Apr. 28, 2017

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Weekly News Update


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Leveling the Playing Field
To help enhance educational opportunities offered by public, cyber charter and charter schools, legislation passed the state House this week to make commonsense reforms to the state’s charter school law.
House Bill 97 would update the funding formula for cyber charter schools, which are funded mainly by school districts and local tax dollars, to ensure greater fairness for both school districts and charters. It would also improve school choice by strengthening current state law and adding accountability measures for ethics, transparency, governance and auditing.
Under the proposal, academic quality of charter and cyber charter schools would be monitored and held to the same standards as public schools. Additionally, teachers would be evaluated using the same system implemented statewide a few years ago in public schools.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Protecting the Second Amendment
To prevent local governments from enacting their own laws seeking to diminish the Second Amendment, the House gave its approval to House Bill 671 this week.

Although Commonwealth law already stipulates that local governments cannot pass their own firearms laws, some communities have done so anyway. As a result, citizens with no criminal intent are placed in danger of breaking rules they don’t know exist.

House Bill 671 would deter local jurisdictions from imposing illegal ordinances by requiring them to reimburse reasonable attorneys fees and costs to bring a lawsuit challenging the illegal ordinance.

The measure, which was originally enacted in 2014, directly responds to a state court decision which ruled the law unconstitutional. That ruling was based on technical grounds, and the substance of the legislation was never called into question.

Additionally, the annual Second Amendment Rally will be held Monday, May 22, at 10 a.m. in the Main Rotunda of the State Capitol.

Around the Capitol
It’s been a busy few weeks at the Capitol and I have had the pleasure of welcoming many local residents and students to my office in Harrisburg. Thank you for coming!
It was great to welcome this group from Bloomsburg University last week.
Pictured with me are Dan Knorr, Bloomsburg University director of external and government relations; Olivia Chandler, Bloomsburg University political science student; Jordan Wyant, Bloomsburg University student athlete; and John Caserta, Bloomsburg University student government president and Senate Recognition Designee.
The National Association of Social Workers stopped by to thank me for supporting House Bill 445, which would update Act 136 of 1998, the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act. This act licenses clinical social workers, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors and creates a licensing board to regulate the professions. Pictured with me are Bloomsburg University social work students Wendy Bandala-Ramos, Monique Harmon, Brennan Morell, Liz Medina, Breanne Spudes, Katie Fetterman, Stephanie Byers and Sarah Niedrist.

Last Tuesday, I met with Alison Mowery, nurse practitioner, regarding House Bill 100, which would modernize the Professional Nursing Law.
Pictured with me are pharmacy students Christina Maher, Nicholas Paulson and Benjamin Yoder, who were participating in lobbying efforts as part of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA) Pharmacy Legislative Day.

This week, Eli Yemzow, Chase Urban and Emma Steely, students at Southern Columbia Area School District, served as guest pages on the House floor.
Bloomsburg University student Taylor Kilmer, who serves an intern in our office, was a guest page on Tuesday.

Strengthening Animal Cruelty Laws
Legislation to update existing animal abuse laws and increase penalties for abusing an animal passed the state House this week.
House Bill 1238 would apply criminal penalties based on the severity of the offense and divide the types of abuse into three categories: neglect, which would include failure to provide food, water or shelter; cruelty, which would include recklessly overloading, beating or abandonment; and aggravated cruelty, which would include intentionally torturing an animal to the point where it causes bodily injury or death.

Research studies have identified a direct tie between animal abuse and other forms of abuse.

The bill now moves to the Senate for review.

Celebrating Pennsylvania’s Small Businesses
More than 99 percent of businesses in Pennsylvania are small businesses, and April 30-May 6 has been designated Pennsylvania Small Business Week to celebrate these entrepreneurs and their impact on our economy.

In recognizing the valuable role these businesses play in our Commonwealth, the House continuously works to enact pro-small business policies, including tax fairness and regulatory reforms.

Pennsylvania’s more than 1 million small businesses employ 2.5 million workers, with small businesses, having created nearly 24,000 new jobs in the second half of 2015.

For more information, click here.

Prescription Drug Take Back Set for Saturday
State and local law enforcement agencies will accept unwanted, expired and unused prescription drugs on Saturday, April 29, as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., unwanted prescription medications may be dropped off at select locations. No personal information is required to participate in a drop-off.

The closest locations will be the Locust Township Police Department and the Berwick Police Department.

If you miss this event, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA), works with local communities to provide grants that facilitate the installation of hundreds of secure and permanent prescription drug drop-off boxes.

Click here to find a nearby location.

Upcoming Events
• A drug take-back event will be held on Saturday, April 29, at the Berwick Police Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• The Renaissance Jamboree will be held on Saturday, April 29, on Main Street in Bloomsburg starting at 10 a.m.
• Our Spring Art Expo will be held on Monday, May 1, at our Bloomsburg district office from 6-8 p.m.
• The Bloomsburg Fire Department Carnival will be held from Wednesday, May 3, through Saturday, May 6.
• Our Senior Caregiver Support Forum will be held on Thursday, May 11, from 6-8 p.m. at 702 Sawmill Road, Bloomsburg. Call 570-387-0246 to RSVP.
• Celebrate Historic Berwick will be held on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 11 a.m. on the 500 block of Market Street.
• Offices will be closed on Tuesday, May 16, for Primary Election Day.
• The United Way Trash to Treasure event will be held on Saturday, May 20, at the Bloomsburg Fair Grounds.
• An ALS Walk will be held on Saturday, May 20, at Bloomsburg Town Park beginning at 9 a.m.
• Monthly Radio Address: Thursday, May 25, at 8:30 a.m. on WHLM 94.7 FM.
• The Mifflinville Carnival will be held from Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28, at Mifflinville Park.
• PA Fish For Free Day will be held Sunday, May 28.
• Offices will be closed on Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.
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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
Email: dmillard@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614