May. 12, 2017

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The latest news from the State Capitol
Route 283 Reconstruction Project…Last week there was a press conference to mark the start of an $89 million reconstruction project on a 6-mile portion of Route 283 in Dauphin County, the largest slated to begin in PennDOT’s eight-county, south central region’s $533 million construction season. The Route 283 project in Dauphin County includes the total reconstruction of the existing highway between Eisenhower Boulevard in Lower Swatara Township and Route 341 in Londonderry Township. In addition to the highway reconstruction, the project also includes the rehabilitation of 11 bridges. The emphasis in 2017 will be preparation work on Route 283 and the rehabilitation of the Newberry Road, Union Street and Vine Street bridges over Route 283. The overall project is anticipated to be completed in late 2020. For more information, click here.

M&H Railroad Project…Following the press conference about Route 283, I had the opportunity to talk with District 8 Executive Mike Keiser, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards and Gov. Tom Wolf about safety concerns and other issues involving the M&H Railroad crossing of Route 322 into Derry Township and Hummelstown Borough. This is an issue I plan to continue to follow.

Reminder: Community Health Expo May 19…I am hosting a Health Expo on Friday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hummelstown Chemical Fire Company. This is an exciting event that will give attendees the opportunity to talk with representatives from more than 50 state and local agencies and the health care industry. In addition to gathering information about various programs and services, a variety of free health screenings will be available. The Hummelstown Fire Company is located at 249 E. Main St. in Hummelstown. Admission is free and no advanced registration is required.

Real ID Update: Bill Encourages Freedom of Choice…Pennsylvanians who do not fly or enter federal buildings or military installations would not have to purchase identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act under Senate Bill 133 passed by the House State Government Committee this week. Instead, residents may choose to purchase a REAL ID if they participate in such activities. Lawmakers believe offering a choice is the best way to ensure Pennsylvania complies with the requirements of federal law while also avoiding unnecessary burdens on taxpayers who would face higher costs for the new form of identification. The General Assembly must act by June 6 in order to be considered for an additional extension from the Department of Homeland Security. Both the passage of this legislation and the extension will allow Pennsylvania to take the important steps necessary for the Commonwealth to reach full compliance with the federal law.
Food Bank Celebrates 50 Years of Community Service…Hershey Food Bank and Community Outreach are celebrating 50 years of service! This is a great organization that helps a lot of people within our community. I am pictured with Neil Bergloff, vice president.
Strengthening Public Corruption Laws…Public officials and employees who are convicted of public corruption crimes would be forced to forfeit their government pension under legislation that passed the House this week. House Bill 939 would hold state, county or municipal government officials and public employees, including judges, teachers and other school district employees, accountable for crimes related to their official duties by requiring them to forfeit their government pension. They would also need to pay appropriate restitution when they plead guilty or no contest to any crime related to their official government position or any felony offense related to their office or employment. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would also impact federal crimes that are classified as felonies or are punishable by a term of at least five years in prison. 
Ensuring Coverage for Lyme Disease Treatment… Over the last five years, Pennsylvania has ranked highest in the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease with 10,817 in 2015. To help ensure patients have access to available and emerging diagnostics and treatment options for Lyme disease and related tick-borne diseases, House Bill 174 was reported out of the House Health Committee this week. House Bill 174 would require health insurers to cover treatment plans for Lyme disease or related tick-borne illnesses as prescribed by a patient’s health care practitioner, regardless if the treatment plan includes short-term or long-term antibiotic treatment. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

May is also Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. For tips about how to protect yourself from Lyme disease, click here.
Allowing Terminally Ill Patients the Right to Try…Legislation that would permit eligible patients with a terminal illness to use investigational drugs, biological products and devices not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently passed the House. With the FDA approval process often too slow to save patients suffering from terminal illness, 31 other states allow these patients the right to try medicines, products and devices. House Bill 45 would permit a manufacturer to make these products available to eligible patients once the products successfully complete the first phase of clinical trials. While the bill does not require insurers to cover these products, they may do so at their own discretion. The bill now moves to the state Senate.
Tax-Free Savings Accounts for People with Disabilities…Tax-free savings accounts aimed at helping people with disabilities save money for future care and services are now available through the Pennsylvania Treasury. The PA ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts allow people with disabilities, their family members and friends to contribute money to the account that can be used for things such as education, housing, transportation, employment training/support and assistive technology. For more information, click here.  
Duke Street Bridge Reopened…I recently took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the unveiling of the new Duke Street Bridge in Hummelstown. Among those pictured with me are Hummelstown Mayor Brad Miller, Sen. John DiSanto and Dauphin County Commissioners Mike Pries, Jeff Haste and George Hartwick.
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