Senate Democratic Policy Committee

Senator Katie Muth, Chair

Please contact the Dem Policy Team with any questions at (717) 787-1398 or via email at dempolicy@pasenate.com for information regarding the Policy Committee.

Upcoming Policy Hearings

AUG

10

 

Solitary Confinement

Tuesday, August 10, 2021 | 11:00 am

The Policy Committee will be hosting a hearing on Solitary Confinement on Tuesday, August 10. The meeting will be co-hosted by Senator John Kane and Rep. Tina Davis. Please join us to address the unethical use of solitary confinement on inmates in Commonwealth prisons, including the psychological impact on inmates and legislative proposals to reform or abolish this practice.

This will be a hybrid hearing – in-person with the option to participate virtually. The hearing will take place at Chester City Hall, 1 E 4th Street, Chester, PA 19013.

Check back for more details!

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Past Policy Hearings

Check below to view past policy hearing including video and testimony! Questions, comments or suggestions about the hearings, fill out the form below!

The Healthcare Workforce Crisis

July 21, 2021

 

PA Senate Dems Host Policy Hearing on the Healthcare Workforce Crisis in PA

Harrisburg – July 21, 2021 – At the request of Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D- Allegheny), Sen. Wayne Fontana (D- Allegheny), Sen. Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland), Sen.  Lindsey Williams (D- Allegheny), & House Representative Austin Davis (D- Allegheny), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hybrid in person and virtual public hearing to discuss the healthcare workforce crisis in Pennsylvania. The pandemic exposed the many problems with staffing in our healthcare systems that must be addressed.

“I am extremely grateful that the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, in partnership with the incredible health care workers of SEIU, are continuing the conversation about the immediate need to address the staffing crisis in Pennsylvania healthcare settings,” Sen. Costa said. “My family was incredibly thankful for the care that my mother received when she was in a nursing home setting, and that standard of care should be afforded to every Pennsylvanian. Safe staffing levels, union protections, and livable wages are essential to addressing this workforce crisis.”

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Barriers in PA for the Transgender Community

June 29, 2021

 

PA Senate Dems Hold Policy Hearing on Statewide Barriers for the Transgender Community

Harrisburg – June 29, 2021 – At the request of Senators Amanda Cappelletti (D- Delaware/Montgomery), Tim Kearney (D- Chester/Delaware) and Lindsey Williams (D- Allegheny), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing during Pride Month to discuss the barriers in Pennsylvania for the transgender community to legally change their name and gender.

“There are far too many legal and social obstacles for transgender Pennsylvanians. By making it easier to change names and gender at the state level, we can alleviate some of the legal burdens that our transgender community faces regularly. Removing these barriers means that more Pennsylvanians can live their authentic life. This Pride Month, we have the opportunity to support and uplift our trans community, which is exactly what we should be doing as legislators,” Sen. Cappelletti said.

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Improving PA’s Nursing Homes

June 2, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Policy Hearing on Improving Care in Nursing Homes

Harrisburg – June 2, 2021 At the request of Senators Wayne Fontana (D- Allegheny), Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D- Allegheny), Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland), and Lindsey Williams (D- Allegheny), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing on how Pennsylvania can best improve care in nursing homes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was a wakeup call for us all that certain aspects of our society are not equipped to quickly and efficiently respond to crisis, and that many sectors of our society that were already struggling suffered the greatest losses due to the pandemic,” Senator Costa said. “Our nursing homes care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and it is imperative that these care facilities are not only equipped to respond to crisis like pandemics, but that even in the best of times they are properly staffed and overseen.”

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Mon Fayette Expressway

June 1, 2021

 

PA Senate Dems Host Policy Hearing on the Mon Fayette Expressway and Southwest PA Infrastructure Advancements

Harrisburg – June 1, 2021 – At the request of state Senator Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hybrid in person and virtual public hearing to discuss the Mon Fayette Expressway and what this project will mean to the southwest region of Pennsylvania.

“The investment into the Mon Fayette Expressway is not just about building another road, it is very important to understand that what we are doing here is building for the future,” Senator Brewster said. “The Mon Fayette Expressway is crucial in revitalizing the Mon Valley and providing direct and indirect access to family sustaining jobs for generations to come. We must provide this project with the resources that it needs to be completed.”

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Testimony

Testifier Bios

Panel 1: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)

Panel 2: Labor

  • Darrin Kelly, President, Allegheny County Labor Council
  • Jim Ameris, President, Laborers’ District Council of Western PA

Panel 3: Commerce

OSHA Protections for Public Employees

May 20, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Policy Hearing on OSHA Protections for Public Employees

Harrisburg – May 20, 2021 – At the request of Senator Tina Tartaglione (D- Philadelphia),  Democratic Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor & Industry, the Pennsylvania Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing to discuss Senate Bill 310  and OSHA protections for public employees.

“For more than 50 years, America’s private-sector employees and federal employees have benefitted from the safeguards and the peace of mind provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). It is a travesty that Pennsylvania’s public employees don’t have the same protections,” Senator Tartaglione said. “All workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and they have a right to know they won’t face retribution when they speak out about deficient and dangerous conditions. My Senate Bill 310 would extend critical OSHA protections to all Pennsylvania workers.”

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Testimony

Bios

Panel 1: Local Government & Schools

Keith Wentz, Manager of Risk Management & Underwriting, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP)

Stuart Knade, Esq., Chief Legal Officer, Pennsylvania School Boards Association

Panel 2: Advocates for Expanding OSHA Protections

Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

Mike MaGuire, Director of Political & Legislative Affairs, AFSCME Council 13

Jeff Ney, Treasurer, Pennsylvania State Education Association

Dr. David Levine, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Jerry T. Jordan, President,Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

Impact of the State System of Higher Education Redesign Plan

May 17, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Policy Hearing on the Impact of the State System of Higher Education Redesign Plan

Harrisburg – May 17, 2021 – At the request of state Senators Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing on the impact of the Pennsylvania state system of higher education’s (PASSHE) redesign plan.

“I serve on PASSHE’s Board of Governors, and through that role I’ve had the opportunity to meet with students, faculty, university presidents and trustees from all of the campuses,” Schwank said. “I know firsthand how important these institutions are to both the students who attend them and the communities where they are located. The system is an undeniable asset to the commonwealth. I’m hopeful that through honest and constructive dialogue, my colleagues and I will learn more about the current status of PASSHE and the impact that the integration plan will have on every aspect of the system. Our task as legislators, and all stakeholders, is to get us to a plan that will help the system survive and thrive. Many Pennsylvanians are counting on us to bring stability to the system and set it on a course to serve generations of learners.”

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Housing and the Unhoused

May 14, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Policy Hearing on Systemic Housing Insecurity

Harrisburg – May 14, 2021 – At the request of state Senators Tim Kearney (D- Chester/Delaware) and Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing on housing and the unhoused in Pennsylvania.

“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, but that goal is out of reach for many Pennsylvanians. This policy hearing will be critical to understanding the full scope of housing insecurity and how we can combat this crisis,” Sen. Kearney said.

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Legionella Prevention

May 5, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Policy Hearing on Legionella Prevention

Harrisburg – May 5, 2021 – At the request of Pennsylvania State Senators Wayne D. Fontana (D- Allegheny) and John Kane (D- Chester/Delaware), the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual policy hearing on Legionella prevention in Pennsylvania and the concern it presents in buildings shut down during the pandemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella bacteria are found in freshwater environments. The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made building water systems which can result in a lung infection known as Legionnaires’ disease. Unfortunately, Legionnaires’ disease is increasing, and Pennsylvania has some of the highest rates of illness year after year.

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Food Insecurity Policy Roundtable

April 30, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Joined by PA Sec. of Ag & Second Lady Gisele Fetterman for Policy Hearing on Food Insecurity in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg – April 30, 2021 – At the request of Pennsylvania State Senators Judy Schwank (D- Berks), Tina Tartaglione (D- Philadelphia), and Sharif Street (D- Philadelphia), the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual policy hearing to discuss the issue of food insecurity in Pennsylvania.

“The pandemic has exposed many issues over the last year, but perhaps most striking of all is the issue of food insecurity,” Schwank said. “I know few of us will forget seeing the long lines of families waiting for food assistance. Today we learned how our local food banks met the extraordinary challenge of feeding our communities and what we need to consider moving forward as the issue of food insecurity is far from solved.”

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Panel 1: Food Insecurity & Public Policy

Dixie James, President & COO, Einstein Healthcare Network

Gisele Fetterman, Second Lady of Pennsylvania

Secretary Russell Redding, PA Department of Agriculture

Scott Cawthern, Acting Deputy Secretary for the Office of Income Maintenance

Dr. Kathy Reeves, MD, FAAP, Senior Associate Dean, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Director, Center for Urban Bioethics – Professor, Pediatrics Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University

Panel 2: Food Sovereignty within PA Communities

Andy Toy, Development and Communications Director, SEAMAAC

Tyler Ray, Neighborhood Community Organizer, Urban Creators

Panel 3: Programs in Place to Serve Communities

Maddy Booth, COO, Vetri Community Partnership

Mark Edwards, President & CEO, Food Trust

Loree Jones, CEO, Philabundance

Jay Worrall, President, Helping Harvest Food Bank

Bright Future for Labor & Clean Energy

April 22, 2021

 

PA Senate Dems Hold Policy Roundtable to Discuss Bright Future of Labor & Clean Energy

Harrisburg – April 22, 2021 – At the request of Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D- Allegheny), the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual round table discussion on the future of clean energy development and clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania. This hearing was held on Earth Day to honor the history of environmental stewardship this day represents, and to acknowledge the importance of preserving our environment.

“There was a reason president Joe Biden unveiled his historic infrastructure plan here in Pittsburgh,” Costa said. “Our city got its start in the industrial revolution, but as our world has evolved so must the infrastructure that keeps us going. We need clean energy sources that lead us into the future, powered by men and women in family sustaining jobs. Our earth does not have infinite resources, and it is our duty to protect and preserve the health and resources of our planet for future generations.”

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Housing Crisis

March 31, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Hold Hearing on the Effects of COVID-19 on PA Housing Crisis

Harrisburg – March 31, 2021 – At the request of state Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia), and Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the existing housing crisis in Pennsylvania.

“For too long, the struggles of Pennsylvanians to find housing, and to stay housed, have been rendered invisible. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a crisis that has been generations in the making, and which is endemic to a society that treats housing as a commodity, rather than as a right. As legislators, we have an opportunity, right now, to listen to our constituents—to make these struggles visible—and to furnish legislative solutions to mitigate decades of neglect and harm,” Sen. Saval said.

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Net Neutrality

March 29, 2021

 

PA Senate Democrats Joined House Democrats for Net Neutrality Policy Hearing

Harrisburg – March 29, 2021 – At the request of state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D- Delaware/Montgomery) and state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D- Philadelphia), chair of the House Sub-Committee on Progressive Policies for Working Families, the Pennsylvania Senate and House Democratic Policy Committees held a virtual hearing today on net neutrality and the need for equitable access to the internet across the commonwealth.

“Internet access has become a necessity. However, Pennsylvania’s technological infrastructure and internet standards are behind the times. This pandemic has put a spotlight on the immediate need to update our technological infrastructure. We need to modernize and bring Pennsylvania into the 21st Century to ensure we do not fall further behind our neighboring states,” Cappelletti said.

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Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship

March 26, 2021

 

PA Senate and House Democrats Host Policy Hearing on Needed Changes to Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship

Harrisburg – March 26, 2021 – At the request of state Senators Wayne D. Fontana (D- Allegheny), Jim Brewster (D- Allegheny/Westmoreland), Lindsey Williams (D- Allegheny) and Representative Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny), the Pennsylvania Senate and House Democratic Policy Committees held a virtual public hearing on the issues of abandoned and blighted property conservatorship, the effect of blight on neighborhoods, and tools to eradicate blight while preserving the integrity of communities.

“Making sure that blight does not continue to bring down our thriving communities is of the utmost importance,” Sen. Fontana said. “The premise of Act 135 and all blight remediation legislation are overall positive and essential to eliminating blight.  The purpose of this hearing is to examine the act to make sure the law is being used for its intended purpose and make any necessary changes to achieve this goal.”

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A People’s Budget: The Environment

February 25, 2021

 

PA Senate & House Dems Host Hearing on ‘A People’s Budget: The Environment’

Harrisburg – February 25, 2021 – At the request of Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti (D- Delaware/Montgomery), Sen. Nikil Saval (D- Philadelphia), Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D- Philadelphia), Rep. Rick Krajewski (D- Philadelphia), Rep. Sara Innamorato (D- Allegheny), and Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D- Chester), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee joined the House Democratic Policy Committee to hold a virtual hearing on ‘A People’s Budget: The Environment.’ This hearing discussed the current and future funding of environmental protection oversight, impacted communities, and public health concerns related to industry activity and legacy pollution.

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Racial and Gender Bias in the Courts

February 19, 2021

PA Senate & House Democrats Join PA Legislative Black Caucus for Hearing on Racial and Gender Bias in the Courts

Harrisburg – February 19, 2021 – At the request of Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus (PLBC) chair Rep. Donna Bullock (D- Philadelphia), vice-chair Rep. Summer Lee (D- Allegheny), and PLBC members Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D- Delaware/Philadelphia) and Sen. Sharif Street (D- Philadelphia), the Pennsylvania Senate and House Democratic Policy Committees held a virtual public hearing to discuss racial and gender bias in the court systems across the state. This hearing built off the continuing efforts of the Philadelphia City Council and Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s work toward justice in the Philadelphia court system.

“Pervasive racial and gender bias in the Pennsylvania judiciary cannot be tolerated. This policy hearing not only gives us an opportunity to listen to personal accounts of bias and unfair treatment but to also gather information about the environment and systems that create and perpetuate these biases,” Bullock said. “As lawmakers, we have an obligation to take that information to advocate for comprehensive court reforms to address bias, systemic racism and other institutional challenges that threaten the public’s faith in our justice system.”

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Maternal Health and Vaccine Safety Amidst COVID-19

February 10, 2021

PA Senate Dems Joined PA House Dems & the PA Women’s Health Caucus for Hearing on Maternal Health and Vaccine Safety Amidst COVID-19

Harrisburg – February 11, 2021 – Yesterday, at the request of PA Women’s Health Caucus chairs Sen. Judy Schwank (D- Berks), Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D- Delaware/Montgomery), Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D- Montgomery), and Rep. Morgan Cephas (D- Philadelphia), the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee joined the House Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing to discuss maternal health amidst COVID-19.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have been deeply concerned about both the physical and mental health of mothers and families experiencing childbirth and caring for babies in the shadow of COVID-19,” Schwank said. “We must ensure that mothers and babies are receiving the best care possible and are receiving the support and services they need to maintain a healthy life during and after this pandemic.”

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  • Dr. Mark Woodland, M.S., M.D., FACOG, Chair & Clinical Professor OB-GYN, Reading Hospital/Tower Health, Interim Academic Chair, OBGYN Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Dr. Hyagriv “Hy” Simhan, UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital, Division Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine
  • Dr. Richard Beigi, UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital, President, OB-GYN’
  • Dr. Aasta Mehta, M.D., M.P.P., FACOG – Philadelphia MMRC, Philadelphia Dept of Health, PA MMRC
  • Dr. Sindhu K. Srinivas, M.D., MSCE, Director of Obstetrical Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Vice Chair for Quality and Safety, Physician Lead, Women’s Health Service Line, Penn Medicine
  • Nicole Chaney, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Reading Hospital
  • Markita Glenn, Doula, Pettaway Pursuit Foundation
  • Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, Maternal Fetal Health Specialist, Baystate Health
  • Dr. Richard S. Legro, M.D, Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences, Penn State Health College of Medicine and Penn State Health
  • Dr. Catharine I. Paules, M.D., Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases, Penn State Health College of Medicine and Penn State Health
  • Dr. Rhonda C. Boyd, Ph.D., Psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Raising the Minimum Wage for PA

January 18, 2021

PA Senate Democrats Hold Hearing on Raising the Minimum Wage for PA in Honor of MLK Day of Service

Harrisburg – January 18, 2021 – At the request of State Senators Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia), Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia), and John Kane (D- Chester/Delaware) the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a virtual public hearing on raising the minimum wage for Pennsylvanians. The hearing was held on Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day of Service to honor his legacy of fighting for worker’s rights and economic justice.

“It is unacceptable that Pennsylvania continues to allow its minimum wage to be the poverty wage of $7.25 an hour,” Haywood said. “We hold this hearing today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service to continue the work that Dr. King started demanding dignity and respect for all workers, and that starts by paying workers a living wage.”

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Impact of COVID-19 on Prisons

January 7, 2021

PA Senate Democrats Host PA Dept. of Corrections Sec. Wetzel & Others for Hearing on Impact of COVID-19 on Prisons

Harrisburg – January 7, 2021 − At the request of state Senators Anthony H. Williams (D- Delaware/Philadelphia) and Sharif Street (D- Philadelphia) the Senate Democratic Policy Committee today held a virtual public hearing on the impacts of COVID-19 on the communities, employees and inmates related to our state prison system.

“COVID-19 spares no one, including myself, in who it chooses to infect,” Williams said. “While the state has acknowledged the issue of COVID-19 spreading through our incarcerated populations and made efforts to release select inmates to reduce populations, we still have far too many incarcerated individuals and correctional staff members becoming infected with and dying from COVID-19.”

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