HARRISBURG – Following assurances by acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq in a letter to Bucks County Rep. Paul Clymer, who chairs the House Education Committee, Clymer has decided to postpone two upcoming hearings on Gov. Corbett’s call for review of the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. Clymer agreed to the delay after consulting with York County Rep. Seth Grove and Lancaster County Rep. Ryan Aument, Education Committee members who had called for the hearings. Clymer said, “In light of assurances from the administration that there are no plans to try and reopen or change the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, I have decided to postpone the hearings. The State Board of Education is planning a review of the eligible content, not the standards themselves, and will be accepting further public comment.” Clymer added he’s been assured the House Education Committee will be consulted with once the review is completed and is certain the review will once again demonstrate that we have taken the appropriate action in implementing a locally controlled academic system focusing on rigorous academic standards, as opposed to following any federal directives. You can read the letter to Clymer by CLICKING HERE.
HARRISBURG – The PA House approved legislation that impacts out-of-state utility workers who come to Pennsylvania to restore service after an emergency. House Bill 2377 would allow out-of-state utility workers to perform work in the Commonwealth following an emergency without paying applicable state and local income taxes and fees. Workers would still have to pay the state sales tax on applicable purchases. Bill sponsor, Venango County Rep. Lee James says, “These workers are leaving their families to come here for days or weeks and help us during our time of need. In return, they’re getting headaches from all the tax documents they have to fill out. We should be thanking them instead of trying to squeeze tax dollars out of them.” James’ bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
HARRISBURG – A bill creating a prostate cancer task force is being introduced in Harrisburg. The PA Prostate Cancer Coalition held a rally in the state Capitol calling for the group to study the impact of prostate cancer in the state. Lancaster County Sen. Mike Brubaker, a prostate cancer survivor, has sponsored Senate Bill 1479 establishing a task force on prostate cancer and related chronic prostate conditions. Prostate cancer has similar incidence and mortality numbers as breast cancer, and with 1 in 6 men diagnosed, it is the most common type of cancer detected in Pennsylvania men. Within one year of its first meeting, the task force will issue a report with recommendations to the Secretary of Health and submit copies of the report to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and the state House Health Committee.
SPRING GROVE – Gov. Tom Corbett visited Glatfelter in Spring Grove, York County to announce the award of $8 million in grants to support the paper mill’s conversion to natural gas to fuel its boilers. In addition to the grants, Glatfelter is investing more than $55 million of its own funds in the mill, spending which will secure continued employment for its approximately 850 employees, reduce boiler air emissions significantly, and eliminate more than 5,000 heavy truck trips annually through the Spring Grove area.
HARRISBURG – A school suicide prevention bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Farina of Lackawanna & Wayne Counties was signed into law by Gov. Corbett. Act 71 of 2014 requires teachers who work with students in grades six through 12 to complete four hours of youth suicide awareness training every five years as part of their continuing educational development program. Farina said his family experienced the pain and heartbreak of suicide firsthand. He said knowing that this law will save other families from the grief his family still feels, he is comforted that his brother-in-law’s life and death will make a difference in the lives of others. The Department of Education is responsible for developing a suicide prevention awareness program that can be used by both public and private schools. Each school must create and implement a youth suicide awareness program, and have it in place for the 2015-16 school year.
HARRISBURG – State lawmakers are changing the name of the Department of Public Welfare in hopes it’ll help remove a stigma sometimes associated with public assistance. The PA House voted to rename the agency the Department of Human Services. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign House Bill 993. Proponents say the new name also better describes the department’s mission. The department estimates that the name change will cost about $1 million to implement, although Corbett’s spokesman, Jay Pagni, says the cost will be spread out over time.
HARRISBURG – Legislation providing immunity from criminal prosecution for “good Samaritans” who assist drug overdose victims has passed the PA House. Senate Bill 1164 is designed to save lives by encouraging people who are with someone experiencing an overdose to seek medical help without fear of legal repercussions for certain crimes. It also would legalize in Pennsylvania the federally approved drug Naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and other opioids. It would make it more available to relatives and friends of people with drug addictions, as well as first responders. The measure has been sent to the Senate, which is expected to concur next week. Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the legislation.
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s anti human trafficking law has now gone into effect. Act 105 of 2014 gives Pennsylvania its first comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking and provides tools to combat the crime. Starting in January 2015, every police officer will receive training to identify human trafficking. At a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda, Chester County Sen. Andy Dinniman applauded the new law and urged citizens to be aggressive in reporting human trafficking to authorities. Citizens can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline toll free at 1-888-373-7888. The new law also strengthens protections for victims during court processes and sets outlines for civil court cases against traffickers.
HARRISBURG – The House Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 1239, which would correct language in the state’s Vehicle Code which the Pennsylvania Superior Court has determined is flawed, according to York County Rep. Seth Grove. The language involves the sentencing of repeat DUI offenders. In addition to approving the bill, members of the committee voted to include language found in House Bill 212, authored by Grove. This bill would end a loophole revealed in the Supreme Court case – Commonwealth v. Haag. In the case, the defendant was arrested for driving under the influence twice in the same evening. Grove said this person faced less serious charges because state law says a person must be convicted first before becoming a repeat offender. The bill corrects that loophole for DUI sentencing, making sure offenders are held accountable for their actions.
LANCASTER – Lancaster County Reps. Ryan Aument and Mindy Fee, along with Berks County Rep. Mike Tobash, will host an informational town hall meeting focusing on Pennsylvania’s public pension crisis and the urgent need for reform on Monday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. The event, which is open to residents of the 41st and 37th districts, will take place in the Hoffer Auditorium at the Pleasant View Retirement Community, lat 544 Penryn Road, Manheim. Aument and Fee, who have been strong advocates for public pension reform, said they are hearing from many citizens with questions and concerns about the worsening state pension situation and proposed solutions. Tobash is the author of a leading pension reform plan actively under consideration in the House, which would enroll new state employees or public school employees in a combination of 401(k)-type and traditional pension plan. Benefits of current employees and retirees would not be affected under the Tobash “hybrid” plan.