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2017

November 28, 2017: Working with Senator John Yudichak and other state and local officials, the state Department of Community and Economic Development is giving the city of Wilkes-Barre money to fix damaged flood protection walls along Solomon Creek.

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November 21, 2017:  Senator Lisa Boscola has introduced a Resolution, passed unanimously in the  Senate, to establish a task force to address the health care needs of Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.

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November 16, 2017:  Senate Democrats have gone “on tour,” helping state residents sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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November 15, 2017:  Senate Democrats, led by Senator Judy Schwank, are introducing legislation that would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment or assault settlements.

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November 3, 2017:  Senate Democrats say they’re pleased that Governor Tom Wolf has signed into law legislation that cracks down on nuisance bars across the state.

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November 1, 2017:  The Affordable Care Act is still providing insurance to Pennsylvanians, but Senate Democrats want everyone to realize that the time they have to sign up has been reduced.

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October 30, 2017:  The state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, for which Senator John Yudichak is the Democratic chairman, is looking at Pennsylvanians’ exposure to lead at a hearing in the public library in Pittston in Luzerne County.  Senator Yudichak says it’s just the first step in a process to mitigate lead across the Commonwealth

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October 27, 2017:   Senator John Yudichak of Luzerne County, Senator Jim Brewster of Allegheny County  and  Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia are introducing a new legislative initiative designed to spur manufacturing and job creation. The senators said that more manufacturing companies need access to additional state financial resources to gain a competitive advantage and keep up with changing technology and job training needs.

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October 26, 2017:  Senators Sharif Street and Anthony Williams joined activists who filled the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, calling for an end to what they call “Death by Incarceration.”

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October 25, 2017:  Senator Vincent Hughes says a bill headed to the Governor’s desk would give local law enforcement and the Liquor Control Board greater abilities to shout down nuisance bars.

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October 24, 2017:  The law providing protection against hate crimes for certain groups in Pennsylvania hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years.  Legislation has been introduced by Senator Larry Farnese to change that.

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October 19, 2017:  Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa says a newly-released study shows that cultural events bring more than just art to a city or region – they also bring dollars and jobs.

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October 19, 2017:  The state Senate will soon be voting on Senator Wayne Fontana’s bill that would require child care centers to install carbon monoxide detectors.

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October 18, 2017:  Senate Democrats say they’re working with Governor Wolf and insurance companies to keep health insurance available and affordable, despite the recent decisions coming out of Washington.

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October 17, 2017:  Senator Daylin Leach is urging passage of legislation that would protect sexually exploited children who are the victims of human trafficking.

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October 17, 2017: Residents of Pennsylvania counties affected by new pipelines carrying natural gas across the state say safety and property rights are being overlooked.  Senator Andy Dinniman leads a group of legislators who are introducing a package of bills to deal with those issues.

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October 16, 2017:  Legislation that would make it easier for those with mental or physical disabilities to get life-saving transplants has stalled in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers, including the bill’s sponsor, Senator John Sabatina of Philadelphia, joined with advocates to urge the House to pass the bill and get it to the Governor’s desk.

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October 16, 2017: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Lawmakers joined advocates at the Capitol in Harrisburg to remember those who lost their lives to domestic violence.

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October 4, 2017:  State lawmakers still have not agreed to a revenue plan that will generate the funds needed to pay for the budget they passed in June. Senate Democrats say all eyes are on one legislative chamber that’s not putting the interests of Pennsylvania first.

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September 29, 2017:  Senator Art Haywood is introducing legislation that would streamline the way medical professionals are paid for their services, something he says would save money for everyone concerned.

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September 19, 2017:  A company that lost its bid to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in Pennsylvania has sued to shut the program down.  Senator Daylin Leach, whose legislation started the program, says that would be bad news for patients.

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September 13, 2017:  Senator Larry Farnese says his legislation to end a statewide problem concerning frivolous and destructive lawsuits against community activists needs quick action from the House.

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September 6, 2017:  State lawmakers, including Senator Judy Schwank, joined Governor Wolf in introducing six pieces of legislation designed to stop sexual violence in schools and on college campuses statewide.

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August 31, 2017:  If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Senator John Blake reminds you to make sure you’re not setting up a tragedy of your own.

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August 21, 2017:  The state Department of Health has shortened the time kids can attend school without all their vaccinations. Senator Judy Schwank has the details.

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July 27, 2017:  As part of its legislation to authorize 2017-18 revenue for the state, the state Senate has approved and sent to the House legislation designed to keep the children of incarcerated individuals out of prison.

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July 21, 2017: Almost a month ago, the legislature passed a spending plan for the state – but they haven’t yet passed a bill to address the revenue to pay for it. Senator Vincent Hughes says some are getting anxious to see that revenue bill passed.

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July 18, 2017:  Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa says of the five parties involved in budget negotiations – the Governor, Senate Republicans and Democrats, and House Republicans and Democrats – only the House Republicans have not signed on to a revenue package that would involve recurring sources of revenue.

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June 30, 2017:  The state budget’s spending plan has been passed.  Now, lawmakers have to find a way to pay for that spending.  Senate Democrats say the shale drilling industry can help with that.

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June 29, 2017:  Senator Lisa Boscola was on hand as Governor Wolf signed a bill that changes the way Pennsylvania prevents cruelty to animals.

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June 28, 2017:  Senators Jay Costa and Tina Tartaglione, along with supporters of increasing the state’s minimum wage, say it’s a win for workers and for the state budget as well.

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June 26, 2017:  Senate Democrats say the federal bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare would negatively affect thousands of Pennsylvanians.

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June 21, 2017:  Senator Vincent Hughes joined with a group protesting funding inequities in Pennsylvania schools, saying the state already has the tools to fix the problem – the legislature just needs to supply the money.

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June 21, 2017:  Senator Andy Dinniman spent the first day of summer talking about legislation to rescue pets who are locked in hot cars.

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June 21, 2017:  Senator Vincent Hughes says legislation has been introduced to intervene in the lives of kids who have a parent in prison, to make sure they have a better chance at life.

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June 20, 2017:  Hundreds of Teamsters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol, joining with lawmakers and others to protest legislation that they say is designed to cripple or destroy unions.

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June 20, 2017:  Pennsylvania is finally in the medical marijuana business.  Senator Daylin Leach says 12 businesses got permission today to grow and process medical marijuana.

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June 20, 2017:  Lawmakers like Senator Wayne Fontana have joined with environmental groups in trying to make sure Pennsylvania stays on-course to the pledges the state has made to a clean environment.

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June 16, 2017:  A letter from a fourth-grader has prompted legislation from Senator Vincent Hughes to provide the funding schools need to upgrade their facilities.

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June 15, 2017:  Senator Jay Costa says he’s taking drug companies to court to get their help in combating the state’s opioid epidemic.

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June 13, 2017:  Senate Democrats are introducing a group of bills designed to make voting easier in Pennsylvania.

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June 12, 2017:  Governor Wolf has signed a new pension reform bill into law. Senator Lisa Boscola says it’s designed to protect current retirees and employees, and allow future employees to choose from pension plans that risk some of their own money.

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June 12, 2017:  Budget negotiations continue in Harrisburg.  Senator Judy Schwank says that the state could be facing a three-billion-dollar deficit.

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June 6, 2017: When President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, he said he represented “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Senator Wayne Fontana, who represents Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, says his city would rather stay true to the Paris Accord.

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June 5, 2017:  Senator Jay Costa has introduced legislation that would end the practice of “food shaming” at Pennsylvania schools.

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June 2, 2017:  Lawmakers in Harrisburg, led by Senator Andy Dinniman, are working to replace the Keystone Exams before the new school year gets underway in the fall.

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June 1, 2017:  Lawmakers in Harrisburg are in the final months of negotiations to produce the state budget for 2017.  Senator Vincent Hughes talks about why the final numbers are so important.

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May 26, 2017:  The state Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill that would allow online gambling in Pennsylvania.

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May 18, 2017:  The state Senate has finished a series of hearings into Governor Wolf’s proposal to merge four state agencies into one.

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May 17, 2017:  Experts say this could be a good year for ticks, and that means new cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Senator Andy Dinniman says bill currently in the Senate would force insurance companies to cover the treatment that works best, not the fastest.

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May 11, 2017:  Senator Andy Dinniman says agencies throughout Pennsylvania are doing their part to stop human trafficking in the Commonwealth.

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May 10, 2017:  Right now, there are very few rules governing how a municipality invests taxpayer dollars, which can lead to problems including bankruptcy.  Senator John Blake and other state lawmakers want to keep that from happening.

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May 10, 2017:  Students, parents and supporters of the many after-school programs across Pennsylvania held a rally at the state Capitol in Harrisburg to make sure their funding isn’t cut out of state and federal budgets.

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May 9, 2017:  Politicians wanting to take politics out of the election process?  That’s the aim of bills introduced in both the House and Senate this week.

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May 9, 2017:  Nurses who feel overworked have some friends in the Pennsylvania legislature who are introducing bills to keep the hours they work to a reasonable level.

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May 9, 2017:  Senator John Yudichak and other state lawmakers are looking to revive Pennsylvania’s “Growing Greener” program with enough funding to clean up abandoned mine sites and other dangers to the environment.

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May 8, 2017: Senator  Jay Costa, Gov. Tom Wolf and other state dignitaries gathered in Harrisburg to honor four Pennsylvania police officers who gave their life in the performance of their duties.

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April 26, 2017: Senator Vincent Hughes says a bill passed by a Senate Committee would cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, a move he says is short-sighted.

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April 25, 2017:  Legislation that would provide screening for postpartum depression for new mothers and infants is headed to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

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April 25, 2017:  Pennsylvanians who work in artistic fields and the people who support that work took to the halls of the state Capitol in Harrisburg to drum up support – and funding – for the arts.

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April 24, 2017:  Over 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust by Nazi Germany.  Senator Daylin Leach took part in a ceremony in the Governor’s Office to remember the tragic event.

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April 19, 2017:  The state Senate has approved funding that will allow the state’s unemployment call centers to re-hire workers that were laid off last year.

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April 18, 2017:  It’s been one year since Pennsylvania joined the national “It’s On Us” campaign to stop sexual violence.  To mark the anniversary, legislation is being introduced to make the campaign stronger.

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April 18, 2017:  Legislation that would allow Nurse Practitioners to offer quality health care services to millions is expected to pass the state Senate.

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April 17, 2017:  The Governor’s plan to consolidate four state agencies into one Department of Health and Human Services continues to be the focus of senate hearings.

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April 13, 2017:   A Senate hearing was held on the Governor’s proposal to merge four Cabinet agencies, the Departments of Aging, Health, Drug and Alcohol and Health and Human Services into one Department of Health and Human Services by July.

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April 5, 2017: Senator  Vincent Hughes joined with state Treasurer Joe Torsella to urge Pennsylvanians to claim every cent of cash they may be owed by filing for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

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March 30, 2017:  Governor Wolf has proposed merging four state agencies into one, but Senator Judy Schwank says she and her colleagues have lots of questions about the proposal.

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March 29, 2017:Senator Judy Schwank says the state Senate has passed a supplemental funding bill for the Department of Labor, providing funding to bring back enough workers to get the unemployment department somewhat back up to speed after last December’s layoffs.  But she says there’s more to do.

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March 28, 2017:  Senator Lisa Boscola’s legislation intended to make our roadways safe during winter weather is one step closer to becoming law.

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March 27, 2017: Senator Lisa Boscola is part of a bipartisan group of legislators who want to allow the legalization of video gaming terminals.  The bill would allow all places with a liquor license plus establishments such as clubs and VFW’s to own and operate VGT’s, with all 67 counties receiving a portion of the profits.

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March 17, 2017: As lawmakers wrestle with the state’s 2017-18 budget, Senator Andy Dinniman, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says his focus is on how state education dollars are being spent.

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March 17, 2017: Senator John Yudichak says President Trump’s budget will cripple or eliminate successful after-school programs across Pennsylvania.

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March 9, 2017:   More than 1 million Pennsylvanians receive affordable health coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion marketplace.  Senators Vincent Hughes and John Blake says any repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have devastating impact on individuals and families who rely on the coverage, and would create a massive deficit in the state budget.

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March 1, 2017: Providing quality and affordable higher education isn’t the only thing the state related universities are doing for Pennsylvania. Senator John Blake talks about the numerous other ways they have an impact on our state.

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February 28, 2017: Environmental groups concerned about the levels of lead in the water Pennsylvania schools issued a report entitled “Get the Lead Out”.  The report examined test results of drinking water and state regulations regarding water sources and graded states.  Senator Vincent Hughes says the report gave Pennsylvania an F in terms of protecting children from lead in water at schools.

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February 27, 2017: It’s a debilitating disease you might not have heard about — but more importantly, there’s a good chance your doctor hasn’t heard about it either.  Which is why Senator John Blake sponsored a Resolution designating this week as “Spinal CSF Leak Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania.

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February 23, 2017: The financial health and future of Pennsylvania’s State Owned Universities were the focus of discussion at Senate budget hearings in Harrisburg on Thursday. Senators Judy Schwank and Vincent Hughes say the universities need to know there’s secure funding coming from the state in order to keep operating.

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February 22, 2017: The efficiency, operation and fairness of how Pennsylvania conducts its elections was brought up during day two of Senate budget hearings.  Senator Art Haywood says Pennsylvanians can feel safe about their elections.

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February 21, 2017:  State budget hearings begin in Harrisburg this week as lawmakers gather information to help draft a new spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.  The Senate Appropriations Committee started by questioning the state Treasurer. Senator John Blake says he was impressed with the answers provided by Treasurer Joe Torcella.

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February 15, 2017: Senator Anthony H. Williams wants everyone in the state to be aware of hit-and-run incidents in which someone is seriously injured or killed.  He’s proposing an alert system similar to the “Amber Alert” system used to notify people about the kidnapping of a child.

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February 8, 2017: By a vote of 32-18, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 3, which  decreases the gestational age at which an abortion can be performed from 24 weeks to 20 weeks and prohibits dilation and evacuation abortion procedures.  Senator Daylin Leach says Senate Republicans showed “no regard for science, the Constitution, or even human decency.”

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February 7, 2017: Gov. Tom Wolf presented his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2017-18, calling for an increase in education funding, cuts of $2 billion in government expenses and no broad-based tax increase.  Senate Democrats say it’s a good starting point for budget negotiations.  Here are Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent Hughes, Democratic Finance Committee Chairman John Blake and Philadelphia Senator Sharif Street talking about the budget proposal.

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February 6, 2017: A bill that would make Pennsylvania one of the toughest states in the nation in which to have an abortion passed the Senate Judiciary Committee along a party-line vote.  Senator Daylin Leach, who voted no and opposes the bill, says the committee failed to follow normal procedures before passing the bill.

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February 3, 2017:  Postpartum depression can adversely affect mothers and their babies.  That’s why Senator Judy Schwank is co-sponsoring legislation to make sure mothers of newborns are screened for the illness.

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February 1, 2017: Senate Democrats are asking Governor Wolf to call a special session of the General Assembly to focus on reforming or eliminating property taxes.

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January 31, 2017:  Senator John Blake would like Pennsylvania to join 33 other states and adopt a program that would provide financing to help businesses install energy-efficient upgrades in their buildings.

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January 27, 2017: Saying the decision should be driven by economics as much as by morals, Senator Daylin Leach  is introducing legislation that would repeal the Death Penalty in Pennsylvania.

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January 24, 2017: For Pennsylvanians seeking unemployment assistance, the wait on the telephone or on line is a long one.  That’s because a funding dispute between the Governor and Republicans in the Senate resulted in the layoffs of 500 employees and the closings of three call centers.  Senate Democrats are calling on the legislature to vote quickly to restore the funding

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January 23, 2017:  Harrisburg was the scene of a hearing and a rally, both concerned with the Department of Corrections’ plan to close two prisons in Pennsylvania as a way of saving money in the 2017-18 state budget. Senator John Yudichak attended both and is not happy with how the plan is going.

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January 20, 2017:  Three state Senate Committees will start the week reviewing a plan by the state Department of Corrections to close two prisons as a way of cutting the state’s potential 600 million dollar budget deficit.

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January 19, 2017: More than 800 people filled an auditorium at a middle school outside Philadelphia Wednesday night for a “Resistance Forum” hosted by Senator Daylin Leach, designed to tell people how to fight any changes the Trump administration may want to make in the areas of healthcare, the environment and civil rights.

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January 18, 2017:  Congress is talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — even as the deadline looms to sign up for health insurance under the ACA in 2017.  Senator Vincent Hughes wants to make sure as many Pennsylvanians as possible sign up for health insurance before the deadline.

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January 12, 2017:  The 101st Pennsylvania Farm Show celebrates farm life and highlights one of the state’s biggest industries, agriculture. But Senator Judy Schwank, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the Farm Show also holds some surprises.

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January 9, 2017: The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections recently announced it’s looking to close two state prisons in an effort to save money.  Senator John Yudichak is just one of the lawmakers saying such closings would devastate the economies of the municipalities that host those prisons.

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January 6, 2017: Thousands are expected to convene in Washington D.C. the Saturday before Martin Luther King’s birthday to rally in support of the rights Dr. King fought to achieve. Pennsylvanians are being urged to join the march by Senator Vincent Hughes, along with clergy and community activists.

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January 3, 2017:  With the swearing-in of new and re-elected Senators, the 201st session of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is underway, and Senate Democrats talk about what they’d like to see accomplished in this new session.

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2016

December 23, 2016: With 19 Pennsylvania cities testing higher than Flint, Michigan, for elevated blood lead levels in children, Senator Vincent Hughes says he’ll re-introduce legislation to create a statewide Superfund to address the lead crisis in the state.

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December 8, 2016:  Senator Judy Schwank says moving the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, out of the state Insurance Department and into the Department of Human Services one year ago has been good for the kids and families that use CHIP.

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November 23, 2016: An advisory committee co-chaired by Senator Vincent Hughes held hearings this week to look at ways to funnel more state funding to school districts to build new school buildings or renovate existing ones.

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November 16, 2016: The current session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly ends November 30th. Senator Judy Schwank looks back on legislation passed during this session that she thinks is most meaningful.

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