Sep. 08, 2017


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 The latest news from the State Capitol

House Returns to Session to Finish Budget Business

Members of the House will return to voting session at the state Capitol on Monday, Sept. 11, with the goal of finishing up the 2017-18 state budget process.

Among the outstanding items to be resolved is identifying the revenue necessary to fill last year’s budget shortfall. Lawmakers have been standing up for taxpayers by pursuing alternatives to a Senate-approved proposal that seeks to increase taxes on a variety of consumer utility bills and sales taxes on online purchases, among others.

Earlier this week, a group of more than a dozen House members outlined their proposal to make use of taxpayer dollars that appear to be sitting idle in a variety of special government accounts.

The plan is designed to prevent any impacts on jobs, services or agencies while making use of money already collected from taxpayers. The measure also aims to improve transparency regarding how tax dollars are spent.

Talks will continue until an agreement is reached.

Bonus Available to Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans
Veterans who served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations, including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, are reminded to apply for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus.

The bonus pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. For personnel whose death was related to illness or injury received in the line of duty in Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm, there is an additional $5,000 available to the surviving family. Service members who were declared prisoners of war may also be eligible for an additional $5,000.

To qualify, the service member must have:
•    Served with the U.S. Armed Forces, a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard.
•    Served on active duty in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations during the period from Aug. 2, 1990, to Aug. 31, 1991, and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
•    Been a legal resident of Pennsylvania at the time of active duty service.
•    Been discharged from active duty under honorable conditions, if not currently on active duty.
•    Since 2008, more than 9,000 Persian Gulf Conflict veterans have applied for and received a bonus for their war efforts. Individuals who received a bonus or similar compensation from any other state are not eligible for the Pennsylvania program.
•    The deadline to apply for this one-time payment is Aug. 31, 2018.

Click here for more information about how to apply

Don’t Be Scammed by Skimmers

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning consumers to be on the lookout for credit or debit card skimmers that steal your information when the card is swiped or inserted.

Often combined with a concealed camera, thieves can also record your Personal Identification Number (PIN). With this information, thieves can withdraw money from your bank account and make unauthorized purchases. Additionally, the thieves may sell this information to others.

To help protect yourself, take the following steps:
•    Use ATMs in well-lit, secure locations and avoid using ATMs that are stand-alone units in corners of stores or other out-of-the-way locations.
•    Look at the card reader slot and surrounding areas to see if anything looks out of place, mismatched or loose.
•    Consider using your credit card instead of your debit card to avoid compromising your PIN and to gain other consumer protections. 
•    Choose gas pumps that are closer to and within the line of vision of the cashiers.
•    Check your bank and credit card statements frequently to watch for fraudulent activity and report any unfamiliar activity immediately.

Read more here

Never Forget the Victims of Sept. 11, 2001

This Monday will mark the 16th anniversary of one of the worst days in our nation’s history. On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 men and women were killed in devastating terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The loved ones lost will be honored and remembered in observances across the country, including one at Pennsylvania’s own Flight 93 Memorial, near the site where one of the four planes hijacked that day crashed.

More information about the Flight 93 Memorial and planned observances is available here

Marking National Recovery Month
This week, I helped kick off Pennsylvania’s observance of National Recovery Month. Anyone interested in sharing their personal story of recovery can do so here

Bringing Attention to Sexual Violence at Schools, Universities

I joined Gov. Tom Wolf at the Capitol this week to unveil a package of bills aimed at combating sexual violence in K-12 schools and on college and university campuses. Soon, I will be introducing legislation to expand the scope, authority and capacity of the Office of Safe Schools, as well as monitor compliance with existing federal and state requirements related to sexual violence prevention and response.

Representatives of Misericordia University attended the press conference at the Capitol with Sen. Lisa Baker and me. Pictured with us (from left) are Charles Edkins, director of athletics; Ewelina Taran; and Amy Lahart, dean of students.
Rotary Clubs Meet

Last week, I attended a Rotary event at Grotto Pizza in Harveys Lake. The clubs in attendance were – Mountain Top, Kingston, Plymouth, Dallas, Wyoming, Pittston, Plymouth, West End Saylorsburg and Wilkes-Barre. It was a great evening of fellowship!

Scenes from the Wyoming County Community Fair
On Saturday, I attended Veterans Day at the Wyoming County Community Fair. What a wonderful tribute to our veterans! Pictured with me (from left) are Bob Tiffany and Charlie Stockage, Post Commander, American Legion Dennis Strong Post 457.

While at the fair, I met with Blue Star Mothers. Joining me was Charlie Stockage, Post Commander, American Legion Dennis Strong Post 457; Pam Burke, fair secretary; and Marge Singer, fair president.

Congratulations to Wyoming County Community Junior Fair Queen Paige Zona! Joining us in the picture are Gene Bush and Tom Betsko.

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