Nov. 09, 2017

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Audit Enforcement Legislation Signed into Law
My legislation to strengthen audits conducted by the state auditor general was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on last week.

The language of my original legislation, House Bill 453, which was designed to cause auditor general audits to be responded to in 120 business days, was fully incorporated into the Fiscal Code (House Bill 674) and signed into law as Act 44 of 2017.

Our leadership was successful in getting my language inserted into the new Fiscal Code even though I objected to the final bill. This new language in the Fiscal Code will save the Commonwealth about $400 million per year!

The problem I am addressing is the law that provides for the auditor general’s oversight of how state entities spend taxpayer money provides no recourse for the failure by the agencies receiving funds from responding to and potentially implementing the auditor general’s recommended corrections to prevent wasteful spending from being repeated in the future.

In my examination of the auditor general’s audit reports, I have been stunned to find the amount of times that audit recommendations are ignored and/or not responded to. The lack of response, which exposes the Commonwealth to millions, and potentially billions, in wasted funds annually, occurs because the Act of 1929 does not provide for any penalties for failing to correct these deficiencies.

Check out my detailed proposal to restore Pennsylvania’s fiscal integrity – A Financial Rescue Plan for Pennsylvania – at RepFrankRyan.com.
 

Federal Reserve Owes PA Over $20 billion from Misguided Monetary Policies
The House State Government Committee recently approved my legislation, House Resolution 522, that would require the state Treasury to lobby the federal government to retrieve monies lost due to reckless U.S. Federal Reserve policies since 2008.

The Federal Reserve’s relentless and unwarranted use of quantitative easing after the housing bubble collapse 2008 resulted in reduced returns on government bonds. In Pennsylvania’s case, the loss on bond returns in the past nine years is over $20 billion, and that money should be refunded to Pennsylvania’s taxpayers. Financial entities have a fiduciary duty to their clients and the Federal Reserve failed in this regard and should be required to make restitution.

Quantitative easing (QE) is a drastic measure used by the Federal Reserve to inject liquidity into a collapsing economy where interest rates are already close to zero, in order to arrest it from free-falling into a downward spiral of economic contraction. However, such drastic action should never be used for such a prolonged time or it will create a stock market that rockets sky high with no actual capital investment or production of goods to back it up.

While quantitative easing can be a useful tool in the right circumstances for a short period of time. But to rely on it for so long has led to increased prices – mostly in financial assets – while promoting risky investing and punishing savers by suppressing bond yields. It has also poisoned the operating environment of successful companies and depressed investment in productive companies.

Pennsylvania’s $76 billion unfunded pension liability would only be around $20 billion dollars lower if QE hadn't been used so aggressively and for so long.

The Federal Reserve is not a government organization and it cannot claim sovereign immunity from the financial destruction caused by its use of QE. I keep trying to wake folks up to the fact that our state is close to fiscal insolvency such as what occurred in Illinois and Detroit. We've got some real dangerous financial issues facing us shortly, and if this thing goes haywire, we'll never be able to pay our liabilities.

House Resolution 522 was reported out of the House State Government Committee by a bipartisan vote of 15-8.
 

Helping Our Veterans
While we honor our veterans annually on Veterans Day, it is important to support these brave men and women all year. This session, the House is working on several initiatives to help our veterans, including one that is now law.

Known as the Stolen Valor Law, Act 9 of 2017 makes it a crime for someone to misrepresent military service or honors for the purpose of fraudulently attempting to obtain money, property or other benefits.

House Bill 1878 seeks to assist members of the National Guard with employment protection, as the bill would extend current employment protections to Pennsylvania citizens who are members of another state’s National Guard. Currently, the employment protection only applies to members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The bill is currently in the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and is expected to advance.

To recognize the meritorious service of military members, House Bill 165 would create and add the Pennsylvania Medal of Achievement and the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award to the list of existing medals, badges and awards that are authorized and presented by the governor in the name of the Commonwealth, while House Bill 1762 would add the Honor and Remember Flag to the list of flags authorized to be flown on any public grounds or buildings in the Commonwealth. House Bill 165 passed the House earlier this year, and House Bill 1762 is in the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
 

PennDOT Now Hiring Seasonal CDL Drivers
PennDOT is now hiring full- and part-time seasonal CDL Drivers throughout Pennsylvania. These are temporary positions that can become permanent!
Requirements:

•Two months experience or graduation from a CDL Training School
• Class A or B CDL License with Air Brake restriction lifted and Medical Exam Certificate

**Candidates will be subject to a driving skills test as part of the interview process**

Additional details about the positions, along with the job application, are available at employment.pa.gov. Click on “Open Jobs” and then go to “PennDOT Winter Program.”
 

Anti-Fraud Measure Signed into Law
Legislation to reform the local tax collection system to reduce instances of fraud was recently signed into law.

Under the new law, checks should be made payable to the name of the tax collector along with the office, title or position; or be made out just to the office, title or position and then be deposited into a separate bank account used only for tax money.

Previously, the Local Tax Collection Law did not specify how taxes are to be paid, so it was left to individual tax collectors to determine how they want checks made out for the payment of taxes and to what account the tax money was to be deposited. Changing how accounts are set up and how checks are written will give municipalities and taxpayers an added layer of protection by ensuring their tax dollars go where they are intended.

Act 38 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
 

New Travel Tool Helps with Winter Preparedness
This winter, Pennsylvania motorists can check online to see when a state-maintained roadway was last plowed. The information will be posted on the “plow trucks” section of 511pa.com. PennDOT operates 2,200 plow trucks each winter.

More information about PennDOT’s winter services and winter-driving resources are available at penndot.gov/winter. The site also has a complete winter guide with detailed information about winter services in each of PennDOT’s 11 engineering districts.

PennDOT is responsible for maintaining 40,000 miles of roadways, which translates into 96,000 snow-lane miles, enough miles to circle the globe nearly four times. In doing so, the department deploys about 4,800 on-the-road workers, has more than 652,000 tons of salt on hand across the state and will take salt deliveries throughout the winter.
 

Use Caution: Deer on the Move
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is reminding motorists to slow down and stay alert for deer on the roadways.

Deer become more active in the autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Autumn also sees a number of people taking part in outdoor activities that might flush deer from forested areas or briar thickets, and deer are more actively feeding to store energy for winter months. Add to this the end of daylight saving time, which results in more traffic between dawn and dusk, and the chances of vehicle accidents with deer increase significantly.

In fact, Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in State Farm’s annual report on the likelihood drivers in each state will collide with a deer or other large animal. According to the report, Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-63 chance of experiencing a collision with a deer or other large animal – a 6.3 percent increase from 2016.

Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Be especially alert in “Deer Crossing” areas, and remember deer tend to travel in family groups, so if you see one deer, more are likely coming.

To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD. If the deer is on a locally owned road, contact the appropriate municipality.

Nominate a Historical Marker in Your Community
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is encouraging individuals, private organizations, local or county governments and public agencies to nominate historic properties, persons and events of significance on a state or national level for the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program.

The person, place, event or innovation to be marked must have had a significant impact on its times, and have a statewide and/or national, rather than local or regional, historical significance. The significance of the subject must be historically established rather than of contemporary interest.

The annual deadline to nominate is Dec. 1. Click here for all the details, eligibility requirements, nomination form and contact information if you are interested in learning more.

Hunters Can Share Their Harvest
For more than 25 years, the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program has encouraged hunters from across the Commonwealth to share their deer harvest and provide thousands of pounds of venison to Pennsylvania families in need.

The program partners with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Department of Agriculture and many other sportsmen and charitable organizations. Since 1991, HSH has distributed 1.2 million pounds of donated venison.

Hunters can donate all or part of a harvested deer by taking it to a participating processor, which will then distribute the ground venison to food banks and pantries.

In an average hunting season, the HSH program’s goal is to channel about 100,000 pounds of processed venison through the state’s 20 regional food banks, which then redistribute to more than 5,000 local provider charities such as food pantries, missions, homeless shelters and churches, as well as individual families.

To find a list of local processors or for more information, visit ShareDeer.org.
 

Avoid Student Loan Scams
  
To help students and their families from falling victim to student loan scams, the National Council of Higher Education Resources offers the following advice through an easy-to-understand infographic.

Borrowers should remember four points to help keep them safe.
o Notice fake government seals and logos.
o Never pay for help.
o Keep your Federal Student Aid ID private.
o Fast student loan forgiveness does not exist.

The infographic also includes phone numbers and websites for legitimate student loan assistance and urges borrowers to contact the Federal Trade Commission with information about scams.
 

PennDOT Driver License, Photo Centers Closed for Veterans Day
PennDOT’s full-service center in Harrisburg and all of its driver license and photo centers, except for its Pittsburgh State Office location, will be closed Saturday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day.

Due to the Saturday holiday and their standard work schedules, the Pittsburgh State Office location at 708 Smithfield St., Pittsburgh, and the motor vehicle services counter at the Riverfront Office Center in Harrisburg will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10.

Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.

Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. No additional fees are charged for using online services.
 

Honoring Our Veterans
Millions of people around the country will honor our nation’s veterans with ceremonies next weekend to commemorate Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11.

For more than 240 years, men and women in uniform have been called to serve our country by protecting our freedom and defending our democracy. Throughout the Veterans Day weekend, please take time to remember and thank the thousands of men and women who have served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces and who continue to make a positive difference in our communities.

Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, first marked the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and sought to honor the veterans of the World War – the only world war to have occurred at that time. Armistice Day was declared a national holiday in 1938 to acknowledge world peace, and then renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to celebrate the contributions of veterans of all wars.
 
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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
 
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