REAL ID Update: Get Your Docs Early
12/8/2017
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Harrisburg Update

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


REAL ID Update: Get Your Docs Early
 
PennDOT has launched a public awareness campaign outlining the steps for residents who wish to get a REAL ID-compliant driver license. Although the REAL ID products will not be available until 2019, PennDOT encourages residents who want them to obtain any required documents in plenty of time.

Those documents include birth certificates with the raised seal, Social Security card, proof of all legal name changes and two proofs of current Pennsylvania address. My office can help with obtaining copies of the birth certificates, which can take up to four to six months. (Contact information is at the end of this email.)

The federal government has extended the deadline for REAL ID compliance in Pennsylvania to Oct. 10, 2018, so current driver licenses and identifications are still accepted for domestic air travel and entry into certain federal facilities. More information about REAL ID is available here and more information about birth certificates is available here.  


Forcing Unemployment Compensation System Improvements
As a way to force accountability in the unemployment compensation (UC) system while ensuring that it efficiently serves its customers, legislation passed the House this week to ensure the completion of long-awaited computer system updates and an end to state supplemental funding.

House Bill 1915, which is now with the Senate, would propose a four-year exit strategy to provide the money necessary to complete the computer upgrades and then bring an end to the funding.

In total, the legislation would provide about $115.2 million in additional funding for the Department of Labor and Industry to implement a modern, efficient UC system and transition to a budget that can be covered by federal funding totaling approximately $130 million per year to operate the UC program.

From 2012 to 2016, federal funding has decreased by 24 percent, but initial claims processed by the Pennsylvania UC program actually decreased by 31 percent. With fewer claims to process, fewer employees are needed, especially once an updated computer system is in place.
 

VA Announces New Veterans ID Card
 
Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the application process for the national Veterans Identification Card (VIC) is available for veterans with honorable service. This includes veterans who served in the armed forces and the reserve components, and who have a discharge of honorable or general (under honorable conditions).

This card may be accepted by retailers in lieu of the standard DD-214 form to obtain promotional discounts and other services where offered to veterans. It is considered to be a safer, more convenient and effective way for most veterans to show proof of service.

To request a VIC, veterans must visit vets.gov, click on “Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card” on the bottom left of the page and sign in or create an account. Veterans who apply for a card should receive it within 60 days and can check delivery status of their cards at vets.gov. A digital version of the VIC will be available online by mid-December.
 

No Welfare for the Deceased
To help prevent fraudulent use of state benefits, the House recently passed legislation to require more coordination between state agencies.

Currently, state departments share contact information of recipients for state programs and may send letters about other state programs or benefits for which they may be eligible. Unfortunately, that contact information may not be up-to-date and may contain information for people who are deceased.

House Bill 1588 would require the Department of Aging to cross reference its list of beneficiaries with death records maintained by the Department of Health on a monthly basis. This would help enhance the system and increase efficiencies by more promptly removing deceased persons from their database. The bill now goes to the state Senate for review.
 

Protecting Ag Products from Invasive Species
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning residents about an invasive species of insect that can do substantial harm to the state’s agriculture and hardwoods industries – the Spotted Lanternfly.

Currently, several counties -- Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill – are under a quarantine, meaning that residents should take caution to “look before you leave” to avoid spreading this bad bug.

The species was first discovered in Berks County in 2014, and to date, the insect has been found in the eastern and southeastern portions of the state. Early detection of the insect, including adults or egg masses, is key to help stop the spread of this pest. Businesses that ship products in and out of the quarantine area must take steps to ensure they are not accidentally transporting adults or egg masses on their products.

Reports of the insect can be made by email to badbug@pa.gov or by calling the Invasive Species Report Line at 866-253-7189. Additional details can be found here.
 

Contact Us
Schuylkill Haven District Office
988 E. Main St., Suite A
Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
570-385-8235
As of 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