Jun. 20, 2019

Boosting PA Agriculture, Dairy Farmers

The focus on supporting our state’s top industry continued this week with House approval of several bills to help carry on our agriculture traditions for future generations and a Capitol rally in support of two federal bills aimed to boost the dairy industry.

The House gave overwhelming approval to measures that would ensure a quick state-level response to threats such as invasive species or disease; establish the Dairy Investment Program to provide grants to support dairy farmers; create a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help farmers develop a business plan, transition plan or succession plan; enhance youth exposure to opportunities in the agriculture industry; and empower the State Conservation Commission to provide technical assistance and financing options for implementing best management practices.

We also approved bills that would boost enrollment in the veteran farmer Homegrown by Heroes program, provide specialty crop block grants and aid with meat inspection costs for small or new processors.

Also on Tuesday, dairy farmers and advocates from across the Commonwealth gathered in the Capitol rotunda to rally support for two bills pending action in Congress that would help the dairy industry as well as our children. I was happy to participate in the rally and join in the call for once again allowing whole milk in our schools!

   
   

The “Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019” would allow flavored and unflavored whole milk to be offered in school cafeterias to give students more choice, while the Dairy PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of dairy products by calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce existing labeling requirements for milk. Essentially, non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds and plants could no longer be marketed as milk, yogurt or cheese.

The rally followed a meeting of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee in which committee members heard from two members of the state’s congressional delegation about the bills and also unanimously approved resolutions endorsing the measures.

PA State Officers, county farmers and dairy coalitions, asked Pennsylvanians to write and call members of the General Assembly and U.S. representatives and senators to press for passage of HR 832, HR 1769 and Sen. Toomey’s legislation. They encourage all Pennsylvanians to #ChoosePADairy when shopping for milk. Consumers can look for the plant code “42” stamped on milk containers and the PA Preferred® label.

 
Rep. Diamond personally thanked Congressmen Fred Keller and Glenn Thompson for their support of the dairy industry and shared a story from the 102nd District. 

 
 
Taxpayers Deserve Transparent Budgeting Practices

Respecting the taxpayers who foot the bill for the annual state budget, House Republicans took the lead this week in adopting several measures to bring more transparency to the budget process.

To help limit “supplemental” spending, which is spending on top of what is approved in each year’s budget, House Bill 855 would require the secretary of the budget to project revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year starting in December and put that amount of money in budgetary reserve to ensure the budget is balanced at the end of the fiscal year.

Additionally, House Bill 923 would require the governor to explain the reasons for any supplemental spending requests and offer recommendations for cost-savings or other reforms to address the cause.

Other reform measures would require the administration to provide additional details as part of the governor’s proposed budget (House Bill 922); require quarterly reports on funding committed and awarded through special funds that provide grants and subsidies (House Bill 921); and update budget procedures related to unspent appropriations and how those amounts are dealt with at the close of a fiscal year (House Bill 920).

The bills are part of the House Republican Caucus’ #GovtDoneRight initiative and now go to the Senate for consideration. To learn more, click here.
 
 
Wolf Vetoes Expansion of Scholarships for Private School Kids

“Thousands of students in Pennsylvania go to private schools using scholarships from the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. But the EITC has hit an arbitrary cap, and nearly half of applicants are now denied.” – The Wall Street Journal


Read more HERE.
 
 
Fighting to Eliminate Straight Party Voting

I was more than happy to support the elimination of "straight party lever" voting in my role on the House State Government Committee. Senate Bill 48, of which this provision is part, also improves the absentee voting process and creates a clearer method for decertifying voting machines in the future. Watch my comments during yesterday’s committee hearing below.

 

   
 
Fun for All Ages Awaits at PA Fairs

 
Summer has officially arrived, and that means it’s also Pennsylvania fair season.

From June through September, communities across the Commonwealth will host more than 100 fairs featuring food, fun and entertainment as well as competitive exhibits highlighting animals, produce, crops, crafts, baking and more.

To make your fair planning easier, the Department of Agriculture is offering an interactive Fair Guide this year that will allow you to search for your favorite events through the “Find Fairs Near Me” tool or filters that narrow down fairs by county, month or date.

Click here to use the interactive tool.
 
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