The Rothman Report: Budget Passes House and Other State News
6/28/2019
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The Rothman Report

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 The latest news from the State Capitol

In the Community
Keystone Girls State and Keystone Boys State Visit
We had lots of delegates from Keystone Girls State and Keystone Boys State in the Capitol this month! The Keystone programs promote civic leadership and are run by the Pennsylvania American Legion. These young leaders hail from the 87th District!

 
                                  
75th D-Day Anniversary at the Capitol
To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day this year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives welcomed several Pennsylvania veterans of World War II on the state House floor. These veterans of the Greatest Generation are our nation's bravest heroes. They did not know if they would return home to their families, but they knew freedom had to prevail. May we remember all that they sacrificed and never forget that freedom isn't free.

 
Thank you to these veterans who joined us June 6: Joseph “Zeb” Zebertavage, who served as an anti-aircraft gunner on the USS O’Brien during the D-Day Invasion that liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny; Louis Cinifici, Army; Walter Davis, Navy; Charles Eberwein, Coast Guard; William Gordon, Navy; Dr. Cedric Jimerson, Army; Bernadine Smith, Army; Ethan Smith, Army Air Corps; Kenneth Mosser, Navy; and John Fleming, Army.

Visit with PA Farm Bureau Intern Lauren Shaffer

 
This month I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Shaffer who is a student at Penn State currently interning at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. She is a senior studying community and environmental development. Lauren is a resident of the 87th District and lives in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County. Our community sends our best wishes to Lauren on her future endeavors.
 
State Government News
House Passes Budget with No New Taxes, No Tax Increases
On June 25, I voted for House Bill 790, the General Appropriations portion of the 2019-20 state budget, which passed the state House by a vote of 140-62. The legislation may now be taken up by the state Senate.

This $34 billion budget was made possible by the economic prosperity we are seeing in Pennsylvania. Our economic turnaround is a result of House Republican leadership holding the line on spending and tax increases in the last three budgets.

With state income well above official estimates from the Department of Revenue, we are now able to transfer about $300 million into the existing $75 million Rainy Day Fund.

We worked again this year to rein in spending by keeping it below the Taxpayer Bill of Rights rate of 2% growth and we are proposing no new taxes or fees with this budget.

I am proud that we are also able to include $160 million for basic education funding, and each of the school districts I represent (Camp Hill, Cumberland Valley, and East Pennsboro Area) will receive on average more than a 3% increase. The budget also ensures that our children have an equal opportunity for a quality education, by proposing a $50 million increase in funding for special education – the largest increase in special education in two decades. We are committed to keeping our students safe by including $60 million for school safety grants for every school district in the Commonwealth.

Lyme disease awareness, prevention and research programs were also a priority in crafting this budget. We included $3 million, an increase of 20%, for programs that help thousands of people affected by this debilitating disease.

I encourage my Senate colleagues to continue putting Pennsylvanians first and ensure future fiscal stability for our Commonwealth by sending this budget to the governor.

Below, you can view my comments during the floor debate where I talked about how our growing economy and increased state income is a result of our pro-growth policies.

 
                                   
Other Important House Republican Budget Bills Pass
Taxpayers deserve transparent budgeting practices and that is why House Republicans took the lead this month in adopting several measures to bring more transparency to the budget process.

To help limit “supplemental” spending, which is spending on top of what is approved in each year’s budget, House Bill 855 would require the secretary of the budget to project revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year starting in December and put that amount of money in budgetary reserve to ensure the budget is balanced at the end of the fiscal year. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate for consideration.

Additionally, House Bill 923 would require the governor to explain the reasons for any supplemental spending requests and offer recommendations for cost-savings or other reforms to address the cause. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate for consideration.

Other reform measures would require the administration to provide additional details as part of the governor’s proposed budget (House Bill 922); require quarterly reports on funding committed and awarded through special funds that provide grants and subsidies (House Bill 921); and update budget procedures related to unspent appropriations and how those amounts are dealt with at the close of a fiscal year (House Bill 920). All three bills have passed the House and are now awaiting approval in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bills are part of the House Republican Caucus’ #GovtDoneRight initiative. To learn more, click here.

 


Boosting PA Agriculture, Dairy Farmers
This month, the House focused on supporting agriculture - our state’s top industry - with the approval of several bills to help carry on our agriculture traditions for future generations and a Capitol rally in support of two federal bills aimed to boost the dairy industry.

The House gave overwhelming approval to measures that would ensure a quick state-level response to threats such as invasive species or disease; establish the Dairy Investment Program to provide grants to support dairy farmers; create a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help farmers develop a business plan, transition plan or succession plan; enhance youth exposure to opportunities in the agriculture industry; and empower the State Conservation Commission to provide technical assistance and financing options for implementing best management practices.

We also approved bills that would boost enrollment in the veteran farmer Homegrown by Heroes program, provide specialty crop block grants and aid with meat inspection costs for small or new processors.

In addition, dairy farmers and advocates from across the Commonwealth gathered in the Capitol rotunda to rally support for two bills pending action in Congress that would help the dairy industry as well as our children.

The “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019” would allow flavored and unflavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias to give students more choice, while the Dairy PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of dairy products by calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce existing labeling requirements for milk. Essentially, non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds and plants could no longer be marketed as milk, yogurt or cheese.

The rally followed a meeting of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in which committee members heard from two members of the state’s congressional delegation about the bills and also unanimously approved resolutions endorsing the measures.

 

Continuing Support for PA Military, Veterans
In recognition of the service and sacrifice of active duty military and veterans in the Commonwealth, the House is always working to enact policies that help and support these men and women and their families.

This month, we approved House Bill 630 to extend Pennsylvania’s current employment protections to Pennsylvania citizens who are members of another state’s National Guard and are called up to serve outside of the Commonwealth.

We also approved House Bill 1050 to ensure an in-state tuition rate for military families as soon as a student enrolls in a public college or university, regardless of whether his or her military parent is reassigned out of the state. Both bills are now pending consideration in the Senate.

Finally, lawmakers joined with representatives of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to send off seven new vans that will help DAV volunteers transport veterans to their VA medical appointments.

For more information about state services and support for our military and veterans, visit the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website at  dmva.pa.gov.

Measures Aim to Improve Mental Health Care Access
 
Working to strengthen communities and support Pennsylvania families, we are continuing our efforts to improve access to behavioral health services in the Commonwealth.

House Resolution 268 directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to assess the Commonwealth’s treatment capacity for mental and behavioral health care by studying the patient care and financial impacts of delayed emergency department discharge of patients with a behavioral health diagnoses, and the cause of such delays.

A second measure, House Resolution 193, calls on JSGC to study the shortages in the mental health care workforce that are leading to delays in obtaining treatment.

The House also approved a bill to clarify current law regarding consent to mental health treatment for minor children. House Bill 672 specifically states a parent can consent to care without a minor’s approval. While this is the intent of current law, there has been confusion among parents, minors and providers about who can or must consent to care.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Ensuring Sexual Harassment is not Hidden
Recognizing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, the House approved legislation this week to help prevent these offenses – and the offenders – from being hidden and dealt with.

House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring employees and prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment.

This would ensure workers who face sexual harassment in the workplace can exercise their voice to report such egregious offenses they may suffer at the hands of a co-worker or superior.

Employees and employers would still be able to voluntarily enter into such agreements.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Lowering Health Insurance Costs
Pennsylvanians who buy their health insurance on the federal exchange could see lower prices under legislation adopted by the House this month.

House Bill 3 would establish a state-based health insurance exchange and reinsurance program, an option offered by the Trump administration and supported by the Wolf administration as a means for helping make health care more affordable for Commonwealth citizens.

The proposal is also expected to save taxpayer money, as the cost of the state running its own exchange is expected to be about half the cost of fees currently being paid to the federal government to run it for us.

The bill is now being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Update on Rothman Bill: E-Scooter Legalization
During a House Transportation Committee hearing on June 17, I had the opportunity to question the president and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, Samuel Marshall, on how insurance companies would handle the legalization of e-scooters in Pennsylvania.

My bill, House Bill 631, is currently being considered by the Transportation Committee and may soon come to a vote in the House after approval by the committee. The bill amends Title 75 (vehicles) to define “electric low-speed scooters” (“low-speed scooters”) and apply our best-in-class laws governing pedalcycles (bicycles) and pedalcycles with electric assist (electric bicycles) to low-speed scooters.

Because these devices travel at low speeds and weigh less than 100 pounds, states across the country have incorporated low-speed scooters into their motor vehicle codes by regulating them like pedalcycles (or bicycles). However, Pennsylvania is quickly falling behind other places that have already embraced this next generation of transportation.

You can watch my questioning during the hearing below.

 

Programs, Services, Opportunities
Follow This Trail for Sweet Treats!
There’s nothing like a delicious ice cream cone or sundae on a warm summer day or night…or both!

To help Pennsylvanians find the best of the best and support local farms, the state departments of Agriculture and Community and Economic Development have unveiled an expanded Pennsylvania Ice Cream Trail program for 2019.

The program includes a passport that visitors can have stamped at each of 32 stops along the three trails in eastern, southcentral and western Pennsylvania. More information about creameries on the trail, including a downloadable passport and prize information, can be found at visitPA.com/scoops. Be sure to post your pictures to social media using the #PursueYourScoops hashtag.

The trails officially opened June 1 in conjunction with the start of Dairy Month in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth is ranked sixth in total milk production nationally, with 525,000 cows producing more than 10.8 billion pounds of milk each year. We have the second largest number of dairy farms in the country, second only to Wisconsin. The average herd size is around 80 cows, and 99% of all dairy farms in Pennsylvania are family owned.
                                                      

Property Tax/Rent Rebate Deadline Extended
 
Older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities now have until December 31 to apply for the state’s 2018 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The original deadline was June 30.

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. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates for certain qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.

As of June 1, the department had received 432,411 rebate applications. As specified by law, rebate distributions cannot begin until July 1. After June 30, rebates will be distributed as claims are received and processed. Applications typically take six to eight weeks to process.

For the 2017 program year, more than $253 million was paid to income-eligible seniors and people with disabilities who applied for rebates on rent and property taxes.

Eligibility information and forms are available on my website at reprothman.com or by contacting my office at 717-975-2235. Residents are reminded that assistance in filling out the applications is available free of charge at my district office. There is no need to pay a private firm for help.

Claimants who already applied for rebates may check the status of claims online at revenue.pa.gov by clicking on the “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” link. Claimants may also call, toll-free, 1-888-PATAXES to check the status of their rebates.
 

Beware of Financial Aid Scams Targeting Unsuspecting Students and Borrowers
 
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is warning students and borrowers to be wary of financial aid scams that could expose them to identity theft and significant financial loss.

The most effective way to avoid becoming the victim of a scam is to be alert and vigilant when asked to provide any form of personal information or when engaging in financial transactions.
Recent scams include:

Student loan forgiveness scams in which complete forgiveness is guaranteed in exchange for a fee.

Tuition scams in which someone claiming to work for your school’s administrative office calls to warn you that your tuition is late and you risk being dropped from class unless you pay immediately. Hang up and contact your school directly.

Students and borrowers are also commonly targeted with unnecessary fees for services that can be easily accessed for free.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends the following tips to avoid scams:
• Don’t share your Social Security number, credit card information, or account passwords.
• Never pay up front for a promised prize. It’s a scam if you are told that you must pay fees or taxes to receive a prize or other financial windfall.
• After hearing a sales pitch, take the time to compare prices. Ask for information in writing and read it carefully.
• Too good to be true? Ask yourself why someone is trying so hard to give you a “great deal.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Watch out for deals that are only “good today” and pressure you to act quickly. Walk away from high-pressure sales tactics that don’t allow you time to read a contract or get legal advice before signing. Also, don’t fall for the sales pitch that says you need to pay immediately, for example by wiring the money or sending it by courier.
• Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Go to donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.

If you believe that you have been targeted or victimized by a scam, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the CFPB, or the Federal Trade Commission.
 

Fish for Free on Independence Day

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is hosting the second of its two annual Fish for Free Days on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4.

This is a great opportunity to try your hand at fishing in any of Pennsylvania’s waterways, even if you don’t have a license.

Both residents and non-residents are eligible. Just make sure you follow all other fishing regulations. http://www.fishinpa.com/

For your convenience, there are even opportunities to borrow equipment from certain sites at state parks and other locations. You can find those locations by clicking here.  
 

Independence Day Reminders
If you are traveling, check out 511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 950 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT will also close its driver license service centers on Thursday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, dmv.pa.gov.

Have a safe and happy July Fourth!
 

Welcome to our Summer Interns
We have two interns who will be spending the summer in our District Office, Fiona & An. Fiona Skinner is a student at Juniata College in Huntington, PA. She is studying Political Science, with an expected graduation in May 2021. She is a resident of Camp Hill Borough. An Tran is a student at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He is studying Politics, with an expected graduation of May 2021. An is a resident of Hampden Township. We are excited to work with these students this summer and give them a glimpse into state government.

 


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.
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Office Locations
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
TTY: 855-282-0614
 
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