Lewis in the News

November 7, 2017 General Election put Republicans on notice as Trumps coattails brought Dems into local offices in Chester County. Watch for voting changes because of it.

Dec 12, 2017
Pa. lawmakers send Wolf abortion restrictions he plans to veto

Gov. Tom Wolf vows to veto a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and criminalize the most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions.
Gov. Tom Wolf vows to veto a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and criminalize the most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Pennsylvania’s House on Tuesday voted after an impassioned debate to send a bill limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy to Gov. Tom Wolf, who immediately repeated his threat to veto it.

The Republican-controlled House voted 121-70 for the legislation that would alter the existing 24-week limit.

The measure would keep in place exceptions under current law for when a mother’s life is at risk, or if she could suffer a serious, permanent injury without an abortion. It does not allow exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.

Supporters said medical advances mean premature fetuses are now able to survive at an earlier point in the pregnancy than previously possible.

The strong feelings and stark language that characterizes the abortion discussion on the national level were reflected in the House debate.

“As people try to frame this debate in terms of women’s rights, the question that begs to be asked is, what about the rights of those preborn women in the womb being exterminated?” said Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York.

Opponents argued that parents should be allowed to make their own abortion decisions with medical input and by consulting their sources of spiritual advice.

“We have to be careful in this body that we don’t put an ideology on everybody and say that everybody has to live like this,” said Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny.

Planned Parenthood said the bill would make Pennsylvania’s abortion law among the nation’s most restrictive.

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, said a House that is “80 percent men and 0 percent physicians” should not be making decisions for women about terminating their pregnancies. She noted that a tiny fraction of abortions currently occur after 20 weeks.

The bill “does not protect women,” said Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery. “It attempts to control them by imposing the views of some legislators on women, and I think that’s wrong — that’s morally wrong.”

The legislation also would outlaw what the bill terms “dismemberment abortion,” a phrase not used by medical professionals. It would effectively ban dilation-and-evacuation, a procedure that is the most common method of second-trimester abortion.

“Dismemberment abortion is completely inhumane, it’s barbaric,” said Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York.

Some opponents noted that the bill had not received public hearings, while supporters said the issues have been discussed in depth for years.

Wolf, a Democrat, called the bill an assault on the doctor-patient relationship and “cruel” because it lacks exceptions for rape or incest.

“These women deserve our support, not to be maligned by politicians in Harrisburg for making medical decisions about their bodies for their families with their doctors,” Wolf said in a written statement.

The bill passed the Senate in February by a 32-18 vote. The margins in both chambers raise doubts about whether supporters will be able to muster sufficient votes to override Wolf’s promised veto.  Source   House votes here

Dec 2, 2018
Times of Chester County
Lewis announces plans to retire from the House after 2018

Rep. Harry Lewis Jr. (R-74) today announced that his second term in office, which will end with the 2017-18 session, will be his final one as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. His retirement will follow 56 years of public service.

“Because of the citizens of the 74th District, I proudly worked in Harrisburg – despite the inevitable bureaucratic limitations – to represent the wishes of all Coatesville, Downingtown and Parkesburg residents,” Lewis said. “In times of frustration when it was a challenge to come to an acceptable resolution, the great people in our communities were my motivation. I thank each resident for their incredible support and encouragement.”

During his time in office, he notes his focus was always on Chester County. One of his notable accomplishments includes securing $6 million in grants for the Coatesville revitalization program at the intersection of Lincoln Highway East and the 1st Avenue area of the city of Coatesville. The project is expected to bring 110 new, permanent jobs and 215 construction jobs to the area. Lewis collaborated with the Brandywine campus of the Chester County Technical College High School to ensure that the construction jobs will be awarded locally.

The redevelopment project will consist of 47,000 square feet of retail/office space. Some of the existing buildings will be demolished, but the historical value of Coatesville will be maintained through the new design. A parking garage will be built, and improvements will be made to surrounding streets.

Another contribution he cites includes working with local resident, Jane Kennedy, to add Carver Court to the National Registry of Historic Places. The 1942-44 housing development, which Lewis called home as a child, provided housing for African-American steel workers and their families to support the World War II defense industry. It includes nearly 90 one- and two-story homes and was designed by giants of modern architecture Louis Kahn, Oskar Stonorov and George Howe. Adding Carver Court to the registry was a bipartisan effort also supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, who visited Chester County for the dedication in September.

Lewis said that helping residents of the district find family-sustaining jobs was one of his top priorities, demonstrated by his numerous job fairs that attracted employers and job seekers alike. Of his many legislative events, these were the most successful.

However, Lewis added, he didn’t wait for a special occasion to help his constituents. Teamed with his staff, he was eager to help and aided thousands of constituents with both state and local issues at his three office locations.

“The best part of this experience has undoubtedly been the times I have been able to get the answers someone needs or otherwise improve his or her life. I’ve discovered what a difference it makes to people when they feel their legislator is serving them as completely as possible, and I could not have done that without the amazing staff that has blessed Chester County,” Lewis said. “I thank Amber Little-Turner, Nick Deminski and Reginald Ward for their service, and wish them great success in their future endeavors.”

Lewis also drafted a number of bills, including one unanimously supported by the House that would provide children who have incarcerated parents with stable families via adoption in a more timely fashion.

Before beginning his service in the House in 2014, Lewis had a steadfast presence in the local community. During his career as an educator, he worked at the Coatesville Area Senior High School as principal, assistant principal, special education teacher and physical education teacher. Source

Sept 11, 2017
The Unionville Times
Wolf visits Coatesville redevelopment projects

COATESVILLE – Gov. Tom Wolf paid a surprise visit to the city Friday afternoon to observe the revitalization efforts and tour the project sites that are now underway.

Wolf addressed the small crowd that had gathered at Fuel City Café in anticipation of his arrival, which also included State Rep. Harry Lewis (R-74), praising the revitalization project that is underway.

“It’s really good to be here…to see what’s going on.” Wolf said.

Wolf mentioned he often took the train through Coatesville on his way to and from Philadelphia and that he is looking forward to the improvements. He also praised the city for its efforts to make the neighborhoods good and safe for everyone, which, according to Wolf, is something every community should be doing. Read more

August 31, 2017
Southern Chester County News
Attorney General visits Kennett to wage war on opioid crisis

KENNETT SQUARE >> Determined to curb an opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of death for all Americans under age 50, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro came to Kennett Square to discuss the crisis with state lawmakers, municipal officials and law enforcement officers.

“I need to know what’s happening on the ground and how my office can assist in the local efforts,” said Shapiro, who has visited eight counties in the past two days. “We need to have a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to deal with the number one public health threat in Pennsylvania – the heroin and opioid epidemic. And these forums provide a great opportunity.”

The discussion, which coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day, took place at Kennett Fire Company’s Red Clay Room, and included almost the entire Chester County legislative delegation, state Rep. Steve Barrar, state Rep. John Lawrence, state Rep. Harry Lewis, state Rep. Becky Corbin, state Rep. Warren Kampf, and state Rep. Carolyn Comitta. Also in attendance were local police chiefs from throughout Chester County and Chester County Commissioners Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell.

“I can’t think of a family that hasn’t been affected by this,” said Barrar.

New Garden Police Chief Gerald Simpson said more efforts must be put into educating the younger set.

“We had five (opioid-related) deaths last year,” Simpson said. “If had five fatal accidents in one year, my community would be outraged and would ask me what I plan to do about it.”

Simpson said 25 percent of the opioid-related cases his department worked on last year resulted in death.

“That’s a scary number,” he said.

Shapiro told the panel that the crisis is taxing law enforcement and first responders in a significant way. He said police sometimes return to administer Narcan to the same person multiple times. There were 4,642 drug-related deaths in Pennsylvania last year, and if nothing is done, that number will skyrocket, he said.

Dinniman said he was glad to see Shapiro make the opioid crisis a priority.

“It was a productive and comprehensive discussion,” Dinniman said. “At the end of the day, solving the opioid crisis is not going to be a one-agency issue. Rather, it’s is going to take multi-pronged and cooperative effort between law enforcement personnel, public health officials, educators and others. And one of this morning’s overriding themes was how can we take what is working in Chester County and replicate it throughout the state.”

Shapiro cited his office’s and other local and state law enforcement departments’ efforts to crack down on illegal drug dealers amid the continued use and abuse of prescription medicine.

“We’ve arrested 844 drug dealers since I took office eight months ago. We could do that every day on and on, but at the end of the day it’s not going to solve it,” he said. “Prescription drugs are the root cause of so many of these problems.”

He also discussed efforts to deactivate and dispose of unwanted or unused prescription drugs, holding opioid manufacturers accountable, and working to improve access to addiction treatment and recovery options.

Cozzone expressed concerns about young people and students being prescribed opioids for sports injuries.

Dinniman discussed Senate Bill 535, legislation that calls for opioid awareness and addiction prevention education in Pennsylvania schools. That bill was incorporated in the Pennsylvania School Code, which recently passed the Senate.

Comitta, who said she plans to talk to the local medical community about the problem, said the roundtable discussion is a great start to eradicating the problem.

“We all need to put our heads together to figure out how to combat this very complicated, very distressing opioid epidemic,” Comitta said. “It’s multi-faceted and it will take every level of government and every level of law enforcement. This is a public health crisis.”

Lawrence said here is bipartisan support among local lawmakers to attack the opioid problem.

“There are a lot of callenges, but we are talking about people’s lives,” Lawrence said. “I can tell you there is a united front on this and we will move forward. It’s an issue that all of us are searching for solutions.”

Thursday morning’s discussion was one of several events involving combating opioid abuse in Chester County that day. Later that afternoon, Dinniman joined Shapiro to announce a series of roundtable discussions at Pennsylvania colleges and institutes of higher education aimed at addressing drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and sexual assault on campus. Source

May 28, 2017
Daily Local News
Coatesville redevelopment project lands state funding

COATESVILLE >> The city’s Gateway Redevelopment Project received a shot in the arm on two funding fronts Thursday.

The project was awarded a $3.2 million loan and a $2.1 million grant, the governor’s office and two local politicians announced.

“Now we have a project, now we have a project,” developer Jim DePetris said. “How many developers have come into Coatesville promising the sky and left in the dead of night? We’re the ones who are staying and getting this project done. Once we do, others will come.” Read more

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