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Senator Argall

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Toll Free: 1-877-327-4255

Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203029
171 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3029
717-787-2637
717-783-8657 FAX

Email: dargall@pasen.gov

District Offices
One West Centre Street
P.O. Box 150
Mahanoy City, PA 17948
570-773-0891
570-773-1675 FAX

61 North Third Street
Hamburg, PA 19526-1501
610-562-3411
610-562-6895 FAX
(Shared with Representative
Jerry Knowles)

100 North Centre Street
Pottsville, PA 17901
570-621-3400
570-622-6629 FAX
(Shared with Representative Mike Tobash)

Spring Township
2850 Windmill Road
Spring Township, PA 19608
1-877-327-4255

237 West Broad Street
Tamaqua, PA 18252
570-668-1240
570-952-3374 FAX
(Shared with Representative
Jerry Knowles)


 

Follow Sen. Argall on Twitter for Senate happenings – @SenatorArgall

In this email update:

  • Senate approves bipartisan pension reform bill
  • Celebrating Act 152, funding for demolition in the battle against blight
  • Protecting highway workers
  • Bills passed by the Senate
  • Legislation sent to the governor
  • REAL ID extension for access to federal facilities
  • Recognizing the 2017 Schuylkill County Heroes
  • Seminar regarding gun laws and firearms safety
  • Our Town Tamaqua premiere
  • On deck

Senate approves bipartisan pension reform bill

The Senate approved a historic pension reform bill by a bipartisan vote of 40-9 on Monday.

Given the unsustainability of our current pension system, local taxpayers are continually threatened with staggering increases in property taxes as a direct result of pension costs. Hundreds of millions of new dollars invested in our schools from recent state budgets have also been redirected to meet the rising pension obligations rather than being used for our children inside the classroom.

The latest pension bill, Senate Bill 1, addresses our growing pension problem by limiting future financial risks for taxpayers and transforming retirement benefits for teachers and other public servants in order to better meet their needs. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, their analysis indicates that this bill would be the most comprehensive and impactful reform that any state has implemented.

Senate Bill 1 is projected to save Pennsylvania $5-15 billion over the course of 30 years. The bill also creates a new Pension Management and Asset Investment Review Commission to study ways in which to reduce investment costs with the goal of saving an additional $3 billion.

Under Senate Bill 1, the changes will only apply to new hires. Pension benefits already earned by current employees and retirees would not be affected.

The pension reform bill allows all new public-sector employees to choose from three different retirement planning options – a defined contribution plan similar to the 401(k) system offered by the majority of employers in the private sector or one of two hybrid plans that combine a 401(k)-style system with the defined benefit system that state employees and school employees are already accustomed to.

The Pew Charitable Trusts also notes that, although the reform bill doesn’t fully remove politics from pensions, any reform that reduces the influence of politics on the pension system – while creating a model for further improvement – represents a step in the right direction. They go on to say that this pension crisis is only getting worse, and we can’t wait another decade to take action.

The goal of these new retirement plan options is to provide greater flexibility for employees who do not spend their entire career in public service while still providing retirement security for workers.

Senate Bill 1 is now under consideration in the House of Representatives.


Celebrating Act 152, funding for demolition in the battle against blight

On Monday, I joined Governor Wolf, Senator Bartolotta, Representative Masser, members of the PA Downtown Center and the PA Boroughs Association to celebrate Senate Bill 486, which I introduced during the 2015-16 legislative session.

Senate Bill 486, which the governor approved as Act No. 152 on November 4, 2016, allows counties to obtain additional funding for demolition projects in their communities.

This is another big step in combatting blight across the state!

Senator Argall Enews


Protecting highway workers

Last week, PennDOT set-up their Workers Memorial in Schuylkill Haven as a reminder to motorists to be safe, cautious and alert while driving through work zones.

Senator Argall Enews

The memorial consists of 87 reflective vests and hardhats set upon stands, each representing the lives of PennDOT employees that were lost while on duty since 1970.

According to data from PennDOT, in 2016 there were 2,075 crashes and 16 fatalities that occurred within work zones.

Read more about the memorial from the Republican Herald here.

In order to reduce the significant number of accidents and fatalities that have occurred on our highways due to reckless driving and speeding, Senator Judith Schwank (D-Berks) and I re-introduced legislation that would protect motorists and reduce speeding on our roads. Senate Bill 172 would place speed cameras in active work zones along limited access highways. We introduced a similar bill last session which passed the Senate unanimously.


Bills passed by the Senate

The Senate passed the following bills this week:

  • Senate Bill 353, is a land conveyance bill.
  • Senate Bill 497, eliminates the “waste” designation for steel slag when it is sold as a commodity and is not a discarded material.
  • Senate Bill 624, amends the Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act, providing for planned subsidence and for retroactivity.
  • Senate Bill 589, increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
  • Senate Bill 434, reduces the allotted period of time that is necessary in order to acquire a title of a blighted or abandoned property through adverse possession under various situations and circumstances.

Legislation sent to the governor

The Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that provides career and technical education (CTE) students with additional options to meet state graduation requirements.

House Bill 202, which amends state law regarding Keystone Exams and alternative testing for CTE students, now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. House Bill 202 would allow CTE students to show career readiness through measures such as industry-based competency certifications.


REAL ID extension for access to federal facilities

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a REAL ID enforcement grace period through July 10, 2017 for access to federal facilities.

This grace period prevents Pennsylvanians from encountering access issues when entering federal facilities through July 10, 2017.

The grace period went into effect on Wednesday, June 7 for all states, including Pennsylvania, who were granted with compliance extensions which expired on Tuesday, June 6.

Last month, the governor signed Senate Bill 133 into law as Act No. 3, which moves Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Preliminary work has started on the REAL ID program, and PennDOT predicts that REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards will be available beginning in 2019, at the customer’s choice.

For more information about REAL ID enforcement, please click here.


Recognizing the 2017 Schuylkill County Heroes

Last Friday, I presented citations on behalf of the Pennsylvania Senate recognizing this year’s Schuylkill County Heroes. The event was held by the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter at the Schuylkill Country Club.

This year’s honorees were recognized for their selfless service in helping their fellow citizens during times of need and their dedication to making their communities stronger.

The 2017 Schuylkill County Heroes awards were presented to the following:

  • Chad Fegley, Kevin Blessing and Kris Rech who are PPL linemen, received the Adult Good Samaritan award for coming to the aid and assistance of a man who was unresponsive and having difficulty breathing while they were working on the job.
  • Angela Bixler received the Animal Rescue Hero award for her efforts to reunite stray pets with their owners and for her involvement with creating the Paws for a Cause non-profit organization that provides affordable services and programs for pet owners.
  • Sherry McGlade, President of the Diamond Charity Group and members of the organization, received the Community Impact Hero award for their commitment to raising awareness about autism in the Frackville area and surrounding communities.

A special congratulations and thank you to these exceptional men and women!


Seminar regarding gun laws and firearms safety

This past Wednesday, Representative Goodman and I sponsored a concealed carry seminar law/firearms safety seminar at Minersville Area High School.

A special thanks to all those who attended and Schuylkill County Sheriff Joseph Groody and Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht for speaking with hundreds of local residents about the state’s concealed carry laws and providing gun safety tips!


Our Town Tamaqua premiere

On Monday, June 12, WVIA-TV will be premiering the Our Town Tamaqua show which highlights the town’s rich heritage, accomplishments and developments over the course of several decades, as well as the town’s future plans.

Throughout the show, viewers will get a glimpse into the history of Tamaqua and hear from several individuals who will share their personal stories and ties to the town.

The show will premiere at 7 p.m. on WVIA-TV.

Hope you can tune-in to watch!


On deck

The Senate is scheduled to convene on Monday, June 12 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live and view the voting calendar on my website.

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