Jul. 05, 2019

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The Weekly Roundup
 The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Happy Independence Day!


Thursday, July 4, is our nation’s 243rd birthday, and celebrations are taking place around the nation and locally to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which occurred right here in Pennsylvania. Please be sure to celebrate safely. Information on fireworks safety is available here.

Please note that my district offices in Weissport, Albrightsville and Lansford will be closed on Friday, July 5, in observance of the holiday. They will reopen for business on Monday, July 8, at 9 a.m.
 
 
No-Tax-Increase Budget Emphasizes Education


The 2019-20 that we passed last week keeps our promise to Pennsylvania residents by being respectful of the tax dollars they entrust to us. The budget spends $33.99 billion and includes no new taxes or fees.

For years the citizens of Pennsylvania have been badgered by false rhetoric that if their taxes are not raised the Commonwealth would fall into economic collapse. House Republicans stood up for taxpayers and said no to new taxes. By holding strong, we proved that the governor’s proposed taxes were unnecessary. The result of rejecting these calls for new taxes is that we have seen a surging economy while still making historic investments in our schools.

PreK-12 education funding is increased by $432 million, making this year’s state budget investment the highest in Pennsylvania’s history. This includes $160 million more for Basic Education Funding, $50 million more for special education and $25 million more for PreK Counts.

An additional $10 million goes to support career and technical education, to help prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The budget also provides $60 million in funding for school safety grants.

To ensure students and their families have options, the budget also includes $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.

Finally, our community colleges, state system universities and state-related institutions (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) each received a 2% funding increase.

To learn more about this year’s state budget, click here.
 
 
New Law Ends Cash Assistance Fraud and Abuse

Legislation has been signed into law that reenacts the elimination of Pennsylvania’s General Assistance Cash Benefit program, which was replete with fraud and abuse. Under Act 12 of 2019 we are ensuring accountability as to where every state dollar is going.

When the General Assembly eliminated the program the first time, the Commonwealth was spending $150 million annually, and the majority (70%) of individuals receiving cash assistance were single males without dependents. The maximum cash assistance was $205 a month for one person or $316 per month for two people.

The elimination of cash assistance is not without precedent. A number of other states have ended their state-funded general assistance programs through similar legislative measures.
 
 
New Laws Support Crime Victims

Delivering on our commitment to help support victims of crime and ensure justice is served, I’m pleased to report several new crime victim protection bills were signed into law by the governor. The House focused heavily on these issues back in April.
  • Act 21 of 2019 criminalizes the act of female genital mutilation by making it a first-degree felony.
  • Act 23 of 2019 ensures a victim is permitted to be present in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim's own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses.
  • Act 24 of 2019 helps protect victims of rape by preventing prosecutors from bringing up the victim's sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
  • Act 29 of 2019 makes updates to the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, including requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing and storing rape kits.
  • Acts 30 and 31 of 2019 expands the circumstances under which out-of-court statements may be used by including victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder (Act 30) and adding new crimes to the list that allows such statements made by a child under age 12.
In addition to these new laws, the General Assembly has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to include a Victim’s Bill of Rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Voters will have the opportunity to approve the proposed amendment in the upcoming November election. 
                                      
 
New Law Lowers Health Insurance Costs

Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation signed into law on Tuesday.

Act 42 of 2019 establishes a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth citizens.

The new law is also expected to save taxpayer dollars, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.
 
 
Supporting Our National Guard Members and Their Families

A new initiative to help our Pennsylvania National Guard members and their families has been signed into law.

Act 32 of 2019 extends the current Pennsylvania National Guard Military Education Program by including a Guard member’s spouse or child in this benefit program. The benefit will be offered in exchange for a Guard member’s six-year reenlistment.

Under the law, the educational benefit can be used at any Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institution or any institution of higher learning approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. If the approved institution costs less than the annual tuition rate charged by the state system schools, the student would not pay anything. If it costs more than PASSHE’s annual tuition rate, the student would only pay expenses in excess of PASSHE’s annual tuition rate.

Pennsylvania National Guard members will be eligible for the benefit beginning July 1. Their family members may begin claiming the benefit on Aug. 1, 2020.
 
 
PennDOT Accepting Applications for Winter Maintenance Positions

Individuals seeking seasonal employment are encouraged to apply for a variety of winter maintenance positions now open through PennDOT.
The program runs from September through April, and includes positions for transportation equipment operators, diesel and construction equipment mechanics, automotive mechanics, tradesman helpers, clerks, clerk typists, stock clerks, welders, semi-skilled laborers and custodial workers.

Individuals in these positions supplement the permanent workforce and have the potential to lead to permanent full-time employment. Additional details about the positions, along with the job application, are available at www.employment.pa.gov. Click on “Open Jobs” and then go to “PennDOT Winter Program.”
 
 
Antlerless Licenses on Sale Starting Monday

Application for the purchase of antlerless deer licenses begins this Monday, July 8, for Pennsylvania residents who already hold a 2019-20 hunting license.

Hunters wishing to apply may do so by sending a paper application with a check or money order to their local county treasurer’s office. Cost of a license is $6.90. Please click here to view contact information for your local county treasurer.

Nonresidents may submit their first applications a week later, beginning Monday, July 15.

Hunters are limited to purchasing one license at this time. In any Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) where antlerless licenses remain, resident and nonresident applicants may apply for a second license beginning Aug. 5.

Information on how many licenses have been allotted to each WMU, as well as how many have been purchased, is available by clicking here.

All successful applicants will receive their antlerless deer licenses after the second Monday in September.
 
Let's Get Connected

Our District

Web Site


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 
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