Nov. 22, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Good Luck! Thank You!


I was honored to join my colleagues (from left) House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) and Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Westmoreland) to honor Tracy Baker. She served the House of Representatives for 30 years as a legislative secretary. During her career, she has worked for Jozwiak, Brooks and me. We presented her with a House citation. We will all miss her outstanding work ethic and smile. Good luck in the future and congratulations on an outstanding career.
 
 
Working Toward a Healthier PA

Continuing our commitment to delivering affordable and accessible health care options for Pennsylvania families regardless of where they live, the House advanced several health-related initiatives this week.

With prescription drugs playing an important role in both treatment and preventive care, we approved bills addressing the Commonwealth’s use of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The measures aim to remove gag clauses that prevent pharmacists from advising their patients of options to save money on their prescriptions by bypassing insurance and ensure fair pricing and accountability regarding the use of PBMs for the state’s Medicaid program.

Other measures adopted by the House include additions to the state’s newborn screening procedures and requiring patients being prescribed opioids to have a treatment agreement with a prescriber to ensure they understand the risk of addiction, dangers of overdose and their responsibility regarding treatment.

Learn more about the #HealthierPA initiative here. 
 
 
Protecting Our Energy Producers and Consumers

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this week would require legislative authorization before Pennsylvania could impose a carbon tax on employers engaged in energy generation, manufacturing or other industries operating in the Commonwealth, or enter into any multi-state program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that would impose such a tax.

On Oct. 3, the governor issued an executive order directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to commence RGGI regulations. RGGI would establish a regional cap on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution that power plants can emit by establishing a trading system. Each unit of trade, known as an allowance, would represent authorization for a power plant to emit one short ton (2,000 pounds) of CO2. Power plants in RGGI-member states can trade allowances, preventing the total amount of CO2 emissions in the region from increasing. RGGI would also establish a carbon tax on fossil fuel users for the resulting CO2 emissions.

House Bill 2025 contends that the authority to make such a decision lies with the General Assembly, not with the governor’s office.

Legislators and industry union members in attendance stated that Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI would force energy producers to close and/or move out of state as well as cut hundreds of jobs, drastically increase the price of energy and severely damage Pennsylvania’s economy.

More information on the press conference as well as the two bills can be found here.  
 
 
Deadline Nears for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. Remember, assistance through my offices is always free. You need not pay a private firm for assistance.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

For additional information and applications, click here,  or contact my office(s) for assistance.
 
 
Department of Aging Warns Seniors of Genetic Testing Scam

The Department of Aging is warning Pennsylvania seniors, their families and caregivers about a new scam targeting older adults.

Scammers are offering “free” genetic testing, claiming it is covered through Medicare, as a means for the senior to avoid disease or to find the right medications. This is simply an effort to gain access to a senior’s personal Medicare information, which can lead to access to financial information and more.

The Administration for Community Living suggests the following tips to avoid being scammed: Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event; always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number; don’t accept a genetic testing kit through the mail unless it was ordered by your physician; and always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits, watching for words such as “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology.”

If you or a loved one have already received a genetic testing cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about possible fraud, find and contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol here or call 1-877-808-2468.
 
 
Supporting Small Businesses

With small business serving as the economic engine of our communities, Pennsylvania consumers are encouraged to shop small on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30.

According to the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, there are nearly 1 million small businesses in Pennsylvania, which employ nearly half of the state’s workforce. Small firms make up more than 99% of the state’s employers.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a 2018 survey found total reported spending among U.S. consumers who said they shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on the day reached a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion.

Learn more about Small Business Saturday here.
 
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Office Locations
202 East Broad Street, Tamaqua, PA 18252 | Phone: 570-668-1240
61 North Third Street, Hamburg, PA 19526-1501 | Phone: 610-562-3411
314C Main Capitol, PO Box 202124, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2124 | Phone: 717-787-9029
Email: jknowles@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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