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The Rothman Report
The latest news from the State Capitol
|Congratulations to New State Champs, East Pennsboro Little League!
Congratulations to the Pennsylvania Little League State champs, East Pennsboro Little League! East Pennsboro won the state title after beating out Newtown-Edgmont 5-0 at Fiala Field in Camp Hill. Good luck this weekend in Bristol, Connecticut in the Mid-Atlantic Regional against New Jersey state champion Elmora!
|Rothman with the East Pennsboro team and coaches.
Little League Baseball has a rich history in Cumberland County and it made this year’s state tournament all the more special to our community not only to have it hosted in Camp Hill, but to watch a local team play hard to victory! Congratulations to our new state champions!
Local Students Cool off at the Capitol
| Students from Oakwood Baptist Day School visited the state Capitol July 19.
|Students from GraceWay Children Academy visited the state Capitol July 29.
|Students from GraceWay Children Academy visited the state Capitol July 30.
|2019-20 Budget Invests in Future Workers, Leaders
One of the most important responsibilities of state government is to support the education and development of our children who will become the future workers and leaders of our Commonwealth.
The 2019-20 state budget, which was recently signed into law in June, again makes record investments in our schools.
PreK-12 education funding is increased by $432 million, making this year’s state budget investment the highest in Pennsylvania’s history. This includes $160 million more for Basic Education Funding, $50 million more for special education and $25 million more for PreK Counts.
An additional $10 million goes to support career and technical education, to help prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The budget also provides $60 million in funding for school safety grants.
To ensure students and their families have options, the budget also includes $25 million more for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.
Finally, our community colleges, state system universities and state-related institutions (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) each received a 2% funding increase.
To learn more about this year’s state budget, click here.
Fiscal Responsibility Leads to Healthy Deposit in State’s Rainy Day Fund
A strong economy, combined with House Republican efforts to stand up for taxpayers and against a series of tax hike proposals from Gov. Tom Wolf over the last four years, has resulted in a healthy investment of nearly $317 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
The fund essentially serves as the Commonwealth’s savings account, available to help weather the next economic downturn without further burdening hard-working taxpayers.
Last year marked the first deposit in the Rainy Day Fund in more than a decade. It totaled just $22 million.
This year, lawmakers agreed during budget negotiations to deposit the full amount of the General Fund balance at the close of the 2018-19 fiscal year into the fund.
New Law to Save Taxpayers Money
Working to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, the General Assembly passed a new law that will enable the Commonwealth to pay off state debt more quickly and save on interest costs.
Act 43 of 2019 will change the way state bonds are issued to accelerate the retirement of Pennsylvania’s General Obligation debt, reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of state-issued bonds, and help the Commonwealth improve its bond rating.
The law requires the principal for new issuances of state debt to be repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond – usually 20 years – rather than front loading interest payments with lower principal payments that grow as the bonds mature.
Growing Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Industry
A series of bills to support Pennsylvania farmers and help grow the state’s top industry were signed into law by the governor in July.
The measures aim to address several current challenges facing our farmers by creating a special account to help fund the state’s response to threats to livestock or crops, such as African swine fever and spotted lanternfly; providing technical and financial support to farmers for implementing best management practices; and establishing the Dairy Investment Program to provide grants for the struggling dairy industry.
The measures also address the future of the industry by reviving programs to educate school children about the importance of agriculture and healthy eating; raising awareness about career opportunities in the industry; providing tax credits to existing farmers or landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers; and creating the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help every farmer create a business plan, transition plan or succession plan, helping to ensure farm operations continue to thrive through ownership changes.
To learn more about the efforts to support Pennsylvania agriculture, click here.
Calling on the FCC to Protect Your Phone from Spoofers
Calls from telemarketers have long been an issue, but the situation becomes dangerous when scammers “spoof” calls. That’s when a call shows a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller. All too often it can result in recipients being tricked into sharing their personal information and scammed out of their hard-earned money.
Spoofing needs to be swiftly and aggressively addressed. Despite being illegal, these unwanted robocalls that appear to originate from local, often legitimate, numbers in order to deceive consumers are on the rise.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously supported a resolution urging Congress to grant additional authority to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop unwanted robocalls and spoofing, as well as to educate the public on how to report illegal calls. Spam calls are the most frequent complaint received by the FCC, and it’s time to do something about it.
While we implore the FCC to stop the harassment of Pennsylvanians through their own devices, residents can take action to limit another form of harassment – unwanted calls from telemarketers.
There are two Do Not Call Lists available: The National Do Not Call List and the Pennsylvania Do Not Call List. Register your cell phone and landline numbers with the state list by calling 888-777-3406 and the national list by calling 888-382-1222. Both phone numbers are toll free.
House GOP Advocacy Leads to New Laws to Ensure Fairness, Justice
Working to ensure justice is served for victims of crime in the Commonwealth, several initiatives championed by House Republicans aimed at improving the effectiveness and fairness of court proceedings were recently signed into law.
Recognizing that children and people with intellectual disabilities are often targeted as victims and may have more difficulty handling the trauma of testifying in court, two laws expand the situations in which out-of-court statements by victims or witnesses may be used in lieu of in-person testimony.
Act 31 of 2019 adds several different crimes – such as human trafficking, sexual abuse and related offenses – to the statute allowing out-of-court statements by children. Act 30 of 2019 extends the ability of the court to accept out-of-court statements made by people with intellectual disabilities or autism.
Other measures recently signed into law to address court proceedings include Act 23 of 2019, which ensures a victim is permitted to be present at any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim’s own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses; and Act 24 of 2019, which prevents prosecutors from bringing up a victim’s sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
Learn more about our victim protection initiatives here.
Bills to Support Crime Victims Signed into Law
Delivering on our commitment to help support victims of crime and ensure justice is served, I’m pleased to report several new crime victim protection bills were signed into law by the governor in July. The House focused heavily on these issues back in April.
o Act 21 of 2019 criminalizes the act of female genital mutilation by making it a first-degree felony.
o Act 23 of 2019 ensures a victim is permitted to be present in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim's own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses.
o Act 24 of 2019 helps protect victims of rape by preventing prosecutors from bringing up the victim's sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
o Act 29 of 2019 makes updates to the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, including requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing and storing rape kits.
o Acts 30 and 31 of 2019 expands the circumstances under which out-of-court statements may be used by including victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder (Act 30) and adding new crimes to the list that allows such statements made by a child under age 12.
In addition to these new laws, the General Assembly has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to include a Victim’s Bill of Rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Voters will have the opportunity to approve the proposed amendment in the upcoming November election.
For more about House Republican efforts to support crime victims, click here.
Supporting Foster and Adopted Children
Working to ensure success for children in the foster system and those who have been adopted, the General Assembly has enacted three new laws.
• Act 14 of 2019 promotes the placement in adoptive homes of children who have disabilities or are otherwise hard to place due to age, sibling relationships or ethnicity. The law allows family members who are granted permanent legal custodianship for qualified children up to 21 years of age to receive subsidies for their care.
• Act 16 of 2019 assists children in the foster care system with the challenges of accessing higher education opportunities by creating a tuition and fee waiver option for youth in foster care, who were adopted from the foster care system, or have aged out of foster care. Statistics indicate only 50% of foster youth graduate from high school, only 20% go to college and less than 10% complete their postsecondary education.
• Act 47 of 2019 simplifies the process for certain adoptions by allowing a prison employee to serve as a witness to the completion of an adoption consent form by an incarcerated birth parent. If a second witness is unavailable, the new law allows the consent to be acknowledged before a notary public. Under prior law, potential adoptions were delayed for months, leaving the child stuck in the system rather than under the care of adoptive parents.
Removing Barriers to Employment
Building on our long-term efforts to promote economic opportunity and remove barriers to work, the General Assembly has passed a new law improving the portability of professional licenses.
Act 41 of 2019 requires the licensing boards and commissions under the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) to provide licensure by endorsement for applicants who hold similar licenses in other states. It also offers a provisional endorsement license to quickly move these professionals into the work force.
Under prior law, professionals moving into the state – including members of the military and their families – faced a number of barriers and delays in obtaining the appropriate licenses to reenter the work force, creating a financial burden for them and their families. In some cases, the delays could lead to missed job opportunities or even a decision to avoid moving to the Commonwealth.
The law is a win-win for both employees and employers.
|Rothman co-sponsored Rep. David Hickernell’s bill which became Act 41.
Clean Slate Law Offers Second Chances
The new, automatic sealing of criminal records 10 years or older is now in effect under the state’s Clean Slate Act. Officials expect to process 2.5 million records per month over the next year.
The Clean Slate Act created an automated computer process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within 60 days, summary convictions after 10 years, and some second- and third-degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent convictions for a period of 10 years. Certain first-degree misdemeanors can be sealed by petition.
The law is designed to ensure people who have turned their lives around are not haunted by minor, nonviolent indiscretions that occurred a decade earlier. The law does not apply to violent offenses related to danger of a person; firearms or other dangerous articles; sexual offenses and registration; cruelty to animals; and corruption of minors.
The House is considering additional criminal justice reforms this session, including House Bill 1555 that would make a series of probation and parole reforms, and House Bill 1477, which would ensure past convictions are not prohibiting someone from obtaining occupational licensure, unless the conviction is related to the career field.
New Law Will Help People Stay on Track with Medications
Recognizing the challenges some patients face in staying on track with their medications, the General Assembly has adopted a new state law to make it a little easier.
Act 46 of 2019 will allow consumers to synchronize the refilling of their prescriptions, meaning they can pick up all of their medications on one day rather than having to make multiple trips to the pharmacy. This will be especially helpful for senior citizens, busy families and others who have limited transportation options.
The law will enable consumers to synchronize their prescription refills and bar insurance companies from denying coverage for a partial fill of a script in order to facilitate medication synchronization. Thirty-five other states have enacted or introduced similar legislation.
The law takes effect next summer.
|Programs, Services, Opportunities
|Supporting Our National Guard Members and Their Families
A new initiative to help our Pennsylvania National Guard members and their families has been signed into law.
Act 32 of 2019 extends the current Pennsylvania National Guard Military Education Program by including a Guard member’s spouse or child in this benefit program. The benefit will be offered in exchange for a Guard member’s six-year reenlistment.
Under the law, the educational benefit can be used at any Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institution or any institution of higher learning approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. If the approved institution costs less than the annual tuition rate charged by the state system schools, the student would not pay anything. If it costs more than PASSHE’s annual tuition rate, the student would only pay expenses in excess of PASSHE’s annual tuition rate.
Pennsylvania National Guard members will be eligible for the benefit beginning July 1. Their family members may begin claiming the benefit on August 1, 2020.
PennDOT Accepting Applications for Winter Maintenance Positions
Individuals seeking seasonal employment are encouraged to apply for a variety of winter maintenance positions now open through PennDOT.
The program runs from September through April, and includes positions for transportation equipment operators, diesel and construction equipment mechanics, automotive mechanics, tradesman helpers, clerks, clerk typists, stock clerks, welders, semi-skilled laborers and custodial workers.
Individuals in these positions supplement the permanent workforce and have the potential to lead to permanent full-time employment. Additional details about the positions, along with the job application, are available at employment.pa.gov. Click on “Open Jobs” and then go to “PennDOT Winter Program.”
Emergency Programs Can Save Lives
Drivers are reminded of two voluntary programs aimed at saving the lives of residents in emergency situations. Participation in both programs is free of charge.
Under PennDOT’s Yellow Dot program, participants 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 their records 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.
PennDOT Wants to Hear From You
To help reduce crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways, PennDOT is asking drivers to participate in the department’s 2019 Highway Safety Survey.
The five-minute survey asks about seatbelt use, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, speeding, and distracted behaviors.
The survey is open until Monday, August 12, and all responses, including comments, are completely anonymous.
Once data is compiled, the department will review the results for potential additions or adjustments to the department’s safety efforts.
For more information about PennDOT’s highway safety efforts, visit PennDOT.gov/safety.
Were You Affected by the Equifax Data Breach? File Your Claims Now
If you were one of the 147 million Americans affected by the 2017 Equifax security breach, a settlement has been reached with the credit reporting agency and damage claims are now being accepted.
The settlement reached by a coalition of 48 states includes a Consumer Restitution Fund of up to $425 million to compensate those affected by the breach, with maximum payments capped at $20,000 per person. The deal also includes up to 10 years of free credit monitoring or $125 if you choose not to enroll because you already have credit monitoring services.
You can check to see if you were affected by the breach by using the tool provided by Equifax here.
For more information about the settlement and how to file a claim, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website here.
Support Local Police at National Night Out Events
Tuesday, August 6, is National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
Several local events are scheduled, including one in Camp Hill from 6-8 p.m. at Willow Park, North 24th and 25th and Market streets, and another in Silver Spring Twp., from 6-9 p.m. at Stony Ridge Park, 50 Bernheisel Road.
For more information about the national event, click here.
Grants Available to Small Businesses, Farmers
An estimated $1 million in grant funding is now available to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage grant program.
Eligible projects include adopting or acquiring equipment or processes that reduce energy use or pollution. New to the program this year is the opportunity for small business owners to install solar hot water systems for their business operations.
Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and investing in agricultural stormwater management projects, with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.
Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2019-20 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2020, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance website. Printed, faxed and mailed applications are not accepted.
More information about the program requirements is available here.
Last year, around 200 small businesses were awarded more than $947,000 in grants for their projects.
Have an Issue or Concern?
If you are a resident of the 87th District and need assistance with a state agency, please feel free to contact my Camp Hill office at 717-975-2235. One of my staff members will be more than happy to assist you.
Stay in Touch with Me on Social Media
You can stay up to date on my latest news and activities by visiting my House website, reprothman.com, or my official Facebook page or my official Instagram account. You can watch my House floor speeches and press interviews at my YouTube channel HERE.
|1200 Camp Hill Bypass, Suite 202, Camp Hill, PA 17011 | Phone: 717-975-2235
|163A East Wing, Capitol Complex, PO Box 202087, Harrisburg, PA 17120 | Phone: 717-783-2063