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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 December 25, 2017
Season's Greetings!

My staff, family and I would like to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Holiday Season, and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Please note: Both of my offices will be closed on December 22nd, 25th, and 26th.

Column: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the New York Sun, “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”  The reply was, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Fast forward 120 years:  the Santa Claus of 1897 is now the government of 2017.  From the time we are born until the day we die, government is with us every step…from birth certificates to death certificates.

Official time is determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Government, not parents, decides where children go to school - all based on zip codes.  Today’s playgrounds are vastly different from those of Baby Boomers - sliding boards and swings are smaller and merry-go-rounds and jungle gyms aren’t the same.

Government requires a multitude of licenses and certifications.  When you marry, want to drive, fish, hunt, or get a dog, you need to get a license.  Cars must be registered and inspected; building codes and permits are required for new construction and renovation; and commodes just don’t flush as well since Congress limited the amount of water in them.

When I meet with business professionals I’m amazed at government’s reach into every aspect of doing business.  It’s why many ask if “free trade” really exists – either internationally or domestically.

Inspectors are everywhere, monitoring child care facilities, hiring, elevators, minimum wage, prevailing wages, and other government mandates.  Health care is the most recent government requirement that will impact both employers and individual employees.

Contractors and other professionals need permits and licenses to do business.  Food packages are filled with information that few read, and farmers even need a permit to sell raw milk.

Some government policies contradict one another.  For example, we spend taxpayer moneys to attract new businesses.  If and when employers come, we tax them – often times more than other states.  When they say they are leaving, we often spend more tax money to entice them to stay.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates programming and the signals used.  Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve attempts to manage or otherwise control the economy.

Taxes and government red tape have been cited for costing jobs and job opportunities.  But, government keeps adding them.  Tax policies benefit some and penalize others.  Depending upon how you’re impacted, you’ll either call them a “tax shelter” or a “tax loophole.”

The New York Sun wondered “how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus . . . A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

I wonder what our government will look like in the future – especially since its role was to secure people’s rights and freedoms; it was never intended to be Santa.

Medical Marijuana Advisory Board Meeting
The PA Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board will meet on Friday, January 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Forest Room of the Keystone Building Meeting Center, 400 North Street, Suite 114 East, Harrisburg.  The meeting will provide an update on Board activities and discuss plans for the upcoming year. 

PA Veterans’ Trust Fund Accepting Grant Applications
The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) announced up to $800,000 in competitive grant funding will be available from the Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF).  Up to $650,000 will be awarded to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations serving PA Veterans or 501(c)(19) veterans’ service organizations for transitional housing or community living initiatives and unique veteran health services that address homelessness, post-traumatic stress and behavioral health needs.  The maximum grant request in this category is $50,000.

Up to $150,000 in grants will go to County Directors of Veterans Affairs or the PA Association of County Directors of Veterans Affairs for initiatives that focus on veterans’ outreach and veterans’ court programs.  The maximum grant request in this category is $20,000 per county.  Grant applications must be received by DMVA by 3 p.m. on January 19.  The anticipated announcement of grant awards is March 2018.  Questions should be directed to 717-861-6979 or RA-MVVetTrustFund@pa.gov.

PA AG Settles against Sperian Energy for Violating “Do-Not-Call” Law
The PA Attorney General (AG) recently announced a $50,000 settlement with Sperian Energy Corp, a retail energy supplier that violated PA’s Do-Not-Call Law.  Eighty PA consumers filed complaints with the PA AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection about unsolicited phone calls.  Each will receive $100, and the remaining funds will go to the PA Treasury and Office of Attorney General.  If you are on the PA “Do-Not-Call” List and receive unwanted and unsolicited calls from telemarketers, contact the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

2017 PennDOT Improvement Highlights for South Central PA
The PennDOT South Central region (District 8) covers Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties.  In 2017, 234 roadway miles were paved and 53 bridges repaired or replaced in the 129 projects totaling $233 Million in District 8.  Some examples of projects completed this year in counties within the 48th Senatorial District (Dauphin, Lebanon and York) include:

  • Bridge superstructure replacement for Rt. 230 over Swatara Creek, Dauphin Co.
  • Repair and resurfacing of Mountain Rd. and ramps with I-81, Dauphin Co.
  • Intersection improvement between Rt. 22 & Rt. 39, Dauphin Co.
  • Replacement of Rt. 71 (Quentin Rd.) bridge over Snitz Creek, Lebanon Co.
  • Replacement of Rt. 22 bridge over Elizabeth Run, Lebanon Co.
  • Repair and resurfacing of Rt. 422 between Clear Spring Rd. & 25th St., Lebanon Co.
  • Repair and resurfacing of Rt. 74 between Felton Rd. & Rt. 24, York Co.
  • Replacement of Rt. 2021 (Ducktown Rd.) over Kreutz Creek, York Co.
  • Installation of adaptive traffic signals on Rt. 30 between Kenneth Rd. & North Hills Rd. and Rt. 74 in the City of York, West Manchester & Dover Twps., York Co.

Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

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