Andy Dinniman

Matt Rourke / AP

Aqua America has regularly backed dozens of Pennsylvania political candidates financially since 2005. The company has spent $153,750 on contributions to state and local candidates this year alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last week, the company announced it would purchase Peoples Gas for $4.3 billion.

Both companies have been eyeing the struggling Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and have expressed interest in providing water to the city.

US Department of Education / Flickr

A shortage of certified substitute teachers is leading school districts across Pennsylvania to put students in gyms and cafeterias instead of classrooms.

“It’s a crisis,” said state Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), the minority chairman of the Education Committee. 

According to Dinniman, school district officials told the committee that they’ve only been able to fill 70 percent of vacancies because of the lack of certified substitutes. He said the shortage is impacting urban, suburban and rural schools.

It would be illegal to sell or transport powdered alcohol in Pennsylvania under Senate Bill 773, which passed the Senate unanimously last week (49-0).

“This is a gigantic step toward protecting our young people in our state today” said Senator Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia), who authored the measure.

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Breast Cancer Awareness month, in October, has become very visible and well-known in recent years. But, in September, the American Cancer Society aims to raise awareness on several other kinds of cancer as well. September is the awareness month for childhood, ovarian, thyroid and prostate cancers.

“It is the number one killer for men, about 1,500 a year here in Pennsylvania, it has the second-highest death rate of any cancer for men throughout the United States,” said state Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester).

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It occurs mainly in older men with about 6 in ten cases diagnosed at age 65 or older; diagnosis before age 40 is rare.

Dinniman is a survivor of prostate cancer and said the key is early detection.

“Prostate cancer is curable,” he said, “you don’t have to die from it if you go through early detection.”

But, Dinniman points out that prostate exams can be uncomfortable or a source of fear or reluctance for many men.

When it comes to public education funding in Pennsylvania, one size does not fit all, especially when it’s $5.5 billion this fiscal year being divided among 500 school districts.

That’s according to state Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), who is part of a 15-member commission that was created in June with the goal of finding a formula for distributing state funding to schools in a fair and efficient manner.

This year marks the 81st anniversary since the start of the Holocaust.

Between 1933 and 1945, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party systematically slaughtered more than six million European Jews. This week the State Senate passed a resolution to observe “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust” during the week of April 27 through May 4. 

April 28 has been designated as a day of remembrance internationally.

State Sen. Mike Stack (D - Philadelphia) says Pennsylvanians should remain vigilant against all tyranny and bigotry.

State lawmakers are set to introduce a bipartisan plan to let the largest schools leave the 14-member Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, amid skepticism from their colleagues and the system’s chancellor.

The legislation, not yet introduced, would allow schools with 7,000 students or more to leave the state system, which has been seeing declining enrollment and rising costs.

Supporters say the move would preserve the system while allowing its most successful colleges to continue to grow.