Sep. 28, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
 The latest news from the State Capitol
 
State Issues Warning About New Mosquito-Transmitted Disease

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health are warning Carbon County residents and other Pennsylvanians to take precautionary measures against mosquito bites for themselves and their animals – specifically horses – as the rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed here and also in Monroe and Erie counties.

EEE is a virus carried by birds. If a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transmit the potentially fatal virus to humans, horses and other birds. Because of the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

The symptoms of EEE include a high fever of 103-106 degrees, stiff neck, headache and lack of energy. The symptoms typically show up three to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can progress quickly.

Take steps to protect against mosquito bites by consistently using DEET-containing insect repellants and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To reduce mosquito populations around your home, eliminate sources of standing water, such as containers and pots, wading pools, bird baths, gutters and more. Learn more here.
 
 
Blight Task Force Sets Agenda

 
This week at the Capitol, I joined other members of the Statewide Blight Task Force to discuss our legislative priorities for the current session, including a bill of mine that would assist municipalities in identifying the owners of blighted properties.

House Bill 1559 would create a pre-registration requirement for potential bidders at tax sales. One of the biggest problems for our municipalities is the ability of negligent owners to hide behind the corporate veil. Now under consideration in the House, my bill would make it easier to track them down.
 
 
Bills to Keep Guns from Criminals and Mentally Ill Advance

Working to balance public safety and Second Amendment rights, the House Judiciary Committee this week advanced several bills aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental health issues.

House Bill 1835 would reduce the time period in which a person is required to relinquish a firearm after discharge from an involuntary mental health commitment for inpatient care and treatment from 60 days to 48 hours, and would require the Pennsylvania State Police to send all records relevant to a determination of whether a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a mental health commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

House Bill 165 would create a voluntary self-exclusion program, in which an individual could ask to be put on a list that would prohibit him or her from purchasing or receiving a firearm for one, three or five years.

The committee also approved several bills that would address the application of mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun-related crimes and would prohibit persons convicted of attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit certain offenses from owning or possessing a firearm.

The measures now go to the full House for consideration.
 
 
No Public Assistance Funds for Tobacco

The House recently approved legislation that would prohibit the purchase of tobacco products using public assistance funds on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards.

Such benefits are intended to help Pennsylvanians who cannot afford life’s essentials, not unnecessary items such as tobacco.

House Bill 847 would forbid the use of EBT cards, issued by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to administer public assistance benefits, to purchase tobacco or tobacco-related products. Personal funds on EBT cards, such as child support that is in arrears, would be exempt. The Human Services Code already prohibits the purchase of liquor and alcohol with EBT cards.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
 
 
Focus on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

On Tuesday in Harrisburg, I had the pleasure of being one of the guest speakers at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Domestic Relations Association of Pennsylvania. My discussion focused on what we’re doing in the House to assist grandparents who are struggling to raise grandchildren. It’s a growing issue in Pennsylvania, due in large part to the opioid epidemic.
 
 
Enhancing PA’s CTE System

The House unanimously voted this week to send a bill to the governor’s desk that would make improvements to Pennsylvania’s career and technical education (CTE) system to better prepare students for the careers of the future.

House Bill 265 would enhance job training and workforce development, while also providing high school and college students with access to information regarding the transfer policies of other educational institutions, with the goal being to save them time and money.

The legislation would also simplify the process for schools to establish vocational courses; create a School-to-Work program to develop employment and training pathways; require guidelines for the application of STEM course credits; require the Department of Education to outline the state’s workforce needs, including training opportunities and future earning potential; and allow students from community colleges and CTE schools equal access to career and college fairs.
 
 
Supporting PA’s Helpers and Heroes

Working to support the Commonwealth’s fire and ambulance services, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee this week approved several bills designed to address staffing and funding challenges facing these vital public safety organizations.

The committee approved bills to expand and increase the maximum loan amounts available through the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program, as well as to reauthorize the Fire and EMS Grant Program administered by the Office of State Fire Commissioner. ( House Bills 1448 , 1816 and 1834)

Two other measures aim to address stress management and post-traumatic stress injuries for first responders. (House Bills 432 and 1459)

House Bill 1839 would authorize counties to offer a property tax credit for volunteer first responders as an incentive to get more people involved in the emergency services.

To help rural EMS providers, House Bill 1869 would allow the Department of Health to grant waivers for staffing requirements on a Basic Life Support (BLS) service ambulance in sixth- through eighth-class counties.

Finally, House Bill 1838 would increase funding for the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund and require 30% of the funds to be used to provide training to underserved rural areas and 10% of the funds to be used for medical equipment for ambulances.

The bills are awaiting action in the full House.
 
 
Federal Casework Day Scheduled

A staff person with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will hold a casework day on Monday, Sept. 30, at my district office in Weissport.

Constituents can receive assistance with any problems they are having with federal agencies and programs. Constituents are encouraged to bring copies of documents they have received that are related to their issues.

The Toomey staff person will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m at 204B Bridge St. in Weissport. Please call 610-377-6363 to schedule an appointment.
 
 
Happy 100th!

It was my honor to present members of the Palmerton Hunting and Fishing Association with a House citation in recognition of the club’s 100th anniversary last weekend at their annual picnic.
 
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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 
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