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State Representative Justin Simmons Report

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The Weekly Roundup
Friday, October 19, 2018  The latest news from the State Capitol

A Better Organ Donation Law

Legislation that would help encourage organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania is now on the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 180, which passed unanimously in the House, would expand the list of those persons authorized to decide on behalf of a decedent whether his or her organs are donated.

Among other provisions, it would also permit a minimally invasive blood or tissue test to be conducted to determine the suitability of a donor; call for education regarding organ and tissue donation and transplantation for high school students, as well as nursing and medical students; and increase the voluntary contribution made by citizens from $1 to $3 for driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals.

Currently, more than 800 Pennsylvanians are waiting for an organ transplant.

Prescription Drug Coverage to Benefit More Seniors

Legislation to expand eligibility for the state’s PACENET prescription drug coverage program was sent to the governor this week. Up to 17,000 Pennsylvania seniors are expected to benefit from this expansion.

House Bill 270 would increase the annual maximum income limits in the PACENET program to $27,500 for a single person and to $35,500 for a married couple. Current maximum income requirements for the PACENET program, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, are $23,500 for a single individual and $31,500 for a married couple annually.

Additionally, the bill would allow two new pharmacy-based programs to be developed under the PACE program to assist seniors in monitoring their prescription drug usage.

This eligibility expansion would be the first since 2004, and it is funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence

To raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage victims to seek help, House Resolution 1046 passed the House to designate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

Domestic violence – a pattern of abusive behavior used to establish power and control over an intimate partner – affects men and women in all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, social and economic backgrounds. It takes many forms, whereby victims are often subjected to abuse, harassment, threats, vandalism, trespassing, burglary, theft and stalking.

A new law – Act 79 of 2018 – was passed this fall to better protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening the requirements for firearm relinquishment in cases of final Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders or convictions of crimes of domestic violence.

Last year, 117 people were killed in Pennsylvania by someone who was supposed to love them. More information about domestic violence is available here.

In the District

It was my pleasure to present a new flag to the Upper Perkiomen YMCA.

PennDOT Improves Customer Care Website

To make it easier to report concerns on state roads, PennDOT has modernized its online customer care center.

The new website will include new mapping capabilities, optional photo uploads and a mobile-friendly interface. Concerns are sorted into several categories: road or bridge conditions; removing debris from a roadway; traffic, signs or signals; ongoing roadwork or projects; or general questions and concerns.

Motorists are asked to be as specific as possible when providing locations of concerns. Motorists should report the county, municipality, street name and state route number, which can be found on small black and white signs posted along state highways. In addition, a description of any familiar landmarks are helpful for PennDOT to locate the problem area.

As of Sept. 30, the previous Customer Care Center had nearly 45,000 concerns submitted this year, according to PennDOT, with more than 96 percent of those concerns being resolved.

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