I am pleased to present my electronic newsletter. These e-newsletters enable me to provide information about issues, events and activities in Harrisburg and around the 47th Senatorial District to you in a timely manner while saving postage costs.
If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatoreldervogel.com for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page.
Entire 2015-16 budget to become law
I am happy to report that the Governor announced last week that he will allow the 2015-16 budget to become law.
The announcement means that school districts in Pennsylvania will receive their full share of the record amount in state funding for education and will not be in danger of closing, Penn State Extension will be fully funded and can continue to do the great work that they do for the agricultural community, the tens of thousands of youth that participate in 4-H will still have their clubs available to them, and rural health care clinics will not be forced to shut their doors.
It's now time to get to work on the 2016-17 budget. I will continue to fight for my constituents that demand smart, accountable government.
Attorney General Reaches Agreement w/ UPMC on Jameson Health System Merger
I’m very pleased to report that the Attorney General’s office announced last week that it has approved the entry of a consent decree in the form of a final order between UPMC and Jameson Health System, effectively giving the merger the green light.
The final order requires that UPMC Jameson maintain all contracts Jameson currently has with health plans through their expirations and requires UPMC to contract with all health plans that want one with Jameson for the next ten years.
This is great news for everyone. I and the entire Lawrence County legislative delegation have maintained all-along that this was the best option for both Jameson Health System and the residents of Lawrence County. Jameson Health System is the largest employer in the county and thousands of folks rely on the care provided by Jameson every day. This merger ensures the financial stability of Jameson Health System and guarantees the long-term viability of an acute care hospital in the community.
Zelienople Meet-and-Greet Announced
Representative Jim Marshall and I are inviting area residents to attend a legislative meet-and-greet on Thursday April 7.
RSVPs are not required, light refreshments will be offered. For more information, please call (724) 654-1444.
It’s always nice to meet face-to-face with the folks that I represent. I look forward to seeing you there.
Senate Approves Veteran Preference Hiring Measure
The Senate recently approved a bill that would let Pennsylvania employers adopt and use a veterans’ preference employment policy.
Senate Bill 1013, legislation that I supported and voted for, would exempt employers with a written veterans’ employment policy from violations of state and local equal employment opportunities law. Legislation allowing veterans’ preference has been signed into law in a number of states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
Industrial Hemp Legislation Approved
The Senate also recently approved legislation that could make Pennsylvania a national leader in industrial hemp production.
Senate Bill 50, which I voted for, provides for an industrial hemp industry in Pennsylvania through the establishment of a permitting process within the Department of Agriculture to license and regulate the cultivation, growth, and sale of industrial hemp. The 2014 Federal Farm Bill permits industrial hemp research if it is authorized by a state.
Beyond being one of the world’s most durable fibers for textiles, hemp can also be used to manufacture biodegradable plastics, building materials, food, paper, environmental and energy products.
Vogel Bill Providing Rural Patients Greater Healthcare Options Introduced
Sometimes, it’s not feasible to see a specialist doctor, whether that’s due to distance, lack of transportation options, scheduling conflicts, etc. At other times, maybe the doctor doesn’t need to see you in their office and could just as easily diagnose your ailment via a video-call. These are a few situations where telemedicine is most useful.
Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and medical information using telecommunications technology. The use of telemedicine started out over 40 years ago with hospitals extending care to patients in remote areas over the telephone and has made significant strides in its applicability and efficacy since then. Telemedicine now encompasses a wide variety of different delivery mechanisms, such as a video-call from the privacy of your own home, walking into your local doctor’s office and having a tele-conference with a specialist from hundreds of miles away, or even transmitting test results and statistics like pulse, blood pressure to your doctor over the internet.
In the near future, I’ll be introducing legislation to ensure that coverage for healthcare services won’t be denied just because that service was provided through telemedicine. It will also require insurers to reimburse the healthcare provider similar to reimbursement for in-person consultation.
Telemedicine can vastly improve the availability of healthcare options for folks in rural areas, lower the cost of healthcare, and strengthen the bond between patients and their doctors. My legislation makes sure that it remains a viable option—for both patients and healthcare providers—for years to come.
Joint Committee Review E-Recycling Law
Last week, the Joint Legislative Air & Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee held a public hearing on the increasingly urgent need to address electronic recycling laws in Pennsylvania.
Many constituents in the district have brought an issue to my attention: the limited availability of options when looking to recycle their old televisions, computers, etc. State law prohibits the dumping of these devices that often contain hazardous chemicals, especially in older models. Yet, due to a number of factors, recyclers are finding it increasingly difficult to profitably recycle these items and instead refuse to accept them.
Testifiers included the prime sponsor of Pennsylvania’s law addressing “e-recycling,” Rep. Chris Ross, as well as representatives of the DEP, consumer technological industry, and regional recycling coordinators. Click here to watch the hearing in its entirety.
I have discussed this issue with DEP and believe that we can get a short-term solution that benefits both consumers and the environment. For the long-term, I am committed to working with my colleagues to find a practical solution to this pressing problem.
Applications Available for PA Farm Conservation Tax Credit Program
Pennsylvania farmers who want to implement best management practices (BMPs) or purchase on-farm conservation equipment are encouraged to apply for remaining 2015-16 Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program tax credits.
REAP is a tax credit program for agricultural producers who install BMPs or make equipment purchases that reduce erosion and sedimentation that impacts Pennsylvania’s streams and watersheds. The program, administered by the State Conservation Commission, gives agriculture producers an incentive to purchase conservation equipment and materials to better protect the environment.
Farmers may receive tax credits of up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50 to 75 percent of the project’s cost. The most common projects approved are for no-till planting and precision agriculture equipment, waste storage facilities, Conservation Plans, Nutrient Management Plans and protecting heavy animal use areas like barnyards. REAP can be used in conjunction with other funding sources such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP) or the Chesapeake Bay Program for purchases.
The deadline for farmers to submit applications for remaining FY 2015-16 REAP tax credits is April 22, 2016. Click here for more information and to apply.
Adaptive Equipment for Eligible Kids
Variety – the Children’s Charity strives to enable children with disabilities to live life to the fullest with a focus on mobility, communication, and social interaction / inclusion.
Children with disabilities face a host of challenges and obstacles that are often unrecognized to those without disabilities.
No child should be denied the opportunity to have typical childhood experiences simply because they have a disability. Variety’s programs provide children with disabilities the opportunity to discover the possibilities for their own lives and truly be a kid first:
Variety’s “My Bike” Program currently provides Rifton adaptive bikes that are individually customized to eligible children with disabilities, so that they can experience the joy and freedom of riding a bike. Since the program kicked off on November 5, 2012 more than 1,000 bikes have been sponsored for kids.
Variety’s “My Voice” Program provides communication devices (currently an iPad with a prescribed communication app) to eligible children with a communication disorder to give them a voice at all times. Click here to see its impact on children and their families.
Variety’s “My Stroller” Program currently provides Kid Kart Mighty Lite adaptive strollers to eligible kids with disabilities. Typically, a family must choose between having a wheelchair or adaptive stroller. So, as a wheelchair is more necessary, an adaptive stroller allows for easier “on-the-go” mobility and participation in daily activities – click here to see how kids and their families are being impacted.
If you know a child who could benefit from any of the above programs, or you’re interested in donating to this wonderful charity, please call (724) 933 – 0460.
Follow Me on Twitter!
I have a Twitter account to better connect with my constituents and provide daily updates on my voting record, whereabouts, state government, and local news affecting the 47 S.D. To access my Twitter page, click here.
contact me to provide input on any state-related matter, or to
receive help in dealing with a state agency.
Senate Box 203047