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I had a great time at the Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser at Baden Bowl in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Beaver County. 291 bowlers, 60 teams, all to benefit Beaver County children facing adversity. Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Beaver County here: http://www.bcbigs.org/
Senate Passes Copayment Protection Measure
Consumers would be protected against paying multiple copayments for physical therapy, chiropractic and occupational therapy services under a bill that I voted for and was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 487 prevents health insurance policies from charging a consumer more than one copayment amount per visit. The bill would also prohibit policies from depleting more than one visit for services provided on a given date.
The bill allows the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance to develop regulations relating to multiple copayments. Violators would be subjected to penalties prescribed in the Unfair Insurance Practices Act.
Committee Approves Taxpayer Protection Measures
The Senate Finance Committee recently approved legislation that I’m cosponsoring that would restrain the growth of government spending by setting state spending limits in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Senate Bill 70 would limit state spending growth based on inflation and population growth.
The bill would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, so lawmakers would have to approve the bill in two consecutive legislative sessions before giving voters the final say via referendum. Since the spending controls would be included in the state Constitution, lawmakers would be prevented from breaching or repealing spending limits with a simple majority vote in the future.
The panel also approved Senate Bill 7, legislation that would enact spending controls and ensure any excess funds collected by the state would be used to pay down pension obligations, boost budgetary reserves and reduce the Personal Income Tax rate.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 30 states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation. Pennsylvania is in the minority of states having no spending controls in place.
The Committee also approved Senate Bill 401, a measure that would convert all members of the Pennsylvania Legislature from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan. The bill would make the conversion mandatory for current and future state Senators and Representatives.
Committee Studies Public Pension Issues
Public pension reform is an immensely important issue for Pennsylvania’s fiscal future. The unfunded liabilities of the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System pose one of the greatest budgetary challenges in a generation. Underfunding in previous years, combined with the recession’s impact on pension fund investments have caused skyrocketing pension payments for the state and school districts.
The Senate Finance Committee recently heard several plans to address the crisis during a public hearing. More information and video from the hearing, click here.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announces 25 Grants in 25 Days in celebration of its 25 Year Anniversary
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful today announced their 25 in 25 Grant Program in recognition of the organization’s 25th Year Anniversary. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, sponsored in part by The Richard King Mellon Foundation, will provide 25 grants in 25 days to celebrate 25 years of building clean and beautiful communities. Twenty-five grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded in the organization’s three focus areas of Prevent It, Clean It, or Keep It! to KPB Affiliates and other tax-exempt groups across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Applications will be accepted through May 22nd. KPB plans to announce a new award every day for 25 days via social media from June 1st- June 25th. For more information, click here.
Environmental Education Grant Awarded
I’m pleased to report that the Dept. of Environmental Protection has awarded an Environmental Education & Stewardship grant to the Lawrence County Conservation District for the amount of $1,000.
Grant recipients can use the funding for various initiatives, including farm field days, summer camps, exploratory learning activities, professional development, and explanatory signage along watersheds. Through these initiatives, students, teachers, farmers, and others will learn about a variety of environmental issues ranging from pollination, stormwater management and hydroponics in agriculture, to Marcellus Shale and the Chesapeake Bay, among other topics.
The grant program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside 5 percent of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. For more information, click here.
Watch Liquor Store Privatization Debate Online
Last week, two of my Senate colleagues, Senator Scott Wagner (R-York) and Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny) appeared on PCN TV to discuss their competing proposals for the future of the government-run liquor stores. Senator Wagner’s plan would phase-out the state-stores and the licenses would be transferred to private stores and existing beer distributors; whereas, Senator Brewster’s plan would tweak the operations of the state-run liquor stores. To watch the debate in its entirety, click here.
Make Every Month “Museum Month”
Join the Founder’s Circle and receive Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine along with museum guest passes, two gift memberships for the museum lovers in your life, along with a 10% discount and a $50 gift certificate for merchandise from ShopPAHeritage.com.
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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.
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Senate Box 203047