Art on the Issues

The Senate GOP is advancing its radical right agenda this week with legislation that undermines the rights of women, working people in unions, local government and more.  The Senate GOP has 34 of 50 Senators and believes that it has the votes to pass this legislation.  A brief summary of each is below. I will vote “no” on all.

Adding Abortion Restrictions

The US Supreme Court permits abortions at up to 24 weeks. This week the Senate will vote on SB 3, which decreases the gestational age that abortion can be performed from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. Additionally, it prohibits what the medical community commonly refers to as a dilation and evacuation abortion procedure. Violation of this law is a crime. This measure is intended to take away power from women. The PA Medical Society opposes this legislation as does many women health organizations.

IDs for Public Benefits

State and national law permit a low income person to apply for food and shelter from the government with many forms of identification. This week the Senate will vote SB 9, which requires a government-issued ID to receive food, shelter and other government benefits. This measure is intended to create a barrier to access to food and shelter for low income people.

Ending Sanctuary Cities/Counties

Local governments are not required to get involved in national immigration matters. This week, the Senate will vote on SB 10 which requires local governments to detain persons deemed suspicious of immigration violations.  If local government does not comply with the request from the national government, those municipalities would be liable for crimes committed by someone that could be or does have an ICE detainer request outstanding, and will be denied all grants to sanctuary cities up to $1.3 billion. This measure is intended to encourage deportation and permit racial profiling. 

Paycheck Destruction

Unions are permitted to collect al dues from the paycheck of members. This week the Senate will vote on SB 166 and SB 167 to stop the use of paycheck deductions from the paychecks of public employees to support advocacy.  This measure is intended to kill the advocacy of unions and end their influence.

Taxpayer Deception Package

The legislature makes spending and taxing decisions each year based upon negotiation. This week the Senate will vote on a package of tax reform bills. SB 7 would enact the so-called “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” that sets arbitrary limits on spending. The Senate will also take up bills SB 201, 202 and 203 that will reduce the taxes on business at a time when we are $3 billion short. This measures will shift taxes to individuals from businesses.

Pay Equity

Protecting the pay of women in the workplace is a goal not yet achieved. This week the Senate will vote on SB 241 for pay equity for women. However, the Women’s Law Project is opposed to the bill because it falls short of real protection. This measure is a token response to the real working environment of women.


 

Raising Support for Public Education

Senator Haywood supports an increased state commitment to public education funding, in addition to a fair education funding formula. The senator also supports greater community commitment to quality summer and after-school reading programs to address illiteracy.

Pennsylvania currently ranks 45th in the nation for state share of school funding according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Our commonwealth needs to make a greater commitment to our youth by raising state support to 50% the cost of K-12 education, as well as restoring funding that was cut during the previous administration.

Good Corporate Citizenship & Business Growth

Senator Haywood supports raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 per hour with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour will allow workers greater financial independence while adding at least 6000 jobs across the commonwealth from increased consumer spending.

Fair Taxation

Pennsylvania citizens expect affordable college education, manageable property taxes for older adults and assistance when businesses leave. In Pennsylvania, we have not met these reasonable expectations. For example, our student loan debt is third highest in the nation because we fail to fund higher education at rates in-line with current needs. Right now, our system is rigged so that low and moderate income residents pay a higher share of the taxes than those with higher incomes. Under the Fair Share Tax plan, the rate on certain categories of income would be raised, while the rate on wages and interest would be reduced. Most Pennsylvanians would see a tax cut, and an additional $2 billion in revenue would be raised for investment in critical educational, environmental and infrastructural projects.

Retirement in Dignity

Pennsylvania will see a large share of our population retire in the next 40 years. We have the second highest population of retirees over the age of 65, and that number is growing. Senator Haywood supports the right to retirement in dignity, which includes financial independence and the ability to age at home.

Affordable Homeownership

Senator Haywood supports Governor Wolf’s tax shift proposal, which would reduce property taxes in the majority of Pennsylvania’s school districts, making homeownership more affordable across the commonwealth. Property tax relief should be directed to homeowners with the highest need, but should be broadly shared. Expanding the sales and income tax base has some challenges, but taxpayers with a household income under $100,000 will ultimately pay lower total taxes under this tax shift.

Inclusion

Senator Haywood believes that Pennsylvania should be an inclusive commonwealth. The senator is a co-sponsor of: ban the box legislation prohibiting employers from asking prospective employees about their criminal history; legislation requiring a racial impact study be performed for criminal justice legislation is passed; and legislation adding sexual orientation and gender identify to the list of discrimination categories for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Advancing Women's Health

Senator Haywood is pro-choice, and supports the work of organizations committed to providing women with access to healthcare. Planned Parenthood provides vital services to families across Pennsylvania and the nation. According to Planned Parenthood, the organization serves more than 2.7 million patients each year, the vast majority of whom live at or near the federal poverty line. Without Planned Parenthood, these individuals would have limited access to affordable birth control, cancer screenings and evidenced-based family planning education. The well-being and independence that Planned Parenthood provides to individuals is essential to the health of our communities.

Criminal Justice

Senator Haywood supports law enforcement officers, who have an incredibly difficult job of policing in an armed society. The senator believes that police-community relations can be improved through the recommendations of the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, including increased police training and independent investigations of police-involved deaths.

Senator Haywood has introduced legislation, SB400, which would establish an independent prosecutor to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute police officers involved in the deaths of Pennsylvania civilians. By removing the perceived conflict of interest between a local district attorney prosecuting a local police officer, the senator aims to increase trust in law enforcement. Restoring faith in our justice system in the aftermath of events in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York must be a priority for our commonwealth.

Gun Violence Prevention

Every two days, three people are murdered by guns in Pennsylvania. Gun violence tragedies are an unacceptable threat to our public health, and we must do our part to improve neighborhood safety. Senator Haywood supports efforts to ensure dangerous people do not have access to guns. According to the John Hopkins Center on Gun Policy and Research, states with similar legislation have lower firearm-related death rates than those without such laws.

Sustainability & the Environment

A commitment to our environment and sustainability is a community responsibility. Senator Haywood supports efforts to increase utilization of renewable energy, and has co-sponsored legislation to: provide tax credits for green construction and manufacturing of energy start rated products; require all new state buildings to meet Department of Environmental Protection regulations on green buildings; remove solar energy systems from sales and use taxation; add LEED consideration into reimbursement for school construction under the school code; and amend the commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to increase electricity sold in the commonwealth from renewable resources. The senator encourages neighbors to participate in community clean-ups and recycling efforts to respect our environment and the future generations that depend on it.

Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis presents our state with the possibility of bringing healing to those who suffer from seizures, cancer, PTSD and many other debilitating illnesses. It also provides Pennsylvania with opportunities for further economic growth through new jobs and increased tax revenue. Senator Haywood supports the legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, and co-sponsored Senate Bill 3, which passed in the Senate on 14 May 2015.

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