Jan. 12, 2018

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

                               PA Farm Show

The 102nd Farm Show will wrap up Saturday, with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to walk through the doors at the Farm Show Complex near Harrisburg. There’s still time to stop by if you haven’t yet visited the largest indoor exposition of its kind along the East Coast.

I had the opportunity to catch up with PA Agriculture Secretary Russ Redding today at the 2018 Farm Show. We discussed issues facing farmers and agribusiness in Pennsylvania and the future of farming here.

Legislative Offices, PennDOT Driver License and Photo Centers Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday

Just a reminder, my offices, state offices and all PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Jan. 13, through Monday, Jan. 15, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 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.

PA Legislature Leads the Fight Against Opioid Addiction
Pennsylvania loses 10 people every day to opioid abuse In 2014, the Legislature led the way in combating the state’s growing drug crisis with House Resolution 659, which created the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation to provide recommendations for addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past two years, the Legislature has added over $32.5 million to fight the opioid crisis.

Other legislation enacted includes:

• Act 59 of 2017 (Senate Bill 446) - Amends the Administrative Code to require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to license or certify drug and alcohol recovery houses that receive public funding.
• Act 37 of 2016 (House Bill 608) - Allows the Secretary of Health to add substances to the controlled substances list of the “Drug Act” to keep pace with the growing designer drug trade.
• Act 122 of 2016 (House Bill HB 1699) - Places a seven day limit on opioids prescribed in urgent care centers and emergency rooms.
• Act 125 of 2016 (Senate Bill 1367) - Restricts the number of pills that can be prescribed to minors in emergency rooms.
• Act 191 of 2014 (Senate Bill 1180) - Created the statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that collects information about controlled substance prescription drugs that are dispensed to patients within the state.
• Act 40 of 2011 (House Bill HB 396) - Reclassified and redefined the crime of drug delivery resulting in death from third-degree murder to a first-degree felony and removed the requirement that malice be established.

• Act 123 of 2016 (House Bill HB 1737) - Allows Pennsylvania waste-to-energy plants to destroy and properly dispose of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications.

• Act 55 of 2017 (House Bill HB 178) – Updates provisions and requirements related to the Alcohol,
Chemical, and Tobacco Abuse Program in the School Code to include other drug abuse; requires instruction provided to students to communicate opioid abuse prevention, with an emphasis on the prescription drug epidemic and addiction to heroin.
• Act 124 of 2016 (Senate Bill 1202) - Requires prescribers and dispensers to obtain education in pain management, identification of addiction and the use of opioids. It also requires system queries of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) when prescribing or dispensing an opioid benzodiazepine drug.
• Act 126 of 2016 (Senate Bill 1368) - Establishes a uniform safe opioid prescribing curriculum in medical colleges and other medical schools and directs the Department of Health (DOH) to establish a form for a patient to complete which will opt a patient out of being offered opioids.

• Act 40 of 2017 (House Bill HB 118) - Provides for emergency drug and alcohol detox in hospitals.
• House Resolution 590 of 2016 - Directs the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to establish and administer a task force on access to addiction treatment through health plans and other resources.

Does Your Home Contain Radon?
An estimated 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes have higher levels of radon than national safety standards, due to the state’s geology. However, residents can perform a simple test to detect this gas, which is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. High levels of radon tend to be found in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in the home.

Winter is a good time to test for radon, because doors and windows are generally closed, providing more accurate results. Simple radon test kits are inexpensive and available at home improvement and hardware stores.

January is national Radon Action Month. For more information on radon, testing and daily tips, click here.

Protecting Families’ Access to Gravesites
In allowing Pennsylvania families to grieve their loved ones, a new law taking effect in late February will ensure reasonable access to all cemetery visitors in Pennsylvania, regardless of property ownership. It also requires cemetery owners to honor burial plots sold by previous owners.

The legislation was the result of situations in which cemetery properties changed ownership over time.

Under Act 64 of 2017, cemetery owners are able to establish reasonable access procedures, as well as designate the frequency, hours and duration of cemetery visits. If the cemetery owners fail to comply with the new law, persons denied access to a burial plot can file a lawsuit in the county’s Court of Common Pleas where the property is located.

The Office of Attorney General also may bring an enforcement action against the owner for violating Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Report Reveals Success with 2017 Tax Amnesty Program
Nearly $143 million in state back taxes were recovered during a tax amnesty period occurring last spring, which was enacted as part of Act 84 of 2016.

After accounting for costs, more than $130 million in net revenue was generated, more than the original estimate of $100 million. The types of taxes collected (in descending order amounts) were corporation, sales and use, personal, employer withholding, inheritance, motor fuel, realty transfer, cigarette and other types.

Prior to the program’s start in April, notices were mailed to nearly 860,000 business and individuals with Pennsylvania tax delinquencies. In total, 35,430 taxpayers participated in the program.

Once the program ended, an additional 5 percent non-participation penalty was added to all amnesty-eligible accounts, with any unpaid, under-reported or unreported liability. Any taxpayers who received tax amnesty benefits must remain up-to-date with state taxes for two years; otherwise, the tax amnesty benefits may be revoked.

To read the report, click here.
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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