Budget Update
7/18/2017
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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Budget Update

The $32 billion budget passed by the General Assembly in late June became law earlier this week, again without the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf. This is the third consecutive fiscal year budget to become law without the governor’s signature.

First of all, I had to vote against this budget because there was not an approved funding bill to go with it. I cannot support spending before we have a plan to pay for it. Secondly, I am very disappointed that the governor has largely been absent from negotiations, even though we passed a state budget in April. Despite Gov. Wolf’s unwillingness to lead, House and Senate Republicans have been working in good faith with his staff to reach an agreement on revenues to support the spending plan.

Presented with a variety of options, including proposed reforms to our state’s liquor sales system and gaming expansion, the administration has rejected each proposal, instead calling for more taxes on hard-working Pennsylvania families and the small employers in their communities.

Talks will continue until an agreement is reached.
 

Key Portion of Our Financial Rescue Plan Sent to Governor

 
Legislation to ensure the future of the State Office of Inspector General has been passed by the General Assembly and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. This is a necessary portion of my Financial Rescue Plan for Pennsylvania.

The legislation that was passed was a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and is identical to a House Bill that I co-sponsored.

If we do not get a handle on spending and wasted money, Pennsylvania will join Detroit and Illinois in financial ruin. Recognizing the importance of its work to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the state’s welfare system and government as a whole, Senate Bill 527 would make the Inspector General a permanent part of state government. Currently, it exists only by executive order of the governor.

Under the bill, the Office of Inspector General would be granted subpoena power for its internal investigations and would be authorized to investigate and file criminal charges for certain welfare fraud crimes.

The bill also aims to promote the office’s independence. It outlines qualifications for the top post and provides a separate budgetary line item for the office. Finally, it ensures regular communications with the General Assembly.
 

Constitutional Amendment on Property Taxes Will Appear on Nov. 7 Ballot

This week, the Senate passed for the second time in consecutive legislative sessions House Bill 1285, legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to allow principal places of residence to be excluded from property taxation. This completes the process for a question to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The governor’s signature is not required for it to become law.

This legislation would simply amend the homestead exemption already contained in the Pennsylvania Constitution so that it would completely protect homes from property taxes.

House Bill 1285 would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to remove the constitutional barrier that prevents homesteads from being completely excluded from property taxes. Right now, the state Constitution only permits 50 percent of the median homestead’s assessed value to be excluded from property taxes. House Bill 1285 would allow local taxing authorities to exclude 100 percent of a homestead’s assessed value from property taxes.

I am hopeful the voters will approve this referendum question in November. We must continue to push to get the Property Tax Independence Act passed in the General Assembly.
 

Welfare Reform Measure Would Institute Work Requirements

Last week, I joined my colleagues in the House to advance substantial cost-saving welfare reform legislation (House Bill 59) which would establish work requirements for individuals on public assistance, while preserving the continuity of care for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens.

Expenditures for public health and welfare account for about 39 percent of our state budget. Unlike every other state in the country, Pennsylvania families are not required to pay Medical Assistance premiums and co-payments for their disabled children. These services are free, regardless of family income.

However, the disparity between the cost and funding of these benefits threatens our ability to provide these services. House Bill 59 would require minimal monthly premiums for Medical Assistance for wealthier families to ensure there is ample funding to provide this critical lifeline for those in greatest need.

For example, a family of four would be responsible for paying a reasonable monthly premium—beginning at $50—when their income is at least $246,000. The fees would be established on a sliding scale, similar to how the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) works.

This change would save the Commonwealth about $6 million in the first year and would enable us to maintain the current level of service for the more than 1.2 million Pennsylvania children receiving Medical Assistance.

Another major reform in House Bill 59 aims to break the generational chain of dependency on public assistance. It would require reasonable work requirements for those on public assistance who have the physical and mental capacity to do so.

This requirement is substantially similar to many other welfare programs, including food stamps, which have a work requirement in order to be eligible. President Bill Clinton established a successful welfare-to-work program during his administration and the states that implemented it have experienced significant reductions in their welfare rolls.

Entitlement spending is one of the state’s consistently highest cost-drivers, and until we are able to get those costs under control, we will continue to have billion-dollar deficits. The reforms contained in House Bill 59 would simply help to bring these programs under reasonable control.
 

FREE Concealed Carry Seminar
I am hosting a Concealed Carry Seminar on Wednesday, Sept. 6, from 6-8 p.m., at the Palmyra Sportsmens Association, 410 Sportsmans Road, Annville.

Seating is limited and will fill up quickly. Interested individuals should pre-register online for this FREE seminar as soon as possible by visiting RepFrankRyan.com and clicking on the “Concealed Carry Seminar” banner. You may also call Ryan’s district office at (717) 838-3823 for any additional questions you may have.

This event is open to all adults age 21 and older who reside in the 101st Legislative District, which includes the City of Lebanon; the boroughs of Cornwall, Palmyra and Mount Gretna; and the townships of North Cornwall, North Londonderry, South Annville, South Londonderry and West Cornwall.
 

Scholarship for Children of Wounded and Fallen Vets
 
The Pennsylvania Children of the Wounded and Fallen Patriot Scholarship is a one-time $25,000 scholarship awarded to the dependent child of a military service member who was wounded in the line of duty or died while serving with the United States military since September 11, 2001.
                                   
Visit my website to find out about the eligibility requirements and to print out an application. Click here for an application.
 

Bill to Boost Fight Against Waste, Fraud, Abuse
Legislation to ensure the future of the State Office of Inspector General has been passed by the General Assembly and is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Recognizing the importance of its work to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the state’s welfare system and government as a whole, Senate Bill 527 would make the office a permanent part of state government. Currently, it exists only by executive order of the governor.

Under the bill, the Office of Inspector General would be granted subpoena power for its internal investigations and would be authorized to investigate and file criminal charges for certain welfare fraud crimes.

The bill also aims to promote the office’s independence. It outlines qualifications for the top post and provides a separate budgetary line item for the office. Finally, it ensures regular communications with the General Assembly.
 

Improving Transparency in Lobbying
To improve transparency within the lobbying process, House Bill 1175 has passed the House to better address lobbying violations and ensure the public has more information with respect to how lobbyists attempt to influence public policy.

The bill would increase the maximum penalty imposed by the Ethics Commission for an unlawful act from the current fine of $2,000 to $4,000. The bill also would increase the maximum administrative penalty that may be imposed for negligent failure to report under current law from $50 per day, to $50 for the first 10 days, $100 for each late day after the first 10 late days and $200 for each late day after the initial 20-day period.

Additionally, the bill would improve the current electronic filing system for lobbyists and require all filings to be posted on the Department of State’s publicly accessible website within seven days of receipt.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its review.
 

Staying Safe in Highway Work Zones

With the summer construction season in full swing, motorists are reminded to follow state law in highway work zones. Since 1970, 87 PennDOT employees have lost their lives in the line of duty.

In posted work zones, state laws requires all motorists to travel with their headlights turned on. Drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights must turn on their headlights to activate their taillights. Interstate work zones with a project cost exceeding $300,000 will have a speed-monitoring device to alert motorists of their speed prior to entering the work zone.

In active work zones, a white flashing light attached to the “Active Work Zone When Flashing” sign will only be activated when workers are present. Motorists caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted for failing to drive at a safe speed, automatically will lose their license for 15 days.

Additionally, fines for certain traffic violations — including speeding, driving under the influence and failure to obey traffic devices — are doubled for active work zones. Five years of additional jail time may be imposed for individuals convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash in an active work zone.

For more information on work zone safety, including safety tips, click here.
 
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Office Locations
1044 East Main Street, Palmyra, PA 17078 | Phone: (717)838-3823
149A East Wing, PO Box 202101 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2101 | (717) 783-1815
Email Address: FRyan@pahousegop.com