Feb. 21, 2020 / Weekly Roundup

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Budget Hearings Focus on Spending, Mismanagement

Citing concerns with overspending and mismanagement in the current year’s budget, members of the House Appropriations Committee kicked off this year’s budget hearings by grilling administration officials about their actual funding needs for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $36 billion budget, which represents a spending increase of more than $2 billion over the current year’s enacted budget. Nearly $1 billion of that increase is the result of the administration’s overspending in this year’s budget. The committee met with officials from the departments of Revenue, Aging, State, Military and Veterans Affairs, Corrections, and Labor and Industry.

Several major state agencies are on next week’s agenda, beginning with the Department of Environmental Protection at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24. Other state agencies scheduled to appear include the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Transportation, Agriculture, Health, and Community and Economic Development. For a full schedule of these and other remaining hearings, or to watch live streams or archived video of the hearings, click here.

Additional information about the 2020-21 state budget proposal may be found here.
 
 
HealthierPA Initiatives Signed into Law

Two measures advanced by the House earlier this year as part of our HealthierPA Initiative are now law.

Act 6 of 2020 will help improve cancer treatment options for patients with Stage IV metastatic cancer by requiring insurance companies to cover the medication and treatments prescribed by the patient’s doctor, regardless of what their insurance plan typically covers.

The law recognizes time is of the essence for patients fighting cancer. They should not have to get sicker and sicker before being allowed to try something their doctor is recommending that could extend the length and quality of their lives.

Act 7 of 2020 will help protect infants who receive donated breast milk through milk banks. Banked donor milk is used in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and by outpatients with medical issues. When a mother’s own milk is unavailable in the NICU, the use of banked donor milk has been shown to decrease mortality rates and the incidence of serious complications.

The new law will require the state Department of Health to regulate milk banks, which are entities that gather, process and distribute mothers’ milk for medically fragile newborns. Milk banks would be required to medically screen donors and to contact the health care provider of the donor’s baby to verify adequate growth. The donor milk must be processed to inactivate pathogens (pasteurized), and post-processing bacterial cultures must be performed. The law does not regulate breast milk donors or affect informal milk sharing that may occur.
 
 
Committee Discusses Bill to Better Coordinate Fire, EMS Services

Continuing the commitment to supporting the state’s fire and emergency services system, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing this week on a proposal to create a Pennsylvania State Fire Commission to better coordinate resources and services.

The bill is based on a recommendation offered by the Senate Resolution 6 Commission to ensure fire and EMS coverage, which is provided by volunteers in the majority of the state’s communities, remains available across the state.

Testifiers at the hearing included Bruce Trego, state fire commissioner; Dylan Ferguson of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services; David Chiaramonte and Adam Perreault of the PA Professional Firefighters Association; Charles McGarvey Sr. and Jay Delaney of the PA Career Fire Chiefs Association; and Steve Bair of the PA Fire and Emergency Services Institute.

Last fall, as part of our “Helpers and Heroes” initiative, the House passed a series of bills designed to improve recruitment and retention of volunteers for fire and ambulance companies, boost access to training and increase funding options. Most of the measures are now awaiting action in the Senate. Late last year, Act 106 was signed into law, making online training more readily available to current and prospective first responders.
 
 
Deadline Nears for 2020 PA House Scholarship Applications

High school seniors interested in receiving financial assistance to help pay for college have until Sunday, March 1, to apply for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Scholarship.

Each year the program awards a four-year scholarship to two students preparing for post-secondary education. It is open to graduating high school seniors who are Pennsylvania residents with plans to attend a Pennsylvania college, university or career school as a full-time student.

To qualify, students must have attained a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average in high school. Other factors taken into consideration for the awards are a student’s commitment to community, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and financial need.

The scholarship program is administered through the Foundation for Enhancing Communities. The application is available through the foundation’s web site here.  The scholarship is privately funded by individual and corporate donors; no tax or other public funds are used.
 
 
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Meeting Local Scouts

                                   
I had a great visit this week with Scout Pack 561 in Marysville. The Arrow of Light Scouts, who are fifth-graders, have a requirement to meet with a government or community leader and learn about that person’s role.
 
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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
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