Aug. 27, 2018

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The Rothman Report

 The latest news from the State Capitol

In the Community

Slow Down for School Buses, Pedestrians

In the next few weeks, students will head back to class. Motorists, parents and children are encouraged to refresh their memories about how to share the road safely with school buses and other school transportation vehicles.

Pennsylvania law requires motorists stop at least 10 feet away from school buses when their red lights are flashing and their stop arm is extended. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is withdrawn. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

Penalties for failure to obey school bus safety laws can result in a $250 fine, five points on a driving record and a 60-day license suspension.

Parents are reminded to ensure that their children are at the bus stop early to avoid rushing. Students should stay where the bus driver can see them while boarding or exiting the bus.

Click here for more information and tips on school bus safety.

Happy India Day 2018!

I attended Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania’s (AIACPA) India Day on August 4 at Harrisburg Area Community College. My staff and I enjoyed the many unique vendors that shared Indian cuisine and seeing the small businesses of the local Indian community. The highlight of the day was seeing the community celebrate the achievements of Indian women in science. It is always a pleasure to celebrate the rich Indian culture and accomplishments among my friends in the Indian American community and I am looking forward to next year’s fair!

I was also honored to participate in the India Independence Ceremony at the Capitol on August 15, where we hosted many Indian Americans from the 87th district. The event celebrated their native country’s independence and prosperity and I am proud to see them being active members of our community. I am looking forward to celebrating many more years of independence with AIACPA!

Concealed Carry Firearm Seminar

After the positive feedback I received from my February Concealed Carry Firearm Seminar, where constituents came to learn about their rights and responsibilities as gun owners, I hosted a second seminar in East Pennsboro on August 13. It is important that all gun owners are educated on local, state and federal laws, and how best to defend themselves. The Cumberland County Sheriff and East Pennsboro Township Police Department participated and answered important questions from the audience on gun safety. I am looking forward to hosting many more firearm seminars in the future to ensure every gun owner in the 87th district has a chance to attend and stay informed.

Naval Support Activity Press Conference

On August 9, I participated in a press conference at the Capitol with Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack and members of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission (PMCEC) to discuss the results of the SWOT analysis of military installations. The PMCEC, together with the University of Pittsburgh, published a study which confirmed the importance of the military installations in the Commonwealth. The study noted the importance of the (NSAM) in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, to the nation’s Department of Defense. According to the study, NSAM generates a combined labor income of $4 billion and $11 billion in total economic output.

In Cumberland County, the NSAM facility employs over 4,000 people including 146 military personnel, 3,371 civilians, and 753 contractors. Overall, activities at NSAM generate 8,371 jobs within Pennsylvania and over $667.2 million in labor income annually. The report called the NSAM “one of the U.S. Navy’s most important centers for supply and distribution,” and noted that “it is the largest employer in Cumberland County.” This center impacts several private industries in Pennsylvania as well, such as business support services and management of companies and enterprises.

You can read my op-ed about the NSAM in the Carlisle Sentinel here.

Autonomous Vehicles Legislation Featured at IoT Infrastructure Conference

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to speak about my autonomous vehicle legislation at the IoT Infrastructure Conference on August 14. It is important that construction workers on the roads in the Commonwealth are safe, and we can use technology to help eliminate traffic hazards and improve driver safety. My legislation, House Bill 1958, allows autonomous vehicle technology to be used on our highways and allows vehicle platooning to be used by construction workers in highway work zones. This technology has the potential to protect highway workers who are often the victims of highway crashes. I am excited to announce that PennDOT is now looking into Autonomous Vehicle Testing guidelines. You can read more about the event here.

Welcome to the New President of Central Penn College and the New Superintendent of East Pennsboro Area School District

Congratulations to Linda Fedrizzi-Williams, Ed.D., who was named the 10th president of Central Penn College in May! She officially took office on June 18. Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams joined the college in July 2016 as provost/vice president of Academic Affairs. She has 13 years of higher education experience. Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams will provide exceptional leadership and strategic vision for the students and faculty at Central Penn.

I also want to welcome and congratulate Dr. Donna M. Dunar, who has been named the new Superintendent of East Pennsboro Area School District in April! Dr. Dunar has been involved with school administration in Pennsylvania for over twenty-five years. She is joining our community after serving Pennsbury School District in Bucks County as Assistant Superintendent since 2011. Dr. Dunar’s leadership in Bucks County improved PSD’s curriculum, bringing it national recognition for achievements in the character education in all schools, K-12. The Cumberland County community is excited to witness her leadership in action as she enhances our East Pennsboro school administration.

Annual Veterans Breakfast Coming Up this Fall

Please stay tuned for information on my upcoming Annual Veterans Breakfast. My office will be sending out the finalized details to constituent emails as the event draws nearer. Please read future eblasts if you plan to attend! Details will be posted on my website at
Programs, Services and Opportunities

Rainy Summer Causes Concern for West Nile

Receding floodwaters and heavy rains are creating a perfect storm of conditions that have contributed to the highest level of West Nile virus activity in the state’s mosquito population since the disease was first discovered here in 2000, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The disease, which has infected more than 150 people in the past six years, is on track to pose a higher than normal risk this year and is widespread throughout the Commonwealth, having already been found in 51 Pennsylvania counties as of August 1.

DEP and county partners throughout the state also conduct routine, localized spraying events to control infected adult populations of mosquitoes. These operations are conducted when and where deemed necessary based on recent population survey results, but they are not a substitute for preventive measures like eliminating standing, stagnant water. As part of the state budget, a $140,000 increase was added to the mosquito surveillance program.

Symptoms of West Nile virus in humans are typically like those of a mild flu, but the virus can lead to a more serious condition that includes swelling of the brain, muscle convulsions, coma, paralysis and death. Since DEP first began monitoring for the virus in 2000, 33 fatal cases have been reported in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania residents are urged to take commonsense precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes. By eliminating places for mosquitoes to lay eggs, using insect repellant and other protective measures, and targeted use of pesticides, we can all make sure Pennsylvanians are protected.

For more information about West Nile virus, click here.

New Law to Better Protect Care-Dependent Individuals

A new law taking effect soon will better protect individuals who are dependent upon others for their care. Act 53 of 2018 will make it a crime to intentionally or recklessly endanger a care-dependent person – closing a gap in state law that exists between neglect and abuse. This addition to the Crimes Code includes neglect to provide care which causes a serious injury or death. This stems from a Bucks County case in which an elderly man was neglected so badly by four family caregivers his starvation led to septic shock.

The new law also adds abuse of a care-dependent person as a punishable offense – with the former law focusing only on neglect investigations – and expands the definition of a caretaker to include family members who should be held responsible. This law was necessary because some care-dependent people, who are among the most vulnerable groups of people in the state, were left without direct protections from the abuse and neglect by their caretakers.

The law allows the departments of Aging, Health and Human Services to report suspected abuse or neglect to district attorneys or the attorney general’s office. Penalties vary from a first-degree felony for death of a care-dependent person to a second-degree misdemeanor if a caretaker knowingly endangers a care-dependent person by failing to provide for his or her needs.

Get the Facts About Concussions

With many student athletes gearing up for fall sports practice, students, parents and coaches are reminded about ways to prevent, recognize and manage concussions.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or from a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Concussions can have serious short-term and long-term impacts, especially on young people whose brains are still developing.

In 2011, the Safety in Youth Sports Act was signed into law in Pennsylvania, requiring all school entities to develop return-to-play policies for student athletes with concussions, as well as requiring related training for coaches.

Visit the Department of Health’s website at and search for “Traumatic Brain Injury” for approved curricula for coaches and other school personnel, along with frequently asked questions about the law and many other state-related resources.

Most importantly, if you think your child has a concussion, seek medical attention, discuss the injury with the coach and don’t allow the athlete to return to play without permission from a health care professional.

Fire, EMS Grant Program to Open First Week of September

Fire companies and ambulance services throughout Pennsylvania are encouraged to apply for the 2018-19 Fire Company, Emergency Medical Services Companies Grant Program from the Office of State Fire Commissioner.

The application period will open the first week of September and remain open for 45 days. Exact dates will be listed at closer to the grant application period opening.

Grants may be used for construction or renovation of a unit’s station, the purchase or repair of equipment, training or debt reduction. The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services.

A total of $30 million will be awarded through the program, which is funded by state gaming proceeds.

For more information about the program, click here.

Invasive Asian ‘Longhorn’ Tick Confirmed in Pennsylvania

A new variety of tick was confirmed on a wild deer in Centre County recently, and the Department of Agriculture is encouraging people to take precautions to protect themselves, as well as livestock and pets.

The Asian, or longhorn tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, is an invasive species that congregates in large numbers and can cause anemia in livestock. It is known to carry several diseases that infect hogs and cattle in Asia. So far, ticks examined in the United States (they have already been found in Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia) do not carry any infectious pathogens.

The Asian tick infests host animals in dense clusters of numerous ticks. Female Asian ticks reproduce asexually, so a single tick can lay 2,000 eggs after feeding on a host. Cattle, pets, small mammals, birds and humans are all potential hosts.

To protect against ticks, people are reminded to wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors and use insect repellant containing DEET to help keep you safe from ticks and the diseases they carry. It is also important to check yourself and your pets for ticks when you return indoors.

Native to East and Central Asia, the tick was originally identified in the U.S. in New Jersey, where it was found in large numbers in sheep in Mercer County in 2017. It has also been found in Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia.

To reduce tick habitat, maintain a nine-foot distance between lawn or pasture and wooded areas, keep grass height low, and remove weeds and brush bordering wooded areas.

State Government News

House Asks Attorney General to Investigate State Data Breaches

With news of a security breach at the Pennsylvania Department of Health and a previous breach at the Department of Human Services, the House has asked the Office of Attorney General to investigate. Since then, it has come to light that personal information of nearly 13,000 personnel and inmates within the state Department of Corrections may have been compromised in recent weeks.

The House has asked the attorney general to investigate whether Pennsylvanians’ vital personal information was exposed during the Department of Health breach in late June. The attorney general has conducted several other investigations involving data breaches of Equifax, Uber, the TIO Networks, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Facebook and the Target Corporation.

In addition to the call for an investigation, the House passed two bills this session dealing with data security and informing the public of possible breaches.

House Bill 1846 would require notice within 45 days to Pennsylvania residents when there is a breach of security in plain language and must include the date of the breach and the toll-free numbers to credit reporting agencies.

House Bill 1847 would amend the Credit Reporting Agency Act to waive the current $10 fee to freeze credit reports and would provide consumers with three months of free credit monitoring following a data breach and three free credit reports for one calendar year after the breach.

Credit Card Skimming Becomes a Crime

State law now includes criminal penalties for those who steal personal and financial data by skimming the information from credit cards that are used at such places as automatic teller machines (ATMs) or self-pay gas pumps.

Until Act 60 of 2018, possessing these devices was not illegal, even though they have no use other than for criminal, deceitful and deceptive purposes. Anyone convicted of using or possessing a scanning or skimming device now faces a third-degree felony for a first offense and a second-degree felony for a second or subsequent offense.

This new law brings Pennsylvania in line with 30 other states that have enacted similar legislation. It takes effect in late August.

Preventing Double Taxation on Mobile Devices

Legislation to prevent the state from collecting double taxes from mobile telecommunications consumers is now law.

Act 52 of 2018 excludes the sales of telephones, telephone handsets, modems, tablets and related accessories, including cases, chargers, holsters, clips, hands-free devices, screen protectors and batteries, from being subject to the Gross Receipts Tax. Those devices are already subject to the 6 percent Sales and Use Tax.

The change is needed because the Commonwealth had not updated its definition of mobile telecommunication since 2002. During the last 16 years, communications technology has advanced, causing uncertainty about which tax better fits.

The new law clarifies the definition of what is subject to the Gross Receipts Tax and is subject to the Sales and Use Tax. Updating these definitions further protects consumers from bureaucratic overreach.

Empowering Consumers with Prescription Pricing Info

To help give patients more information regarding the costs and prices for prescription drugs, the House approved legislation this spring to protect consumers and independent pharmacies from unfair drug prices and reimbursement rates.

Some pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have been cutting reimbursements to community pharmacies for medications sold to patients on Medicaid. This practice has led to substantial financial difficulties for community pharmacies, which are typically locally owned family businesses. House Bill 2212 would remedy the problem by preventing PBMs from cutting reimbursements to community pharmacies for medications sold to patients on Medicaid.

Also, when PBMs contract with pharmacies, the documents may at times contain what is referred to as a “gag clause,” which prohibits pharmacists from disclosing information to a customer that could reduce their out-of-pocket costs for medications. House Bill 2211 addresses those situations by allowing pharmacists to disclose drug information, allowing consumers to get the best price for their medications.

Both bills are now in the state Senate for review.

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

From data breaches to Facebook privacy to dumpster diving, many individuals are left wondering if certain facts about them and their lives are making their way around the world to be used fraudulently.

To help keep up with the latest scams and frauds, the Office of Attorney General’s website lists advisories for consumers, tips for keeping personal information safe and news about consumer investigations.

Specifically, the website offers guides for charitable giving, buying used cars, living trust scams, work-at-home schemes, telemarketing, fraudulent investment and tips for travelers. A special section – with links to brochures and in-person educational programs – is also designed for senior citizens to educate themselves about this fast-growing crime.

According to the Office of Attorney General, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of elderly residents in the United States with nearly 2 million residents over the age of 65. Scam artist of all types take advantage of this and target this generation.

To find out more, click here.

Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus Deadline is Next Month

Veterans who served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations, including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, are reminded they have until August 31 to apply for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus.

The bonus pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For personnel whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, an additional $5,000 is available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.

To qualify, the service member must have:
  • Served with the U.S. Armed Forces, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard.
  • Served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations during the period from August 2, 1990, to August 31, 1991, and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
  • Been a legal resident of Pennsylvania at the time of active duty service.
  • Been discharged from active duty under honorable conditions, if not currently on active duty.
Since 2008, more than 9,000 Persian Gulf Conflict veterans have applied for and received a bonus for their war efforts. Individuals who received a bonus or similar compensation from any other state are not eligible for the Pennsylvania program.

For more information about how to apply, click here
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