June 22, 2022
Harrisburg, PA – June 22, 2022 – Today, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats held a press conference shortly after President Joe Biden made a call to federal and state law makers to pause gas taxes.
“Our stance is simple; we are calling on state Republicans to join us in supporting a suspension to the state gas tax. We know there is concern about a loss of revenue while the pause is in place, but Pennsylvania has billions in surplus funds that can be used to maintain roads and bridges during the gas tax holiday,” said Senator Jay Costa, Senate Democratic Leader. “This is about putting people over corporate profit. We need to implement a gas tax holiday, use Pennsylvania’s budget surplus to ensure our roads and bridges still receive the funding they need, and hold the oil and gas industry accountable to pass the savings to consumers.”
Several Democratic Senators joined Sen. Costa, including Sen. Hughes, Sen. Boscola, Sen. Cappelletti, Sen. Flynn, Sen. Haywood, Sen. Santarsiero, Sen. Schwank, and Sen. Street. All expressing their support for President’s call to states to pause the gas tax and make sure those savings were felt by consumers and not absorbed by the oil and gas industry.
“We have the money to support a gas tax holiday. We can give hardworking families some relief at the gas pump and still make sure our roads and bridges receive funding,” said Senator Vincent Hughes. “And when we do this tax reduction, the oil and gas industry need to leave those savings for consumers. We’re stepping up. We’re responding to the President’s call. It’s time for state Republicans and the oil and gas industry to step up too.”
Senator Lisa Boscola and Senator Marty Flynn recently introduced bills that would temporarily pause the gas tax in Pennsylvania. A statewide gas tax holiday could amount to an average of thirty cents a gallon in savings to consumers.
“I applaud President Biden’s call for a gas tax holiday,” said Sen. Marty Flynn. “Right now, Pennsylvania families are paying triple the price for gas compared to what they paid last year. This is one of the most pressing issues for families, and we have money in the bank to help them. I’m done naming bridges, it’s time we do something for the people.”
“Gas tax relief is something we can do immediately in this inflation storm,” said Senator Lisa Boscola. “The billions in surplus we have is taxpayer money, and taxpayers deserve some of this money back. Combined with the federal plan, a state gas tax holiday would give real savings to families.”
Sen. Collett, Sen. Dillon, Sen. Fontana, Sen. Kearney, and Sen. Lindsey Williams also attended the press conference to show support for a proposed state gas tax holiday.
A full video of the press conference and remarks from all speakers from the Democratic Senate Caucus is available online.
June 15, 2022
BUCKS COUNTY − June 15, 2022 − Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10), Scott Martin (R-13) and Amanda Cappelletti (D-17) have introduced legislation to help counties with the collection of household hazardous waste. Senate Bill 1220 would increase the limit on matching funds that each county may receive from $100,000 to $250,000.
“Our counties are taking the lead on collecting millions of pounds of household hazardous waste annually, but some counties, like Bucks County, are only receiving a fraction of the cost back,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “It is in the best interest of our communities to dispose household hazardous waste properly to protect our environment. Raising the cap on the reimbursement will allow the counties spending the most to offer more services to their residents.”
“Bucks County has been calling on the state for years to better fund these types of programs, so we applaud Sen. Santarsiero and this bipartisan effort,” said Bob Harvie, Chair of the Bucks County Commissioners. “Household Hazardous Waste collections are among the most popular programs we provide at the county level, because Bucks County residents know proper disposal of these items is critical to protecting our environment. Additional resources that help us continue providing this resource to our residents would be immensely helpful.”
Under Act 190 of 1996, counties currently receive a state funding match of up to $100,000 to help with the cost of collecting household hazardous waste. Despite this proposed 150% cap increase to $250,000 there would be no need to increase the funding allocated by Act 190, given recent annual expenditures by counties on this program.
“This legislation recognizes the important work counties do to ensure hazardous waste is disposed of safely and it will compensate them fairly for continuing to do so, without any additional cost to taxpayers,” Sen. Martin said. “It’s a common sense update to a vital service that counties have offered for more than 25 years, despite dramatically increasing disposal costs.”
Household hazardous waste includes unused household products that may explode, catch fire, or be generally harmful to the environment if not properly disposed, such as oil-based paint, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, batteries, and motor oil.
Sen. Cappelletti added, “Pennsylvania households struggle to safely dispose their household hazard waste on their own. Counties fill the need by holding events where residents can dispose of these items, but are in need of assistance to sustain the programs. By aiding counties in funding these initiatives through this legislation, our communities will have the resources necessary to safely dispose of hazardous waste, and keep our environment clean and protected.”
Information on SB 1220 can be found here.
May 25, 2022
HARRISBURG – May 25, 2022 – Today, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats wrote the following letter to Republican leaders in response to rampant gun violence and mass shootings that have become too common in the United States. Just this year, 215 mass shootings have taken place in the country, with the devastating shooting that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, being the 215th.
In the letter, the caucus calls on the Republican majority to act on “reasonable and responsible legislation and appropriations” that does not infringe on Second Amendment rights but will help keep guns away from bad actors and support gun violence prevention. Senate Democrats list seven bills that have been introduced to mitigate gun violence but have sat in committee with no discussion or votes. They also highlight how American Rescue Plan dollars and Pennsylvania’s current budget surplus can be used to help communities prevent horrific violence.
October 7, 2021
Harrisburg, PA − October 7, 2021 − Senators Steve Santarsiero and Amanda M. Cappelletti, Senate Co-chairs of the bicameral PA SAFE Caucus applauded Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement today regarding the agreement that allows law enforcement agencies from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut to share crime gun data across state lines in order to detect, deter, and investigate gun crimes, as well as identify and apprehend straw purchasers, suspect dealers, firearms traffickers, and other criminals.
“The safety of our communities is critically important,” said Senator Santarsiero. “As the gun violence epidemic needlessly rages on, we must take meaningful steps to protect the public and our police officers by focusing our efforts on stopping illegal gun activity. Today’s announcement that Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will share gun crime information is an important step that will give law enforcement access to better information to crack down on the proliferation of illegal firearms trafficking across state lines. I applaud the agreement announced today and the commitment of all four states to public safety.”
“Taking steps to end the treacherous and horrifying firearm violence epidemic in this country has been one of my top priorities since coming into office. This is something that my constituents share my concerns on,” said Senator Cappelletti. “I’m proud to see Pennsylvania taking the steps to properly record and investigate firearm violence, in tandem with our neighboring states. Firearm violence is a nation-wide epidemic that has been treated on a state by state basis, leading to fragmentated and complex systems which do not work together to end the violence. By streamlining this information and collaborating across state lines, we can more wholly tackle this issue. Firearm trafficking crosses state lines, so our knowledge base must as well. This step is one of many we must take as a Commonwealth to end firearm violence once and for all.”
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines the multi-state agreement for reciprocal crime data gun sharing that will establish protocols for officials in these states to distribute relevant information to their counterparts in an effort to decrease gun violence. About 50,000 guns are found to be diverted to criminals across state lines every year, federal data shows, and many more are likely to cross state lines undetected. Every step we take to mitigate that flow will be a step in the right direction.
At the legislative level, Sens. Cappelletti and Santarsiero recommend looking for comprehensive and intersectional measures including:
- Senate Bill 761, establishing a 72-Hour waiting period for all firearm transfers,
- Senate Bills 581 and 582, requiring the safe storage of firearms,
- Senate Bill 88, requiring universal background checks for the purchase or transfer of firearms, and
- Senate Bill 217, requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms to local law enforcement within 24 hours.
March 19, 2021
Chester, PA – March 19, 2021 – Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Senators representing Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties sent a letter to Governor Wolf, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam, and the members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, supporting requests by county officials that the state distribute coronavirus vaccine doses to county-run clinics rather than sending them to a single mass vaccination site for the entire region.
Senators Kane (D, Delaware/Chester), Comitta (D, Chester), Cappelletti (D, Delaware/Montgomery), Collett (D, Bucks/Montgomery), Kearney (D, Delaware/Chester), Muth (D, Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Santarsiero (D, Bucks), Tomlinson (R, Bucks), and Williams (D, Delaware/Philadelphia) signed onto the letter in support of county officials. In their letter, the Senators highlighted both the continued concerns with distribution equity posed by establishing a single site for 2.5 million resident and the superfluousness of creating a new mass site on top of existing county infrastructure.
“We’ve been facing issues with equitable vaccine distribution here in Southeast PA for weeks. Our vaccine allotment has been severely limited, and residents are already being forced to travel for their appointments, meaning access for working people, folks without reliable transportation, and caretakers of children is often all but non-existent,” said Senator Kane. “Creating a single mass vaccination site for the entire southeast, a single mass vaccination site for 2.5 million people, will only serve to exacerbate these disparities. I’m standing in support of our county health officials and asking for the additional vaccine doses to be distributed between the four counties for allocation through their existing infrastructure. I’m tired of vulnerable communities being sent to the back of the line when times are hardest, and I won’t stop fighting for my constituents.”
The proposed single mass vaccination clinic is only the latest in a serious of hurdles residents of the collar counties have been facing in attempting to schedule vaccine appointments. Three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the four collar counties had received many fewer vaccine doses by population than other counties. Since then, legislators have faced continued hurdles in advocating for increased doses, including responses by the Department of Health that it is irrelevant where constituents are receiving their vaccines so long as they are getting vaccinated.
However, residents of the collar counties continue to face difficulties in scheduling appointments and finding accurate information. “My constituents are beyond frustrated at the confusion and lack of coordination on how to obtain a vaccine,” said Senator Muth. “I cannot understand the purpose of the $11.6 million dollar contract with a consulting firm for vaccine distribution and yet, here we are, many questions unanswered, incomplete data, and inconsistent information day-to-day. Only providing one vaccination site for the entire Southeast region will simply disproportionately harm seniors who do not drive, single parents struggling to balance child care while working multiple frontline jobs, and so many who are just unable to travel an hour or more to a single vaccination site. We can and must do better. I urge the administration to listen to our local elected county leaders on this issue and ensure the true equitable distribution by showing all data and numbers.”
The letter follows a joint statement issued Wednesday, in which county officials from the four collar counties asked the Department of Health to reconsider their plans for a single mass vaccination clinic and to instead allocate the doses among the four counties.
Senator Kearney highlighted the added hurdle in creating a mass vaccination clinic when counties are already prepared to distribute additional doses. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel by creating a single mass vaccination site that will somehow serve 2.5 million residents across Southeastern Pennsylvania. Our counties have the infrastructure in place to get shots in arms – all they need is the supply. If our counties get the doses, our counties can get it done,” said Senator Kearney.
A full copy of the Senators’ letter can be found here.
SEPA Delegation Letter March 18 2021