Mar. 07, 2018

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

                       Poetry Out Loud Winner!

On Monday, I came out to support Brooke Halinar of Cedar Crest High School as she competed in the 2018 state Poetry Out Loud contest and she placed FIRST!

The Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.

Our hopes and prayers are with her as she proceeds to the national championship at George Washington University in Washington D.C. next month. Way to go, Brooke!

Humane Society Police Officer Bill Passes Senate Committee
I am pleased to announce that House Bill 1917, legislation I have introduced to strengthen the training and oversight of Humane Society police officers, has passed out of the full House on Jan. 24, and was promptly voted out of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Jan. 31. I am hopeful that we can see it soon pass the full Senate and be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

My bill would strengthen the current training and oversight requirements by, among other things:

• Increasing initial and annual training hours for humane society police officers.
• Mandating training the proper procedure to file citations and warrants, including when and how to contact other law enforcement.
• Including training in farm operations and biosecurity, including at least one on-site visit to a working commercial farm operation.
• Requiring that a humane society police officer remain a resident of the Commonwealth to retain his or her appointment as an officer.
• Subjecting an officer to automatic revocation of his or her appointment in all counties if any one county revokes the appointment.
• Treating associations that employ humane society police officers as local agencies under the Right-to-Know Law.

No one can countenance true cruelty to animals, but we must also be mindful to educate our humane society police officers about farms and rural communities so that they can focus their enforcement efforts against those who truly commit cruel acts.

Maximizing Employment Opportunities Under the New Federal Tax Law
On Feb. 6, my legislation, House Bill 2017, was reported out of the House Finance Committee and can now be scheduled for a vote by the full House. This legislation would reverse the provisions of Bulletin 2017-02 and allow Pennsylvania businesses the opportunity to take advantage of this important provision.

The reason for House Bill 2017 is that the U.S. tax landscape has undergone significant changes with the recent enactment by Congress and the President of sweeping legislation overhauling our federal tax system. The new law has already begun to stimulate economic growth and development in many other states. If we act now we can maximize its positive effects for employment and wage increases for Pennsylvania.

For example, under the new law, bonus depreciation doubles from 50 to 100 percent for property purchased between Sept. 27, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2023. After that date, a 20 percent phase-down takes effect. Also, bonus depreciation amount is now permitted for the purchase of used property, in addition to new property. This is a common tax plan strategy used by virtually all businesses at some point in time, both large and small, which allows them to make capital investments, expand and hire new workers

But not in Pennsylvania.

Businesses looking to expand in Pennsylvania will not be able to take advantage of this provision because of rules just issued on Dec. 22 by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Now, even under the best case scenario, a taxpayer gets no deduction until the asset is sold or disposed of. If the taxpayer has equipment that may be used indefinitely, it could effectively get no depreciation write-off in Pennsylvania. This draconian pronouncement essentially tells businesses owners “thanks, but no thanks, Pennsylvania is closed for business. We need to enact House Bill 2017 into law as soon as possible.

75th Anniversary for America’s Independent Business Advocate
Independent and family-owned businesses are the backbones of local economies all across America.

Family businesses account for 64 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, generate 62 percent of the country’s employment, and account for 78 percent of all new job creation. Studies have shown about 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are family-controlled and represent the full spectrum of American companies from small business to major corporations.2

The greatest part of America’s wealth lies with family-owned businesses. Family firms comprise 80 to 90 percent of all business enterprises in North America.3

That is why I will soon be introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives honoring the 75th Anniversary of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

The NFIB provides a voice in governmental decision making through policy advocacy to small and independent businesses in not only the Commonwealth but nationwide. Our nation, and our citizens have prospered due to small and independent businesses which are the engines of job growth.

Update on Federal Reserve’s $20 billion Debt to PA
Late last year, I introduced 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.

Walk and Talk Town Hall on March 24
I want to invite residents of the 101st District to participate in my continuing series of Legislative Walk and Talks on one of Lebanon’s several rail trails.

These events allow us to make ourselves as available as possible in an open environment. The walks will be at the speed of the slowest person so please do not feel pressure. This walk is part of our town hall approach to hear from you in as many ways as possible.

• Saturday, March 24, at 9 a.m., at the 8th Street Trailhead.
• Saturday, May 12, at 9 a.m., at the Cornwall Trailhead.

These events are also held during the day for folks who might not have the time in their schedule for a traditional town hall, which are typically held in the evenings.

To download a map and flyer for these events, please visit and click on the “Legislative Walk and Talks” banner.

Budget Hearings Continue to Form Basis for Upcoming Negotiations
The second full week of budget hearings wrapped up on Thursday, with members of the House Appropriations Committee asking agency and department officials a variety of questions about executive functions, programs and efficiencies. These questions, along with submitted written testimony, will serve as the foundation for budget negotiations this spring.

Appearing this week were the departments of Environmental Protection, Agriculture, Corrections, General Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Military and Veterans Affairs, along with the Liquor Control Board and the Office of Attorney General.

On the agenda for the third and final week of budget hearings are full days for the departments of Education and Human Services, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, Office of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and Gaming Control Board. The final day will feature Budget Secretary Randy Albright.

The hearings can be viewed live at, with archived videos posted within 24 hours of the hearing.

Committee Takes Look at School Preparedness
Last week, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, of which I am a member, reviewed the issue of school safety and security, especially the prevention and handling of active shooters and other emergency situations.

In Pennsylvania, schools are required to have an emergency plan, but that may or may not cover active shooter situations. Under Act 55 of 2017, schools are encouraged to conduct at least one security drill per school year in each school building. The security drills may be used in place of one of the school’s monthly fire drills.

In further discussion on this serious nationwide issue, the House Education Committee will hold a day-long hearing on March 15 to examine further prevention methods.

Challenges Within the Dairy Industry
Members of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee this week met with state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and other leaders about the challenges facing the dairy industry and efforts to overcome them.

A major focus of the discussion was an ongoing study of the industry, commissioned by the department and the Center for Dairy Excellence, which has indicated investing in additional dairy processing capacity in the Commonwealth could generate as much as $34.7 million annually in combined revenue generation and cost savings. Information about the study is available here.

Other suggestions for improvement included capitalizing on branding and marketing opportunities, improving regulatory processes and the business climate, broadening workforce development and education opportunities, and investing in broadband infrastructure.

More than a third of the state’s agriculture revenues come from the dairy industry; however, many of these mostly family-owned farms are struggling because of an oversupply of fluid milk in the market and persistently low prices. Other challenges discussed in the meeting include regulatory issues and permit delays.

Resources to Help with Problem Gambling
With March being observed as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, officials from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Pennsylvania Lottery discussed the warning signs of problem gambling and highlighted available resources to help with a gambling addiction.

In the Commonwealth, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania works to educate Pennsylvanians on compulsive and problem gambling to prevent development of dangerous gambling habits. It operates the Pennsylvania Problem Gambling helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). More resources, including a 24-hour chat service, are also available at

For more information on how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem and to find treatment options around Pennsylvania, visit or or call 1-877-565-2112 to reach the state’s problem gambling helpline.

Persian Gulf Veterans Reminded to Apply for Bonus Program
Eligible veterans who served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations from Aug. 2, 1990 to Aug. 31, 1991, have six months to collect a special one-time payment to honor their service and sacrifice. Applications for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Bonus are due by Aug. 31, 2018.

The bonus program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For personnel whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, there is an additional $5,000 available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.

To be eligible for the bonus, a service member must have:

• Served with the U.S. Armed Forces, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard
• Served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations during the period from Aug. 2, 1990 to Aug. 31, 1991
• Received the Southwest Asia Service Medal
• Been a legal resident of Pennsylvania at the time of active duty service
• Been discharged from active duty under honorable conditions, if not currently on active duty

Since 2008, about 9,500 Persian Gulf Conflict veterans have applied for and received a bonus for their war efforts. Individuals who received a bonus or similar compensation from any other state are not eligible for the Pennsylvania program.

For detailed instructions on how to apply, visit
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