Rep. Bernard T. O’Neill has spent much of his life helping others -- as an educator, athletic coach, club adviser, township supervisor, community volunteer and a state legislator.
O’Neill is now serving his seventh term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. This session, he was appointed Majority Chairman of the House Finance Committee, which oversees matters relating to taxation and fiscal policy, investment of the Commonwealth’s money and regulations of the Department of Revenue. Additionally, O’Neill serves as the senior member of the House Education Committee.
He was first elected to serve the 29th Legislative District in Bucks County in 2002, and since then has dedicated his time in Harrisburg to enhancing the quality of life for Pennsylvanians by focusing on improving public education, reforming the school funding formula and school taxes, preserving open space and reducing sprawl, advancing opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and protecting the welfare of domestic animals. He is also a supporter of the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
During his tenure in the state House, O’Neill has been successful in shepherding several substantive pieces of legislation into law, including measures to tighten the screening process for foster or adoptive parents; prohibit auto insurance companies from discriminating against military reservists; provide immunity from prosecution when a minor seeks medical attention for another person who has consumed too much alcohol; give law enforcement a stronger tool to prosecute drug dealers by classifying “drug delivery resulting in death” as a first-degree felony; set statewide standards for business, computer and information technology courses; establish a bipartisan task force to look at the costs and feasibility associated with a state-operated, Internet-based Pennsylvania Virtual High School; develop a new formula for funding special education; and create the Basic Education Funding Commission, which is tasked with creating a new and more equitable funding formula for distribution to Pennsylvania’s public school districts.
Over the years, a number of concepts and issues O’Neill has prime sponsored and championed have become law, including laws to toughen penalties for the theft of rifles, boost municipal police officers’ pension plans by offering length of service increments, to increase limited special permits for off-site venues, and deter individuals from engaging in animal fighting.
Before his election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, O’Neill was a special education teacher at William Tennent High School in the Centennial School District for more than 25 years and a migrant program consultant and counselor for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit No. 22 for six years. He served five years on the board of supervisors in Warminster Township, where he was its chairman for three years. He was also a deputy state constable in Warminster Township, and a volunteer fireman.
He is a graduate of William Tennent High School, and he received an associate’s degree from Bucks County Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a master’s degree in education from Temple University. He also performed graduate work at Penn State University, East Stroudsburg University, Wilkes College, Bloomsburg University, Marywood College, Philadelphia College of Performing Arts and Temple University.
O’Neill is currently or has been active in the community as a member of the Bucks County Association of Township Officials, Warminster Park and Recreation Conservation Board, Federal Lands Reuse Authority, Warminster Fire Department, Associated Humane Society, Bucks County Association of Retarded Citizens, Bucks County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Advisory Board, Special Olympics, Council for Exceptional Children, Bucks County Special Needs Foundation, Centennial Education Association, Pennsylvania State Education Association, National Education Association, Masonic Blue Lodge No. 410, and the Shriners Association. Additionally, he served as a member of the Bucks County Community College Board of Trustees.