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2017-18 State Spending Plan Completed
After several months of study and negotiations, lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement on a spending plan for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, which began on July 1. The plan holds state government spending in check and includes funding for many of the programs and services that are important to communities in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the spending plan is its focus on fiscal responsibility. Most state agencies and departments saw a cut in operational funding that is designed to make state government do more with less. Even spending on the criminal justice system – a long-time cost-driver in recent state budgets – saw a $100 million decrease in funding thanks to the merger of the Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole. The end result is a state government that will operate more efficiently and effectively.
The budget also included targeted increases in some of the biggest priorities for our region – education, jobs and public safety. Basic Education funding was increased by $100 million, a new $12 million program will help create jobs in the manufacturing sector, and additional funding was included for naloxone and drug law enforcement to aid in the war against the heroin and opioid epidemic.
More information about the 2017-18 budget is available here.
The 2017 PIAA State Class A Softball Champions from West Greene High School stopped by the Capitol Building in Harrisburg to be honored for an incredible season. Congrats to the Lady Pioneers!
Senate Passes Bill Targeting Drug Dealers Who Cause Serious Injuries
One of the reasons why the heroin and opioid epidemic has been so devastating in recent years is the growing trend of drug dealers lacing their product with powerful and dangerous chemicals. While the number of tragic overdose deaths is one measure of the impact of this crisis, these statistics don’t account for the number of people who survive an overdose, but suffer lasting impairments, such as the loss of function or impairment of an organ or body part.
Last week, the Senate approved a measure I introduced that would help local prosecutors hold drug dealers accountable for the physical impairments their products cause. The bill would create a new statute for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in serious bodily injury to the user.
In current practice, local prosecutors often turn those cases over to federal authorities, who can pursue stiffer punishments. Unfortunately, this denies local prosecutors the ability to pursue appropriate punishments and creates a backlog of cases in the United States Attorney’s Office. I am hopeful we can get this bill through the House of Representatives and onto Governor Wolf’s desk in the near future.
More details about the bill are available here.
High Point Raceway Featured in TV Program
The latest edition of my “Focus on the 46th” TV program features a tour of High Point Raceway during the 41st Annual High Point National Motocross event, which was held in mid-June. The track was completely renovated in the past year to add to the challenge for riders – and the enjoyment of spectators!
The entire program is available here.
It was an honor to participate in another great Fourth of July parade in Canonsburg. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate America’s birthday.
In addition to completing work on a state government spending plan for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, the Senate approved more than two dozen bills last week.
Senate Bill 383 would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.
Senate Resolution 154 repeals the part of the Real Property Disposition Plan Number 1 of 2013 that authorized the Department of General Services to sell the New Castle Youth Development Center property.
Senate Bill 458 provides new penalties for illegal household goods movers.
Senate Bill 461 would modernize and strengthen the use of DNA technology to better fight violent crime in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 529 provides those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.
Senate Bill 630 reforms insurance licensure requirements for travel agents.
Senate Bill 690 establishes a mechanism for the initial apportionment of any home rule or optional plan municipality without a mayor that will be dividing into wards either partially or totally.
Senate Bill 691 establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for persons seeking election to, or appointment to fill a vacancy in, a municipal elected office where recent service in the military might interfere with the person’s ability to satisfy the relevant residency requirements.
Senate Bill 736 authorizes parking authorities in Second Class A and Third Class cities to enforce and administer parking ordinances and resolutions.
House Bill 239 establishes a Rare Disease Advisory Council in the Department of Health.
Senate Bill 288 would increase fines and suspend the licenses of repeat offenders of Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear” law.
Senate Bill 365 updates the Second Class Township Code regarding the selling of township personal property without requesting bids.
House Bill 423 creates a specific process for second class townships to address a vacancy in the Office of Supervisor due to a resignation.
House Bill 424 would allow physician assistants to sign a death certificate for a patient under their care.
Senate Bill 560 amends the Wiretap Act to allow police officers to use body-worn cameras.House Bill 1269 provides that municipal authorities serving five or more municipalities and imposing tapping fees for a project will have the deadline to start construction on the project increased from 15 years to 20 years.
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building