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In this email update:
Governor Wolf refuses to release report on Lieutenant Governor Stack’s misconduct
This past spring, amid reports of Lieutenant Governor Stack mistreating State Police troopers and staff employed at the residence, Governor Wolf requested that the Office of Inspector General conduct a thorough investigation.
As the investigation began to unfold, Governor Wolf eliminated State Police protection from the lieutenant governor, along with a reduction in staff working at the residence.
Now, with the internal report from the Office of Inspector General finally completed, the governor is refusing to release the findings to the public.
Senate Committee unanimously approves lieutenant governor reform legislation
On Tuesday, the Senate State Government Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 761, bipartisan legislation I introduced which would amend the state’s constitution to permit gubernatorial candidates to choose their running mate after the primary election – a process that mirrors how presidential candidates currently select their vice presidential running mates.
Both the governor and lieutenant governor have both openly admitted that they rarely speak to one another for weeks at a time. This type of relationship is embarrassing!
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the committee for its unanimous support of this reform given the current dysfunctional dynamic between Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Stack.
It’s plain and simple: Pennsylvania’s residents deserve to have their top two leaders of the executive branch function as a team in order to best represent their interests.
Senate Bill 761 will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
Flood control grants awarded for Swatara Creek
Two Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener grants will be awarded to support flood control in the Swatara Creek Watershed in Tremont Township and Pine Grove Borough.
The Schuylkill County Conservation District will be awarded $230,000 to begin phase 1 of the Good Spring Creek Floodplain restoration project and $2,991,000 for a flood remediation project that will help the Borough of Pine Grove. The Pine Grove project will supplement the $2,000,000 announced recently from the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Disaster Recovery program.
The Swatara Floodplain Restoration project is listed as a priority by the Upper Swatara Flood Recovery workgroup to limit high water events in the watershed. The project will create floodplains to reduce flooding and the impact of high water events.
As a sponsor of the original Growing Greener grant program, I am pleased to see the Swatara Creek Watershed groups be recognized for their planning efforts to reduce future flooding in the region through the creation of a natural floodplain on undeveloped lands. These projects will keep a major employer in the community by slowing the flow of the Swatara Creek, while also reducing the stress of residents every time a storm rolls through the region. These projects are exactly the kinds of projects I envisioned when developing the Growing Greener funding program.
Legislation penalizing illegal household goods movers heads to the governor’s desk
The House and Senate recently approved Senate Bill 458, a bill I introduced to protect consumers who utilize household goods movers and ensure that the laws are being followed by household goods movers.
Under our current law, household goods businesses are required to register and obtain a permit with the Public Utility Commission (PUC), maintain workers compensation, pay wages subject to taxation and maintain insurance coverage for the goods moved.
Despite the efforts by the PUC to enforce current regulations, there is a strong underground market that exists among household goods movers, where “rogue” movers often pose as legal ones.
Senate Bill 458 will provide penalties for rogue movers, whether through a monetary fine, suspension of registration or forfeiture/impoundment of the motor vehicle utilized during an illegal move.
The bill only applies to commercial, for-hire entities.
Senate Bill 458 passed the House by a vote of 145-42 on December 6 and the Senate unanimously approved the measure on December 11.
The bill will now head to the governor’s desk for signature.
Recognizing the good work done in your communities
I am encouraging residents in the 29th Senate district in Berks and Schuylkill Counties to nominate their friends and neighbors who serve their communities and help their fellow citizens each and every day.
When submitting your nominations, please provide the following information:
Periodically in my e-newsletter, I will feature an individual who has been nominated for their public service.
I look forward to reading about these good Samaritans!
Annual James J. & Mary Edith Rhoades Foundation event
I recently attended the annual James J. & Mary Edith Rhoades Foundation event in Pottsville.
Established on behalf of the memory and legacy of the late State Senator Jim Rhoades, the James J. & Mary Edith Rhoades Foundation has been committed to providing educational opportunities to our children, promoting volunteerism and philanthropy in our communities and creating charities to help areas in need.
This year’s holiday event to benefit scholarships for students featured one of everyone’s favorite Christmas characters – the Grinch!
Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony at the State Capitol
Last week, the time honored tradition of the annual Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony at the State Capitol took place in Harrisburg.
This year’s tree is a Douglas Fir that stands 22 ft. tall and originates from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County.
The tree boasts over 900 LED lights and is adorned with more than 1,600 ornaments that were handmade from several senior centers across Pennsylvania, courtesy of the coordinated efforts between the Department of Aging and Pre-K for PA.
The tree will be lit throughout the holiday season for all visitors to enjoy!
Honoring Pottsville’s Fire Chief
For more than 42 years, Chief March has protected the community during times of crisis and need and ensured the safety and well-being of his fellow citizens.
Chief March deserves to be commended for all of his decades of hard work and dedication to making our communities a safe place to live, work and play.
Thank you for your service and best of luck to you in your future endeavors!
Read more about Chief March’s service from the Republican Herald here.
Filipino American Association of Schuylkill County
This past weekend, I was invited to speak to the Filipino American Association of Schuylkill County in Pottsville.
During this celebration, I was able to learn more about the rich and vibrant culture of the Filipino American community, as well as witness first-hand a special dance performance!
Local student named winner of drug-free calendar contest
Jacob Schmeltz, a 5th grade student at Hegins-Hubley Elementary School in Schuylkill County, was recently selected as a winner of the Office of Attorney General’s Drug and Alcohol Awareness Calendar Contest.
Jacob’s anti-drug slogan for his artwork is titled, “Don’t get bamboozled by drugs.”
Jacob was among 13 students whose artwork was chosen to be featured in a calendar which will be distributed across the state in order to raise public awareness about the harmful effects of drug use.
A special congratulations to Jacob and all of this year’s winners!
Read more about Jacob’s artwork from the Republican Herald here.
Bills passed by the legislature this week
The Senate and House passed the following bills this week:
House Bill 1388, which reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which is set to expire on December 31, 2017.
Senate Bill 458, which strengthens penalties for illegal household goods movers operating in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 1431, which relates to the renaming of a highway honoring the late Robert E. Belfanti, Jr.
Senate Bill 844, which expands the legal standing for individuals seeking to gain custody of children where both biological parents are absent, whether due to death or for other reasons.
Senate Bill 798, which provides updates to the PA Military Community Enhancement Commission.
Senate Bill 354, which strengthens licensee reporting requirements to the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs’ 29 licensing boards and licensee suspensions.
Senate Bill 196, which allows electronic monitoring of defendants as an option of relief in PFA orders.
House Bill 561, which repeals the sunset provisions for administrative subpoenas in child pornography investigations.
Senate Bill 764, which creates a recreational vehicle specific law.
Senate Bill 844, which expands legal standing in custody cases.
House Bill 1139, which amends the state’s Newborn Protection Act.
House Bill 1234, which updates the length of stay in ambulatory surgery centers.
Senate Bill 921, which authorizes the Department of General Services 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 446, which provides for the regulation and certification of drug and alcohol recovery houses.
House Bill 1602, which designates the bridge of State Route 1008 that crosses the Codorus Creek and divides Hellam and East Manchester Townships in York County, as the Martin W. Kondor Memorial Bridge.
House Bill 1915, which provides a multi-year funding “exit ramp” for the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program to end its reliance on the supplemental transfers to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF).
House Bill 1902, which amends the Liquor Code to streamline the licensing process.
House Bill 1778, which designates a bridge on a portion of State Route 1005, also known as Castor Avenue, over the Frankford Creek in the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, as the Officer Gary Frank Skerski Memorial Bridge.
House Bill 1421, which clarifies the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes (SFCP) Act.
House Bill 1420, which amends the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes (SFCP) to align the audit requirements for financial reports with federal law.
House Bill 1231, which expands the scope and impact of the Veterans Registry at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
House Bill 1175, which amends the recently enacted Lobbyist Disclosure Law to enhance the penalties found in that statute.
Senate Bill 629, which updates the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act.
Senate Bill 728, which exempts Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program requirements.
Senate Bill 736, which authorizes parking authorities in Second Class A and Third Class cities to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions.
Senate Bill 3, which amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion.
Senate Bill 252, which amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s enabling act to assist in supporting private development.
House Bill 411, which amends the state Bingo Law to increase the monetary limits for payouts and jackpots.
Senate Bill 892, which amends the Chiropractic Practice Act to provide clarity on the topic of clinical training.