Aug. 09, 2019

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Harrisburg Update

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

I Oppose Location for Compressor Station

The Hegins Township supervisors and I have voiced our opposition to the proposed site of a 31,000-horsepower natural gas compressor station, which is needed to complete the Leidy South Project in Schuylkill County.

The Leidy South Project is a proposed expansion of Williams Atlantic Sunrise’s existing infrastructure to further connect supplies of natural gas in northern and western Pennsylvania in order to meet demand. This project is part of the Transco pipeline system and will transport an additional 582,400 dekatherms of natural gas supply per day.

The Schuylkill County commissioners, Economic Development Corporation officials and I preferred an alternate location in Frailey Township, which is still along the pipeline and in an area zoned industrial.

I am disappointed that Williams Atlantic Sunrise’s application did not show a preference for an area that is zoned industrial over a location that is agricultural, and bordered by residential homes, despite the insistence from myself and other local officials.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will now begin the process of reviewing and analyzing Williams application and conducting its own environmental assessments of the area. After an additional public input period on the environmental assessment, FERC will determine whether to approve the project and to issue permission for Williams to proceed with construction.

Hotline to Assist Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
A new hotline to help connect thousands of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren to the resources and programs available to them is now live.

The KinConnector hotline was established through Act 89 of 2018 to address the growing number of grandparents who have become primary caregivers to their grandchildren in the Commonwealth. It is a situation that has skyrocketed in recent years as a result of the state’s opioid epidemic. An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.

KinConnector can be reach by calling 1-866-KIN-2111 (1-866-546-2111). The KinConnector helpline is staffed by social service professionals prepared to help families understand and access local, state and federal resources. A website of resources will also be available in the near future.

2019 Schuylkill County Fair
I had a great time at this year's Schuylkill County Fair. The Fair featured family fun with concerts, rides, contests, exhibits, vendors, food, wildlife demonstrations, shows, and much more. It's an amazing event. More than 30,000 visitors walked through the turnstiles at this week-long festival! Thank you to all the organizers, volunteers and vendors who allowed me to participate in the many events that highlight the show.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, pictured to my left, joined us at the Fairgrounds. In the photo, he is joined by the the Schuylkill County Commissioners.

I am pictured with Schuylkill County Commissioners George Halcovage and Frank Staudenmeier with the 2019 Schuylkill County Fair Royalty: Little Miss Madison Purcell, Princess Kassidy Balulis, and the Queen Madeline Schuettler.

FCC Takes Next Step in Battle Against Robocalls, Spoofing
Recognizing the frustration and potential danger posed by spam calls and spoofing, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new rules this week that will ban malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and foreign calls.

The rules are designed to close a loophole in existing law that prevented the agency from pursuing scammers sending spoofed text messages and international bad actors making spoofed calls to Americans.

Earlier this summer, the FCC approved rules that could make it easier for AT&T, Verizon and other telecom giants to block suspected spam calls on behalf of their subscribers. It allows the companies to enroll consumers in their call-blocking services by default, as opposed to waiting for customers to sign up for such tools on their own.

While these changes are important steps in the fight against robocalls and spoofing, no one expects they will result in their elimination.

If you have lost money because of a scam call, notify your local law enforcement agency. If you receive a spam call, file a complaint with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center.

Our Newest Eagle Scout

I was honored to have my office participate in the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony for Jonathan Schatz. Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), Schuylkill County Commissioners George Halcovage and Gary Hess and Father David Loeper are pictured. Jonathan has enlisted with the Marines and will be shipped out in November. Good luck Jonathan and thank you for your service!

Fire, EMS Grant Program to Open First Week of September
Fire companies and ambulance services throughout Pennsylvania are encouraged to apply for the 2019-20 Fire Company, Emergency Medical Services Companies Grant Program from the Office of State Fire Commissioner.

The application period will open the first week of September and remain open for 45 days. Exact dates will be listed at closer to the grant application period opening.

Organizations may apply for a grant in up to two of six eligible funding categories. Those categories include: construction or renovation of a unit’s facility and purchase or repair of necessary fixtures and furnishings; purchase or repair of firefighting, ambulance or rescue equipment, including fuel for company vehicles; debt reduction related to the above categories; training and certification of members; training and education materials about fire prevention for the general public; and, for career fire departments only, overtime costs associated with backfilling positions while firefighters are attending training.

The maximum grant amount is $15,000 for fire companies and $10,000 for volunteer ambulance services. A total of $30 million will be awarded through the program, which is funded by state gaming proceeds.

For more information about the program, click here.

The Scenic Sights of Pottsville

Recently, I helped to arrange a tour of Pottsville with officials from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We also had a meeting on the revitalization efforts in the city.

Yuengling, America's oldest Brewery, is always fun to tour and all of us learned a great deal. The group picture was taken from the Yuengling Gift Shop. Pictured with me (from left) are Neal Weaver, executive deputy director of DCED; Curt Coccodrilli, Pennsylvania state director, USDA; Tonya St. Clair, USDA; Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill); Jim Muldowney, Pottsville mayor; Dick Yuengling, owner and president, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.; Congressman Dan Meuser (R-9th District); Tom Palamar, Pottsville city administrator; Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.; and George Halcovage, Schuylkill County commissioner.

Law to Eliminate Inheritance Tax for Children
Children age 21 or younger who suffer the loss of a parent will no longer have to pay the state’s 4.5% inheritance tax under a new law taking effect in January.

Act 13 of 2019 reduces the inheritance tax rate to 0% for the transfer of property to or for the use of a child 21 years of age or younger from a natural parent, adoptive parent or a stepparent of the child.

A prior law implemented a 0% tax rate on transfers from a child 21 years of age or younger to his or her parent.

The law will apply to transfers from a decedent who dies after Dec. 31, 2019.
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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 
TTY: 855-282-0614