Feb. 07, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
2020-21 Budget Season Underway

Before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his 2020-21 state budget with a price tag of more than $36 billion, an increase of $2 billion over the current year’s enacted budget.

I am very concerned about this proposed level of spending and how it would impact our taxpayers and employers. The budget also reflects nearly $600 million in overspending in the current year’s budget he agreed to. In addition, the governor said nothing about property tax relief.

Click below to view my comments.

Click here to view video. 

Fortunately, the governor’s address is just the beginning of the annual budget process. The House Appropriations Committee will conduct a series of hearings starting Tuesday, Feb. 18, to delve into the details of the governor’s plan and how state agencies are spending their funding.

For a schedule and live streaming of the hearings, click here.
 
 

Prior’s to the governor’s budget address, I posed for a photo with my colleagues from Schuylkill County. Pictured with me are (left) Rep. Neal Goodman, Sen. Dave Argall and Rep. Mike Tobash.
 
 
Anti-Human-Trafficking Initiative Signed into Law

One of several human trafficking bills championed in the House last month was signed into law this week.

Act 1 of 2020 is designed to better protect victims of human trafficking and ensure justice is served by imposing stricter penalties on criminals involved in this heinous crime.

The new law raises the grading of the offense to a first-degree felony and imposes increased fines and jail time. Specifically, the law will raise the additional fine amount to at least $1,000 for a first offense and as much as $50,000 for a third or subsequent offense or where the victim of sexual servitude was a minor at the time of the offense. Jail time could be as much as 20-40 years.

To learn more about additional legislation approved by the House to combat human trafficking, click here.
 
 
Bill to Boost Cancer Treatment Options Awaits Governor’s Signature

Continuing our commitment to a HealthierPA, legislation to improve cancer treatment options for patients is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

House Bill 427 would provide Stage IV metastatic cancer patients access to the medication and treatments prescribed by their doctors, regardless of what their insurance plan typically covers.

Under current law, insurance companies have the ability to set coverage guidelines that govern how and when treatments are approved. Sometimes those guidelines require Stage IV patients to “fail first,” meaning they must first try an insurance-mandated series of medications that fail to improve the condition before being granted access to the oncology medication and treatments prescribed by their doctor.

Time is of the essence for patients fighting cancer. They should not have to get sicker and sicker before being allowed to try something their doctor is recommending that could extend the length and quality of their lives.
 
 
Reminder: REAL ID Enforcement to Begin Oct. 1

Effective Oct. 1, the federal government will require all citizens to use a REAL ID or other federally accepted form of identification to board a commercial flight (including domestic flights) or visit a secure federal building that requires ID at the door.

REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvanians, but if you plan to fly or visit a secure federal building and choose not to obtain a REAL ID, you will need another form of federally accepted identification, such as a U.S. passport or passport card or a military ID. To date, more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians have chosen to get a REAL ID-compliant product.

Federal regulations require that to be issued a REAL ID-compliant product, PennDOT must verify documents that ensure proof of identity; Social Security number; current, physical Pennsylvania address; and all legal name changes. Customers can bring the required documents to any PennDOT Driver License Center. A list of accepted documents for verification may be found here.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.
 
 
Think Spring! Trout Stocking Schedules Available

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced this week its 2020 trout stocking schedules are now available online and the FishBoatPA mobile app.

The schedule is searchable by county, lists the waterways in alphabetical order, and indicates stocking dates and the species of trout that will be stocked. The commission plans to once again stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 707 streams and 130 lakes open to public angling. PFBC plans to double the amount of trophy-sized trout being stocked to approximately 60,000 fish, 70% of which are slated to be stocked during the preseason.

The 2020 trout season will officially open Saturday, March 28, with the Regional Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day program in Schuylkill County. The following weekend – Saturday, April 4 – kicks off the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season in our area.

A second Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will be held on April 11, the Saturday before the April 18 regular statewide opening day of trout season.

For more information on trout stocking, trout season and how to obtain a 2020 fishing license, visit www.fishandboat.com.
 
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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
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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