Oct. 27, 2017

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

“No” on the Fiscal Code

The House of Representatives on Oct. 24 passed the fiscal code by a vote of 109-75. The vote was predominantly without Republican support. I voted “no.”
The problems I had with the bill included memorializing some horrible practices.
Many of those who spoke in favor of the bill did so because it was the month of October and they wanted to get the budget done. However, this bill was not good governance.

We have a great deal work to do to restore the financial health of the Commonwealth, and this measure was not helpful toward that end. I promise to keep fighting.

“No” on Borrowing to Pay Bills

This week, the House and Senate sent to the governor’s desk the remaining pieces of the 2017-18 budget package. That includes legislation that avoids broad-based income, sales or utility tax increases this fiscal year, while also generating enough revenue to close out the 2016-17 fiscal year and fully fund the 2017-18 budget year. The package also includes funding for state-related higher education institutions, which include Penn State, Pitt, Lincoln, Temple and the state’s only veterinary school, Penn Vet.

I could not vote for these measures because part of the funding package the Senate sent to the House is based on securitizing the state’s Tobacco Settlement Fund. This essentially gives the state Treasurer permission to borrow against that fund if he wishes. The measures passed also expand gambling in Pennsylvania.  I cannot support borrowing to pay our bills and I do not support expanding gambling in our state.

Nevertheless, my Republican colleagues did pass a spending plan that was much less than what the governor proposed without further burdening taxpayers.
Special Olympics Bowling Tournament

One of my goals in life is to dedicate my life to helping children and individuals with disabilities. That was the cause for which I walked across United States in 2014.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be with some many dear friends with the Special Olympics bowling tournament in Palmyra on Oct. 22. Great job to the youngsters to their families!

Route 422 Reopened

On Oct. 18, PennDOT informed the public that Route 422 sinkhole has been repaired and the road re-opened. This is the section of Route 422 near the Palmyra Bowling Center in North Londonderry Township.

Eastbound Route 422 had been closed since August 29 when nearby sinkholes began undermining the highway. As the sinkholes expanded, PennDOT closed westbound Route 422 on September 6.

Since early September, PennDOT’s contractor -- J.D. Eckman, Inc. of Atglen, Pennsylvania – has worked on repairing the damage caused by the sinkholes in order to reopen Route 422 to traffic as soon as possible.

This work included removing roughly 260 feet of the roadway pavement and excavating to a depth of about five feet. A sinkhole and large void were discovered adjacent to the repair area, under the underground bridge that was built in a major repair project in 2014. The void was filled with cement. The contractor then installed a “flexible sinkhole safety net” over the excavated area that included several alternating layers of geosynthetic material and soil.
On top of these layers, the contractor then placed eight inches of subbase material (i.e., small stones), and this week paved ten-and-a-half inches of asphalt for the new pavement.

“It is an understatement to say we have problems with sinkholes in this area,” said PennDOT District 8 Executive Mike Keiser, who is responsible for state-owned highways and bridges in south central Pennsylvania. “Our challenge is to manage the situation when a sinkhole appears and protect the safety of the people who use the highway. The repair we’ve made strengthens this portion of Route 422 and makes this stretch of highway safer should sinkholes emerge in the future.”
Court of Honor

One of the great pleasures as a representative is when you have a chance to honor very deserving young person for their achievement. Oct. 21, was one of those days. That day, I had the honor of presented a house of representative citation to Casey Emler for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Casey, his parents, and grandparents as well as entire scouting community should be extremely proud of his achievements. God bless you, Casey!

Remove Old Vehicle Registration Stickers
Pennsylvania drivers are encouraged to remove expired registration stickers from their license plates as out-of-state police officers have pulled over drivers with outdated stickers.

At the end of 2016, PennDOT stopped issuing the stickers, saving taxpayers more than $3 million. PennDOT has alerted police from other states and Canada of the lack of registration stickers. However, out-of-state police officers have been reported to pull over Pennsylvania drivers who still have the outdated stickers on their plates.

Pennsylvania State Police encourage residents who are pulled over to politely explain the change to the officer and show him or her registration paperwork, which should be in vehicles at all times.
Heating Assistance Program Opens Soon
Residents who are struggling with their home heating bills can apply for assistance from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps individuals and families pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants. It also provides crisis grants to help in the event of an emergency or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of utility service.

The income eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP are set at 150 percent of the federal poverty income level. For example, the income limit for an individual is $18,090; for a couple, the limit is $24,360; and for a family of four, it is $36,900.

Residents may apply for LIHEAP online
or by contacting the County Assistance Office in their county of residence.
Another Extension Granted to Comply with REAL ID
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the compliance deadline for when Pennsylvania residents must use a REAL ID or other acceptable forms of enhanced identification.

Under this extension, Pennsylvania residents can use their existing driver licenses through Oct. 10, 2018. This will apply to both federal facilities and domestic airline travel.

PennDOT has begun work on the implementation of REAL ID and estimates that REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and identification cards will be available, as an option for residents, in March 2019. It is expected that Pennsylvania will continue to apply for extensions until the state has met complete compliance.

DHS has established Oct. 1, 2020, as the final REAL ID compliance deadline for all states.

Information on Pennsylvania’s REAL ID, including frequently asked questions, is available at www.dmv.pa.gov.
Improving Educational Options

The House approved two proposals this week to improve educational options for students.

House Bill 429 would allow public school students who earn credit for a course in personal financial literacy to use that credit to satisfy a graduation credit requirement in social studies, math or consumer science. This would help encourage students to acquire the knowledge necessary to make wise financial choices as adults.

The second measure, House Bill 1653, would allow students pursuing postsecondary education online to receive financial aid. Currently, this is operated as a pilot program, which was created by Act 59 of 2013, for students who take more than 50 percent of their credits online from a college or university headquartered and located in the Commonwealth.

Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.  
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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