Mar. 17, 2017

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Harrisburg Update

A quick look at what’s happening in Harrisburg
and the 125th Legislative District...


Thank You for Your Calls

 
Our office has been receiving many calls related to the terrible road conditions, and the length of time it has taken PennDOT to clear certain roads, as a result of the massive snowstorm that hit our area earlier this week.

We have taken those concerns directly to PennDOT. In response, the information we received was that local PennDOT crews were working around-the-clock, using all their equipment, including some rentals.

Local PennDOT officials indicated to us that the heavy snow and cold temperatures were to blame for the hard pack on the roadways. An equipment breakdown in the Pine Grove area, coupled with the need to open major roadways such as Interstate 81 in order to prevent major disasters and pileups (like we saw in McAdoo a few weeks ago), also delayed response time on many localized roads.

The roadways need to be passable, and we do pay taxes to have issues like this handled, but that can be a huge task and can take more time than we appreciate. I am especially concerned that at many places, our roads were not dealt with as effectively as our neighboring counties.

I am committed to making sure that locally, PennDOT has the resources it needs and can deliver the best possible service to our area going forward. We will be following up with a meeting to better understand what occurred, and how service can be improved in the future.

I know the many PennDOT workers who are on call around the clock when these storms hit have a difficult and often dangerous job and they are committed to doing it well for all of us. I also understand your concerns and appreciate your comments and feedback to help improve service and response moving forward. 
 
 
Mark Your Calendars…

 
On Thursday, April 27, I will join Sen. Dave Argall at a JQC at the Tremont Borough Hall, from 8-9 a.m.

On Saturday, April 29, I will be touring our satellite district offices – you can view the office details below. I will be available to meet with constituents from 30 minutes at each office. If you have additional concerns or are unable to attend during the allotted time, please call my offices at 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208.

• 9-9:30 a.m. – Pine Grove Legion
• 10-10:30 a.m. – Tri-Valley Public Library, Hegins
• 11-11:30 a.m. – Gratz Community Center
• Noon-12:30 p.m. – Williamstown District Office
 
 
Improving PA’s Unfriendly Adoption Policies

 
The House passed eight bills this week to improve the state’s unfriendly adoption policies by ensuring birth parents, adoptive parents and children can benefit from a smoother process. From shortening the period in which a birth parent can revoke his or her consent to an adoption from 30 days to 14, to ensuring birth parents have access to adoption-related counseling services, we are doing what we can to better the adoption process in Pennsylvania. All bills have been sent to the Senate.
 
 
Expanding Educational Choice

 
Also this week, the House voted to expand the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC), two popular tax credit programs that have allowed thousands of families to choose the best education for their kids. House Bill 250 increases the amount of tax credits available for EITC by $50 million (to total a record $175 million), and OSTC by $25 million (to total $75 million). This bill has also been sent to the Senate for consideration. 
 
 
PA Liquor Control Board Accepting Applications for Grants to Reduce Underage and Dangerous Drinking

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is now accepting applications from schools, community organizations, municipalities, law enforcement organizations, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education and for-profit institutions for two-year grants aimed at reducing underage and dangerous drinking.

Grants are intended to fund programs that focus on proven strategies to discourage and reduce both underage and dangerous drinking. The grant cycle is for up to two years, from July 2017 through June 2019, with a maximum award of $20,000 per year and $40,000 over two years. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and are subject to the availability of funds, and grant amounts will be determined by the Bureau of Alcohol Education.

This year, grant applications must be submitted through PLCB+, an online system developed to streamline licensing and alcohol education functions. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. Friday, March 31, 2017. Detailed information – including a Grant Application Instruction Guide, answers to frequently asked questions, and access to PLCB+ – is available on the grants page of the PLCB website
 
 
Keep PA Beautiful!

 
As part of the 2017 Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, registration is now open to organizations that wish to organize a wide range of beautification projects. Registered cleanup events can get free trash bags, gloves and safety vests from PennDOT district offices, while supplies last. Events can be litter cleanups, illegal dump cleanups, beautification projects, special collections and educational events.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association are sponsoring “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Everyday” from April 18 through May 8. During this time, trash collected at registered events can be taken to participating landfills for free or reduced-cost disposal with prior approval. The 2017 Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania runs from March 1 to May 31. Last year’s campaign included 6,118 events in all 67 counties with 158,821 volunteers. To register an event, click here.
 
 
District Office Services
Schuylkill Haven District Office
988 E. Main St., Suite A
Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
570-385-8235
The hours at the Schuylkill Haven office are as follows: Mondays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Williamstown District Office
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown
717-647-7208
The hours at the Williamstown office are as follows: Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Satellite Office Hours
Pine Grove - American Legion
42 S. Tulpehocken St., Pine Grove
By appointment only.

Gratz Community Center
125 N Center St., Gratz
First Thursday of the month, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Tri-Valley Public Library
633 East Main St., Hegins
Every Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Northern Dauphin Human Services Building
295 State Drive, Elizabethville
Fourth Thursday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Tower City - Municipal Building
(Mayor’s office)
219 E. Colliery Ave., Tower City
By appointment only. Call 570-385-8235 to schedule.
 
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Office Locations
988 Route 61 South, East Main Street, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972 | Phone (toll free) (855) 271-9384
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown, PA  Phone (717) 647-7208
4B East Wing, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2147 
Email: mtobash@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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