|Legislative Year in Review
During the first half of the 2017-18 legislative session, the House advanced a number of important bills that seek to improve education, make our communities safer, enhance quality of life for families and senior citizens, and reform government – all while standing up for taxpayers.
In addition to passing a no-tax-increase budget, the House approved legislation to reform the public pension systems; force public officials and employees who are convicted of public corruption crimes to forfeit their government pension; keep children safe from online predators; extend the popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); protect senior citizens’ prescription drug coverage; and delay the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement.
Looking ahead to 2018, the House is coordinating a legislative agenda focusing on work and economic opportunity, educating for success, escaping government dysfunction, and protecting families and communities.
To review a list of bills passed by the House, click here to read our year-end report.
Nonprofits Win with Bingo Law Updates
As a way to help nonprofit organizations better raise funds for community needs, Act 66 of 2017 updates the state’s antiquated Bingo Law, which was enacted in 1981.
The new law increases prize limits from $250 to $500 for any one game of bingo; from $2,000 to $4,000 for jackpot games; and from $4,000 to $8,000 for the total amount of prizes awarded in a calendar day. It also gives community organizations the freedom to advertise the dollar value of cash prizes. Organizations will be permitted to advertise bingo games on the internet and through social media.
Additionally, the law removes restrictions on the number of days a licensed association may conduct bingo games, permits pre-draw bingo and allows for guest callers and for new members of an organization to assist with bingo.
Welfare Reform Efforts Unveiled
To help contain costs and bring about real reform to Pennsylvania’s welfare system, a package of bills was unveiled this week to give more Pennsylvania families an opportunity to improve their quality of life, while tackling waste, fraud and abuse from within the current system.
The legislation would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student in order to receive SNAP benefits; limit temporary assistance beyond five years and establish a cumulative 48-month lifetime limit; and start a pilot program that encourages companies to hire individuals receiving welfare.
The goal of the measures is focused on ensuring benefits are directed to those who are truly in need while making every effort to prevent waste, fraud and abuse.
These bills are the latest in a series to bring more integrity back to state government and escaping government dysfunction.
Know the Dangers of Frostbite, Hypothermia
With Pennsylvania in the grips of one of the season’s first cold spells, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has offered several tips to keep warm.
Dangerously cold temperatures can lead to life-threatening health problems like hypothermia and frostbite. Lower-than-normal temperatures and higher wind speeds can cause heat to leave your body more quickly than normal and result in serious health issues.
If venturing outdoors, make outdoor trips brief and dress warmly in layers; cover your ears, head, mouth and face; never ignore shivering; and know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia causes shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness in adults and bright red, cold skin and very low energy in babies. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas, and symptoms include a white or grayish-yellow area of skin, numbness or skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
Infants and older Pennsylvanians are at greater risk of serious cold-related health issues and should be checked frequently to ensure they are warm enough during cold weather.
Pet owners are also reminded of a new state law that prohibits animals from being tethered outside for more than 30 minutes in weather colder than 32 degrees.
For more winter-weather tips, click here.
Farm Show Starts Saturday
In case you missed it, the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show will kick off Saturday, Jan. 6, and run through Saturday, Jan. 13. This year’s theme is “Strength in Our Diversity.”
In addition to all the delicious food offerings, the Farm Show features 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.
Admission to the show is free, but parking is $15 per vehicle. Shuttle service is provided.
More information is available at farmshow.pa.gov.