Mar. 03, 2017

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Weekly News Update


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Budget Hearings Look into Potential Mergers

Members of the House Appropriations Committee had a first chance to ask department officials about the governor’s two proposed mergers within his budget proposal – combining the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a Department of Health and Human Services; and the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole into a Department of Criminal Justice – during budget hearings this week.

Questions focused on cost savings, current programs and services, and the potential loss of attention to seniors and the opioid epidemic. Gov. Tom Wolf estimated the proposed mergers would save tax dollars by eliminating redundant programs and streamlining services. A specific plan, including placement of personnel, has not yet been given to lawmakers, but estimates reveal a savings of about $90 million.

Also appearing before the committee this week were the departments of Environmental Protection, Conservation and Natural Resources, Agriculture, General Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Community and Economic Development; along with the judiciary; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency; Liquor Control Board; Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; and the Public Utility Commission.

The final round of hearings is set for next week. To view the upcoming schedule or watch past hearings, click here.  
Concealed Carry Seminar to be Held Tuesday, March 7

I will be offering a Concealed Carry Seminar on Tuesday, March 7, from 6-8 p.m. at the Buckhorn Fire Hall, located at 19 Fire Hall Rd., Bloomsburg. The event is free and open to the public. Columbia County District Attorney Thomas E. Leipold and Columbia County Sheriff Timothy Chamberlain will provide information about Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws and how to safely interact with police while carrying a concealed firearm. Reservations are needed due to limited seating.

To sign up, visit here. For more information and to register, call my district office at 570-387-0246.
Committee Questions Status of Unemployment Comp System

Members of the House Labor and Industry Committee questioned Secretary of Labor and Industry Kathy Manderino about the impact of furloughs in the Unemployment Compensation (UC) bureau and expected computer system upgrades that were supposed to have been completed years ago.

Since the furloughs and three UC center closures two months ago, residents seeking to submit claims or obtain information from the bureau have experienced lengthy delays or lack of response.

The Wolf administration furloughed staff when an extension of state funding was not approved by the Senate last year, and is now operating solely on federal funding. Subsequent reports revealed that errors made at the department caused the state to lose millions in federal funding. The administration is trying to recoup those funds.

The committee was seeking information from the secretary to explore what short- and/or long-term plans may be necessary in order to meet the needs of those currently waiting for service, as well as to ensure greater accountability and more efficient services within the UC system going forward.

To watch a recording of the hearing, click here.
Act 89 Invests More in Local Roads

PennDOT announced this week that municipalities will receive nearly $466.2 million from liquid fuels revenue to invest in local roads, marking a 5 percent increase, or $20.9 million, over last year.

This funding will allow municipalities to help pay for expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. More than 60 percent of public roads in Pennsylvania are maintained by local governments. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally owned roads.

The additional funding is made possible by Act 89 and was distributed to certified municipalities on March 1. Before Act 89 was enacted, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.

For the complete list of local payments, visit the “Municipal Liquid Fuels Program” page at under the “Doing Business” Local Government page.
Program Offers Assistance with Septic Systems

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), together with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, offers a program with low-interest loans to homeowners to cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems.

Assistance is available to eligible homeowners who need to repair or replace their individual on-lot septic system or to connect for the first time to a public sewer system.

More information can be found at here.
Farmers Breakfast Set for Friday, March 10

I will be offering a Legislative Farmers Breakfast open to farmers of the 109th Legislative District on Friday, March 10, in conjunction with Penn Ag. Call my Bloomsburg district office at 570-387-0246 for more information.
Upcoming Events

• Central Columbia High School presents “Beauty and the Beast” Friday, March 3, through Sunday, March 5.
• Bloomsburg High School presents “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” Friday, March 3, through Sunday, March 5.
• I will offer a concealed carry seminar on Tuesday, March 7, at the Buckhorn Fire Hall from 6-8 p.m. Registration is required. Visit or call 570-387-0246 to RSVP.
• A representative from the American Legion will be in the Bloomsburg district office on Tuesday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment. Call 570-387-0246 to make an appointment.
• A representative from Congressman Lou Barletta’s office will be in the Bloomsburg district office on Thursday, March 9, from 1-3 p.m.
• A Legislative Farmers Breakfast will be held Friday, March 10. Call 570-387-0246 to register.
• Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 12.
• Benton High School presents “The Wizard of Oz” Friday, March 17, through Saturday, March 19.
• A Children’s Fair will be held at Columbia Mall on Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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Office Locations
904B Orange St., Berwick PA, 18603 | Phone: (570) 759-8734
Market Street Plaza, 1000 Market St. (Suite 39), Bloomsburg, PA 17815 | (570) 387-0246
316 Main Capitol, PO Box 202109, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2109 | Phone: (717) 783-1102
TTY: 855-282-0614