Oct. 06, 2017

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Legislative Report

#Listrak\DateStampLong#   The latest news from the State Capitol

Governor Blows Up Budget Talks
What a week in the world of the budget!

The House and Senate were within 0.005 percent of a bipartisan budget agreement when the governor blew everything up with his surprise announcement to borrow more than $1 billion dollars against the liquor stores.

To me, this was both disappointing and confusing.

In short, we were down to $150 million to complete the $32 billion revenue plan. While this is a lot of money to us, it is a small part of the entire budget. The governor pushed for higher taxes, and the Senate voted to impose new taxes – more than $400 million on consumer utility bills.

House Republicans are fighting for a more responsible solution.

Since the governor has not been able to get support from House Republicans and Democrats, he stepped away from negotiations and decided to leverage our state’s liquor system on his own. Lawmakers will review the legality of his action.

The question I ask: If the governor intended to borrow against our liquor stores, why didn’t he do this (or even mention it) earlier to prevent the credit downgrade? It appears this is raw politics.

We did approve an important measure this week that will save taxpayer dollars.

House Bill 785 would enact substantial debt reduction and better debt management policies that will save taxpayers an estimated $3.14 billion in interest over the next 20 years.

House Bill 785 heads back to the Senate for consideration.
 

Governor Threatens Veto of Welfare to Work Legislation
The governor as already threatened to veto a key welfare to work reform measure passed by the House and Senate.

House Bill 59 would require able-bodied (both mental and physical) adults without young children to work, volunteer or take a class in order to receive benefits.

I believe “Those who can do - should do” and see the frequent help wanted signs posted in our area businesses. Others believe “Why should I do anything when I can do nothing,” and they receive monthly payments from the government without effort.

This battle is over the specific group of our neighbors who could work or volunteer and just choose not to. They are without young children or complex physical or mental situations.

Other states have implemented this policy, and it has helped people find work and improve their situations, while saving millions of dollars.

Under the bill, the state Department of Human Services would seek approval from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement the requirement.
 

‘Right to Try’ Bill Heads to Governor
In giving hope to individuals facing terminal illnesses, legislation is now on the governor’s desk that would allow eligible patients to use investigational drugs, biological products and devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under House Bill 45, if these patients want to try medications that have not completed the rigorous FDA testing and approval process, they should be permitted to make that choice. As part of the bill, a manufacturer would be permitted to make these products available to eligible patients once the products successfully complete the first phase of clinical trials.

Physicians would not be held liable for recommending experimental products to their terminally ill patients, nor would the bill create a private cause of action against the manufacturers that make the drugs. While the bill does not require insurers to cover these products, they may do so at their own discretion.

“Right to Try” laws are in effect in 37 other states.
 

To honor those who have fought breast cancer or are fighting it now, the fountain at the Pennsylvania State Capitol’s East Wing was dyed pink on Monday for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink fountain is also a reminder to all women of the importance of mammograms and early detection. Every day, 37 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania, and more than 2,000 Pennsylvania women die each year from the disease. However, more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive today in the United States.
 

PennDOT Closures for Columbus Day Weekend

All PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Oct. 7, through Monday, Oct. 9, in observance of Columbus Day. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver-training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.
 
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