May. 12, 2017

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Legislative Report

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

Senior Expo Next Week
Residents of the 57th Legislative District are invited to my Senior Expo next Wednesday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Delmont Volunteer Fire Company, 2360 State Route 66, Delmont. This free event will feature a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors from local, state, federal and nonprofit organizations who can answer questions on health care, insurance, nutrition, personal safety and much more. More information is available by contacting my Greensburg district office at (724) 834-6400.

Final Spring Coffee Talk with Rep. Nelson
I will be hosting my final spring coffee talk next Friday, May 19, from 7-10 a.m. at Ziggy’s Hotel, 201 Depot St., Youngwood. Please call the district office at (724) 834-6400 to register. I enjoy the good discussion that we have at these events.

Small Business Bill Scheduled for Action
My legislation, House Bill 333, allowing businesses to take the full deduction permitted by the Internal Revenue Code for qualifying equipment purchases was discussed on the House floor this week and is scheduled for a vote during our next session week on May 22. Fortunately, several of the amendments were removed that would have complicated the bill. Hopefully, it will advance through the House as scheduled.

Bill to Protect Seniors’ Prescription Drug Assistance Eligibility Advances
The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee this week reported out my legislation to prevent seniors from losing their eligibility for state prescription drug assistance due to a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The state’s PACE and PACENET programs provide prescription drug assistance to about 300,000 Pennsylvania seniors. A 2015 state law allowed seniors previously eligible to not lose their PACE and PACENET benefits due to a Social Security COLA. However, this law sunsets in December. Under House Bill 425, the COLA moratorium would be extended through Dec. 31, 2019. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Real ID Update: Bill Encourages Freedom of Choice
Pennsylvanians who do not fly or enter federal buildings or military installations would not have to purchase identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act under legislation passed by the House State Government Committee this week. Instead, residents may choose to purchase a REAL ID or continue using the current form of state driver’s license or photo ID as a standard form of identification for activities other than air travel or entering federal buildings. Lawmakers believe offering choice is the best way to ensure Pennsylvania complies with the requirements of federal law while also avoiding unnecessary burdens on taxpayers who would face higher costs for the new form of identification. The General Assembly must act by June 6 in order to be considered for an additional extension from the Department of Homeland Security. Both the passage of this legislation and the extension will allow Pennsylvania to take the important steps necessary for the Commonwealth to reach full compliance with the federal law.

Strengthening Public Corruption Laws
Public officials and employees who are convicted of public corruption crimes would be forced to forfeit their government pension under legislation that passed the House this week. House Bill 939 would hold state, county or municipal government officials and public employees, including judges, teachers and other school district employees, accountable for crimes related to their official duties by requiring them to forfeit their government pension. They would also need to pay appropriate restitution when they plead guilty or no contest to any crime related to their official government position or any felony offense related to their office or employment. This would prevent public officials from cutting deals under which they agree to plead guilty to a lesser crime to keep their pensions. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would also impact federal crimes that are classified as felonies or are punishable by a term of at least five years in prison.

Ensuring Coverage for Lyme Disease Treatment
To help ensure patients have access to available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options for Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases, House Bill 174 was reported out of the House Health Committee this week. Over the last five years, Pennsylvania has ranked highest in the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease, with 10,817 in 2015. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released a study last year confirming a high risk of Lyme in every county of the Commonwealth. House Bill 174 would require health insurers to cover treatment plans for Lyme disease or related tick-borne illnesses as prescribed by a patient’s health care practitioner, regardless if the treatment plan includes short-term or long-term antibiotic treatment. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration. May is also Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. Individuals should be aware of early, disseminated, and late/persistent symptoms and that a negative Lyme test cannot rule out Lyme disease. The early clinical diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these tick-borne disorders and diseases can greatly reduce the risks of continued, diverse and chronic symptoms which can affect every system and organ of the human body and often every aspect of a person’s life. For tips about how to protect yourself from Lyme disease, click here.
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Office Locations
101 Ehalt Street, Suite 105, The Train Station, Greensburg, PA 15601-2300 | Phone: (724) 834-6400
Youngwood Borough Bldg, 17 South 6th Street, Youngwood, PA 15697 | Phone: (724) 925-5490                                  
117B East Wing, House Box 202057, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2057 | Phone: (717) 260-6146
TTY: 855-282-0614