Apr. 03, 2017

  
In The Community
 
Telephone Town Hall

 

On Tuesday, March 21, I was available via telephone during a Telephone Town Hall, where the constituents of the 87th District had the opportunity to communicate regarding concerns and questions they had about our state government. During the town hall, constituents had the chance to ask questions and make statements regarding: funding of schools and day care, opioid issues and rehab facilities, sanctuary cities, public school vouchers, pension reform, property tax reform, immigration issues and health care for the mentally ill.

If you missed the telephone town hall and would like to contact me, please feel free to call my district office at 717-975-2235, or stop by anytime between 9 a.m. and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, at 1200 Camp Hill Bypass, Suite 202, Camp Hill.


Senior Citizen Identity Theft Forum

 
It is tax season, and residents are advised to stay on high alert for tax and identity theft scams. Remember, the IRS will not call you at your home, and it is advised to avoid giving personal information unless it is on a secure, trusted source. For more information, please register for our Senior Citizen Identity Theft Forum, which will take place on Thursday, April 27, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Schaner Senior Center. The center is located at 98 S. Enola Drive on the ground floor in Enola.

Featured speakers will include Ameer Blackmon, the education and outreach specialist with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General; Daniel Sodus, the Cumberland County senior assistant district attorney; and Brad Duppstadt from PSECU’s loss prevention team.


Firearms Seminar was a Success

 

Thank you to everyone who attended our Firearm and Concealed Carry Seminar on February 28 at the East Pennsboro Township Building. My staff and I were pleased with the level of community interest, and to see so many new faces coming out to learn about firearm laws and safety as well as concealed carry.

Cumberland County Sheriff Ron Anderson provided information about Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws. East Pennsboro Police Chief Todd Bashore and East Pennsboro Police Lieutenant Mark Green discussed gun safety guidelines. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed spoke about legal issues related to Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine law.

The event was then opened up for a question-and-answer session where attendees asked about concealed carry and firearm concerns.


Cumberland Valley High School Cheerleaders Honored in State House

The state House recognized the accomplishments of the state champion Cumberland Valley High School cheerleaders and their talented coaches on March 21. The team members received a citation and were the special guests of Representatives Stephen Bloom, Dawn Keefer and me.

House citations are presented to individuals or teams that achieve state or national championship recognition. This was the team’s fourth state championship since 2013. The group was compromised of nine seniors, nine juniors, six sophomores and eight freshman, ensuring this team will be a force to reckon with for years to come. Congratulations to the Cumberland Valley High School cheerleading team on winning the 2016 state championship!

Watch my video here or click the video box below.

 


Shaull Elementary Class Visits Capitol

 

My colleague Senator Mike Regan and I met and talked with students from Shaull Elementary School during their visit to the state Capitol. To schedule a tour of the state Capitol, please contact Heather Epler at my capitol office at 717-783-2063.


Bali Hai Road Closure

 
PennDOT, Hampden Township and Silver Spring Township have approved the temporary closure of Bali Hai Road at the request of Cumberland Valley School District so contractors can begin the site work for a new middle school and elementary school.

The road closure and associated detour are a necessary component of the construction of the two new schools along Bali Hai Road. The school district’s contractor anticipates the road closure will be in effect until the end of May, with the date dependent on weather and utility coordination.

The detour route will direct motorists to travel north on Sample Bridge Road or Lamb’s Gap Road to Wertzville Road and travel east/west to Lambs Gap Road/Sample Bridge Road to avoid Bali Hai.


Mini-THON

East Pennsboro, Camp Hill and Cumberland Valley school districts recently hosted their annual Mini-THON events, joining more than 70,000 students in a movement to conquer childhood cancer. Together, the school districts of the 87th District raised more than $300,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund.

Childhood cancer is the leading disease killer of children with 16,000 kids in the U.S. diagnosed every year. Four Diamond’s mission is to conquer childhood cancer through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research. Four Diamonds supports 70 pediatric oncology research professionals who are learning more about how cancer forms, how it can be treated and how treatments can be more effective. This cutting-edge research will benefit children around the world.

The events included face painting, games, dancing and pizza. Students were able to sign cards to send to the Penn State Children’s Hospital, and many adults gave speeches about how their lives were personally affected by pediatric cancer.


Fastnachts for Fat Tuesday Event

My district office staff attended a Fastnachts for Fat Tuesday event at The Crossings at West Shore in Mechanicsburg on February 28, to celebrate the senior living facility’s grand opening in the fall. The Crossings at West Shore provides residential senior living and personal care services in Cumberland County. The Crossings at West Shore is a state-of-the-art senior living community that offers a full continuum of great lifestyle options, including independent living, personal care and memory care services.


Weis Markets Opening

   

The community has been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Weis Markets in Enola, and I was happy to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new superstore in Hampden Township. This 65,000 square-foot store is located off exit 61 of Interstate 81.

The 24-hour store is a brand new, non-traditional format for the Sunbury-based chain. The design features a pub serving draft beer, ice cream parlor, yogurt bar and various expanded takeout options. This new store has been designated the prototype for new features that could later be applied at other locations throughout the chain. This location has a “community market” design that has been in development for several years, according to Weis Markets Inc. CEO Jonathan Weis. The Weis Markets in Hampden Township has created more than 200 full- and part-time jobs in the area.

 
State News
 
State Budget Update

 
The House Appropriations Committee this month finished a series of hearings conducted to look deeper into Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget proposal.

The committee members asked department officials about the governor’s two proposed mergers within his budget proposal. The governor wants to combine the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a Department of Health and Human Services. He also called for combining the Department of Corrections with the Board of Probation and Parole.

The governor claims these mergers would save money. However, his budget proposal would spend any savings realized in one part of the budget on programs and services in other areas of the state spending plan.

The House Appropriations committee wrapped up its three-week series of hearings with two full days of questions about the education and human services aspects of the governor’s proposal.

One hearing featured the Department of Education and pertained to details about increased funding for basic and higher education, and whether additional state investments are being directed into the classrooms.

Questions about the opioid crisis, child care, food stamps, Medicaid and specific programs for those with developmental and physical disabilities were the focus of another hearing, with members asking details about waiting lists for services, program eligibility, and federal and state matching funds.

During its appearance, the state police answered questions about the governor’s proposed $25 per person fee for coverage in municipalities without their own police protection.

The state House and Senate now will begin the process of negotiating a final budget agreement with the administration.


Committee Corner

 
House Transportation Committee – The members of this committee joined with members of the Senate Transportation Committee to hold a hearing about highly automatic vehicles. As new technology emerges to help drivers control their cars, new laws may be necessary to ensure the safety of motorists and others along roads, streets and highways. I plan to dig deeper into this emerging issue and work to draft legislation to address important transportation and public safety perspectives related to new developments within this field. The goal involves striking the right balance between encouraging innovation and ensuring public safety.


 
The hearing featured testimony from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania State Police, Carnegie Mellon University, Uber, General Motors, the Global Automakers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania. Experts in the field have said that driverless cars can lead to greater safety, mobility, innovation and economic development. Several of the cars were also on display after the hearing.

With highly automated vehicle technology currently being tested in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could be at the forefront of this type of transportation, even though state law never anticipated this advancement.


 
House Children and Youth Committee – My colleagues and I on this committee approved legislation that would establish a task force to investigate the opioid abuse epidemic's impact on infants and children. The bill now heads to the full state House for consideration.

District residents can dispose of out-of-date prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine at the Hampden Township Police Department thanks to this special container provided by VFW Post 6704.


House Urban Affairs Committee – We approved legislation providing powers to the Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection to investigate and mediate disputes in planned communities, cooperatives and condominiums. We also advanced legislation that would empower local taxing authorities to provide tax incentives for certain deteriorated industrial, commercial, business and residential property and for new construction in deteriorated areas of economically depressed communities. Both of these bills now head to the full House for consideration.


House Takes Action on Several Bills

Discount vehicle registration would expand to more retirees

More retirees on fixed incomes would be able to apply for discount vehicle registrations under legislation that recently passed the House. PennDOT currently offers a vehicle registration at a discounted rate of $10 to retirees who receive Social Security or other pension income that does not exceed $19,200 annually. Only one vehicle per person may be registered at the discounted rate. House Bill 188 would increase the income limit to $23,500, the same threshold set for the state’s PACENET prescription drug assistance program. The income limit for the program was last increased in 1998. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Additional information about the existing program is available at dmv.pa.gov.

Restitution legislation seeks to help crime victims

To make it easier for crime victims to receive the restitution owed to them, the House passed four bills designed to make sure criminals pay their legal obligations. The bills would make it easier for counties to collect restitution; authorize wage attachment; require that any bail money be applied to restitution; and require that correctional facilities make minimum deductions from the wages and personal accounts of inmates. In addition to meeting restitution, the bills also contain provisions that would require criminals to also address any owed court costs, fines and other obligations. The bills now head to the state Senate.

Expanding Educational Choice

While our legislative district is home to some fantastic public schools, not all children and parents across Pennsylvania benefit from the same high level of educational opportunities.

Two popular tax credit programs that have allowed thousands of families across Pennsylvania to choose the best education for their children would be expanded under legislation which passed the House this month.

House Bill 250 would increase the amount of tax credits available under both the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. Funds available for EITC would increase by $50 million to a record $175 million and funds available for the OSTC would increase by $25 million to $75 million.

The EITC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their voluntary contributions to organizations that fund various educational opportunities including scholarships and innovative programming. The OSTC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their contributions to organizations that provide scholarships to students who live within the attendance boundary of a low-achieving public school.

The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.


House Honors John Glenn

Our nation lost a true American hero when Marine, former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn passed away in December. I spoke briefly in the state House this month in support of a resolution I co-sponsored honoring this patriot.

House Resolution 48 honors the life and achievements of John Glenn, and offers condolences in his death. He made tremendous contributions not only to the defense of our country during his time in the military, and also as an astronaut during his travels in space. You can learn more about the resolution here or by clicking the video box below

 


Real Estate Licensing Bill

 

The Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors members recently held its annual legislative breakfast to discuss House Bill 863, which would amend the Real Estate Licensing Law. This legislation, which reached the House Professional Licensure Committee on March 16, would do the following:

• Increase pre-licensure education requirements from 60 hours to 75 hours, with a grandfathering provision for those already enrolled in classes.
• Require that all courses for salesperson licenses be completed within five years prior to the date of taking and passing the exam, allowing for a grandfathering process for those already enrolled in classes.
• Require a high school diploma or equivalent for licensure as a real estate salesperson.
• Provide for comparative market analysis disclosure and provide for broker price opinion.
 
 
Programs, Services and Opportunities
 
E-ZPass

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be getting rid of the familiar red, yellow and green traffic lights used to tell E-ZPass drivers that their transponders are working correctly.

Starting March 17, the Turnpike Commission has been gradually replacing the lights with more simplified signage due to a change in federal guidelines. The old signals glowed green when the transponder was working and yellow when the customer's balance was low.

For a brief period, motorists may see the light stations wrapped in yellow plastic. The change-over will begin at the Harrisburg West Interchange at exit 242.

Anyone with questions, including whether a transponder is working properly, can contact the Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass customer service center at 877-736-6727.

Love Your Dog? License Your Dog

 
With March designated as License Your Dog Month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reminds pet owners they must license their dogs ages 3 months and older. Failure can result in a maximum fine of $300 per violation, plus court costs.

An annual license is $8.50, and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50, and lifetime fee is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents.

If your dog gets lost, a current license is the fastest way to get it back. The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

For more information, click here to watch a short video or visit this website.

 

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