I sometimes use this weekly column to answer your questions about matters relating to state government or any issue of concern. This week’s questions deal with a couple of bills that are currently moving through the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would enhance the health and safety of state residents.
This is a time of year when we think about the men and women who have served in our nation’s military throughout the course of history. Memorial Day is a reverent day to honor those who never made it back from war, and Flag Day and the Fourth of July reignite our patriotism and remind us that none of the freedoms we enjoy in this country would be possible without the brave men and women serving in our military.
I recently joined my colleagues on the House Human Services Committee in unanimously supporting legislation that would enhance the statewide 2-1-1 system. House Bill 211, which I am co-sponsoring, will next be considered by the full House of Representatives.
Pennsylvania residents and businesses that owe past-due state taxes now have a window of opportunity to pay them without being penalized. The tax amnesty program, administered by the state Department of Revenue, was adopted by the General Assembly as part of Act 84 of 2016.
This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation that would be a comprehensive overhaul of the Commonwealth’s animal protection laws. House Bill 1238, which I supported, includes the provisions of Libre’s Law, which would strengthen the penalties for animal abuse. Libre is a Boston terrier whose story of severe neglect received widespread publicity last year after it was rescued from a puppy mill.
Legislation to restore mandatory minimum sentences for drug and gun offenses in Pennsylvania passed recently in the House of Representatives, with my support.
This week, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution 209, legislation of mine that designated April 2017 as “National Donate Life Month” in Pennsylvania.
To make it easier for Pennsylvania crime victims to receive the restitution owed to them, the state House of Representatives recently passed four bills designed to make sure criminals pay their legal obligations.
The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution, which I sponsored, that designates the month of March as “Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. House Resolution 132 aims to raise public awareness regarding the support of those individuals with intellectual disabilities and the services that improve their lives.
A new program has been launched in the continuing effort by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to restructure state government and save taxpayer dollars. The initiative, which is called “State Employees Achieving Savings” (SEAS), seeks input from government employees on how the state can rein in spending.
Spring is just around the corner, and that means motorcycle riders will be hitting the road. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) suggests that motorcyclists prepare for the upcoming riding season by taking one of several free training courses that are available through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).
Trout season is just around the corner, and local anglers are now able to find out when their favorite stream will be stocked with trout by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). The guides are available in print form at my district office in Hazleton, online at the PFBC website and on its FishBoatPA mobile app.
Application forms for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program are available for eligible residents to claim rebates for property taxes or rent payments they made last year.
The 2017-18 session is just underway in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but several bills of note are moving quickly through the legislative process. All three bills were unanimously passed by the House last week and sent to the Senate for consideration.
The Children and Youth Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, on which I serve, is committed to opening up more loving homes for young people. With that goal in mind, committee members this week sent a package of bills to the House floor that would reform the state’s adoption process.
This week, I reintroduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would assist mothers in Pennsylvania who are struggling with postpartum depression and their infants by making them eligible for Early Intervention services. During the 2015-16 session, I was the prime sponsor of a similar measure that stalled in committee.
Pennsylvania was recently granted an extension by the federal government to comply with REAL ID. The Commonwealth now has until June 5 to fix state law to meet the requirements of the act.
A new website has been launched for the state’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings program. The website, www.paable.gov, provides quick and easy access to essential information on the upcoming program to give individuals with qualified disabilities a tax-free way to save for future expenses.
We are in the middle of the flu season, making this a good time to issue a reminder to get a flu shot. The state Department of Health has launched an awareness campaign called “Stopping the Flu Starts with YOU” to encourage Pennsylvanians to protect themselves and their loved ones against seasonal flu by getting vaccinated annually and taking other preventative measures.
The 101st edition of the Pennsylvania Farm Show gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 7, in Harrisburg and runs through Saturday, Jan. 14. In addition to celebrating agriculture, this year’s event will highlight veterans’ connections to the Commonwealth’s No. 1 industry.