I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities from the session week of April 13, 2015.
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Clarion, Slippery Rock Participate in “Day on the Hill”
On Wednesday, I met with the presidents, trustees, faculty and students from Clarion University and Slippery Rock University who visited Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s “Day on the Hill.” Clarion and Slippery Rock Universities, which are both PASSHE schools and located in my district, offer students quality and diverse higher education opportunities at an affordable price.
Resolution Recognizes Forest/Paper Products Industry in PA
Recognizing that timber products and associated industries employ 60,000 Pennsylvanians and pump $19 billion into the state economy annually, the Senate adopted my Resolution on Tuesday recognizing April 14, 2015 as “Forest and Paper Products Day” in Pennsylvania.
As a member of the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council, I have great respect and appreciation for the men and women whose efforts make the wood and paper products industry such a vibrant part of our state’s economy. The forest products industry is made up of 2,100 separate businesses, with a presence in every county of the Commonwealth.
Forest and Paper Products Day is a way to remind the citizens of the Commonwealth of the unique contributions that the forest products industry has made to the history, texture, and quality of life of Pennsylvania.
Bills Addressing Fraudulent Doctors, Medals Sent to House
The Senate approved several bills this week including legislation addressing individuals who fraudulently pose as doctors or decorated veterans. The following bills now go to the House of Representative for consideration.
Senate Bill 43 imposes penalties for those who falsely wear military awards and decorations.
Senate Bill 61 officially recognizes bike medics and permits them to operate their bicycles in the same manner as a police officer on a bicycle.
House Bill 152 amends the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefit Act by extending the filing period for the death benefit. This bill returns to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.
Senate Bill 333 provides for state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances.
Senate Bill 485 increases the criminal grading for impersonating a doctor of medicine and providing medical treatment, from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
Resolution Honors Local Governments
On Monday, the Senate adopted my Resolution designating the week of April 13 through 18, 2015 as “Local Government Week” and April 15 as “Local Government Day” in Pennsylvania.
We sometimes view Pennsylvania as one big government entity, but we must never forget that our Commonwealth is a diverse state made up of 2,565 separate municipalities, each with its own specific local strengths, issues and concerns.
The fact is government begins at the local level. Municipal governments are there to address neighborhood concerns and provide for the wellbeing of the people of the community. With that in mind, we set aside Local Government Week as a way to recognize the accomplishments of local governments and officials.
Committee Studies Public Pension Issues
Public pension reform is a top issue for Senate Republicans this year. The unfunded liabilities of the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System pose one of the greatest budgetary challenges in a generation. Underfunding in previous years, combined with the recession’s impact on pension fund investments have caused skyrocketing pension payments for the state and school districts.
The Senate Finance Committee heard several plans to address the crisis during a Wednesday afternoon public hearing on “Proposals to Change the Design of Public Pensions.” More information and video from the hearing is available at http://finance.pasenategop.com/2015/04/13/proposals-to-change-the-design-of-public-pensions/.
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