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State Rep Justin Simmons Report



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The Weekly Roundup
Friday, March 9, 2018  The latest news from the State Capitol

Education, Human Services Focus of Final Budget Hearings

Making sure every dollar of state tax money is used to its maximum benefit, the House Appropriations Committee wrapped up its three-week series of budget hearings Thursday, with two full days of questions about the education and human services aspects of the governor’s proposal and accountability measures.

Monday’s hearing featured both K-12 and higher education, with main topics addressing school safety, state financial investment and career-technical education. Special attention was placed on the long-term future of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and its increasing expenses, tuition rates and contract costs.

Citing the governor’s veto of the Human Services Code last year, both the committee and the administration focused much of their discussion about ways in which the Department of Human Services can be more innovative to better serve the neediest of citizens and reduce costs.

The Appropriations Committee will take the testimony gathered from these hearings into negotiations for the 2018-19 budget. Videos of all of the hearings are available for viewing here.

Economic Update

Pennsylvania’s General Fund revenue collections for February were $3.58 billion, which was $406 million more than anticipated. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections of $20.95 billion are $496 million above the official estimate. Learn more here.                         

Let’s Discuss the Issues Next Friday

Next Friday, March 16, I am hosting the first of three “Coffee and Conversation” events at my district offices. It’s a chance for me to discuss state and local issues with constituents in a casual setting. Feel free to stop by my Red Hill District Office anytime between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I look forward to seeing you there!

Sign Up to Continue Receiving My Weekly Email Updates

If you would like to continue receiving my Weekly Roundups throughout the 60-day blackout period that limits what I can send you before an election, please click here and simply enter your email address. This will guarantee that you keep receiving my weekly updates prior to the May 15 primary.

Pennsylvania’s New Laws

Each month, I will share a listing of bills that were signed into law during the previous month in an effort to keep you up-to-date with Pennsylvania’s new laws. Here is the list for February:

  • Act 1 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1608, designates the bridge carrying U.S. Route 22 over the Juniata River in Huntingdon County as the Trooper Landon E. Weaver Memorial Bridge.
  • Act 2 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1175, increases fines and penalties for violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
  • Act 3 of 2018, formerly House Bill 359, addresses situations in which hunters may erroneously harvest an animal and turn it into the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
  • Act 4 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1602, names roads and bridges in the Commonwealth.
  • Act 5 of 2018, formerly House Bill 1653, makes online learners eligible for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program.
  • Act 6 of 2018, formerly Senate Bill 354, empowers the General Counsel or his designee to issue subpoenas for certain licensing board activities.
  • Act 7 of 2018, formerly Senate Bill 497, amends the Solid Waste Management Act to exempt iron and steel slag from the definition of “residual waste.”
  • Act 8 of 2018, formerly Senate Bill 542, allows for refills of medications which are not dispensed or sold in 72-hour supplies.
  • Act 9 of 2018, formerly Senate Bill 894, names roads and bridges in the Commonwealth.
  • Act 10 of 2018, formerly House Bill 631, amends the Judicial Code regarding mandatory period of probation for certain sex offenses, as well as registration of sexual offenders.                               

Persian Gulf War Veterans Reminded to Apply for State Bonus

The Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs is reminding eligible Gulf War veterans that they have six months to collect a special one-time payment to honor their service and sacrifice. Applications for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Bonus are due by Aug. 31, 2018.

The bonus program pays $75 per month for qualifying, active-duty service members, up to a $525 maximum. Detailed instructions on how to apply are available here.

Banners Honor Hometown HeroesThe Upper Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce is currently seeking sponsors for its Hometown Hero Banner Program. Applications are now available for those that would like to recognize a family member, neighbor or friend who has served our country. The deadline is March 30. Learn more here.

Free Admission at Many Museums This Sunday

Hope Lodge in Ft. Washington will celebrate the Commonwealth’s 337th birthday this Sunday, March 11, with free admission. In addition, there will be free admission to many other historic sites and museums around the state, including the State Museum in Harrisburg where William Penn’s original charter will be on rare display. Learn more here.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to Penn in 1681. Once each year the original document goes on exhibit for a limited time. The rest of the time it is stored in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.

Spring Ahead: Turn Clocks Ahead One Hour This Weekend

Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 11, at 2 a.m., so don’t forget to turn clocks ahead one hour Saturday night. Daylight saving time will end on Nov. 4.

This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. They should also be replaced every 10 years.

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