Dec. 15, 2017

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Legislative Report

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

House Passes Historic Budget Reforms
In ongoing efforts to stand up for taxpayers, the House this week approved historic legislation to change budget-making in Harrisburg by bringing integrity, transparency and spending limits to the state budget and budget process. Included in the package of bills is legislation I authored requiring quarterly reports of special government accounts.

The legislative package – House Bills 1940-1945 – requires transparency through an official estimate of how much money the state will have and the creation of monetary reserves during revenue shortfalls.

House Bill 1943, which I prime sponsored, would require each state agency to prepare quarterly reports on funding committed for grants and subsidies from each special fund. In addition to providing this information to members of the General Assembly and the Independent Fiscal Office, the data also would be posted on PennWATCH, the state’s publicly accessible spending database.

Additionally, a proposed state constitutional amendment to limit state spending, House Bill 110, would impose a cap based on recent increases in the Consumer Price Index and state population growth. A constitutional amendment must be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions and then by the state’s voters.

These measures, which are now headed to the Senate, are in addition to a new state law requiring performance-based budgeting. This information will help legislators decide which programs to fund and which to shut down.


Children’s Health Insurance Program Extension
To help ensure coverage of the popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), legislation is currently on the governor’s desk to extend the program for two more years.

For 25 years, CHIP has provided insurance coverage to uninsured children and teens (up to age 19) whose families earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance, but who cannot afford to purchase private insurance.

CHIP is supported by both state and federal funds and provides payment for health care coverage for eligible children who meet income and other criteria.

More than 180,000 children are currently enrolled in CHIP.

More information about CHIP is available online at CHIPCoversPAKids.com.
 

Farmers Be Counted! Census of Agriculture Underway
Farmers across Pennsylvania are encouraged to take part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The census seeks to count anyone who earns at least $1,000 per year growing food or other crops. The data is used to develop food and agriculture policies and programs for the entire country, including funding decisions.

Census questionnaires are being mailed to farmers, ranchers and growers this month. The 2017 census form, which requires an estimated 50 minutes to complete, must be returned by Feb. 5, 2018, but respondents are encouraged to respond online at agcensus.usda.gov.

The web-based questionnaire allows access from any electronic device, and farmers can return their draft responses as their schedules allow. The new online form saves time and improves convenience for respondents, while capturing a more detailed account of U.S. farming and ranching.

With Pennsylvania a leader in the agriculture industry, it is important our farmers and producers stand up and be counted.
 

Renew Dog Licenses Now

Pet owners are reminded to renew their dog’s license for 2018. All dogs three months of age or older must be licensed in Pennsylvania, either on an annual basis or with a lifetime license.

Annual license fees vary from $6.50 to $8.50, with fee reductions for senior citizens and those owners with disabilities. Lifetime license costs are $31.50 or $51.50. Applications for license renewals can be found here. Completed applications must be returned to the owner’s county treasurer’s office

Under Pennsylvania state law, owners who fail to license and/or immunize their dogs could face fines up to $300 per violation for each dog three months of age or older. In addition, owners of non-vaccinated pets may be fined up to $300 plus court costs.
 
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