|Cutting Through the Red Tape
This week, state lawmakers and business leaders from across the Commonwealth announced a multi-bill package specifically designed to rein in state government overregulation.
The bills include giving the Legislature the ability to initiate the repeal of any state regulation in effect; establishing the Independent Office of the Repealer to undertake an ongoing review of existing regulations; requiring legislative approval of an economically significant regulation; making the permitting process more transparent; requiring each agency to better educate the regulated community regarding implementation of any new regulation and its requirements; and improving the regulatory culture so the application of existing laws is collaborative and not punitive.
Also announced was a Regulatory Overreach Report, which showed that Pennsylvania’s restrictive regulatory environment kills family-sustaining jobs, strangles opportunity and cripples economic growth.
Pennsylvania currently has more than 153,000 regulatory restrictions that stretch across every industry in the Commonwealth.
Concealed Carry Seminars Coming Feb. 15 and 22
Rep. Garth Everett and I will host Concealed Carry Seminars on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., at the Community Baptist Church, 1853 State Route 87 in Montoursville and on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Company, 2311 State Route 54 Highway in Montgomery.
Presenters will include Lycoming County Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade, who will discuss Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws; Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk, who will explain rules and regulations surrounding licenses to carry firearms; Pennsylvania State Trooper Angela Bieber who will discuss how to safely interact with the police when carrying a firearm; and an officer from the Pennsylvania Game Commission who will discuss firearm carry laws as they relate to hunting seasons.
Seating is limited and advance registration is required. Those interested in attending should contact my district office by calling (570) 321-1270 or emailing Kristi Marshall at email@example.com.
PennDOT REAL ID Update
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) says the Commonwealth remains under a REAL ID enforcement extension until Oct. 10. This means that you can use your current driver’s license or ID card to board a commercial aircraft or enter federal facilities that require an ID until at least that date.
The federal Department of Homeland Security had set Jan. 22 as a deadline to comply with the READ ID standards, but the extension ensures your usage of PennDOT-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards as usual.
PennDOT said that REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards will be available to residents in spring of 2019. The state will continue to seek extensions on the federal mandate until that time.
For more information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, visit penndot.gov/REALID.
Opioid Emergency Shouldn’t Impact Second Amendment
To help ensure that residents’ Second Amendment rights are not inadvertently impacted by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction, new legislation has been unveiled to protect that right.
With the emergency declaration, the governor activated an automatic trigger in the Crimes Code dealing with the Second Amendment. While this may make sense in the context of a natural disaster, it could cause problems for law-abiding citizens now. Never before has a disaster emergency been declared for a public health reason.
Under state law, an emergency declaration criminalizes the open carrying in public or on public property of any firearm – whether a handgun, rifle or shotgun. The intent of this prohibition is to protect communities from looting and criminal behavior in the time of a natural disaster, and would last for the full duration of the declared disaster.
While the declaration of disaster for the opioid crisis gives the state tools to use to help Pennsylvania citizens in this public health crisis, the issue regarding the Second Amendment is not necessary and should not be in effect.
The legislation would simply clarify that the prohibition against open carrying of an otherwise lawful firearm only applies if the disaster declaration expressly declares that such a prohibition is required to maintain public safety. Because the governor’s recent disaster declaration made no such declaration, upon enactment of this bill, Second Amendment rights would once again be secure in Pennsylvania.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Forms to be Available Monday
Forms for the state’s 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program will be available for download from the Department of Revenue’s website starting Monday, Jan. 22. Paper forms will be available in the coming weeks.
Eligible participants can receive a rebate of up to $650 based on their rent or property taxes paid in 2017. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians who are 65 years or older, widows and widowers 50 years or older, and those 18 years or older with disabilities. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
Residents do not need to pay a private entity for assistance in filing the forms. Copies of the forms, as well as assistance with filing them, are available at no cost at my district office(s); however, applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. Applications are due by June 30.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is one of many initiatives supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery, which dedicates its proceeds to support programs for older Pennsylvanians.
For more information, visit my website at RepWheeland.com.
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a good time to raise awareness of cervical cancer and learn more about Pennsylvania’s HealthyWoman Program, which is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program for those who are not insured or whose insurance doesn’t cover the screenings.
Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is virtually always preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.
Among the services offered are pelvic exams, Pap smears and follow-up diagnostic tests for an abnormal screening result. Cervical cancer screenings are recommended for women beginning at age 21.
For more information, call the HealthyWoman hotline at 1-800-215-7494 or click here.