Nov. 05, 2018

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Governor’s Vetoes Perplex Lawmakers

In addition to the veto of House Bill 2157, which I told you about last week, the governor’s decision to veto important cost-saving measures last week has perplexed lawmakers. The two other pieces of legislation Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed were House Bills 83 and 2138.

House Bill 2157, which I was a sponsor of, merely would have given the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence the authority to issue and update guidelines to allow a student to use academic credit toward the completion of an agriculture education program.

House Bills 83 and 2157 passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. House Bill 83 could have reduced outstanding general obligation debt by $1 billion over 20 years. Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of House Bill 2138 marks the second time he has vetoed work requirements for able-bodied individuals on Medical Assistance, even though work requirements are in place for food stamp assistance.

All three bills are expected to be reintroduced in the new 2019-20 legislative session.
Handing Out Treats to Students

I had some special visitors at my office on Halloween. A group of superheroes, a unicorn, a princess and other trick-or-treaters from Kinder Academy dropped by for some treats.

Schools in the 92nd Receive Safety Grants

I’m glad to report that each school district in the 92nd District, and all over York County, received a $25,000 grant to improve safety for students and school personnel.

The School Safety and Security Grant Program was created by Act 44 of 2018, which I voted for. Eligible uses of the funding include: hiring of school security officers, purchasing security-related technology, completing safety and security assessments, implementing violence prevention curricula, offering counseling services for students, and creating other programs to protect students.

This law is the result of a series of Senate hearings, which were attended by Sen. Mike Regan (R-31), held all over the state.

More than $60 million in new funding was dedicated in the current year’s budget to improve school safety. The districts are also eligible for additional funding through a competitive grant process. These grants, as well as grants for intermediate units, will be awarded at later dates.

For more information, click here.
Fighting Opioid Abuse

A new law that requires opioids to be prescribed electronically will bring consistency in the way prescriptions are filled and will also prevent the fraudulent use of prescription pads to fuel the opioid crisis.

At one time, written prescriptions were the safest form of prescribing opioids, which state law required. Since that time and the rise of the opioid epidemic, providers’ prescription pads have been stolen, leading to fraudulent use and driving fake prescriptions for the addictive drug.

Act 96 of 2018 (formerly House Bill 353) will make it more difficult to have fake prescriptions filled, while also making it more convenient for patients who have a legitimate need for the medication. Currently, most all medications are prescribed electronically.

Another benefit of e-prescribing is that the tracking of the prescription can go directly to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database to help ensure only those who have a legitimate medical need for these prescriptions can access them.
Spending Time with the First Female Representative from York County

I had the pleasure meeting with Jane Alexander, the first woman to represent York County in the state House of Representatives. Jane proudly represented parts of what is now the 92nd District, the district I represent, from 1965 to 1969. Jane, and women like her, blazed the trail I now walk.
Assistance for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Now Law

Two new laws, both of which I voted for, will better assist grandparents raising grandchildren and grant them improved access to private and public resources.

House Bill 2133, now Act 89 of 2018, establishes the Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program, an informational website and a toll-free hotline for grandparents. The website will offer information on support and services available. The hotline will provide a specially trained navigator to provide support and guidance to kinship caregivers and serve as a mediator to establish relationships between kinship caregivers and federal, state and local agency staff.

The cost to state taxpayers will be greatly reduced, as the Commonwealth just received $479,307 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop the program.

Another measure to help grandchildren, House Bill 1539, now Act 88 of 2018, will allow grandparents to have temporary guardianship when the parents of the grandchildren are unable to care for them primarily due to substance abuse issues.

An estimated 82,000 grandparents are the sole caregivers for the nearly 89,000 grandchildren in Pennsylvania.
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