Oct. 20, 2017

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Legislative Report

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

Gov. Wolf Vetoes Welfare Reform Bill
Despite dozens of House members urging Gov. Tom Wolf to sign House Bill 59, the Human Services code part of the 2017-18 state budget package, he chose to veto it on Thursday.

The measure was designed to contain escalating costs for the state’s Medical Assistance (MA) program by starting a process to implement work or work-search requirements for able-bodied individuals receiving MA benefits.

Work requirements are already in place for food stamp and cash assistance programs. Under the bill, the work requirements would not have apply to those who have a qualifying disability, are pregnant or are elderly.

The bill could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars depending on the waivers requested by the governor’s administration and approved by the federal government. Medicaid expenses have skyrocketed more than 35 percent over the last 10 years, while overall state spending increased 8 percent. Funding for the Department of Human Services (DHS) equals 38 percent of the overall state budget, and the Medicaid component itself accounts for almost 21.5 percent of the state budget.

House Passes Revenue Plan to Help Close Out Budget
In seeking to close out the 2017-18 state budget process, the House this week voted on part of a revenue package to finish funding the 2016-17 fiscal year and maintain operations for the current fiscal year.

House Bill 542 would raise the bulk of revenue needed to close the budget gap by securitizing the Tobacco Settlement Fund, ensuring third-party online sellers remit the sales tax and applying the sales tax to fireworks. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Additional measures still need to be passed on gaming reforms and reinvesting excessive balances from dormant state funds, and the fiscal code bill to finalize the budget package.

House Republicans have been focused on standing up for taxpayers, first by successfully passing a spending plan that spent much less than the governor proposed, and now by approving a revenue plan without any broad-based taxes to further burden individuals, families and employers.

Bus Trip a Success
This week, I hosted my annual State Capitol Bus Trip to Harrisburg. Visitors from the 57th district toured the Capitol, observed legislative session and were introduced on the floor by the Speaker. They also made a stop at the Flight 93 Memorial. If you haven’t attended this trip before, I hope you can join us next year.

Marking Domestic Violence Month
Earlier this month, I sponsored House Resolution 536, which designated Oct. 6, 2017, as “Domestic Violence Awareness Day” in Pennsylvania. Demi Brae Cuccia, the daughter of a constituent, was killed by her ex-boyfriend 10 years ago. Her father, Dr. Gary Cuccia, helped create the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization to honor her memory and bring attention to teen dating violence. Earlier this week, I attended the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s (PCADV) ceremony in the Capitol paying tribute to the 102 people who died in Pennsylvania as a result of domestic violence in 2016. We must create more awareness to end domestic violence.

Washington, D.C., Visit
Last week, I joined my House colleagues in Washington, D.C., to tour the White House and participate in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives’ Conference. This bipartisan group met with representatives from more than 10 federal agencies to discuss issues of importance to Pennsylvanians, including the economy and job creation. It was refreshing to have the Trump administration reach out to us and be so interested in opening up dialog and learning about issues from the front lines of Pennsylvania. It was a great day!

Improving Education at All Levels
As part of the Public School Code portion of the 2017-18 budget package, the House passed several important initiatives designed to enhance curriculum and improve the educational process.

Changes to overall kindergarten through 12th-grade education include delaying the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement until the 2019-20 school year; prohibiting “lunch shaming” to ensure all students have access to school lunches; adding opioid abuse and prevention education to drug and alcohol abuse curriculum and enhancing agriculture education offerings; and increasing the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) by $10 million to $135 million.

To help with public school administration, changes are also being sought to require training for new members of a school’s governing body and to allow a school to furlough teachers for economic reasons and basing those decisions on performance, rather than seniority.

The legislation now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

Got Expired Drugs? Dispose of Them Safely on Oct. 28
To help keep prescription medications out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, the U.S. Department of Justice, working with local law enforcement, will hold a prescription take-back event in our area on Saturday, Oct. 28. This event allows residents to drop off unwanted or expired prescription medications free of charge for safe and convenient disposal.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents can drop their medications off at these sites. More sites are being added daily.

Several communities in our area also have permanent collection sites. Click here for those
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101 Ehalt Street, Suite 105, The Train Station, Greensburg, PA 15601-2300 | Phone: (724) 834-6400
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Email: mailto:enelson@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614