Apr. 05, 2024

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The Barb Wire
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
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Update from the Capitol
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Last week I was given the privilege of chairing my first House Labor and Industry Committee, as the minority chair. There were three bills considered, all of which were passed along party lines. Both chairmen of the minority and majority parties were unable to make the voting meeting, and a lively exchange happened regarding the rules in that case – the exchange is attached. I offered up an amendment to House Bill 98, which would simply aligned the state law with federal law. It was voted down. Many business entities were opposed to the original bill as written, yet it goes on to the full House for consideration. Another bill, House Bill 2105, was opposed by the Department of Agriculture and the PA Farm Bureau, yet it also passed with a party-line vote.

House Bill 98 would amend the Equal Pay Law. It would:
•Expand the coverage and scope of the act.
•Add new prohibited acts by employers.
•Increase fines for violations.
•Increase the timeframe to bring a civil action against an employer.

House Bill 2104 would amend the Human Relations Act. It would:
•Require all employer to adopt discrimination/harassment policies and sets the minimum provisions.
•Require the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission  to develop and update standard policies for employers to use.
•Provide for fines for employers who do not have a workplace policy.
•Direct the fine money and existing civil penalty money to a new fund that PHRC gets to use for education and training.

House Bill 2105 would amend the Human Relations Act to remove exceptions for small businesses (under four employees), agriculture employees and domestic service employees.


Big Spring FFA    Shippensburg FFA
It was a pleasure to join FFA students from the 199th at their annual Leadership Breakfast on March 28 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.

Congratulations St. Patrick School!
Yesterday, I was happy to join The Bridge Educational Foundation, with the support of M&T Bank and Waste Management, for a check presentation of $48,000 of EITC scholarships to the families at St. Patrick School. Scholarship funds are made possible through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. In December, the Legislature passed a new School Code Bill, House Bill 301, which made a groundbreaking commitment to education freedom through a $150 million increase for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.

Last Chance to Register for Concealed Carry Seminar!
For planning purposes, registration is required online at RepGleim.com/Events or call 717-249-1990. Light refreshments will be served.

Support for Intellectual Disability and Autism Services
The proposed budget sets to eliminate the emergency waiting list for services for adults and reduce barriers to care for thousands of Pennsylvanians over the next several years – a major system change that will make Pennsylvania one of a few states to end their waiting list and provide access to vital services that help individuals with disabilities live more independently, pursue education and job opportunities, receive support for health and safety, and participate in an everyday life like all people deserve.

The budget also proposes to invest a combined $483 million in federal and state funding to support rate increases to service providers. This new investment comes ahead of schedule following Gov. Josh Shapiro’s announcement that Department of Human Services  would re-examine rates to better support Intellectual Disability and Autism  service providers and the direct support professionals who dedicate their careers to helping Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism receive the support they need to live in communities across the Commonwealth. This investment in rates will support recruitment, retention and increased wages for direct support professionals across this field who make inclusive, enriching lives possible for people with intellectual disabilities and autism.

One of my first initiatives as a state representative five years ago was to meet with DHS and request the formula be re-evaluated and adjusted due to population growth in Central PA, especially in Cumberland County. As the fastest growing county, we were at the bottom of the list of 67 counties in ID/A funding. I worked with Anne Couldridge, director of the The Arc of Cumberland & Perry Counties and a few other colleagues to bring attention to our shortfall. Most recently, Rep. Torrin Ecker and I met with acting secretary of the Office of Developmental Programs, Kristin Ahrens, to express our concerns for our residents. I am pleased to report that the department also found the formula to be lacking.

The number of people receiving services was strictly limited by the slots allocated. Moving forward, program capacity will be managed under an overall budget for each county, giving more flexibility to local program administrators to serve more people based on current needs, service utilization and overall costs. This shift will allow counties to serve more people with greater efficiency.

The 2024-25 proposed budget seeks to build on this by investing $78 million in federal and state funds to serve an additional 1,500 Pennsylvanians in the next fiscal year. The governor is proposing massive spending initiatives of which the taxpayer will be footing the bill, however, out of all of them, I will be supporting this line item for our most vulnerable in the disabled community.

Bridge Inspection Next Week on I-81 in Cumberland County
PennDOT announced a contractor is scheduled to inspect bridges on Interstate 81 in Cumberland and Franklin counties next week.

Weather permitting, the northbound and southbound I-81 bridges spanning Letort Spring Run between Exit 47 (Route 34/Hanover Street) and Exit 48 (Route 74/York Road) in South Middleton Township, Cumberland County are scheduled to be inspected Monday, April 8, and Tuesday, April 9.

The northbound bridge will be inspected Monday. There will be alternating left shoulder and right lane closures from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Exit 47 and Exit 48.

The southbound bridge will be inspected Tuesday. There will be a right lane closure from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. between the exits.

Travelers are reminded to be alert for these operations, to obey work zone signs, and to use caution when driving through work zones for their safety, as well as for the safety of the road crews.

Home Energy Costs Are Unaffordable
As Pennsylvanians deal with rising costs to heat and light their homes, a group of state House Republicans is introducing a package of bills that will address energy affordability across the Commonwealth.

The goal is to combat Gov. Josh Shapiro’s assault on Pennsylvanians’ wallets when it comes to paying for their energy.

The nine bills would boost support for energy efficiency and conservation programs; create an independent energy advocate; permit energy bills to be paid with pre-tax dollars; account for utility costs when calculating eligibility for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program; rename the current Department of Environmental Protection to better reflect its role in supporting energy production; encourage redevelopment of now-shuttered energy production facilities; create a new independent agency, which would oversee approving any regulation or action of a state agency that would impact the Commonwealth’s energy portfolio; require the government to show how regulations impact affordability for communities at risk for energy poverty; and direct the state’s entrance into a power-exporting state consortium within the PJM Interconnection.

Additional information is available here
LIHEAP Application Deadline Reminder
You can apply for LIHEAP online at dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS or by submitting a paper application to your local county assistance office by mail, fax or in person until Friday!

Reminder: Key Dates for Upcoming Primary Election
The 2024 Primary Election is coming up on Tuesday, April 23.

If you are not already registered to vote, the deadline to do so this Monday, April 8. To register to vote you must be a United States citizen, a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days before the next election and age 18 before the next election. You may register in person at your county elections office, by mail or by visiting the state’s online voter registration website

The last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot is Tuesday, April 16, by 5 p.m. Completed ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23.

For more information about voting in the Commonwealth, including how to check your registration and voting location, visit vote.pa.gov.

Check Your Eclipse Glasses
The Office of Attorney General is also urging consumers purchasing special glasses to view the April 8 solar eclipse to make sure they are getting legitimate solar-viewing glasses with the filters necessary to protect their eyes from the intense energy from the sun.

According to the American Astronomical Society, glasses that do not have the special filters have been flooding the market as scammers seek to capitalize on consumer demand. Consumers are urged to only purchase glasses marked with the international safety standard certification number ISO 12312-2 on the frame. Regular sunglasses are not sufficient for viewing the eclipse.

As a reminder, portions of northwestern PA are expected to see a 100% total solar eclipse, while the remainder of the Commonwealth will experience a partial eclipse ranging from 88% to 99% of coverage of the sun.

For additional information about the eclipse in PA, visit the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.
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427 Irvis Office Building | House Box 202199 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2199 | 717-772-2280