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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 to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of April 25, 2016

Senate Bill 3: Medical Cannabis, Signed into Law
Sunday, April 17, was an incredible day with Senate Bill 3, medical cannabis, being signed into law as Act 16. It meant so much to be surrounded by the advocates, supporters, my family and staff. WE WON! You can watch my remarks here. The PA Department of Health is being proactive, having already created a FAQ page on their website.

Column: Passing Medical Cannabis into Law
When I was running for the Senate – and again after I was elected – people would ask me: “Mike, how are you going to deal with issues where what you’re voting conflicts with your values?” My answer has always been the same: I would rather lose with principle than win by compromising my principles.

However, during the long debate over my medical cannabis legislation, Senate Bill 3, this belief was severely tested. After the House amended, debated, amended, and passed SB 3 to bring this much needed and long-overdue medicine to Pennsylvania, I had hoped we were on the road to getting SB 3 to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

However, as is often the case with any changes to a complicated and sometimes highly charged issue like medical cannabis, amendments don’t always fit together, there are contradictions and omissions, and other details that result in questions about the ability of a proposed bill to become effective law that will achieve its intended results in a timely fashion.

Unfortunately, this was the case with amended SB 3 when it returned to the Senate for consideration: there were a number of issues and questions that could not be answered, which led to deep concerns it could not be properly implemented.

This fear gave me many sleepless nights as all I could think about were the people who SB 3 is intended to help: the kids, the parents, the veterans, and others who suffer from diseases and debilitating medical conditions.

As is the case whenever I’m faced with difficult choices, I prayed for guidance. And, as is often the case when you ask the Lord for help, the answers come in mysterious ways – sometimes through unexpected voices.

For me, the answer came through Senate Majority Leader Corman who said: “this issue is too big, it’s too important, and there are too many people depending upon us to get it right.” Senator Corman added: “for all the times the General Assembly is criticized for acting too quickly, this is one time when we need to take our time to get it right.”

That’s what the Senate did during the three weeks the amended SB 3 returned from the House: we worked to “get it right.” After countless hours, these efforts paid off as SB 3 was again overwhelmingly passed by the Senate 42-7 and the House 149-46, and is now law.

While some elected officials were reluctant or at best lukewarm supporters of the concept and details of Senate Bill 3, they all found answers that worked for them in their hearts. For some, it wasn’t an easy decision. I continue to respect the decisions of each – including those who were not able to support SB 3. Everyone gave me the courtesy of listening and due consideration to the proposals I brought to them.

Fortunately, we had a bill signed into law that will work. This is important because we never wanted to give anyone false hope.

There were many changes to SB 3 I didn’t like and many that made me uncomfortable. However, rather than looking back, I’d rather look forward to bringing medical marijuana to Pennsylvania. It’s not a perfect bill, but it’s one that will work to bring in a timely manner this much needed and long overdue medicine.

After all the time and effort, I can honestly say “we got it right.” And, as Senator Corman said: too many people are depending upon this, they’ve waited too long, and this issue is too important to have done otherwise.

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
Senate Bill 3 – Act 16 – my legislation providing for medical cannabis in PA;
Senate Bill 526 – Act 14 – amends the Second Class Township Code relating to reports and financial statements;
Senate Bill 644 – Act 15 – my openness and transparency bill to empower the Independent Fiscal Office to provide cost analyses of the impacts of proposed collective bargaining agreements twenty days prior to their execution;
Senate Bill 879 – Act 17 – Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE), tax free savings accounts for disabled individuals;
House Bill 1326 – Act 12 – establishes a process for determining fair market value of a water or wastewater company acquired by a water or wastewater public utility;
House Bill 1638 – Act 13 – allows for photo and video automobile appraisals.

Two-Year Budget Press Conference
I was happy to stand with Senators Aument, Dinniman and Yudichak, as well as Lt. Governor Stack, to support a biennial (two-year) budget. Senator Aument has taken the lead on this issue in the Senate by introducing Senate Bill 1171, which I am a co-sponsor. You can listen to my comments here.

Correction to April 18 Edition of Mike’s Memo
Senate Bill 1152, which unanimously passed the Senate and is now in the House for further consideration, was in the April 18 Mike’s Memo as requiring children under one to be secured in a rear-facing child seat while traveling in a vehicle, but actually requires this for children under two.

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.

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