Apr. 19, 2019

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The Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Ag Committee Talks Dairy with PA Milk Marketing Board

In light of the ongoing challenges facing the state’s dairy industry, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee held a public hearing Wednesday to hear from members of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board. Over the last year, the board has embarked on an effort to educate farmers and others about its role and to better assess and respond to issues and concerns raised by the state’s dairy farmers.

The board members shared what they learned during a series of listening sessions held across the state, as well as the results of a survey they conducted. Two of the main issues raised include minimum pricing, as many farmers feel it benefits processors and retailers more than it benefits farmers; and the over order premium (OOP) and whether it is being properly remitted to the state’s dairy farmers. OOP is a premium applied at retail to the sale of milk produced, processed and sold in Pennsylvania. It is intended to support the state’s dairy farmers; however, one member acknowledged that as much as one-third of the OOP is not making it back to farmers.

Another common issue raised during the sessions was about the sale of milk products in schools, which until recently was limited by federal policy to only skim milk. In late August, new federal guidelines allowed school districts to offer 1% flavored milk to students.

As a result of their discussions, the board indicated they are working to continue improving communications with farmers to further educate about the board’s role, which is not limited to pricing functions, but includes others such as auditing and payment security. They are also examining pricing systems in other states and reviewing potential solutions related to the remittance of over order premiums. In fact, the board has scheduled a hearing for May 1 on a proposed amendment to their regulations to require cooperatives to provide a line item on member statements showing the amount of over order premium being paid.

To learn more about the board, visit www.mmb.pa.gov.
Helping to Put More Domestic Abusers Behind Bars

Continuing the commitment to protecting crime victims, the House this week approved a bill to ensure victims of strangulation get the justice they deserve. House Bill 854 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Prior to a 2016 law, strangulation could only be charged as a misdemeanor assault in Pennsylvania. Act 111 made it a criminal offense, and according to law enforcement officials across the state, the law has helped put more domestic abusers behind bars.

House Bill 854 builds on that progress by fully incorporating strangulation into our laws, ensuring any prior strangulation conviction will be recognized and considered in subsequent cases.

Passing this bill continues the push by House Republicans to protect the victims of crime. Learn more here.
Pension Forfeiture for Sex Offenses

Working to ensure public officials and employees are held fully accountable for their actions, the House approved legislation this week that would force them to forfeit their taxpayer-funded pensions if they are convicted of committing a sexual offense.

The bill builds on Act 1 of 2019, which requires any public official who is convicted of a felony to forfeit his or her pension.

Under House Bill 991, public employees and officials – including elected officials – would lose their pension if convicted of offenses such as indecent assault, indecent exposure or unlawful dissemination of an intimate image (commonly referred to as revenge porn). The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Donate the Gift of Life

April 2019 is “Donate Life Month.” In Pennsylvania, about 8,000 people are on the organ donation waiting list and, on average, every 18 hours one of them will die waiting for the call that never comes.

The encouraging news is that more people are making the decision to “donate life.” About 4.7 million Pennsylvanians have said yes to organ and tissue donation by adding the donor designation on their driver’s license. More than 138 million Americans are registered donors.

In addition, Pennsylvania driver’s license and ID card holders can support organ donation programs with a voluntary donation of $3 at the time of application or renewal. To date, nearly $14 million has been generously donated to the fund.

More information is available at donatelifepa.org.
Give PennDOT Feedback

PennDOT is looking for feedback on its winter services and communications. You can provide your input by taking a 10-question survey that asks about how often you travel in poor weather, how you rate PennDOT’s winter service, and how you rank its snow-removal priorities. You can take the survey by clicking here.
Happy Passover and Happy Easter

I want to wish everyone observing the Passover Seder Friday at sundown the blessings of health and peace Passover you and yours this season.

I want to also wish everyone celebrating Easter this weekend peace, love and to have a blessed and holy Easter.
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