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Property Tax/Rent Rebate Applications Available

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State Rep Justin Simmons Report

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The Weekly Roundup
Friday, April 6, 2018  The latest news from the State Capitol

Healthy Aging Expo Set for April 26

On Thursday, April 26, I will be hosting a special event for older residents in the 131st District. Our Healthy Aging Expo will feature dozens of representatives from nonprofit agencies; local, state and federal governments; and local businesses who will provide information and answer questions about the programs and services they offer to area seniors.

This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sacred Heart Senior Living, 4851 Saucon Creek Road in Center Valley. We hope to see you there!
                

Hearing Focuses on Distracted Drivers

In Pennsylvania, 16,050 distracted driving crashes resulted in 69 fatalities during 2016, with the state courts reporting a 52 percent increase in citations for distracted driving last year. That’s why the House Transportation Committee is continuing to look into the issue with a public hearing this week on two current proposals.

House Bill 1684 would prohibit operating a motor vehicle while making or taking calls on a hand-held mobile phone, except with the use of a hands-free accessory. The bill would further prohibit a driver under age 18 from operating a motor vehicle while using any hand-held mobile phone, including a hands-free accessory.

House Bill 892 would create an additional summary offense for distracted driving if a driver is also found to be driving carelessly. The fine for distracted driving would be $50.

A wide variety of behaviors are considered distracted driving, including using an electronic device, grooming device, food and drink, and printed material.

April is also recognized as National Distracted Driving Month, a good time to put down the phone and other distractions, and practice safer driving. Learn more here.

Should Local Police Be Allowed to Use Radar?

The issue of allowing municipal police to use radar to detect vehicle speeds on local roadways was discussed during a hearing of the House Transportation Committee this week. Under current Pennsylvania law, only the state police can use radar to track vehicle speed.

House Bill 2148 would change that by creating a six-year pilot program so accredited municipal and regional police could use radar as a speed timing device. Under the bill, radar would be used only by full-time police officers and only after an approved course of training and refresher course every three years. The legislation includes several provisions to prevent potential abuse and provide for a defense against prosecution if it can be demonstrated that radar use is generating 1 percent or more of the municipality’s total revenue.

Supporters of the bill believe it could help reduce speed-related crashes, while opponents have concerns about overzealous use of the devices to raise money for municipalities.

According to the state police, speed was cited as a factor in 31,083 crashes in 2016.

‘Cashless’ Tolling to Expand Soon on PA Turnpike

Cashless tolling pilot projects at the Clarks Summit and Keyser Avenue tolling points in Lackawanna County on the Northeastern Extension (Interstate 476) will be implemented at those locations on April 29. “Cashless” means there will be no coin baskets or toll collectors along the roadway; cash will no longer be accepted.

Motorists with E-ZPass will not notice a difference and will continue to use the process with which they are familiar. For motorists who do not have E-ZPass, an image of their license plate is captured as they travel through a cashless facility. Using the address on file with PennDOT, a toll bill is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle – a cashless procedure known as “PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE.”

With the conversion of this location, the turnpike will now have four cashless tolling locations along its route. Learn more here.

Economic Update

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s General Fund revenue collections for March were $4.3 billion, which was $274 million less than anticipated. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections of $25.3 billion are $221.8 million above the official estimate. Learn more here.

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