Jim Ferlo

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Jim Ferlo

Jim Ferlo is a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate who has represented the 38th Senatorial District since 2003. His district consists of parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.


Ferlo was born to Italian immigrant parents in the small upstate town of Rome, NY. He credits part of his legislative effectiveness as being one of 10 siblings. Senator Ferlo’s father worked both a day job and also in a tavern in the evenings in order to support his family. Senator’s background and upbringing make him sympathetic and cognizant of the importance of small businesses for the contribution they make to people, communities, and the tax base.

Political career

Senator Ferlo was first elected to Pittsburgh City Council in 1987 and served two terms as Council President during his 14 year tenure (1994 – 1997). Ferlo has been incorporating his own passionate style of community activism since the late 1960s. It was during those early years as a union activist, political organizer and community advocate that the Senator affirmed his commitment to the public and his confidence in people. This commitment and investment has translated into an experienced legislator who is accessible and accountable. Elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 2003, Senator Ferlo currently serves as the Minority Chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, Minority Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and on three additional standing committees: Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, Education, and Finance.[1]


Senator Ferlo’s convictions have resulted in legislative results in Harrisburg. In 2006, Ferlo passed Visitability legislation that enabled and encouraged local municipalities to offer tax credits for residential improvements to meet the accessibility needs of elderly individuals and members of the disabled community. In addition, Ferlo was the prime sponsor of the Research & Development Tax Credit, enacted in 2004.[2]

Service, activism

Jim Ferlo 2006.jpg

Ferlo serves as Board Treasurer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority ), the Green Ribbon Commission, the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, and Preservation Pennsylvania. He is an active member of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.

Senator Ferlo has fostered the development of the Pittsburgh Green Innovators, a collaboration of 29 community, government, corporate, philanthropic, education and labor groups aiming to develop a trained “green-collar” work force and stimulate growth in the economy through sustainable development. He has also worked closely with community leaders throughout his district to begin non-profit community development engines such as; the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone (ARTEZ) , Vandergrift Improvement Program (VIP), Freeport, Leechburg, Apollo Group (FLAG), and Natrona Comes Together Association (NCTA). He has worked closely with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc to develop a former BP Gas Station into the Energy and Environment Community Outreach Center (EECO) to be an energy efficiency education and resource center that connects the public to money saving green building technologies and programs.

As a man whose history is steeped in advocacy issues, Ferlo fosters that same activism within his constituency. His development of the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance encouraged the creation of citizen councils on a citywide level for just that purpose. Community input and citizen empowerment are intricate parts of Ferlo’s public service equation. He led the effort for establishment of District Council elections and sponsored the city’s Human Rights Ordinance. He founded the US-CUBA Sister Cities Association nationally and works to promote an appreciation of Pittsburgh’s diversity and history. The Allegheny County Community College recently honored Jim with one of its first Vanguard Diversity Awards because of his commitment to equal rights for all.[3]

Health activism

A staunch supporter of health care reform, Senator Ferlo has been a public health advocate since the early 1970’s. He has helped to draft the PA Hospital Patient’s Bill of Rights and the National Health Services Act. He acts nationally with the Medical Committee for Human Rights as well as numerous local health advocacy programs. He is a member of the American Public Health Association and has been active on various health advocacy issues including his support for a state-wide and national single-payer health care system which would cover all Americans. He worked at the Pittsburgh Free Clinic in the 70′s and was a patient’s right advocate for the Community Health Advocacy Network. He is currently an active organizer in the debate regarding the future of the Southwest Pennsylvania health care market as Highmark, UPMC, and the West Penn Allegheny Health System vie for position in the region. He has been vocal about his support both for Highmark patients maintaining access to UPMC doctors, and Highmark’s bid to take over West Penn Allegheny to ensure the system’s future.[4]

Identified Member of the YWLL

The Subversive Activities Control Board held hearings into the Communist Party USA creation and dominance of the Young Workers Liberation League, issued a published report under the title of "Subversive Activities Board, Docket No. 129-71, Attorney General of the United States, Petitioner v. Young Workers Liberation League, Respondent, Oran H. Waterman and Robert A. Crandall for petitioner. John Abt and Abraham Unger for respondent. Report and Order of the Board, Decided January 15, 1973"

Those named as leaders and/or members of the YWLL during the course of the investigation/hearings (biographical information on each person was also included in this listing (pp. 73-83 of report, pages 281-291 of the HISC hearing reproduction of the SACB Report).

Jim Ferlo, was named as High School Director, Young Workers Liberation League; Western Pennsylvania District, Communist Party USA.

National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment

April 16, 1975, Jim Ferlo, Pittsburgh Model Cities Commissioner, was on the Current List of Sponsors of the Communist Party USA front National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment.[5]

DSA endorsement


DSA support


DSA friend"


The DSA Pittsburgh April 1989 issue describes Jim Ferlo as a DSA "friend".

Act Now to End the War

Ufpj act now.jpg

On Jan. 27, 2007, peace activists "converge[d] from all around the country in Washington, D.C. to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: 'The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops brought home now!'". Endorsers of the call included Jim Ferlo, Pittsburgh.[6]

PARA connection

PARA President Wayne Burton, Jim Ferlo and the rest of the Panel

Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans "No Grand Bargain" Luncheon with Senator Jim Ferlo, December 6, 2013.

National Conference on US-Cuba Normalization

Endorsements for the March 25-26, 2017 National Conference for the Full Normalization of U.S.-Cuban Relations at Fordham Law School included Jim Ferlo President Pittsburgh-Matanzas Sister Cities Partnership, member Pennsylvania State Senate 2003-15 .