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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of June 26, 2017

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration
All bills passed unanimously unless otherwise noted.
Senate Bill 144 – PA Sewage Facilities Act updates to allow “alternative systems” for
planning purposes;
Senate Bill 178 – modernizes Title 37 (Historical & Museums);
Senate Bill 180 – (43-6) updates organ and tissue donation law (Donate Life PA Act);
Senate Bill 242 – PA One Call Law updates;
Senate Bill 446 – provides regulation and certification of drug and alcohol recovery and transitional houses;
Senate Bill 553 – Title 75 (Vehicles) updates regarding impaired driving, blood tests and ignition interlocks;
Senate Bill 592 – (36-14) increases transparency of school superintendent and principal contracts;
Senate Bill 639 – allows municipality and authority funds be used to repair/replace sewer laterals and water lines on private property when there’s a threat to public health or safety;
Senate Bill 656 – allows municipality and authority funds be used to repair/replace contaminated private water lines when there’s a threat to public health or safety;
Senate Bill 741 – extends sunsets relating to funding for courts and indigent legal services.

Bills Pass Senate, Go to Governor for Further Action
All bills passed unanimously.
House Bill 168 – makes it a crime to fraudulently present oneself as a soldier, veteran or service medal or decoration recipient to obtain an economic benefit (Stolen Valor Act);
House Bill 217 – clarifies Endangering the Welfare of a Child offense grading;
House Bill 1238 – updates the animal abuse statute (Libre’s Law).

Bill Signed into Law by the Governor
House Bill 202 – Act 6 – creates an alternative pathway for career and technical education students to demonstrate readiness for high school graduation.

Executive Nominations Unanimously Confirmed by the Senate
Major General, PA Army National Guard – Andrew P. Schafer, Jr., Dingmans Ferry
Major General, PA Air National Guard – Anthony J. Carrelli, North Wales
Brigadier General, PA Army National Guard – Marc Ferraro, Myerstown and Mark J. Schindler, Annville, both of the 48th Senatorial District, Stephen M. Radulski, Williamsport and Carl T. Reese, Hummelstown
Brigadier General, PA Air National Guard – Benjamin M. Cason, Harrisburg, Howard L. Eissler, III, Chalfont, Gregg A. Perez, Beaver and Michael J. Regan, Jr., Gilbertsville
Secretary of Revenue C. Daniel Hassell, Harrisburg
State Board of Medicine – Cary Cummings, III, Harrisburg
State Board of Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure – Edward J. Mihelcic, PhD, OTR/L, Indiana

Floor Remarks:  How Senate Bill 76 Deals with School Debt
There have been questions as to how Senate Bill 76 to eliminate school property taxes deals with school debt.  This week on the Senate Floor, I explained how SB 76 handles debt and its impacts for taxpayers in Lebanon County.  Watch below.

6/21/17 - Property Tax Independence Act (Senate Bill 76)

Katie Schreckengast, of Palmyra, Crowned 2017 Miss Pennsylvania!
Congratulations to Katie Schreckengast, of Palmyra, Lebanon County, who was recently crowned Miss Pennsylvania!  Katie is a senior Broadcast Journalism major at Penn State University, and is an alto saxophone and the Public Relations Officer in their Blue Band Katie will travel the state speaking about her adoption story through her personal platform, “Building Families Through Adoption,” while also raising funds for Miss America’s national platform, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, in which she has already raised $15,000.  Katie will also have the opportunity to compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City on September 10.

Dept. of Health Press Release: Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor Permits
My office received the following press release from the PA Department of Health:
“The Pennsylvania Department of Health today released information on the issuance of 12 permits for medical marijuana growers/processors in the state. The permittees will now have six months in which to become operational before they can begin growing medical marijuana. Entities receiving permits were notified by mail.

“With today’s announcement, we remain on track to fulfill the Wolf Administration’s commitment to deliver medical marijuana to patients in 2018,” said John Collins, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana. “The applications from the entities receiving permits were objectively reviewed by an evaluation team made up of members from across commonwealth agencies. Any letters of recommendation or support for an applicant were not considered during the evaluation.”

The 12 permits were issued to:

Southeast Region
Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania, LLC
Franklin Labs, LLC

Northeast Region
Pennsylvania Medical Solutions, LLC
Standard Farms, LLC

Southcentral Region
Ilera Healthcare, LLC
AES Compassionate Care, LLC

Northcentral Region
Terrapin Investment Fund 1, LLC
GTI Pennsylvania, LLC

Southwest Region
AGRiMED Industries of PA, LLC
PurePenn, LLC

Northeast Region
Holistic Farms, LLC
Cresco Yeltrah, LLC

Scores for all grower/processor applicants will be available … on the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov.

“The next step for the permit holders will be to ramp up their operations so they can prepare to grow medical marijuana,” Collins said. “Our teams will perform a series of site inspections before the locations can be certified as operational. Once that happens, the permittees will be able to begin growing and processing medical marijuana.”

The Office of Medical Marijuana received 457 total applications: 177 for growers/processors; and 280 for dispensaries.

The Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Since that time, the department has:

  • Completed the Safe Harbor temporary guidelines and Safe Harbor Letter application process, as well as approved 271 applications;
  • Completed temporary regulations for growers/processors, dispensaries, laboratories and physicians which have been published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin;
  • Released Phase One permit applications for grower/processors and dispensaries;
  • Developed the Medical Marijuana Physician Workgroup;
  • Drafted temporary regulations for practitioners to participate in the program; and
  • Selected the woman-owned company MJ Freeway to implement a seed-to-sale electronic tracking system.

The Medical Marijuana Program became effective on May 17, 2016, and is expected to be fully implemented in 2018. The program will offer medical marijuana to patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and under a physician’s care for the treatment of a serious medical condition as defined by Act 16

Questions about the Medical Marijuana Program can be emailed to RA-DHMedMarijuana@pa.gov. Information is also available on the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or by following us on Facebook and Twitter.”

A total of 25 grower/processor permits are provided under the law, plus 50 dispensary permits (with up to three locations).  Five permit holders will be able to have both a grower/processor and a dispensary permit.  Eight additional clinical registrant permits will be issued for research after the regulations are finalized.

Department of Homeland Security Grants Pennsylvania REAL ID Extension
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Pennsylvania a REAL ID enforcement extension through October 10, 2017, meaning PA residents will not face access issues when entering federal facilities, such as military installations, through that date.  According to PennDOT, “Preliminary work on REAL ID has begun, and PennDOT estimates REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available at the customer’s option in 2019.  This will allow ample time for customers who want a REAL ID product to obtain one before the final DHS effective date of October 1, 2020.”

Congratulations to Northeastern and Central York Boys’ Volleyball Teams!
Congratulations to Northeastern (York County) on their fifth straight PIAA Class 2A Boys’ Volleyball State Championship, the first time since 1971 that a team won five straight volleyball titles, and to Central York on their PIAA Class 3A Boys’ Volleyball State Championship!  Great job by these young athletes from the 48th Senatorial District!

Column:  History & Property Rights
I’m proud to support Senator Argall’s Senate Bill 76 to eliminate school property taxes because no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.

Opponents want a “conversation” on property taxes – even though history is filled with such discussions.

In 1215, English citizens fought for property rights by forcing King John to sign the Magna Carta to end royal abuses – including for the first time – protecting property rights.  Our country’s founding 600 years later mirrors these protections for life, liberty, and property.

In 1689, English philosopher John Locke highlighted the importance of property:  “being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

Thomas Jefferson rephrased Locke’s words in the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Like Pennsylvania’s Constitution, which would follow, Jefferson added: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

These principles helped spur the 1787 Constitutional Convention.  A year earlier, Daniel Shays, a Continental Army and Bunker Hill veteran deep in debt and fearing seizure of his farm, joined with his neighbors and fellow veterans to protect their properties, leading George Washington to write:  “If three years ago any person had told me that at this day, I should see such a formidable rebellion against the laws and constitutions of our own making as now appears I should have thought him a bedlamite – a fit subject for a madhouse.”

Shay’s Rebellion failed but protecting property became a goal of the Constitutional Convention and when property wasn’t adequately protected by the proposed Constitution, it led to the 5th Amendment:  “No person . . . shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Property rights were again strengthened after the Civil War with the 14th Amendment:  “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In 1874, Pennsylvania’s Constitution added similar protections, which remain today:  “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.”

We’ve had many “conversations” on property.  Meanwhile, school property taxes have risen while the base has shrunk, hurting young people seeking first homes and senior citizens fighting to stay in theirs.

Attempts have been made to reduce property tax burdens but all have fallen short.  There’s just one bill providing for the total elimination of school property taxes:  SB 76.

It’s time to either support this measure or offer an alternative that gets to the much needed and long overdue goal of total elimination of school property taxes because no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.


Contact Information
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