Feb. 08, 2019

State Budget Address Starts the Process

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday delivered his annual budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate. The governor called for approximately $1 billion in additional spending, but did not call for any broad-based tax hikes.

I’m pleased the governor did not call for any new or increased broad-based taxes. Legislators and the governor now can focus on the best way to spend the dollars already provided by taxpayers.

There are areas where we’re going to be able to find common ground with the governor, like fighting the opioid epidemic and funding workforce training initiatives. We will dig into the details of the governor’s proposal and look for ways to save taxpayers money.

The budget process continues next week with the first in a series of House Appropriations Committee hearings to delve into the details of the governor’s plan. For a schedule and live streaming of the hearings, visit pahousegop.com.
Committee Advances Bills to Help Consumers

The House Consumer Affairs Committee this week advanced three bills aimed at helping and protecting consumers.

I recently was appointed to serve as chairman of this important committee, which reviews legislation aimed at standing up for consumers and ensuring their concerns are heard and addressed.

The three bills approved by the committee would:
  • Protect Pennsylvanians against unwanted phone solicitations.  Pennsylvania currently operates a do-not-call list.  Consumers can register their phone numbers and avoid calls from telemarketers.  The current registration for a phone number lasts only five years.  This bill would eliminate the five-year limit, making registration permanent.  Telemarketers only could add these phone numbers back to their call lists if the phone number is transferred to a new person.

  • Reform the law related to pawn shops that sell second-hand jewelry in an attempt to combat the illegal sale of stolen property.

  • Expand Pennsylvania’s Lemon Law to also apply to faulty or defective motorcycles in addition to automobiles.

These bills now head to the full House for consideration.
Record-Setting Year for PA 529 College and Career Savings Program

As the House begins its budgeting process for next year, including higher education funding, Pennsylvania families are saving more than ever to ensure their children can afford college or other post-secondary options.

In 2018, Pennsylvania families set a record by saving over $585 million to use toward future education expenses in the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program.

Through PA 529, families can choose from two plans. The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) allows families to save for post-secondary education at today’s rate, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) allows families to choose how their contributions are invested from a list of 16 options.                                     

You can learn more about the 529 program at pa529.com or call 1-800-440-4000.
Streamlining Medication Process for Patients and Seniors

House Republicans are continuing their commitment to ensuring the health and welfare of seniors and patients with chronic conditions by making it easier to adhere to their medication schedules.

This week lawmakers passed House Bill 195, which ensures patients can synchronize their medications in order to receive refills on the same day each month, instead of having to make multiple visits to the pharmacy.

This commonsense legislation would put Pennsylvania in line with Medicaid Part D, the PACE Program, and 35 other states that allow medication synchronization.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Trout Stocking Schedule Now Available

Start planning for this year’s fishing season with the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s 2019 Trout Stocking Schedule.

More than 700 streams and 120 lakes will be stocked with nearly 3.2 million adult trout in Pennsylvania rivers and streams that are open to the public for fishing.

About 53 percent of the trout are stocked prior to opening day, 43 percent are stocked between opening day and the end of May, and the remaining 4 percent are stocked from October through February of the following year.

Opening Day of trout season will be Saturday, March 30, for Pennsylvania’s southeastern counties. The rest of the state will open on Saturday, April 13.

Copies of the trout stocking schedules, including a searchable database, can be found online at PFBC website or the PFBC’s “FishBoatPA” mobile app.