Dec. 20, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong#  The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


I would like to extend my warmest wishes for a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and a blessed new year to you and your family.

May you have a wonderful and safe season that is full of peace and cheer. My district office hours may be limited in light of the holidays. Please call ahead to be sure my offices are open.

Also, PennDOT Driver License Centers will be closed on Wednesday, Dec. 25, for Christmas, and on Wednesday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website www.dmv.pa.gov, or through my website. www.repsimmons.com.

If you’re traveling, you can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 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.
 
 
Announcing my Retirement


On Thursday morning, I officially announced that after nearly a decade in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, I will not seek re-election in 2020.

Representing the 131st District has been the privilege of a lifetime. While this announcement marks a bittersweet moment, as I have been honored to serve the people of our community, I can do so knowing that I contributed to making a difference not only for the residents of Lehigh, Northampton and Montgomery Counties, but for all Pennsylvanians

I am proud of the record I have built advocating for the principles I have espoused throughout my career while still working across the aisle. My service in the state House is, and always will be, a highlight in both my professional and personal life.

The final day of my term in office will be Nov. 30, 2020. I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve.
 
 
‘Smart Justice’ Measures Address Accountability, Opportunity


An effective criminal justice system strikes a balance between holding people accountable for their actions, protecting the public and victims from dangerous criminals, and providing a second chance to people who have demonstrated the desire and the ability to become productive members of society.

This week, the House took up several bills in our “Smart Justice” initiative to help achieve those goals.

A major focus is on improving our probation and parole system to reduce recidivism and encourage rehabilitation so ex-offenders can move on with their lives outside the criminal justice system (Senate Bills 500 and 501). This will also save taxpayers the cost of monitoring or incarcerating someone who re-offends.

To further reduce recidivism, the House passed bills that will help ensure ex-offenders are not automatically excluded from pursuing work in some of the state’s licensed professions (House Bill 1477) and mandate expungement of a person’s record under limited circumstances (House Bill 440).

On the accountability front, we passed bills to increase penalties for assault of a prison staff member (House Bills 256 and 257) and preclude the parole board from prematurely releasing an inmate at the expiration of a minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of a violent offense while incarcerated (House Bill 1855).

The bills now go to the Senate for consideration. Learn more about the Smart Justice initiative here.
 
 
Celebrate Agriculture at 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show


The Pennsylvania Farm Show – the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation – kicks off Saturday, Jan. 4, in Harrisburg. The show will run through Saturday, Jan. 11.

The show offers something for everyone with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors highlighting an industry that employs nearly half a million people and contributes $185 billion to the state’s economy every year. Visitors will find food, entertainment and plenty of opportunity to learn more about how our food goes “from farm to fork.”

Admission to the show is free, but parking is $15 per vehicle. Shuttle service is provided.

For all the latest news about the Farm Show, follow it on Facebook or visit www.farmshow.pa.gov.
 
 
PUC Says Shopping for Energy Suppliers Can Help Cut Costs


The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is alerting consumers about the potential for large winter energy cost increases for electric customers who do not shop for competitive electric suppliers.

To avoid the possibility of “sticker shock” from high bills during the coming cold months, the PUC reminds consumers that the start of winter is an important time to compare prices for electric generation and evaluate competitive supplier options.

A half dozen of the state’s major electric distribution companies increased their “price to compare” (PTC) as of Dec. 1 (Penelec, Penn Power, Met-Ed, Citizens Electric, West Penn Power and PPL). Four others (UGI, Duquesne Light, PECO and Wellsboro Electric) reduced their PTC. For specific rates of increase or decrease, click here. 

In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors, such as renewable energy. To learn more about how to shop for your energy supplier, or to make a change, visit www.PAPowerSwitch.com.
 
 
Grants Available to Specialty Crop Growers


The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is accepting concept proposals for projects to boost the state’s horticultural specialty crops, including fruit, vegetable, nursery, flower and nut products.

Concept proposals are the first step in a two-part competitive process for the federal Specialty Crop Block Grants authorized under the federal Farm Bill. Last year, 14 projects totaling $1.1 million were funded in the Commonwealth.

Applicants must submit a concept paper for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through market development, technology innovation, food safety, nutrition knowledge, sustainable practices and/or pest management. Concept proposals should be approximately three pages in length and cover project purpose; estimated timeline; goals, objectives and expected measurable outcomes; work plan; and budget. Requests may be made for a minimum of $20,000

The deadline to apply is by 4:59 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2020. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal based on the concept paper by Feb. 21, 2020.

Applications can be submitted to the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application for Assistance at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us.
 
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Web Site


RepSimmons.com
Office Locations
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
56 W. Fourth St., Second Floor, Red Hill, PA 18076 I Phone: (215) 679-3152
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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