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Op-ed

Action to Address Worker Wages First Step on Long Road to Equity

Action to Address Worker Wages First Step on Long Road to Equity

By State Senator Vincent Hughes

Frustrated by years of resistance from legislative Republicans to raise worker wages, Gov. Tom Wolf announced plans to lift the state’s salary threshold below which Pennsylvania salaried workers automatically receive overtime pay.   The governor’s action is hard on the heels of efforts by my colleagues and I to address worker pay and make our wage and salary system equitable.

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Supreme Court Decision Throwing Out the Congressional Maps Is a Good Start

Supreme Court Decision Throwing Out the Congressional Maps Is a Good Start

Op-ed by State Senator Lisa Boscola

Since my first experience with map drawing back in 2001, it was apparent that partisanship plays too large a role in our redistricting effort.  The recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court discarding the congressional maps merely serves to reaffirm this position.

The General Assembly has long had the tools to fix the issue once and for all by taking the politics out of map drawing.  It is why I am a proud prime sponsor of SB 22.  This legislation provides for the creation of an independent commission to draw our lines every 10 years.  This has never been a partisan issue for me, but a practical one.

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#MeToo is a Beginning – Here’s Why We Can’t Turn Back Now

#MeToo is a Beginning – Here’s Why We Can’t Turn Back Now

Op-ed by State Senator Judy Schwank

My first job in college was working in a university demonstration garden. I had dreamed of being a horticulturist since I was 10 years old, and this was the first time I would get to work in my chosen field.

I was beyond excited when my manager, who was also my professor, called me into his office. I had so many ideas for the garden and was thrilled for an opportunity to share them.

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Senators Urge Yes Vote on Property Tax Ballot Referendum

Senators Urge Yes Vote on Property Tax Ballot Referendum

Op-ed by State Senators Lisa Boscola and Pat Browne

Citizens of Pennsylvania will have an opportunity to cast their vote for an important ballot question which could lead to real property tax reform. We are urging citizens to vote yes.

Due to its legal language and structure, ballot questions are often written in confusing and hard-to-understand and this one is no different. However, the underlying issue is pretty straight forward. By voting yes, voters will approve a constitutional amendment to expand the homestead exclusion from one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead properties in a taxing district to up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property.

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Transit Worker Protection Now!  General Assembly Dawdles, Workers Assaulted

Transit Worker Protection Now!  General Assembly Dawdles, Workers Assaulted

Op-ed by Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione

For transit workers, the news hasn’t changed much and it certainly hasn’t gotten better.  It’s the same story, year after year: “SEPTA

bus driver taken to hospital after men throw liquid on her,” “Man charged with assault in punching, beating of SEPTA bus driver,” “Bus driver shooting sparks calls for safety.”

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State Troopers Raise Retirement Tsunami Warning Flags

Op-ed by state Sen. Jim Brewster

The Pennsylvania State Troopers Association has posted bright flags warning of a potentially devastating trooper retirement tsunami looming just over the horizon. If the storm comes together and the retirement tidal wave hits, it would severely strain police resources, impair our ability to deal with domestic terrorism and dangerously compromise the safety and security of our citizens.

In media reports, the troopers’ association stated that 2,000 Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) troopers will become retirement-eligible within the next three years. These retirements – if they occur in bulk – will swell the current trooper deficit (417 vacancies below the 4,719 authorized complement) and create long-term staffing problems that will reverberate for a decade or more to come.

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New, Tough Campaign Finance Law Needed to Thwart Outside Money Influence

Op-ed by Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa

On the ballot this year are three critical seats on the state Supreme Court, one seat each on the Superior and Commonwealth courts as well as county row offices and municipal posts which influence how citizens are judged or represented.  These races are of statewide interest and local importance.

Despite the parochial nature of most municipal elections, there is a great likelihood that the election of state Supreme Court justices, Superior and Commonwealth Court judges and the contests for down-ballot offices this year will attract millions of dollars from outside interest groups and well-heeled out-of-state contributors.  These “investors” believe that they can influence state policy with their checkbooks. Much of that funding will be either unreported or under-reported.

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