Dec. 20, 2019 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Grants Available to Specialty Crop Growers

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is accepting concept proposals for projects to boost the state’s horticultural specialty crops, including fruit, vegetable, nursery, flower and nut products.

Concept proposals are the first step in a two-part competitive process for the federal Specialty Crop Block Grants authorized under the federal Farm Bill. Last year, 14 projects totaling $1.1 million were funded in the Commonwealth.

Applicants must submit a concept paper for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through market development, technology innovation, food safety, nutrition knowledge, sustainable practices and/or pest management. Concept proposals should be approximately three pages in length and cover project purpose; estimated timeline; goals, objectives and expected measurable outcomes; work plan; and budget. Requests may be made for a minimum of $20,000.

The deadline to apply is by 4:59 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2020. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal based on the concept paper by Feb. 21, 2020.

Applications can be submitted to the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Electronic Single Application for Assistance at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us.
 
 
‘Smart Justice’ Measures Address Accountability, Opportunity


An effective criminal justice system strikes a balance between holding people accountable for their actions, protecting the public and victims from dangerous criminals, and providing a second chance to people who have demonstrated the desire and the ability to become productive members of society.

This week, the House took up several bills in our “Smart Justice” initiative to help achieve those goals.

A major focus is on improving our probation and parole system to reduce recidivism and encourage rehabilitation so ex-offenders can move on with their lives outside the criminal justice system (Senate Bills 500 and 501). This will also save taxpayers the cost of monitoring or incarcerating someone who re-offends.

To further reduce recidivism, the House passed bills that will help ensure ex-offenders are not automatically excluded from pursuing work in some of the state’s licensed professions (House Bill 1477) and mandate expungement of a person’s record under limited circumstances (House Bill 440).

On the accountability front, we passed bills to increase penalties for assault of a prison staff member (House Bills 256 and 257) and preclude the parole board from prematurely releasing an inmate at the expiration of a minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of a violent offense while incarcerated (House Bill 1855).

The bills now go to the Senate for consideration. Learn more about the Smart Justice initiative here.
 
 
Working Together to Strengthen Juvenile Justice, Outcomes

Working to boost public safety and accountability, and improve outcomes for Pennsylvania’s youth, state legislative leaders, justices and the governor joined together this week to announce a new interbranch effort to improve our juvenile justice system.

The newly formed Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force is charged with delivering data-driven policy recommendations to state leaders in a report by Nov. 30, 2020. The recommendations will form the basis for statutory, budgetary and administrative changes during the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

Despite efforts through entities such as the Juvenile Court Judges Commission and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Commonwealth has one of the highest rates of juvenile commitment in the nation. The task force will work to address current challenges to improve the system.

The members of the task force, to be appointed by the three branches of state government, will represent a wide range of stakeholder groups that include legislators, law enforcement, judges, district attorneys and public defenders. The task force will receive technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute.
 
 
PUC Says Shopping for Energy Suppliers Can Help Cut Costs

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is alerting consumers about the potential for large winter energy cost increases for electric customers who do not shop for competitive electric suppliers.

To avoid the possibility of “sticker shock” from high bills during the coming cold months, the PUC reminds consumers that the start of winter is an important time to compare prices for electric generation and evaluate competitive supplier options.

A half dozen of the state’s major electric distribution companies increased their “price to compare” (PTC) as of Dec. 1 (Penelec, Penn Power, Met-Ed, Citizens Electric, West Penn Power and PPL). Four others (UGI, Duquesne Light, PECO and Wellsboro Electric) reduced their PTC. For specific rates of increase or decrease, click here. 

In most areas of Pennsylvania, consumers can choose who supplies their electricity, based on price or other factors, such as renewable energy. To learn more about how to shop for your energy supplier, or to make a change, visit www.PAPowerSwitch.com.
 
 

Students from Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School visited Rep. Sheryl Delozier and me Monday. I appreciate that these students were so engaged in learning about state government.
 
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