Urging the Governor to Sign Health Care, Welfare Reform Bill
10/19/2017
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Harrisburg Update

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


Urging the Governor to Sign Health Care, Welfare Reform Bill
This week in Harrisburg, I stood with members of the House who called on Gov. Tom Wolf to sign House Bill 59, the comprehensive Human Services Code bill that would help provide critical treatment to opioid abusers; prevent fraud, waste and abuse within the welfare system; pave a pathway to prosperity for those who can work; and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars through reforms.

Under the governor, taxpayer spending for the Department of Human Services now equals 38 percent of the overall state budget, and the Medicaid component itself accounts for nearly 21.5 percent of the state budget. Click here to read more.
 

Work Requirements for SNAP
Back in the 1990s, our nation experienced a welfare reform shake up that ignited the concept of requiring welfare recipients who were able-bodied adults without dependents (ABWADs) to work. Under the federal law, the ABAWD is limited to three months of food stamps benefits in a 36-month period. After the three months, the recipient is required to work. States do have the ability to waive the work rule and in 2009 there was a blanket waiver of the work requirement granted to all states.

Since then, the blanket waiver has been removed but some states, including Pennsylvania, continue to request waivers for the work rule. I believe the Commonwealth should help those in need, but welfare should not be considered a simple hand-out for the taking. Those who are able to work should be required to work or prepare for work in exchange for taxpayer-paid assistance. It is only fair for taxpayers that those who are able to help themselves do so.

In order to move Pennsylvania back to the principles of requiring ABWADs to work for their welfare benefits, I am sponsoring House Bill 1659, which would prohibit the department from applying for waivers of the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program. As a condition for SNAP benefits, recipients would be required to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student. This requirement would be in place for ABAWDs and would not apply to single parents with custody of a child under the age of twelve.
 

Confidential Crisis Help for Veterans and Families
Our veterans should never feel isolated or alone in the land they worked so hard to defend. If you are a veteran, or a family member or friend of a veterans who is at risk, please be there for those in need by sharing information for the Veterans Crisis Line. You can call 800-273-8255 and press 1 to chat; visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat online; or text 838255.
 

Sinkhole on State Route 125
At the beginning of October, State Route 125 in Frailey Township, in Schuylkill County closed between Donaldson and Good Springs due to a sinkhole opening up, affecting both lanes and shoulders. Last week, I was on the scene with PennDOT and DEP officials, who are developing a long-term solution. As of now, the road remains closed until further notice. Motorists in the area should be aware of this road closure and heed detour signs. PennDOT’s traffic unit is reviewing the detour and looking at possibly adding additional signage, but the detour will remain the same. From the Goodspring side, it’s State Route 4011, Main Street, to State Route 209, and make a left turn. Continue on 209 to Tremont and at the State Route 125 red light, make a left and follow through Donaldson and after roughly 3-4 miles on 125, you will end up at the other side of the sinkhole. Please contact my office if you have any questions or concerns.
 

Trick or Treat Safety Tips
As the end of October nears, fall celebrations, like trick or treating for Halloween or Harvest Day celebration parties are on the schedule. These are fun times for kids to dress up in costumes, collect yummy treats and enjoy the festivities. Check out these tips to help keep the season fun AND safe for your kids.
                                   

Bureau of Alcohol Education’s Poster Contest
 
Entries are now being accepted for the state Bureau of Alcohol Education’s 2017-18 Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest. This is a creative and fun way for students to depict the positive alternatives to underage drinking, such as getting involved in sports, playing games or volunteering in the community. By designing posters, students send an important message to their peers.

The contest is open to all Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including those who are homeschooled or in private or parochial schools. Students may enter through their schools, clubs, scout troops or individually. Entries must be postmarked no later than Friday, Nov. 17. For additional information about submission dates, guidelines and prizes, please review the Poster Contest Guidelines and Entry Form.
                                    

National Teen Driver Safety Week and Operation Safe Stop
National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007, and it’s an important week that raises awareness about teens’ elevated crash risk – vehicle crashes being the leading cause of death among 16-24-year-olds. It’s been said that the No. 1 job of a parent is to keep their kids’ safe, and one of the most nerve-wracking times in the life of a parent is when their children start to drive themselves. If you have a teen driver, click here to view an article from PennDOT about how parents can help to keep young drivers safe on our roadways.

Since teen drivers are often on the road at the same times as school buses, and this week is also National School Bus Safety Week, I am sharing a few reminders about Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law. Here in PA, we have Operation Safe Stop 2017, which was held on Oct. 18, and is a public awareness and enforcement effort to educate motorists that passing a stopped school bus, when children are loading or unloading is dangerous and illegal.

PA’s School Bus Stopping Law requires motorists to:
• Stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
• Stop when they are behind the bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
• Stop when following or traveling alongside a school bus until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
• If physical barriers, such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
                   

Got Expired Drugs? Dispose of Them Safely on Oct. 28
To help keep prescription medications out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, the U.S. Department of Justice, working with local law enforcement, will hold a prescription take-back event in our area on Saturday, Oct. 28. This event allows residents to drop off unwanted or expired prescription medications free of charge for safe and convenient disposal. Click here to see where residents can drop off their medications locally, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. More sites are being added daily, so be sure to visit www.dea.gov for the latest.
                                   

Contact Us
***PLEASE NOTE OUR OFFICE HOURS HAVE CHANGED***
Schuylkill Haven District Office
988 E. Main St., Suite A
Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
570-385-8235
As of Monday, Sept. 11, the Schuylkill Haven office is now open Mondays-Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Williamstown District Office
Borough Building, 200 S. West St., Williamstown
717-647-7208
The hours at the Williamstown office are as follows: Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Satellite Office Hours
 
Pine Grove - American Legion

42 S. Tulpehocken St., Pine Grove
By appointment only.

Gratz Community Center
125 N. Center St., Gratz
By appointment only. Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Tri-Valley Public Library
633 East Main St., Hegins
First and third Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Northern Dauphin Human Services Building
295 State Drive, Elizabethville
Fourth Wednesday of the month from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time.

Tower City - Municipal Building
(Mayor’s office)
219 E. Colliery Ave., Tower City
By appointment only. Call 570-385-8235 to schedule.
 
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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