Feb. 24, 2017

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Veterans Affairs Emergency Preparedness Committee Holds Hearings

The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, of which I am a member held a hearing this week about the possible consolidation of regional emergency medical services (EMS) councils. One proposal is to trim the current 14 councils down to six.

Potential benefits include cost savings, an improved span of control and exceptional customer service as the larger size allows for a quicker response and greater knowledge base.

Richard Gibbons, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of EMS, explained that the distance to a regional office has lessened in importance as technology has advanced, no longer forcing reliance on standard mail service or person-to-person contact.

“Our goals are not to disadvantage the system, but rather to maintain and improve the system. As we continue to do on a daily basis, we will evaluate all programs and projects in comparison to state priorities and plans and make the best decisions possible,” Gibbons said.

Opinions were strong on both sides of the issue, with numerous concerns about consolidation being raised. Gerald Wydro, emergency health services medical director for Bucks County, supports the current system that allows the people closest to the community and its EMS services to provide the system’s infrastructure and critical components.

“Relocating our EMS Council will serve to undermine and dilute the exceptional programs and cutting-edge regional projects for which Bucks County is known. Additionally, there will be an inherent increase in cost, travel time and lack of convenience for our EMS services and providers,” Wydro testified.

The Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness and Education Committee had another informational meeting this week about two topics: the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission and fire/emergency medical services training available through community colleges.

Frank Sullivan, director of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission, spoke about the need to prepare for the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

“With each denied BRAC request, the Department of Defense grows increasingly desperate for cuts. There is no question as to whether there will be another BRAC; the question is when,” Sullivan said. “With or without the authorization for a BRAC, the services do possess the power to move equipment, gradually reduce manpower and eventually – functionally – close an installation.”

Sullivan highlighted the importance of having a plan in place to resist closure in Pennsylvania given the many jobs provided to local economies.

The hearing also included a debate regarding how to deliver fire/emergency medical services training, with some advocating for programs to be more readily available through community colleges and others suggesting training be available to high school students, with written permission from their parents given the potentially dangerous nature of the training. Students who attend trade schools and spend much of their senior year working in the community were a particular focus.
Legislation Introduced to Require More Accountability In Government

The Act of April 9, 1929 empowers the Auditor General to audit the agencies receiving state funding yet the same act provides no recourse for the failure by the agencies receiving funds from responding to and potentially implementing the recommendations.

In my examination of the Auditor General’s audit reports, I have been stunned to find the amount of times that audit recommendations are ignored and/or not responded to. The lack of response, which exposes the Commonwealth to millions and potentially billions in wasted funds annually, occurs because the Act of 1929 does not provide for any penalties for failing to correct these deficiencies.

My legislation, House Bill 453, would amend the Fiscal Code to require any agency receiving funds to respond within 120 days of an audit with their response or funding will be suspended by through the Appropriations process.

Financial Assistance for Residential Sewage Hookups Now Available

I was recently made aware of changes made to a program at the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

The Agency currently administers the PENNVEST Homeowner Septic Program which offers low-interest loans to home-owners to cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems.

The program now offers low-interest loans to cover the cost of connecting for the first time to a public sewer system.

More information can be found by going to RepFrankRyan.com and clicking on the “Homeowner Septic Program” banner.
Are You Owed Any Unclaimed Property?

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is currently holding more than $2.3 billion in unclaimed property, with about one in 10 residents eligible to recoup that property.

Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been left inactive by the owner for a period of seven years or more. If no lawful owner claims the property at that time, it is transferred to the Treasury.

The most common kinds of unclaimed property include savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, unclaimed insurance benefits and items abandoned in forgotten safe deposit boxes. The amounts can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars.

To find out if you or a member of your family is entitled to unclaimed property, contact one of my district offices or visit RepFrankRyan.com and click on the “Claim What is Yours” banner.

If we can help you prove ownership, the property will be returned to you free of charge. There is no need to pay a private service to submit a claim.
Budget Hearings Commence

Members of the House Appropriations Committee were briefed Tuesday on the state’s financial status during the first week of budget hearings.

The Independent Fiscal Office, a non-partisan state agency, confirmed an anticipated shortfall of at least $2.5 billion by July 1, 2018, reflective of sluggish economic growth, rising health care and pension costs, and an aging workforce. That shortfall can be reduced by substantive changes in public policy.

Next week’s hearings will include appearances by the majority of state departments, along with the judiciary, Public Utility Commission, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and the PA Liquor Control Board.

To view the schedule or archived video of the hearings, click here.
House Committee Examines EMS Councils, Community College Training Bills

Members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held two meetings this week to discuss further efforts to efficiently deliver emergency medical services, improve fire and EMS training, and meet veterans’ needs.

Tuesday’s meeting involved a discussion of the consolidation plan for the Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Council System, which is overseen by Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of EMS.

On Wednesday, the committee was updated on the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission and discussed the fire/emergency medical services training available through community colleges.

To watch those hearings, click here
Keep PA Beautiful!

As part of the 2017 Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, registration is now open to organizations that wish to organize a wide range of beautification projects.

Registered cleanup events can get free trash bags, gloves and safety vests from PennDOT district offices, while supplies last. Events can be litter cleanups, illegal dump cleanups, beautification projects, special collections and educational events.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association are sponsoring “Let’s Pick It Up PA – Everyday” from April 18 through May 8. During this time, trash collected at registered events can be taken to participating landfills for free or reduced-cost disposal with prior approval.

The 2017 Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania runs from March 1 to May 31. Last year’s campaign included 6,118 events in all 67 counties with 158,821 volunteers.

To register an event, click here
Be Informed of New State Traffic Laws

With this week being observed as Highway Safety Law Awareness Week, PennDOT reminds motorists of several new highway laws.

The Child Passenger Safety law update, which went into effect in August 2016, states that children are required to be buckled into a rear-facing car seat until they are age 2 or meet the maximum weight or height requirements set by the manufacturer of the seat.

“Daniel's Law,” now in effect, increases the penalty for texting while driving resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

To improve pedestrian safety, a driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway. Failure to do so could lead to a fine and three points on the driver's license. It is illegal to overtake or pass a vehicle yielding to a pedestrian within a crosswalk.

Under a new law passed by the General Assembly last year, drivers convicted of a first-time offense with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent or higher after August will be mandated to use ignition interlock for at least a year.
Turnpike Commission Offering Summer Jobs

For this summer, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is accepting applications for toll, maintenance, clerical and engineering positions.

Toll collectors must be available to work any of the three shifts over a 24-hour period, including weekends and holidays. Employees will work a 40-hour week and will not receive benefits. The pay is $11.50 per hour for toll collectors and $11 per hour for other positions.

All eligible candidates must be at least 18 years of age and completed a secondary education program such as high school or GED at the time of hiring. The program is limited to 16 weeks per employee and runs between May 1 and Sept. 30.
All applications MUST be submitted online at paturnpike.com/employment. Copies of online applications should be sent to my Harrisburg office by Wednesday, March 22.
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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