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In this email update:
Public hearing on Hamburg State Center
On Monday Representative Knowles and I testified at a public hearing hosted by the Department of Human Services regarding the proposed closing of Hamburg State Center.
During the public hearing, I stressed the importance of ensuring that each resident at the center will receive appropriate placement and continue to receive quality care and attention during the transition. I also asked the department to comment on several critical issues including: why Hamburg State Center was chosen as a potential state center to be closed; a detailed timeline of what to expect moving forward; how the properties of other state centers that are closed have been utilized; and why Hamburg Center was not shut-down during the previous round of cuts.
Representative Knowles and I also urged the department not to make any hasty decisions or rush through this very important process that will affect many family members and their loved ones – because at the end of the day, it is our duty to do what is best for them, as well as the employees at Hamburg State Center while also utilizing taxpayer dollars efficiently.
You can read my full testimony here.
Volunteers for school property tax elimination
As many residents in Berks and Schuylkill counties already know, school property tax elimination is my #1 priority and the #1 issue I hear most about from them.
Despite this, it is important for me to mention that Senate Bill 76 is not “my bill”, but rather a bill that was drafted by more than 80 grassroots groups across Pennsylvania who share my same commitment to eliminate this burdensome, antiquated tax once and for all.
In a recent article from City & State Pennsylvania, it highlights the diligent efforts of the grassroots volunteers who day in and day out work to educate residents across the state about the importance of eliminating the school property tax and how it will not only restore homeownership, but also find a more equitable way to fund our public schools.
Read the full article here.
Child abuse, leaseholder protection, animal cruelty bills sent to House
The Senate approved the following legislation this week which would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, increase protections for natural gas leaseholders and strengthen criminal penalties for abusing horses:
Senate Bill 261 which eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and gives victims additional time to file civil actions against their abuser. Currently, victims have until age 30 to file a civil claim. Senate Bill 261 would set the deadline at 50 years of age.
Senate Bill 138 which provides royalty interest owners the opportunity to inspect records of the gas company to verify proper payment. It also requires that proceeds from production of oil and gas be paid within 90 days unless otherwise stated in the lease.
Senate Bill 139 which prohibits gas companies from retaliating against a royalty owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development simply because the landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
Senate Bill 69 which addresses the enforcement and application of Pennsylvania’s cruelty laws as they pertain to horses.
These bills will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Resolution 6 aims to support volunteer fire companies and EMS organization
On Tuesday the Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 6, which will examine the state’s progress in providing essential support to its volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations.
Senate Resolution 6 calls for a “reboot” of Senate Resolution 60 of 2003, the comprehensive study of fire and EMS issues completed in 2004. Under Senate Resolution 6, a new commission would be established comprised of legislators, first responders and representatives from municipalities. The panel would be tasked with the responsibilities of following up on the impact of Senate Resolution 60 and examine the issues first responders are currently facing. The commission would then provide its recommendations to the General Assembly by June 30, 2018.
Senate Appropriations Committee approves three bills
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the following bills on Tuesday:
Senate Bill 170 which imposes comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.
Senate Bill 181 which establishes a performance-based budget component.
Senate Bill 261 which eliminates the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.
Bill to combat welfare fraud passes Senate State Government Committee
Senate Bill 9, the Proof of Citizenship for Receipt of Public Benefits Act, passed the Senate State Government Committee on Tuesday.
This legislation will help us continue our efforts to combat welfare fraud and abuse and ensure that individuals who are truly needy are receiving the proper assistance and benefits.
U.S. Economic Confidence Index surging
In December, Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index surged since President Trump’s victory in the November election.
Americans are feeling optimistic regarding the state of the economy, as well as the record highs our stock market has seen since the election, the strength of the U.S. dollar – which is at its strongest in 14 years, and the commitment of several companies to create more jobs in our country.
You can check out the Gallup Poll here.
Roadside America receives roof repairs
Roadside America, a hot-spot tourist attraction in Shartlesville for people interested in exploring and seeing miniature exhibits ranging from an airport to a coal mine, is now able to continue operating thanks to the generous donations and contributions from local residents and citizens around the world.
Roadside America was faced with the possibility of having to close down, due to a leaking roof. However, because the attraction site was able to collect enough donations to get a new rubber roof, the building is now in good shape and can continue to operate.
Read more about the donations and the history of Roadside America here.
Trout stocking schedule released
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently published the 2017 trout stocking schedule.
To access the trout stocking schedule, please click here.
If you would like more information about fishing and boating, whether it be about events taking place across the state, reports and various programs, please visit www.fishandboat.com.
Nolde Forest afternoon camp for kids
Beginning in March, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center will be offering an afternoon camp for kids on Fridays through the DiscoverE Program.
The DiscoverE Program theme will be: Fantastic Beasts of Nolde Forest, where kids ages 9-12 can have the opportunity to explore and examine the many interesting and unique creatures that can be found in the forest.
The camp will be held Friday afternoons on March 24, 31 and April 7 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. at the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center which is located in Reading.
To register for the event, please call 610-796-3699 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the DiscoverE program, please click here.
The Senate is scheduled to convene on Monday, February 6 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live and view the voting calendar on my website.