Mar. 10, 2017

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

Palmyra Students Grace Capitol with Music

The Palmyra Middle School and High School Chorus & Orchestra, under the direction of Andrew Kurtz, performing in the East Wing of the Capitol as part of the Music in Our Schools Month Capitol Concert Series. These students put on a truly exemplary performance as groups for the Concert Series are selected by an application process and are from some of the finest school music programs in Pennsylvania. For more pictures of the chorus, visit my Facebook page.  
President’s Speech Shows Leadership, Path Forward

This week, I wrote an article for the Lebanon Daily News analyzing President Donald Trump’s Feb. 28 speech to a joint session of Congress. The president focused on critical issues facing the nation: infrastructure, training and education in technology and the trades, a much needed revision of an archaic tax code and re-building our depleted military. These areas of critical vulnerabilities must be addressed in order for our nation to rebuild.

President Trump’s focused approach to critical issues will serve as a crucial foundation for Pennsylvania’s economic recovery and rebuilding to make Pennsylvania a Keystone State once more.

Read the entire article here
Recruiters Experience Difficulty Connecting With Students

The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, of which I am a member, held a meeting with military recruiters this week to learn about the difficulties that recruiters experience in Pennsylvania’s high schools when trying to connect with students.

Capt. Ryan Tintera, an active duty Army recruiter, explained that the military would like to have the same access to students that colleges and universities experience. Currently, military recruiters are usually forced to stay behind a table in the lunchroom while college recruiters are allowed to approach students.

Tintera described many scholarships and programs that are available, including a two-year enlistment. The opportunity provides more than $65,000 for college, special preference when applying to college as a service member and college credit for training (up to 30 semester hours) while living abroad and receiving payment for work, rent, utilities and food. Program enrollees will then spend another two years in the reserves.

Despite military recruiters providing a way to earn a degree debt free, high school administrators often bar access to students. Dr. Eric Eshbach, superintendent of Northern York School District, explained that while his district does not limit student interaction with military recruiters, he imagines a possible explanation is simply a lack of knowledge of the many benefits available.

Eshbach shared that he sent a couple of guidance counselors from his district to a four-day boot camp designed to allow professionals to experience training camp while also getting information about the military’s offerings. One of the counselors attested that experiencing a taste of boot camp gave her a greater understanding of the student profile that would be a good fit, better enabling her to match her students with opportunities that will best serve them after high school.

Also this week, the committee partnered with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee for a conversation with officers and students in the United States Army War College’s Advanced Stategic Art Program. The distinguished members of the military community talked about what the border partrol is doing to respond to the heroin crisis, how a border wall may address immigration issues and what can be done to further develop the active-duty population in the Commonwealth.

During the third meeting of the week, emergency response organizations shared challenges they are experiencing and what is being done to address them. Brig. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, state adjutant general of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), described an effort to control spending.

At no upfront cost to the DMVA or taxpayers, 13,000 solar panels were installed on 20 acres of DMVA land. The panels will generate much of the power needed for the military training site, lowering operating costs.

To view footage of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s informational meetings, click here and here.
Many Museums Offering Free Admission This Sunday

To help the Commonwealth celebrate its 336th birthday on Charter Day, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will offer free admission to many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History on Sunday, March 12.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. Once each year, the Pennsylvania State Archives displays the original document, for a limited time, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. For the remainder of the year the charter is safeguarded in a special vault within the archives.

Charter Day celebrates the founding of the Commonwealth and gives visitors to The State Museum of Pennsylvania a rare opportunity to see the original Charter of Pennsylvania written in 1681. The document is on display through March 17.

For a complete list of the participating museums and historic sites in this year’s celebration, click here.
Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend

Daylight Saving Time will begin on Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., and residents are reminded to turn their clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.

This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, which should also be replaced every 10 years.

Daylight Saving Time will end on Nov. 5.
Asking State Employees for Money-Saving Solutions

A new effort to help save taxpayer money by asking state employees for their ideas was announced this week by the House Appropriations Committee.

The program, State Employees Achieve Savings (SEAS), will ask state employees, who can remain anonymous, about their strategies to better streamline services and be more efficient. Retired state employees are also being encouraged to participate.

State employees – from any department anywhere in the state – can click here to submit their ideas. The submissions will then be reviewed and possibly implemented.

The committee emphasized that no idea is too small for consideration.
Education, Human Services Focus of Budget Hearings

The House Appropriations Committee wrapped up its three-week series of budget hearings Thursday, with two full days of questions about the education and human services aspects of the governor’s proposal.

Monday’s hearing featured the Department of Education, including details about increased funding for basic and higher education, and whether additional state investments are being directed into the classrooms.

Questions about the opioid crisis, child care, food stamps, Medicaid and specific programs for those with developmental and physical disabilities were the focus of Tuesday’s hearing, with members asking details about waiting list for services, program eligibility, and federal and state matching funds.
During its appearance, the state police answered questions about the governor’s proposed $25 per person fee for coverage in municipalities without their own police protection.

The final hearing involved the Office of the Budget and included questions about the governor’s overall $32.4 billion spending plan and the estimates on a number of cost-saving initiatives.

The Appropriations Committee will take the testimony gathered from these hearings into negotiations for the 2017-18 budget. All of the hearings and written testimony are available here.
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