May. 31, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

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


Education Committee Advances Charter School Reform Measures

Four bills aimed at updating and improving Pennsylvania’s charter school laws have been approved by the House Education Committee and sent to the full House for consideration.

The bills included in the charter school reform package include:

House Bill 355, which I co-sponsored, would create a new ethics requirement for charter school trustees and administrators, and requires that “cost covered by taxpayer dollars” be on any advertisements for cyber and charter schools, as well as provisions for independent audits.
House Bill 356, which would give charter schools a first right of refusal for purchase or lease of unused school district buildings and require school districts, community colleges and state-owned universities to give cyber charter schools reasonable access to their facilities to administer standardized tests.
House Bill 357, which would require the Department of Education to create a uniform process for a charter school application and a uniform charter amendment process.
House Bill 358, which would allow charter school students to be dually enrolled in college classes through a higher education institution.

Ensuring that students across the Commonwealth have access to the type of education and classroom setting that allows them to succeed is important, however this should not be at such as cost that it compromises our public education system.

House Bill 526, which I also co-sponsored, provides that school districts who offer a full-time cyber education program of equal scope would not have to pay for students who choose to attend a cyber charter school other than the program offered by the district. However, this bill remains in the House Education Committee.

I believe there is more work to be done regarding cyber and charter school reform, and it is my hope that my colleagues and I can address these issues in the coming months in Harrisburg.                                   


Reducing Barriers for Junior Firefighters


As part of efforts to address staffing issues in the volunteer fire service and to spur the next generation of firefighters, House Bill 1522 was introduced to modernize requirements for junior firefighters.

The bill would remove a requirement that junior firefighters take Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) training on how to battle wildfires. This current requirement is superfluous in today’s fire services and is a barrier to enter for many prospective junior firefighters.

The number of volunteer firefighters in the Commonwealth has shrunk from about 300,000 in the 1980s to about 38,000.

Junior firefighters would still have to complete training with the state Fire Commissioner and would still be subject to all the other current requirements. Even if the wildfire training requirement is removed, any volunteer fire company would still be able to require the DCNR training if it is determined to be relevant for that area.
 

Committee Tackles Bills to Protect Homeowners, Minors and Victims of Sexual Extortion

The House Judiciary Committee recently approved three bills to help protect Pennsylvanians from a variety of crimes.

Recognizing that some children are coerced into a childhood marriage, House Bill 360 would prohibit the issuance of a marriage license to anyone under the age of 18. The change in law would also better ensure a person choosing to be married is prepared to make this life-altering commitment.

Responding to the growing problem of illegal residential trespassers or “squatters” essentially taking over priorities that don’t belong to them, House Bill 365 would give law enforcement officers better tools to remove such individuals from the property.

Finally, the committee approved legislation to create the offense of sexual extortion, which occurs when a person uses coercion and misuses their power to demand sexual acts, images, or videos from victims. Establishing this specific offense better equips law enforcement officers to protect victims and prosecute offenders.

The bills now head to the full House for consideration.
 

Explore Summer Fun Opportunities in PA

Pennsylvania has thousands of places to visit for summer fun, and the Happy Traveler Guide, now available for download here, is a great tool to help you plan!

Categorized by region, the guide includes nearly 100 pages of attractions, lodging options, dining and many other recreational activities, stretching from Lake Erie to the City of Brotherly Love. The attractions are specially marked for these traveler categories: adventure, arts and culture, family, foodie, history buff, party animal and shopper.

This year’s guide celebrates our awesome amusement parks, eight of which are more than 100 years old including Hersheypark in Hershey. Pennsylvania is also home to more roller coasters rated in the top 100 by Amusement Today than other state.

Tourism is one of Pennsylvania’s largest industries, injecting $41 billion annually in the state’s economy and supporting nearly half a million jobs. Each year, Pennsylvania hosts nearly 200 million travelers from across the United States. An estimated $2.8 billion is spent each year by international visitors.
 

Share the Road

As the weather continues to warm up, more and more Pennsylvanians will ride their bicycles on the roads.

Both motorists and bicyclists can work together to ensure everyone shares the road and gets home safely.

Motorists and bicyclists have the right to use the roads in Pennsylvania and should work to maintain a 4-foot barrier between each other when passing.

Motorists are allowed to overtake a bicycle in a no-passing zone, provided they leave a 4-foot clearance.

You can learn more about Pennsylvania’s bicycle laws here.
 
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