Mar. 17, 2017

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 The latest news from the State Capitol


Improving PA’s Unfriendly Adoption Policies

 
To help place children in loving homes, the House this week passed eight bills to improve the adoption process in Pennsylvania.

The bipartisan package would improve the state’s unfriendly adoption policies to help ensure that all parties – birth parents, adoptive parents and children – can benefit from a smoother process.

The cornerstone bill in the package would shorten the period in which a birth parent can revoke his or her consent to an adoption from 30 days to 14. This window of time would start after consent for adoption has been given, not from the time the child is born.

Other bills would ensure that birth parents have access to adoption-related counseling services; streamline and expedite the procedures for terminating parental rights; allow adoptive families to appeal the amount of an adoption subsidy; make it easier for parents who are incarcerated to relinquish their parental rights by allowing correctional staff to witness the individual’s consent to adoption; eliminate the hearing currently required to confirm a consent to adoption; refine the definition of “intermediary” to include a licensed attorney or social worker; and add reasonable living expenses incurred by a birth mother to the list of permissible reimbursable expenses paid by a prospective adoptive family during the course of the adoption process.

All of the bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Troop PA Girl Scout Caucus

On Monday, I joined several women of the House for a pinning ceremony welcoming us into the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Pictured with us is Ellen Kyzer, chief executive officer of the organization. All of us are members of the Troop PA Girl Scout Caucus. The purpose of Troop PA is to recognize and support leadership qualities in young women.
 
 
Outreach Hours Offered Next Week

A caseworker for U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Hazleton) will be at the Tunkhannock district office on Monday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to noon. Assistance will be available for constituents who are having problems with federal agencies and programs, and constituents are encouraged to bring documents they have received from federal agencies related to their issues.

Veterans outreach hours will be offered on Tuesday, March 21, at the Dallas district office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A claims consultant from the Wilkes-Barre Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will be on hand to address questions and concerns of local veterans and their families.

On Tuesday, March 21, a member of my staff will be at the Benton Township Community Center, located at 16043 Route 407 in Fleetville, from 10 a.m. to noon to provide assistance with PennDOT forms, Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms and state matters.

Please note these events are weather permitting. Call our district offices for weather-related cancellations.
 
 
Giving Families Work Choices

 
The House Human Services Committee held a hearing this week to clear up confusion and questions regarding an initial proposal by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that would force individuals with disabilities to spend time in the community, thereby reducing their ability to participate in day programs and sheltered workshops under the department’s Office of Developmental Programs.

At issue is the way in which DHS is changing its administration of its home- and community-based waivers. The initial proposal would have required individuals to spend 75 percent of their time in the community, rather than being at day programs or sheltered workshops. This requirement left the heads of those organizations wondering how they would continue to operate if individuals can only participate essentially one day out of five.

A compromise proposal between DHS and the General Assembly would make it possible for each person to participate in the community, but leave the decision with the individual. This proposal still awaits finalization.

To watch the hearing, visit this website and click on the March 13 date.
 
 
Love Your Dog? License Your Dog

 
With March designated as License Your Dog Month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reminds pet owners they must license their dogs ages 3 months and older. Failure can result in a maximum fine of $300 per violation, plus court costs.

An annual license is $8.50, and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50, and lifetime fee is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents.

If your dog gets lost, a current license is the fastest way to get it back.

The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

For more information, click here to watch a short video or visit this website
  
 
Did You Know? The First Female Who Governed Pennsylvania Served in 1712

This week, in conjunction with Women’s History Month, I spoke on the House floor regarding House Resolution 146, which honors the legacy of Hannah Callowhill Penn, and designated March 12, 2017, as “Hannah Callowhill Penn Day” in Pennsylvania.

William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania married Hannah Callowhill in 1696. When William Penn became incapacitated by a stroke in 1712, Hannah Callowhill Penn governed the Province of Pennsylvania in his name and handled all of his financial and legal affairs for the next six years until his death in 1718. Following Penn’s death, Hannah continued to govern Pennsylvania from England for another eight years. At the time of William Penn’s death, the colony was in financial debt. Hannah Callowhill Penn, through her strong leadership and fiscal management, was successful in restoring financial stability to the colony before her death in 1726.
 

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Office Locations
1108 Twin Stacks Drive, Dallas PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 West Tioga Street, Suite 4, Tunkhannock, PA 18657| Phone: (570) 836-4777
314-C Main Capitol, PO Box 202117, Harrisburg PA 17120-2117 | Phone: (717) 787-1117
Email: kboback@pahousegop.com
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