Mar. 01, 2019

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The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
 
Protecting the Rights of Crime Victims

Understanding the struggle many crime victims face when seeking justice, lawmakers have been working to advance a package of bills designed to protect the rights of crime victims.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved five bills for consideration by the full House. The package includes:
  • House Bill 276 (Marsy’s Law), a joint resolution known as Marsy’s Law, would add a victims’ bill of rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
  • House Bill 502 would ensure victims can attend proceedings against their abusers.
  • House Bill 503 would help victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism testify in court.
  • House Bill 504 would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
  • House Bill 505 would strengthen protections for young abuse victims.
Just as those accused of a crime have certain rights, House Republicans are ensuring crime victims are treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire criminal justice process.
 
 
Bill to Save on State Pensions

The House has passed legislation to prohibit future hires of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) from participating in the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) because they are not actually working for the Commonwealth.

The SRBC, which manages the river’s water resources, was created by federal law in 1970 that also was adopted by the legislatures of Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

According to the Independent Fiscal Office there were 65 SRBC employees who were active, contributing members of SERS in 2017.

House Bill 60 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 
 
Budget Hearings Continue

The second full week of budget hearings wrapped up on Thursday, with members of the House Appropriations Committee asking agency and department officials a variety of questions about executive functions, programs and efficiencies. These questions, along with submitted written testimony, will serve as the foundation for budget negotiations this spring.

This week’s hearings featured the State Police, PennDOT, Corrections, General Services, Health, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Liquor Control and Gaming Control boards.

Budget hearings conclude next week with appearances by Education, Agriculture, and Military and Veterans Affairs, along with the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). Learn more here.


As chairman of the House Commerce Committee, I had the opportunity during Wednesday’s budget hearing to question Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin about the Rural Jobs and Investment Tax Credit program and whether it is working. He said there have been issues with the program and no businesses have applied for the tax credit. I am currently working on legislation to make the necessary improvements to the program, which is designed to attract and retain businesses in rural areas of Pennsylvania.
 
 
PennDOT to Start Issuing REAL IDs

Effective Friday, March 1, PennDOT will begin issuing REAL IDs.

A federally accepted form of identification must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building starting Oct. 1, 2020. A Pennsylvania REAL ID will fulfill this requirement, as will a U.S. Passport.

Under state law, REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

Pennsylvanians who have pre-verified their required documentation for obtaining a REAL ID may apply online to receive it without visiting a driver license center. PennDOT has indicated those IDs will be mailed out to recipients in 10 business days.

More information about REAL ID, including frequently asked questions and guidelines on documents required to obtain one, can be found at www.penndot.gov/REALID.
 
 
 
Free Admission at State Museum on March 10

The State Museum in Harrisburg will celebrate the Commonwealth’s 338th birthday on Sunday, March 10, with a rare display of William Penn’s original charter. In addition, there will be free admission to many museums and historic sites around the state, including the State Museum. Learn more here.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to Penn in 1681. Once each year the original document goes on exhibit for a limited time. The rest of the time it is stored in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.
 
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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
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