In this Edition:
- Statement on the Governor’s Line-Item Veto
- 2015 Year in Review
- Senior Expo
- Senator for a Day
- Mental Health Awareness
- Workforce Development
- Historic School Property Tax Vote
- Municipal Outreach
May the New Year bring you success, good health and happiness!
Statement on the Governor’s Line-Item Veto
Yesterday, the Governor exercised his Constitutional authority to line-item
veto the 2015-16 Budget sent to him last week. In his statement, the Governor
noted his intent on releasing needed funds to school districts, rape crisis
centers, public assistance programs and many more services and agencies. I am
glad to see these resources being released to these important programs in my
district rather than being held hostage to a potential full veto as the Governor
did in June.
As I have mentioned before, this budget was an emergency move that sent the
Governor a vehicle to distribute these needed funds. While this decision by the
Governor to use his line-item veto authority as opposed to the all or nothing
approach was long-overdue, schools and social service agencies can provide
critical services with the emergency funding approved by the legislature. The
Governor has asked the Legislature to return and continue work on the budget and
important issues such as pension and liquor reform as well as issues related to
education. While these issues take a forefront in the current debate, school
property taxes continue to be the top problem to residents in the 40th
District and I will continue to keep this issue in the minds of my colleagues.
2015 Year in Review
During my first year as your State Senator, I have placed importance on
being accessible to residents and continuing to be active in our local
community. As 2016 draws near, I have highlighted some of this past year’s
Each year, the Senior Expo provides a valuable opportunity for area senior
citizens to connect with a host of non-profit, community, and governmental
services. More than 85 exhibitors provided handouts, health screenings,
long-term care resources, and exercise demonstrations.
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office also
conducted fraud prevention sessions to bring awareness to numerous scams
targeting senior citizens. Throughout the Expo, entertainment was provided by
the Silver Tappers dancing group, Silver Sneakers dancers, and the Retired
Volunteer Senior Program Square Dancers. Re-enactors from Quiet Valley Living
Historical Farm also provided instructional demonstrations and a glimpse at what
farm life was like in the 19th century.
The Senior Expo is an annual event and I encourage all seniors in the 40th
Senate District to explore the numerous resources available to you at the state
and local level.
As always, if you should have any questions regarding any state-related
matters or services you might need, please do not hesitate to contact my Monroe
County Office at 570-620-4326 or my Northampton County Office at 610-863-1200.
Senator for a Day
At my annual “Senator for a Day” student government seminar at Northampton
Community College’s Monroe Campus, students from area high schools learned about
the legislative process from legislators, staffers, lobbyists and others. They
served as Senators for a Day by introducing mock legislation, debating it and
holding votes. It was a great learning experience and a joy to spend time with
so many engaged students.
Mental Health Awareness
In September, I hosted “Changing Minds: Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Forum and Expo” in which numerous local health and support groups from our
region provided information and resources for families on mental health and
substance abuse issues.
A growing epidemic, substance abuse continues to plague our Commonwealth each
year. While a recent report by the Drug and Alcohol Commission provided guidance
for organizations and residents, my mental health and substance abuse expo is a
first step in bringing our community together to address the growing epidemic
and provide support to families in the 40th Senate District.
Creating and growing family-sustaining jobs has always been a top priority
for me, and 2015 has been no different. The link between schools, employers and
community leaders is a critical element to not only learning about our workforce
but also to promote future growth and stability. As part of that link, I
continue to work with leaders in workforce development and recently conducted an
interview for residents to learn more about employment opportunities.
Historic School Property Tax Vote
The Senate of Pennsylvania took a historic vote on the Property Tax
Independence Act, known as Senate Bill 76. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to
pass the bill (25-24), which was introduced as an amendment to House Bill 683.
The bill failed by a vote of 25 to 24, with the Lieutenant Governor breaking a
While the vote on the amendment did not move property tax elimination
forward, the battle for reform is not over. My comments on the Senate floor
reflect my concern regarding years of escalating home foreclosures and rising
tax bills in my district. As has been said before, no tax should leave you
homeless. I invite you view my comments on the Senate floor:
While I am disappointed that the vote barely fell short, my fight continues.
Because members were absent for the vote on the amendment to House Bill 683 and
new vacancies in the Senate will soon be filled, school property tax elimination
is not dead. No citizen should be forced to choose between paying for food,
medicine, or their school property tax bill.
Animal Protection Legislation
Over the past 10 years, I have taken the lead as a prime sponsor of animal
cruelty legislation and supported animal safety and fought against cruelty. In
June, the Senate of Pennsylvania passed important legislation, in which I was a
co-sponsor, protecting domestic animals from unwarranted cruelty from owners.
Tethering of dogs is cruel and inhumane. Dogs are highly social pack animals
who thrive on human and animal interaction and companionship. To a dog, being
constantly tethered is like solitary confinement is to a human being. An
otherwise friendly dog, when kept tethered becomes unhappy, anxious, and often
aggressive and develops neurotic behaviors such as incessant barking, digging
Senate Bill 373 would also make leaving dogs outside in extreme and unsafe
weather conditions unlawful. I invite you to view my comments on the Senate
With 40 municipalities across the 40th Senate District, I have attended
numerous township and borough meetings in order to build a relationship with all
of our local leaders. Having been a Mayor and County Commissioner, I have
experienced the effects that state policy has on local municipalities and my
hope is to work with local leaders in order to make effective changes that help
Thank you to all the local leaders who have welcomed me to their meetings.
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Senate Box 203040
Monroe County Office
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3040
Phone: (717) 787-6123
2989 Route 611, Suite 103
Tannersville, PA 18372
Phone (570) 620-4326
FAX (570) 620-4379
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Northampton County Office
2 North Robinson Avenue
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
Phone (610) 863-12001200
FAX (610) 863-1214
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.