D-Kensington) district office has acquired bio-waste bins in which residents may properly dispose used needles found on the streets and in public places.

“There’s been an observed increase in the number of syringes left on the street and in response to an increasing number of complaints and questions from concerned citizens, I’m taking a first step to combat the problem,” Cruz said. “Although most of the used needles from exchange programs are collected and disposed of properly, every year thousands are carelessly discarded outside, creating hazards for the rest of the citizens, including children, first responders and even our pets.”

Residents of the 180th Legislative District can drop off needles between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at Cruz’s office, 3503 N. B St., Unit 7.

The bio waste bins were provided by Prevention Point, a private nonprofit organization aimed at promoting health, empowerment and safety for communities affected by drug use and poverty.

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