Jun. 14, 2024

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The Barb Wire
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol
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Capitol Update
Food Processing Residual (FPR) Legislation Introduced
I am happy to announce that bi-partisan FPR legislation has been introduced as House Bill 2393 - and I am one of the prime sponsors. The legislation will help keep farms and communities safe by managing residual food processing waste.

In the past year, residents of multiple municipalities in the Commonwealth have voiced their complaints to both my office and to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the application of noxious food processing residual (FPR) on farmland. Residents were sounding the alarm about health and safety issues related to gas or methane odors and water runoff.

FPR is exactly what it sounds like, waste left over from food manufacturing that can include vegetable peelings, raw meat scraps and liquid like cleaning wastewater that includes blood, fat, hair and feathers.

In Pennsylvania, FPR can legally be applied to farmland as an inexpensive way to increase the amount of organic matter in soil, but it can also be a way to more cheaply dispose of this waste than traditional removal. Our surrounding states have largely banned the practice, which means Pennsylvania is being targeted by out-of-state companies looking to cheaply dump their waste.

Currently, there is no other regulation or oversight at the state level. Farmers who are applying FPRs will now need a plan and will be given guidance on application, hauling and soil testing. There will now be a central complaint system for people who object to the impact of FPR on their homes and livelihoods. The FPR manual has not been updated since June 1994 and is woefully outdated.

For the last year, I have been working with the DEP and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to update the Food Processing Residual Management Manual and ensure that FPR can still be applied to farmland or stored in an appropriate manner to eliminate any negative impact that it could cause.

After months of hard work and dedication, along with many state agencies and attorneys, I believe we have a great product for all concerned in House Bill 2393. You can access the language of the bill here.

On the Floor
House Bill 1021: Law/prohibiting discrimination in certain life insurance policies based on certain drugs.
House Bill 1064: Tax Increment Financing Act/expanding eligible projects for tax increment financing districts.
House Bill 1754: Insurance Company Law/precision medicine: "biomarker" testing.
House Bill 2127: Perinatal and Postpartum Screening Act/postpartum depression screening and care.
House Bill 2370: School Code/Education Funding System.

House Bill 2182: Title 75/providing for visual signals on authorized vehicles.
House Bill 2196: Contract Automatic Renewal Act/establishing consumer protections for automatic contract renewals.
House Bill 2309: Title 3/Helping Our Dairy Farmers Access the Dairy Margin Coverage Program.
House Bill 2310: Title 3/Agriculture Innovation.

No bills on final consideration.

Education Funding Plan Lacks Accountability, Hurts Choice Options
 Click here to watch
I voted no on the education funding plan that passed the House this week because it falls short of providing the transformational change needed to boost classroom success for all students and results in the need for tax increases totaling $2,000 annually per a family of four.

• Total school district revenues from all sources (local, state and federal) increased to $36.6 billion in 2022-23. The total comes to nearly $22,000 per student.
• School district enrollment shrank, and school district employment increased in 2023-24.
• School districts collectively hold $6.8 billion in reserves, an increase of $836 million over the prior year.
• More than half of Pennsylvania school districts sit on reserves of more than 20% of their spending.
• In total, these reserves amount to 24% of school district expenditures—nearly double the percentage in state’s Rainy Day fund.
• Despite record funding for education, student achievement lags.
• Notably, half of the state’s fourth and eighth graders cannot read or do math proficiently at grade level.
• A total of 34 schools report zero students proficient in math.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics released in early May shows that Pennsylvania ranked seventh highest in the nation in revenues per student in 2022, nearly $4,100 above the national average.

These totals would shock most voters. In our latest Common Ground poll released in April, voters estimated that Pennsylvania taxpayers only spend less than $4,000 per student on public schools, far below the actual $22,000 spent. Meanwhile, 45% believe $22,000 per student in annual spending is “too high,” and only 18% see this amount as “too low.” Overall, 61% of voters oppose paying additional taxes to provide a $6 billion increase in public school funding.

Introduced in response to last year’s ruling by Commonwealth Court that our education funding system is unconstitutional, the proposal would place a massive burden on taxpayers while providing no accountability and no meaningful measures of success in a system that has received increased funding year after year, but continually produces declining test scores and students unprepared to further their education or begin careers.

House Bill 2370 also does a disservice to students who need alternative educational opportunities by significantly cutting funding to Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools, which currently educate more than 65,000 students in the Commonwealth.

The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Lifeline Scholarships Plea from Pastors
Black Pastors United for Education (BPUE), a network of non-sectarian, bipartisan pastors and congregations, and the group’s founder, the Rev. Joshua C. Robertson, presented an open letter to the governor signed by 60 pastors across the Commonwealth this week in support of Lifeline Scholarships. I was happy to attend their press conference at the Capitol in support of their efforts. You can read more about it here.

Aging and Older Adults ADRD Hearing

 Click here to watch my remarks
On Monday, the House Aging and Older Adults Committee held a hearing to discuss two companion bills, House Bill 2400 and Senate Bill 840 (both identical), which seek to establish an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD) infrastructure within the Department Aging. Testimony was provided by Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich and Clayton Jacobs, executive director of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.

Title IX and Women’s Sports
 Click here to watch
State Rep. Joe D’Orsie and I had a great discussion about efforts to protect women’s athletics recently.
Major Step Forward for Women’s Sports
In a major step forward in protecting women’s sports, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a Swiss-based international body for settling disputes that arise within the world of high-level athletics, this week wrote a 24-page decision that Lia Thomas was “simply not entitled to engage with eligibility to compete in WA competitions.” You can read more about it here.

Congratulations PHARE Recipients in the 199th!
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) board approved the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement (PHARE) applicants. The money to fund this round of PHARE applications came from two sources: Marcellus Shale Impact Fees and Realty Transfer Taxes. Awardees in the 199th include:

Community Partners for Change, Landlord Engagement Pilot Program
$150,000 PHARE/Realty Transfer Tax Proposal Description: The Landlord Engagement Program is a four-pronged approach to build relationships, educate, connect and incentivize landlords to rent to households most in need of affordable housing. Through a dedicated point of contact, landlords will be educated on alternatives to eviction and connected to resources for both them and their tenants. Through a matching process, landlords and homeless and low-income households will be connected based on unit type and location.

The Salvation Army - Stuart House, Genesis House, and Social Services Office
$100,000 PHARE/Realty Transfer Tax Proposal Description: The Salvation Army’s Stuart House and Genesis House programs prevent homelessness. Stuart House offers eight single rooms for adult women and children 17 and younger. There are also three apartments for families on another floor. Genesis House has three single rooms for adult men. Both houses feature private bedrooms and shared common areas. Residents are assessed a monthly fee that is below fair market value, and they work with a case manager.

Community CARES, Cumberland County Homeless Prevention: Emergency Shelter, Case Management, and Homeless Prevention Services
$120,000 PHARE/Realty Transfer Tax Proposal Description: Homeless prevention activities including adult emergency shelter, family emergency shelter, and financial assistance to prevent/divert homelessness.

Got Milk?
Last Saturday, I helped distribute free milk at the annual Glenn Peffer's Milk Giveaway at the Carlisle Country Market.


June is National Dairy Month!
If you’re looking for outdoor, family-friendly events this summer, you can celebrate Pennsylvania dairy with the entire family by attending one of these events in June and July! With June being National Dairy Month and July being National Ice Cream Month, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the 5,000 dairy farms that call Pennsylvania home. Find more information and events here.

Flag Day Friday
Today commemorates the adoption of the United States flag. Since a 1916 proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson, this date has been marked as “Flag Day.” Congressional legislation designating that date as national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949.

From 13 stars to 50, the American flag has been a symbol of freedom and liberty throughout the world. To learn more about the history of the American flag, click here

To learn more about how to treat the flag and how to display it, read the United States Flag Code here.

If you have a flag that needs to be properly disposed of, you may bring it to my district office and we will take care of it for you.

Sunday is Father’s Day
Thanks, dads, for all that you do!

Juneteenth National Freedom Day
This Wednesday, June 19, is Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Considered the longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas – the furthest point in the south – with news of the end of the Civil War, which had occurred two months earlier with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

The troops’ arrival also came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves and ending slavery in the United States. Learn more about the history of Juneteenth here.

Our office will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in honor of Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

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District Office: 437 E North Street | Carlisle, PA 17013 | Phone: 717-249-1990
427 Irvis Office Building | House Box 202199 Harrisburg, PA 17120-2199 | 717-772-2280