June 24, 2016
State Budget Negotiations Continue
State budget negotiations continue in
Harrisburg as we work to craft a fiscally responsible
spending plan. As Majority Leader of the State Senate, I am
pleased that the Governor is committed to passing a budget
in a timely manner so that schools and community
organizations are not adversely affected. Last year, we
were able to pass a budget that increased funding for
education, held the line on spending and did not include
broad-based tax increases.
That is our goal again this year, and I
believe the governor realizes there is no support for the
massive taxes he proposed earlier this year. I believe
state government, like taxpayers, needs to live within its
means and I will continue to work toward a budget that
reflects that priority.
Reforming State Government
Long awaited liquor reform has been signed into law this
week by the governor. I have long been a champion of
privatizing the state’s antiquated wine and spirits system.
House Bill 1690 is the first step in reforming
Pennsylvania’s outdated system. The legislation signed by
the governor makes changes that have had the support of
Pennsylvania residents for many years. Some of the changes
- Authorizing grocery stores with a restaurant license
to sell wine.
- Authorizing the direct shipment of wine to consumers
from private wine wholesalers.
- Giving state stores more flexibility on when they
can open and their hours.
Keeping Our Families Safe
Ignition interlock legislation that I strongly supported
was signed into law last month as Act 33 of 2016. The new
law will require convicted drunk drivers with illegal Blood
Alcohol Content (BAC) of .10 or greater to use ignition
interlocks for at least 12 months. It takes effect in 15
months. The law will help to save lives and reduce repeat
DUI ’ s while allowing first time offenders to drive in a
safe and controlled setting.
Statistics in states that have similar laws clearly show
the implementation of ignition interlock devices for
first-time offenders significantly reduce drunk-driving
fatalities. According to statistics compiled by Mothers
Against Drunk Driving, nearly 2 million drunk-driving
attempts have been stopped with ignition interlock devices,
including more than 78,000 instances in Pennsylvania between
2003 and 2015.
Raiders Win State Championship
Congratulations to The Red Raiders of Bellefonte on the
their PIAA Class AAA championship win over Susquehanna
Township earlier this month at Medlar Field in Lubrano Park.
It is Bellefonte’s first state title in baseball in school
history. This talented group of kids from my home town
showed a great deal of heart all season, battling back from
a 1 and 7 start and brought home a prestigious award to our
district and my home town.
Lyme Disease Increases Across PA
maintaining your property or engaging in recreational and
leisure activities, Pennsylvania residents in all 67
counties should be vigilant about preventing exposure to
deer ticks and Lyme disease, according to the
Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Combat exposure to
Lyme disease through the use of repellents and
protective clothing. Check regularly while outdoors and at
the conclusion of activities to determine if you picked up
an unwanted tick.
contracting the disease through the prompt and careful
removal of the tick with tweezers, followed by
application of rubbing alcohol to the bite area and your
hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer
details on thediagnosis
treatment of Lyme Disease.
Please Remember to Steer Clear for
Construction and Emergencies
Increased transportation funding means more road
construction crews along Pennsylvania roadways.
Motorists are asked to steer clear of road crews,
emergency personnel and law enforcement as they perform
their jobs. In 2015, 23 people were killed in work-zone
crashes. Additionally, there were 1,935 crashes in work
zones last year, an increase from 1,848 crashes in 2014.
Over the last five years, there were
9,117 work zone crashes and 105 fatalities in those crashes
Pennsylvania law states that anyone violating the posted
speed limit by more than 5 mph will face doubled fines. The
fine is determined based on the amount the driver is
traveling over the speed limit. A new state law states that
any driver who causes serious bodily injury within a work
zone can face up to $5,000 in fines and a six-month license
suspension. A driver causing a death within a work zone
faces up to a $10,000 fine and one-year license suspension.
In addition, drivers who don’t turn on their headlights
in posted work zones face a $25 fine.
When entering a posted
work zone, turn on your vehicle’s headlights. Current
law provides for a 15-day license suspension for exceeding,
by 11 miles per hour, the posted speed limit in an active
work zone. In addition, motorists convicted of homicide by
vehicle in an active work zone face up to five years of
additional jail time.
I joined 4th graders from
Benner Elementary School in the Senate Chamber during their
recent tour of the State Capitol.