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In this email update:
Increasing fines for illegal household goods movers
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, recently became law in Pennsylvania as Act No. 77.
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.
Act No. 77 provides 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 law only applies to commercial, for-hire entities.
Read more about this law from Land Line Magazine here.
Committee hearing on free speech on college campuses
The Senate Majority Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on the topic of free speech on college campuses on Tuesday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m.
Over the last several years, college campuses across Pennsylvania and across the nation have varied approaches in allowing or denying controversial speakers and topics to be discussed on campus.
My goal for this hearing is to shed light on the overall topic and its impact on universities and colleges in Pennsylvania.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that promotes free speech on campuses across the country, will testify, as well as both public and private universities and colleges. In addition to providing testimony, these groups will also answer questions during this hour-long hearing.
The hearing will be held in Hearing Room No. 1 of the North Office Building in the State Capitol.
Recognizing Wanda Bechtel for her community service
Wanda Bechtel, who resides in Hamburg, truly deserves to be recognized for her service to the community and commitment to helping those in need.
Since the establishment of the Northern Berks Food Pantry in 1990, Wanda has been a volunteer and now manages the pantry where she ensures that there is a steady food supply to distribute to residents and that the pantry runs smoothly and effectively.
In addition to her volunteer work at the food pantry, Wanda is a full-time nurse at the Hamburg Center.
Thank you for your service, Wanda!
If you would like to nominate a Good Samaritan in your community, please provide the following information:
Your full contact information – phone, address, email address.
Your nominee’s contact information – phone, address, email address. Nominee must reside in the 29th Senate district in Berks and Schuylkill Counties.
A detailed explanation of what your nominee has done for their community.
Tamaqua native honored with colleagues as NFL Staff of the Year
Rob Roche, a Tamaqua native and current Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Minnesota Vikings, was honored with his fellow athletic training staff colleagues as the Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.
Years ago, I recruited Rob to join Troop 776 in Tamaqua where he became an Eagle Scout!
Congratulations to Rob and the Minnesota Vikings athletic training staff on their hard work!
Read more about the award from the Republican Herald here.
Get a jump on tax season preparation
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is encouraging you to prepare now to file your 2017 personal income tax returns.
Familiarize yourself with E-filing options which reduce paperwork, decrease errors, instantly confirm the filing, facilitate faster refunding, and expedite direct depositing.
Electronic Filing Options in 2018 for the 2017 tax year will include Padirectfile, E-filing for Free, and E-filing for a Fee through paid tax preparers and commercial tax preparation software providers. If you received more than $33 in total gross taxable income during 2017, your PA personal income tax return must be filed no later than midnight Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Testing your home for radon
The Department of Environmental Protection is encouraging residents to periodically check their homes for radon.
According to the department, 40 percent of homes in Pennsylvania contain higher levels of radon than what is deemed acceptable.
A good time to test for radon is in the wintertime because our windows and doors are typically closed, therefore allowing for more accurate test results.
For more information about the effects of radon and how you can test your home, please click here.
Wintertime activities for outdoor enthusiasts in PA
Pennsylvania is proud of its abundance of outdoor wintertime activities according to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Find opportunities for cross-country skiing among 560 miles of trails in 15 state forests. When snow-covered, a potential exists for some 3,671 miles of state forest trails to open across the state. Downhill skiing opportunities are enhanced by extensive snowmaking, exciting vertical drops and a little extra fun in the form of snow tubing.
The Senate is scheduled to convene on Monday, January 22 at 1 p.m. You can watch session live and view the voting calendar on my website.