State Physician General: Naloxone is a ‘Lifesaving Medication’

Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine kicked off a publicity tour for a medicine that can save lives on Friday with an appearance at Esterbrook Pharmacy in West Reading.

Levine highlighted a standing order she signed last year that essentially serves as a prescription for all Pennsylvanians for naloxone, which can reverse the effects of a heroin or opiate drug overdose. – See more at:

Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks County Lawmaker’s iIdea to Study Drug Treatment Endorsed

Harrisburg, PA Leaders of organizations across Pennsylvania that distribute public money for drug treatment have endorsed a call by state Sen. Judy Schwank for a study of the cost, effectiveness and availability of drug treatment.

Michele Denk, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators, said administrators of the organizations voted by email last week to support a resolution introduced in the Senate by Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat.

Read more at The Reading Eagle

Move to Shrink the Pennsylvania Legislature Gains Steam

Voters could have a chance in the next few years to decide if they want to employ fewer state lawmakers.

The state Senate has approved a bill to reduce the number of seats in the state House of Representatives from 203 to 151. The Senate passed the bill with a 43-6 vote Wednesday. The bill already passed the House 139-56 in May.”

This is certainly the furthest this has ever gotten,” said state Rep. Jerry Knowles, the bill’s sponsor.

Read more at The Reading Eagle

In First Year, Wolf Goes ‘Right into the Cauldron’

Gov. Tom Wolf hasn’t traveled the smoothest path in his first year in Harrisburg.

One look at the state budget impasse makes it all too clear that he’s faced a rocky road. The York Democrat has locked horns with a Republican-led Legislature diametrically opposed to his vision for the commonwealth.

But is it really as bad as it seems?

Read more at The Reading Eagle

For state Sen. Judy Schwank, the Farm Show is an Annual Ritual

HARRISBURG – Visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show is a tradition for State Sen. Judy Schwank. She’ll run into Berks County farmers and constituents, and catch up with people up and down the East Coast whom she’s met throughout the years.

Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat and minority chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, films a segment of her BCTV show at the Farm Show every year.

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Schwank’s Proposal for Drug-Treatment Study Gains Supporters

Harrisburg, Pa. — A push by state Sen. Judy Schwank to bring about a formal state government study of the cost, effectiveness and availability of drug treatment appears to be gathering steam.

Schwank said 24 senators have signed a co-sponsorship memorandum – often a predecessor to a formal legislative bill – that outlines her call for the study. Beyond that, Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, has won at least partial endorsements from two senators who head the board of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which has conducted public hearings on the heroin crisis.

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Bill to legalize industrial hemp use clears state Senate committee

The Berks County-rooted effort to bring industrial hemp farming to Pennsylvania is now primmed for consideration by the state Senate.

The bill cleared an early hurdle Tuesday, winning unanimous approval from the chamber’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

“This is a big first step for us,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat and the bill’s sponsor.

Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks County Community Foundation launching program to promote civil discourse

More unites us than divides us.

And, when someone disagrees with us, they don’t necessarily disagree with us on all levels.

It is for that reason the Berks County Community Foundation on Wednesday announced it has joined with political and community leaders to launch a new program designed to promote intelligent discussion of divisive local and national issues while maintaining a level of civility.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Patients, doctors call for changes in medical billing in hearing in Harrisburg

An emergency room visit led to open-heart surgery in New York earlier this year, leaving him with a stack of medical bills, including a $32,000 surgeon fee he wasn’t sure how he was going to pay.

But then he discovered a recently enacted New York law that restricts out-of-network providers from “balance billing” consumers for emergency care or when patients cannot choose their doctors.

The law went into effect just as Trost’s medical bills began rolling in and he did not have to pay the balance. That would not be the case had the 52-year-old Dingmans Ferry, Pike County, resident had had his surgery in Pennsylvania.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Oley Township continues Memorial Day tradition

Before beginning her Memorial Day remarks, State Sen. Judy Schwank looked out at the crowd of nearly 200 at Friedens Cemetery in Oley Township.

“I wish you could see what I see,” Schwank, Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, said as she began speaking Sunday evening. “Just the entire community standing in a beautiful shady grove in a cemetery, all of you here to remember Memorial Day. It’s so impressive to see a community gather in this way.”

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

BCIU celebrates 50 years of Head Start

On Jan. 8, 1964, during his State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty.

One of the key weapons he would deploy in the fight was education, the following year creating Project Head Start.

Fifty years later, the program is still going strong.Monday afternoon, inside the board room at the Berks County Intermediate Unit, the program’s golden anniversary was celebrated.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

State Sen. Judy Schwank talks property taxes, pensions and medical marijuana

State Sen. Judy Schwank stopped by Robeson Evangelical Lutheran Church in Robeson Township on Thursday night to share a little bit about the hot topics in Harrisburg with her constituents.

The Ruscombmanor Township Democrat said right now is the perfect time for such a visit, with state legislators amid the “interesting charade” that is putting together a state budget.

The first topic she touched on is one that’s in the front of many minds in Berks County.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks leaders elated with Philly landing Democratic National Convention

Berks County area leaders see some big opportunities with the Democratic National Convention coming to Philadelphia in 2016 – and not just for Democrats.

The Democratic party announced Thursday that Philadelphia landed the convention, and local Democrats said that they hope it gets the party excited and sparks more participation.

But hosting a political gathering likely to draw tens of thousands of people could also be a win for the region’s economy.

“We all benefit from it as a region,” said Berks Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, a South Heidelberg Township Democrat.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Wolf Unveils Natural Gas Severance Tax Proposal

CALN TOWNSHIP — Money isn’t all it takes to improve schools but it’s a necessary part of the equation, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday. And he said a severance tax on natural gas drilling is the best way to send more dollars to classrooms.

“We’re the only state with natural resources without a severance tax,” Wolf said, speaking with reporters in a classroom at Caln Elementary School. “With that, we can actually do something to close the gap in terms of funding public education.”

Wolf outlined his proposal after touring the Chester County school. The plan was central to the York County Democrat’s bid for governor.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Reading Housing Authority hears of grocery store inquiry

The Reading Housing Authority board has learned that Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer and Sen. Judy Schwank recently contacted Aldi Inc. about the lack of a grocery store in the area of the authority’s 525-unit Oakbrook and 120-unit Sylvania homes.

Stacey J. Keppen, deputy executive director, said the recently closed Bottom Dollar store in the 400 block of Lancaster Avenue had been a great neighborhood resource for the homes.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Many Reading students wary of police

Only a small fraction of Reading students attending a panel discussion on police and minorities say they trust their local police.
About an hour into a discussion about the frequency of black men being beaten or killed by white police officers, Wynton Butler, Reading School District director of social services, said he wanted to take the temperature of the room.
About 80 students and adults had gathered Monday in the cafeteria of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club, 677 Clinton St., to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a panel discussion on the issue.”If you trust law enforcement right now, raise your hand,” Butler said.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks County-area lawmakers put their priorities at Wolf’s door

If Tom Wolf wants to start his governorship on good footing with Berks County-area lawmakers, he’d do well to target pensions, property taxes and school funding.

Those issues topped local legislators’ wish lists for York County Democrat’s attention after he’s inaugurated as Pennsylvania’s 47th governor today.

The November elections set up a divided state government. Voters picked Wolf, a businessman, over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. But Republican lawmakers saw big wins and grew their majorities in the House and Senate.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Farm Show: Gov.-elect Wolf tours event, hears good things about nominee

HARRISBURG – Smiles, handshakes and photo ops were on the menu Thursday for Gov.-elect Tom Wolf as he toured the Pennsylvania Farm Show, just days before he taking office.

Russell Redding, his choice for secretary of agriculture, said the toughest decision of the day was what delicacies to get in the food court.

For Wolf, the choice was a hot dog, breaded mushrooms and chocolate milkshake.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Conference at Pennsylvania Farm Show touts many uses of hemp

People frequently ask Shawn House if his pretzels are going to get them high.

The answer is always no, said House of Columbia, Lancaster County. His pretzels are made with hemp imported from Canada, not marijuana. In a perfect world, House would buy hemp from Pennsylvania farmers the same way he buys wheat.

A new state Senate bill, the industrial hemp bill, could get House one step closer to that dream.

House spoke Saturday at a Pennsylvania Hemp Conference during the 99th Pennsylvania Farm Show. The meeting was hosted by the Keystone Cannabis Coalition.

The conference aimed to teach visitors about the myriad uses for hemp and to introduce the bill, said Les Stark, an Exeter Township resident who is part of the coalition.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks ag leaders, others disappointed in decision that left Sheila Miller jobless

Berks County agricultural leaders expressed disappointment at Thursday’s decision by the Berks County commissioners to eliminate the agricultural coordinator position held for seven years by Tulpehocken cattle farmer Sheila Miller.

State Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, said that she had hoped the commissioners would decide to keep the position instead of creating a county department of agriculture.

“I have some grave concerns about how that’s going to work,” Schwank said. “I think there were other opportunities they could have taken to address agriculture in Berks county in a more comprehensive way.”

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

PennDOT weighs measures to boost safety on Route 222

PennDOT is looking into whether it makes sense to lower speeds, add flashing signs and take other measures to improve safety on the crash-prone stretch of Route 222 through Maidencreek and Richmond townships.

Those suggestions came out of a meeting Wednesday between PennDOT and state and local elected officials, business leaders and law enforcement.

The results of the invite-only session were announced Thursday in a press release from two state lawmakers who organized the meeting: Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, and Sen. David G. Argall, a Schuylkill County Republican who represents part of Berks.

– Read more at The Reading Eagle

Pennsylvania lawmakers get raises without casting a vote

Pennsylvania’s top officials will see a bump in their paychecks, but you won’t hear about a vote on it.

That’s because annual cost-of-living adjustments for state executives, lawmakers and judges are automatic under a 1995 law. The increases are designed to offset inflation and are tied to the consumer price index.

This year, that means a 1.6 percent raise.

Some officials say the increases are not so much raises but adjustments to keep the wages consistent with buying power. Critics say they’re a way for officials to increase their salaries without putting their names to a vote.

“I think they should have to vote on it,” said Dean Klopp of Bethel Township, coordinator of the Tri-county Campaign for Liberty, a constitutional conservative group. “That way we know where our representatives stand.”

Advocates discuss changes in food stamp program in Reading

As the nation conforms to new food stamp regulations, retailers and community leaders are looking at what those changes mean for Reading.

State Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, invited local, state and federal officials to speak with residents and business owners about changes in how stores accept food stamps.

“I have a great interest in ensuring that (the) SNAP (food stamp) program is efficiently and effectively managed as I am a strong advocate for eliminating hunger in our communities,” Schwank said at the start of the meeting. “I am especially concerned that all Pennsylvania residents, but particularly my constituents, have access to wholesome, nutritious and fairly priced food.” – Read more at The Reading Eagle

Berks municipal leaders shown how to improve communities

About 30 Berks County municipal officials got a lesson Thursday on how to obtain grants to improve their communities with projects ranging from adding bicycle trails and parks to refurbishing old traffic signals.

“I am pleased to help improve the quality of life in your communities,” State Sen. Judy Schwank said in welcoming them to her second annual local officials’ breakfast at Wyomissing Family Restaurant.

“It matters what is happening in your communities,” said Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat. “I am bringing the experts to the people to make it easier for them to learn.”

– Read more at The Reading Eagle →