Nov. 01, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong#  The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Committees Examine My Anti-Blight Bill

On Wednesday, the House and Senate Urban Affairs committees held a joint hearing to examine House Bill 1559, my legislation to assist municipalities in dealing with blight by preventing negligent owners from buying new properties at tax sales.

My proposal would create a registration process for tax sales, requiring potential bidders to appear in person at the tax claim bureau prior to the sale to register. Municipalities would then be able to ensure the property is being purchased by a responsible party.

During the meeting, we heard testimony from municipal officials about the problems they encounter with negligent property owners and how the legislation would improve the process.

A companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Dave Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), has been introduced in the Senate. A video of the meeting is available for viewing here.

Carbon County Tax Claim Bureau Director Renee Roberts attended the hearing. It was my pleasure to give her a tour of the Capitol later in the day.
     
 
House Passes Sunday Hunting Bill

After years of debate, a Sunday hunting bill is now moving through the General Assembly. This week, the House passed Senate Bill 147, which would legalize hunting on three Sundays a year, guaranteeing one during the deer rifle season and another one during deer archery season. The third Sunday would be designated by the Game Commission.

I voted in favor of the proposal because I believe it to be a good compromise that provides protections to landowners while permitting Sunday hunting on a limited basis. Pennsylvania is currently one of only three states that does not allow Sunday hunting.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on several House amendments.
 
 
Key Election Reforms Now Law

This week, the governor signed into law a comprehensive election reform bill sent to him by the General Assembly that also aims to relieve some of the financial burden placed on counties when he suddenly decertified all voting machines in the Commonwealth, requiring their replacement in time for the 2020 elections.

Senate Bill 421 was amended by the House to authorize $90 million in borrowing to provide counties with an approximately 60% reimbursement of their expenses related to upgraded voting machines. A similar funding proposal was approved earlier this year but was vetoed by the governor.

In addition to funding for counties, the bill makes the most significant changes to modernize and improve Pennsylvania’s elections since the 1930s. These changes include eliminating the straight-party ticket option from ballots, establishing mail-in voting and giving Pennsylvanians more time to register to vote ahead of elections. Pennsylvania was one of only eight states that allowed straight party balloting.

It is important to note that none of the provisions within the legislation will take effect before next Tuesday’s general election.
 
 
House ‘Helpers and Heroes’ Package Awaits Senate Action

The House continued its commitment to supporting first responders – the “helpers and heroes” of our communities – this week as we completed work on more than a dozen measures designed to boost volunteerism, offer more flexibility in funding and assure better access to training.

These changes are vital to shoring up our public safety infrastructure across the state, as fire and ambulance companies struggle to recruit both volunteers and staff and obtain the necessary financial support to keep their doors open.

Three of the bills aim to address financial issues. House Bill 1448 would expand the current loan program for volunteer first responder agencies to also include career and combination agencies that provide fire, ambulance or rescue squad services. House Bill 1758 would exempt volunteer fire and emergency medical services (EMS) companies from the $22 per copy fee for municipal police accident reports. House Bill 1834 would reauthorize the Fire and EMS Grant Program to allow funding to be put toward recruitment and retention, and allow the funding to be banked for up to five years for purchases or construction of a new facility.

Two bills focus on EMS. House Bill 1838 would increase funding available through the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund (EMSOF) and require at least 30% of funding to be used to provide training to underserved rural areas and 10% of the funds to be used for medical equipment for ambulances. House Bill 1869 would authorize staffing waivers on a case-by-case basis for Basic Life Support ambulances in fifth- through eighth-class counties.

Finally, House Bill 1459 would create the Emergency Responder Mental Wellness and Stress Management Program for first responders, including 911 dispatchers and coroners. The program is in response to statistics that show they experience higher rates of depression, alcohol abuse, sleep disturbances, anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts

Learn more about the full package, which now awaits action in the Senate, here. 
 
 
House Recognizes Local Athletes

On Monday, I had the pleasure of hosting two martial arts champions from our area who were recognized for their accomplishments by the House. Christine Searfoss and Rogelio Faulkner took home seven gold medals between them at the Keystone State Games last summer.

From there, the pair went on to compete nationally at the State Games of America in Lynchburg, VA, where each of them captured two silver medals. Next June, these outstanding athletes will compete on the international level at the Irish Cup Martial Arts Tournament.

Congratulations to Chris and Ro, who train at Mountain Karate Academy in Palmerton. Also pictured is House Speaker Mike Turzai.
 
 
Heating Assistance Program Now Open

Residents who are struggling with their home heating bills can apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning Friday, Nov. 1.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and families pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.

Residents who meet income eligibility guidelines may apply for LIHEAP online or by contacting the County Assistance Office in their county of residence. Learn more here.
 
 
Happy Halloween!


My staff and I had a fun time welcoming all the trick-or-treaters at our district office in Weissport on Wednesday night! We saw some great costumes. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.
 
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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