I wanted to send you an update on what happened during this busy week in the Capitol.
The annual budget is a package of legislation, with the main component being the General Appropriations bill, which holds the overall spending increase to 1.8% and does not include new taxes or fees.
This budget makes investments in agriculture, public libraries, career and technical education, community safety, and drug and alcohol programs.
We are investing $432 million more in pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade education. I am especially proud of the budget’s focus on Pre-K Counts early childhood education, which has proven time and time again to give children a foundation for future success. These education initiatives are a smart investment to make for the future of our state.
Funds were increased from $60 million to $71 million for the School Safety and Security grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. We’re working hard to keep our schools safe for our children.
The budget will also place more than $250 million in the Rainy Day Fund for a future time when the economy may not be as strong as it is now. The state’s positive economic climate allows us to focus on saving for the future.
Today, the House finished other components of the budget such as the Tax Code and Administrative Code.
The General Appropriations bill is on its way to the governor’s desk.
LOCAL POLICE RADAR USE
Also this week, I introduced to allow police in all municipalities to use radar as a tool to enforce local speed limits.
In my current capacity as a member of the House and as a former township commissioner, I have received concerns and complaints from constituents about speeding on local roads in the 106th District. I understand why local police need another tool to enforce speeding on the roads.
HB1686 would require municipalities to pass a local ordinance if they want to authorize radar use, meaning residents would have a chance to offer feedback before that ordinance is adopted. The community would also need to have signs placed on main roads alerting drivers to the possibility of radar detection. The bill requires local police to complete training prior to using radar and LIDAR.
To be clear, this is about public safety; it is not about money as municipalities would only retain a small portion of any fine levied.
We tackled several initiatives this week to strengthen agriculture in the Commonwealth.
The House passed resolutions urging the federal government to enforce its labeling standards for milk and to reintroduce whole milk into school lunches. We created grants for specialty crops like hemp and hardwoods and increased the allowable width for farm equipment on roads.
Another focus this week was the Election Code, which contains a proposal for the state to borrow up to $90 million to provide counties with money to replace their voting systems. Counties would be eligible to receive 60% of the costs of new systems. This could lessen the burden on taxpayers in Dauphin County and other areas where budgets are tight.
I thank you for trusting me to be your voice in Harrisburg. Please contact my office if you have any questions or feedback.
Pa. State Rep. Tom Mehaffie
106th Legislative District