Budget Update: Continuing the Fight Against Higher Taxes
The $32 billion budget passed by the General Assembly in late June became law earlier this week, again without the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf. This is the third consecutive fiscal year budget to become law without the governor’s signature.
With the governor largely absent from negotiations, House and Senate Republicans have been working in good faith with his staff to reach an agreement on revenues to support the spending plan.
Presented with a variety of options, including proposed reforms to our state’s liquor sales system and gaming expansion, the administration has rejected each proposal, instead calling for new and increased taxes on hard-working Pennsylvania families or small employers.
Talks will continue until an agreement is reached.
Bill to Boost Fight Against Waste, Fraud, Abuse
Legislation that would ensure the future of the State Office of Inspector General has been passed by the General Assembly and is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
Recognizing the importance of its work to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the state’s welfare system and government as a whole, Senate Bill 527 would make the office a permanent part of state government. Currently, it exists only by executive order of the governor.
Under the bill, the Office of Inspector General would be granted subpoena power for its internal investigations and would be authorized to investigate and file criminal charges for certain welfare fraud crimes.
The bill also aims to promote the office’s independence. It outlines qualifications for the top post and provides a separate budgetary line item for the office. Finally, it ensures regular communications with the General Assembly.
The governor has indicated he will sign the legislation.
Improving Transparency in Lobbying
To improve transparency within the lobbying process, House Bill 1175 passed the House this week to better address lobbying violations and ensure the public has more information with respect to how lobbyists attempt to influence public policy.
The bill would increase the maximum penalty imposed by the Ethics Commission for an unlawful act from the current fine of $2,000 to $4,000. The bill also would increase the maximum administrative penalty that may be imposed for negligent failure to report under current law from $50 per day, to $50 for the first 10 days, $100 for each late day after the first 10 late days and $200 for each late day after the initial 20-day period.
Additionally, the bill would improve the current electronic filing system for lobbyists and require all filings to be posted on the Department of State’s publicly accessible website within seven days of receipt.
The bill now goes to the Senate for its review.
Staying Safe in Highway Work Zones
With the summer construction season in full swing, motorists are reminded to follow state law in highway work zones. Since 1970, 87 PennDOT employees have lost their lives in the line of duty.
In posted work zones, state law requires all motorists to travel with their headlights turned on. Drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights must turn on their headlights to activate their taillights. Interstate work zones with a project cost exceeding $300,000 will have a speed-monitoring device to alert motorists of their speed prior to entering the work zone.
In active work zones, a white flashing light attached to the “Active Work Zone When Flashing” sign will only be activated when workers are present. Motorists caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted for failing to drive at a safe speed, automatically will lose their license for 15 days.
Additionally, fines for certain traffic violations — including speeding, driving under the influence and failure to obey traffic devices — are doubled for active work zones. Five years of additional jail time may be imposed for individuals convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash in an active work zone.
For more information on work zone safety, including safety tips, click here.
Senior Expo Set for Aug. 9
Mark your calendars for my 14th annual senior expo, set for Wednesday, Aug. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Espy Fire Hall, located at Tenny and Third Streets in Bloomsburg. Doors will open at 8:45 a.m.
Dozens of representatives from state agencies, local businesses and nonprofit organizations will be on hand to provide information and answer questions relating to senior issues. If you or a loved one are age 55 or over, plan to make a morning of it! I hope to see you there.
For more information, visit www.RepMillard.com.
• The Lightstreet Fire Department Carnival will be held from Monday, July 10, through Saturday, July 15.
• A representative from Congressman Lou Barletta’s office will be in the Bloomsburg district office on Thursday, July 13, from 1-3 p.m.
• A representative from the VA will be in the Bloomsburg district office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18. Call 570-387-0246 to make an appointment.
• The Orangeville Fire Department Carnival will be held from Friday, July 21, through Saturday, July 29.
• A World War II reenactment will be held at Berwick Test Track Park on Saturday, July 22, and Sunday, July 23.
• A World War II Swing Dance will be held at Reliance Fire Company on Saturday, July 22, from 6-9 p.m.