Feb. 22, 2019

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The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Assisting Our First Responders

In the near future, I plan to introduce two bills that would help the bottom line of many volunteer fire and ambulance companies in Pennsylvania by distributing state funding more fairly.

One of my proposals would ensure that a certain number of these organizations are prioritized when local share grants from expanded gaming are awarded. The bill would require that those grants go to fire and ambulance companies that do not already receive local share funding generated by the gaming proceeds from a casino in the same county. By doing this, there would be a more equitable distribution of those gaming dollars to fire and ambulance companies across the Commonwealth.

The second bill I plan to introduce would state that a fire company is not eligible for a loan under the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP) if that company already receives local share funding from a casino in the same county. It is only fair that the money available in the VLAP should be reserved for fire companies lacking strong financial support so they can maintain their apparatus and equipment.

Under Act 42 of 2017, several new forms of gambling were legalized in Pennsylvania. Three of them: iGaming, sports betting and video gaming terminals, created three new local share grant accounts.
 
 
Good Jobs for PA: Focusing on Careers, Not Minimum Wage

A key to economic success for all Pennsylvanians and the Commonwealth as a whole is to ensure our students and workers are prepared to fill the good-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.

House Republicans launched the #GoodJobs4PA initiative this week, focusing on efforts to enhance our workforce development system to help students, under-employed and unemployed adults, as well as returning military veterans and others enter fulfilling, family-sustaining careers.

The bills aim to address the skills gap and worker shortages faced by industries across the state, as well as enhance educational programs and access to those opportunities for workers of all ages.

The launch coincided with the governor signing an executive order to create the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. The center is charged with addressing barriers to employment and enhancing cooperation among education and workforce development entities.
 
 
Preparing PA Students for Careers

As a foundational part of the #GoodJobs4PA initiative, the House Education Committee unveiled a package of bills aimed at improving career and technical education (CTE) in Pennsylvania.

The package of bills includes:
  • House Bill 265, which would expand the online database that allows students and potential students to plan where courses, programs, certificates and diplomas transfer among public schools and institutions of higher education.
  • House Bill 297, which would direct the State Department of Education to develop materials outlining workforce needs, including training opportunities and future earning potential.
  • House Bill 334, which would expedite the approval of important educational programs to respond better to industry and workforce demands.
  • House Bill 393 (to be introduced soon), which would create an online career resource center.
  • House Bill 394 (to be introduced soon), which would require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to inventory workforce development programs offered at secondary and postsecondary institutions.
  • House Bill 395 (to be introduced soon), which would require CTE programs to establish occupational advisory committees.
  • House Bill 396 (to be introduced soon), which would add at least one member from a Career and Technical Center to each Workforce Development Board.
  • House Bill 522, which would create a CTE investment incentive program, including tax credits for contributions to support CTE programs and enrollment expansion programs.
These bills are designed to increase awareness of job-training opportunities and high-demand careers for students.
 
 
Improving the Do-Not-Call List

Helping Pennsylvanians cut down on the number of telemarketing calls they receive is the goal of House Bill 318, which was passed by the House this week.

The bill gives Pennsylvanians the ability to sign up for the state’s telemarketing “do-not-call” list without requiring them to re-register every five years.

The bill also aims to cut down on the annoyance of telemarketing calls during holidays by banning telemarketing calls on legal holidays. It would also ban the use of calls from computerized auto-dialers (robocalls).

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Supreme Court Responds to House Pressure, Delays Venue Rule Change

Seeking to prevent a health care crisis in Pennsylvania, physicians, administrators, attorneys and industry professionals told members of the House Majority Policy Committee last week that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should not change a rule dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits. Shortly after the hearing concluded, the Supreme Court decided to postpone its consideration until a study on the impact of the rule change is conducted later this year.

The pending proposal would reverse a rule that requires malpractice cases be brought in the county where the malpractice occurred, thereby prohibiting “shopping” for venues, such as Philadelphia, where jury awards tend to be higher.

Reversing the rule would also reverse progress that has been made to ensure access for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of ZIP code, to quality health care. Prior to the rule’s implementation, skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates were forcing many doctors and specialists to retire early or move their practices out of state. Rural areas were hit especially hard, and a reversal of this rule could again put health care into a crisis situation.

Residents can continue to do their part to ensure their voices are heard by visiting www.PAGOPPolicy.com and sharing with the court how such a rule change could impact their health care.
 
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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
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Email: mkeller@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614 
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