Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill E-Newsletter

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In this update:

  • Speed cameras now activated at the Exit 4 (Shrewsbury) on I-83
  • Coronavirus – what you need to know and is PA prepared?
  • Fighting ID theft, scams and online fraud during National Consumer Protection Week
  • Hosting Property Tax/Rent Rebate application assistance seminar on March 11 from 9-11 a.m. in Stewartstown with Rep. Mike Jones
  • Budget hearings recap
  • Department of Agriculture – seeking answers on delayed report on accident at York Fair, plus update on industrial hemp industry in York County
  • University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine – how can we encourage graduates to work in rural areas in need?
  • Penn State University Ag. Research & Ag. Extension – how are we helping curb the spread of Lyme disease?
  • State-related universities – what are major universities in PA doing to alert students of potential student debt?
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – concerns over contract that grows state’s coffers; does not improve rural broadband access using state-owned land
  • Community Colleges, Penn College of Technology, Thaddeus Stevens College – what is the real return on investment with programs to close skilled labor gap?
  • Department of Environmental Protection – why do Pennsylvania ratepayers and landowners get punished because Maryland will not generate enough power for its residents?
  • PA Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association – current market for medical liability insurance
  • Governor’s Budget Office – a 20 year contract to grow state spending, or help taxpayers?
  • Mobile office hours in York City on Thursday, March 12
  • PennDOT projects ramping up for spring
  • Spring forward this Saturday night (and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms!)

Speed cameras now activated at the Exit 4 (Shrewsbury) on I-83 

Earlier this week, PennDOT activated the automated speed enforcement system, or speed cameras, at I-83’s Exit 4 Interchange construction project. I noted in a Facebook post on Thursday that these cameras are NOT installed at the Exit 18/Mt. Rose Interchange. After all, there have to be workers present for the cameras to be activated…

The goal of this law is to protect the safety of workers and motorists alike in work zones.

First-time offenders will receive a warning. Second-time offenders will be mailed a citation for $75, and subsequent offenses will be $150. The law also requires PennDOT to post the locations of all speed cameras across the state. You can see the listing here.

No points will be assessed to a violator’s license.

Please be safe when traveling in work zones as our local neighbors, friends and family members may work in these work zones to improve our local infrastructure.

Coronavirus – what you need to know and is PA prepared? 

This week, I participated in several conference calls with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as well as our county’s two major healthcare providers WellSpan Health and UPMC to get an update on where things stand in the event the Coronavirus comes to southcentral Pennsylvania.

I have been assured that all necessary precautions are being taken at all levels – from the federal government to our local hospitals – to help us address this virus should it come to York.

I have also updated my website to have pertinent information from the Centers for Disease Control on the virus.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health opened a testing facility for the virus in Exton, Pennsylvania. I will post any relevant updates to my social media sites should any news develop in the coming days, weeks and months.

The number one tip that every expert recommends: Wash your hands often! Wash them before a meal, after you pump gas, after you touch door handles, etc.

 

Fighting ID theft, scams and online fraud during National Consumer Protection Week 

On Thursday, Representative Seth Grove and I hosted staff from the Attorney General’s office as part of National Consumer Protection Week.

In addition to assisting local residents, they shared some valuable information with our staff when it comes to safeguarding your identity online, as well as how to protect yourself from ID theft, scams and fraud. Feel free to stop by the district office during normal business hours to pick up any of the information the Attorney General’s office provided to my office.

Hosting Property Tax/Rent Rebate application assistance seminar on March 11 from 9-11 a.m. in Stewartstown with Rep. Mike Jones 

Join Representative Mike Jones (R-York) and me next week for another Property Tax/Rent Rebate application assistance seminar. The program is funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery and slot machine revenue and not from the General Fund.

We will be at the Stewartstown Senior Center at 26 S. Main Street in Stewartstown from 9 – 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11. I have a final event planned with Rep. Saylor on March 16 at the Delta Senior Center from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

All details can be found here. 

Budget hearings recap 

The Senate Appropriations Committee concluded its third and final week of budget hearings this week. This week, we focused on agriculture, higher education and budgeting, among other topics.

As I’ve done these past two weeks (Week 1 | Week 2), I created a quick video to highlight this week’s budget hearings at your state Capitol. You can watch the recap below.

Reaction to Week 3 of Senate Budget Hearings

If you want to see all videos from this year’s budget hearings, click here. To see every hearing in their entirety, go here.

Department of Agriculture – seeking answers on delayed report on accident at York Fair, plus update on industrial hemp industry in York County

At last year’s York Fair, two individuals were hospitalized after an individual fell from the Giant Wheel – a very popular attraction. Based on the concerns of fairgoers and the community as a whole, I wrote to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, who is charge of the department that inspects amusement park rides. The investigation into the accident was lengthy and I expressed concerns about the timeline as well. You can watch that below.

3/2/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Agriculture (Part 1)

I also asked about our state’s growing industrial hemp industry, which you can watch below.

3/2/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Agriculture (Part 2) 

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine – how can we encourage graduates to work in rural areas in need? 

Continuing our Monday hearing theme of agriculture, I asked about the shortage of veterinarians across the state, especially in rural areas. 

3/2/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Penn School of Veterinary Medicine

Penn State University Ag. Research & Ag. Extension – how are we helping curb the spread of Lyme disease?

Rounding out our hearings on Monday, I asked the Dean at Penn State’s agriculture programs about efforts to survey farmers on what they are doing to control pollution and also raised concerns about Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania.

3/2/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Penn State University Ag Extension

State-related universities – what are major universities in PA doing to alert students of potential student debt?

Tuesday featured the Presidents of our four state-related universities: Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.

With student loan debt a major issue for younger Pennsylvanians, I asked about efforts our colleges are undertaking to inform current and prospective students about the magnitude of their decision. I made the analogy that a 17-year old could not get a loan at the bank for a brand new Ford F-150 valued at $45,000 because of their inability to pay that loan back. However, students are able to take out loans in excess of that amount over a four-year span, which is concerning. Informing students of realistic earning potential following graduation, job prospects and the real cost of higher education is extremely important.

You can watch this important conversation below.

3/3/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: State-Related Universities

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – concerns over contract that grows state’s coffers; does not improve rural broadband access using state-owned land 

I was alerted to a 20-year contract the Commonwealth entered into last year with a company called Agile. They have several contracts across the country to help states market their assets (your assets) to telecommunications companies.

At first, I thought this is a great idea – let’s put a new tower on a PennDOT salt shed in rural parts of our Commonwealth to deliver high-speed internet to areas in need, including many areas throughout the 28th District.

However, as I dug into it, the plan is to market those assets in areas that are desirable (think cities and suburbs; not rural areas) to turn a profit. Those profits will then go back to the agency that contracts with Agile – essentially a middle man in the transaction. They get a cut, the state gets a cut. You don’t get a tax reduction.

I asked Secretary Dunn of the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources about this contract. Since her department covers the largest amount of land (oversight of all state parks and forests), I wanted to know if she “gains” under this contract, will this mean that she will not request as much money from you next year? I asked and you can watch below.

3/3/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: DCNR

Community Colleges, Penn College of Technology, Thaddeus Stevens College – what is the real return on investment with programs to close skilled labor gap? 

Our Commonwealth is very fortunate to have not only great institutions and universities, we also have top-notch trade schools in Thaddeus Stevens (Lancaster) and Penn College (Williamsport).

Last year, I was able to tour Penn College and at Tuesday’s hearing, I was able to ask about the metrics they use to show job placement rates. I was reassured that they are using accurate and relevant data to point students and prospective students into the right career fields.

You can watch our Q&A below.

3/3/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Penn College, Thaddeus Stevens College, & Community Colleges

Department of Environmental Protection – why do Pennsylvania ratepayers and landowners get punished because Maryland will not generate enough power for its residents? 

Over the last several months, I have been fighting in Harrisburg for the elimination of your school property taxes, but a new battle has emerged to ensure your school property taxes do not go up because of Maryland.

I have grown very frustrated with the constant fight we are having with our neighbors to the south.

There was a major debate in the General Assembly to bailout nuclear power generation plants in the Commonwealth because they are not profitable. However, Pennsylvania is a net exporter of energy. Maryland, meanwhile, has put in place a ban on natural gas drilling in the western part of their state and are declining in their own power generation and relying on power generated in Pennsylvania. While it’s important for us to export for our economy, I do not think this should come on the backs of Pennsylvania property owners or ratepayers.

Now Governor Wolf and his administration are seeking to place caps on energy generated in Pennsylvania from natural gas and coal, which will lead to higher costs for ratepayers. One of the biggest ratepayers in Pennsylvania are public schools. Those added costs will be passed along to homeowners in the form of higher school property taxes.

And with Maryland shutting down their power generation, they are forcing farmers in the southern end of our county to destroy preserved farmland to make room for a proposed high-voltage transmission line to deliver power to Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region. This is not right.

I raised all of these concerns during the hearing with the Department of Environmental Protection.

3/4/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: DEP (Part 1)

I also asked about the overuse of special funds during a second round of questioning, which you can watch below.

3/4/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: DEP (Part 2) 

PA Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association – current market for medical liability insurance

I asked about the current market for medical liability insurance and the importance of the PA Joint Underwriting Association as a coverage option.

3/4/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association 

Governor’s Budget Office – a 20 year contract to grow state spending, or help taxpayers?

Following up on my question I asked Secretary Dunn (see above), I followed up with Secretary Swails of the Governor’s Budget Office.

3/4/20 – Budget Hearing Q&A: Budget Secretary

Mobile office hours in York City on Thursday, March 12 

As part of my commitment to bring your state Senate to your community, our office will hold our monthly office hours in the City of York this Thursday, March 12 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Staff will be available to assist with any state-related matter affecting you and our neighbors

Appointments are not necessary.

PennDOT projects ramping up for spring 

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen several posts on PennDOT projects in our area. If you have not seen those updates, or do not follow me on Facebook:

PennDOT announced that its contractor began preparatory work on a project to repair and resurface a 2.77-mile section of Route 24 from just south of Cross Roads Avenue in Hopewell Township, through North Hopewell Township to Route 216 in Winterstown Borough. This project is expected to be completed by the end of May. More information can be found here.

PennDOT also announced that starting on Monday, March 9, its contractor will begin preparatory work on a project to repair and resurface a section of Route 116, Main Street through Spring Grove Borough from the bridge over the Codorus Creek to Spring Village Drive. You can learn more here.

For PennDOT’s maintenance schedule for next week, please visit their website. (Please note that this website is updated by PennDOT and may not be updated when you receive this email.)

 

Spring forward this Saturday night (and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms!) 

At 2 a.m. on Sunday (Saturday night), March 8, many of our smart devices will automatically “spring forward” one hour. However, any wall clock or appliance may need to be reset to reflect Daylight Saving Time. It is also a great time to switch out batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

 

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