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Senate Approves Vogel Bill Streamlining Licensure for Mobile Retail Food Facilities
I am pleased to report that the Senate recently approved, by a unanimous vote, legislation I introduced that would make it easier for food retailers to do business in Pennsylvania by cutting bureaucratic red tape and eliminating duplicative fees.
Senate Bill 735 amends the Retail Food Facility Safety Act by authorizing a statewide license for mobile retail food facilities operating in Pennsylvania. As it currently stands, mobile facilities are required to purchase a license and be inspected in each food safety jurisdiction which they operate. This can be a costly endeavor for retail facilities that operate in many different counties around Pennsylvania. My legislation streamlines the process by creating one statewide license that will be valid in nearly all of Pennsylvania.
It now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.
Senate Adopts Resolution Requesting Halt to Syrian Resettlement
I voted for and the Senate adopted a Resolution last week directing the Governor to reject the placement of Syrian refugees within the Commonwealth until the federal government establishes significantly more stringent and comprehensive security procedures to screen nationals coming from this region.
In light of the massacre in Paris at the hands of Islamic extremists, Senate Resolution 248 requests that the President of the United States direct the Department of Homeland Security to significantly strengthen its security procedures for vetting refugees and to send a report detailing the increased measures to the states that are under consideration to receive refugees. The federal government has already indicated that it will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year but have not detailed the security measures that will be used to screen these refugees.
We do not know, with 100% certainty, who are legitimate refugees fleeing a war-torn country and who are terrorists that intend to do us harm. Simply put, the safety of Pennsylvanians must come first.
Senate Approves Legislation Legalizing Ridesharing Services
I voted for and the Senate approved legislation authorizing transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide, a win for both entrepreneurs and public safety in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 984, authored by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), established a regulatory framework for the operation of these companies in every county of Pennsylvania. As it currently stands, these companies operate under temporary authority granted by the PUC.
The bill also establishes minimum standards to ensure safety and accountability, such as insurance coverage requirements, vehicle safety standards, and reporting responsibilities.
I have always maintained that ridesharing applications like Uber/Lyft are proof of the American entrepreneurial, free-market spirit. These companies identified a widespread issue in our region—a lack of private vehicle transportation options (cabs)—and introduced competition into the market in the form of private individuals using their own vehicles to provide transportation, summoned by a few clicks on a smartphone app, for a fee. These services have enabled everyday individuals to earn a living as drivers as well as minimizing the amount of drunk drivers on the roads.
Senate Bill 984 now awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.
Join Me for Holiday Open House
I invite all residents of the 47th Senate District to kick off the Christmas season with a holiday open house at my Rochester District Office located at 488 Adams Street on Friday, December 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is part of the “Beaver County Holiday Celebration Weekend” sponsored by the Beaver County Recreation and Tourism Department. Come in from the cold and enjoy some cookies and holiday joy with me and my staff. Attendees are encouraged to bring any new, unwrapped toys for donation to local children enrolled in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” program.
Finnegan Foundation Offers 2016 Summer Internship Opportunity
Eligible undergraduates attending accredited Pennsylvania colleges and universities and Pennsylvania residents attending accredited colleges and universities elsewhere, may secure an exciting internship in Pennsylvania state government by competing in the 2016 Finnegan Foundation Essay Contest on education funding proposals currently being debated in Harrisburg.
Winners will be assigned for the summer of 2016 to the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of Pennsylvania state government and earn a weekly salary paid by state agencies. Attendance at seminars will offer opportunities to meet leading elected and appointed public officials and key media personnel.
The Foundation will also present one recipient with $1,500 for the James A. Finnegan Award, as well as several $1,000 individual awards and honorable mentions.
Interested individuals should electronically submit an application along with the required documents listed on the form by February 6, 2016. Include an Essay Answer of at least 1,500 words but no more than 2,500 words in the requested format to the Finnegan Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protect Yourself from Data Breaches
Additional shopping around the holidays requires increased vigilance in monitoring bank accounts and credit reports for a data breach, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Hacked databases can expose names and home and email addresses. Stolen Social Security numbers, driver’s license information, military identification and passport numbers in the hands of an unauthorized party can lead to identity theft.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each company every 12 months. Routinely rotating through the credit reporting companies every four months provides you a snapshot of activity attributed to you. Detecting unusual activity on your credit report allows you to place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your account.
The three credit reporting companies are:
Statewide Firearm Deer Season Opens Today
The statewide general firearms season runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. Deer season is a proud Pennsylvania tradition that figures to see 750,000 hunters making new memories in fields and woodlots statewide.
There are a number of important regulations and rules in place regarding hunting in Pennsylvania, all of which can be found online in the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest. The publication is also issued to hunters at the time they purchase their licenses.
If you would like to share your harvest with needy Pennsylvanians, I encourage you to contact Hunters Sharing the Harvest, a charitable organization that annually supplies approximately 100,000 pounds of processed venison through a network of 20 regional food banks and between 4,000 to 5,000 local provider charities, including missions, homeless shelters, churches, and directly to needy families. Click here to locate a participating meat processor.
I wish every hunter the best of luck as the 2015 firearm deer season begins!
LIHEAP Now Accepting Applications
As colder weather moves in, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP has begun taking applications.
LIHEAP helps low-income families pay their heating bills and deal with such heating emergencies as a broken furnace, fuel shortage or utility service shutoff.
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Senate Box 203047