Jan. 17, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Judiciary Committee Advances Bills to Combat Human Trafficking

With the Commonwealth ranked 10th in the nation for human trafficking, the House Judiciary Committee this week advanced a package of bills that would combat the crime and ensure justice for victims. The bills are expected to come before the full House for a vote next week.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The International Labour Organization estimates human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, of which $99 billion belongs to sexual exploitation.

Several bills aim to increase penalties or expand definitions of crimes related to human trafficking, while another would expand the list of sexual offenses that require offenders to participate in a program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.

Other measures would prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization; expand opportunities for expert testimony in human trafficking cases; and require courts to consider human trafficking convictions when considering child custody.

Finally, the committee approved a resolution to recognize the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about this crime and our efforts to address it.
 
 
House OKs Bill to Prevent Repeat DUI Offenses

Working to improve public safety, the House has approved a measure to require courts to evaluate repeat DUI offenders for the suitability of a substance monitoring program as a condition of bail.

A substance monitoring program prohibits the individual from using alcohol, controlled substances or both while also being required to use or participate in any of the following for no less than 90 days as a condition of bail: a continuous alcohol monitoring device; a remote breath testing device or any other alcohol monitoring technology or device; or random drug testing or another controlled substance monitoring device.

Recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who did not.

A repeat DUI offender is an individual who is pending adjudication for a DUI and has one or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; or is pending adjudication for two or more DUIs.

House Bill 916
now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Tackling Medicaid Fraud, Abuse

To ensure taxpayer dollars are helping people truly in need and not being used fraudulently or misspent, a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week unveiled a comprehensive package of bills to stop fraud and abuse within the state’s Medicaid program.

The package of bills is the direct result of a grand jury report on fraud in Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program, also known as Medicaid, released by the Office of Attorney General and a report recently released by the House Government Oversight Committee.

The measures would create a state version of the federal False Claims Act to recoup additional funds from false claims made against Medicaid; require state agencies to assess their program expenditures to determine how susceptible they are to improper payment; create a state-level Do Not Pay system to stop improper payments before they are made; establish requirements for contracts with Medicaid Managed Care Organizations; and increase penalties for fraudulent claims.
 
 
Be Counted in the Census


The first enumeration of the U.S. Census takes place this month in Toksook Bay, Alaska. The Census typically begins in remote Alaska Native villages because frozen ground allows easier entry to the areas with accessibility challenges.

Our households will be easier to access without bush planes, dogsleds and snowmobiles. It is important, though, that they are counted just as the ones in Alaska are. Participating in the census is required by law.

The census provides critical data that affects the services, products and support for your community. Data from the census impacts federal funding for hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources.

Census results also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Once you receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census, you can respond online, by phone or by mail. Every home should receive an invitation to participate by April 1.

Examples of questions include “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020?” and “What is Person 1’s name?” The census will ask for your date of birth, race and telephone number.

If you do not respond, the U.S. Census Bureau will follow up in person to collect your response. The bureau is required by law to protect your answers and use them only to produce statistics.
 
 
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Last week, I had the honor of presenting a Bicentennial Farm award to Hunter Smith, Brooks Smith and Adam Smith for their farm in Buffalo Township, Perry County. The land has been used as a farm since 1772 and was recognized during the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The Smiths milk cows on the site.
 
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Office Locations
Perry County Office, 18 West Main Street, PO Box 9. New Bloomfield PA 17068 | Tel: 717-582-8119
Cumberland County Office, 81 Walnut Bottom Road, P.O. Box 705, Shippensburg, PA 17257 | Tel: 717-477-0905
Room 105 , Ryan Office Building, PO Box 202086. Harrisburg, PA 17120-2086 | Tel: 717-783-1593
Email: mkeller@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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