Jun. 12, 2017

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The latest news from the State Capitol

House Sends Pension Changes to Governor’s Desk…The House of Representatives last week passed legislation that aims to
 
slow the growth of public pension debt, shift financial risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations. Senate Bill 1, which received bipartisan support, will establish three 401(k)-style public pension plans from which new state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting current employees and retirees. Current employees will be able to choose to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees will not see any changes to their plans. The governor is expected to sign the measure into law today. For more information, click here.
 

HIA Receives Grant to Build Skybridge
… Harrisburg International Airport was recently awarded $1.1 million in state funds to assist with the construction of a sky bridge walkway. The funds are administered by PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation through the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program. The program complements the state Multimodal Fund, which was created by Act 89, the comprehensive transportation funding legislation passed in 2012. These new investments will help HIA continue to operate safely, expand to meet demands, and create jobs and economic development in our community.
 

Improving a Health, Human Service Helpline…To help
 
residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House last week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system. The 2-1-1 system (also known as CONTACT Helpline) is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities. The new public-private grant program established under House Bill 211 would help improve the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed ensure its success. House Bill 211 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 

M&H Railroad Project Suspended…Over the past several weeks, there has been significant local media coverage on proposed changes to the M&H Railroad. I want to take the opportunity to let everyone know where things stand. It all began with an announcement from M&H that it would be using a recently awarded state grant to rehabilitate about five miles of track, a wye and a turnout. The railroad planned to use the initial funding to relocate its freight interchange from Middletown to Hummelstown to once again transport freight, including hazardous materials, from Hummelstown across Route 322/422 to customers in Middletown and surrounding townships. Residents and municipal officials voiced concerns about safety, including possible accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials through residential areas, possible delays in emergency response vehicle travel to and from Hershey Medical Center, as well as traffic issues with the train crossing a busy section of Route 322. A majority of residents in the 106th District who contacted me about the project shared these fears. As a result, I attended all the meetings and expressed concerns about the project on their behalf to Gov. Tom Wolf, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and PennDOT District 8-0 Executive Michael Keiser. Due to the concerns voiced by the community, the project to make upgrades to M&H Railroad has officially been suspended. As more information becomes available, I will provide additional updates.
 

Tax Amnesty Ends June 19…Taxpayers who owe state taxes
 
only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed. All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program. The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov.
 

TMI Warns of Closure, Legislature in Discussions…Three Mile Island recently announced it will shut down the plant in 2019 due to its inability to sell power in the nuclear energy market. The Exelon Corp. has said it will be forced to close its doors if it does not receive any financial rescue and has urged residents to contact their state representatives and senators to urge action. TMI is an integral part of our community and I will do whatever I can to help all parties find common ground. I want to assure residents of the 106th District, especially those who work at TMI that I am participating in all discussions on this issue as a member of the Nuclear Energy Caucus. I will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.
 

Hershey High Senior Honored in House
Jacob Hedrick, a senior at Hershey High School, was honored in the House last week for winning the Class AAA Boys’ 1-Meter Diving event during the 2016-17 PIAA State Swimming and Diving Championships. Watch the video clip from House session below.

 
click here to view video 


I recently presented a citation to Lower Dauphin High School’s Nanoline team, which took first place at the Phoenix Contact National Automation Contest. The team (pictured above) designed and built an automated beehive. Congratulations!
 

I had the pleasure of participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Leitzel Jewelry as it celebrated opening up its second location here in Derry Township. Its first location is in Lebanon County. We wish its owners and employees the best and welcome them to the township!
 

I recently toured the SUEZ water treatment plant in Hummelstown and participated in a roundtable discussion about the company’s business line activity throughout North America. What a fascinating operation! United Water rebranded to SUEZ in late 2015. Its Pennsylvania operations consist of 12 regional water systems that serve over 166,000 people in eight counties, including Dauphin. Fun Fact: SUEZ, under a different name, is the same company that helped finance and build the SUEZ Canal in Egypt.
 

Highlights From My Health Expo
 
click here to view video 

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