Three South Pittsburgh area state representatives were sworn into office on January 1 to mark the beginning of the 197th legislative session. The state constitution mandates the legislature convene at noon on the first Tuesday of January.
State Rep. Harry Readshaw took the oath of office for his 10th term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; State Rep. Jake Wheatley was sworn in for his sixth term; and, Erin Molchany was sworn in to her first term representing the 22nd Legislative District.
«To be entrusted with an office like this just once is gratifying,» Rep. Readshaw said, «but when people in your hometown continue to re-elect you for the job you do, that is a high honor and more humbling each time you take the oath. I will continue to work to improve lives of the residents of the 36th District as well as all Pennsylvanians.”
Mr. Readshaw has served as a member of the Professional Licensure Committee for his entire time in the House, and he begins his second term as Democratic chairman of the committee. He pointed out professional licensure impacts every Pennsylvanian. The panel is responsible for establishing and reviewing every profession that requires state certification, from plumbers to brain surgeons to hairdressers and architects.
“The license means that the individual has the training and has demonstrated the ability to meet established standards of quality for his profession,” Rep. Readshaw said. “It ensures against people performing specialized services that, without the proper training, could endanger the health or finances of the person paying for their services.”
Mr. Readshaw said the panel also monitors professional license and certification issues in other states, using that information to determine what Pennsylvania should do in anticipation of those issues coming up in the commonwealth.
“My priorities for this new session include funding mass transit, roads and bridges, and restoring funding that was cut from education, health care and social services. Many of our neighbors need a safety net to help them in these difficult economic times,” Rep. Wheatley said.
Mr. Wheatley plans to continue pressing for passage of legislation to help minority-, women- and disadvantaged-owned small businesses compete for a fair share of state contracting.
He also will continue working to pass his bill designed to reduce the number of abandoned properties in Pennsylvania communities by changing state law on “adverse possession,” a process that allows a person who lives in a home that’s considered legally abandoned to take ownership of the property. Both bills passed the House in previous sessions but the Senate failed to pass them.
In September, he began serving as the new co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Hunger Caucus with state Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster/Chester.
Rep. Wheatley already has been working with Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Phila., and others to make sure that everyone in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania has access not just to food, but to nutritious food.
He said another priority is the Statewide Food Purchase Program, which helps food banks buy and distribute millions of pounds of food to those in need, and that was cut by about $500,000 last year, or nearly three percent. He would like to see that funding restored, and if possible, increased.
“It’s so humbling to represent the people of the 22nd Legislative District,” Rep. Molchany said. “The South Hills communities are my home and I have come to Harrisburg to speak for them.”
On the first day of her first term, Ms. Molchany acknowledged there is a lot of work to begin in Harrisburg and in her district.
“As I have done before, I again pledge tireless dedication and my deepest commitment to serving everyone in my district. There is so much to do. I’ll be there with you and hope you’ll be there with me,” she said.
The 36th Legislative District consists of the boroughs of Brentwood, Mount Oliver and West Homestead, and parts of Baldwin and Whitehall, as well as some sections of Pittsburgh south of the Monongahela River.
The 19th Legislative District, includes neighborhoods including the Hill District, North Side, South Side, Allentown, Hazelwood, Downtown, the Bluff, Knoxville, Beltzhoover, Manchester, Arlington, Arlington Heights, and West, South and North Oakland.
The 22nd Legislative District includes neighborhoods of Brookline, Beechview, Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights, Overbrook, Manchester, Sheraden, Esplen, Baldwin Township, and the boroughs of Castle Shannon and Whitehall.
Rep.Wheatley’s office is at 2015-2017 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, and the telephone number is 412-471-7760.
Ms. Molchany’s office is at 900 Brookline Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15226; Phone: 412-343-2094.