Legislative Accomplishments

Community and Economic Development

  • Led efforts to provide additional funding for public libraries in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County from local gaming revenues. (Act 1-2010)
  • Strongly advocated for a robust and reliable transportation infrastructure and public transit financing plan in 2013 (Act 89-2013).
  • Spearheaded drive to recast Pittsburgh taxing structure and stabilize city finances and pensions (Act 222-2004).
  • Led efforts to direct a portion of gaming revenues toward reduction of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County development debt, including the convention center, airport, and redevelopment authorities. (Act 71-2004)
  • Recognized the economic imperative of supporting legislation which led to the construction of two new stadiums and an expansion of the David Lawrence Convention Center (Act 1)
  • Supported expansion of small games of chance to provide additional funding to local charitable organizations as well as fire and rescue organizations (Act 92-2013).

Courts and Administration of Justice

  • Prime sponsored jury reform legislation creating statewide jury information system to improve diversity and representation in county and federal jury pools (Act 37-2007).
  • Enacted effort to provide certified interpreters for deaf, hearing impaired and limited English proficient litigants in administrative and judicial proceedings (Act 172-2006).

Public Safety and Protection

  • Sought legislation to insure that maximum penalties may be imposed for burglary and burglary-related offenses under “Three Strikes Law” (Act 122-2012).
  • Supported legislation prohibiting municipal ordinances from penalizing residents for utilizing police or emergency assistance at their property particularly for domestic violence situations (Act 200-2014).
  • Joined in legislation that enhanced child protection laws and laws expanding reporting of child abuse that was the product of Joint House/Senate Child Abuse Task Force (15 bill legislative package).
  • Authored a new law that would provide for a life-sentence to those who commit rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse when serious bodily injury occurs to victims thirteen years or younger (Act 162-2002).
  • Toughened a law that would impose a rigorous 0.02 percent blood alcohol content standard for school vehicle drivers and providing for suspension of driving privileges for up to one year if convicted, and enhanced penalties for those who are driving under the influence with a minor child in the vehicle (Act 24-2003).
  • Strengthened legislation requiring Internet Service Providers to remove child pornography from their services or face tough criminal sanctions (Act 226-2002).
  • Improved Pennsylvania’s crime data reporting system to ensure that municipalities report crime statistics to the state police, which will leverage additional federal funds for local crime fighting activities (Act 180-2004).
  • Advocated increase and supported legislation to increase Pennsylvania State Police complement (Senate Bill 514).

Education and Education Funding

  • Supported plan to improve education with a back-to-basics approach; sought funding for smaller class sizes, new state-of-the-art technologies in the classroom, tutoring assistance and relief for property taxpayers (Senate Bill 473 and in various budgets).

Estates and Families

  • Prime sponsored legislation that allows more funds from pooled trusts to serve a greater number of individuals with disabilities (Act 186-2014).
  • Enacted legislation that increased amount available to families for funeral expenses without going through probate (Act 35-2013).
  • Championed the fight for a new law to reduce the inequitable inheritance tax by 25 percent resulting in savings of millions of dollars each year for Pennsylvania families (Senate Bill 1403) and supported other legislative efforts to enact reduction. Exempts real estate transfers between a step-parent and step-child from realty transfer taxes. Transfers between parents and children and parents and adopted children are currently exempt from the realty transfer tax (Act 85-2012).


  • Prime sponsor and lead advocate of state plan, FAIRx, to expand coverage and reduce prescription drug cost for seniors by leveraging additional rebates from drug manufacturers (Senate Bill 300).
  • Co-sponsored legislation to direct cooperative agreements between Highmark and UPMC allowing in-service coverage for all insurance (Senate Bills 1247 and 1248).
  • Supported efforts to expand CHIP health insurance to all children in Pennsylvania (Act 136).
  • Supported legislation to provide for use of medical cannabis (Senate Bill 1182).
  • Supported expansion of Medicaid to cover uninsured working Pennsylvanians.

 Updated January 2015