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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 January 30, 2017

PA Council for Private Education School Choice Champion Award
I am honored to receive the PA Council for Private Education (PA CAPE) School Choice Champion Award on behalf of Pennsylvania Private Schools. “PA CAPE is thrilled to celebrate National School Choice Week with leaders from across our state and to present the PA CAPE School Choice Champion Award to Senator Mike Folmer. Senator Folmer has a long history of his work to promote education options for the children of Pennsylvania because every child deserves a chance,” said Dr. Merle Skinner, PA CAPE co-coordinator. The PA School Choice Champion Award is sponsored by PA CAPE and includes the Association of Christian Schools International, PA Catholic Conference, Northeast Region of Agudath Israel, Jewish Orthodox Union, PA American Montessori Society, and the Friends Council on Education.

Lebanon County Career & Technology Center Cable Show

Lebanon County Career and Technology Center - Feb 2017

I recently filmed my February Community Report cable show while learning more about the wonderful hands-on programs offered by the Lebanon County Career & Technology Center: Carpentry/Residential Construction, Electrical Technology, Landscape, Masonry, Plumbing Heating A/C, Commercial Art & Design, Media Communications, Dental Assistant, Medical Assistant, Sports Therapy Sciences, Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Cosmetology, Law Enforcement & Security, Computer Repair, Network Technology, Electromechanical Technology, Industrial Machine Technology, Welding, Practical Nursing, Auto Body, and Diesel Truck Technology.

LCCTC Rotary Students of the Month: Rhett Parker, Commercial Art Design, and Samantha Kuhn, Health Careers and Technology. They set a wonderful example for their peers! You can also watch the show on my website, and Comcast on Demand (Lebanon), Harrisburg Broadcast Network (Harrisburg, WHBG-20), and Blue Ridge Communications (York, Channel 8) should also be airing the show through the month of February.

A Commonwealth Crisis: Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Please join the PA Senate Republican Caucus on the “A Commonwealth Crisis” telephone town hall meeting February 7th at 6:30 p.m. regarding the heroin and opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. To participate, text keyword “TalkHeroin” to the number 828282, or sign up at www.ACommonwealthCrisis.com (where you will also be able to live audio stream the event). Ask questions, have your voices be heard regarding your local community, listen to experts and hear what is being done to help combat this statewide public health crisis.

Standing Committee Assignments for 2017-2018 Session
Standing Committee assignments were announced for the 2017-2018 Legislative Session. I will remain serving as Chair of State Government, while continuing to serve on Communications & Technology, Education, Intergovernmental Operations, Labor & Industry and Rules & Executive Nominations.

Column: 2017 Goals
I have a number of goals for the next two years of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session, beginning with implementation of Act 16 of 2016 – my medical marijuana initiative.

The program is off to a fast start as in less than a year since becoming law, the Department of Health has released application forms for grower/processors and dispensaries. With hundreds of applications and thousands of pages of information expected, I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and a bipartisan, bicameral group that is seeking to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of medical marijuana in our Commonwealth.

Additionally, I have reintroduced my “Taxpayer Protection Act” (Senate Bill 7). This legislation seeks to limit the growth of state government spending to the change in incomes over the last three years or to the average inflation rate plus population changes over the last three years (with exceptions for extraordinary circumstances).

The “Taxpayer Protection Act” would also require: 25% of any moneys over these limits be returned to taxpayers, 25% be allocated to the Rainy Day Fund to help balance state budgets during trying economic times, and 50% to help pay unfunded liabilities of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

In 1970, Pennsylvania had a population of 11,800,766 and a state budget of $2,619,667,000, or $221.99 per person. Over 46 years later, Pennsylvania’s population has increased 8.36% to 12,787,209 while state spending has increased 1,104% to $31,533,732,000, or $2,466.04 per person. I believe we need to better protect taxpayers as Pennsylvania state government has grown faster than their ability to pay.

At the same time, I will continue to advocate for passage of Senator Argall’s Senate Bill 76 to eliminate school property taxes through expansion of the Personal Income Tax and the Sales Tax. These much needed and long overdue reforms fell just one vote short in 2015 and I believe our continued work to refine this measure will allow us to pass it in the Senate.

To better protect property owners, I will reintroduce my civil asset reform legislation as Senate Bill 8. A similar measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate last Session, but died in the House due to a lack of time.

I believe these recommended reforms represent major improvements over current law as the status quo provides few protections for property owners. Under this plan, Pennsylvania property owners would see significant and unprecedented changes to asset forfeitures, including: higher burdens of proof for the Commonwealth, protections for third-party owners, improved transparency in auditing and reporting, required hearings to prohibit certain seizures, and an extra level of protection for those acquitted of related crimes in trying to get their property back.

I also hope the State Government Committee, which I chair, will review 2016 Election issues for possible corrective action(s), including: integrity of Pennsylvania voting and Electoral College issues (faithless electors, proportional voting, etc.).

I also believe the Committee should continue discussions to better protect religious freedoms and liberty of conscience as we have seen the expansion of rights for sexual orientation, gender identity or expression across the country.

Finally, I believe the State Government Committee should work to advance a number of legislative and political reforms – beginning with possible changes to Pennsylvania’s Ethics Act, the Civil Service system, and the Procurement Code.

I was pleased with my accomplishments during the last Legislative Session and I look forward to advancing more reforms in the months and years ahead.

Ft. Indiantown Gap Ranked 1st out of 48 National Guard Training Centers
Fort Indiantown Gap has ranked 1st out of 48 National Guard training centers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico the last two years with the most training mandays (one person training for one full day). In 2016, the installation trained more than 120,000 service members, and federal, state, local and international personnel, and logged more than 740,000 mandays.

Congressman Costello February Lebanon Community Office Hours
Congressman Ryan Costello will hold Community Office Hours in my Lebanon District Office (101 Municipal Building, 400 South 8th Street, Lebanon) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1st and Wednesday, February 15th. If you have any questions, please contact Kori Walter, Congressman Costello’s District Director at (610) 376-7630.


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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