Apr. 07, 2017

The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol



House Passes No-Tax-Increase Budget
This week, the House approved a $31.52 billion budget proposal that does not increase taxes or borrowing but does invest in education, public safety, human services and infrastructure. 

House Bill 218 reflects a collective need to reinvent the way Pennsylvania budgets and governs, by streamlining programs and services; eliminating duplicative state functions; reducing bureaucracy; and creating an endowment fund that will generate money to pay future costs.

The budget will be balanced using several options, including expanded gaming and liquor privatization proposals, which have previously passed the House. The budget bill will now be considered by the Senate. Learn more here

Economic Outlook
Pennsylvania collected $4.4 billion in General Fund revenue in March, which was $229.6 million less than anticipated. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections total $22.4 billion, which is $679.3 million below the estimate. Learn more here
Committee Endorses Liquor Bills to Encourage Choice, Convenience
This week, the House Liquor Control Committee passed two bills designed to further dismantle the state-owned wine and spirits system.

House Bill 991 would allow for the creation of privately owned retail stores to sell bottles of wine and spirits in an effort to provide greater convenience and choice for consumers.

House Bill 438 would allow spirits to be sold in the same retail locations as wine. This would specifically apply to grocery and convenience stores with restaurant seating.

Both bills now move to the full House for a final vote. 
House OKs Bill to Get Tougher on Criminals 
To ensure criminals receive the appropriate punishment for their crimes, the House this week passed legislation to address constitutional issues with Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws cited by the state Supreme Court in 2015.

House Bill 741 would allow for mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers, trafficking drugs to minors and for selling drugs in drug-free school zones. Other crimes affected include
offenses committed with firearms, on public transportation, against the elderly or infants, or while impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Mandatory sentences have proven to be a necessary tool to ensure that people committing serious drug and gun crimes are held accountable for their actions. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Congratulations, Raiders! 

It was my privilege to recognize the Shippensburg University Field Hockey Team and Head Coach Bertie Landes Monday in the House chamber for winning the 2016 NCAA Division II championship last November. The Raiders defeated Long Island University Post for their second national title in four years.

I presented them with a House citation in congratulations and said a few words about their outstanding achievement. Also pictured are Rep. Rob Kauffman (beside me) and House Speaker Mike Turzai (right). 
Road Work Ahead
PennDOT has begun prep work for a project to repair and resurface a 1-mile section of Market Street through Millerstown, Perry County. The $1.1 million project includes tree trimming, curb cut work required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, drainage work, base repair, removal of the top layer of asphalt, resurfacing the existing roadway, guiderail replacement, and new signs and pavement markings. Travelers may encounter sidewalk and/or parking restrictions and lane shifts during the project, which should be completed by the end of August. 
Visiting the Capitol
It was my pleasure to welcome (from left) David and Daren Fisher of Duncannon to the House Tuesday, where they did a great job serving as guest pages.

On Tuesday, I also met with (from left) Donny Barch and Steve Innerst from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. Thanks for stopping by the office!