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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 September 25, 2017

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration
All bills passed unanimously.
Senate Bill 135 – allows the use of leashed tracking dogs to recover legally harvested deer;
Senate Bill 252 – amends the Pittsburgh Parking Authority’s Enabling Act to support private development;
Senate Bill 751 – provides for licensure and regulation of non-bank mortgage servicers;
Senate Bill 785 – expands the use of low-speed vehicles on public highways.

Motion to Non-Concur in House Amendments to House Bill 453
House Bill 453, the Fiscal Code, as amended by the House of Representatives, called for removing moneys from certain designated funds and settlement agreements to put into the General Fund in an effort to end the budget impasse. Click here to see these proposed fund transfers. While I supported the concept of using unused, surplus moneys, I had questions with the details – beginning with using transportation moneys for General Fund purposes, which raises a number of constitutional questions. The Senate voted to non-concur by a vote of 43-7. The bill now returns to the House for further consideration.

Senate Bill 76 Floor Remarks
This week on the Senate Floor, I shared remarks my friend and constituent, Jim Rodkey, recently made at a public forum on school property tax reform. I want you to hear what frustrated citizens say about these taxes, and why so many PA residents support SB 76 for the total elimination for school property taxes.

9/19/17 - Property Tax Independence Act (Senate Bill 76)

Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Expand Homestead Exclusion on Fall Ballot
On November 7, PA voters will be asked to consider a proposed constitutional amendment to enact legislation to expand the current homestead exclusion. The question which will appear on the ballot states: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

Executive Nominations Unanimously Confirmed by the Senate
State Board of Auctioneer Examiners – Sherman Hostetter, Jr., Beaver and Nevin Rentzel, York
PA Cancer Control, Prevention & Research Advisory Board – Susanne Gollin, Pittsburgh State Board of Chiropractic – John McCarrin, West Chester
State Conservation Commission – Ronald Kopp, a constituent of Middletown and the 48th Senatorial District, Michael Flinchbaugh, York, and Ronald Rohall, Ligonier
State Board of Dentistry – R. Ivan Lugo, DMD, MBA, FA, Philadelphia
Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission – Richard Bosco, Greensburg, Douglas Grimes, Canonsburg, and Guy Salerno, Peckville
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists – Michael Brinkash, Locust Gap
State Real Estate Commission – Armand Ferrara, Jr., Charleroi and Edward Seebeck, Warren
Professional Standards and Practices Commission – Christopher Gegaris, Mountain Top, Michael Pawlik, Shickshinny, and Audrey Silverstein, Merion Station
Board of Trustees of Temple University Commonwealth System of Higher Education – Patrick Eiding, Philadelphia and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, Huntingdon Valley

Senate Guest Chaplain: Rev. Nick Keeney, Chambers Hill United Methodist Church
On September 20, Reverend Nick Keeney, of Chambers Hill United Methodist Church, was the Senate’s Guest Chaplain. Rev. Keeney grew up on a farm in Wyalusing, PA and earned a degree in Economics from Alfred University before receiving a Masters in Divinity from Duke University. He has served churches in North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania. Pastor Nick is passionate about the ways congregations can connect to and serve their neighborhoods. Watch my introduction of Rev. Keeney here.

Attorneys General Demand Equifax Stop Charging for Credit Freeze Fees
A bipartisan group of 32 Attorneys General from across the country, including the PA Attorney General, sent a letter to Equifax demanding the credit reporting agency stop charging fees to consumers attempting to freeze their credit following the massive data breach affecting 143 million Americans and up to 5.4 million Pennsylvanians.

According to a press release from the PA Attorney General, the letter demands Equifax: disable all fee-based services for consumers to check their credit, and offer only free credit-check services to consumers; reimburse consumers for all costs they incur to freeze their credit because of the breach – including costs they incur at other credit reporting agencies; staff hotlines 24 hours daily and more prominently display call numbers on their websites, and; disclose its plans to communicate with impacted consumers, which will help Attorneys General detect unauthorized scam and phony communications to consumers. Although Equifax has agreed to waive credit freeze fees, Experian and Transunion continue to charge fees for credit freezes.

A group of Attorneys General are conducting a probe launched the day after Equifax publicly disclosed the data breach on August 7. In a letter sent to Equifax, the Attorneys General demanded information about the circumstances that led to the breach, the reasons for the six-week delay in public disclosure, the protections in place at the time of the breach and the proposed response by Equifax to safeguard consumers moving forward.

Column – Happy Birthday: US Constitution
September 17 marked the 230th anniversary of the United States Constitution as on that date in 1787 it was signed by 39 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The document then went to the states (13) for their approval, with nine (three-quarters) being the required number for ratification.

Delaware (December 7, 1787) was the first to ratify, Pennsylvania (December 12, 1787) the second, and New Hampshire (June 21, 1788) the ninth and deciding state. The first Congress, consisting of 20 Senators and 59 Representatives, convened on March 4, 1789 in New York City. George Washington, the first President (and only President unanimously elected by the Electoral College), took the oath of office on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall on Wall Street on April 30, 1789.

Some delegates at the Constitutional Convention would not sign the document because it lacked a Bill of Rights. These concerns carried over to the states’ ratifying conventions and the subsequent debates. Some of these fears were addressed through the 85 Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton (52), James Madison (28), and John Jay (5).

The 1st Congress of the United States recommended 12 Constitutional amendments to the states to put these concerns to rest. When the 10th state (Virginia) approved 10 of these amendments on December 15, 1791, America had a formal Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition.

The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.

The Third Amendment prohibits the quartering of soldiers in private homes.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial, an impartial jury, the ability to confront witnesses, and the right to counsel.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.

The Ninth Amendment guarantees people’s rights – even those not listed: “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The Tenth Amendment guarantees state sovereignty: “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Every elected official – federal, state, and local – swears or affirms they will “support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States and Constitution of this Commonwealth.” We’d have a lot fewer problems if they did.


Contact Information
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