In this Edition:
Seminar to Discuss Eating Disorders and Available Resources
April 12: A Moving Suicide Prevention Talk from Kevin Hines
Suicide prevention and living with bipolar disorder will be among the topics of a talk by Kevin Hines on April 12 at Salisbury High School in Allentown.
After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19 and attempting suicide, Kevin went on to share his will to live as a mental health advocate, award-winning speaker, author and documentary filmmaker. He has previously spoken at East Stroudsburg University in an appearance that was well received, and his April 12 talk is another chance to hear his motivational message.
Applications Available for Pennsylvania Farm Conservation Tax Credit Program
Pennsylvania farmers who want to implement best management practices (BMPs) or purchase on-farm conservation equipment are have until April 22 to apply for remaining 2015-16 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program tax credits.
REAP is a tax credit program for agricultural producers who install BMPs or make equipment purchases that reduce erosion and sedimentation that impacts Pennsylvania’s streams and watersheds.
Information and applications are available here.
Farmers are also encouraged to participate in a BMP survey being conducted by Penn State Extension to help tell the story of agriculture and the work producers are doing to protect water quality in the state.
Governor Agrees to Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget
Governor Wolf announced Wednesday his intention to allow a Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget approved by the Legislature last week to become law without his signature or veto -- bringing an effective end to a nine-month impasse over his insistence on massive tax and spending increases.
House Bill 1801, as approved by the Senate on March 16, is a $30.031 billion spending plan that restores much of the $6 billion in funding for essential programs and services that were line-item vetoed by the Governor from the FY 2015-16 budget enacted last December. It does so without a tax increase.
The budget includes the highest education spending in state history without the need for tax increases. Basic Education will see $5.95 billion in funding, an increase of $200 million from Fiscal Year 2014-15 including Ready-to-Learn Block Grant money. The total also represents a $50 million increase over the funding vetoed by the Governor.
HB 1801 reverses the Governor’s line-item vetoes of funding for community colleges and the State System of Higher Education, while providing full funding for Pennsylvania’s state related universities: Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln. The bill provides funds to preserve programs such as agricultural extension and research and 4-H that were defunded by the Governor’s line-item vetoes.
I support the Governor’s decision to finally end his budget stalemate and once again allow monies to flow to our schools, human services, and agricultural programs. However, I am concerned by his promised veto of the Fiscal Code bill, which determines how the agreed-to budget monies are spent. By vetoing the Fiscal Code, this will allow the Governor to use his own funding formula to divert more monies to urban school districts and hurt our school districts. Instead, he should have utilized the bipartisan funding formula agreed to this past year that distributes more funds to our area schools. It’s time for the Governor to sit down and negotiate on the 2016-17 budget and treat all school districts fairly.
Senate Approves Scavello Bill Defining Three-Wheeled “Autocycles”
Legislation I sponsored to establish a legal definition for increasingly popular, three-wheeled “autocycles” was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Senate. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 1108 will make clearer the distinction between these newly developed three-wheeled vehicles with two forward wheels and the more recognizable three-wheeled, trike-style motorcycles which have been around for many years. Models of the newer vehicles include the Polaris “Slingshot” and the Tanom Motors “Invader.”
This measure will foster conformity with other states regionally who have already adopted an autocycle definition, and continue a trend that is developing nationally. The result will be more accurate crash reporting statistics, clarity for law enforcement in determining which laws to enforce, and ultimately a safer environment on the road.
Specifically, the legislation will define these vehicles as an autocycle and register and title them by creating a special designation under the existing motorcycle definition. However, individuals wishing to operate an autocycle will be permitted to do so with a Class “C” driver’s license.
The legislation is the result of recommendations issued by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, an internationally respected group of motor vehicle administrators and law enforcement officials.
Other Bills Approved by the Senate
Senate Bill 983 allows parents and/or guardians of disabled adult children, who are in their care, to receive disability license plates.
Senate Bill 1122 addresses membership on the board of trustees of a community college.
Senate Bill 1123 corrects a regulatory issue relating to gasoline in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 1142 amends the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act by making changes to the makeup of the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Board.
House Bill 1638 amends state law to permit appraisers to appraise physical damage to a vehicle using personal inspection or by photographs, videos, or telephonic means. Currently, appraisers can only conduct appraisals by personal inspection. The bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Scavello Marks 150th Anniversary of PA Fish and Boat Commission
Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Senator Scavello, Chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, offers a resolution recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Considers Several Bills
The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which I chair, met this week to consider several bills:
Senate Bill 374 reduces the reporting time for big game kills from 10 days to 24 hours to aid in the deer management process.
Senate Bill 1115 allows for the use of a leashed tracking dog to track white-tailed deer to assist in recovering an animal which has been legally harvested.
Senate Bill 1166 authorizes the Game Commission to establish the fees that it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses. The fees are currently determined by legislation.
Senate Bill 1168 authorizes the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to establish the fees charged by the agency. The fees are currently determined by legislation.
House Bill 1452 provides for a discounted general hunting license for Hunter Trapper Education Instructors by creating a “Volunteer Instructor License.”
The bills were approved and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
Joint Committee Reviews PA’s E-Recycling Law
The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, held a public hearing on Monday to review Act 108 of 2010 , the Covered Device Recycling Act.
This law was enacted with the intent of promoting the recycling of electronic devices, such as televisions and computer components, as a way to keep many hazardous and toxic materials from ending up in landfills.
However unforeseen economic issues and the growing problem of illegal dumping have sparked an interest in the General Assembly in reviewing the current Act to determine what refinements can be made to address those matters.
The committee discussed possible legislation that would address shortcomings in the current law and promote electronics recycling in Pennsylvania.
The Senate returns to voting session Monday, April 4. You can follow session live at PASenateGOP.com.
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