The Mehaffie Message 3/22/24 - Emailed Newsletter
3/22/2024
 
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Mehaffie Message
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

In this Edition:
  •   Governor Signs My Bill to Help Older Pennsylvanians
  •   Committees Tee Up Important Bills
  •   Bills Aim to Support, Promote Startup Initiatives Across Pennsylvania
  •   Make Plans for April 8 Solar Eclipse
  •   Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Open for Applications
  •   Learn About Flood Insurance
  •   Youth Camp Accepting Applications
  •   Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Children’s Trout Rodeo, Health Expo
  •   Out and About in the 106th District
 
 
Governor Signs My Bill to Help Older Pennsylvanians


Gov. Josh Shapiro on Wednesday signed my bill that became a key part of the 2023-24 state budget.

House Bill 1300 started as an initiative to give an ombudsman for older adults a stronger voice in decision-making. It places a certified ombudsman on the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council.

While the initial intent of the legislation was fulfilled and the ombudsman matter is now law, the bill ended up serving a secondary role. It was amended and became what is known as the Fiscal Code – essentially the way we pay for state spending for the year.

The governor provided positive feedback on the way the bill was used in a bipartisan matter.
   
 
Committees Tee Up Important Bills



When the House returned to regular session this week, committees began meeting in earnest to advance legislation to the full House for its consideration. Here are updates on bills that may be of interest to the 106th District and followers of my committee work:

  •   In the House Professional Licensure Committee, I made suggestions for ways to improve House Bill 1364. This bill would give licensing boards and commissions broader ability to offer advisory opinions that would be legally nonbinding. It would help certified public accountants, funeral directors and others get answers to questions. Work continues on this bill at the committee level.
  •   We know that social media’s news feeds and chats can be addictive and concerning places for even adults with fully developed brains. What is the impact on youths? House Bill 2017 cleared the House Consumer Protection, Technology & Utilities Committee. It would:
  o   require social media companies to monitor the chats of two or more minors on the platform and notify parents/guardians of flagged sensitive or graphic content.
  o   strengthen proof-of-age verification on social media platforms by requiring consent from a parent/guardian for anyone under 16 to open a social media account.
  o   notify parents/guardians if a child under 16 opens a social media account without consent.
  o   prohibit data mining for users under the age of 18.
  o   allow any individual to request the deletion of data that was mined while they were under the age of 18.
  •   House Bill 1030, which would make Hershey’s Kisses the state candy, moved from committee a couple weeks ago. It is currently on the voting calendar for the full House for next week, although that could change.
  •   The House Transportation Committee voted out House Bill 2055 that would make Bow Creek Road in East Hanover Township a state road rather than a municipally owned and managed road. This would affect Bow Creek Road from its intersection with Jonestown Road to Route 443/Mountain Road. House Bill 2055, which I authored, now goes to the full House for its consideration.


 
 
Bills Aim to Support, Promote Startup Initiatives Across Pennsylvania

A new package of bills is designed to support and promote startup initiatives across the Commonwealth.

Aiming to capitalize on Pennsylvania’s many assets, including talented, hard-working people and an ideal geographic location, the measures aim to ensure our Commonwealth can compete with Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and other startup-friendly areas.

The bills would designate March 18-24 as Commonwealth Startup Week; establish the Student Startup Incubator Network to empower student entrepreneurs to build their companies here; establish the Task Force on Startup Venture Opportunities; provide uncapped and non-expiring operating loss deductions to in-state startups; establish the Startup Investment Tax Credit to connect startups to early-stage investors; leverage the power of the Research and Development Tax Credit to incentivize technology research by startups; restore the Commonwealth’s funding for venture investment back to a level commensurate with the technology sector’s importance; and build a robust venture ecosystem in Pennsylvania to develop home-grown startups.

Read more here.
 
 
Make Plans for April 8 Solar Eclipse

With Pennsylvania one of only 13 states in the “path of totality” for the April 8 total solar eclipse, residents and people planning to travel to the state are being encouraged to plan ahead for viewing this rare astronomical event.

The path of the eclipse will impact Pennsylvania starting at approximately 2 p.m. as the moon travels in front of the sun. At approximately 3:16 p.m. to 3:20 p.m., totality will occur in the northwest region, including Crawford and Erie counties, as well as portions of Mercer and Warren counties. At the same time, the remainder of the state will see the moon covering 90% to 99% of the sun. The eclipse will conclude at approximately 4:30 p.m.

To assist Pennsylvania residents and out-of-state visitors traveling to the City of Erie, which will experience one of the longest periods of darkness, PennDOT has developed an event specific 511PA page at www.511pa.com/eclipse24. The page offers various suggested routes to help drivers traveling to the area during what is expected to be a high-traffic period.

To help find a location to watch the eclipse or learn about related events happening in the City of Erie and throughout Erie County, go to the VisitErie Eclipse 2024 page.  

A variety of resources related to the eclipse are also available through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.

Additional details are available here.
 
 
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Open for Applications

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is inviting proposals for 2024 Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grants to stimulate market growth or boost the competitive position for high-priority crops.

Crops eligible for the grant program and deemed “high priority” include hardwoods; honey; hemp and flax for fiber; and hops, barley, rye and wheat for brewing, distilling and malting.

Also targeted for priority funding are crops not eligible for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which the department administers for the federal government. The USDA program defines specialty crops as, "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture)."

Eligible applicants must submit a proposal describing how their project will enhance competitiveness or benefit Pennsylvania’s growers, rather than an individual grower. Find more information, including a proposal template, and map of previous recipients at www.agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill under Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Program.

Proposals must be submitted through the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application and must be received by 5 p.m. on April 19.
 
 
Learn About Flood Insurance

During Pennsylvania flood awareness week (March 18 to 22), the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency reminds consumers about the importance of flood insurance to protect consumers from the costly repairs often associated with flood damage and urges property owners to consider purchasing flood insurance to protect their homes, businesses and possessions.

All of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have seen destructive flooding, yet just about 1 percent of households in the state are currently insured against flooding. The insurance department cautions homeowners often think they are covered under their regular insurance policy when they are not.

The insurance department reminds consumers that just one inch of rain can cause $25,000 of damage to a home, and even Pennsylvanians who do not live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (an area with a higher chance of experiencing a flood), or areas where flood insurance is required, should consider purchasing flood insurance.

Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program and private insurers. Information can be found on this page.
                                                  
 
Youth Camp Accepting Applications



The Pennsylvania State Police, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania American Legion, has begun accepting applications for its annual youth camp. The Elmer Hafer-American Legion-State Police-National Guard Youth Camp will be held June 9-15, 2024, at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg.

The six-day summer leadership camp is for teenagers, ages 15 to 17, interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or the military. The camp, formerly known as State Police Youth Week, works to improve the relationship between Pennsylvania’s youth and the law enforcement community. This year marks the 52nd camp held since its inception in 1970.

Members of the PSP, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and the American Legion staff the week-long camp. Cadets work on team-building exercises, physical fitness training, classroom activities involving police and military careers, and a marksmanship course. Cadets also visit the State Police Academy in Hershey and Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Center in Lebanon County. The camp offers three $1,000 scholarship awards at the conclusion of the week.

Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 prior to entering the camp and not reach age 18 during the camp. Cadets who previously attended the camp are not eligible to apply again. Applicants should be physically fit, in good health, and have a good academic record. There is no cost to participants, as their local American Legion post sponsors their attendance.

Interested applicants can read more about the camp by visiting this page.
 
 
Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Children’s Trout Rodeo, Health Expo



We are in the process of planning several upcoming events, including a children’s trout rodeo and a health expo. Stay tuned for more information and check this page for initial details.
 
 
Out and About in the 106th District

My kitchen cabinets are well stocked after visiting the Farmstead Farmer’s Market in Grantville and two cookie stands supporting the Girl Scouts in Middletown and Hershey. But thankfully after eating all those goodies, I was not only given a chance to “shake, rattle and roll” at the 1950s-themed Middletown Volunteer Fire Department awards banquet Saturday, but also could participate in several activities at the 3.21 For Life fundraiser on World Down Syndrome Day this Thursday.