His committee assignments and legislative pursuits often reflected his desire to assist and advocate for the most vulnerable of our citizens as well as our working class families. As Chairman of the House Labor Relations Committee from 1983 to 1990, Representative Cohen focused on increasing the minimum wage and protecting worker's compensation benefits. He fought for improvement in access to timely compensation benefits for injured workers and to improve labor conditions for farm workers.
Representative Cohen's work on public health issues and as Democratic Chairman of the Human Services Committee allowed him to affect government programs, services and legislation which helped at risk populations as well as the general public. He fought for PA's Organ Donation Trust Fund law, which gave organizations specializing in organ transplantation hospital access to potential organ donors, set up a system of drivers' license identification for each potential organ donor, and publicized the need for organ donation.
Under pressure from the insurance industry, Governor Tom Corbett refused to implement newly established Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs as required by a law. Cohen, along with Representative DiGirolamo opposed the Governor's inaction by holding a public hearing in Harrisburg. And Cohen was ahead of his time when he co-sponsored a bill to establish the Pharmaceutical Accountability Monitoring System in order to detect pharmaceutical drug abuse and substance use disorders, by people with addiction to them, back in 2011.
It was this foundation, established by Representative Cohen, which paved the way for what eventually became Act 16 of 2016, the Medical Marijuana Saw of PA. We are forever grateful to Representative Cohen for his foresite and courage to take a stand against an unjust law, and also for his continued support and dedication throughout this fight. His early leadership on this issue brought together and inspired dedicated advocates and patients who were instrumental in helping throughout the process to make medical marijuana a reality in PA.
~Luke Shultz and the Team at Campaign4Compassion