Blog

How little the legislature has learned about openness and transparency in the past nine and a half years.

As a member of the House Health Committee, I was forced yesterday by the Republican majority to vote on legislation that would significantly impact a women’s right to consult with her doctor and make her own health-care choices (H.B. 1948). I am against this legislation because I believe the legislature has no business coming between a woman and her doctor and the personal decisions she must make with the unique circumstances she is facing.   

Equally aggravating is to see the bill fast-tracked to the full House without the benefit of public hearings and input from the medical community or from patients who might be affected by it. Many of us tried to postpone the vote so public hearings could be held.

I spoke about this abomination in the process and invite you to watch what I said about how we should be conducting legislative business on behalf of the people we represent, especially on issues of such great impact. 

I hear this legislation may be considered by the full House as early as tomorrow. I plan to fight this anti-choice, anti-women legislation to the end.

 

Today marks the first day of Spring. As the days begin to get longer, and the flowers begin to bloom, let's remember that we have so much work to do to preserve our environment for generations to come.

I am proud to have been endorsed this past week by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. I remain committed to fighting the special interests in Harrisburg to place a moratorium on fracking and reducing our carbon footprint.

We must also invest in sustainable green space in our city, which is why I have been an early supporter of the Rail Park in Philadelphia, helping to secure funding for Phase 1 of this important project.

Thanks so much for your help, and I look forward to continuing to fight for Philadelphia as your State Representative.

 

Friday, Jan. 22, marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case dealing with women’s health and reproductive rights.

Generations of women have grown up with the knowledge that reproductive choices are their choice and theirs alone. Yet, a relentless attack continues.

As a founding member of the Women’s Health Caucus in the House of Representatives, I have joined with other Representatives and advocates to place a firewall against these attacks. We stand against the efforts to weaken Roe’s protection and the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to both women and men, offering treatment of sexually transmitted disease, contraception, and cervical and breast cancer testing, as well as family planning. As a matter of fact, only 3% of Planned Parenthood's function is abortion.

Just the other day, I received notice that my annual monetary promise to support Planned Parenthood in their good work was due. I’ll be renewing as I am committed to maintaining critical health services to women and keeping up the firewall to protect our basic freedom.

The state budget is now more than two months past due and Republican legislative leaders continue to refuse to engage in honest budget negotiations. They continue to make clear that they put special interests like the drilling industry above our children, our schools and a budget balanced with predictable, long-term funding. It is frustrating to say the least. 

GOP leaders this week again interrupted negotiations to pursue an extension of the budget impasse with a stopgap measure that is nearly identical to the budget Gov. Wolf rightfully vetoed in June. House Republicans plan to push it through next week.  

For months, Gov. Wolf has tried to work with Republicans. Just this week he made significant concessions on agenda items that have little to do with balancing the budget or funding our schools and that Democrats do not favor so that fruitful negotiations could continue.  

But we’ve seen nothing from Republican leaders in return except a refusal to discuss the issues that matter to the people of Pennsylvania: restoring funding to schools with a reasonable extraction tax.  

I wish I had better news regarding the budget. Please be assured that I continue to stand with Gov. Wolf and fight for a budget that properly funds our schools, restores funding for human services and truly fixes the structural deficit. The status quo is unacceptable. 

Gov. Tom Wolf recently launched a website to make it easier for you to register to vote and participate in elections. You can access it by clicking here.

The new website is available in English or Spanish and it allows you to make updates to your voter record, such as change of name, address or party affiliation. You can also request assistance at a polling place.

 

This online system is more secure because the form will be transmitted directly to the proper county voter registration office for processing, compared to the traditional paper application containing personal information that might pass through several hands before you are officially registered.

The site is directly linked to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Motor Voter systems, so if you have a driver’s license or PennDOT ID card, your signature on file can immediately be linked to your voter record.

If you do not have a driver’s license or ID card, you can print, sign and mail the completed online application to your county voter registration office. If you are unable to print the application, you may request the Department of State mail you a signature card to complete and send back.

After years of dealing with Republican schemes to suppress voter registration and turnout, we now have a governor who is committed to making it easier for citizens to have their voices heard in elections, not harder. I commend Gov. Wolf for his efforts and hope his action will lead to more people participating in elections and exercising their constitutional rights.

For more information, click here

As America reflects on yet another tragedy involving gun violence, I want to remind Pennsylvanians what a large, albeit minority, number of lawmakers have been trying to do to curb the incidence of gun violence in the state. 

First, I urge readers to not fall for the line that we do not need to talk about gun policy because this one specific tragedy in Roanoke could not have been prevented by sensible gun laws. 

Big-moneyed interests like the NRA continue to be successful in keeping Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and legislatures across the nation from enacting sensible safety measures, such as reporting lost or stolen firearms or universal background checks, because they spend an exorbitant amount of money making people believe that the gut-wrenching tragedies we see in the news do not apply. They want people to believe that any sensible action we can take would only infringe on constitutional rights and not curb gun violence. This simply is not true.  

For more years than I care to count, I and others have advocated and introduced legislation that would rein in the proliferation of illegal guns on our streets, and better address mental illness and gun ownership. None of the measures we’ve tried to advance infringe on law-abiding citizens’ ability to buy, own and use guns for hunting, self-protection or legal recreational purposes. 

We have legislation ready that would require owners to file a police report when their guns are lost or stolen, to better address straw purchases and illegal guns on the streets (H.B. 1020). There’s also legislation that would close Pennsylvania’s remaining loophole on background checks for long guns (H.B. 1010).  

Another bill (H.B. 1498) would require the Pennsylvania State Police to send all existing mental health data within 90 days to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and require ongoing submissions to the national database within 72 hours of the state police receiving mental health data. 

Today we could pass legislation (H.B. 1030) to provide a mechanism for families, friends and others to petition the court for a firearm restraining order when there is good cause to believe an individual poses an immediate threat to the safety of a family, household member or other person by possessing or having a firearm, other weapon, or ammunition in his or her control.

It’s way past time for our state and our nation to take some real action on gun violence – action that could prevent the tragedies that happen every day, whether you see them on the national news or not. I urge Pennsylvanians and all Americans to let their lawmakers know that enough is enough.