Originally published by the Daily Local News on December 21, 2019: https://bit.ly/36DGgJJ
EXTON — State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten will seek a second term to represent the 155th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2020.
In 2018, Otten bested three-term incumbent Republican Becky Corbin by 9 percentage points to return the seat to the Democrats for the first time in 28 years.
Otten ran a grassroots campaign inspired by her work building a cross-county coalition for public safety, private property rights and environmental justice focused on the Mariner East pipeline expansion that cuts through the heart of Chester County.
In her first year in office, Otten has introduced nine bills addressing pipeline concerns and other issues affecting the wellbeing of her constituents. One proposed bill, H.B. 1735, lays out a process for risk assessment and funding for pipeline early detection and warning systems that would allow counties, municipalities and school districts to fulfill their statutory requirements under the PA Health and Safety Code.
Otten has also sponsored H.B. 1813, a proposed amendment to the PA state constitution that would restrict interference from corporations and limit state government pre-emption, giving municipalities the ability to uphold local laws to protect their health, safety and local environment. Her district office has continued her community advocacy work, organizing active participation in public comment periods related to pipeline regulations and plan modifications before the PUC and DEP.
“My first year in office has shown me this fight is bigger than Mariner East. With a Republican-led legislature passing more tax incentives to scale up plastics manufacturing and rolling back regulations so that Pennsylvania can become the next big petrochemical hub, we need champions for public health and safety in the legislature now more than ever.” Otten said. “We have evidence of what an expansive petrochemical industry could mean for PA. In Louisiana, they call it Cancer Alley, and in Texas, it has meant massive evacuations of local communities in the impact zone of petrochemical plant fires. Our reliance on fossil fuels, petrochemicals and plastic threatens not only Pennsylvania’s public health and safety, but our economic future. It is time to end the cycle of boom-and-bust economics on the backs of working families and work instead toward sustainable local economies that will thrive for decades to come. We are joining hands across the state with communities like ours that are standing up for their right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of our natural resources.”
In her first term, Otten has also put a significant focus on the issue of youth mental health, as the crisis of youth suicide has spiked in our local communities and across the state and nation. This fall, Otten hosted a legislative policy hearing on the issue of youth mental health.
Her proposed House Bill 1949, which would require mandatory recess and lunch periods for grades K-12 in PA public schools, has picked up momentum in the press. Otten also secured a $60,000 grant that has allowed Communities that Care of Greater Downingtown to expand its youth prevention councils and other programming this year.
“When we dig into the issues of anxiety, depression, suicide, self-harming behaviors, eating disorders and substance use disorders, we begin to see that the root causes are often the same. Our kids are facing new and different pressures with the advancement and adoption of technology and increased pressure to succeed in education, sports, and other aspects of their lives,” Otten said. “My work this year has focused on assessing needs and working on how we build capacity in our communities, schools, health care system, and state and county agencies to serve our youth and help them to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.”
Otten was recently recognized for her leadership on the issue of youth mental health by Communities That Care of Greater Downingtown and for her advocacy on public health and the environment by Physicians for Social Responsibility. Environmental advocacy group Conservation Voters of PA has confirmed their continued support with an early endorsement.
The 155th House Dist. includes the townships of East Brandywine, East Pikeland, Upper Uwchlan, Uwchlan, West Brandywine and West Vincent and the boroughs of Phoenixville (the North Ward) and Spring City.