Senator Hughes is lending his support to Senate Bill 999 – sponsored by Senator Judy Schwank of Berks County – that will protect victims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct from being silenced by requiring that no contract or settlement prohibit a person from revealing the identity of a person who allegedly committed sexual misconduct – the non-disclosure agreement clause.
Senator 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.
Senator Hughes says he and other Senate Democrats are working with Governor Wolf and insurance companies to keep health insurance available and affordable, despite the recent decisions coming out of Washington.
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. Senator Hughes says all eyes are on one legislative chamber that doesn’t seem to be taking care of the interests of all Pennsylvanians.
Senator Hughes says the state Senate has authorized a bipartisan bill developed with the help of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel to establish a public charitable trust to help at-risk children and reverse the direction of prison-bound youth in Pennsylvania. The measure would create the “First Chance Trust Fund,” which would be used to support evidence-based programs and scholarship opportunities that benefit at-risk youth.
The state Senate voted 26-24 in favor of a $2.2 billion revenue package to pay for the $32 billion spending plan the legislature enacted in June. The revenue package contains several new items, including a first-ever severance tax on the extraction of natural gas from Marcellus Shale, which is expected to generate 100 million dollars in revenue. A re-instatement of a gross receipts tax on the use of natural gas is expected to generate 200 million dollars to fund the state’s LIHEAP program to help low-income residents heat their homes in the winter. And the School District of Philadelphia will benefit from the plan, which heads off a projected loss of funding for the district.
Senator Hughes joined with fellow state lawmakers to urge the General Assembly to finalize the state budget in order to fund the state-related universities.
Lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate joined a coalition of labor and service industry groups representing more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians in calling for a modest 5% tax on shale drilling which they say will provide millions for the state budget as a continuing, sustainable source of revenue.
The state Senate has approved a $32 billion spending plan for 2017-18 that provides for increased spending on education and other needs across the Commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a bill that will allow teachers and other school personnel to have guns on school grounds. Senator Hughes says the state should be talking about putting textbooks and other needed supplies into schools, rather than guns.
Senator Hughes joined his fellow Democratic members of the PA House and Senate as they gathered in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to express their opposition to the legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) currently making its way through the U.S. Senate.
A group protesting funding inequities in Pennsylvania schools says the state already has the tools to fix the problem – the legislature just needs to supply the money. Senator Hughes agrees, calling the situation “educational apartheid.”
A bipartisan group of state senators, along with Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, have introduced legislation to establish a public charitable trust to help at-risk children and reverse the direction of prison-bound youth in Pennsylvania. Senator Hughes says the fund would be accumulated without using taxpayer dollars by placing a 1 percent surcharge on vendors who do 5 million dollars or more worth of business with the Corrections Department.
Chelsea Mungo, a fourth grader at Cassidy Academics Plus Elementary School in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, recently wrote to Senator Hughes about the need to fund schools, asking “Why does the color of the students’ skin matter how much money we get for our school?” The Senator has responded with legislation that would provide funding to upgrade school facilities and ensure education equity in public schools.
A group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Senator Hughes, has announced a package of bills aimed at increasing voter participation in Pennsylvania. The lawmakers noted that although citizens are becoming more engaged in legislative issues on the state and national level, administrative barriers prevent many citizens from participating in the electoral process. Their bills offer more flexibility and more convenient options to make it easier to register and vote.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg are in the final months of negotiations to produce the state budget for 2017. Senator Hughes talks about why those final numbers are so important
Senator Hughes, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, voted no on Senate Bill 300 as it passed through that committee on a 7-5 vote. The bill would allocate state funding for family planning to conventional health care providers, such as hospitals and hospital-related clinics, and away from other providers. The Senator says this is a direct attack on Planned Parenthood and an attempt to take away state funding from that organization.
Senator Hughes says 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. The layoffs came after Senate Republicans refused to renew temporary funding for the offices until they received an accounting of how the money was spent. The Wolf administration said they had no choice but to lay off 500 workers and close unemployment call centers, leading to long waits for those who were out of work and filing for benefits.
Senator 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)
More than 1 million Pennsylvanians receive affordable health coverage through the state’s Medicaid expansion marketplace. Senator Hughes says any repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have devastating impact on individuals and families who rely on the coverage.
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 Hughes says the report gave Pennsylvania an F in terms of protecting children from lead in water at schools.
Senator Hughes held a Telephone Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, February 8th. He took phone calls from constituents with questions, and the topics included Governor Wolf’s 2017 budget proposal, the “sanctuary city” controversy, the proposed merger of four state agencies covering health and human services — even the new U.S. Secretary of Education. Click below to hear the town hall in its entirety:
Senator Hughes says Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2017-18 budget invests in jobs and working families and is a good fiscal blueprint to begin budget deliberations. The Senator is Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will begin hearings on the budget in a few weeks.
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. At a rally in the state Capitol organized by those workers, Senator Hughes called on the legislature to vote quickly to restore the funding.
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 Hughes wants to make sure as many Pennsylvanians as possible sign up for health insurance before the deadline.
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.
The 201st session of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is underway, and Senator Hughes has taken his oath of office to begin another four-year term. Here the Senator talks about what he’d like to see accomplished in this new session.
Senator Hughes has announced that when the legislature starts its new term in January 2017 he will reintroduce legislation to create over $250 million in dedicated funding for lead remediation across Pennsylvania. With 19 Pennsylvania cities testing higher than Flint, Mich., for elevated blood lead levels in children, and a growing chorus of evidence indicating a worsening statewide lead problem, Senator Hughes says it’s imperative that the state set a direct course of action to better protect children and their families. As a start, the Senator announced the state is awarding two grants totaling $125,000 to combat lead poisoning in Philadelphia. The grants come from state funded programs earmarked for job training and community revitalization.
Pennsylvania Moment: Senator Hughes suggests making a donation to your local food bank as one way to make this a happy holiday season for all.
An advisory committee co-chaired by Senator 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.
Governor Wolf today signed legislation into law that allows ride-sharing transportation companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. Here’s more with Senator Hughes, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who attended the bill-signing ceremony at the State Capitol and explains what the new law will mean for the Philadelphia School District and consumers across Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Moment: Registration has opened for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Senator Hughes says the LIHEAP program is designed to help low-income Pennsylvanians pay for heat this winter and get needed repairs to furnaces and other heating equipment.
In remarks on the Senate Floor today, Senator Hughes reminded state lawmakers that June 30th is the 10th anniversary of the last time the state legislature voted to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to $7.25 an hour. The Philadelphia lawmaker, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, again urged his colleagues to pass legislation increasing the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to help the commonwealth’s working poor.
The Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly approved a state budget that differs slightly from the one passed earlier this week by the House of Representatives. Here’s more with Senator Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who says the spending plan represents a good compromise between Senate Republicans and Democrats.
Senator Hughes joined fellow Senate Democrats and representatives of human service agencies at a press conference at the Capitol in Harrisburg to say that the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) has been devastated by recurring state budget cuts. He says the state budget now being developed needs to address funding shortfalls for the PHRC and similar agencies.
Senator Hughes held another of his Telephone Town Hall Meetings this month in which participants were able to ask questions about a wide range of issues including public school funding and gun violence as well as listen to a discussion on topics that are important to Philadelphia and Montgomery counties and the Commonwealth. You can listen here to the complete town hall meeting.
Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia today stood with members of the LGBT Community at the State Capitol to mourn those who were killed or injured in this past weekend’s shooting in Orlando, Florida, and to urge the state legislature to approve anti-discrimination legislation that’s now before the state Senate and House of Representatives. Here’s more with Senator Hughes.