Jan. 27, 2017

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Harrisburg Update

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


SCI Frackville to Remain Open

On Thursday, I joined several of my legislative colleagues in thanking the governor and Corrections Secretary John Wetzel for their decision to keep SCI Frackville open, and for listening to our reasoning to keep the facility running.

Just a few weeks back, on Jan. 6, Wetzel announced that the DOC would be closing two state prisons in 2017. SCI Frackville was one of five prisons being considered to be closed. On Thursday, it was announced that the DOC will begin the process of closing SCI Pittsburgh by June 30, 2017, a decision the administration says is expected to save taxpayers about $80 million, which is enough to prevent the closure of a second prison.

While I feel for the community that will be affected by this closure in the western part of our state, I am very glad that SCI Frackville will remain open. Ensuring public safety is one of government’s most core and essential services, and this facility is one of the most efficient and newer prisons the state owns and operates. SCI Frackville is a highly performing facility and an asset to our community. The decision to keep it open represents fiscal responsibility, as well as good news for our region.

Also, I participated in a Senate hearing to voice my concerns about SCI Frackville being in jeopardy on Monday. I am pictured (above,) at the hearing with my colleagues State Reps. Kurt A. Masser, Neal Goodman and Jerry Knowles, all of whom represent portions of our region. Following the hearing, I signed onto a letter and a petition, containing the signatures of 5,670 individuals, that were then sent to the governor urging SCI Frackville be kept open.
 
 
Rescuing the Rescuers: Helping Save Our Volunteer Fire, EMS Companies

 
This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate unveiled a 16-bill package to support fire and ambulance services across the Commonwealth. The legislation is designed to address growing financial costs faced by companies, the shortage of volunteers and the lack of affordable and easily accessible training options.

On the funding side, measures within the package seek to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates, increase surcharges on moving violations to support the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, and provide new billing options for fire departments and EMS organizations.

To address the volunteer shortage, the package includes bills to promote recruitment and retention by offering online training to make the process more convenient, provide loan forgiveness to attract volunteers, develop a pilot program to offer firefighter training in secondary schools, and offer tax credits to businesses that excuse their employees when they need to respond to emergencies or undergo training.
 
 
Emergency Programs Can Save Lives

 
To help first responders help motorists and passengers who may be injured in car crashes, PennDOT offers two programs aimed at saving the lives of Pennsylvanians in emergency situations – the Yellow Dot and Emergency Contact Information programs.

Participants in Yellow Dot fill out the program form with emergency contact, medical contact and medical information, insert it in the program’s folder and then place it in their vehicle’s glove compartment. A yellow dot sticker affixed to the rear window alerts emergency responders to the availability of information to help them provide better care to crash victims.

The Emergency Contact Information program offers Pennsylvania driver’s license and PennDOT-issued ID holders the opportunity to log into a secure database and list two emergency contacts. Participants can update the information as needed, but only law enforcement officials can view the information in the system. In the event of an emergency, law enforcement can use a participant’s ID to find his or her emergency contact information.

The Yellow Dot program is used only in vehicle crashes, but the Emergency Contact Information program can be used in other emergencies as well as crashes.

To learn more, click here
   
 Wear Red Feb. 3 to Raise Awareness of Women’s Heart Disease

Women across the country are encouraged to wear red on Friday, Feb. 3, as part of the “Go Red for Women” campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart disease. Legislative efforts over the years have made the official designation in Pennsylvania as a way to remind women of the risks of heart disease.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women each year, causing one in three deaths each year, or about one per minute. According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood. By increasing awareness, speaking up about heart disease and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, we can save thousands of lives each year.
 
 
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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