Senate Democratic Policy Committee
Senator Katie Muth, Chair
Upcoming Policy Hearings
Roundtable Discussion – Senate Rules Reform
Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | 6:00 pm
Senator Katie Muth and Senator Lindsey Williams will host a virtual roundtable discussion on Senate Rules reforms on Wednesday, December 7 from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. For far too long, many operating rules of the Senate allow the Majority Party to prioritize politics over policy and silence other members who are trying to advocate for their constituencies and often, for what is right and just. Senator Muth and Senator Williams will discuss their package of Senate Rules Reforms that will promote transparency and ensure a fair legislative process in the State Senate. The roundtable discussion will be hosted on Zoom and will allow for attendees to ask questions throughout the event.
This hearing will be fully virtual via ZOOM.
Register in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqc-qqqj4vH9AQTT19YZ5UCj26bL2uYBEP
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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!
Read to Succeed: Early Childhood Education and its Effects on Childhood Literacy
November 17, 2022
Senate Democrats Discuss Early Childhood Education and Literacy at Marywood University
DUNMORE, November 18, 2022 – Yesterday, State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined state Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne) to host a public hearing at the Fricchione Early Learning Center at Marywood University on access to early childhood education and literacy issues facing Pennsylvania students.
The hearing featured testimony from various educators and policy experts who all discussed the importance of high-quality childcare, early language, and pre-literacy skill development and how literacy has lifelong impacts on mental health, academic achievement, and professional success. Also discussed were issues regarding Pennsylvanians staffing shortages and inadequate compensation. A recent survey of almost 1,000 PA childcare programs showed nearly 7,000 vacant positions, resulting in more than 32,000 children languishing on waitlists for childcare.
Panel 1: Educators
- Donna Reid-Kilgore, Pre-K Counts Teacher – Bloom Early Education Center | Teach Plus PA Policy Fellow
- Laura Sosik, 2nd Grade Teacher – Isaac Tripp Elementary School (Scranton School District) | Teach Plus PA Policy Fellow
- Donna Salva, Adjunct Professor In Graduate Reading and Education Programs – Marywood University
Panel 2: Policy Experts
- Lindsey Ramsey, Assistant Director of Policy and Practice – Trying Together
- Kimberly Early, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy – Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children
- Donna Cooper, Executive Director – Children First
Deceptive Practices of Anti-abortion Centers II
October 28, 2022
Senate Democrats Discuss Issue of Anti-Abortion Centers at Capitol Hearing
HARRISBURG, October 28, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware) to host a hearing to explore the issues and history of state funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
The hearing, which was the second held by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on the topic of anti-abortion centers, took place at the Capitol in Harrisburg and featured testimony from medical professionals, students, a former volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, and an advocate for the so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
DHS Overnight Stays
October 27, 2022
- Melissa Harvey, MSW, LSW, Vice President, Community Based Programs, Gemma Services
- Frank P. Cervone, Executive Director, Support Center for Child Advocates
- Happi Grillon, MSW, Executive Director, CASA of Philadelphia County
- Terry L. Clark, MPA President/CEO, PCCYFS, Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services (PCCYFS)
- Kimberly Ali, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Human Services
- Meg Snead, Acting Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS)
Why Pennsylvania Needs a Statewide Rape Kit Tracking System
September 23, 2022
Policy Hearing Addresses Critical Need to Establish Statewide Rape Kit Tracking System
PHOENIXVILLE, September 23, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined state Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia) and members of the Senate and House Democratic Policy Committees at a joint public hearing that focused the need to establish a statewide rape kit tracking system in Pennsylvania.
The hearing took place at the Upper Providence Township Building in Phoenixville and featured three panels of testimony from members of law enforcement, victim advocates, and survivors of sexual assault.
Panel 1: Survivors’ Perspective
Panel 2: Overview of the Current System & Law Enforcement Perspective
- Debra A. Calhoun, Pennsylvania State Police, Scientific Services Division Director
- Sgt. James Holstein, Pennsylvania State Police
- Kevin Steele, District Attorney of Montgomery County
Panel 3: Policy Solutions
- Donna Greco, Policy Director – Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)
- Mary Onama, Director – Montgomery County Rape Crisis Center
Health Equity: Enhancing Mobile & Community Clinics in PA
September 13, 2022
Policy Hearing Highlights Importance of Mobile Health Clinics in PA
HARRISBURG, September 13, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined state Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) to host a virtual public hearing on strategies to enhance mobile health clinics and community health centers in Pennsylvania.
The hearing, held earlier today on Zoom, featured two panels of expert testimony from health care providers, advocates and professionals on community healthcare delivery in Pennsylvania.
Panel 1: Community Health
- Eric Kiehl, APR − Director of Policy and Partnerships, Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
- Richard Rinehart − CEO, Cornerstone Care Community Health Centers
- Donna Simpson − Director of Communication, Outreach and Mobile Services, Cornerstone Care Community Health Centers
Panel 2: Mobile Clinics
- Tracy Wood − Executive Director, Black Doctors Consortium
- Michael McShane, MD, EdM − Assistant Professor of Medicine | Penn State Health Medical Director, LION Mobile Clinic | Assistant Director of Core Clinical Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine | Health Equities Co-Clerkship Director, Penn State College of Medicine
- Morgan Hutchinson, MD − Assistant Medical Director, Emergency Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital/JMH | Director of Education and SI-Design Track, Health Design Lab, SKMC
- Health Equity Proposal for Community Health Center Funding
- Health Equity – Enhancing Mobile & Community Clinics in PA − Statewide Map
- Health Equity – Enhancing Mobile & Community Clinics in PA − Philadelphia Map
- Brochure − Community Health Centers: Care That Puts You First
- FQHC/RHC/Free Clinic Requirement Comparisons
A Post-Roe Pennsylvania: Crisis Pregnancy Centers
September 6, 2022
Roundtable Focuses on Deceptive Practices of So-Called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”
HARRISBURG, September 7, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined state Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and state Reps. Bridget Kosierowski (D-Lackawanna) and Melissa Shusterman (D-Chester/Montgomery) to host a roundtable discussion on the deceptive practices of so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in Pennsylvania.
The roundtable discussion at the State Capitol in Harrisburg was a part of a series of events hosted jointly by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and the House Democratic Policy Committee on the future of reproductive healthcare in Pennsylvania.
- Ashley Underwood – Director, Equity Forward
- Tara Murtha – Director of Strategic Communications – Women’s Law Project
- Abigail McElroy – Student Activist
- Cortney Bouse, MPH – Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, State Field Director
- Melissa Weiler Gerber – President/CEO, AccessMatters
- Kelly Davis – Executive Director, New Voices for Reproductive Justice
Secondary Impacts of Gun Violence
August 24, 2022
Senate Democrats Discuss Secondary Impacts of Gun Violence at Policy Hearing
EAST NORRITON, August 24, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, hosted a public hearing in Montgomery County on the secondary impacts and consequences of gun violence in Pennsylvania along with co-hosts Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware), Senator John Kane (D-Chester/Delaware) and Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia).
“Gun violence is such a pervasive public health crisis in our country – and it will only continue to get worse and impact more families and more communities across our Commonwealth if nothing changes,” Muth said. “As we heard today, the secondary impacts and consequences of gun violence incidents are plaguing communities, families, health care providers, emergency responders, and others who work in human services professions. We must work together to break this perpetual cycle of violence, mourning, and harm – otherwise, the physical, emotional, and financial impacts will continue to devastate Pennsylvania communities across the state. Those in power in all levels of government need to work with stakeholders to develop a collaborative plan that focuses on prevention, wrap-around services for direct and secondary impacted individuals, increasing standards related to firearm safety, and holding perpetrators accountable.”
Panel 1: Professional Impacts
- Dr. Merle Carter, Executive Vice-Chair of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
- Jack Stollsteimer, Delaware County District Attorney
- Alexia Clarke, Executive Director, Chester Community Coalition
Panel 2: Health Impacts
- Leah Brogan, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PA), Violence Intervention Program, Center for Violence Prevention, CHOP
Panel 3: Impacts to First Responders
August 11, 2022
Women’s Health Caucus Holds Third Post-Roe PA Policy Hearing in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh — August 11, 2022 — This morning, the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus, in conjunction with the House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees, held its third hearing on post-Roe Pennsylvania at Chatham University.
The hearing featured testimony from abortion providers, medical professionals and advocacy groups serving Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. Testifiers highlighted the need to keep abortion safe and legal in Pennsylvania, the challenges abortion providers are facing since Roe v. Wade’s reversal and some of the issues that are exacerbated by abortion bans, like domestic violence. It also provided insight into how providers are handling the influx of out-of-state patients western Pennsylvania is seeing.
Dr. Sheila Ramgopal (they, them) MD, MA, FACOG, CEO, Allegheny Reproductive Health Center
Sue Frietsche (she, her) founder/director, Western PA Women’s Law Project
Dr. Marian Jarlenski (she, they) PhD, MPH, Assoc. Professor of Health Policy and Management, Associate Director of the Center for Innovative Research on Gender Health Equity, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health
La’Tasha D. Mayes (she, her) MSPPM, founder, New Voices for Reproductive Justice
July 26, 2022
Women’s Health Caucus Hosts Second Policy Hearing on Post-Roe Pennsylvania
Philadelphia — July 26, 2022 — Today, the Women’s Health Caucus conducted its second joint hearing with the House and Senate Democratic Policy Committees on Pennsylvania abortion access post-Roe. The hearing was held at the William Way Community Center and featured testimony from Dr. Aasta Mehta from the Philadelphia Department of Health and Signe Espinoza, the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, Céshia Elmore, a Community Organizer for New Voices for Reproductive Justice, and Dr. Sarah Gutman from the University of Penn Medicine.
WHC co-chair Rep. Morgan Cephas provided opening remarks at the hearing and highlighted the threat to abortion access in Pennsylvania. She said today’s hearing was about understanding how abortion access can be protected and expanded in Pennsylvania.
- Dr. Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP, OB/GYN, Medical Officer of Women’s Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
- Ceshia Elmore, New Voices for Reproductive Justice
- Signe Espinoza, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates
- Dr. Sarah Gutman, MD, MSPH, OB/GYN and Complex Family Medicine, Specialist, UPenn Medicine
- Saleemah McNeil, CEO, Oshun Family Center
July 19, 2022
Women’s Health Caucus Holds Third Post-Roe PA Policy Hearing in Pittsburgh
Despite SCOTUS ruling, PA still offers access to safe, legal abortions
HARRISBURG, JULY 19, 2022 – The House and Senate Policy Committees convened a hearing Tuesday morning to explore what the future of healthcare looks like in Pennsylvania after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade.
The hearing, co-hosted by Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia) and the Women’s Health Caucus, identified the facts and fiction of what the Supreme Court’s ruling means for people seeking abortion care in Pennsylvania.
Student Voices in Education
June 3, 2022
Students Discuss School Climate and Education Issues with Senate Dems Policy Committee
WEST NORRITON, June 3, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined Senator Tim Kearney (D-Chester/Delaware), Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery/Delaware), and Senator Maria Collett to host a public hearing on student perspectives in education at Norristown Area School District.
“Today’s event was really one of the best policy hearings we’ve had so far. Hearing directly from the students about the issues they encounter in their schools and lives does not happen enough in state government,” Muth said. “This was such a timely discussion – with the tragedy that unfolded in Texas just two weeks ago, the lingering mental health effects of the pandemic, and ongoing social justice and equity issues, we need to engage with all of our students across the Commonwealth to really hear and understand how they are doing, what they are dealing with, and what supports they need to succeed and thrive. Today’s participants spoke with passion, discussed facts and data, and shared how they addressed certain issues within their own schools. It was an honor to be among so many bright, empathetic students who are truly dedicated to the mission of achieving equity and teaching racial and cultural literacy.” Continue Reading →
Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom: How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It
June 2, 2022
Senate Dems Discuss Shale Gas Policies and Public Health Impacts
MONROEVILLE, June 3, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny/Westmoreland) to co-host a public hearing on state policies and the public health impacts of the development of the shale gas industry in Pennsylvania yesterday in Allegheny County. Continue Reading →
Panel 1: Community Impact
Panel 2: Health Effects
- Makenzie White | Public Health Manager, Environmental Health Project
- Dr. Brian Schwartz | Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering, Epidemiology, and Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Panel 3: Policy Solutions
- Lisa Graves-Marcucci | Pennsylvania Coordinator, Community Outreach – Environmental Integrity Project
- Alison L. Steele | Executive Director, Environmental Health Project
- Environmental Health Project – Position Statement
- How Shale Gas Development (Fracking) Affects Public Health (Environmental Health Project)
- How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It (Environmental Health Project)
- Marcellus Shale: What Local Government Officials Need to Know (Penn State)
- A Snapshot of the Shale Gas Buildout in Pennsylvania (Environmental Integrity Project)
Innovations for Economic Recovery: Childcare and College Students
April 28, 2022
Senate Dems Discuss Challenges of Childcare Facing College Students at Policy Hearing
BLUE BELL, April 28, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee today joined Senator Maria Collett, Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Senator Carolyn Comitta and Senator Judy Schwank to host a public hearing on the challenges faced by college students and staff in regard to childcare. “Our hearing today highlighted the frustrating reality that affordable, accessible, and quality childcare is an unmet need for families across the Commonwealth,” Muth said. “We need to support the parents and the single mothers who are trying to fight their way out of poverty and economic struggle, trying to make ends meet, further their education, and trying to make a better life for their children. It is time for Harrisburg and Washington to step up and invest in childcare services.” Continue Reading →
Panel 1: The Need
Panel 2: The Models
- Kristina Valdez, Executive Director, Along the Way
- Kelly Lake, Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Project Director, Community College of Philadelphia
- Dr. Kalani Palmer, Associate Professor in Human Development and CCAMPIS Project Director, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Panel 3: The Opportunity