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Students Bring Christmas Cheer to My Indiana Office
The Kindergarten and 1st grade classes from the Seeds of Faith Christian Academy, which is conveniently located a block away from my Indiana District office, stopped by on December 5 to decorate our office Christmas tree. The children decorated the tree with ornaments they created in their art class. A special thanks also goes out to Fleming’s Tree Farm for donating the tree.
Important Measures Advance as Senate Closes Out 2017
I am pleased to report that three of my bills moved forward in the legislative process as the Senate closed out its legislative actives for calendar year 2017.
Senate Bill 844, which expands the legal standing for individuals seeking to gain custody of children in cases where no biological or adoptive parent has custody, was approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Too many lives have been tragically cut short by the opioid epidemic that is ravaging communities across the state and their children end up becoming caught up in the turmoil that ensues. My legislation would give legal standing to people – such as grandparents --who are sincerely concerned for these children, but do not meet the conditions set by Pennsylvania’s custody law. In many cases, these people have already provided financial support and/or previously performed parental duties.
Two additional bills were reported out of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, which I chair, and advanced to the full Senate for consideration.
Senate Bill 1003 would require insurance companies and Medicaid to reimburse emergency medical services agencies for services provided even when transport to a hospital does not take place. Currently, insurance companies and Medicaid are only required to reimburse EMS organizations for those services when they include transportation to a hospital.
There are an increasing number of cases where crews respond to a scene to provide care and treatment, but transportation is unnecessary or refused. Not every case requires hospital treatment or in some cases the patient is reluctant to seek further treatment. That means that these responders can be stiffed for payment by insurance companies and that’s just not fair. There are costs incurred and man hours spent by these organizations. Senate Bill 1003 will ensure those organizations are properly reimbursed for their services.
Healthcare costs overall are out of control and pharmaceuticals are a big part of that. Given the magnitude of the industry, there is a great need for transparency and accountability. Prescription medications have certainly improved health care and they may even reduce the aggregate costs of health care. However, there is little information available as to why they cost so much. Nothing holds down costs better than an informed consumer, which is the goal behind the Pharmaceutical Transparency Commission.
Thank You Intern Daniele
On December 13, the Senate recognized Daniele Kockler, who currently serves as an intern in my Harrisburg Office. Daniele is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and worked in my district office while she attended IUP. She is interested in furthering her career specifically in the field of communications.
Trees for Troops Update
The Trees for Troops Day event at Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm, on December 2, was a great success this year. Last year’s total number of trees donated was 305. This year the total of Christmas trees loaded was 357 and was a record for our local event. We sent 220 to Fort Knox in Kentucky and the other 137 went to Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
State Police Announce Thanksgiving Holiday Enforcement Results
The Pennsylvania State Police investigated 981 crashes during the recent five-day Thanksgiving holiday driving period – November 22 through 26, 2017. The total represents an increase of 5.4 percent from the 931 crashes investigated by the State Police during the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday driving period.
Of the 981 crashes investigated this year, 85 were alcohol related, 209 people were injured, and four people were killed. One of the four fatal crashes involved alcohol. During the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday driving period, six people lost their lives in crashes investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police.
Troopers made 629 DUI arrests over the 2017 holiday weekend, up from 610 in 2016. This year they also issued 15,912 speeding citations, 1,125 citations for failing to wear a seat belt, and 172 citations to drivers for not securing children in safety seats.
These statistics cover only those incidents investigated by state police and do not include statistics on incidents to which other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania responded.
Voting Underway for Pennsylvania’s 2018 River of the Year
The public can choose from among five waterways as online voting is now underway for the 2018 Pennsylvania River of the Year.
Waterways nominated for 2018 are the Connoquenessing Creek, Lackawanna River, Little Juniata River, Lower Susquehanna River/Susquehanna Riverlands, and the Loyalsock Creek.
The public can vote for their favorite state waterway beginning today through 5 p.m. Monday, December 22 at www.pariveroftheyear.org
The River of the Year has been named annually since 1983 with the Allegheny River taking the honor for 2017.
DCED Accepting Applications for Water/Sewer Grants
The state Department of Community and Economic Development is accepting applications for the Small Water and Sewer Program now through February 28, 2018.
Municipalities and municipal authorities may apply for grants to support the construction, rehabilitation, repair, or expansion of a water supply or sanitary sewer system which they own and maintain. Eligible projects for the PA Small Water and Sewer Program must have a total project cost between $30,000 and $500,000.
Click here for more information.
Pipeline Investment Grants Available
The Department of Community and Economic Development is offering grant opportunities through the Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE).
PIPE provides grants to economic development organizations, businesses, municipalities, hospitals, and school districts to construct natural gas distribution lines to connect businesses, industrial sites, municipalities, and residents to natural gas to ensure they benefit from having access to Pennsylvania’s abundant, low-cost energy source. Click here for more information.
Dog Licenses Now Available at County Treasurers’ Offices
Pennsylvanians can now purchase 2018 dog licenses from their county treasurers. State law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year.
An annual dog license is $8.50, or $6.50 if the animal is spayed or neutered. Lifetime licenses are available for dogs that have permanent identification like a microchip or tattoo. Older adults and people with disabilities may be eligible for discounts.
The dog license application is simple and only requests owner contact information and details about the dog being licensed, like name, age, breed and color. For more information, including a list of county treasurers, visit www.licenseyourdogPA.com.
286 Main Capitol