Sep. 27, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
 The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Supporting PA’s Helpers and Heroes


Working to support the Commonwealth’s fire and ambulance services, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee this week approved several bills designed to address staffing and funding challenges facing these vital public safety organizations.

The committee approved bills to expand and increase the maximum loan amounts available through the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program, as well as to reauthorize the Fire and EMS Grant Program administered by the Office of State Fire Commissioner. ( House Bills 1448 , 1816 and 1834)

Two other measures aim to address stress management and post-traumatic stress injuries for first responders. (House Bills 432 and 1459)

House Bill 1839 would authorize counties to offer a property tax credit for volunteer first responders as an incentive to get more people involved in the emergency services.

To help rural EMS providers, House Bill 1869 would allow the Department of Health to grant waivers for staffing requirements on a Basic Life Support (BLS) service ambulance in sixth- through eighth-class counties.

Finally, House Bill 1838 would increase funding for the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund and require 30% of the funds to be used to provide training to underserved rural areas and 10% of the funds to be used for medical equipment for ambulances. The bills are awaiting action in the full House.
 
 
No Public Assistance Funds for Tobacco


The House recently approved legislation that would prohibit the purchase of tobacco products using public assistance funds on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. Such benefits are intended to help Pennsylvanians who cannot afford life’s essentials, not unnecessary items such as tobacco.

House Bill 847 would forbid the use of EBT cards, issued by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to administer public assistance benefits, to purchase tobacco or tobacco-related products. Personal funds on EBT cards, such as child support that is in arrears, would be exempt.

The Human Services Code already prohibits the purchase of liquor and alcohol with EBT cards. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
 
 
My Upcoming Events


During the month of October, my office will be hosting two public events that we hope you will join us for! Information on the events are as follows:
  • Chronic Wasting Disease Informational Seminar: Thursday, Oct. 17, 6:30-8 p.m at Upper Perkiomen Sportsmen’s Association, 398 E. 6th St., Red Hill, PA
    • Representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission will share an informational presentation on the topic of chronic wasting disease in the whitetail deer population. Seating is limited. Please register by clicking here.
  • Concealed Carry Seminar: Thursday, Oct. 24, 6-8 p.m. at East Greenville Fire Company, 401 Washington St., East Greenville
    • Experts will present information and answer any questions you may have about Pennsylvania’s gun laws. Once again, seating is limited. Please register by clicking here.
 
 
PennDOT to Hold Open House Public Plans Display for Route 29 Improvements


I announced this week that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will hold an Open House Public Plans Display for the planned Route 29 (Main Street) Bridge Replacement Project in Pennsburg Borough, Montgomery County, on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 from 7-8:30 p.m.

The event will be open to the public and take place at the Pennsburg Municipal Building, located at 76 W. 6th St. in Pennsburg. Representatives from PennDOT will be in attendance to explain their plans and will be available afterward to answer questions from community members.

PennDOT’s objectives of this project are to provide a safe structure and transportation facility, adjust the roadway profile to improve sight distance for drivers traveling on Route 29, expand pedestrian facilities to connect the surrounding area, and provide sufficient clearance under the bridge to maintain access for a future county shared-use path that will run along the abandoned Perkiomen Railroad line.

I hope that residents of Pennsburg Borough and the surrounding areas will come out to learn more about PennDOT’s plans. Roadway upgrades are one area where it is important to keep open the lines of communication, and this event is an excellent opportunity to have your questions answered.
 
 
Bills to Keep Firearms Out of the Hands of Criminals, Mentally Ill Earn Committee Approval


Working to balance public safety and Second Amendment rights, the House Judiciary Committee this week advanced several bills aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental health issues.

House Bill 1835 would reduce the time period in which a person is required to relinquish a firearm after discharge from an involuntary mental health commitment for inpatient care and treatment from 60 days to 48 hours, and would require the Pennsylvania State Police to send all records relevant to a determination of whether a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a mental health commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The bill would also create a voluntary self-exclusion program, in which an individual could ask to be put on a list that would prohibit him or her from purchasing or receiving a firearm for one, three or five years.

The committee also approved several bills that would address the application of mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun-related crimes and would prohibit persons convicted of attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit certain offenses from owning or possessing a firearm. The measures now go to the full House for consideration.
 
 
State Issues Warning About New Mosquito-Transmitted Disease


Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health warned Pennsylvanians to take precautionary measures against mosquito bites for themselves and their animals – specifically horses – as the rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in Erie, Carbon and Monroe counties.

EEE is a virus carried by birds. If a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transmit the potentially fatal virus to humans, horses and other birds. Because of the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

Through mid-September, there have been 18 cases reported to the CDC from across the country in 2019, with the majority of the cases in northeastern or Mid-Atlantic states. Several cases have been fatal.

The symptoms of EEE include a high fever of 103-106 degrees), stiff neck, headache and lack of energy. The symptoms typically show up three to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can progress quickly.

Take steps to protect against mosquito bites by consistently using DEET-containing insect repellants and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing. To reduce mosquito populations around your home, eliminate sources of standing water, such as containers and pots, wading pools, bird baths, gutters and more.

Read more here.
 
 
House Marks Safe2Say Something Week in PA


The House this week approved a resolution designating the week of Sept. 23-29, 2019, as Safe2Say Something Week in the Commonwealth.

The Safe2Say Something program was established last year to offer an anonymous resource for students, teachers and community members to report behavior perceived to be threatening to an individual or a school entity.

Since January 2019, more than 23,490 reports have been filed to the state attorney general’s office. In addition to potential threats, the program received reports of issues such as bullying, anxiety, depression and suicide.

For more information or to submit a report, call 1-844-Saf2Say or visit www.safe2saypa.org.
 
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21 N. Main Street, Unit 9, Coopersburg, PA 18036 | Phone: (610) 282-0160
191 Main St., Suite 104, Emmaus, PA 18049 I Phone: (610) 965-5830
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5 East Wing, PO Box 202131, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2131 | (717) 783-1673
Email: jsimmons@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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