Jul. 20, 2018

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

State’s Top Industry Sees Budget Investments

Helping to ensure that agriculture remains one of Pennsylvania’s top industries and continues to help feed the world, the 2018-19 state budget made several critical investments to address the industry’s most pressing challenges.

In April, legislation waiving storm water management plans for high tunnel structures was signed into law. These are temporary buildings often used to dry tobacco and raise produce through the early spring and late into the fall.

This legislation was needed because in 2016 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began requiring permanent storm water engineering management and construction for high tunnels which are by definition temporary structures. The fact is that the cost of a storm water engineering plan, and the cost of constructing what that plan requires, is more expensive than the high tunnel itself. Now, this undue burden on our farmers has been lifted.

Also, we were able to get another $3 million in the state budget to help combat the spotted lanternfly, which unfortunately is spreading beyond Berks County into neighboring Lancaster County. We certainly don’t want lanternflies spreading into Lebanon County.

The inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia that threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities, mainly apples, grapes and hardwoods. This funding will help increase detection and control efforts, and coordinate multi-agency response, outreach and training.

And, to assist dairy farmers who are battling a changing market, $5 million will help with research and development programs, along with grants for sustaining the viability of their operations. Pennsylvania dairy farming supports 52,000 jobs and contributes $14.7 billion to the state’s economy. To find out if the dairy products you purchase are made in Pennsylvania, click here.

Several ag line items were also restored or increased in this year’s budget, including agricultural excellence; agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; hardwoods research and promotion; Livestock and Open Dairy shows; state food purchase; and food marketing and research.

More information can be found here.

Trump Small Business Advocate Comes to Harrisburg for Regulatory Reform Solutions

On Wednesday, I attended a legislative briefing in Harrisburg to talk regulatory reform with President Donald Trump’s national Manufacturing and Technology Director Tom Rossomando, of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy.

Following a brief introduction from my colleagues on the landmark regulatory reform package (House Bills 209, 1237, 1792, 1959 and 1960), which we successfully advanced through the PA House in early May, the bulk of our discussion focused on additional opportunities to partner with the Trump administration to rein in regulatory overreach at the state and federal levels.

As of April, the federal government eliminated 22 regulations for every one created in the prior 15 months. My colleagues and I are looking for ways to capitalize on that reduction to benefit our businesses, schools, hospitals and care facilities as well as local governments.

Tom also informed us that the 10 regional small business advocates, as well as he and the other national director, are all small business owners. I particularly liked his observation that “We’re not government bureaucrats; we only play one during the week.” Their directive from President Trump has been to get out there, find out what small business needs and help them.

Regional small business owners should be watching for an upcoming opportunity to meet with SBA personnel. We’ve agreed to coordinate an event allowing employers to learn more about what the SBA can provide and to discuss some of the duplicative, wasteful, outdated or otherwise unnecessary regulations the Trump administration may be targeting for repeal.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides loans to small businesses, assistance in applying for and receiving federal contracts, and is headed by a Cabinet-level administrator.

For more information visit sba.gov or Facebook.com/AdvocacySBA.

School Bus Safety Video Produced by Local Students

This bus safety video was created and produced by Cedar Crest High School students. Under the guidance of their adviser Christopher Schwalm, students in the CCHS Today class (Jordan Brown, Cassandra Martin, Vanessa Clavell, Sara Russo, and Korrin Fisher) created this public service announcement at the request of the District after CLSD bus drivers recorded numerous instances in which students were endangered by vehicles driving past stopped buses.

2018 Fair Guides Now Available
Fair season has started! If you’re looking to visit one of the state’s many fairs and festivals this summer, the 2018 Pennsylvania Fair Guide is now available online here.

Published by the state Department of Agriculture, the guide lists the dates, locations and contact persons for more than 100 agriculture fairs and events scheduled this summer and fall in Pennsylvania.

The guide also highlights 16 fairs that offer live harness racing as part of one of the nation’s leading fair-racing programs.

Ag Progress Days Hosts Fun, Education for All Ages
One of the largest outdoor agricultural expositions will draw more than 45,000 people to central Pennsylvania Aug. 14-16 to learn more about the science and business of agriculture production during the annual Ag Progress Days near State College.

Sponsored by Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the event attracts nearly 500 exhibitors from 34 states and Canada, with more than 60 percent directly or indirectly involved in ag production.

In addition to the exhibits and trade show, attendees can participate in crop displays, machinery demonstrations, guided research tours, family and youth activities, horse exhibitions and workshops.

While there, the House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees will receive an update on the overall status of the agricultural industry on Aug. 15.

No admission fee is charged, and parking is free. For more information, visit here.

PennDOT Offers Winter Maintenance Jobs
Individuals seeking seasonal employment are encouraged to apply for a variety of winter maintenance positions now open through PennDOT.

The program runs from September through April, and includes positions for transportation equipment operators, diesel and construction equipment mechanics, automotive mechanics, tradesman helpers, clerks, clerk typists, stock clerks, welders, semi-skilled laborers and custodial workers.

Individuals in these positions supplement the permanent workforce and have the potential to lead to permanent full-time employment. 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.”
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