In the news.
Daley applauds $25K cultural preservation grant for Ambler theater
AMBLER, Sept. 15 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, announced a Cultural and Museum Preservation grant of $25,000 for Act II Playhouse in Ambler today.
Part of $20 million in statewide relief funding for cultural organizations and museums to offset lost revenue caused by COVID-19, the grant will assist Act II Playhouse with operating expenses after the pandemic forced its closure from March 19 through July 31.
“Act II Playhouse brings joy to so many in this community, and it’s important for art and culture to continue playing key roles in our lives,” Daley said. “There are many organizations and businesses hurting, and I will keep fighting to help bring in funding when and where it’s needed. I am hopeful this grant will assist this local theater company, a wonderful community asset and an anchor for the borough’s downtown to move forward.”
The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved the grant, and the program will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development.
“This funding is rain in the desert for us at Act II Playhouse,” Act II artistic director Tony Braithwaite said. “We have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in income since March, but this assistance will allow us to ‘keep the lights on’ until we can welcome people back safely. What a great example of what government can do to help people through a crisis. Thank you.”
Under the program, funds may be used to offset lost revenue for eligible cultural organizations and museums that were subject to closure by the proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the governor on March 6, and any renewal of the state of disaster emergency and that experienced a loss of revenue related to the closure. Funds cannot be used to offset revenue, which has already been offset from other sources, including philanthropic and federal, state, and local government sources.
Daley co-hosting community shred event on Sunday, Sept. 13
September 2, 2020– State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, is co-hosting a free community shredding event on Sunday, Sept. 13, along with state Reps. Pam DeLissio, D-Phila./Montgomery, and Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery.
The rain-or-shine shredding event will run from 10 a.m. until noon – or whenever the truck is full, whichever comes first – in the parking lot of Beth David Reform Congregation at 1130 Vaughan Lane, 19035. It is open to constituents of the 148th, 166th and 194th legislative districts.
“Shredding remains a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of important but unwanted documents,” Daley said. “I encourage all constituents of the 148th to consider this opportunity to organize and safely rid yourselves of outdated documents like credit card statements and applications, bank statements, canceled checks, tax information, or insurance, health and retirement information.”
Attendees are limited to four boxes or shopping bags. Newspapers, magazines and journals will not be accepted.
Because of COVID-19, masks are required, and attendees must maintain 6 feet of distance from others. Attendees should be prepared to stand in line and transport their own material from their vehicles to the shredding bins. Carts are allowed to help facilitate this.
More information is available by calling Daley’s office at 610-832-1679 or by emailing RepMaryJoDaley@pahouse.net.
Here’s Where Pa. Republicans Are Missing an Important Mark on Schools Reopening | Opinion by Mary Jo Daley
August 16, 2020 – I read House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff’s recent column on the need to prioritize our children’s safety, not politicize it.
While I believe Benninghoff, R-Centre, is sincere in his concern for children throughout the commonwealth, I think he and many others in his party are missing the mark when they talk about what our children need from us as this school year gets underway.
Also, misconstruing thoughtful consideration for what is best for our students, teachers and other school staff as “politicizing” the issue is disingenuous. Elected officials searching for policy answers and acting swiftly to save lives is not politicizing the issue; it’s doing our jobs.
This deadly virus is spread even by people who have no symptoms. Rep. Benninghoff said in his column that “most people fully recover” from COVID-19, but we don’t yet know the long-term effects of this virus. We do know that it has already claimed the lives of more than 7,400 people across the state, and it would have killed even more if it were not for the swift action Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration took from the beginning of the pandemic.
Before I go further in addressing what I see as shortsighted missteps in Benninghoff’s misdirected frustration with Gov. Tom Wolf and with the planning of alternatives to in-person learning this school year, I think we owe it to the tens of thousands of teachers and administrators across our state to include them in this conversation.
We have entrusted these teachers and administrators with our children every school year to this point. They have spent their lives serving our children. Many spend their own money on school supplies to provide the tools necessary to our children because they don’t get adequate funding. They work into their evenings – taking time away from their own families – to help our children excel.
When we talk about schools reopening, the least we can do is make sure our teachers and administrators, whose well-being will also be affected by the decisions we make with regard to school reopening plans, are included in that conversation and given the consideration that they, and the family members they live with, deserve.
As for what our children “need,” or “what’s best for our children,” I believe that is subjective and dependent on factors that can change.
Benninghoff wrote that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently noted that, “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff.”
But that is not the full statement issued by the AAP.
One other notable part of the AAP’s statement, which it issued jointly with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and The School Superintendents Association after President Donald Trump and members of his administration misconstrued a previous statement by the AAP about reopening schools, is this:
“Local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents must be at the center of decisions about how and when to reopen schools, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible. For instance, schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.
That last line is very poignant when applied to the message in Benninghoff’s column that parents and students need all schools in Pennsylvania to open this fall and stay open. Benninghoff calls for a “uniform plan” for reopening schools, but that’s the opposite of what the AAP is advocating.
Benninghoff also said in his column that, “Children and parents need assurance and predictability.”
While that might be an ideal, I think our children could stand to have models of adaptability and resiliency. We’ve all heard it a million times that change is inevitable. Many of us have heard the saying, “We make plans and God laughs.”
Life is full of challenges and unexpected setbacks.
We can choose to dig our heels in and be angry about what’s happened to us – maybe even look for a villain on whom we can pin the problem and direct our anger.
Or we can choose to exercise a little humanity. Maybe we can use the challenges of this pandemic to show our children that they can be adaptable, that while they might not have control over a given situation, they absolutely have influence over how they respond to challenges. We can choose to teach our children that pointing fingers won’t solve their problems.
I believe that is very much a function of our human condition to want to direct our anger, our frustrations and grief at someone or something tangible. But no one person is responsible for the devastation this virus has caused. The virus is the enemy in all of this. Wolf and state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who have done their very best to be adaptable in managing this virus – the likes of which no one working in government has ever seen before – are not our enemies.
Let’s lead by example, take the blame game off the table and show our children that even in the middle of a pandemic, we can be adaptable, we can overcome challenges, and we can do that by working together.
Breastfeeding isn’t just healthy for mother and child; it’s good for the environment
July 28, 2020 – By Rep. Mary Jo Daley
Can breastfeeding your baby help save the planet?
Health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. But many do not yet realize it also has environmental benefits.
World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is just around the corner (Aug. 1-7), and the theme this year is “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet.”
During my time as a state representative, I’ve been a strong advocate for the benefits of breastfeeding, and I continue my work to protect employees who are breastfeeding and to generally focus more attention on this subject.
The former would fix two loopholes in federal law and would ensure private, sanitary space for exempt and non-exempt employees to express milk for up to one year after birth of a child. H.B. 1177, which has bipartisan support, was referred to the House Labor & Industry Committee in April 2019 and has remained there.
The latter seeks to recognize the week of Aug. 1-7 as “World Breastfeeding Week” in Pennsylvania and support breastfeeding as a way to enhance the well-being of all individuals worldwide. That resolution was introduced in February 2020 and was referred to the Health Committee, where it remains.
Breastfeeding is among the best investments in saving lives and improving the health of mothers and future generations. It protects children against a wide variety of infections and diseases, including sudden infant death syndrome, diabetes and respiratory illnesses. It can also improve maternal health, lowering the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, breastmilk lowers your carbon footprint because it is natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe. It is produced without pollution, packaging or waste, whereas formula production and consumption generate greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global warming.
Pennsylvania has made marked improvements in breastfeeding rates, but our commonwealth still falls behind many other states in benchmarks set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recognizing World Breastfeeding Week helps improve protections and support for breastfeeding across the world, highlighting its critical importance for the reasons stated above.
We must protect working mothers by providing them safe and sanitary breastfeeding options, and I will continue my pursuit of legislation to offer these commonsense protections and bring attention to this wonderful, natural and healthy action.
Daley announces $20K environmental education grant for Riverbend Environmental Education Center
July 1, 2020 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, announced a $20,000 Environmental Education Grant for Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne.
According to a release from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, this funding is part of a statewide initiative to engage youth and adults in environmental justice, climate change and/or water quality improvement, expanding their understanding of these issues and providing skills to take responsible action to protect their environment.
“I am thrilled that right here in the 148th Legislative District, Riverbend’s comprehensive program that includes teacher professional development, direct student classroom lessons and a STEM-based Aquaponics program benefits directly from this grant,” Daley said. “It increases the capacity for schools to build environmental literacy and engage students in high-quality, inquiry-based science lessons aligned to Pennsylvania academic standards.”
Grants were awarded to schools and colleges, environmental and community organizations, and conservation district offices that applied in 2019 and met project criteria for funding. In total, the DEP distributed $434,168 across 55 recipients.
“This impressive list of funded projects speaks to the innovation and dedication of Pennsylvania’s environmental educators and their significant reach in helping to develop environmental stewards among Pennsylvanians of all ages and backgrounds,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.
Riverbend’s website says it teaches environmental principles to children in southeastern Pennsylvania “through a direct connection with nature, inspiring respect for our natural world, and action as aware, responsible and caring citizens.”
State Awards $778K in Grants to Fund Local Stormwater Management, Sewer Projects
August 31, 2020 – State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, announced that Ambler Borough has been awarded a $355,093 grant to mitigate flooding in an area currently without any stormwater sewer infrastructure, and Conshohocken Borough has been awarded a $423,175 grant to help complete a sewer project now underway.
The funding, through the Commonwealth Financing Authority, will be used to install storm pipe along Edgewood Drive and Cove Road in Ambler, where chronic flooding occurs, and to rehabilitate the Regional Sanitary Sewer Interceptor in Conshohocken.
“Stormwater and sewer infrastructure don’t tend to get a lot of attention until storms are in the forecast and folks’ lives are disrupted by damaging or otherwise inconvenient flooding, or until the cost to make fixes hits their wallets,” Daley said. “When we have the opportunity to direct funds toward efforts like these, especially when the funding is in the form of a grant, it’s incredibly important that we take it and make the most of it.”
The project in Ambler will prevent flooding and have an environmental benefit of better-managed stormwater and less particulates, debris and sediment into Rose Valley Creek.
It’s time for Pa. lawmakers to stop punishing working mothers and their babies | Opinion
August 13, 2020 – By Tara Murtha and Margaret Zhang
August is National Breastfeeding Month, which is a good time to examine a simple way we can help promote breastfeeding in Pennsylvania, and why it matters.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months after birth, then continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing solid foods until the infant is one year old.
Medical experts cite unequivocal evidence that breastfeeding provides tremendous health benefits to babies and mothers (or breast-feeding parent, in the case of transgender or gender-nonconforming birth parents).
According to the AAP, newborn babies who are breastfed experience lower rates of bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, diabetes, certain cancers, and many other diseases and conditions. Benefits for parents who breastfeed include decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, decreased postpartum bleeding, and more rapid uterine involution, among other health-protections.
Given this data, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention cite encouraging and enabling breastfeeding as “a key strategy” to improve public health.
The good news is CDC research finds almost 83 percent of new mothers begin breastfeeding soon after giving birth. Less than 50 percent of those parents, however, are still breastfeeding at six months and only about 25 percent are still breastfeeding when the child is a year old.
The high initiation rate indicates that new parents and babies both desire to breastfeed. The drop-off reflects our failure as a society to sustain it.
One major reason cited for this failure is the lack of support in the workplace.
Anyone who has taken high school biology should know that to develop and maintain a milk supply, a breastfeeding parent cannot routinely go eight to ten hours a day without expressing milk.
Therefore, a working parent must be able to express milk, or pump, during the workday to continue breastfeeding at home. Everyone’s body is different, but many need to pump two times during an eight-hour shift for 15-20 minutes each time to maintain a milk supply.
Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, known as the “Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act” would allow employees across the Commonwealth to take some unpaid break time (or the ability to use the paid break time they already have) to pump milk and ensure access to a private, clean place to pump in the workplace. This legislation fills the gaps in current federal protections.
This bill (HB1177) has been introduced every session for more than a decade. Yet every single session, the leadership of the Pennsylvania Legislature has blocked it.
We’re on track for more of the same this session: Daley’s bill has been stalled in committee for more than a year.
After all these years, we want to know why.
The reason can’t be fear of unintended consequences, because this isn’t new or complicated legislation. In fact, Pennsylvania is an outlier: About half of all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have already implemented this basic health protection.
The reason can’t be fear of burden on businesses. To ensure fairness to employers, this bill does not require them to provide space for their employees to pump if doing so would result in an undue hardship.
We even have a test study right here in Philadelphia, which passed an ordinance providing the protections to workers back in 2014. The only consequence has been more babies of working parents able to breastfeed.
So why not extend to all workers in the Commonwealth?
The reason can’t be lack of knowledge. The Women’s Law Project and other advocates testified about the issue at a public meeting before the Pennsylvania House Committee on Labor & Industry back in 2015. Yet, this legislation did not advance that session, or the next session, or this one.
This repeated failure to promote infant and maternal health in Pennsylvania constitutes a crisis.
The infant mortality rate in Pennsylvania is higher than the U.S. average, which is consistently higher than the average similarly developed countries. As usual, Black and Hispanic babies are disproportionately harmed.
The U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate among similarly wealthy countries. In Pennsylvania, the maternal mortality rate has doubled since 2004–again with statistics severely stratified by race and ethnicity.
Mothers are sole or co-breadwinners in more than 67 percent of Pennsylvania households. Parents should not have to take leave or quit their job in order to breastfeed in Pennsylvania.
So why does the leadership of the Pennsylvania Legislature, who frequently call themselves “pro-life,” repeatedly deny babies access to all the benefits of their mother’s milk?
With no reasonable explanation for why this legislation is consistently blocked, we’re left to wonder if the leadership of the Pennsylvania Legislature is simply determined to punish babies of working parents.
Is there another explanation? If so we, and working parents across Pennsylvania, would love to hear it.
Tara Murtha is the communications director, and Margaret Zhang is a staff attorney, at the Women’s Law Project, a public interest legal organization focused on advancing and defending the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people in Pennsylvania and beyond. They write from Philadelphia.
Mirroring moves by western states, Pa. Rep. makes the case for conservation corridors
June 30, 2020 – Growing up as a girl scout, state Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, still remembers one of her troop’s key tenets – leave outdoor spaces better than you found them.
Living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Daley says she frequently sees deer and other animals on the road “all over the place” near her home and on her commute to her office in suburban Conshohocken, outside of Philadelphia.
“If it’s at twilight, I have to be really careful,” Daley said.
In January, Daley introduced House Resolution 670, which asks the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and report back on the feasibility of establishing conservation corridors in Pennsylvania.
Wildlife corridors, as they are sometimes called, have been used in other states such as Colorado, Wyoming and Oregon to mitigate wildlife’s interaction with humans, lessen the frequency of auto accidents involving animals, and to protect endangered species.
Daley hopes the proposal will help her colleagues see the potential benefits of wildlife corridors throughout the state.
“It’s not just wildlife in the west that’s important,” Daley said. “Being a Pennsylvanian, I would sometimes get jealous of Colorado and Oregon. And we can do that in Pennsylvania, too.”
Making the case for corridors
More than half of the state of Pennsylvania is covered in forests, according to the Forest Inventory Analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FIA found that 58.6 percent of Pennsylvania is forested.
However, deforestation and habitat fragmentation leave animals stranded, or needing to cross major roadways or in some cases through towns and cities to find food, water and others of their species.
While touring Elk County, home to the eastern United States’ largest elk herd, with her legislative colleagues, Daley said she learned a lot about what’s being done to protect wildlife in Pennsylvania and what more could be done.
In the northwestern Pennsylvania county, the proceeds from game licenses pay for buying property for the elk herd and other Pennsylvania wildlife, a needed measure in the wake of habitat fragmentation, and an example of why corridors would be beneficial, Daley said.
Pennsylvania consistently ranks among the highest in the nation for cases of tick-borne diseases, and car accidents involving animals.
According to data from the insurance company State Farm, Pennsylvanians are at high risk for hitting deer. With a 1 in 63 chance of an accident involving a deer, Pennsylvania ranks the third highest chance in the nation behind Montana and West Virginia.
In the wake of a global pandemic, wildlife corridors can play an important role in public health, too, Holly Zimmerman, a spokesperson for the Endangered Species Coalition, said.
Limiting the interaction of wildlife and humans as well as wildlife and domestic animals can help prevent the spread of illnesses and cut down on human-wildlife transmission of viruses such as COVID-19, Zimmerman said.
In parts of the state where wildlife corridors are already in use, such as Carbon and Chester counties, sharing insights on the return on investment and economic value of corridors is the next priority for Daley, hoping to convince her Republican colleagues to join the cause.
Daley said she believes wildlife corridors can be a “bipartisan endeavor” and hopes the “potential for positive economic impact” will hamper any doubts from GOP members of the assembly.
“All areas of the state would really benefit from a study that could provide us a lot of information,” Daley said. “In an area like ours that is still becoming more and more developed, having an oasis is really important.”
The resolution remains in the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, where it was referred in mid-January.
The continuing COVID-19 emergency has shifted legislative priorities this year as budget and funding concerns, along with public health concerns and the start of back-to-school season weigh heavily on the commonwealth.
While Daley would love to see her resolution move for a vote this year, she won’t be dissuaded if it doesn’t happen this year.
“I’m still hopeful and still working on it,” Daley said. “It will still be important next year, if it doesn’t get passed this year.”