Jan. 27, 2017


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News You Can Use


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Lock ‘Em Up Day in Luzerne County PA a Success

“Lock ‘Em Up Day in Luzerne County PA,” held today in the Luzerne County Courthouse, was a great success. This bipartisan effort is a series of events opening the eyes of many people about simple steps that can be taken to prevent medication diversion. I hope all Pennsylvanians will lock up their prescription drugs… Keep them out of the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, the majority of people who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from friends or relatives. According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 53 percent of persons age 12 or older who used pain relievers non-medically in the past year obtained them from a friend or relative. Ten Pennsylvanians per day succumb to overdose! If everyone does their part to keep their medication in a safe, secure location, we can all play a part in ending the opioid epidemic.

Pictured with me are Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne; Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski; Tim McGinley, vice chair of the Luzerne County Council; Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis and Luzerne County Sheriff Brian Szumski.
SCI Retreat To Remain Open

This week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that SCI Pittsburgh will be the sole state prison to close in 2017.

The community’s voices were heard. I attended the hearing on Monday, Jan. 23, and was part of the battle cry to keep SCI Retreat open. Our concerns were more than the loss of jobs. The communities impacted by the potential closing would have felt a financial hardship in their schools, sewer authority, businesses and overall tax structure. I am pleased that the governor and Secretary John Wetzel heard our voices and concerns and responded accordingly.
Rescuing the Rescuers: Helping Save Our Volunteer Fire, EMS Companies

This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate unveiled a 16-bill package to support fire and ambulance services across the Commonwealth.

The legislation is designed to address growing financial costs faced by companies, the shortage of volunteers and the lack of affordable and easily accessible training options.

On the funding side, measures within the package seek to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates, increase surcharges on moving violations to support the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, and provide new billing options for fire departments and EMS organizations.

To address the volunteer shortage, the package includes bills to promote recruitment and retention by offering online training to make the process more convenient, provide loan forgiveness to attract volunteers, develop a pilot program to offer firefighter training in secondary schools, and offer tax credits to businesses that excuse their employees when they need to respond to emergencies or undergo training.
Getting to Work with House Committee Assignments

This week, the House Committee on Committees met to finalize assignments for the 27 standing committees to cover the 2017-18 legislative session.

This term, I will be serving on the Appropriations, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Tourism and Recreational Development and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees. I was appointed to serve as the subcommittee chairman on education for the Appropriations Committee, as well as the subcommittee chairman on arts and entertainment for the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee. These assignments allow me to have a greater insight into the legislation and issues discussed and help me better represent our district.

All bills are assigned to a standing committee to undergo review. Committees may hold hearings on legislation, consider amendments to pending bills and report them to the full House for a vote.
Emergency Programs Can Save Lives

To help first responders help motorists and passengers who may be injured in car crashes, PennDOT offers two programs aimed at saving the lives of Pennsylvanians in emergency situations – the Yellow Dot and Emergency Contact Information programs.

Participants in Yellow Dot fill out the program form with emergency contact, medical contact and medical information, insert it in the program’s folder and then place it in their vehicle’s glove compartment. A yellow dot sticker affixed to the rear window alerts emergency responders to the availability of information to help them provide better care to crash victims.

The Emergency Contact Information program offers Pennsylvania driver’s license and PennDOT-issued ID holders the opportunity to log into a secure database and list two emergency contacts. Participants can update the information as needed, but only law enforcement officials can view the information in the system. In the event of an emergency, law enforcement can use a participant’s ID to find his or her emergency contact information.

The Yellow Dot program is used only in vehicle crashes, but the Emergency Contact Information program can be used in other emergencies as well as crashes.

Pamphlets on the Yellow Dot program, which including a Yellow Dot to display on your vehicle, are available in my district offices. To learn more, click here.  
Wear Red Feb. 3 to Raise Awareness of Women’s Heart Disease

Women across the country are encouraged to wear red on Friday, Feb. 3, as part of the “Go Red for Women” campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart disease. Legislative efforts over the years have made the official designation in Pennsylvania as a way to remind women of the risks of heart disease.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women each year, causing one in three deaths each year, or about one per minute. According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood. By increasing awareness, speaking up about heart disease and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, we can save thousands of lives each year.
Veterans Outreach Hours Offered Next Week

A representative of the American Legion will be at my Tunkhannock district office, located at 133 West Tioga St., Suite 4, on Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. to noon. A claims consultant from the American Legion will provide the assistance. Area veterans may seek assistance and information pertaining to specific benefits and programs. Additional meetings will be held on the first Wednesday of every month.
Update Given on Turnpike Bridge Closure

For those of you who travel the bridge connecting the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes, the bridge will be closed until further notice due to a complete fracture that was detected last Friday and rendered the structure unsafe.

According to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the bridge stabilization work that was completed on Sunday involved adding new plates to reconnect the fractured truss pieces to prevent further movement. A sample of the fractured truss has been taken to a lab at Lehigh University in Allentown for forensic analysis to help determine the cause of the fracture.

The next step in the stabilization of the structure involves the construction of eight towers on the ground beneath the bridge. The towers will support the weight of the structure temporarily. Jacks will be used to lift the structure back into its original position.

Engineers continue to study the bridge to determine if other areas of the bridge are in need of repair. That assessment could take up to two weeks.

To stay up to date on the closure, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has information available on a special web page here. The page also has posted official detours.
Community Cares for Kids Holds Annual Fundraiser

Community Cares for Kids (CCK) of Shavertown held its 11th annual fundraiser, Carnivale, on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Westmoreland Club. CCK sends a volunteer medical mission headed by Dr. Francis Collini to Ecuador each year to operate on children with birth defects and deforming injuries. Ninety percent of money raised funds the mission. As of 2016, CCK has performed over 600 operations on children in need. CCK also donates 10 percent of funds raised to local charities. CCK recently made donations to Wyoming Valley Children’s Association and Volunteers In Medicine. As a 100 percent volunteer organization, all administrative, legal, accounting and fund-raising tasks as well the time and expertise of all medical personnel are given pro-bono to ensure all money raised go directly to helping children.

Pictured with me are Dr. Francis Collini, Susan Collini and Buz Boback.
Discussion Underway for Concealed Carry Seminar Luzerne County

I have offered 13 concealed carry seminars over the past few years in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties.

We often hear from constituents who are interested in additional seminars, and I would like to gauge the demand for another concealed carry seminar in Luzerne County. Please call my Dallas district office at 570-675-6000 to express your interest. I will schedule a seminar if it becomes apparent there will be adequate participation.
Dozens of Helpful Resources Offered at My District Offices

My district offices offer numerous helpful resources available for your use. Including:

• The PA Grant and Resource directory – a great resource for clubs and organizations seeking grants.
• The 2017 Fishing Summary.
• The PA Boating Handbook.
• The Fish Identification Guide.
• A Hunting Handbook.
• Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms.
• A guide explaining concealed carry laws.
• Targets.
• Information to protect children and senior citizens.
• Veterans resources.

This is just a sampling of the many resources we offer in my offices. Please stop by to see what useful information we can provide for you.

Our District

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Office Locations
1108 Twin Stacks Drive, Dallas PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 East 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