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In this Email Update:
I want to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving! Please be safe if you are traveling to be with loved ones and friends. Also, as a reminder, the State Police are out in force this week through December 4 for “Operation Safe Holiday,” with a special focus on seat belts, child safety seat compliance and impaired driving.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2015, including the weekend before and after the holiday as well as the day itself, there were 4,029 crashes and 45 fatalities in those crashes statewide.
The Christmas and New Year’s travel periods saw 4,985 crashes and 46 fatalities.
Please be safe and enjoy the holiday!!
Shop Small Business Saturday
Saturday is nationally known as Small Business Saturday as a way to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize businesses owned by family, friends and neighbors.
The Pottsville Business Association is also hosting Santa Claus this Saturday (November 26). Santa will be arriving at 300 N. Centre Street at 11:30 a.m. by firetruck after a ride through Pottsville’s neighborhoods. His parade will begin at 11 a.m. and will ride through Forest Hills and Mt. Carbon, out to Yorkville and up through Mt. Hope, over to the East Side and Mechanicsville before returning to Centre Street and ending at Something Sweet Candies. He will be available at Something Sweet Candies until 5 p.m. for pictures. Bring your camera and get a free photo with Santa – your children can also give him their letters. His elves are also bringing along their secret hot chocolate and cookies to share with you while shopping downtown.
The Pottsville Mayor’s Annual Santa Parade and Tree Lighting will take place in Garfield Square starting at 5 p.m. with a Children’s Christmas Party to follow at the Humane Fire Company.
Many of our communities in Berks and Schuylkill counties have small businesses that are gearing up for the Christmas shopping season on Saturday. To find small businesses in your community and around our region, please visit here.
Calling for investigation of fund transfers within the Dept. of Labor and Industry
Representative Knowles and I are calling on the Attorney General, Auditor General and Inspector General to investigate exhausted funds leading to the anticipated layoff of 600 call center employees within the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Bruce Beemer, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Acting Inspector General Tyrone Powell, we asked for a comprehensive investigation as to how funding provided through a temporary transfer over four years has been spent.
We cannot continue to allow the bureaucracy to spend over $50 million each year without any oversight. The department has known since 2013 that this funding would end, so the sudden need for all of these staff furloughs is beyond me.
The department stated that without the Senate acting on a legislative proposal, over 600 staff members within the department would lose their jobs. House Bill 2375 would allow the department to transfer $57.5 million collected by the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Fund to the Unemployment Compensation Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund, also known as SIIF. A 2013 law allowed for a temporary four-year transfer of UC funds to the SIIF as a result of reduced federal funds to pay for call center employees.
I’m hopeful we can resolve this issue soon for the men and women who are affected, but most importantly, I want to ensure these government funds are being spent the way the law intended them. Are we investing in new technology and making upgrades to be more efficient and sustainable? Those are questions we want answered and I think the taxpayers have a right to know.
Read more about our efforts here.
Berks students featured in Argall’s latest television program
My television program for November features the highlights from my recent student government seminar held at Penn State Berks.
“The Argall Report” provides viewers with a 30 minute recap of last month’s “Senator for a Day” event that included 50 students from five Berks County school districts.
The topics are reflective of the issues under review in the state Capitol. The questions asked and points made by students are very much a reflection of the same stances seen in Harrisburg on critical issues.
Berks Catholic, Fleetwood, Hamburg, Schuylkill Valley and Tulpehocken all participated in this year’s student government program. This year marks the third year I’ve hosted this event with Berks students.
The program will air on:
Read more about my latest TV program here.
Governor vetoes bill regarding police officers under investigation
I am disappointed the governor opted to veto a proposal that would keep a police officer’s name anonymous for a month or until the officer is charged with a crime when there is an investigation involving the discharge of a firearm or force by a police officer.
The bill received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate. The vote in the House was 162-38 and the vote in the Senate was 39-9.
We’ve seen all across this country the outcry and immediate reaction to these officers and their families without a fair trial. It is my hope that we can protect these officers so they are given adequate protections and allow the judicial process ample time to sort through the facts before disclosing any individuals under investigation.
Rep. Martina White, the bill’s sponsor, indicated that she will be reintroducing this legislation next session.
Be alert for utility scams
Many local utility providers are working together in their fight through a nationwide group called “Utilities United Against Crime.”
This past Wednesday was Utilities United Against Scams Day, which served as a reminder that scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in their schemes to defraud you.
Over the summer, PPL Electric Utilities warned customers that scammers were stepping up their game by spoofing their phone number and copying call center menu recordings. Since that time, scam activity has decreased, according to PPL. However, it has not gone away.
This article in Forbes provides several possible scams that could harm you and your wallet.
If you are unsure if a call you receive is a scam, hang up and call your utility provider.
Do Not Call report
The Attorney General recently provided an update to the legislature on the “Do Not Call List.”
One area of the report I want to highlight is regarding tech-support scams, which my office fields many complaints about each year.
The report states:
Tech-support scams, in which the caller claims to be from a legitimate and well-known company, advises the consumer that malware (malicious software) or other viruses have been detected on the consumer’s computer and ask for the consumer’s log-in and password information, thus gaining access to all the data on the computer.
In October, 2016, as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Microsoft released the results of a global survey, conducted in the summer of 2016, including participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore, India, Germany, France, Denmark, China, Canada, Brazil and Australia. The survey revealed that:
To enroll in the “Do Not Call List”, please visit the Attorney General’s website.