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In this Email Update:
School property tax elimination introduced in House of Representatives
Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania. Rep. Cox and I continue work together with our colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to build support for this important proposal.
The measure was defeated in the Senate in November on a tie vote of 24-24. Since then, we continue to look for the two more votes that we need, with progress on several fronts that we hope to announce soon.
According to Cox, the bill assures supporters and allies that House Bill 76 is alive and well and will be pursued in the future.
You can read more about the introduction of House Bill 76 here.
Berks County high school students become Senators during annual student government seminar
Fifty students from five local high schools participated in my annual student government seminar at Penn State Berks on Thursday.
The students approved several bills, including legislation that would eliminate school property taxes, legislation that would drug test recipients and applicants of public assistance, among others.
This is one of my favorite events of the year. You can view the photo gallery from yesterday’s event here.
A special thank you to the teachers, advisors and school officials for participating in this program! And thank you to Penn State Berks for being a great host!!
You can read more in the Reading Eagle here.
Trouble on the next state budget horizon?
The Senate recently approved a measure that would streamline and justify discretionary and state government spending. Performance based budgeting, according to bill sponsor Senator Bob Mensch, will provide the government an effective and objective way to approach our budgetary needs.
The legislation was recently referred to the House of Representatives for its consideration.
The issue was the topic of a recent Senate Majority Policy Committee, Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee joint public hearing. Learn more about the issue here.
Early budget reports indicate that state revenues are more than $200 million short of estimates for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year. The Department of Revenue says that nearly every revenue source underperformed to start off the Fiscal Year. We are currently 3.2 percent below estimate.
This is yet another reason why I support commonsense reforms to the budgeting process. Many private-sector businesses and other state and local governments utilize performance based budgeting approaches when weighing spending needs vs. wants.
Discussing state government with Barnesville Cub Scouts
On Tuesday, I joined several local cub scouts at the Ryan Township Fire Company to discuss state government as well as the importance of scouting.
I discussed the importance of Scouting and its impact on me as a legislator.
I thanked the Scouts for inviting me to join them and encouraged them to continue to stay involved.
Phoebe Berks celebrates 25th anniversary
Phoebe Berks celebrated their 25th anniversary on September 29. The hardworking staff and volunteers at Phoebe Berks Village and Health Care Center have provided care and services to older adults for the last quarter century.
I was honored to attend the ceremonies and present a congratulatory citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania.
Phoebe first opened its doors to residents in 1991. By 1994, 37 cottages and nearly 200 apartments along with a 41 bed personal care unit were completed.
Over the years, new cottages, apartments and health care services were expanded to provide the highest quality services and amenities for older Pennsylvanians.
During the ceremony, I was pleased to see an old friend and mentor from the 1970s, the former president of my alma mater (Lycoming College), the Reverend Dr. Frederick Blumer, who has written these lyrics to a song titled “A Mission to Fulfill” as a way to recognize the occasion.
Here are the lyrics:
By faithful forever bound
With humbled dedication,
Service by compassion led
Companionship and Joy,
Updated financial aid guide available through PHEAA
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) updated their Pennsylvania Student Aid Guide to help anyone seeking higher education.
The guide contains tools to assist students and families plan for college and explore financial aid options. You can visit www.pheaa.org/studentaidguide for more information.
Pennsylvania CareerLink Schuylkill County upcoming news & events
Schuylkill County’s CareerLink office finished third in the state (out of 67 counties) for the number of job seekers hired in 2015-16.
Congratulations to all of the staff, volunteers and local businesses for connecting prospective employees with employers!!
CareerLink is hosting events this month and next month you may be interested in attending:
Unemployment compensation seminar on SIDES (State Information Data Exchange
Veterans job fair
Archery season now open
I want to share the helpful reminders from the Pennsylvania Game Commission regarding archery season:
Archers statewide can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 14.
At the time of the statewide opener, archery hunters in three urbanized areas of the state will have had a two-week head start to their seasons. An early season for antlered and antlerless deer was implemented in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, and that season kicked off on Sept. 17 and ends Nov. 26.
Properly licensed bowhunters in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 28.
Archery hunters may use long, recurve or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds.
The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.
Bowhunters are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. For most, that’s a shot of 20 yards or less at a deer that is broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow hunters should shoot only at deer that are within their maximum effective shooting range – the farthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.
Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal.
Tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree stands – or tree steps – penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks.
Hunters are reminded portable hunting tree stands and blinds are not permitted on state game lands until two weeks before the opening of the archery deer season, and they must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in the WMU being hunted.
Tree stands placed on state game lands also must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Tags may include the owner’s name and address, the CID number that appears on the owner’s hunting license, or a unique identification number issued by the Game Commission. Identification numbers can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website.
Photo contest extended one more week!
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve received to my photo contest (over 100 photos submitted so far!) I am extending the deadline you have to submit photos by one week.
Please submit your photos for my calendar contest by Friday, October 14!
More information can be found on my website.