HARRISBURG – State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, this week announced the House unanimously passed his bill to require the Department of Transportation to provide a check-off box on driver’s license and vehicle registration forms for people to contribute to the first-ever pediatric cancer research fund in Pennsylvania.
Caltagirone’s legislation, H.B. 407, would provide Pennsylvanians the opportunity to donate money to the fund when they apply for a driver’s license or vehicle registration. The funds raised by the legislation would be distributed to eligible institutions in Pennsylvania that conduct pediatric cancer research, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center; Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Abramson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania; and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
“This is another historic step in our efforts to fund better treatments and hopefully a cure for pediatric cancer,” Caltagirone said. “The House action shows we have wide bipartisan support among state decision-makers. As we speak, children are fighting for their lives in Reading and Berks County, across Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to lead the way in pediatric cancer research.
“This bill would create an easy way for Pennsylvania residents to contribute to childhood cancer research directly in a manner that could save the lives of our children. Every dollar counts in this fight, and I’m grateful to my House leaders and colleagues for their support of House Bill 407. I believe our world-class research institutions will lead the fight against pediatric cancer, and we need to support them now more than ever.”
House Bill 407 is part of a package of bills introduced by Caltagirone that would combine to raise over $10 million a year without impacting the General Fund. The other bills in the package are:
House Bill 46 passed the House unanimously and is awaiting action in the Senate. This bill would establish a check-off box on Pennsylvania’s state income tax form to allow taxpayers to designate a contribution for childhood cancer research through the Pennsylvania Pediatric Cancer Research Fund;House Bill 404 would establish a Pediatric Cancer Research registration license plate that would be made available through the state Department of Transportation. Purchasers of the plate could choose to pay extra to support pediatric cancer research; andHouse Bill 408 would establish $10 million in tax credits for businesses to contribute to research institutions that are pursuing a cure for pediatric cancers. Companies would be able to contribute $100 million to fund a cure for pediatric cancer over the next 10 years.
“We must take an aggressive approach to fighting pediatric cancer,” Caltagirone said. “In my estimation, if all of my legislation became law, we would be able to match what the students at Penn State and the many Mini Thons raise throughout the commonwealth each year. We have an obligation to put our children first. With the rising rates of pediatric cancer, this is an epidemic. One out of every 285 children are being diagnosed. One child every two minutes is being diagnosed worldwide. We have the opportunity with House Bill 407, House Bill 46, and my package of bills, to have a lasting impact in this war on pediatric cancer, but we need to do more as a commonwealth and as a nation.”
Caltagirone said he is encouraged by the rapid advancements being made in pediatric medical research.
“Now is the time to step up and fund a cure here in Pennsylvania,” Caltagirone said. “Just as the polio vaccine was developed in Pittsburgh by Dr. Jonas Salk, Pennsylvania should be at the forefront of developing a cure for pediatric cancer. This funding will lead to cures and better treatments; I have no doubt.”
House Bill 407 heads to the Senate for consideration.