Open Seat 48th E-Newsletter

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Week of February 11, 2019

2/5/19 - Response to Governor's Budget Address

I’m pleased the Governor proposed no new taxes, but am concerned where the money will come from for programs proposed, especially the mandate placed on counties for new voting machines by 2020.  I’m cautiously optimistic until more details on specific spending plans and programs are available, and look forward to more information and answers in the upcoming budget hearings.

Constituent Highlight: Detective Uhrich and Officer Ague

The Lebanon County Fraternal Order of Police Lebanon Lodge #42 recently honored Detective Keith Uhrich with the Lebanon City Officer of the Year Award, and Officer Nicholas Ague, of South Londonderry Township Police Department, with the 2018 County Officer of the Year Award.  Congratulations and thanks for your service to our community! 

PA FFA Officers from Lebanon County visit PA Capitol

On February 4, I had the opportunity to introduce two PA State FFA Officers from the 48th Senatorial District on the Senate Floor, in conjunction with Senator Vogel introducing Senate Resolution 21 designating February 16 through 23, 2019 as “FFA Week” in Pennsylvania.

Roarke Miller, of Annville, son of Leigh Hitz-Miller and Ernie Miller, is currently serving as the FFA State Sentinel, and Millena Bashore, also of Annville, daughter of Robert and Sherry Bashore, is currently serving as FFA State Chaplain.

How exciting to have two committed agricultural enthusiasts representing Lebanon County on a statewide level! You can listen to my introduction here:

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration

Senate Bill 9 – (48-1) designates the Eastern Hellbender as the State Amphibian, and;

Senate Bill 113 – (unanimous) requires forfeiture of pension benefits for public employees convicted or who plead guilty or no contest to any job-related felony.

Senate Resolution 20 Adopted by Senate

By a vote of 31-18, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 20, regarding a proposed change of venue rule for medical malpractice claims.  The PA Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee recently published notice in the PA Bulletin it intends to recommend an amendment to venue rules for medical professional liability actions.  SR 20 seeks to delay implementation of this change until after a study on the proposed change is conducted.

After years of political confrontation over powers and responsibilities, a series of reforms were enacted in the early 2000s to address the medical malpractice crisis through extensive negotiations between the three branches of state government.  Act 13 of 2002 created the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Venue, which developed and recommended the rule that helped abate crisis.

The change to curtail “venue shopping” brought balance to the system and stabilized insurance rates and stemmed the loss of medical practitioners and facilities.

SR 20 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance and Committee (LBFC) to analyze the impact of the original changes from the 2002 recommendations of the Interbranch Commission.  It also directs the LBFC to study the impact of the proposed changes.  The LBFC will be required to hold at least one public hearing and to provide the General Assembly with its final report by January 1, 2020.  This will give the legal, medical, and business communities, and the public, an opportunity to be heard.

Senate State Government Committee Meeting

The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, held its second committee meeting of 2019 on February 5th to consider two pieces of legislation:  SB 133 (Argall), a constitutional amendment to reform the process for electing the Lieutenant Governor in PA, and SB 190 (Stefano), authorizing the PA Department of General Services to grant and convey land in Somerset County.  Both bills were reported out of committee to the full Senate.  You can listen to the meeting here.

SRBC to Hold Public Hearing on Water Project Applications

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) received public comment at a hearing on Thursday, February 7th on applications for several water withdrawal projects and Commission-initiated project approval modifications.  The SRBC Commissioners are scheduled to vote on these and other action items at their next business meeting on Friday, March 15th in Annapolis, Maryland.

The list of 18 project applications and three Commission-initiated project approval modifications and options for submitting comments electronically are available hereSRBC will accept written comments until February 18th electronically, mailed to Ms. Ava Stoops, Administrative Specialist, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, 4423 N. Front St., Harrisburg, PA 17110, or faxed to (717) 238-2436.

The SRBC is a federal/interstate governmental agency responsible for protecting and managing water resources within the 27,500 square-mile Susquehanna River Basin without regard to political boundaries.  The Susquehanna flows through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland into the Chesapeake Bay.

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