|Tracking Every Cent of Taxpayer Money
With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House last week approved legislation to greatly enhance the public’s ability to track every cent Pennsylvania receives and how the state spends taxpayer dollars.
House Bill 1843 would enhance the Pennsylvania Treasury’s Transparency Portal website and make the program permanent so it is always available to taxpayers.
Specifically, the legislation would create the Commonwealth Checkbook, a user-friendly online ledger to show the public how and where their tax dollars are spent. The bill would also require state agencies to post budget requests online.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Staying Safe Behind the Wheel
To help reduce incidents of distracted driving in Pennsylvania, the House Transportation Committee recently endorsed House Bill 1684, which would prohibit the use of hand-held mobile telephones and similar devices, except with the use of hands-free accessories, while operating a motor vehicle.
Under the bill, all motorists ages 18 and older would be prohibited from using a hand-held phone while the automobile is in motion. Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 would be prohibited from using both hand-held and hands-free devices. The bill would also make it clear that if an individual is holding his or her device while the car is in motion, he or she is presumed to be using it.
The first offense for violating this law would be $50 and two points to a driver’s license and $100 for a second or each subsequent offense.
The northeastern region of the United States – including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia – all ban hand-held cell phone use. In total, 16 states ban hand-held cell phone use.
The bill has now been sent for consideration to the entire House.
To participate in a web poll on this issue, click here.
The Wall That Heals Attracts Thousands
Thousands of people have been flocking to the state Capitol this week to see The Wall That Heals, a replica the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex.
“The Wall That Heals” and an accompanying mobile Education Center has been on display since opening ceremonies on Wednesday, May 9, and will be available for public viewing, 24 hours a day, until 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 13. Admission is free.
Constructed of powder-coated aluminum, the wall features 24 individual panels bearing the names of more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Since many Americans have not been able to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), creators of both the original wall and the replica, want to give all citizens, veterans and their family members an opportunity to see the memorial.
To watch the opening ceremony, click here.
Additional information about the mobile replica can be found at thewallthatheals.org. For more information about the Capitol event, visit this site.
Attention Women Veterans: Survey Available on State Services
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is currently conducting an online survey to identify issues of concern to Pennsylvania’s approximately 60,000 women veterans.
Survey topics include benefits and services, access to health care and veterans’ service organizations. The data submitted by respondents will be used by DMVA to recommend policies or procedures that address issues women veterans face as a result of military service.
The survey will be available through June 18 here.
Benefits Available for Amputee and Paralyzed PA Veterans
The Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension program offers eligible Pennsylvania veterans a pension of $150 per month through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).
To be eligible, veterans must have served in the military honorably; resided in Pennsylvania upon entering the military; suffered a service-connected injury or incurred a disease resulting in the loss or loss of use of two or more extremities (arms/hands or legs/feet); and have at least a 40 percent disability compensation rating or higher in each limb as determined and certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Pennsylvania veterans should contact the County Veterans Affairs Director in the county they reside to apply. More information about the DMVA Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension program can be found at Pension Program.
About 1,800 veterans are currently enrolled in the program.