Mar. 03, 2017

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Budget Hearings Look into Potential Mergers

Members of the House Appropriations Committee had a first chance to ask department officials about the governor’s two proposed mergers within his budget proposal – combining the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a Department of Health and Human Services; and the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole into a Department of Criminal Justice – during budget hearings this week.

Questions focused on cost savings, current programs and services, and the potential loss of attention to seniors and the opioid epidemic. A specific plan, including placement of personnel, has not yet been given to lawmakers.

Also appearing before the committee this week were the departments of Environmental Protection, Conservation and Natural Resources, Agriculture, General Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Community and Economic Development; along with the judiciary; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency; Liquor Control Board; Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; and the Public Utility Commission.

The final round of hearings is set for next week. To view the upcoming schedule or watch past hearings, click here
Committee Questions Status of Unemployment Comp System

Members of the House Labor and Industry Committee questioned Secretary of Labor and Industry Kathy Manderino about the impact of furloughs in the Unemployment Compensation (UC) bureau and expected computer system upgrades that were supposed to have been completed years ago. Since the furloughs and three UC center closures two months ago, residents seeking to submit claims or obtain information from the bureau have experienced lengthy delays or lack of response.

The Governor’s administration furloughed staff when an extension of state funding was not approved by the Senate last year, and is now operating solely on federal funding. Subsequent reports revealed that errors made at the department caused the state to lose millions in federal funding. The administration is trying to recoup those funds. The committee was seeking information from the secretary to explore what short- and/or long-term plans may be necessary in order to meet the needs of those currently waiting for service, as well as to ensure greater accountability and more efficient services within the UC system going forward. To watch a recording of the hearing, click here
Act 89 Invests More in Local Roads

PennDOT announced this week that municipalities will receive nearly $466.2 million from liquid fuels revenue to invest in local roads, marking a 5 percent increase, or $20.9 million, over last year. This funding will allow municipalities to help pay for expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. More than 60 percent of public roads in Pennsylvania are maintained by local governments. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally owned roads.

The additional funding is made possible by Act 89 and was distributed to certified municipalities on March 1. Before Act 89 was enacted, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments. For the complete list of local payments, visit the “Municipal Liquid Fuels Program” page at under the “Doing Business” Local Government page.
Program Offers Assistance with Septic Systems

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), together with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, offers a program with low-interest loans to homeowners to cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems. Assistance is available to eligible homeowners who need to repair or replace their individual on-lot septic system or to connect for the first time to a public sewer system. More information can be found at here.
Mark Your Calendars: Student Art Open House on March 30

Any students in the 108th District who are interested in displaying artwork should contact my Sunbury District Office at 570-286-5885 or toll free at 1-800-924-9060.
Celebrating Milton’s Bicentennial

I recently presented a House citation to Milton Mayor Ed Nelson at the Milton Bicentennial Bash to honor the borough’s celebration of its 200th anniversary this year. Incorporated by an act of the state Legislature on Feb. 26, 1817, the Borough of Milton was initially settled by Andrew Straub, a gristmill operator, in 1790. The town grew quickly as industry and businesses flourished and Milton became home to a number of well-known manufacturers, including American Care and Foundry and Chef Boyardee, which won the United States Army-Navy E Award for production efforts during World War II. While retaining much of its industrial roots, the borough has more recently focused on service industries, the arts and its rich cultural heritage. Throughout its proud history, the Borough of Milton has been blessed with dedicated civic leaders who have helped it grow and flourish, as well as diligent and productive citizens who have helped it become an inspiring presence in this Commonwealth. Click here to view a photo album from the event.  
Chamber Impact Award Winners

Congratulations to the Central PA Chamber of Commerce Impact Award winners who were recently recognized and are pictured here (from left): Ron Mackley, iHeartMedia; Jim King, Central PA Chamber volunteer; Chris Coup, Associate Broker, representing The Coup Agency; and Colleen Fritz, president and CEO, representing Heritage Springs Memory Care.
BUG Awards

I recently congratulated Bring Up Grades (BUG) awards recipients in third grades at Chief Shikellamy, Beck, Oaklyn and Priestley elementary schools. This program, made possible by the Kiwanis Club, is designed to provide recognition to students who raise their grades into an acceptable range and maintain or continue to raise them from one grading period to the next. Congratulations to all our award winners, and keep up the great work!
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106 Arch Street, Sunbury, PA 17801 | (570) 286-5885 | 1-800-924-9060 | Fax: (570) 988-1627
402B Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202108, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2108 | (717) 787-3485 | Fax: (717) 782-2892
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