Frequently Asked Questions

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Beamdata is the parent social enterprise company to Be the Change.

Be the Change by beamdata is funded by grants that support civic tech and social entrepreneurship. In the past, we’ve been UpPrize BNY Mellon Social Innovation grant recipients in the amount of $20,000 We’re also an Ascender incubation company, which provided a grant of $4000.

Our promise to you is we will never share your personal information with anyone. In a world where social media platforms can feel invasive and unsafe, we’re committed to building a community that is safe and considerate of your privacy. Check our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more information about how we use data for purposes of social good. We thrive on transparency and accountability. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@beam-data.com.

Yes, after a successful pilot with Senator Jay Costa in 2020 we decided to launch statewide in Pennsylvania kicking off on February 15, 2021.

We’re always adding new legislators to Be the Change. If you’re interested, you can complete this form and we’d be happy to setup a demo.

You can email Be the Change at info@beam-data.com with more information about your organization and how we can help!

Ensuring a seamless civic experience for you is important to use. We’re sorry you’re experiencing this trouble. Please fill out this form or send us an email with your concern.

If you don’t get a reply to your post, it likely means your legislators haven’t onboarded on the platform. All legislators also have the choice to respond to posts.

Be the Change is a community-driven app, which means we rely on people like you to share Causes you care about in your neighborhood with your state legislators. If there aren’t Causes in your area, that means your neighbors and state legislators aren’t using Be the Change yet. You can get things going by being the first to post in your community, sharing the app with your friends and contacting your state legislators to encourage them to join Be the Change.

You can reach our team at info@beam-data.com with feedback or complete this form.

State legislatures affect your day-to-day quality of life. State lawmakers are proposing legislation and voting on infrastructure funding, how fair and safe elections should take place, funding formulas for school districts, environmental safety, how to increase job opportunities and so much more. State legislatures are a prime hub for participating in democratic process and impacting how decisions about your community are made.

Federal laws apply throughout the United States and include, for example, laws related to immigration law, bankruptcy law, social security and supplemental income laws.

There are 50 states and several commonwealths and territories within the United States. Each has a different system of laws that apply within the state, commonwealth or territory to areas such as criminal justice, welfare and public assistance, real estate, business contracts, and more.

Each state, commonwealth and territory is made up of counties, cities, municipalities, towns, townships and villages. Some local governments have their own laws related to areas such as zoning and local safety.

The PA government is divided into three separate branches, which is a trend started by the original thirteen colonies and continued in later states. The three branches are: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch. There are four US states that are technically not states—they are commonwealths. A commonwealth is a 17 th century word for political community. Basically, they’re the same thing as a state but for the sake of tradition some states chose to retain the title commonwealth. PA is one of those states, so it’s formally known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PA was one of the original thirteen colonies and wrote its first constitution in 1776. PA has a government that is older than the US federal government.

Pennsylvania’s legislature is responsible for creating laws and they’re called the General Assembly. It’s the Commonwealth’s version of the US Congress and like Congress, it’s bicameral or composed of two houses: House of Representatives and Senate

The PA House of Representatives has 203 members. The PA Senate has 50 members.

Yes, PA has a full-time legislature. Their offices are available to provide constituent support
throughout the year.

The PA legislature convened on January 5, 2021 and adjourns on December 31, 2021.

In PA bills must pass through specialized committees before they go to the floor of the Senate or House. There are a total of 49 standing committees in PA. There are no joint legislative committees in the PA legislature. The PA Senate as 22 standing committees and the PA House has 27. If a bill originates in the Senate, it must also go through committee in the House and vice versa. Committees are where bills are workshopped and amended but amendments can also be offered on the floor. The chair of each committee in the House and Senate is chosen by the party that has a majority. The chairperson has influence over what happens in the committee and can determine which bills get heard, which ones never get discussed and the schedule at which it happens.

Public comment is a process that allows individuals, organizations, and businesses to provide input and feedback on proposed legislation. It’s an important way to make your voice heard in the policymaking process. You have the potential to strengthen legislation by offering tidbits of your lived-experiences as an example of how the proposal positively or negatively impacts you and your community. Most importantly, it’s important to remember legislation is written for you by legislators elected by the people.

There are several effective times to submit input and feedback on legislation. If a co- sponsorship memo has been circulated for an issue you care about, you can contact your legislators with reasons why they should or should not sign on as co-sponsor of legislation. You can also identify the Chair and Members of a Committee if the bill you’re interested in has been sent to a Committee for review. Providing input during a Committee review process can be highly effective. This is when a proposed legislation is “workshopped” and debated to garner support in favor or against the proposal. If the bill does not garner enough Committee support, the proposal “died in committee” and will not be considered for a vote by the larger chamber.

You can follow the PA General Assembly here. Be the Change also posts legislative updates every Tuesday Wednesday. The updates include summaries of proposed legislation, exclusive interviews with legislators and articles explaining both sides of an issue debate. You can sign up here.

Redistricting is the process of drawing new congressional and state legislative district boundaries. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States decennial census. Federal law requires districts must have nearly equal populations and should not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. As of the 2020 Census, Pennsylvania was one of 37 states where legislators were responsible for redistricting. Legislators are expected to address redistricting as part of the 2021 legislative session.

Information on the 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission can be found here. The Majority and Minority Leaders of the PA Senate and House appoint one member. The fifth will serve as the Chair of the Commission and is chosen by the first four appointed commissioners. If the commission is unable to reach an agreement, the PA Supreme Court must appoint the Chair.

As additional information about changes in PA legislative district lines are released, you’ll likely be able to find that information here.

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