The Pennsylvania Democratic Party met in Harrisburg this weekend for its annual Winter State Committee Meeting. Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Dwight Evans, Candidate for the 6th Congressional District Chrissy Houlahan, Senator Sharif Street, Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky, and Mayor Emily Marburger addressed the highest-attended Keystone Dinner ever on Friday night.
During the business meeting on Saturday, John A. Hanna was elected Chairman, Nancy Patton Mills was elected Vice Chair, and Lisa Rhodes was elected Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party until the Party’s June reorganization meeting.
The Party unanimously endorsed Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey in their reelection bids. The Party moved to hold an open primary for the office of Lieutenant Governor.
The Party also voted on and enacted a comprehensive sexual assault and harassment code of conduct. For a copy of this policy, click here. Amendments were made on the floor – the final code of conduct will be posted on the PA Dems’ website.
Chairman Jack Hanna said: “Democrats are enthusiastic going into 2018. In 2017 we saw that Democrats are fired up, talking to their friends and neighbors, and organizing in their communities. We are going to turn this energy into action by electing Conor Lamb on March 13, re-electing Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Bob Casey, and getting Democrats up and down the ballot elected this November. I look forward to working with our Democratic candidates, committee people, and Party staff to ensure that Pennsylvania is a blue state in November and beyond.”
Governor Tom Wolf this week delivered his budget address to the State Legislature (and sported some Super Bowl Champion-Eagles gear while he was at it). He called for increased funding for education and to fight the opioid epidemic, an increase to the state’s minimum wage, and a severance tax on oil & gas drillers.
Under his plan, Wolf would spend $100 million more on public school funding and $40 million more on early childhood education, and provide an additional $20 million for special education and $15 million for the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education. He also announced a $50 million job training initiative.
The governor also called for boosting funding by $4.5 million for home visits by nurses or health aides to help an additional 800 families affected by opioid abuse; increasing by at least $16 million state spending on services for people with intellectual disabilities and autism; and providing $6 million for a pilot program to equip Pennsylvania State Police troopers with body cameras.
Wolf also wants to increase the hourly minimum wage to $12, up from the federal minimum of $7.25, a move his administration estimates would save $100 million in social and human services costs by putting more money in the pockets of the working poor.
Senator Bob Casey this week criticised Vice President Pence for pushing a tax plan that hurts working Pennsylvanians and prioritizes the top 1%.
The Hill: Dem senator: Pence all ‘talk, no action’
“Pittsburghers have seen this song and dance before from the president and now the vice president — lots of talk, no action,” Casey said in a statement responding to Pence.
“When it comes to fighting for middle class families in Western Pennsylvania, I would put my record of securing health care for 2,000 retired coal miners and securing funding to repair the region’s waterways, which support 200,000 jobs, up against the vice president’s tax giveaways to the super-rich and big corporations any day.”
Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined 16 other Attorneys General to fight the Trump Administration’s proposal to get rid of protections that allow employees to keep their tips.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro made his remarks at Sam’s Morning Glory Restaurant in Philadelphia. Shapiro says the waiters and waitresses there are currently paid $2.85 an hour plus tips. He calls any plan that allows an employer to keep tips earned by the workers theft. “I am here today to strongly oppose a proposal by the Trump Administration that will essentially allow employers to steal their employees’ tips.”
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is asking for increased funding to eliminate the backlog of rape kits in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf has made this issue a priority, and Auditor General DePasquale is committed to end the backlog.
Pittsburgh Tribune Review: More than 1,200 rape kits sitting idle in Pennsylvania
More than 1,200 untested rape kits are sitting idly on the shelves of police storage rooms and crime labs across Pennsylvania, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale lamented Tuesday.
That’s potentially 1,200 people seeking results from the hours-long, invasive exam they endured,” DePasquale said. “It is beyond unconscionable that these kits continue to sit on a shelf, denying victims a chance for healing and closure.”
State Representative Margo Davidson this week held a press conference to call for bipartisan support for new gun-safety legislation.
Delaware County Daily Times: State Reps. Davidson, Miccarelli push gun safety measure
“While there is much debate over gun issues, the measures that my fellow lawmakers and I are proposing are steps that I think we can all agree on, without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners,” said Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby. “Our communities can’t wait any longer for us to take action.” […]
“The intent of this bill is not to stigmatize people with mental health conditions,” Davidson said. “Studies show that people with severe mental health conditions are more likely to become a victim of gun violence – in most cases by harming themselves – than they are to commit a violent crime. What is far more dangerous, though, is a lack of oversight to prevent people with dangerous criminal records from easily obtaining guns from anywhere, from gun shows to private sellers.”
State Representative Mark Rozzi also held a press conference in Harrisburg this week to urge his colleagues to help children who have been abused. He was joined by Reps. Margo Davidson, Tina Davis, and Madeleine Dean.
Reading Eagle: Rep. Mark Rozzi pushes measures to protect children
A father determined to have abused his daughter was given court-ordered supervised visitation twice a week.
For several years now, the child has been dragged, sobbing, into a visitation room to be with her abuser.
“His rights usurp hers by law,” said Danielle Pollack of the Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition. “Current law allows for domestic abusers to have custody or eventual unsupervised visits with their victims. Why would we do this?”
Pollack was among the speakers at a press conference Monday hosted by State Rep. Mark Rozzi at the state Capitol.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party