In this update:
ID theft on the rise – learn how to be aware of scammers on March 5
My office fields many calls from concerned citizens with questions about potential scams. On March 5, Representative Seth Grove (R-York) and I will host a representative from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for a special event to help community residents learn how to avoid some of the most common methods scammers use to steal personal and financial information.
Partnering with the Attorney General will allow local residents to get their questions answered and to learn more about how to best protect themselves and loved ones from any current and future scams.
A representative from the Attorney General’s office will be available on Thursday, March 5 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at our district office, located at 6872 Susquehanna Trail South in Springfield Township.
More information can be found here.
Pennsylvania Do Not Call List now permanent
Additional provisions require a telemarketer using robocalls to provide an opt-out process for the called party within the first few seconds of each call and to include a toll-free call back number that directly connects a person to the opt-out process if a message is left.
Telemarketing calls are also now prohibited on legal holidays.
The “Do Not Call” List is administered and maintained by the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, all consumers previously registered are permanently enrolled and not required to re-register. Click here to enroll on the “Do Not Call” List and here to verify your number is registered and/or submit a complaint.
Budget hearings recap
This week marked the start to a three-week process of Senate Appropriations Committee public hearings on Governor Wolf’s 2020-2021 state budget. (You can see my reaction to his budget proposal here.)
The governor outlined his budget for the new fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2020. These budget hearings mark the start to negotiations on the state budget, as lawmakers and the governor will work through all spending numbers leading up to June 30.
Over the next three weeks, most of my weekly email update will include each public hearing I attended, including the questions I asked and answers I received. Most, if not all, of the questions I ask come from you – the citizens of the 28th District.
The committee convenes for three hearings per day with various state agencies, schools and other entities who are impacted by the state budget.
If you are interested in a particular hearing, I have given a quick snippet of the question I asked below. If you want to see an update of the whole week in under three minutes, the video below has you covered.
Independent Fiscal Office – wasted tax credits meant to close the digital divide?
During Tuesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Independent Fiscal Office (similar to the Congressional Budget Office at the federal level), I asked about a disturbing article that came out last week detailing wasted tax credits for programs many York Countians would benefit from – closing the digital divide.
Watch my Q&A below.
Department of Revenue & Lottery – is the data you provide the state secure?
Data privacy continues to be a major concern for me as the chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee. Based on concerns that were raised to me by many local citizens, I asked how the department is safeguarding your information that you submit to them as part of your annual tax filings with the state.
Department of Revenue & Lottery – asking for clarification on sales tax
As a follow-up to another question a local citizen emailed me, I asked for clarification on a sales and use tax.
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs – Is a Bloomberg Family Foundation grant paid to state government a conflict of interest?
Last year, I raised red flags about a $10 million grant from the Bloomberg Family Foundation to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. I asked about it last year before Mayor Bloomberg announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Now that he is involved as a political candidate, I asked again if this is a concern to the department.
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs – how are we assisting veterans to transition into the workforce?
I have been very grateful for Adjutant General Carrelli and his staff for working with me to ensure military families who locate here are not prohibited from earning a living with a professional license that they may have received in another state. Having reciprocity for things like a law license or other professional certifications is important since military families will spend a year or two in the Commonwealth.
As a follow-up to that, I asked how we are assisting veterans who transition to civilian life. You can watch our Q&A below.
Department of Corrections – what is being done to halt human trafficking of female inmates?
Human trafficking exists in every corner of our state – yes, you’ve heard me say that before. But did you know that female inmates are prime targets for human traffickers? I am pleased to learn about our state’s Department of Corrections is working with advocates to create a model for the rest of the nation when it comes to stopping this heinous crime. I also asked Corrections Secretary Wetzel about my concern for rising overtime budgets and lack of consistency among our state prisons. Watch below.
State System of Higher Education – funding meant for scholarships was used to plug budget holes, how can we be assured this will not happen again?
As a member of the board of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, I constantly review efforts to make college more affordable to Pennsylvanians. I was dismayed to learn that one of our universities within our State System of Higher Education – the entity that operates the 14 state-owned universities – used funding earmarked for scholarships to instead plug budget holes. This budget, the governor and system are requesting more money for these scholarships. I am skeptical given this past track record. Watch my Q&A with the Chancellor of the State System below.
Department of State – seeking reassurances that York County’s election debacle in November 2019 does not happen again, even with election reform in effect
My commitment to working with all stakeholders to ensure our elections process is safe and secure is a major priority for 2020. After watching what happened at the polls in November 2019 throughout York County, I have worked with Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, the County Commissioners and local elections officials to troubleshoot all of the challenges York County voters faced.
I will continue to ask state officials to guarantee provisions I added to state law to ensure your privacy at the ballot box is upheld since it is a constitutional right. Many of you felt that privacy was jeopardized this past election, which I is why I attached a provision to a new law that requires privacy screens at the ballot scanners.
Watch my Q&A about this issue below.
Department of State – following up on a report showing the department does not keep track of licensed physicians in the Commonwealth
In light of a legislative report that was issued recently, I asked the department to clarify about their tracking of licensed physicians within this Commonwealth.
Attorney General – concerns over legal opinion on what is declared a firearm in PA
Attorney General Shapiro recently issued a legal brief stating that 80 percent receivers are firearms. I received many complaints from local citizens on this topic so I asked him about it directly. I also asked about the state’s data breach process.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate program assistance available February 25 with Rep. Grove
Representative Grove and I will have staff on hand to assist individuals with Property Tax/Rent Rebate applications on February 25 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Windy Hill Senior Center at 1472 Roths Church Road in Spring Grove.
More information, including other planned events, can be found here.
Congratulations Austin Doll, York County’s latest Eagle Scout
Congratulations to Austin Doll of Troop 102 in Hanover on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout! It was an honor for John Popovich of Representative Seth Grove’s office and me to join Austin’s family, friends, and fellow scouts to celebrate his significant achievement!
Austin, the son of the late Melissa Doll and Michael Doll and Donna Buckley, constructed cabinets and an oil dry bin for the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company for his Eagle project. Well done, Austin!
Free tax prep courtesy of local AARP
Last year, more than 100 volunteers with AARP assisted York Countians with their taxes. Below is information about this year’s program, which offers free tax preparation for senior citizens in York County.
Peyton Walker Foundation to host first symposium to educate healthcare providers & others
The Peyton Walker Foundation is hosting their first Sudden Cardiac Arrest Youth Symposium to address the prevalence of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), detection and prevention of heart issues that can lead to SCA, screening protocols and implementation of screenings into medical practices.
The Foundation encourages pediatricians, family doctors, athletic trainers, cardiologists, coaches, nurses and physicians assistants to participate in the symposium. The event will be held on April 4 at the Hotel Hershey. More information can be found here.
I-83 Southbound restricted to single lane on Monday night – Tuesday morning
Starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, February 24 through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, February 25, PennDOT and its contractor will restrict I-83 Southbound to one lane at the Exit 4 interchange in Shrewsbury. This is to install new bridge beams. You can read more about this here.
You can view PennDOT’s maintenance schedule planned for next week across York County below.
Are you participating in my telephone town hall on March 2?
On Monday, March 2 from 6-7 p.m., I will host a telephone town hall to give you the latest update on the state budget, where we stand with efforts to eliminate school property taxes and other important legislative matters. Most importantly, you have the opportunity to ask me questions about the various issues critical to you.
I look forward to talking to you!
The Senate Appropriations Committee will reconvene on Monday, February 24 at 10 a.m. to continue its public hearings on the state budget. If you want to follow along, please watch on my Facebook and Twitter for videos, comments and other news you may find interesting regarding your state budget.
Below is our agenda for next week.