Legislative Agenda 2015 – 2016

2015-2016 Legislative Agenda

Mission Statement

The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC), working individually and collectively with others, represents Pennsylvania’s Jewish communities before state government and with other Pennsylvanians. Jewish values guide the PJC’s focus on issues of importance to these communities, including public social policies and funding and regulation of the delivery of human services.

Human Services Programs

Family Issues

  • Provide funding for social service programs
  • Provide safety net programs for families and individuals
  • Provide assistance for special needs populations of all ages (MH/MR, autism, etc.)
  • Provide assistance for low-income families (LIHEAP)

Seniors

  • Provide assistance for Aging in Place programs
  • Provide assistance to and promote naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC)
  • Provide assistance to public transportation; increase accessibility to/ from senior housing
  • Sustain Medicaid/ Medicare funding
  • Provide safeguards to protect seniors from physical and financial abuse
  • Provide assistance to kosher food pantries, senior centers and nursing homes

Children

  • Sustain funding for Education Improvement Tax Credits (EITC)
  • Improve Pennsylvania’s child care programs
  • Improve Pennsylvania’s foster care system
  • Support pre-kindergarten and private education programs

Social Justice

  • Promote tolerance in our society: oppose crimes of hate
  • Promote religious tolerance in schools and society
  • Oppose immigration discriminatory actions (immigration, employment, housing, etc.)
  • Continue Assistance in the Implementation of Holocaust education legislation: Act 70 of 2014
  • Reduce poverty in Pennsylvania
  • Preserve and protect the State of Israel
    • Promotion of trade between Pennsylvania and Israeli businesses
    • Further sanctions against businesses supporting a nuclear Iran
  • Strive to establish criteria as to a tax exempt entity
  • Increase energy independence through conservation and alternative energy
  • Create a safer and healthier environment to work, play, and live in.

This list is subject to change pending the authorization of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition’s Board of Directors under the guidance and direction of the Jewish Federations throughout Pennsylvania.


Recent Accomplishments

As the voice in Harrisburg of Pennsylvania’s Jewish Federations and Jewish Community, the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC) has had a very successful year. The PJC was able achieve the following steps forward in public social policies, agency funding, and regulation of the delivery of human services:

Terror Free Investing is now the Law

  • Act 149 of 2014 prohibits the state of Pennsylvania from entering into a procurement contract with any company investing or operating $25 million or more in Iran’s nuclear energy sector.
  • Act 44 of 2010 prohibits state investment in companies operating and investing in the oil, energy, or military sectors in Iran and Sudan.
  • This comes on top of previous successes: Pennsylvania Treasurer’s Executive Order supporting Terror Free Investing and passage of Terror Free Investing within the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board.

Funded Federation and Agency Programs in an Austerity Budget

  • Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program growth
    • Supported EITC credit ceiling of $100 million – OSTC credit ceiling of $50 million for FY 13-14/ FY 14-15/ FY 15-16
    • Reinstated EITC credit ceiling to $75 million in FY 12-13
    • Assisted OSTC funding resources for Jewish programs in Pennsylvania
    • Increased ETIC credit ceiling by $8 million over expectation in FY 10-11
    • Increased EITC credit for pre-K programs by $2 million to $10m million and maintained the level of funding
  • Obtained over $300,0000 in state grants to support currently operating Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and help develop new NORC programs throughout the Commonwealth
  • Successfully advocated for sufficient state funding for Food Pantries throughout the Commonwealth each year in the Pennsylvania State Budget – saw an increase of $1 million in Pennsylvania FY 2015-2016 budget
  • Negotiated triple threshold limit on the Asset Test for SNAP access and supported eventual removal of Asset Test

Supported Jewish Needs and Causes

  • Act 26 of 2015 – creates criminal penalties for cyber-bullying of a child
  • Act 70 of 2014 – Offering free curriculum and training on Holocaust Education for all schools in Pennsylvania
  • Defeated numerous legislative efforts enabling state and local governments to develop their own (in some cases, discriminatory) immigration reform measures.
    • Would have hurt ability of Jewish agencies to recruit and manage staff due to onerous paperwork for employees who are either citizens or legal immigrants.
  • Worked with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health ensure the use of kosher baby formula in the state’s WIC program
  • Developed action plan with the Pennsylvania Department of State and Pennsylvania House and Senate to assure that state government operations respects the Jewish Holidays throughout the year.
  • Assisted in the enhancement of the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate® program throughout the Pennsylvania legislature.
  • Developed and implemented Annual Pennsylvania Holocaust Memorial programs and multiple Advocacy Day on the Hill for the Jewish Communities