May. 10, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

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

Government Done Right Requires Efficiency, Transparency, Fiscal Responsibility

As part of our “Government Done Right” initiative, House Republicans passed additional bills this week to increase transparency, save taxpayers money and improve the efficiency of government.

House Bill 24 would hasten retirement of the Commonwealth’s General Obligation debt. This will decrease the amount of interest paid and put the state on a path to improve its overall bond rating. The legislation would also require the principal for new state debt to be repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond.

House Bill 880 would extend and accelerate the reduction of the debt ceiling for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program by $500 million over five years. Lowering our debt reduces the financial burden of current and future taxpayers.

To ensure businesses get effective and efficient treatment when navigating the Commonwealth’s legal system, the House voted to create Commerce Courts. Under House Bill 332, these courts would have judges dedicated to hearing and deciding complex business-related cases, including acquisitions, mergers, dissolutions and liquidations, among other items.

The bills now go to the Senate for its consideration.

Expanding School Choice Scholarships

This week, the House adopted legislation to enhance a vital school choice program in the Commonwealth.

House Bill 800 would increase funding for Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program by $100 million to $210 million, providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their students’ needs.

Additionally, it includes an automatic escalator that would increase the funding for these scholarships by 10% in any year that 90% of the credits are claimed, allowing the program to grow to meet demand.

To allow more middle-class families access to this program, the bill would increase the maximum annual household income by $10,000 (to $95,000, before add-ons per child), while guaranteeing that once a student has received a scholarship, he or she will remain eligible through high school graduation regardless of changes to family income.

The EITC program provides tax credits to businesses that make contributions to approved scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children in kindergarten through grade 12, educational improvement organizations providing funding for innovative educational programs in public schools, and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

Watch Me on PCN This Tuesday!

I will be a guest on the PCN Call-In Program on Tuesday, May 14, to discuss the House agenda for the fiscal year and my legislative priorities. It is a live broadcast from 7-8 p.m.

Viewers are invited to call 1-877-726-5001 with comments or questions. It should be a nice discussion so tune in to watch.

Bill to Enhance Program for Troubled Youth Passes Committee

The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness (VAEP) Committee unanimously supported legislation that would establish the Keystone State Challenge Academy Fund in the state Treasury, making it eligible to receive funding.

The Keystone State Challenge Academy is a community-based program under our Pennsylvania National Guard that will lead, train and mentor 16- to 18-year-old high school dropouts so they may become more productive citizens.

With the hopes of including the program in the 2019-20 budget, the bill was amended to make the effective date immediate.

The committee also passed three other bills. The first, also as amended, would allow military dependents to lock in their college admissions status when they register or enroll for the semester. This would help military families preserve their in-state rates if they are required to relocate through no fault of their own.

Secondly, House Bill 630 would extend the same employment protections already in place for Pennsylvanians who serve in the PA National Guard or military reserve to Pennsylvanians who serve in another state’s national guard or military reserve.

Finally, Senate Bill 128 would amend Title 51 by placing the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol under the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to make it eligible to receive state funding. The committee passed the House’s companion bill in March.

After receiving unanimous support from the VAEP Committee, all bills move to the full House for consideration.

Celebrating Our Small Businesses

This week marks Small Business Week in Pennsylvania. Small businesses are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy, employing more than 2.5 million people. In fact, 99.6% of employers in the state are small businesses.

House Republicans have been working hard to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses thrive and grow by cutting the red tape that creates barriers to growth and cleaning up our outdated laws.

Improving CPR Education to Save Lives

This week, the House passed Senate Bill 115 aimed at teaching students cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help them save lives.

The bill would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to work with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to develop curriculum that could be used by schools across the state.

The aim is to help reduce the more than 350,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital each year by preparing students to save lives through CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The bill now heads back to the Senate for its concurrence.

Keep PA Beautiful Accepting Beautification Grants

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is accepting applications through June 28 for the 2019 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania, a program designed to provide community groups with paint and painting supplies enabling them to renew a community structure in need into something beautiful through the application of fresh paint.

Eight grants of up to 20 gallons of exterior paint and a gift card for painting supplies will be awarded to tax-exempt groups within the Commonwealth. Groups will have 30 days in September to complete their projects.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will select the eight winning projects from among applications submitted. Selected grantees must meet the following requirements to be considered: only one building per application, proof of liability insurance, signed permission to paint from the building owner and two before photos of the intended project.

Applications must be received by June 28, and grants will be awarded in July. For more information, visit
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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 
TTY: 855-282-0614