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July 2017

PENNSYLVANIA MOMENT: Experts say this year’s wet and cool weather has led to an explosion in the tick population.  Senator Costa has some advice from the PA Department of Health on how to protect yourself from ticks.

June 2017

CLEAR is the Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues, a coalition of labor and service industry groups representing more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians.Senator Costa and lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate joined the coalition 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.

By a vote of 43-7, the state Senate approved a $32 billion spending plan for 2017-18 that provides for increased spending on education and intellectually disabled people. It increases spending by less than 1 percent above what was available to spend this year. Now that the spending plan is in place, lawmakers have to figure out how to pay for it. Talks are expected to continue on different funding scenarios.

Senator Costa joined supporters of House Bill 1520, legislation to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, as they rallied in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. The bill would raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $12.00 per hour on January 1st of next year, and by an additional 50 cents per hour each year until 2024, when the minimum wage would be $15.00 per hour. Beginning in 2025, the minimum wage would receive a cost-of-living adjustment every year.

Senator Costa joined Democratic members of the House and Senate 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 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. 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.

Senator Costa is introducing a resolution urging Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to file suit against the pharmaceutical industry for deceptive and unfair marketing practices. The Senator says that the commonwealth and local communities are suffering from the opioid epidemic, which he believes has been caused in large part by opioid manufacturers. He says they have engaged in nationwide marketing campaigns encouraging overprescribing, misleading both prescribers and the public about the highly-addictive nature and dangerous side effects of the drugs.

Stunned at President Donald J. Trump’s dismissal of climate change and abandonment of the Paris climate accord, Senators Costa and Fontana joined with Mayor Peduto to introduce legislation requiring the state Department of Environmental Protection to adopt the requirements set forth in the Obama Clean Power Plan, designed by the EPA to reduce greenhouse emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Senator Costa has introduced Senate Bill 709, legislation to prevent the practice of “food shaming” children at school meals. These are instances where school meals have been withheld from students because a student’s parents owe money to the school district for meals, and schools mark children with bracelets or stamps to denote that a child’s parents are in arrears for school meal payments. The bill would require school districts to serve meals to children, if one is requested, regardless of whether the child’s family owes money to the school. It will prohibit schools from marking children in any way if their family owes money for meals.  And it will require districts to implement policies to determine if children are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

May 2017

Senator 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.

April 2017

Senator Costa joined Pennsylvanians who work in artistic fields and the people who support that work took in the halls of the state Capitol in Harrisburg to drum up support – and funding – for the arts.

The PA Senate has passed legislation providing 15 million dollars to the Department of Labor and Industry that will be used to re-hire unemployment call center workers who were laid off late 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 Costa says the funding should put at least 300 of those workers back on the job.

February 2017

Senator Costa held a Telephone Town Hall on Tuesday, February 7th, taking questions from constituents via telephone, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.  The discussions were about the Governor’s 2017 state budget proposal, property tax reform, climate change, redistricting, and a proposal to combine four state agencies into one.  You can listen to the whole town hall by clicking below:

Senator Costa 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 $32.3 billion budget plan eliminates a $3 billion deficit while making $2 billion in budget cuts and a 1.8 percent increase in spending, all without a broad-based tax increase. The budget plan also calls for an additional $100 million in basic education, $75 million for high-quality early education and $25 million for special education.

Senator Costa and his fellow Senate Democrats are asking Governor Wolf to call a special session of the General Assembly to focus on reforming or eliminating property taxes.

January 2017

Gov. Wolf has proposed merging the departments of Aging, Health, Human Services and Drug and Alcohol Programs as a way for the Commonwealth to save money and become more efficient.  Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Senator Costa says he’d like to see more details of the Governor’s proposal.

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 Costa called on the legislature to vote quickly to restore the funding

In 2003, the General Assembly adopted Senate Resolution 60, which created a special commission to study and make recommendations on the delivery of Fire and EMS services in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2004, the SR 60 Commission put forth 23 recommendations, many of which were adopted or acted upon. Fourteen years later and with many challenges continuing to face our Fire & EMS community (loss of volunteer first responders, exorbitant costs of apparatus, and training needs), the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee is introducing a new resolution calling for another commission to study our Fire & EMS system. The commission will include members of the Senate and House, representatives of the fire and EMS community, and municipalities. The commission will make its recommendations by June 30, 2018. Here are remarks at the introduction of the Resolution by Senator Costa, Democratic Chairman of the Committee.

Pennsylvania Moment: Winter weather can cause hazards and delays for drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Senator Costa advises you to be prepared by checking Turnpike conditions before you head out.

Senator  Costa, re-elected to represent the 43rd District in the Pennsylvania Senate, took his oath of office on the floor of the Senate just after noon on Tuesday January 3rd  to begin the 201st session of the General Assembly.  Here’s the Senator talking about his priorities for the new session

December 2016

Pennsylvania Moment: Senator Costa suggests making a donation to your local food bank as one way to make this a happy holiday season for all.

November 2016

Pennsylvania Moment: Registration has opened for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Senator Costa 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.

October 2016

Senator Costa pays tribute to the late Congressman Joseph Gaydos on the Senate floor.

Senator Costa speaks on the floor of the state Senate as he introduces a Resolution naming October National Arts and Humanities Month in Pennsylvania.

September 2016

Governor Wolf, members of his cabinet and legislative leaders attended the HOPE Caucus’ “Day of Hope” rally in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, surrounded by hundreds of recovering addicts and those who work with them. This follows a series of nine public hearings the Caucus held across the state, listening to professionals and those affected by opiod and heroin addiction.The PA Hope Caucus’ mission is to ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to high quality prevention and treatment of the disease of drug and alcohol addiction. Senator Costa is co-chairman of the HOPE Caucus.  Here is his address to the rally

Pennsylvania Moment: The deadline to register to vote in this November’s Presidential election is October 11th. Senator Costa reminds state residents that they can now register online to vote (register.votespa.com).

August 2016

Blight is a major problem that impedes both business and residential interest in communities across Pennsylvania.  That’s why Senate and House Democrats held a joint public hearing this week in Wilkinsburg on ways to eradicate blight and enhance community revitalization.  Here’s more with Senator Costa who requested the policy committee hearing.

Pennsylvania Moment: Senator Costa reminds drivers to watch out for highway workers, police and emergency personnel who may be on the shoulder of the road.

June 2016

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 Costa who says education is the big winner in the Senate-passed spending plan.

Senator Costa 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.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County 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 Costa.

Pennsylvania Moment:  With summer coming, more bicycles will be on Pennsylvania roadways. Senator Costa has safety tips for motorists and bicyclists on how to share the road.

The Pennsylvania Senate has adopted a resolution designating the week of June 12 through 18 as “Pennsylvania Family Center Network Week” in Pennsylvania.  Here’s more with Senator Costa who says his resolution is intended to honor the centers which provide early childhood, parent education and family support programs serving families throughout pregnancy until children enter school.

Senator Costa today joined over 100 students, teachers, state lawmakers and community members representing Erie’s Public Schools on the steps of the State Capitol Rotunda to share a message that investment in public school education has to once again be a priority in the Commonwealth.  Here’s more with the Senate Democratic Leader who pledged that Senate Democrats will continue to fight for increased state funding.

May 2016

With drug overdose deaths reaching epidemic levels, Senate Democrats today unveiled legislation in Harrisburg to address the opioid addiction crisis in Pennsylvania from prevention through recovery.  Here’s more with Senator Costa who says addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and there is no easy solution to fix the problem.

Senate Democrats are calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow Pennsylvania voters to decide if they want to make changes to the state’s personal income tax.  Here’s more with Senator Costa who spoke today at a State Capitol news conference in support of legislation that would allow voters to change the state’s personal income tax from a flat rate to a graduated tax.

Senator Costa held another of his Telephone Town Hall Meetings on May 10th in which participants were able to ask questions about a wide range of state and local issues as well as listen to a discussion on topics that are important to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and the state.  You can listen here to the complete town hall meeting.

Pennsylvania Moment: May 30th is Memorial Day, and May 21st is Armed Forces Day. Senator Costa says veterans, their families and survivors should check and make sure they are receiving all of the benefits to which they’re entitled.

Pennsylvania Moment: May is national Pet Month. Senator Costa says one of the best things you can do for your dog is get a license.

Here are Senator Costa’s remarks at the 23rd Annual Police Memorial held in Harrisburg to pay tribute to the five police officers across Pennsylvania who lost their lives while on duty in 2015:

The Pennsylvania Senate has adopted a resolution recognizing Monday, May 2, as “Police Officers Memorial Day” in Pennsylvania and the week of May 15 through May 21 as “National Police Week” in the Commonwealth.  Here’s more with Senator Costa whose resolution is intended to honor the brave law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.

April 2016

Pennsylvania is seeing a rise in heroin addiction and overdoses.  Senate Democratic Leader Costa hosted a hearing by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee to listen to treatment providers about what needs to be done to make sure addicts receive proper rehabilitation.

April is SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH in Pennsylvania. Senator Costa says there’s a statewide campaign, “It’s On Us, Pennsylvania,” designed to call attention to and stop sexual assault, especially on college campuses.

April is AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH  in Pennsylvania.  Senator Costa says state law requires insurance coverage for autism treatment, and there’s a website listing the services offered to help those with autism.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on Thursday, April 7, 10 a.m. in Pittsburgh on Combating Barriers to Opiate and Opioid Addiction Treatment in Pennsylvania.  Here’s more with Senator Costa who’s inviting the public to attend the hearing which will be held in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, 5th Floor, City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh.

March 2016

Senator Costa today is reminding Pennsylvanians that they can help our military men and women and their families at tax time by checking a box on their 2015 personal income tax returns to donate all or a portion of their state income tax refund to the state’s Military Family Relief Assistance Program, which provides grants of up to $3,500 to Pennsylvania members of the armed forces and their families who have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances beyond their control.

Pennsylvania Moment: Senator Costa says one of the best ways for people to help their communities is to volunteer as a firefighter or emergency responder.

In remarks on the Senate Floor today, Senator Costa expressed his deepest sympathy to the families of the Wilkinsburg shooting victims and talked about the problems facing our communities and what the state should be doing to help them and their residents.

The Senate schedule notwithstanding, Senator Costa’s Resolution has declared “Rare Disease Awareness Day” in Pennsylvania.

Senator Costa commends Gov. Wolf who signed an Executive Order on March 7th raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.15 an hour for state workers and for employees of businesses that receive future state contracts.

February 2016

There appears to be good news for supporters of a bill in Harrisburg that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.  Here’s more with Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County who’s optimistic that the House of Representatives will soon bring the legislation up for a vote.

Senator Costa held another of his Telephone Town Hall Meetings on February 23rd in which participants were able to ask questions about a wide range of issues including school district spending and property tax relief, local hospital construction projects, and medical marijuana legislation as well as listen to a discussion on topics that are important to Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the state.  You can listen here to the complete town hall meeting.

January 2016

Pennsylvania Moment: Time for parents and students to begin the process of applying for college loans and grants.  Senator Costa says Pennsylvania’s Higher Education Assistance Agency can help.

Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a $32.7 billion proposed Pennsylvania budget for 2016-17, but  Senator Costa says the state won’t get out of its fiscal crisis until lawmakers deal with passing a realistic 2015-16 budget.

As the state legislature begins the second half of the current two-year session, Senator Costa 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 the state budget, property tax relief, and telephone scams targeting the elderly as well as listen to a discussion on topics that are important to Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Commonwealth.  You can listen here to the complete town hall meeting.

Pennsylvania Moment:  Senator Costa says Pennsylvanians who need health insurance have a new affordable option: the Health Choices program.

Following Gov. Wolf’s line-item veto of the latest Republican-sponsored budget, Senator Costa says the state legislature needs to pass the budget framework all parties agreed to before the Christmas holidays to avoid major problems in next year’s budget.