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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Galloway Introduces Bill to Stop Wage Theft

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State Reps  John Galloway,( D-Bucks) along with, Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, and Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced last week their introduction of H.B. 2810 to stop wage theft in Pennsylvania.

The bill is based on recommendations from a 2022 report from the Joint Task Force on Misclassification of Employees, which was created under a bill authored in 2020.

Galloway earlier this year, made recommendations to the task force earlier this year.

Misclassification of employees occurs when a business wrongfully classifies a worker as an independent contractor even though the nature, type and oversight of their work determines they should be considered an employee under the law, he said.

The report found that by misclassifying employees as “contractors” the workers are deprived of wages, workplace health and safety, and unemployment protections. It amounts to tax fraud and costs the commonwealth millions of dollars in lost revenue annually. Misclassification can impact industries from home health care to construction to online businesses, like Uber and Lyft drivers.

“For years, I’ve been fighting to end corporate price gouging on workers in the commonwealth,” Galloway said. “Too many companies are cooking the books and using dirty tricks to take money out of the hands of workers and put it into stock buybacks, shareholder dividends, and corporate executive perks instead of putting the money back into the communities. When HB 2810 is passed, Pennsylvania’s workers will have the wages and the workplace protections they rightfully deserve, and our working families and communities will be safer and stronger for it.”

According to the state Department of Revenue, in 2019 worker misclassification cost Pennsylvania taxpayers between $6.4 million and $124.5 million in lost revenue. In 2020 and 2021, nearly 50,000 employers misclassified nearly 400,000 workers in Pennsylvania.

“Employee misclassification is stealing from workers. It is stealing their fair wages, workplace health, safety and unemployment protections, and benefits under Pennsylvania law,” McClinton said. “Workers in the gig economy—everyone from DoorDash drivers to IT workers, construction workers and home healthcare providers—are being shortchanged of their benefits and salaries creating a financially vulnerable workforce. Additionally, misclassification has deprived the commonwealth of funding that could have gone to supporting schools, repairing bridges or providing more tax relief for our seniors.”

“Whether a company is misclassifying 1 worker or 100, they are cheating the worker and the system,” Harkins added. “Wage theft hurts law abiding companies that are playing by the rules and so are losing out on contracts to companies hiring less qualified workers for less pay. This bill will begin to level the playing field for all businesses and, in turn, build a better Pennsylvania with better jobs, better roads, better bridges and better infrastructure for everyone.”

The bill would:

  • Cover all workers to protect them from wage theft.
  • Take away the licenses of businesses who steal wages and cheat the system.
  • Give the Department of Labor and Industry more resources to chase down the cheaters.
  • Make cheaters face heavy fines – the companies who made an honest mistake will get a chance to make things right, but the ones who knowingly steal from workers will get hit the hardest.
  • Align with the effort to end corporate price gouging and give the attorney general more power to investigate and charge companies taking advantage of the system.

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“We will continue to stand and partner with Pennsylvania’s workers to ensure a fair day’s work earns a fair day’s pay and the protections that should accompany it,” Galloway said.

“Criminals use employee misclassification to get rich in Pennsylvania at the expense of the financially vulnerable and the law abiding,” Galloway said. “I hope the legislature will adopt the proposals to end this unfair and unethical practice, which is currently bleeding the state dry so that we can build a better Pennsylvania with better jobs, better roads, better bridges and better infrastructure for everyone,” he said earlier this year when the report was released.

The measure was referred to the House Committee on Labor and Industry for consideration.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

New LBTQ+ Advocacy Group Fairness Pennsylvania Launches

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Fairness Pennsylvania (FPA), the first full-time statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights program in several years kicked off on Monday, June 3 with Pennsylvania organizers, advocates, and legislators  at the state Capitol.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Sarah Hammond, Fairness PA’s State Director, in a press release. “There are so many engaged activists and strong voices working right now in communities across the state. Our first priority is to identify ways that a new, statewide organization can assist these dedicated activists to move the needle here in Harrisburg and around the state.”

Hammond said. “…FPA is dedicated to promoting equality and fostering nondiscrimination principles in PA so that our LGBTQ+ community can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in our communities across the state.”

In a statement, Governor Josh Shapiro said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of tolerance and understanding and I’m proud to stand alongside Fairness PA as they work to promote those values and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for all.”

Credit: Submitted

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you deserve equal protection under the law in Pennsylvania….” said Shapiro. “It’s long past time we put partisanship aside and pass a nondiscrimination law that protects LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” continued the press release.

Hammond said that an immediate priority for Fairness PA would be passage of the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state, according to the press release. The Fairness Act passed in the state House in April 2023 but has yet to be considered in the state Senate. Shapiro earlier this year called on on the General Assembly to finally come together and pass the Fairness Act.

Fairness Pennsylvania can be found online at fairnesspenn.org or @FairnessPA on social media.

For more information, please visit Fairness PA or contact Pete Shelly at pshelly@clearpointpa.com.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Man Charged for Possessing Kiddie Porn

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A Bensalem man stands accused of uploading and saving pornographic images involving children to his Google account.

Michael Dunbar, 55, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Gallagher Thursday morning on one felony count of child pornography and one count of criminal use of communication facility with his bail set at 10 percent of $300,000.00.

According to Bensalem Police,  on Thursday, April 25, 2024, a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was received.  The tip referenced a particular Google account that had uploaded and saved numerous videos depicting child pornography, including prepubescent boys and girls engaging in sexual acts with each other. Detectives began an investigation and were able to determine that the owner/user of the Google account was Dunbar.

On Thursday, June 20, 2024, Bensalem Detectives served a search warrant on Dunbar’s residence.  The suspect was interviewed, and he allegedly admitted to intentionally uploading child pornography into his Google account after finding the videos on the Dark Web.

Bensalem authorities did not comment about the results of the  executed search warrant.

Dunbar was unable to post bail as of early Friday morning and was remanded to Bucks County Correctional Facility. He is currently scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on July 2 and has no attorney of record presently, according to court records.

 

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Health - Bensalem Township

THE Giant Co. & Customers Raise More Than $400,000 For Healing Our Planet Initiatives

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Through its Healing Our Planet initiative, The GIANT Company today announced it raised $403,360 in partnership with its customers to support Planet Bee Foundation™ and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful™. During the month of May, customers at GIANT, MARTIN’S and GIANT Heirloom Market stores were invited to round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to support each organization.

“Action inspires action and small changes such as tree plantings and pollinator awareness can make a big difference when it comes to helping our planet, so thank you to our customers who rounded up at the register to support these green initiatives,” said Courtney Hopcraft, manager of charitable giving and community relations, The GIANT Company. “Over the four years of our Healing the Planet campaign, more than $6 million has been raised to grow health and sustainability initiatives centric to creating healthier communities and a more sustainable future.”

Announced earlier this month, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful in partnership with The GIANT Company announced it will award Healing the Planet grants later this summer to local community organizations for tree plantings across Pennsylvania. Additional funding from The GIANT Company will support Pick Up Pennsylvania and local clean up, recycling and greening events.

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to The GIANT Company for their support of native tree planting in their operating areas in Pennsylvania. Funding will also support our Pick Up Pennsylvania program, so we can continue to meet the needs of families, friends, neighbors, civic groups, nonprofits and municipalities working towards a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania,” said Shannon Reiter, president, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “Cleaning and beautifying communities tends to reduce littering and other illegal behaviors, making it a better place for all residents and providing a foundation for community and economic development.”

Credit: Submitted

Planet Bee Foundation drives awareness for pollinators and the importance of bees as a pathway to STEM, conservation, and innovations in agriculture. Funding raised by The GIANT Company will support local beekeepers, research programs, and school and community programs.

“On behalf of Planet Bee Foundation, I wish to extend our deepest gratitude to The GIANT Company for their donation, which has educated and impacted over 109,000 youth. Their generosity has sponsored STEM and Agriculture Education programs in schools, provided supplies to teachers, offered grants to local beekeepers, provided education at public events, and maintained beehives in community gardens, exemplifying their commitment to local communities,” said Debra Tomaszewski, founder and executive director, Planet Bee Foundation. “We are humbled and inspired by The GIANT Company’s commitment to sustainability, the health of our planet, and the well-being of the families they serve.”

For more information on The GIANT Company’s Healing Our Planet initiative, click here please.

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