Combatting Human Trafficking
1/17/2020
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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong#  The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Combatting Human Trafficking

With the Commonwealth ranked 10th in the nation for human trafficking, the House Judiciary Committee this week advanced a package of bills that would combat the crime and ensure justice for victims. The bills are expected to come before the full House for a vote next week.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The International Labour Organization estimates human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, of which $99 billion belongs to sexual exploitation.

Several bills aim to increase penalties or expand definitions of crimes related to human trafficking, while another would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to participate in a program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.

Other measures would prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization; expand opportunities for expert testimony in human trafficking cases; and require courts to consider human trafficking convictions when considering child custody.

Finally, the committee approved a resolution to recognize the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about this crime and our efforts to address it.
 
 
House OKs Bill to Prevent Repeat DUI Offenses

Working to improve public safety, the House has approved a measure to require courts to evaluate repeat DUI offenders for the suitability of a substance monitoring program as a condition of bail.

A substance monitoring program prohibits the individual from using alcohol, controlled substances or both while also being required to use or participate in any of the following for no less than 90 days as a condition of bail: a continuous alcohol monitoring device; a remote breath testing device or any other alcohol monitoring technology or device; or random drug testing or another controlled substance monitoring device.

Recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who did not.

A repeat DUI offender is an individual who is pending adjudication for a DUI and has one or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; or is pending adjudication for two or more DUIs.

House Bill 916 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Working in Committee


I’m a member of the House Tourism Committee and Recreational Development Committee, which this week heard from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) about its “Penn’s Parks for All” planning process.

DCNR’s goal is to help guide state park professionals in carrying out the important work of caring for the 121 state parks in our system for the next 25 years. Learn more about it here.
 
 
Tackling Medicaid Fraud, Abuse

To ensure taxpayer dollars are helping people truly in need and not being used fraudulently or misspent, a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week unveiled a comprehensive package of bills to stop fraud and abuse within the state’s Medicaid program.

The measures would create a state version of the federal False Claims Act to recoup additional funds from false claims made against Medicaid; require state agencies to assess their program expenditures to determine how susceptible they are to improper payment; create a state-level Do Not Pay system to stop improper payments before they are made; establish requirements for contracts with Medicaid Managed Care Organizations; and increase penalties for fraudulent claims.

The package of bills is the direct result of a grand jury report on fraud in Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program, also known as Medicaid, released by the Office of Attorney General and a report recently released by the House Government Oversight Committee.
 
  
PennDOT Seeking Summer Help

PennDOT is sponsoring an extensive Summer Maintenance Program for college students. The program runs May through August 2020 to supplement the permanent workforce.

These students assist in completing summer maintenance work and sign upgrade services, provide maintenance and custodial services at roadside rest facilities, and perform laboring and flagging duties in maintenance organizations and highway worksites.

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be at least 18 years of age, enrolled as a full-time college student for the fall 2020 semester and have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license. The hourly rate is $13.97.

If interested, please contact my office at 610-377-6363 no later than Friday, Feb. 14. Candidates must also apply online at www.employment.pa.gov in the “Summer Maintenance Program” category under the Open Jobs section of the website. 
     
 
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Welcome to the Capitol


It was my pleasure to welcome Erin Bennet of Lehighton to the state Capitol as my guest on Monday. She joined us in the House chamber and was introduced to the members by House Speaker Mike Turzai.

Erin is studying business management at Lehigh Carbon Community College. She interned at my district office in Weissport during the fall semester and did an excellent job!

If you are a college student interested in an internship with us, or know one who is, just give my district office a call at 610-377-6363. It’s a great way to learn about a career in state government.
 
 
Completing the Census is Easier Than Ever

Each decade, the federal government counts the number of people in each state to help determine how many seats the state gets in the U.S. Congress and how to distribute more than $675 billion in funding to states, counties, municipalities, school districts and social service programs and organizations. Learn more here.

Being counted in the Census helps to improve our communities, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, fire and police departments, parks, playgrounds and more.

Beginning in March, Census letters will be mailed. For the first time, people can respond to the Census online. There will also be a toll-free number so residents can share their information verbally. The traditional method of filling out the paper questionnaire will also be an option.

People can be confident that the Census Bureau will not share their information with anyone, including federal, state or local authorities of any kind, including law enforcement, immigration or landlords. There are no exceptions to this law, which is enforceable with five years in jail and a fine of $250,000.
 
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RepHeffley.com
Office Locations
204B Bridge St., Weissport, PA 18235 | (610) 377-6363
2681 State Route 903, Unit 3, Albrightsville, PA 18210 | (570) 722-8700
Room 420 Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202122, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2122 | (717) 260-6139
Email: dheffley@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614