Oct. 25, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Honoring a Special Person

Surrounded by family and House members, it was my pleasure to honor Linda Miller, who is retiring after almost 39 years of public service. Linda has worked for the people of the 124th Legislative District since 1981. During her career, there have been 10 House speakers and close to 40 of our current House members were not born when she started.

Dedicated, determined and hard-working best describe Linda Miller. I enjoyed working with her in my district office since 2009, and her pleasant personality will certainly be missed.

Enjoy the next chapter in your life Linda - you certainly deserve it!
 
 
House Approves My Legislation to Help Veterans and Firefighters

My legislation to eliminate a licensee surcharge to our national veterans’ organizations and volunteer fire companies passed the House unanimously this week.

House Bill 1048 would amend Act 39 of 2016 that requires a $700 renewal surcharge for all licenses that are renewed or validated on an annual basis. This surcharge is financially burdensome. My legislation would only exempt veterans organizations and firefighter organizations from this increase in hopes that they can continue to be viable assets to our community.

The surcharge would still apply to all restaurants, hotels, clubs, breweries, importing distributors, distributors and eating place retail dispensers.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Supporting PA’s Helpers and Heroes

With the declining number of volunteer emergency responders reaching critical levels, the state House is taking up a “Helpers and Heroes” package of legislation designed to assist with recruiting and retention efforts of volunteer fire and ambulance companies across the state.  Learn more here.      #RecruitRetainRespect

Among the bills passed by the House this week are those that would allow volunteer fire relief money to be used for retention of existing volunteer members and providing incentives for recruiting new volunteer firefighters (House Bill 1673); make online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders (Senate Bill 146); and increase the maximum loan limits available to volunteer fire companies and emergency medical services through the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (House Bill 1816).

Also passed and sent to the Senate were measures that would give school districts the option of enacting a tax credit against the property tax liability of active volunteers of a fire or EMS company (House Bill 1705); give counties the option of providing a property tax credit to qualified active volunteers to be applied against an active volunteer’s property tax liability (House Bill 1839); create the Tuition Assistance for Active Volunteers Program for our first responders (House Bill 1773)create the First Responder Loan Forgiveness Program for indebted college graduates who are active members of an emergency medical services agency, volunteer fire company or volunteer rescue company (House Bill 1786); exempt volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance companies from the Right-to-Know Law (House Bill 1780); and exempt from the Realty Transfer Tax the transfer of real estate from the surviving spouse or minor child of a first responder, within five years of the first responder’s death (House Bill 269 ) and the transfer of real estate to or by a volunteer emergency medical services company, volunteer fire company, or volunteer rescue company (House Bill 732).
 
 
Victims Bill of Rights Question on Ballot Nov. 5

Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution when they head to the polls on Nov. 5.

The question reads as follows: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?”

The question is being placed on the ballot after lawmakers approved legislation known as “Marsy’s Law” in two consecutive legislative sessions.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California. She was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Just days later, her mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. They were unaware the defendant had been released on bail.
 
 
Got Expired Drugs? Dispose of Them Safely on Oct. 26

To help keep prescription medications out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is teaming with local law enforcement to hold a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The event encourages residents to drop off unwanted or expired prescription medications free of charge for safe and convenient disposal. Take-back events will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To find a site near you, click here.

Since the twice-a-year disposal events began in the fall of 2010, the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA has reached more than 11.8 million pounds.

Several communities across the Commonwealth have permanent collection sites. Click here for those.
 
 
Fighting to Keep Our PA Dairy Farms

Continuing our commitment to strengthen the state’s struggling dairy industry, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, on which I serve, recently approved legislation to create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones.

The goal of the bill is to help encourage new market opportunities for Pennsylvania dairy products. Modeled after the decades-old Keystone Opportunity Zones program, House Bill 1223 would provide exemptions, abatements and cuts in both state and local taxes for companies and dairy farmers that want to build or expand dairy processing facilities for such products as liquid milk and cheese in a designated zone. Qualifying processing facilities would be required to create new jobs and use primarily Pennsylvania milk.

I was also happy to support House Bill 1224, which would allow – but not require – the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to coordinate the collection and distribution of milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, which has an existing infrastructure in place. This proposal would significantly increase accountability and transparency on how this state-mandated premium is collected and paid, and more importantly, would ensure that the funds actually get to dairy farmers.

Both bills were passed with bipartisan support and go to the full House for consideration.
 
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202 East Broad Street, Tamaqua, PA 18252 | Phone: 570-668-1240
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314C Main Capitol, PO Box 202124, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2124 | Phone: 717-787-9029
Email: jknowles@pahousegop.com
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