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Home Invasion Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

In a few days the 2015-2016 Legislative Session will officially expire with some notable achievements and some missed opportunities.

Gov. WolfIn the waning hours of the last voting days, the House passed Senate Bill 1062, a bipartisan effort that I sponsored along with Sen. John Rafferty.  I have been proposing this bill since I first came to the PA House of Representatives. The legislation creates a distinction for the crime of home invasion – a robbery committed with the intent to inflict bodily harm – and gives judges more discretion by expanding sentencing parameters.

The measure will expand the maximum penalty for home invasions, giving judges the option of sentencing perpetrators to up to 40 years in prison.   It’s important to understand that this does not create a mandatory minimum sentence, but allows judges the option of cracking down hard on brazen criminals. The bill now goes to the governor.  For more information on this bill, click here.

Protecting Police Officers

The General Assembly also passed and sent to the governor legislation that protects the identity of police officers while a use-of-force investigation is underway.  The bill would prevent police agencies from releasing the information to prevent retaliation.

We are asking police officers to do a very difficult job and make split-second decisions in very dangerous circumstances. In Philadelphia, our officers are highly trained and well supervised and they know what they signed up for. Their families, however, should be off limits.  The bill sent to the governor was the House version of the one I offered in the Senate.  For more information on this bill, click here.

Senior Expo Proud to meet many local Marine vets, including Don Camanile at the memorial for the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon.
Hundreds of area seniors turned out again for my
annual Senior Expo at the National Guard Armory. 
It’s always the best event of the year.
Proud to meet many local Marine vets, including Don Campanile at the memorial for the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon.

Tacony Library Project Gets $1M Boost

An effort to expand and renovate the century-old Tacony Library will receive a $1 million boost through a state grant program.

Tacony LibraryEven in the Internet age, the Tacony Library is a vital community learning resource and a source of local pride and this project will help keep it that way for years to come.

The library, which originally opened 110 years ago this month, is currently closed for the renovations that will expand it by more than a third, and provide the community with modern equipment, public meeting spaces and after-school support programs.

The construction is part of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s 21st Century Libraries Initiative, a $28 million project developed to respond to the changing roles of libraries in contemporary society. In addition to improving building conditions, the project will reposition FLP’s libraries with new and expanded services.   For more info, click here.

Vaping Tax Proves ShortsightedVaping

Another problem that should take priority in the coming year is the unintentionally disastrous wholesale tax levied on the owners of vape shops as part of the budget agreement.  The stiff 40 percent tax on their inventory has some shop owners facing the possibility of being forced to close their doors.

However you feel about vaping products being an alternative to smoking, it seems unfair and unwise to kill small businesses with a tax hammer.  If they are forced out of business, nobody wins and taxpayers face a hole in the budget.

Before the session ended, I tried to gather support for an amendment that would repeal wholesale tax rate and impose a five-cent tax per fluid milliliter of consumable products at the point of sale.

This solution, as other states have found, will protect our small business owners, generate tax revenue, and keep cigarette alternatives on the market.

Fighting for Turnpike Employees

Another job-related effort that will have to be resurrected in the next session is preventing the sudden loss of hundreds of middle-class jobs as the Pennsylvania Turnpike modernizes toll collections.

The General Assembly should prohibit the Turnpike Commission from converting an existing tolling location to an all-electronic tolling location unless affected employees are reassigned to a comparable position in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. 

This would give current toll-takers an opportunity to receive job training for a new field of employment.  The thought behind this is to provide a somewhat smooth transition for toll-takers which would not cause stress on our unemployment system. 

capitolPartisan Change to Pension Bill Fails

With no input from Democrats in either chamber, Harrisburg Republicans failed to push through a one-sided pension bill that would have cut future public school teacher pensions by as much as 60 percent, without any real effect on the unfunded liability, or savings to taxpayers.  Without savings to cash-strapped school districts, the one-sided proposal could hardly be called pension “reform.”  In the next session, it is critical that both sides work together with the governor to address this problem.

Offices to Serve You

  District Office
8016 Bustleton Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19152
Phone: (215) 695-1020
Fax: (215) 695-1027
District Office
12361 Academy Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154
Phone: (215) 281-2539
Fax: (215) 281-2798
Harrisburg Office
457 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3005
Phone: (717) 787-9608
Fax: (717) 772-2162
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