The Rothman Report (1-31-18)
1/31/2018
                                      
In the Community
 
102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show


I had the pleasure of attending the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show and the Public Official’s Day Luncheon on January 10. The 2018 show, themed “Strength in Our Diversity,” highlighted the diversity of Pennsylvania’s agriculture and food industries and the people who make it prosper. I had the opportunity to discuss agricultural issues with fellow elected officials, as well as hear from the governor and secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. I am proud to hail from a commonwealth with such a strong agricultural foundation and look forward to this event again next year.

 
 The “milk toast” was led by the Pennsylvania dairy princesses.



Harrisburg Chamber Legislative Breakfast

 

I participated with other members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties, in a formal breakfast event held by the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & Capital Region Economic Development Corporation to discuss our personal legislative priorities, as well as offer insight about how the upcoming session may impact the regional business community. I was joined by Representatives Stephen Bloom (R-199), Sheryl Delozier (R-88), Dawn Keefer (R-92), Mark Keller (R-86), Patty Kim (D-103) and Tom Mehaffie (R-106). I discussed the leadership role I have taken on the issues of autonomous vehicles and cutting the red tape of government for businesses.



Student Success in the 87th District

Congratulations to the following students who this month earned the rank of Eagle Scout:

     • Samuel Colosimo
     • Wesley Strohecker
     • Chase Slenker

With only 4 percent of Boy Scouts earning this rank, it is always an honor to be invited to celebrate this achievement with their friends and families.



Meet My District Office Staff

I am pleased to introduce you to my district office staff – Alison Basley, Kaytee Moyer and Christina Grassa.                                               

 
My staff and I are here to serve you. If you need help with state government programs, services or initiatives, our office is here to serve as a resource for you and your family. I encourage you to reach out to meet me and my staff, get to know the services we offer in our office, and learn about the ways we can help improve your interactions with state government.
 
 
Programs, Services , Opportunities
 
REAL ID Update: Get Your Documents Early


PennDOT has launched a public awareness campaign outlining the steps for residents who wish to get a REAL ID-compliant driver license. Although the REAL ID products will not be available until 2019, PennDOT encourages residents who want them to obtain any required documents in plenty of time. Those documents include birth certificates with the raised seal, Social Security cards, proof of all legal name changes and two proofs of current Pennsylvania address.

The federal government has extended the deadline for REAL ID compliance in Pennsylvania to October. 10, 2018, so rest assured that current driver licenses and identifications are still acceptable ID for domestic air travel and entry into certain federal facilities. Additional information about what you will need to complete the REAL ID application process can be found on PennDOT’s website at dmv.pa.gov and further details about obtaining a copy of your birth certificate can be found at the PA Department of Health website at health.pa.gov. My office can also assist with obtaining copies of birth certificates, which can take up to four to six months.



House of Representatives Scholarship Program

 
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Scholarship Program is now open to applicants. It was developed to provide educational opportunities for graduating seniors who reside in Pennsylvania. The program is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities and provides a four-year scholarship to two high school students per year. Students must maintain eligibility criteria in all four years of higher education in order to receive the ongoing award.

The deadline for the application and other materials is March 1.

In order to be eligible, applicants must:
  
  • Be a graduating high school senior.
  • Have legal residency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.
  • Maintain an academic achievement level (minimum 3.0 cumulative high school GPA).
  • Display a commitment to community and leadership qualities.
  • Engage in extracurricular activities.
  • Show financial need.
The application and other information is available on the Foundation for Enhancing Communities website.


VA Announces New Veterans ID Card

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced the application process for the national veterans identification card is available for veterans. This includes veterans who served in the armed forces and the reserve components, and who have an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions. This card may be accepted by retailers in lieu of the standard DD-214 form to obtain promotional discounts and other services where offered to veterans. It is considered to be a safer, more convenient and effective way for most veterans to show proof of service. To request a veterans identification card, veterans must visit vets.gov and click on “Apply for Printed Veteran ID Card” on the bottom of the page. Veterans who apply for a card should receive it within 60 days and can check delivery status of their cards on the website at vets.gov.

 
State Government News
 
Continuing the Battle Against Heroin, Opioid Epidemic


The heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth has now been declared a statewide disaster by Governor Tom Wolf. The designation comes on the heels of the General Assembly’s passage of at least a dozen state laws aimed at stopping abuse before it starts through prescription limits and better education outreach, as well as efforts to increase the availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and improved treatment options.

Among the goals set by the administration to address the issue are enhancing coordination and data collection to bolster state and local response; improving tools for families, first responders and others to save lives; and speeding up and expanding access to treatment.

More than 4,600 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2016, and the 2017 statistics are expected to increase. The opioid crisis affects all groups of Pennsylvanians – not differentiating by race, region, religion, income or any other factor. Beyond the public health toll, opioids are straining prisons, the child welfare system and hospitals, and nationwide have cost more than $50 billion annually in treatment and lost productivity.



Opioid Emergency Shouldn’t Impact Second Amendment

To help ensure that residents’ Second Amendment rights are not inadvertently impacted by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction, new legislation has been unveiled to protect that right.

With the emergency declaration, the governor activated an automatic trigger in the Crimes Code dealing with the Second Amendment. While this may make sense in the context of a natural disaster, it could cause problems for law-abiding citizens now. Never before has a disaster emergency been declared for a public health reason.

Under state law, an emergency declaration criminalizes the open carrying in public or on public property of any firearm – whether a handgun, rifle or shotgun. The intent of this prohibition is to protect communities from looting and criminal behavior in the time of a natural disaster, and would last for the full duration of the declared disaster. While the declaration of disaster for the opioid crisis gives the state tools to use to help Pennsylvania citizens in this public health crisis, the issue regarding the Second Amendment is not necessary and should not be in effect.

The legislation, House Bill 2016, would simply clarify that the prohibition against open carrying of an otherwise lawful firearm only applies if the disaster declaration expressly declares that such a prohibition is required to maintain public safety. Because the governor’s recent disaster declaration made no such declaration, upon enactment of this bill, Second Amendment rights would once again be secure in Pennsylvania.



Capitol News Conference Focuses on Costs of Excessive Regulation

 

I participated on January 16 in a Capitol news conference outlining a package of legislation aimed at reforming Pennsylvania’s regulatory system. Excessive regulation drives up the cost of doing business in the Commonwealth, kills jobs and can lead to lower economic growth.

I’m specifically working on legislation that would empower businesses to track the status of their permits. Many people during the Christmas season shipped and tracked packages across the country and the world. My bill would provide businesses with a way to track the status of their permits in a way similar to how people track the status of their mail packages. We want to avoid economic paralysis through delayed permitting.

You can learn more about my permit tracking legislation (House Bill 1959) by viewing the bill here.



Welfare Reform Efforts Unveiled

 
To help contain costs and bring about real reform to Pennsylvania’s welfare system, a package of bills was unveiled this week to give more Pennsylvania families an opportunity to improve their quality of life, while tackling waste, fraud and abuse from within the current system. The legislation would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student in order to receive SNAP benefits; limit temporary assistance beyond five years and establish a cumulative 48-month lifetime limit; and start a pilot program that encourages companies to hire individuals receiving welfare.

The goal of the measures is focused on ensuring benefits are directed to those who are truly in need while making every effort to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. These bills are the latest in a series to bring more integrity back to state government and reduce government dysfunction.



Protecting Families’ Access to Gravesites

In order to reinforce the rights of Pennsylvania families to visit the graves of their loved ones, a new law will take effect in late February that will ensure reasonable access for all cemetery visitors in Pennsylvania, regardless of property ownership issues. It also requires cemetery owners to honor burial plot agreements and contracts sold by previous cemetery owners. The legislation was the result of situations in which cemetery properties changed ownership over time.

Under legislation signed into law last year, cemetery owners are able to establish reasonable access procedures, as well as designate the frequency, hours and duration of cemetery visits. If the cemetery owners fail to comply with the new law, persons denied access to a burial plot can file a lawsuit in the county’s Court of Common Pleas where the property is located. The Office of Attorney General also may bring an enforcement action against the owner for violating Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.



Legislative Year in Review

During the first half of the 2017-18 legislative session, the House advanced a number of important bills that seek to improve education, make our communities safer, enhance quality of life for families and senior citizens, and reform government – all while standing up for taxpayers.

In addition to passing a no-tax-increase budget, the House approved legislation to reform the public pension systems; force public officials and employees who are convicted of public corruption crimes to forfeit their government pension; keep children safe from online predators; extend the popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); protect senior citizens’ prescription drug coverage; and delay the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement.

Looking ahead to 2018, the House is coordinating a legislative agenda focusing on work and economic opportunity, educating for success, escaping government dysfunction, and protecting families and communities.To review a list of bills passed by the House, click here to read our year-end report.
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