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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of October 10, 2016

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
Senate Bill 1038 – Act 107 – allows a Court of Common Pleas judge to serve on a juvenile detention board in third class counties;
House Bill 380 – Act 102 – reduces the length of time for a no fault divorce based on separation from two years to one year;
House Bill 665 – Act 103 – clarifies Act 95 of 2014.

PA State Parole Agent Civil Service Testing Period Open
The PA State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) parole agent testing period is now open until November 30. Applications are available on the SCSC website, or by contacting the PA Board of Probation and Parole Bureau of Human Resources at (717) 787-5699 x1322 or ra-pbpprec@pa.gov. To be eligible to apply, applicants must:

  • Have civil service status based on prior commonwealth employment or competitive civil service testing;
  • Be a United States citizen, PA resident and possess a valid PA driver’s license;
  • Meet the minimum education and experience requirements:
    • Four years of paraprofessional experience including two years of paraprofessional social services, human services, corrections, or law enforcement experience, OR;
    • Two years of paraprofessional social services, human services, corrections, or law enforcement experience, and an associate’s degree, OR;
    • A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, legal studies, political science, behavioral science, or a related field, OR;
    • An equivalent combination of experience and training.

The selected applicant must be free of criminal history that would preclude a Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN) certification. Individuals convicted, or under indictment, for any felony; for any misdemeanor where more than one year in prison can be imposed, or; any computer crime, are precluded from CLEAN certification. Individuals selected as a result of the examination process must successfully pass an extensive 10-year background investigation, fingerprinting requirement, drug screening, medical examination and psychological evaluation before appointment as a parole agent. Individuals must also complete the eight-week Basic Training Academy.

Column: Protecting Property Rights
While I’m not an attorney, I have new respect for them as I worked to bring changes to Pennsylvania’s asset forfeiture law. Asset forfeitures are civil proceedings against property that allow law enforcement to take possession of property of certain persons suspected of crime. Drug arrests are the most common examples of seizures: cash, cars, and sometimes homes.

In June 2015, I introduced Senate Bill 869 to better protect property owners suspected of being involved in a crime and, over the past year, I worked with both supporters and opponents of this measure to see if there were areas of agreement.

In the beginning, it didn’t appear there would be much consensus among the two as both used high rhetoric in describing the bill. However, over time, a number of the parties were able to find some areas of agreement, which led to various proposals and drafts to take agreed-to concepts and put them into legislative language.

While some of these changes seem rather technical to those of us who aren’t attorneys, the explanations for laymen convinced me these are important changes, which were incorporated into my bill through various amendments.

The amended SB 869 represented some major concessions among the parties at the table and I recognized the need to support it. Doing nothing would have preserved the status quo, which provides few protections for property owners.

As passed by the Senate, this legislation makes significant and unprecedented changes to asset forfeitures in Pennsylvania, including:

  • Higher burdens of proof imposed on the Commonwealth;
  • Protection for third-party owners by placing an additional burden of proof on the Commonwealth;
  • Improved transparency in auditing and reporting;
  • Specific and additional protection in real property cases by prohibiting the pre-forfeiture seizure of real property without a hearing, and;
  • An extra level of protection for anyone acquitted of a related crime who is trying to get their property back.

While support for these proposed changes was not unanimous, SB 869 overwhelmingly passed the Senate and I believe represents solid reforms that need to be considered for enactment into law to streamline the forfeiture process and provide greater protections to all types of property owners.

Senate Bill 869 is an important first step towards smarter forfeiture practices and provides better due process for property owners. I hope the House of Representatives and the Governor will agree so that Senate Bill 869 can be signed into law in the waning days of the 2015–2016 legislative Session.

Recognizing Penn State Harrisburg’s 50th Anniversary
I recently had the opportunity to present Penn State Harrisburg with a Pennsylvania Senate citation recognizing its 50th anniversary. Originally known as Capitol Campus, Penn State Harrisburg is located in Middletown on the site of the former Olmsted Air Force Base. A comprehensive undergraduate and graduate school of The Pennsylvania State University, it began with 18 students and now enrolls more than 4,600 students in more than 65 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. The college offers NCAA Division III athletics, club and intramural sports and has more than 70 student clubs and organizations. Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Public Affairs has become a regional leader, and in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary, will host the Northeast Conference on Public Administration from November 11-13th in conjunction with the Central PA Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

Senator Folmer

Pictured, from left to right: Nolan Ritchie, President, Central PA Chapter of ASPA; Dr. Mukund Kulkarni, Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg; Senator Mike Folmer; Dr. Patria de Lancer Julnes, Director, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg, and; Dr. Bing Ran, Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg.

Thank America’s Teachers: Support for Mr. Ludwig, Lebanon High School!
Farmers Insurance is giving $1 million to teachers through the Thank America’s Teachers program with 180 $2,500 grants, and six $100,000 grants. Once a teacher was thanked on the website, they can apply for a grant. Beginning October 1, fifteen teacher proposals will be posted on the Thank America’s Teachers website and the community votes on who should be awarded the grant. One of 15 finalists for the $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge is Dale Ludwig, a teacher at Lebanon High School. Beginning October 1, vote here! Click on “Vote for a $100,000 Proposal”, and vote for Mr. Ludwig daily! Voting tabulation will be done the first week of November.

Highlights of Mr. Ludwig’s proposal include: “The Great Lebanon Community Project” is to work closely with the Lebanon Mayor on a community-wide waterway and watershed project that would benefit both the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency. Students would test water quality, assist with storm water drains, and public service announcements developing the skills necessary to be good citizens in the 21st century.

LVC Student Government Representatives from the 48th Senatorial District
Congratulations to the following students from the 48th Senatorial District who were elected by the student body to serve in the Lebanon Valley College Student Government for the 2016-17 academic year:

  • Elizabeth O’Connor of Cleona, graduate of Annville Cleona, Biology major, will serve as Secretary
  • Theresa Messenger of Cleona, graduate of Annville Cleona, Digital Communications and English major, will serve as Representative
  • Megan Cook of Palmyra, graduate of Palmyra Area, Psychology major, will serve as Representative
  • Templin Chenail of Annville, graduate of Annville Cleona, Neuroscience major, will serve as Commuter Representative
  • Melinda Reigle of Annville, graduate of Annville Cleona, Early Childhood Education and Special Education major, will serve as Commuter Representative
  • Kayla Glant of Lebanon, graduate of Cedar Crest, will serve as Commuter Representative
  • Madison Dietz of Cleona, graduate of Annville Cleona, Exercise Science major, will serve as Representative

Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

When contacting my office by e-mail, mail, or telephone, please be sure to share your e-mail, telephone number, and address so that we can follow up with you in a timely manner. Many inquiries can be handled with a phone call or email.

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