Senate Democratic Policy Committee
Senator Katie Muth, Chair
Impact of the State System of Higher Education Redesign Plan
Monday, May 17, 2021 | 10:00 a.m.
Upcoming Policy Hearings
Impact of the State System of Higher Education Redesign Plan
Monday, May 17, 2021 | 10:00 a.m.
At the request of state Senators Lindsey Williams & Judy Schwank, the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a virtual public hearing to discuss Public Higher Education and the PASSHE Redesign Plan. We will hear from the Chancellor of PASSHE, University Presidents, as well as impacted students & workers. Please join us for this important hearing on the future of public higher education in Pennsylvania.
The meeting’s location will be held virtually via Zoom. You can register for the hearing ahead of time at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwkdOGgrTItHtBeDtR8g4KlVUijws7kqeLb
OSHA Protections for Public Employees
Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 10:00 a.m.
At the request of Senator Tartaglione, the Democratic Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor & Industry, the Pennsylvania Democratic Policy Committee will hold a virtual public hearing to discuss Senate Bill 310 (Protecting Workplace Safety) and hear from leaders in government, labor, and education on how to best expand OSHA protections for both public and nonprofit employees.
The meeting’s location will be held virtually via Zoom. You can register for the hearing ahead of time at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIpf-6opjwpGtd6SVkUlavHwnReEOePzp7T
Save the Date
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Mon Fayette Expressway
Sen. Brewster will host a policy hearing to discuss the Mon Fayette Expressway project and what it can mean to the southwest region of Pennsylvania.
Monroeville Borough Building-Council Chambers
(and also on Zoom)
2700 Monroeville Blvd.
Monroeville, PA 15146
Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | 11:00 am
Improving Pennsylvania’s Nursing Homes
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!
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.
Panel 1: Creating a True Continuum of Care
- Kayleigh Silver, MSS, Montgomery County Office of Housing & Community Development; Senior Manager of Housing & Homeless Services – Montco “Your Way Home” Program
- Amanda Andere, President – Funders Together to End Homelessness
- Cynthia Shields, Assistant Deputy Director for Housing & Homelessness at Allegheny County DHS
- Xavior Robinson, COO – Pathways to Housing PA
Panel 2: Barriers to Getting and Staying Housed
- Christina Kapp, Central Valley Regional Homeless Coordinated Entry Systems Manager Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authority
- Jordan Casey, Staff Attorney – The Health, Education and Legal assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership at Widener University Delaware Law School & the Foundation for Delaware County
- Jane Downing, Senior Program Officer, Economic and Community Development – The Pittsburgh Foundation
Panel 3: Housing Development for Unhoused People
- Cindy Daley, Director of Community Development Initiatives, Regional Housing Legal Services
- Jeff Rich, Executive Director – Clinton County Housing Authority and VP of Operations – Clinton County Housing Coalition
- Mark Dambly, President – Pennrose
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.
Libby Ashworth, Water Safety Specialist, Project Manager at Garratt-Callahan Company
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.”
Panel 1: Food Insecurity & Public Policy
Gisele Fetterman, Second Lady of Pennsylvania
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
Panel 3: Programs in Place to Serve Communities
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.”
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.
Panel 1: Barriers to housing security for renters
Julie Barry, Erie County Resident
Panel 2: PA’s invisible housing crises
Carrie Bach, Chief Operations Officer, Voices for Independence
Panel 3: How COVID-19 exacerbated housing insecurity
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.
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.”
Panel 1: PA Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatory Act
Panel 2: Effects of Blight
Panel 3: Tools to Eradicate Blight
Gina Dascola, Sergeant, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office
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.
Panel 1: Impacted Pennsylvanians
- Lois Bower-Bjornson, Washington County
- Rosemary Fuller, Chester County
- Erica Tarr, Glen Mills
- Sylvia Bennett, South Philadelphia
- Ray Kemble, Susquehanna County
Panel 2: Communities, State Investment, and the Economy
- Bishop Dwayne Royster, POWER Interfaith
- Ezra Thrush, PennFuture
- Stephen Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center
Panel 3: Public Health
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.”
- Judge Karen Simmons, Philadelphia Municipal Court
- Keith Smith, retired First Judicial District staff member
- Keir Bradford Grey, Chief Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia
- Deborah Watson-Stokes, Assistant District Attorney, Homicide Unit, Philadelphia District Attorney’s
- Michael Coard, Esq., Defense Attorney, Law Office of Michael Coard
- Sandra Thompson, Esq., Defense Attorney, Law Office of Sandra Thompson
- Celeste Trusty, PA State Policy Director, FAMM
- Taylor Jones, Ph.D., Director of Research and Principal Consultant, CulturePoint
- Nikki Grant, Policy Lead, Amistad Law Project
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.”
- 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.”
- Gene Barr, President & CEO of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry
- Alissa Barron-Menza, Vice President of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
- Morris Pearl, Chair of Patriotic Millionaires
- Jacqui Rogers, Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition
- William Spriggs, Professor of Economics, Howard University and Chief Economist, AFL-CIO
- Kadida Kenner, Director of Campaigns at the PA Budget and Policy Center
- Adesola Ogunleye, Worker from Philadelphia
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.”
- Secretary John Wetzel, Department of Corrections
- Clair Shubrick-Richards, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society
- Celeste Trusty, Policy Director of the Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation (FAMM)
- Kris Henderson, Executive Director of the Amistad Law Project
- Brandon Flood, Secretary, Pennsylvania Board of Pardons
- Dr. Alvin Wang, Chief Medical Officer for our Department of Public Safety, Montgomery Co.
- Blanche Carney, Philadelphia Prison Commissioner
- Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of Montgomery County Board of Commissioners