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News For Constituents
From Senate Republican Policy Development & Research Office


February 28, 2011

Time to Spring Forward

The biannual ritual of resetting our clocks occurs at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2011, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a full week ahead of the vernal equinox. Among other information, the U. S. National Observatory webpage can provide interested individuals with a history of Daylight Saving Time and future dates for the time changes.

Travelers and those doing business with other countries should be aware of a few anomalies. For example, Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time and neither does Arizona; although the Navajo Nation, in northeastern Arizona, does.

Indiana did not observe Daylight Saving Time with the exception of 10 counties until 2006 when all of Indiana observed DST. However, the state remains divided in two time zones. Seventy-four counties (including the state capital Indianapolis) are in the Eastern Time Zone. The 18 remaining counties are in the Central Time Zone.

Missing Endangered Person Advisory System at Work in PA

The Missing Endangered Person Advisory System, MEPAS, is at work assisting families in locating missing loved ones with age limitations, or mental or physical issues, according to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

MEPAS, created by the Legislature and administered by the PSP, sends out an emergency alert to broadcasters, law enforcement, and other agencies with a description of the missing person, their attire, and information related to the last time the person was seen.

The system issues an alert when the following criteria are met:

  • The circumstances of the incident do not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert;
  • The individual is missing under unexplained, involuntary or suspicious circumstances;
  • The person is thought to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, environment or weather conditions, or is known to be in the company of a potentially dangerous person;
  • The requesting police agency is conducting an active investigation and has entered the missing person into the National Crime Information Center database; and
  • Sufficient information is available to help the public identify the person.

Broadcasters in the general area of the incident receive the information from the State Police. Media outlets will broadcast the information as a scrolling message on the TV screen, a voice message, or a news update.

MEPAS is not to be confused with the Pennsylvania Amber Alert System, which uses emergency alerts to notify the public about kidnapped children deemed to be in imminent danger.

Missing individuals should be reported by placing a 911 call and having a dispatcher connect the caller with law enforcement for the specific jurisdiction where a determination is made for issuing a MEPAS or an Amber Alert.

Pothole Predicaments

We have once again entered the freeze-thaw cycle of the Commonwealth the culprit behind those potholes on Pennsylvania's road surfaces, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

If you find yourself regularly popping in and out of a certain pothole during your travels around Pennsylvania, it is time to call 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623) to report the location of potholes on state roads. Callers may also report any maintenance concern on state roads such as deer removal or signage issues.

When calling, be prepared to report the county, municipality, street name, or preferably the state route (SR) number found on small, black-and-white signs posted along state roadways. Include a description of any familiar landmarks to assist PennDOT in locating the pothole or other maintenance problems.

Power to Switch Your Power

Would you purchase clothing or appliances without first shopping for the best deal and the best service? Now you can shop for the best in electric generation including price, green options, and other services that might be beneficial for your home or business, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Since you can't try it on for size, the PUC offers the brochure Shop. Switch. Save. and a list of questions for consumers to ask of competing suppliers:

  • Is the supplier licensed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)?
  • What is the price per kilowatt hour (kWh)? Is the price fixed or does it depend on time of day or usage?
  • Are all taxes included in the supplier's price?
  • What is the length of the agreement? Can your price change in that time? If so, when can it change and how will you be notified?
  • Is there a cancellation fee or any penalty for switching suppliers?
  • Does the supplier offer a choice of energy sources, such as renewable energy?
  • Will you receive one bill or two?
  • Does the supplier offer a budget billing plan?
  • Is there a bonus for signing up?

When searching for an electricity supplier, you may find the PUC's shopping worksheet helpful in comparing rates. Before making the decision to switch, the PUC recommends reviewing the list of Frequently Asked Questions then Shop for Electricity.

Mastodon Makes it Mark at State Museum

The Marshall's Creek Mastodon that roamed Monroe County some 12,000 years ago is on permanent display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, according to the PA Historical and Museum Commission. The Mastodon was discovered on July, 5, 1968 when two employees of Lakeside Peat Humus Company discovered the mastodon's skull while running a bucket through a peat bog as part of routine mining operations.

The Mastodon is now the centerpiece in a new gallery, Life through Time: a New Paleontology Experience. The 3,350-square-foot exhibit documents changes spanning 296 million years. Also on display are Coelophysis, Phytosaur, Camarasaurus, Seymouria, Triassic specimens, Parasaurolophus T-Rex and Platybeladon.

One half of the excavated skeleton was on display until the Buy-A-Bone campaign brought in $88,000 from corporations, families, and individuals to round out the state's contribution to the permanent display that includes the paleontology gallery. 

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, located at 300 North Street, Harrisburg, PA, is open Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children and senior citizens and includes admission to the popular young children's space, Curiosity Connection. Planetarium shows are $2 per person in addition to general admission. The State Museum offers FREE general admission on the third Saturday of every month. Consult VisitPA for other activities, events, and places to stay when visiting the Capital City. 

Free Nicotine Patches in PA

If you want to quit smoking and are looking for a little support, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is promoting the Quit for Love campaign. 

The campaign is making Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) kits available free of charge by calling the PA Free Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). Callers will talk to Quit Coaches who will discuss medical conditions, help set a quit date, and enroll the caller in a series of free counseling sessions, in addition to providing callers with a free, four-week NRT kit. 

Smokers will be directed to additional resources including the Determined To Quit website where they will find guidance in developing a quit plan, a quit companion and calculator, and video blogs of other Pennsylvania residents sharing their own stories about quitting tobacco. There is also information for friends and family members of smokers who wish to support their loved one in their attempt to quit. 

The NRT kits are paid for by funding from the federal stimulus program and the Master Settlement Agreement. Under this agreement, 46 states, including Pennsylvania, receive payments from the tobacco industry to offset smoking-related medical costs and to help reduce the use of tobacco products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one of every five deaths nationwide is attributed to smoking; making it the leading cause of preventable death and disease.



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