Feb. 25, 2017

The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Examining the Drug Crisis 
A panel of experts provided a sobering look at Cumberland County’s drug problem during a public forum I co-hosted with U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta at Shippensburg University Wednesday evening.

We brought together health care professionals and law enforcement officials to discuss the extent of the drug crisis and efforts underway to resolve it on the federal, state and local levels. The event was attended by more than 150 people.

Coroner Charles Hall told us drug overdose deaths rose by 60 percent last year in Cumberland County, from 41 in 2015 to 66 in 2016. Twenty-nine of the fatalities were the result of heroin abuse.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed pointed to new laws enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly as effective tools in addressing the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic. Those measures include the creation of a database designed to prevent “doctor shopping” by addicts and legal immunity for persons who report an overdose to authorities.

Several panel members said raising public awareness about the extent of Pennsylvania’s drug problem is also important and they were pleased by the large turnout for the forum.

A video recording of the two-hour discussion, which included questions from the audience, is available for viewing on my website
Budget Hearings Commence 
Members of the House Appropriations Committee were briefed Tuesday on the state’s financial status during the first week of budget hearings.

The Independent Fiscal Office, a non-partisan state agency, confirmed an anticipated shortfall of at least $2.5 billion by July 1, 2018, reflective of sluggish economic growth, rising health care and pension costs, and an aging workforce. That shortfall can be reduced by substantive changes in public policy.

Here is next week’s hearing schedule:

               10 a.m. – Dept. of Environmental Protection
                1 p.m. – Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources
                3 p.m. – Dept. of Aging

               10 a.m. – Judiciary 
                1 p.m. – Dept. of Correction/Board of Probation and Parole
                3 p.m. – Dept. of Health/Dept. of Drug and Alcohol Programs

               10 a.m. – Dept. of Agriculture
               11:30 a.m. – Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency 
               Noon – Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
               1:30 p.m. – Public Utility Commission 
               3 p.m. – Dept. of General Services

               10 a.m. – Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board 
                1 p.m. – Dept. of Community and Economic Development
                2:30 p.m. – Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs

You can watch the hearings live here, or archived video of the hearings is available here
Trout Stocking Guides Available at My Offices 
The annual Trout Stocking Guides have been printed and are now available at my district offices in New Bloomfield and Shippensburg, and my Capitol office. The free stocking schedules provide information on which local waterways will be stocked with trout by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

The statewide opening day for trout season is Saturday, April 15, but a regional opening day in 18 southcentral and southeastern counties is set for Saturday, April 1, including Cumberland and Perry counties. 
Be Informed of New State Traffic Laws 
With this week being observed as Highway Safety Law Awareness Week, PennDOT reminds motorists of several new highway laws.

Children are required to be buckled into a rear-facing car seat until they are age 2 or meet the maximum weight or height requirements set by the manufacturer of the seat.

“Daniel’s Law” increases the penalty for texting while driving resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

To improve pedestrian safety, a driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway. It is illegal to overtake or pass a vehicle yielding to a pedestrian within a crosswalk.

Drivers convicted of a first-time offense with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent or higher will be mandated to use ignition interlock for at least a year. 
Turnpike Commission Offering Summer Jobs
For this summer, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is accepting applications for toll, maintenance, clerical and engineering positions.

Toll collectors must be available to work any of the three shifts over a 24-hour period, including weekends and holidays. Employees will work a 40-hour week and will not receive benefits. The pay is $11.50 per hour for toll collectors and $11 per hour for other positions.

All eligible candidates must be at least 18 years of age and completed a secondary education program such as high school or GED at the time of hiring. The program is limited to 16 weeks per employee and runs between May 1 and Sept. 30.

All applications MUST be submitted online. Copies of online applications should be sent to my Harrisburg office by Wednesday, March 22.