2020-21 Budget Season Underway
2/7/2020
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#Listrak\DateStamplong# 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. It has always been my priority to lead by example. The Commonwealth must operate within its means.

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.
   
 
Celebrating Agriculture at PA Cornucopia

On Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to attend the PA Cornucopia event in the Capitol, saluting the No. 1 industry in our state, agriculture.

I am seen with Tim Wentz, Rep. Mark Longietti, Vince Phillips, dairy farmer Mark Eby, livestock farmer Michael Kovach and Rep. Sue Helm.

I am seen with Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Rep. Sue Helm and Pennsylvania Young Agriculture Professionals Justin Clapper, Zach Jones and Harrison Frantz. 
 
 
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 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 18 southeastern counties, including Northampton County. The following weekend – Saturday, April 4 – kicks off the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season.

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.
 
 
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.

Senate Bill 60 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.  
 
 
Commonwealth Ramps Up Litter Prevention Efforts


This week, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful released the results of the first statewide comprehensive research on litter, the cost of cleaning it up, and attitudes toward litter and announced the formation of a state-led workgroup to shift Pennsylvania’s strategy from cleanup to prevention.

Field research results indicate more than 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads. The most common items are cigarette butts (37 percent) and plastics (30 percent), with plastic film and beverage containers most prevalent. There are an estimated 29.3 million beverage containers alone on the roads. Motorists and pedestrians are leading sources of litter, followed by improperly secured truck loads.

DEP, PennDOT, and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will form a workgroup of state government agencies, local governments, and industry and community leaders to use the research results to develop and carry out a plan of actions to reduce littering in Pennsylvania.

The goal is to build the action plan around four behavior change strategies, including infrastructure, such as waste and recycling facilities and trash cans; public and school-based education; laws and ordinances; and incentives and enforcement.

Learn more about the state litter research results and littering reduction initiative on the DEP’s website.
 
 
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.
 
 
In the Community


I was delighted to host a meeting with Wyoming County Commissioners and representatives from the Lackawanna/Wyoming Farm Bureau.

I was joined by Commissioners Ernie King, Tom Henry and Rick Wilbur as well as Farm Bureau President, Dale Shupp and Board Member Ed Freeman. The purpose of the meeting was to involve all parties in their quest to support the farming community in the county.
 
 
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. Based on data from other states with optional REAL ID programs, PennDOT anticipates that approximately 1.3 million of its customers will get a REAL ID before the federal enforcement deadline of Oct. 1.

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.
 
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105 Lieutenant Michael Cleary Drive, Dallas, PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 West Tioga Street, Suite 4, Tunkhannock, PA 18657 | Phone: (570) 836-4777
41-B East Wing, Main Capitol, PO Box 202117, Harrisburg PA 17120-2117 | Phone: (717) 787-1117
Email: kboback@pahousegop.com