House GOP Continues Fight for Responsible Budgeting
Lawmakers were back in Harrisburg this week continuing the effort to bring the 2017-18 state budget process to a close.
The main component still outstanding is a bill to complete funding of the $32 billion spending plan. While the governor has pushed for higher taxes and the state Senate approved a plan to impose nearly $600 million in new taxes – more than $400 million of which would come in the form of new and increased taxes on consumer utility bills – House Republicans are fighting for a more responsible, less burdensome solution.
While negotiations on a revenue plan continue, lawmakers did approve two important measures that will help save taxpayer dollars in the long term. House Bill 785 would enact substantial debt reduction and responsible debt management policies that would save taxpayers an estimated $3.14 billion in debt service over the next 20 years. House Bill 785 heads back to the Senate for consideration.
The House also approved a key welfare reform measure that could ultimately require physically and mentally able adults to meet work requirements in order to receive benefits. 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. House Bill 59 will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Concealed Carry Seminar Set for Oct. 19
I am hosting a Concealed Carry Seminar on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6-8 p.m. at the Northern Columbia Community Center in Benton.
The seminar will feature Columbia County District Attorney Thomas Leipold and Sheriff Timothy Chamberlain. They will include information about Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws and how to safely interact with police while carrying a firearm.
Due to space limitations, those planning to attend are required to RSVP in advance. There is no fee to attend.
To register, visit www.RepMillard.com or call (570) 759-8734.
Northeast GOP House Delegation Works with Unified Voice to Benefit Region
To ensure that Northeast Pennsylvania has a strong and effective voice in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I am working with 11 other members -- representing parts of 13 counties in our region -- to fight for the issues that matter most to the area. We know that strength does lie in numbers, and that’s why we felt it best to join collective forces and use our delegation as an agent of change that will ultimately benefit our region.
Since its founding at the beginning of the 2017-18 legislative session, the group is actively fighting against any new tax increases but is also working toward lessening regulations that suppress jobs and commerce, reform property taxes, enhance educational opportunities, improve health care access and affordability, support responsible development of natural gas opportunities with an emphasis on environmental protection, further enhance agriculture development, and improve technical and vocational education that creates job readiness.
Including myself, the delegation includes (back row, from left): Reps. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), Michael Peifer (R-Pike/Wayne), Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming), Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), Jack Rader (R-Monroe); (front row) Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne), Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), Chairwoman Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming), Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) and Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union).
Better Protecting Consumers from Data Breaches
Legislation is expected to advance in the state House in the coming weeks to respond to recent breaches of personal and financial data. Two new House bills are designed to further protect consumers who are victims of data breaches that open them to possible identity theft.
The first proposal would require notification of a breach from the entity where the breach occurred to the affected consumer within 30 days and to the state attorney general. The notification would include the date the breach occurred, the type of information subject to the breach, a toll-free number and the address of credit reporting agencies. The entities must also develop policies to safeguard and discard personal consumer information.
The second bill would waive the current credit freeze fee, which charges up to $10 per account. In the instance of a data breach, consumers would be provided with three months of free credit monitoring and up to three free credit reports for one calendar year after the date the breach is reported. None of these would apply to a credit reporting agency that has not experienced a breach.
These two bills were introduced following the Equifax data breach, which was the largest data breach in history – exposing the personal information of at least 143 million Americans, including 5.4 million Pennsylvanians.
‘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.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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, www.dmv.pa.gov.
• Good Shepard Church in Bloomsburg will hold a rummage sale on Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7, beginning at 9 a.m.
• Bloomsburg University’s Homecoming will be held on Saturday, Oct. 7.
• Offices will be closed on Monday, Oct. 9, for Columbus Day.
• The Col-Mont Opioid Coalition will hold a conversation about the fentanyl/opioid crisis at Bloomsburg University’s Centennial Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
• A job fair will be held at the Berwick Golf Club on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 2-6 p.m.
• Berwick Riverfest will be held from Friday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 15, at Test Track Park.
• The Col-Mont Aging Office will hold its Apple Festival at the Espy Fire Department from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
• Our Concealed Carry Seminar will be held on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6-8 p.m. at the Northern Columbia Community Center in Benton. Registration is required. Register and learn more by visiting www.RepMillard.com.
• Applications for the 2017-18 State Fire/EMS grant program close on Friday, Oct. 20.
• A photography exhibit, featuring the photos of Harry Ackerman, will be on display at the Northern Columbia Community Center through November. A “meet the artist” reception will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 2-4 p.m.
• The Berwick Elks Halloween Parade will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 24, beginning at 6 p.m.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, Oct. 26, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• The Catawissa Halloween Parade will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
• A craft show will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, at S.S. Cyril and Methodius Church in Berwick from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• A representative from the VA will be in the Bloomsburg district office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1. By appointment only. Call 570-387-0246 to make an appointment.
• The Bloomsburg Veterans Parade will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, beginning at 9 a.m.
• Our Fall Art Show is set for Monday, Nov. 6, at our Bloomsburg district office, from 6-8 p.m.
• Our 3rd Annual Veterans Expo will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Central Columbia High School from 9 a.m. to noon.