Dec. 17, 2018

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Harrisburg Update

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


Aid Available After Summer Flooding
 
I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved funding for Schuylkill County after severe storms damaged homes and businesses this summer.

Low-interest loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. SBA regulations permit loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets.

The SBA has established a Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) at the Port Carbon Borough Municipal Building, 301 First St., to assist anyone who wishes to apply for a loan.
                                              

New Tool to Fight Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Building on the work of lawmakers to develop policies to combat the opioid crisis, the Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Human Services recently unveiled a Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool (DART) to help individuals identify drug and alcohol treatment options and support services for themselves or a loved one.

DART is not a diagnostic assessment and does not gauge eligibility for any programs. It is designed to assist people who are looking for services but are not sure where to begin. Users get the results based off their answers to survey questions. They can skip a question at any point.

After completing the questionnaire, people can email, download, and/or print their results. The tool does not ask for any identifying information.

The tool is a free, anonymous resource and can be found here.   

I am hopeful we can gain the momentum needed and drive the resources out that will be necessary to appropriately battle this health care crisis that is claiming lives of every race, gender, age and economic background across our country.
 

Clean Slate Law Ready to Take Effect
Pennsylvania was the first state in the nation to enact “clean slate” legislation. Residents with low-level offenses on their records who have gone 10 years without a subsequent arrest, prosecution or conviction will have their records automatically sealed under this new law.

Act 56 of 2018 allows records of second-and third-degree misdemeanor criminal convictions to be automatically sealed after a 10-year period without subsequent offenses. The new law does not apply to violent offenses or those committed with a firearm or other dangerous item; sexual offenses; cruelty to animals; or corruption of minors.

This legislation balances the opportunity for low-level, nonviolent offenders to move forward, while at the same time not shielding the records of violent criminals.

The law will go into effect later this month.
 

Good News for Farmers
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving forward with a significant rollback of an Obama-era “clean water” regulation.

The new rule would replace an Obama administration regulation, known as the "Waters of the United States" rule that piggybacked on the 1972 Clean Water Act to expand federal overreach to include low areas in a cornfield that stay wet year after year.

Farmers and property rights groups have long pointed out that the Obama rule unduly prevents property owners from being able to fully use their land because the rule's overly broad definition regulates ditches that temporarily flood as federally protected waterways.

Two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 came down on the side of landowners, ruling that ponds at the bottom of a gravel pit and a marsh that are many miles from any lake or river were not navigable and thus not subject to the Clean Water Act.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday said the new rule was drafted to reflect the court rulings.
 

House Scholarships Now Available
High school seniors interested in receiving financial assistance to help pay for college can now apply for a 2019 Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship.

Each year the program awards four-year scholarships to two students preparing for post-secondary education.

The program is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.

Students must have attained a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average in high school in order to be eligible for a scholarship. The application is available through the foundation’s website at tfec.org. Once on the site, click on the “Scholarship” tab at the top of the page. Then click on any of the counties listed underneath or the link entitled “any other in the state of Pennsylvania” to access the scholarship information. The application deadline is March 1, 2019.
 

Renew Dog Licenses
Pet owners are reminded to renew their dog’s license for 2019. All dogs three months of age or older must be licensed in Pennsylvania, either on an annual basis or with a lifetime license.

Annual licenses are $8.50, while lifetime licenses are $51.50. Dogs who are spayed or neutered can be licensed for $6.50 for the year, or $31.50 for a lifetime license. Discounts are available for senior citizens and those owners with disabilities. Applications for license renewals can be found here. Completed applications must be returned to the owner’s county treasurer’s office.

Under Pennsylvania state law, owners who fail to license and/or immunize their dogs could face fines up to $300 per violation for each dog three months of age or older. In addition, owners of non-vaccinated pets may be fined up to $300 plus court costs.
 
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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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