Progress Report: Here’s How Hard I Am Working for You
Working with my constituents here in our region has been an honor and humbling experience. Helping you with issues and concerns on a local level is extremely rewarding, but it’s only half the job. The other half is representing your interests, and your family’s interests, at the state Capitol.
Whether it involves saving accounts for first time homebuyers or treatment court for our military’s veterans, when I go to Harrisburg, I’m working toward broad-based solutions to the issues that affect you, our region and the nearly 13 million people across Pennsylvania. I’m also working to make sure that as our region and commonwealth continue to change, grow and thrive, and that our laws remain modern, relevant and balanced. Over the past several years, I’ve introduced a number of bills designed to keep pace with those changes.
Here’s a brief look at some of them and what they’re designed to accomplish. To find out more about the status of each bill, I have attached a link in each headline. Give it a click or contact my office for more information.
- Animal cruelty. Signed into law in 2017, language from my House Bill 13 was incorporated into Libre’s Law – a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s animal cruelty legislation. This legislation was inspired by a Boston terrier puppy named Libre who was rescued from a Lancaster County farm in 2016 after suffering severe neglect. The bill creates clearer animal cruelty laws, including reasonable limitations on continuous tethering of dogs. The law also ensures that animal abusers face tougher punishment for their heinous actions.
- Obstructive lawsuits. I introduced HB 95 to provide a means for quickly dismissing Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. “SLAPP” suits are filed against a person or organization for statements made or positions taken in connection with a matter of public interest or regulation. They are often filed for the sole purpose of deterring or silencing critics – preventing open date about public issues – by burdening them with the costs of a legal defense.
- Same day voter registration. HB 101 would allow any qualified Pennsylvania citizen to go to their polling place on Election Day, register to vote and cast their ballot. Studies show that the states with same day voter registration see higher voter turnout over others.
- Power of Attorney abuse. HB 299 would create penalties for persons who abuse the power of attorney. The legislation would explicitly dictate criminal charges for those who take financial advantage of elderly citizens plagued with mentally debilitating infirmities.
- Prescription medication theft. HB 511 would add additional theft offenses and corresponding mandatory minimum sentences for those who take, dispose, deceive or extort prescription medication from elder Pennsylvanians.
- Banning board compensation. HB 869 would ban public officials and employees from receiving compensation for serving on a corporate or nonprofit board, not including actual and necessary expenses. This law would help curtail the influence of money in our elections and government.
- Veterans treatment court. HB 887 establishes a veterans treatment court in areas of the commonwealth that do not currently have one. Pennsylvania has the fourth largest population of veterans in the country; those who participate would be supervised by specialized probation officers and would receive Veterans’ Administration support to address the underlying problems, often caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Department of Transportation medical advisory board addition. HB 1079 would add a certified driving rehabilitation specialist to the PennDOT medical advisory board, which advises the department on issues concerning physical and mental criteria relating to the licensing of drivers. A certified driving rehabilitation specialist is an individual who plans, develops, coordinates and implements driver rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities. The board currently lacks a professional who works directly with accommodating those who are disabled but capable of driving.
- Community paramedicine services. HB 1113 would direct the Department of Health to set regulations and certifications for the practice of community paramedics and to require insurance coverage and medical reimbursements for services. Community paramedicine provides smart and cost-saving alternatives to primary care and traditional emergency services.
- First time homebuyers savings account. State Rep. Rosemary Brown and I introduced HB 1981 to create first-time homebuyers saving accounts. The legislation would allow first-time homebuyers to place money into a savings account used exclusively to purchase a first home. That money could be deducted from state income tax.
- Fixing Pennsylvania’s “skills gap.” HB 2012 would amend the Workforce Development Act to strengthen relationships between industry leaders and post-secondary schools. This would also work to expand workers’ skills, provide more opportunities and increase competition among businesses.
- Preventing the Quick Resale of Stolen Electronic Devices.The opioid crisis has impacted our communities in many ways. One of the most significant is the victimization of people by those intent on feeding their addiction. Every day, homes are being burglarized for easily resalable electronics that can be turned around quickly for cash at second hand stores. My legislation would create a system in Pennsylvania similar to the one in place regarding precious metals, requiring for-profit second-hand stores to retain the name and address of sellers for electronic devices, designed to allow district attorneys to track and reunite stolen electronics with their rightful owners.
- National Safe Boating Week. House Resolution 903 recognized May 20-26, 2017, as “National Safe Boating Week” in Pennsylvania, allowing boating groups to promote boating procedures and the importance of life jackets.
- Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting Awareness Week. HR 368 designated June 4-10, 2017, as Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting Awareness Week, while HR 937 designated June 3-9, 2018, as the same. This resolution raises awareness on the damages that spousal conflict can inflict on children often caught in the middle.
- Light the Night Walk Month. HR 399 and HR 995 recognize September as “Light the Night Walk Month” in Pennsylvania for 2017 and 2018, respectively. In an effort to celebrate and honor both survivors of blood cancers and those who have passed, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society hosts “Light the Night Walks” in communities across the country, providing more than $1.2 billion dollars for important research.
- Childhood Brain Stem Glioma Awareness Month and Jax Stone Day in Pennsylvania. Jax Stone was an exceptional young man who fought childhood brain stem glioma with courage and resilience. Brain stem glioma is a disease in which a tumor occurs on the brain stem and significantly impacts many vital life functions. Despite his difficult diagnosis, Jax always displayed an incredible amount of compassion and kindness toward his family and community up until his passing in 2014. Far more research is needed to understand the cause of brain stem glioma and to effectively treat children, like Jax, who have been diagnosed with the horrific disease.
- National Epilepsy Awareness Month in Pennsylvania. Approximately 3.4 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, a disease characterized by recurring seizures. As the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States, epilepsy kills up to 50,000 individuals in this country annually. Yet, even with this prevalence, misinformation and misperceptions persist. This reality necessitates increased societal awareness to combat stigma in the hope of improving the quality of life for people with epilepsy.
I am proud of my legislative efforts in Harrisburg alongside the other elected officials throughout the legislature. In the current 2017-2018 session, I’ve been a cosponsor of more than 150 pieces of legislation as well as 600 House resolutions, and worked with the Erie delegation to bring back roughly $40 million in state grant funding to our region.
To date, my dedicated team and I have also worked with nearly 10,000 constituents on close to 14,000 different district cases this session. From assisting with applications for state programs to providing car registrations and so much more, our team works enthusiastically to help make your life a little easier any way we can.
My work in the state Capitol is all in efforts to promote, enhance, protect and recognize residents of the 3rd Legislative District and northwestern Pennsylvania. I look forward to continue working on your behalf. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you.