Feb. 14, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampShort# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Budget Proposal Hearings Begin Tuesday


Presented with a costly $36 billion budget proposal from Gov. Tom Wolf – one that would increase state spending more than $2 billion over the current year’s enacted budget – members of the House Appropriations Committee will get to work next week investigating the governor’s funding requests and the actual needs of state agencies.

The annual budget hearings kick off at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, with the Department of Revenue, which includes the state lottery, and continue that afternoon with the non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office and the Department of Aging.

On Wednesday, the committee will hear from leaders of the departments of State, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Labor and Industry. Thursday’s hearings will focus on criminal justice with the Pennsylvania State Police, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Corrections and the boards of Pardons, and Probation and Parole.

For more information about the 2020-21 state budget proposal, click here. For a hearing schedule, or to watch live streams or archived video of the budget hearings, click here.
 
 
Election Reforms in Effect for April 28 Primary Election


Comprehensive reforms designed to encourage greater participation in our elections will be in place for the upcoming April 28 Primary Election.

Anyone not already registered to vote now has more time to do so. You may register online or in person at your county courthouse up to 15 days prior to an election, which is April 13.

For the first time, voters may choose to cast their ballots by mail for no reason other than convenience. The ballots will work similarly to absentee ballots, but voters need not be out of town or otherwise unavailable to vote in person to qualify for a mail-in ballot.
                                    
You may apply for the mail-in or absentee ballots here.

The last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot is 5 p.m. the Tuesday before the election, which is April 21. The completed ballot must be received via mail, or dropped off in person at your county elections office, by 8 p.m. on Election Day, April 28.

The last day for county election boards to receive voted military and overseas absentee ballots (submitted for delivery no later than 11:59 p.m. April 27) is a week after the election, May 5.

Also under the new law, voters who have a permanent disability may ask to be placed on a permanent absentee voter list. Voters on this list will have an absentee ballot application mailed to them by the first Monday in February each year. If you complete and return the application, the county will send you ballots in the mail for all the elections that take place that year, as well as for any special election held through the third Monday in February of the next year.

For more information about the upcoming election, click here.
 
 
PHEAA Offers New Student Loan Refinancing Option



The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) recently announced an expansion of its PA Forward Student Loan Program, offering borrowers a more streamlined way to manage their debt by combining all of their federal and private student loans into a single monthly payment.

The PA Forward Student Loan Refinance Program offers competitive fixed interest rates, currently as low as 3.72% APR, which is significantly lower than the average private student loan rate of 8.86% and the average Federal PLUS loan rate of 6.97%.

Eligible federal loans include Stafford, PLUS, Graduate PLUS, Consolidation and Perkins loans. Borrowers should be aware that refinancing federal student loans will result in the loss of current or future federal loan-specific benefits. Eligible private loans include any student loan used for qualified postsecondary education expenses.

For more information, visit www.PHEAA.org/refi. For specific questions, call 844-PAFORWD (844-723-6793).
 
 
Raising Mental Health Awareness

Millions of people are affected by mental illness each year. It is important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand its physical, social and financial impact – and so we can show that no one is alone. The numbers shown below are also powerful tools for raising public awareness, stigma-busting and advocating for better health care.


Important mental health statistics:
  •   People with depression have a 40% risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.
  •   At least 8.4 million people provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue.
  •   Mental Illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by an adult.
  •   Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year.

Community awareness for mental health reduces stigma. Mental health awareness increases the chances for early intervention, which can result in a fast recovery. By raising awareness, mental health can now be seen as an illness. These illnesses can be managed by treatment.
 
 
PA 211 Day Across Pennsylvania


On Tuesday, we celebrated 211 Day across Pennsylvania! More than 287,000 requests have been made to PA 211 in the last year. Individuals contact 211 to access free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, employment programs, veteran services, disaster assistance and more!

This year, United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 211 are excited to announce two significant milestones, 100% statewide access to PA 211 and the launch of PA 211 Counts which allows Pennsylvanians to receive timely information and updates regarding the 2020 Census. PA 211 is free, available in more than 180 languages, completely confidential and accessible on text and web chat.

Click here for more information.
 
 
PennDOT Offices Closed for Presidents Day


In observance of Presidents Day, all PennDOT driver license and photo centers, including the full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Saturday, Feb. 15, through Monday, Feb. 17. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.
 
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RepKnowles.com
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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