Nov. 22, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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#Listrak\DateStamplong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Visiting with Local Veterans for Thanksgiving

I recently enjoyed a visit with our local veterans at the Falls Active Adult Center in Wyoming County for their Thanksgiving celebration. Pictured left to right: Myself, Jim Hudock, Rich Costello, Phillip Culver Frank Gaus, Spencer Jonas, Ken Eisenman, Stacey Huber, Bob Tiffany, Richard Dombroski and Ed Argonis.
Working Toward a Healthier PA

Continuing our commitment to delivering affordable and accessible health care options for Pennsylvania families regardless of where they live, the House advanced several health-related initiatives this week.

With prescription drugs playing an important role in both treatment and preventive care, we approved bills addressing the Commonwealth’s use of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The measures aim to remove gag clauses that prevent pharmacists from advising their patients of options to save money on their prescriptions by bypassing insurance and ensure fair pricing and accountability regarding the use of PBMs for the state’s Medicaid program.

Other measures adopted by the House include additions to the state’s newborn screening procedures and requiring patients being prescribed opioids to have a treatment agreement with a prescriber to ensure they understand the risk of addiction, dangers of overdose and their responsibility regarding treatment.

Learn more about the #HealthierPA initiative here.
Historic Bridge Re-Opens on Baylor Lake

I recently joined with Senator John Blake, residents of Baylor’s Lake and the Baylor’s Lake Association, PennDOT officials and bridge crew in cutting the ribbon to officially mark the re-opening of the historic bridge at Farnham road at Baylor’s Lake. Click here for more information about the project.
Protecting Our Energy Producers and Consumers

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this week would require legislative authorization before Pennsylvania could impose a carbon tax on employers engaged in energy generation, manufacturing or other industries operating in the Commonwealth, or enter into any multi-state program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that would impose such a tax.

On Oct. 3, the governor issued an executive order directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to commence RGGI regulations. RGGI would establish a regional cap on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution that power plants can emit by establishing a trading system. Each unit of trade, known as an allowance, would represent authorization for a power plant to emit one short ton (2,000 pounds) of CO2. Power plants in RGGI-member states can trade allowances, preventing the total amount of CO2 emissions in the region from increasing. RGGI would also establish a carbon tax on fossil fuel users for the resulting CO2 emissions.

House Bill 2025 contends that the authority to make such a decision lies with the General Assembly, not with the governor’s office.

Legislators and industry union members in attendance stated that Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI would force energy producers to close and/or move out of state as well as cut hundreds of jobs, drastically increase the price of energy and severely damage Pennsylvania’s economy.

More information on the press conference as well as the two bills can be found here.
Mehoopany Baptist Church Celebrates 200 Years

I recently had the privilege to present a Citation to Pastor Lee D. Kliewer, M.Min., Ed.D. in recognition of the 200th Anniversary of Mehoopany Baptist Church.
Misericordia Community Choir Presents “A Tradition of Carols”

The Misericordia University Community Choir invites you to join them Wednesday, Dec. 4 for an evening of beloved Christmas carols accompanied by a brass quintet. These performances are sure to bring back fond memories and get everyone in the holiday spirit. For information including ticket sales, call 570-674-1225 or click here.
Leadership Wilkes-Barre Impact Class Comes to the Capitol

I was pleased to welcome this week members of the Wilkes-Barre Impact class as visitors to the Capitol. These folks, including many teachers from our local schools, are working proactively to be agents of positive change in schools. It was a pleasure to meet with them.
Congratulations to Karen and Paul Rowker

In honor of their 50th wedding anniversary, I presented a House Citation to Karen and Paul Rowker. Congratulations to these two on five decades of marriage!
Department of Aging Warns Seniors of Genetic Testing Scam

The Department of Aging is warning Pennsylvania seniors, their families and caregivers about a new scam targeting older adults.

Scammers are offering “free” genetic testing, claiming it is covered through Medicare, as a means for the senior to avoid disease or to find the right medications. This is simply an effort to gain access to a senior’s personal Medicare information, which can lead to access to financial information and more.

The Administration for Community Living suggests the following tips to avoid being scammed: Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event; always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number; don’t accept a genetic testing kit through the mail unless it was ordered by your physician; and always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits, watching for words such as “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology.”

If you or a loved one have already received a genetic testing cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about possible fraud, find and contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol here or call 1-877-808-2468.
Deadline Nears for Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program

Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities have until Dec. 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. Remember, assistance through my offices is always free. You need not pay a private firm for assistance.

The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.

For additional information and applications, click here,  or contact my office(s) for assistance.
Statewide Anti-Littering Initiative Launched

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced this week that they will be partnering with the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Transportation (PennDOT), an initiative to reduce littering in Pennsylvania.

The results of the first statewide study on litter in over 20 years were presented at a meeting at the Hilton Harrisburg that was attended by more than 125 local government, legislative, business, and community organization partners.

The Pennsylvania Litter Research Study was conducted in 2018-2019 with funding from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, DEP, PennDOT and Keep America Beautiful®. A phone survey collected 500 Pennsylvanians’ views on litter and littering. Field teams performed on-the-ground litter counts in 180 locations statewide, including state and local roads in urban and rural areas.

Burns & McDonnell, a full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm, conducted the study, as part of a pilot to the upcoming national Keep America Beautiful Litter Study.

Top-line findings include:
  • There are currently an estimated 500 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania roadways.
  • Of this litter, it is estimated to be composed of over 37% cigarette butts and over 30% plastic items.
  • About 10% of all litter is composed of plastic film (7.8% food packaging film, and 2.1% other film)
“The Pennsylvania Litter Research Study is very timely as there is heightened awareness and a real sense of urgency for the need to properly manage many of these materials, particularly single-use plastics,” explained Shannon Reiter, president of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “We believe understanding the scope of the problem is critical to influence change in behaviors, whether it be through public education or public policy.”
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