Jan. 10, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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#Listrak\DateStamplong# The latest news from the State Capitol
DEP Offers Home Heating Tips for a Safe Winter

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reminding the more than 2.5 million Pennsylvania households that heat with oil or propane to take a commonsense approach to maintaining their fuel supply for a safe winter.

“Many people don’t realize the route a heating oil or propane delivery takes to reach their residence. They may wait until there’s just a few days’ supply or less left before calling to schedule a delivery,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “A winter storm isn’t a good time to discover the tank is empty or the generator is out of service. To be safe this winter, we encourage people to check their tank regularly and call for delivery early.”

A heating oil or propane delivery can travel many miles to reach a residence or business. From a refinery, an oil tanker ship or pipeline transports it to a primary storage terminal. A truck takes it from the primary terminal to customers or to a secondary storage terminal, where another truck takes it on to customers.

A range of factors can affect the route. Fire, power outages, storm-related closures, equipment freeze-up or leaks, or flooding-related impacts can occur before the liquid fuel is put into a truck. Hazardous road conditions can slow truck travel. Snow and ice accumulation at the residence or business can make it difficult to access the tank.

Although these disruptions aren’t typical, they can and sometimes do occur, and the risk can increase in extreme weather, when there’s also increased demand.

Whether they’re on a delivery schedule or call as needed, Pennsylvanians should check their tank regularly and order fuel supply early to avoid emergencies and more costly fill-ups.

The same holds for backup generators filled by a delivery company. Owners should make sure their generator is full and has been serviced and load-tested in the last year.

Routine tank inspection, maintenance, and repair are key to preventing an issue. Inspection checklists and the steps owners should take if they experience a leak or spill are available at www.dep.pa.gov/homeheatingoil
Applications Available for 2020 Pennsylvania House Scholarship Available

High school seniors interested in receiving financial assistance to help pay for college can now apply for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Scholarship.

Each year the program awards a four-year scholarship to two students preparing for post-secondary education. It is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.

To qualify, students must have attained a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average in high school. Other factors taken into consideration for the awards are a student’s commitment to community, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and financial need.

The scholarship program is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities. The application is available through the foundation’s web site here.  The application deadline is March 1.

The scholarship is privately funded by individual and corporate donors; no tax or other public funds are used. Scholarships are awarded through an independent panel of judges chosen by the foundation.
Supporting Volunteer Fire Departments

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting the J. R. Davis Fire Hall. Along with other local companies, they feature a monthly breakfast to raise funds for their volunteer fire companies. My sincerest gratitude goes out to the heroes in our community who keep the rest of us safe!
Does Your Home Contain Radon?

An estimated 40% of Pennsylvania homes have higher levels of radon than national safety standards, due to the state’s geology. However, residents can perform a simple test to detect this gas, which is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks and enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings. High levels of radon tend to be found in basements, but the gas can be found anywhere in the home.

Winter is a good time to test for radon, because doors and windows are generally closed, providing more accurate results. Simple radon test kits are inexpensive and available at home improvement and hardware stores.

January is national Radon Action Month. For more information on radon, click here.
Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement Pre-Enforcement Period Underway

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) announced that the required 60-day pre-enforcement period for the statewide Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program has begun and will last until March 4.

Pennsylvania’s AWZSE program uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits using electronic speed timing devices. The goal is to protect the lives of motorists, passengers and highway workers.

During the pre-enforcement period, automated speed enforcement units will be deployed in active work zones, but violations will not be issued. Work zones are selected to maximize the effectiveness of the systems and will be marked with signage in advance of the enforcement area. Additionally, locations are posted on the project website, workZoneCameras.PennDOT.gov.

AWZSE systems are only operational in active work zones where workers are present. Once enforcement begins on March 4, registered owners will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. These violations are civil penalties only; no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

In 2018, there were 1,804 work zone crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 23 fatalities. Since 1970, PennDOT has lost 89 workers in the line of duty. The PA Turnpike has lost 45 workers since 1945.
TRACED Act to Help Prevent Robocalls

This week, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that aims to help prevent the scourge of automated spam phone calls.

The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act requires telephone companies to use call authentication technology.

It will identity robocalls so that customers don’t have to answer them, at no extra charge.

Under the new law, the penalty for making a robocall to a cellphone is $10,000 per call. President Trump signed the bipartisan legislation into law just before the new year.

“This historic legislation will provide American consumers with even greater protection against annoying unsolicited robocalls,” the White House press secretary said in a statement. “American families deserve control over their communications, and this legislation will update our laws and regulations to stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to stop unwanted solicitation.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said unwanted calls are “far and away the biggest consumer complaint to the FCC with over 200,000 complaints each year.” In fact, the FCC said that some reports claim U.S. consumers received nearly 4 billion robocalls per month in 2018.The new law includes measures to restore consumers' trust in Caller ID, penalties against illegal robocallers and carriers who knowingly accept their traffic, and enhanced industry-government coordination on tracing back illegal calls.
Lackawanna College Pays a Visit to my Tunkhannock Office

I recently met with representatives from Lackawanna College to discuss their curriculum at my Tunkhannock District Office. Featured in the photo are Julie Williams, District Constituent Outreach Specialist; Mariellen Walsh, Director of Leadership Giving and Brian Costanzo, Vice President of College Advancement of Lackawanna College.
2020 Hemp Program Accepting Applications from Growers, Processors

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s 2020 hemp program is now accepting applications from both commercial growers and processors.

The 2020 application period is open through April 1. This year, both growers and processors of hemp are required to apply. The permitting of processors is new for the 2020 program. Each individual property will require its own permit and application. A permit costs $150.

It is the second year for the program, with farmers planting just over 4,000 acres of hemp across 55 counties in 2019.

Hemp was grown in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States until after World War II but became regulated along with marijuana and its cultivation was prohibited. Unlike marijuana, hemp is also grown for fiber and seed, in addition to floral extracts, and must maintain a much lower concentration of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3% legal threshold.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s hemp program, click here. 
Next Week’s Outreach Hours

On Wednesday, January 15, a representative from the Center for Independent Living will be available by appointment at my Tunkhannock district office. Please call the Tunkhannock office at 570-836-4777 to make an appointment.
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105 Lieutenant Michael Cleary Drive, Dallas, PA 18612 | (570) 675-6000, (800) 278-3930
133 West Tioga Street, Suite 4, Tunkhannock, PA 18657 | Phone: (570) 836-4777
41-B East Wing, Main Capitol, PO Box 202117, Harrisburg PA 17120-2117 | Phone: (717) 787-1117
Email: kboback@pahousegop.com