Apr. 21, 2017

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The Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
Pushing to Restore Agriculture Funding

On Wednesday, I joined other legislators and fellow supporters of Pennsylvania agriculture at a Capitol press conference to push for the restoration of funding for ag programs that were cut from the state budget proposal.

Among those programs are the All-American Dairy Show and the Keystone International Livestock Exposition, which take place annually at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. We stressed how important these events are for young people involved in agriculture and the future of the industry.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine may also lose its state funding, which would adversely impact the health and safety of the Commonwealth’s animal industry and food system.

We urged the farming community to get involved by contacting their local lawmakers and the governor's office about the importance of restoring ag funding. 



Dismantling PA’s Archaic Liquor System
In further efforts to gradually dismantle the antiquated system Pennsylvania uses to sell alcohol, the House Liquor Control Committee approved two bills to further divest the wholesale system of wine and spirits.

House Bill 975 would allow retailers to negotiate prices and allow products to be delivered directly to retail markets, without having to go through state stores, while also permitting additional retailers to sell wine and allowing wine to be sold in grocery store aisles, with other products and at greater quantities.

House Bill 1075 would divest the whole system for both wine and spirits.

Both measures now move to the full House for a vote.

Getting Unemployment Centers Back Open
As a way to reopen unemployment centers and get people the benefits they have earned in a timelier manner, the House passed Senate Bill 250 that would provide $15 million in funding to the Department of Labor and Industry.

The governor laid off about 450 employees and closed three unemployment compensation (UC) centers late last year after state funding was halted due to complications arising from a failed computer system upgrade. As a result, residents seeking to submit claims or obtain information from the bureau have experienced lengthy delays or lack of response.

This funding is intended to be temporary to improve operations of the UC system. The legislation contains specific provisions the department must meet to regain more permanent funding.

The governor has said he will sign the bill into law.
Advocating for PASSHE
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of Shippensburg University students and Interim President Barbara Lyman (third from left). They were at the Capitol to lobby on behalf of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

State College Grant Deadline is May 1
The deadline for students and families to submit their applications for the 2017-18 Pennsylvania State Grant program is May 1. To apply for a grant, applicants must first complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Applicants can access the FAFSA online at www.PHEAA.org/FAFSA or www.fafsa.gov. Completing the FAFSA online saves time and reduces application and processing errors.

Students and families with questions about the FAFSA or the State Grant Program can call 800-692-7392 for personal assistance.
Social Workers Visit the Capitol
This week, I met with members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, who were at the Capitol to take part in the organization's legislative advocacy day.
Bridge Repair Project
Final paving on the West Juniata Parkway bridge over Wildcat Run in Greenwood Township, Perry County, is scheduled to begin on Monday. As a result, the bridge will close for two weeks and a detour will be in place.

The work includes paving, milling rumble strips, line striping and applying a polyester polymer concrete overlay, which is designed to protect the deck surface and reduce long-term maintenance costs.