Budget Hearings to Focus on Accountability
2/22/2018
Facebook Website Bio Latest News State Forms Photo Gallery Contact
[[Opt In Top]]

Harrisburg Update

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


Budget Hearings to Focus on Accountability

During this year’s hearings about the 2018-19 state budget proposal, the House Appropriations Committee is focusing on better accountability of tax dollars, private sector jobs and the opioid epidemic.

This week’s slate of hearings included appearances by the Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the departments of Revenue, Transportation and Conservation and Natural Resources. Next week’s hearings will feature the departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Corrections, General Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Military and Veterans Affairs along with the Liquor Control Board and the Office of Attorney General.

The full schedule is available here, which will also include video of the archived hearings once available. More information about the governor’s proposal is available here.


Reinventing Government

Earlier this week, I attended a press conference in Harrisburg where my colleagues presented plans to merge state agencies as part of our efforts to rein in spending and to streamline and improve services to Pennsylvanians. The bill package seeks to modernize our state agencies to restructure government. The end result of these mergers would be an easier-to-navigate government that truly works for the people.

The bills would merge:
• The Budget Office, the Department of General Services, the Office of Administration and the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning to create the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
• The Department of Labor and Industry with functions from the Department of Community and Economic Development and Department of State to create the Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development (DBTWD).
• The Department of Economic and Community Development (DCED) and the Department of State to create the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs.
• The Department of Health with the Department of Human Services to create the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, a bill in this package would consolidate the state’s workforce development system into one easier-to-navigate system instead of the system being fragmented and spread across numerous state agencies.

Lastly, another bill would remove numerous obsolete state boards or commissioners that were never repealed, including the following: Interstate Rail Passenger Advisory Council, Pennsylvania Public Television Network Commission, Canine Health Board, Community Service Advisory Board, Industrial Resource Center Strategic Advisory Board, Small Business Advocacy Council, Adult Basic and Literacy Education Interagency Coordinating Council (ABLE ICC), Advisory Committee on Probation, Energy Development Authority, Health Careers Leadership Council, Joint Committee to Review Cost of Living, Legislative Representative for Collective Bargaining, Lobbying Disclosure Regulations Committee, Pennsylvania Quality Leadership Awards Council, Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee, and Voting Standards Development Board.


Online Learners Now Eligible for State Grants
 
 
A new law will soon allow college students who take more than half of their classes online to have permanent access to financial aid. Act 5 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1653, expands a successful pilot program created in 2013 that permitted students who take more than 50 percent of their credits online from a college or university headquartered and located in the Commonwealth to receive state grants through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

During the 2014-15 grant award year, more than 5,900 students received grant awards, totaling $8.52 million because of the pilot program. The new law will take effect with the 2018-19 academic year. More information about college financial aid is available at pheaa.org.
 

Encouraging and Protecting Honest Hunters

A new law seeks to protect and encourage honest hunters by addressing situations in which hunters may erroneously harvest an animal and turn the animal into the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Presently, a hunter who harvests a deer or turkey of the wrong sex or accidentally takes two can turn the animals into a wildlife conservation officer and receive a new tag, pay a small fine and suffer no license revocation. Act 3 of 2018, formerly House Bill 359, expands that protection to the other two big game animals, bear and elk.

The new law does not change any of the other penalties hunters face for illegal out-of-season kills, except for the elimination of license revocations in those instances where the hunter self-reports and surrenders the animal. Restitution for mistakenly killing bear or elk has been set at $100 for each animal killed. Violators who are on a payment plan to repay penalties and who are making on-time payments, may not have their hunting or trapping privileges suspended for failure to pay penalties.
 

Lesser Known Transportation Laws

As part of Highway Safety Law Awareness Week commemorated Feb. 18-25, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are reminding drivers about four lesser known traffic laws.

Drivers must yield the right of way to any totally or partially blind pedestrian carrying a visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog. The driver of the vehicle shall take any precaution necessary, including bringing the vehicle to a stop, to avoid injuring or endangering the pedestrian. This is a summary offense and is punishable by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $150.

Drivers are prohibited from wearing headphones while behind the wheel. This does not apply to the use of a headset in conjunction with a cell phone which provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other.

The Ride on Red law allows a driver to proceed through a red light if a driver believes the traffic light is not functioning properly. This includes when the light’s sensor does not detect the vehicle. In this case, drivers are instructed to stop in the same manner as a stop sign and can proceed when it is safe to do so.

Under another law, drivers cannot leave a vehicle unattended while the engine is running or while the key is in the ignition. The law, however, does not apply to private property such as private driveways.
 


Satellite Offices Around the 125th District

Valley View 
633 East Main Street, Hegins, PA 17938 
First and third Thursdays of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon. 
Call 570-385-8235 or 717-547-7208 to confirm date and time.

Pine Grove

Tri-Valley Public Library, 

American Legion, 42 S. Tulpehocken St., Pine Grove

By appointment only.

Tower City

Municipal Building (Mayor’s Office), 219 E. Colliery Ave., Tower City

By appointment only.

Call 570-385-8235 to schedule.

Elizabethville

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. 

Gratz
Gratz Community Center,
125 N. Center St., Gratz 
By appointment only. 

Call 570-385-8235 or 717-647-7208 to confirm date and time. 

Let's Get Connected

Connect on Facebook
Our District

Web Site


RepTobash.com

[[Opt In Wide]]

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