Mar. 03, 2017


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News You Can Use


 The latest news from the State Capitol

Budget Hearings Look into Potential Mergers

Members of the House Appropriations Committee had a first chance to ask department officials about the governor’s two proposed mergers within his budget proposal – combining the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs into a Department of Health and Human Services; and the Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole into a Department of Criminal Justice – during budget hearings this week.

Questions focused on cost savings, current programs and services, and the potential loss of attention to seniors and the opioid epidemic. Gov. Tom Wolf estimated the proposed mergers would save tax dollars by eliminating redundant programs and streamlining services. A specific plan, including placement of personnel, has not yet been given to lawmakers, but estimates reveal a savings of about $90 million.

Also appearing before the committee this week were the departments of Environmental Protection, Conservation and Natural Resources, Agriculture, General Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Community and Economic Development; along with the judiciary; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency; Liquor Control Board; Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; and the Public Utility Commission.

The final round of hearings is set for next week. To view the upcoming schedule or watch past hearings, click here.

The opportunity to ask questions during the budget hearings is one I take seriously. I am pictured here, along with several of my House colleagues, at the Public Utility Commission hearing held on Wednesday.
Women’s Democracy Network Visits State Capitol

This week, 10 women officials from the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) were introduced to the House Appropriations Committee. The network is an initiative of the International Republican Institute. Its goal is to increase women’s political participation, leadership and representation in elected office. The women are linked with their peers in other countries who share similar struggles, providing mentorship from experienced women who are leaders in their fields. This group of women was from the countries of Belarus, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Colombia, Ghanaian, Guatemala, Jordan, Poland, Tanzania, Tunisia and Ukraine. I am pictured with the women in the Capitol Rotunda.
Committee Questions Status of Unemployment Comp System

Members of the House Labor and Industry Committee questioned Secretary of Labor and Industry Kathy Manderino about the impact of furloughs in the Unemployment Compensation (UC) bureau and expected computer system upgrades that were supposed to have been completed years ago.

Since the furloughs and three UC center closures two months ago, residents seeking to submit claims or obtain information from the bureau have experienced lengthy delays or lack of response.

The Wolf administration furloughed staff when an extension of state funding was not approved by the Senate last year, and is now operating solely on federal funding.

The committee was seeking information from the secretary to explore what short- and/or long-term plans may be necessary in order to meet the needs of those currently waiting for service, as well as to ensure greater accountability and more efficient services within the UC system going forward.

To watch a recording of the hearing, click here.
Applications Now Available for Valley Forge Military College Legislative Scholarship 
A single $12,000 annual scholarship to Valley Forge Military College is available for a student residing in the 117th District.

Students seeking participation in the Valley Forge Military College Legislative Appointment Initiative for the 2016-17 school year must have a minimum SAT score of 1,000 or a 17 on the ACT and an overall grade point average of 2.5. Extracurricular activities, community service and leadership will also be considered.

Prospective applicants should contact the Dallas district office at (570) 675-6000, or the Tunkhannock district office at (570) 836-4777 for an application. Candidates who have questions about the program, the college or the completion of the application should contact Dylan Hileman at the Valley Forge Military College by calling (610) 989-1402. The deadline for students to apply to my office is Friday, March 17.

The scholarship is funded by the college and no state allocations are made to the program. Any student is eligible for the scholarship, not just those with previous affiliation with the Armed Forces. Applicants are cautioned not to submit their application through the college’s website if they are seeking consideration for this scholarship.
Act 89 Invests More in Local Roads

PennDOT announced this week that municipalities will receive nearly $466.2 million from liquid fuels revenue to invest in local roads, marking a 5 percent increase, or $20.9 million, over last year.

This funding will allow municipalities to help pay for expenses such as snow removal and road repaving. More than 60 percent of public roads in Pennsylvania are maintained by local governments. The formula for payments is based on a municipality’s population and miles of locally owned roads.

The additional funding is made possible by Act 89 and was distributed to certified municipalities on March 1. Before Act 89 was enacted, municipalities received $320.8 million in liquid fuels payments.

For the complete list of local payments, visit the “Municipal Liquid Fuels Program” page at under the “Doing Business” Local Government page.
Satellite Hours Offered Next Week

A member of my staff will be at the following locations next week:

• Tuesday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Mehoopany Township Municipal Building, then from 1-3 p.m. at the Meshoppen Borough Building.

• Thursday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Factoryville Borough Building.
On Monday, March 6, the Mobile Vet Center will be parked in the Ace Hardware parking lot on Route 29 (Hunter Highway) in Tunkhannock from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Program Offers Assistance with Septic Systems

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), together with the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, offers a program with low-interest loans to homeowners to cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing on-lot septic systems.

Assistance is available to eligible homeowners who need to repair or replace their individual on-lot septic system or to connect for the first time to a public sewer system.

More information can be found here.
Lackawanna County Concealed Carry Seminar Set for April 11

Registration is now available for my first concealed carry seminar of 2017, which will be held on Tuesday, April 11, from 6-8 p.m. at the Dalton Fire Hall. The seminar is free and open to residents of the 117th Legislative District who are interested in learning more about our state’s concealed carry laws.

For more information and to register, visit or call my Tunkhannock district office at 570-836-4777.
Are You Interested in Another Back Mountain Concealed Carry Seminar?

I would like to hear from you! Discussion is currently underway for another Concealed Carry Seminar to be held in the Back Mountain, and I would like to gauge the demand for such an event. I have offered 13 concealed carry seminars over the past few years in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties.

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.

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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