Mar. 10, 2017


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 The latest news from the State Capitol

Education, Human Services Focus of Budget Hearings

The House Appropriations Committee wrapped up its three-week series of budget hearings Thursday, with two full days of questions about the education and human services aspects of the governor’s proposal.

Monday’s hearing featured the Department of Education, including details about increased funding for basic and higher education, and whether additional state investments are being directed into the classrooms.

Questions about the opioid crisis, child care, food stamps, Medicaid and specific programs for those with developmental and physical disabilities were the focus of Tuesday’s hearing, with members asking details about waiting lists for services, program eligibility, and federal and state matching funds.

During its appearance, the state police answered questions about the governor’s proposed $25 per person fee for coverage in municipalities without their own police protection.

The final hearing involved the Office of the Budget and included questions about the governor’s overall $32.4 billion spending plan and the estimates on a number of cost-saving initiatives.

The Appropriations Committee will take the testimony gathered from these hearings into negotiations for the 2017-18 budget. All of the hearings and written testimony are available here.
Is I-Gaming in the State’s Future?

This week, the House Gaming Oversight Committee and the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee discussed potential changes to the gaming industry, including an expansion as a way to raise much-needed state revenue.

Much of the hearing focused on the pros and cons of internet gaming and the impact it would have on brick-and-mortar facilities within the state, along with other measures contained within House Bill 392. That legislation also includes provisions designed to improve consumer protections, rein in the black market and off-shore gaming operators, and address a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding the share of casino revenue directed to local governments.

Since casino gaming was authorized in 2004, the industry has generated more than $11 billion in tax revenue and created 18,000 jobs.
Asking State Employees for Money-Saving Solutions

Attention state employees and state retirees! Do you, or did you, encounter opportunities that you feel could help streamline state government and save taxpayer dollars?

A new effort to help save taxpayer money by asking state employees for their ideas was announced this week by the House Appropriations Committee.

The program, State Employees Achieving Savings (SEAS), will ask state employees, who can remain anonymous, about their strategies to better streamline services and be more efficient. Retired state employees are also being encouraged to participate.

State employees – from any department anywhere in the state – can click here to submit their ideas. The submissions will then be reviewed and possibly implemented.

The committee emphasized that no idea is too small for consideration.
Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum to Offer Free Admission This Sunday

To help celebrate Pennsylvania Charter Day, the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton is one of several historic sites offering free admission on Sunday, March 12.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. Once each year, the Pennsylvania State Archives displays the original document, for a limited time, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. For the remainder of the year the charter is safeguarded in a special vault within the archives.

Charter Day celebrates the founding of the Commonwealth and gives visitors to The State Museum of Pennsylvania a rare opportunity to see the original Charter of Pennsylvania written in 1681. The document is on display through March 17.

For a complete list of the participating museums and historic sites in this year’s celebration, click here
Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend
Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., and residents are reminded to turn their clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.

This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, which should also be replaced every 10 years.

Daylight saving time will end on Nov. 5.
Satellite Hours Offered Next Week

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

• Tuesday, March 14, at the Hunlock Township Building, located at 33 Village Drive, Hunlock Creek, from 10 a.m. to noon.
• Wednesday, March 15, at the Falls Senior Center, located at 2813 Sullivan’s Trail in Falls, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Services available at the satellite hours include assistance with PennDOT, LIHEAP, SNAP and Property Tax/Rent Rebate forms; information regarding state agencies and programs; and more.
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.
Tunkhannock Public Library Holds Fundraiser

Pictured with me are Sen. Lisa Baker and community members promoting the Tunkhannock Public Library fundraiser on Saturday evening. Public libraries play an integral role in our communities.

Also in attendance were Dalton Community Library Director Su Wu and board member Dr. Gus Vlassis.

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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