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E-mail:  mtobash@pahousegop.com

District Office
988 East Main Street
Suite A
Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
Phone: 570-385-8235
Toll-free: 855-271-9384
Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4 pm

Williamstown District Office
Borough Building
200 S. West St., Williamstown
Phone: 717-647-7208
Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30 am to 4 pm

Capitol Office
4B East Wing
PO Box 202125
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2125
Phone: 717-260-6148

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Gov. Declares Commonwealth’s Heroin and Opioid Epidemic a Statewide Disaster
1/19/2018
 
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Harrisburg Update

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


Governor Declares Commonwealth’s Heroin and Opioid Epidemic a Statewide Disaster
The heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth has now been declared a statewide disaster by Gov. Tom Wolf. More than 4,600 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2016, and the 2017 numbers are expected to increase.

Among the goals set the administration are to enhance coordination and data collection to bolster state and local response; to improve tools for families, first responders and others to save lives; and to speed up and expand access to treatment.

The designation comes on the heels of the General Assembly’s passage of at least a dozen state laws aimed at stopping abuse before it starts through prescription limits and better education outreach, as well as efforts to increase the availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and improved treatment options.


Opioid Emergency Shouldn’t Impact Second Amendment
To help ensure that residents’ Second Amendment rights are not inadvertently impacted by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction, new legislation has been unveiled to protect that right.

With the emergency declaration, the governor activated an automatic trigger in the Crimes Code dealing with the Second Amendment. While this may make sense in the context of a natural disaster, it could cause problems for law-abiding citizens now. Never before has a disaster emergency been declared for a public health reason.

Under state law, an emergency declaration criminalizes the open carrying in public or on public property of any firearm – whether a handgun, rifle or shotgun. The intent of this prohibition is to protect communities from looting and criminal behavior in the time of a natural disaster, and would last for the full duration of the declared disaster.

While the declaration of disaster for the opioid crisis gives the state tools to use to help Pennsylvania citizens in this public health crisis, the issue regarding the Second Amendment is not necessary and should not be in effect.

The legislation would simply clarify that the prohibition against open carrying of an otherwise lawful firearm only applies if the disaster declaration expressly declares that such a prohibition is required to maintain public safety. Because the governor’s recent disaster declaration made no such declaration, upon enactment of this bill, Second Amendment rights would once again be secure in Pennsylvania.
 

2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Forms to be Available Monday
 
Forms for the state’s 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program will be available for download from the Department of Revenue’s website starting Monday, Jan. 22. Paper forms will be available in the coming weeks. Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2017. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

Residents do not need to pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at no cost at my district office; however, applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. Applications are due by June 30. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of many initiatives supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians. Click here for more information.
                                    

Talking with PCN About Welfare Reform Package
This week, I sat down with Larry Kasper from Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) to talk about the welfare reform package Rep. Aaron Kaufer and several of our House colleagues introduced earlier this month. The package is aimed at containing costs and bringing about real reform to Pennsylvania’s welfare system to give more Pennsylvania families an opportunity to improve their quality of life. Once I know when the program will air, I will post the date and time on Facebook.com/RepTobash.
                         

Highlighting Penn State Schuylkill’s LionLaunch Innovation Hub
On Jan. 12, I joined Gov. Tom Wolf and other state and local officials on a visit to Penn State Schuylkill’s LionLaunch Innovation Hub, a co-working space for innovators to highlight entrepreneurship opportunities in Pennsylvania. This took place at the Penn State Schuylkill Campus in Schuylkill Haven. University officials led us on a tour of the facility. Invent Penn State was launched in 2015 to help innovators succeed at each stage of the entrepreneurial path. It’s a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success, with a focus on bringing intellectual properties to the marketplace. We are fortunate to have this resource close to home.
 

Cutting Through the Red Tape
This week, state lawmakers and business leaders from across the Commonwealth announced a multi-bill package specifically designed to rein in state government overregulation.

The bills include giving the Legislature the ability to initiate the repeal of any state regulation in effect; establishing the Independent Office of the Repealer to undertake an ongoing review of existing regulations; requiring legislative approval of an economically significant regulation; making the permitting process more transparent; requiring each agency to better educate the regulated community regarding implementation of any new regulation and its requirements; and improving the regulatory culture so the application of existing laws is collaborative and not punitive.

Also announced was a Regulatory Overreach Report, which showed that Pennsylvania’s restrictive regulatory environment kills family-sustaining jobs, strangles opportunity and cripples economic growth. Pennsylvania currently has more than 153,000 regulatory restrictions that stretch across every industry in the Commonwealth.
 

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
 
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a good time to raise awareness of cervical cancer and learn more about Pennsylvania’s HealthyWoman Program, which is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program for those who are not insured or whose insurance doesn’t cover the screenings.

Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening. Among the services offered are pelvic exams, Pap smears and follow-up diagnostic tests for an abnormal screening result. Cervical cancer screenings are recommended for women beginning at age 21. For more information, call the HealthyWoman hotline at 1-800-215-7494 or click here.
                                    
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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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