Aug. 02, 2019 / Email Archives

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The Weekly Roundup
 The latest news from the State Capitol
My Legislation would Give Residents a Say in Windmill Projects

In an effort to provide residents with a voice in a wind turbine project in Carbon County, I’ve introduced legislation that would require the developer to get voter approval first through a ballot referendum.

House Bill 1734 is part of a legislative package in response to the Bethlehem Authority’s plan to contract with a foreign-owned company to construct 37 wind turbines on land it owns in Penn Forest Township. The bill would apply to any proposed industrial wind development project in Pennsylvania.

I believe the feedback and approval of residents is important to obtain before the start of a windmill project that can have a huge impact on their daily lives.

Other bills in the package include:
  • House Bill 1729, which would require the state auditor general to perform an in-depth audit of the authority’s practices.
  • House Bill 1728, which would add a requirement that the auditor general perform an audit of the authority every five years to determine if it is operating in the most effective fashion.
  • House Bill 1733, which would address the issue of property tax fairness by requiring municipal authorities to pay applicable taxes on all parcels of land they own and choose to develop. The taxes would be assessed at the most recent fair market value. Currently, the Bethlehem Authority can make payments in lieu of taxes.
Windmills are heavily subsidized by federal tax dollars, causing increases to ratepayers for unreliable energy. Studies have shown windmills to be less than 30% efficient, sometimes never producing more power than it took to build and install them in the first place.

The environmental impact of these large windmills is tremendous. Not only do they kill thousands of birds, but their ecological footprint is staggering. For example, a new natural gas-fired generating station on 24 acres can produce 1,124 megawatts of electricity. Nearly 7,000 wind turbines on 19 square miles would be required to equal that same amount of energy production. 
State Funding Awarded for Hospital Project

This week, St. Luke’s University Health Network was awarded $750,000 that will go toward construction of its new hospital in Franklin Township, Carbon County. I was pleased to be able to play a role in securing the funding through Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

This important project will provide residents of the county and beyond with access to high-quality patient care much closer to home. The hundreds of family-sustaining health care jobs being created will have a positive impact on our local economy.

St. Luke’s plans to construct a three-story, 155,500-square-foot acute care hospital which will consolidate all inpatient, outpatient and emergency services from the two existing hospitals it operates in the county into one modern facility. The new hospital will have a 15-20 bed emergency department, at least three operating rooms, a radiology department and additional ancillary services.
Fighting Lyme Disease

The 2019-20 state budget includes $500,000 to fund operations at the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab at East Stroudsburg University. The lab received a similar appropriation during the last fiscal year as part of a growing state effort to slow the spread of Lyme disease.

The funding supports a program that allows all state residents to have ticks found on them or a family member tested for free by the lab. All the details are available on the Tick Lab website at

Of the ticks submitted so far, 39% have tested positive for a tick-borne disease, confirming the health risks in Pennsylvania.

The Commonwealth has led the nation in confirmed cases of the disease for three straight years and ticks carrying Lyme have been found in all 67 counties.
Manufacturing is Alive and Well in Carbon County!

Thanks to Vice President Bobby Clements and all the employees at Blue Ridge Pressure Castings in Lehighton for taking the time to show us around their facilities on Monday.

Bobby explained the manufacturing and quality control processes they use to produce world-class parts used in the automotive, construction, computer and many other industries. These locally made castings are in many of our trucks and commercial vehicles. Bobby also told us they’re hiring!
Grants Available to Small Businesses and Farmers

The Department of Environmental Protection is offering grants to small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention and natural resource protection projects.

Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Projects must save a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption, or pollution-related expenses. Learn more here.
See You at the Carbon County Fair!

Click here to view video.
Support Local Police at National Night Out Events

Tuesday, Aug. 6, is National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes partnerships with local police departments to make our neighborhoods safer and better places to live.

I plan to visit all three National Night Out events taking place in Carbon County. They will run from 6-9 p.m. in the following locations: Lehighton Lower Park, Jim Thorpe Memorial Park and at Euarana Park in Weatherly. I hope to see you there!
PennDOT Wants to Hear from You

To help reduce crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways, PennDOT is asking drivers to participate in the department’s 2019 Highway Safety Survey.

The five-minute survey asks about seatbelt use, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, speeding, and distracted behaviors.

The survey is open until Monday, Aug. 12, and all responses, including comments, are completely anonymous.

Once data is compiled, the department will review the results for potential additions or adjustments to the department’s safety efforts.
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