In this update:
Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings cover education, economic development, senior issues and more
The Senate Appropriations Committee wrapped up its third and final week of public hearings on the governor’s budget proposal. The committee held 12 public hearings this week, including the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Life Sciences Greenhouses/Life Sciences PA, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Aging, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Budget Office.
As I’ve done in the prior two weeks, I want to give you – the residents of the 28th Senatorial District – a brief update on this week’s state budget hearings.
Please take a moment to watch my recap below:
Here are some of the key points I emphasized on this past week with various state agencies:
Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Our first hearing for the week started with Secretary Smith of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. I raised concerns about a $10 million grant the department received from the Bloomberg Family Foundation that is unaccounted for in this budget. I’m very concerned about the unprecedented nature of this arrangement. I also asked about a bill I’m sponsoring that would study resource parents who are using illegal drugs.
Life Sciences Greenhouses/Life Sciences PA
Also on Monday, I spoke with leaders of life science programs about the importance of STEM programs and workforce development to train our next generation to be productive and successful in Pennsylvania’s evolving economy.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
One of the main areas in this state budget that gives me the most concern is with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). I’ve called this budget a game of hide and seek with your tax dollars. On the surface, the DCNR looks like they would be cut by over 30 percent, but in reality, they will receive a more than 2 percent increase.
I have major concerns with the fund transfers proposed in this budget, especially in DCNR, because it’s not entirely transparent (or fair) to taxpayers.
Department of Education
At Tuesday’s hearing with the Department of Education, I asked about the feedback on a forthcoming bill I plan to introduce that would codify a three-year pilot program that provides for flexible instruction days at our schools. I would like to see this program be an option for all of our school districts, and based on the emails and phone calls I’ve received, there is a lot of interest in this issue. I’m trying to work with the department on the legislation, but have not yet heard any feedback after waiting months for suggestions from Secretary Rivera.
I also asked about a proposal I’m working on that would ask the Department of Education to put together model curriculum on the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help our schools teach about the events and how important it is to our state’s history as well as our national history.
Department of Aging
With the Department of Aging, I asked Secretary Torres about feedback I’ve received from York County Area Agency on Aging.
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
During Wednesday morning’s hearing with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, I thanked Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli for his department’s efforts to make certification requirements easier for military spouses. As a follow-up, I asked what Pennsylvania can do to further help members of the military and their family transition to civilian life.
Department of Agriculture
I asked Secretary Redding about the state’s antiquated frozen dessert license, as well as the adverse impact of commercial travel bans on farmers and manufacturers during recent winter storms. I also shared concerns I received from my colleague, Senator Judy Ward, who heard from dairy haulers in her district on the commercial vehicle ban.
PA Gaming Control Board
At Thursday morning’s Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Gaming Control Board, I asked Executive Director Kevin O’Toole about my bill requiring revenue from gaming expansion be used to provide long-promised property tax relief.
I also asked about security efforts at the forthcoming casino in York County and the cybersecurity efforts for online gaming.
Department of Community and Economic Development
I asked Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin about filling existing job vacancies across Pennsylvania and how best to invest economic development funding during this afternoon’s Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing.
I also asked Secretary Davin if he can assure the committee that the department will mail out EITC and OSTC letters to entities that rely on those tax credits no later than Sept. 30.
Governor’s Budget Office
Finishing our three weeks of state budget hearings, I asked Secretary Swails of the Governor’s Budget Office about the hide-and-seek approach of this year’s budget proposal and my concerns about borrowing money while claiming to have a surplus.
With the state budget hearings completed, we will soon see pieces of legislation introduced in the coming weeks and months to implement a state spending plan for the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 state budget, which begins on July 1, 2019. I will be working with colleagues on efforts to safeguard your tax dollars and continue fighting to make the way your tax dollars are collected and spent easier to understand.
Sunday hunting in PA survey ends on Monday
As I said in last week’s email update, I am conducting a survey on my website on your support or opposition to Senate Bill 147, sponsored by Senator Laughlin (R-Erie). In addition to other measures, the bill would pave the way for Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania.
Earlier this week, I pulled the data to see where local residents were on the issue and it’s nearly split down the middle as to those of you who favor and those of you who oppose Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. You can see the breakdown in the map below:
Once the survey is closed, I will share the results and let you know where the residents of the 28th Senatorial District stand on the issue.
If you have not done so already, please take the survey here.
PennDOT issuing REAL IDs
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that they are issuing REAL IDs to Pennsylvania residents.
According to PennDOT, REAL ID will be required for identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building that requires identification at the door beginning on October 1, 2020.
There is no requirement for any resident to obtain a REAL ID, and PennDOT will continue to offer standard photo IDs.
For York County residents, the closest PennDOT facility offering REAL IDs is at 2090 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster.
For more information on REAL ID, please visit here.
Conner Harlacher of Troop 94 earns Eagle Scout
Congratulations to Conner Harlacher of Troop 94 in West Manchester on achieving the rank of Eagle Scout! It was an honor to join his family, friends, and fellow scouts to celebrate his significant achievement and present him with a citation from the Senate of Pennsylvania.
Conner assembled and installed a gaga pit for his Eagle Scout community service project. Well done, Conner!
Welcoming Special Olympics to York County
Last weekend, York proudly welcomed over 600 athletes to the Inaugural Special Olympics Pennsylvania Indoor Winter Games.
Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed in floor hockey, bowling, and ice skating! And a special shout out to the athletes that took the time to teach me some floor hockey skills!
Thank you to the many volunteers and organizations that made the games a great success including County of York County Commissioners, Rep. Dawn Keefer, Congressman Scott Perry, York County Sheriff’s Office, Explore York PA, York College Best Buddies, the Pennsylvania State Police, and Dallastown Area Senior High School JROTC!
You can view more photos here.
Discussing the importance of Women’s History Month with ABC 27
Earlier this week, I sat down with Valerie Pritchett of ABC 27 to discuss the significance of Women’s History Month, especially as it pertains to my role as a legislator. I’ll share the final interview when it’s posted.
Today is also International Women’s Day. I’m extremely grateful for the contributions of the many women before me who were trailblazers and pioneers in their respective fields of work.
Next week, I will have a new podcast episode that highlights Women’s History Month, including an interview with Jennifer Storm, Pennsylvania Victim Advocate. We review efforts to address human trafficking in Pennsylvania.
Stay tuned for my next episode of Kristin’s Corner!
Springtime kicks off moving season – beware of scam movers
If you are planning to move this spring, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission offers tips to locate a legitimate moving company for your belongings.
Scam movers may use names similar to those of legitimate companies.
Here are some helpful tips:
New complaints against interstate carriers can be filed online or by calling 1-800-692-7380.
Act 77 of 2017, sponsored by Senator Argall, applied criminal penalties to rogue household goods movers who fail to adhere to state rules.
Don’t forget to spring forward tomorrow!
Tomorrow night, please remember to set your clocks one hour ahead before you go to bed. Setting your clocks to daylight savings time is also a good time to replace the batteries in your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
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