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In this email update:
Goodbye to one of the best Cub Scout leaders ever!
I said a sad goodbye to a long-time friend and mentor this week, Mrs. Jean Hafer of Tamaqua, who passed at the age of 93. She opened her home to me and countless other young Eagle Scouts over the course of 18 years of service as a “den leader” – a position many of us would flee from after 18 minutes! She was the proud mother of three Eagle Scouts and the grandmother and mentor to many more Eagles.
Pictured: Jean and Carl at the Hawk Mountain Council’s 1st Annual Service to Youth and Community Breakfast on June 11, 2015, where they were recognized as the “Service to Youth & Community Honorees” for their many years of service to Scouting and our local community.
Jean took a chance with me – a new kid in town at the time who didn’t belong to the church or the ethnic group which sponsored the unit. Today this may not sound like a major issue, but in Tamaqua in 1966, it was a very big deal!
When other units said, “Sorry, we don’t have a space for you,” she and her husband Carl, the unit’s leader, said, “We’ll make space.”
I didn’t know the meaning of the word “mentor” in 1966…but that is exactly what Jean and Carl Hafer became to me, and my life has never been the same because of their kindness.
Governor Wolf vetoes welfare reforms
As Chairman of the Senate Majority Policy Committee, one of the biggest issues my colleagues and I continue to tackle is welfare fraud and abuse in Pennsylvania. During this legislative session, we are working on a number of initiatives to combat this growing problem.
It is clear, that based on the governor’s actions, he does not share in our same goal.
On October 19, the governor vetoed House Bill 59, the Human Services Code, which contained welfare reform measures such as a work requirement for able-bodied Medicaid recipients. It is disappointing that the governor failed to recognize the important measures in the bill which would reduce fraud, save taxpayers money and ensure that our state’s programs and services operate with integrity and transparency.
Plain English Statement on the property tax referendum on the November 7 ballot
In recent weeks, I have included information on the upcoming November 7 ballot question proposing an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to expand the homestead property tax exclusion.
The Pennsylvania Election Code requires the Attorney General to prepare a statement in plain English which indicates the:
The Department of State recently posted the Plain English Statement online. If you wish to share it with your friends and neighbors, a copy of the Plain English Statement can be found here.
Keep an eye out for the final installment of my on-going series on this important opportunity to change Pennsylvania’s outdated, burdensome property tax system in an upcoming issue of my e-newsletter.
Bills passed by the Senate
In addition to a number of state budget-related bills, the Senate passed the following bills this week:
Senate Bill 542, which permits pharmacists to dispense emergency prescription refills for up to 30 days pursuant to certain restrictions.
Senate Bill 222, which adds judges to the courts of common pleas.
Senate Bill 242, which amends the Underground Utility Line Protection Act, which governs the Pennsylvania One Call System.
Senate Bill 260, which amends the Crime Victims Act to provide broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Senate Bill 625, which requires all rest areas and welcome centers in Pennsylvania to fly a POW/MIA flag with the state and U.S. flags that are already flown.
Senate Bill 676, which reforms the Workers’ Compensation Uninsured Employers Guarantee Fund.
Senate Bill 822, which commemorates American military who went missing in action or endured enemy captivity by having the POW-MIA flag displayed on state government properties.
Senate Bill 900, which authorizes the transfer of title for certain Project 70 lands owned by Lehigh County to Whitehall Township, Lehigh County.
Senate Bill 921, which authorizes the Department of General Services (DGS) to grant and convey to TCA Properties, L.P., certain lands and improvements situate in the City of Allentown and the City of Bethlehem, Lehigh County.
Senate Bill 935, which restricts the amount of time a person may serve as the Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission.
Senate Bill 936, which requires the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to adopt an evidence-based drug formulary for the PA Worker’s Comp program.
Senate Resolution 227, a concurrent resolution on fuel-scarce generation resources.
House Bill 46, which establishes a Pediatric Cancer Research state income tax form check-off.
House Bill 674, which amends the Lottery Law to provide a winnings intercept for state delinquent taxes and outstanding court costs and to require a determination of whether a winner who is receiving public assistance will remain eligible.
House Bill 203, which amends the Probate, Estates and Fiduciaries Code.
House Bill 1388, which reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
House Bill 271, which updates Pennsylvania’s problem gambling programs.
House Bill 1490, which places the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under the oversight of the Public Utility Commission.
Discussing property tax elimination with the Greater Reading Chamber
Last Friday, I attended the Greater Reading Chamber & Economic Development Corporation’s Berks County State Delegation Breakfast event at the Crowne Plaza.
During this breakfast, my Berks colleagues and I discussed state-related issues such as the current status of the state budget, with my particular focus on school property tax elimination.
I assured the chamber that school property tax elimination remains my #1 priority, and I do believe that the constitutional amendment that will be appearing on the November 7 ballot will help us garner enough votes in the Senate to pass Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, once and for all.
Berks Encore Senior Expo
Earlier this week, my staff participated in the Berks Encore Senior Expo that was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Reading.
During this senior expo, my staff was able to provide information to attendees on a number of state programs and services.
Thank you to everyone who made it out to this year’s event to meet with my staff!
Read more about the expo from The Reading Eagle here.
Welcoming Blue Mountain Academy’s ASSIST Team to the State Capitol
On Tuesday, I welcomed Blue Mountain Academy’s ASSIST Team to the State Capitol where I introduced them on the Senate floor.
Each and every day, the members of the ASSIST Team take time out of their busy schedules to help their communities, whether it is visiting residents in local nursing homes or organizing various drives for the needy.
The members of the ASSIST Team are: Lorena Alves; Jessica Ulloa; Brandon Reese; Keren Castro; Felipe Rocha; Tatianna Terrell; Brianna Terrell; Alison Smith; Josephene Sanchez; Karstan Noziere; and Autumn Dekle.
Back in September, the ASSIST TEAM was featured in my weekly e-newsletter for their hard work and commitment to helping others.
I look forward to the many more contributions these young individuals will give to our communities!
REAL ID extension granted through October 2018
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently granted Pennsylvania a REAL ID extension through October 10, 2018.
This extension means that Pennsylvanians will not experience any challenges or disruptions when entering a federal facility or boarding a commercial flight.
Pennsylvanians may use a PennDOT-issued product such as a driver’s license or identification card to enter a federal facility or board a commercial flight through October 10, 2018, without a REAL ID or alternative form of identification.
For more information about the REAL ID program, click here.
Veteran Farm Trail event
On Saturday, November 4, the Hope Hill Lavender Farm in Pottsville will be participating in the Pennsylvania Veteran Farm Trail event.
Sponsored by the PA Veteran Farming Project, the Veteran Farm Trail event provides citizens with the opportunity to meet their local veteran farmers who have served our country and transitioned their military service into the agriculture industry.
Hope Hill Lavender Farm is located at 2375 Panther Valley Road in Pottsville. The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Visitors of Hope Hill Lavender Farm can check out their farm store and see horses, donkeys and chickens.
For more information about the trail event, please click here.
Almost Sunrise public screening event with COGI
On November 9, the Clinical Outcomes Group (COGI) will be hosting its very first veterans event with a public screening of the documentary, Almost Sunrise.
Almost Sunrise is a documentary that details the obstacles and challenges with depression that Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, two Iraq veterans, faced when returning home from their military service.
Since its establishment, COGI has been committed to providing citizens with several health and social services across the state, ranging from drug and alcohol counseling to workplace and community wellness programs.
For more information about Almost Sunrise, please click here.
Recognizing your friends and neighbors
I look forward to reading your submissions!
Preventing bullying in Pennsylvania
Ensuring that our children are able to learn, grow and play in a positive, welcoming environment is critical.
Last month, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 178, which designates the week of October 1 through October 7, as “Bullying Prevention Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Safe Schools, has a webpage which contains helpful information and resources on bullying prevention for parents, educators, and professionals who deal directly with youth.
For more information about bullying prevention, please click here.
Give your vehicle a regular checkup
Maintaining vehicles beyond required inspections saves lives, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. A study of Pennsylvania’s vehicle safety inspection program encourages vehicle operators to be vigilant in the self-inspection of their motor vehicles on a regular basis.
Beyond the PennDOT-required inspection, weekly and monthly vehicle maintenance checkups are recommended.
Take a few minutes during your next gas station fill up to run down the weekly check list, while designating monthly check ups as a beginning or end of the month project to maintain optimal operating conditions.