Tag Archives: PA senate

Women candidates and the two parties

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 10/25/14

On 9/8/14 the Daily Local News published a letter from me under the title “More women would be good for state and country.”

Though I don’t doubt that that title is literally true, what I really said is that “a record number of women and supporters of women’s rights elected to office in Harrisburg and Washington this year would be good for Pennsylvania and the country.”

As it happens, it would be good for Democrats too, as they have more women running. I’m going to say more here.

On August 26, Women’s Equality Day, people across the country celebrated the 94th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote.

As president Obama’s August 25 proclamation began by saying:

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was certified, securing for women the fundamental right to vote. The product of decades spent organizing, protesting, and agitating, it was a turning point on the long march toward equality for all, and it inspired generations of courageous women who took up this unfinished struggle in their own time. On the anniversary of this civil rights milestone, we honor the character and perseverance of America’s women and all those who work to make the same rights and opportunities possible for our daughters and sons….

As the president goes on to say, women deserve equal rights, treatment, pay, and opportunities. Shouldn’t that be obvious to every one of us?…

keep reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Filed under 2014 election, Chester County, Nathaniel Smith, PA govt & politics, Women's Issues

Horrible New Bill Will Somehow Make PA Charter School Policy Even Worse

Posted on October 24, 2013 by Jon Geeting, at Keystone Politics

(This guest post comes to us from friend of the blog Susan Spicka)

Cash-strapped school districts and tapped out home and business owners have been begging the PA legislature to reform its broken charter school funding law. Under current law, charter and cyber charter school tuition payments are not based on charter schools’ actual costs of educating children. In many cases, tuition rates to charter schools are so bloated that charter school operators are able to pocket millions of taxpayer dollars at the same time that our local school districts are raising taxes and slashing programs to pay their charter school tuition bills.

Senate Bill 1085 will bitterly disappoint school districts and home and business owners.

SB 1085 would close to so-called “pension double-dip” loophole in the current law by eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for their pension costs. Local school districts would continue to provide the funds that are used to pay the pension costs of charter school teachers.

SB 1085 is a rotten deal for school districts and for home and business owners, who pay property taxes to support our local public schools. If SB 1085 becomes law, the legislature will continue to mandate that home and business owners pay the pension costs of teachers who are not even employed by their school districts. School districts would find little relief from the burdensome charter school tuition payments, which range from around $8,000 to more than $30,000 per student per year.

SB 1085 is a truly sweet deal for the PA legislature. Eliminating the state reimbursement to charter schools for its share of pension costs would return $65 million to the PA General Fund. PA politicians would be free to spend this extra revenue as they please. Without a funding formula in place to allocate tax dollars to school districts, powerful legislators can cut deals behind closed doors, just like they did this year, and use the $65 million windfall to provide additional funding to a few of their favorite districts and make some voters happy in 2014, which happens to be an election year.

Adding insult to injury, SB 1085 would strip the power of our locally-elected school boards to approve or deny the opening of charter schools in our communities….

continue reading at Keystone Politics

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Pennsylvania’s Proposed Women’s Health Agenda

agenda under discussion before the Pennsylvania House and Senate’s joint Women’s Health Agenda Caucus, from Joanne Tosti-Vasey, Civil Rights Advocacy, 10/1/13:

Protect and Expand Women’s Reproductive Health Rights

Pregnancy Accommodations: Require employers to provide accommodations to pregnant employees with temporary pregnancy-related conditions to allow workers to remain employed throughout their pregnancies while imposing minimal burdens on employers.

Support for Breastfeeding Mothers in the Workplace: Require all employers to provide compensated break time and a private, sanitary (not a bathroom) for all employees who need to express milk.

Buffer Zones: Enact a statewide reproductive health care clinic buffer zone statute to protect safe access to essential health care.

Inmate Shackling: Strengthen pregnant inmate shackling law (Act 45 of 2010) to cover the entire pregnancy and a reasonable post-partum period for mother-child bonding and to eliminate the tasering of any woman known to be pregnant.

Medical Professional Conscientious Right to Refuse to Deliver Medically Inaccurate Information: Protect physician-patient relationships from political intrusion.

Improve Women’s Economic Security

TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) Grant Amount: Increase TANF cash assistance grant levels.

TANF Asset Limit: Increase the TANF eligibility asset limit to encourage saving and financial independence.

Earned Income Disregard: Increase the earned income disregard and apply it to applicants as well as recipients. FYI, the earned income disregard allows very-low income workers to continue receiving TANF, food stamps, and Medicaid if they make 50% or less of the poverty level. This proposed legislation would raise this “disregard” level to 75% and would apply to applicants as well as recipients.

Childcare Works Waiting List: Eliminate the childcare works waiting list.

TANF Pre-Application Job Search: Eliminate or modify the TANF pre-application job search requirements.

Minimum Wage: Increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00/hour.

Gender Wage Gap: Strengthen Pennsylvania law to eliminate the 24% gender wage gap by prohibiting retaliation against employees for discussing wages (“pay secrecy”) and closing the “factor other than sex” defense to apply only to bona fide business-related factors.

Family Responsibilities Employment Discrimination: Prohibit family responsibilities discrimination in employment by amending the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to prohibit family status discrimination in employment pursuant to an expanded definition of familial status to encompass the true scope of familial responsibilities shouldered by employees.

Paid Family and Sick Leave: Require all employers to provide employees with paid family and sick leave.

Spousal Pension Benefits: Require spousal consent when a retiring state employee chooses how his or her pension benefits should be paid consistent with federal law protecting each spouse from his or her spouse’s selection of a pension benefit in all privately-sponsored pension plans and laws adopted by other states.

Domestic Worker Protection: Amend Pennsylvania anti-discrimination laws to provide domestic workers protection from employment discrimination’

Sexual Harassment: Extend the prohibition on sexual harassment in employment to all employers, even small employers.

Protect Women’s Personal Safety

Paid Leave for Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking Victims: Require employers to provide paid leave to obtain assistance for and pursue legal protection against domestic and sexual violence and stalking.

Housing Discrimination: Prohibit private and public housing discrimination against domestic violence victims.

Civil Orders of Protection for Sexual Violence and Stalking Victims: Authorize courts to issue civil orders of protection for sex crime and stalking victims.

Absolute Privilege for Student Victims: Protect victims/witnesses of sexual assault who testify in school grievance proceedings from being sued by their harassers.

Human Trafficking: Strengthen Pennsylvania’s criminal statute on human trafficking.

Veterans’ Real Estate Tax Exemption: Amend Pennsylvania law to provide veterans real estate tax exemption for veterans suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to sexual victimization during service and appoint women representatives to the House and Senate Committees on Veteran Affairs and to the Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission.

Voting Reform: Reform voting rules to provide online registration, same day in person registration, early voting, including early in person voting on weekends.

read the full post at Civil Rights Advocacy

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Reason to celebrate

email from Education Voters PA, 11/9/12

We have a reason to celebrate!

This election was an important one with a lot at stake. These past two years, education has faced a lot of challenges: the loss of crucial educational programs, drastic budget cuts, attempts to undermine public schools through privatization and diverting funds to other programs – even the very idea that every child deserves a free and appropriate education. On Tuesday, voters across the Commonwealth made it clear that they want every kid in every community to have an opportunity to learn.  More and more, we are making education a top tier voting issue!

Education Voters Action Fund is proud to announce that, as of this morning, 20 of our 28 endorsed candidates have won, with 2 races still being resolved. Education was a focal point in many of these races. EVAF was talking to communities and to candidates to help ensure a robust dialogue about public priorities and how our decisions affect the quality of education. In many more races education played a key role in debates, with candidates stating opposition to the extreme cuts; telling voters they will support community schools; trying to defend their positions on some of the controversial issues or justify some of their poor positions. Some were taking a stand and pledging to fight for a better funding system with the resources needed to provide quality programs for all students.

The Senate now has 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats, with education supporters from both parties. The House (at the time of this email) has 109 Republicans and 89 Democrats.

We would like to congratulate ALL of the pro-public education candidates – for running for public office and helping to present voters with a better understanding of the issues and for making a commitment to Pennsylvania’s students and our communities in their candidacy. Our endorsed candidates are listed below…

see winning EdVotersPA Action Fund endorsemees here

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Filed under Education and schools, PA govt & politics