Mar. 01, 2019

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Budget Hearings Continue
 
The second full week of budget hearings wrapped up on Thursday, with members of the House Appropriations Committee asking agency and department officials a variety of questions about executive functions, programs and efficiencies. These questions, along with submitted written testimony, will serve as the foundation for budget negotiations this spring.

This week’s hearings featured the Pennsylvania State Police, as well as the departments of Transportation (PennDOT), Corrections, General Services, Health, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, as well as the Liquor Control Board and the Gaming Control Board.

Next week concludes the House’s budget hearings with appearances by the departments of Education, Agriculture, and Military and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and State Employees’ Retirement System.

The full schedule is available here. The site also includes links to video of the archived hearings once available.


Bill to Save on State Pensions
Last week, House Republicans passed House Bill 60 to prohibit future hires of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), which serves three states, from participating in the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). Currently, SRBC employees are receiving state pensions despite their not being state employees.

The SRBC was created by federal law in 1970 that also was adopted by the legislatures of Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

According to the Independent Fiscal Office – a non-partisan entity created to provide unbiased information to the state Legislature – there were 65 employees of the SRBC who were active, contributing members of SERS in 2017.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 

Protecting the Rights of Crime Victims
 
Understanding the struggle many crime victims face when seeking justice, lawmakers have been working to advance a package of bills designed to protect the rights of crime victims.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved five bills for consideration by the full House. The package includes:
o House Bill 276, a joint resolution known as Marsy’s Law, would add a victims bill of rights to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
o House Bill 502 would ensure victims can attend proceedings against their abusers.
o House Bill 503 would help victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism testify in court.
o House Bill 504 would shield rape victims from irrelevant cross examination.
o House Bill 505 would strengthen protections for young abuse victims.

Just as those accused of a crime have certain rights, House Republicans are ensuring crime victims are treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire criminal justice process.
 

Free Admission at Several Local Museums
 
To help the Commonwealth celebrate its 338th birthday on Charter Day, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will offer free admission to the State Museum in Harrisburg and many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History on Sunday, March 10.

Charter Day celebrates the founding of the Commonwealth and gives visitors to The State Museum of Pennsylvania a rare opportunity to see the original Charter of Pennsylvania written in 1681. The document will be on display until 1 p.m. Friday, March 15.

For a complete list of the participating museums and historic sites in this year’s celebration, click here.  
 

PennDOT to Start Issuing REAL IDs
 
Effective this Friday, March 1, PennDOT will begin issuing REAL IDs.

A federally accepted form of identification must be used as identification to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building starting Oct. 1, 2020. A Pennsylvania REAL ID will fulfill this requirement, as will a U.S. Passport.

Under state law, REAL ID is optional for Pennsylvania residents. PennDOT will continue to offer standard-issue driver’s licenses and photo IDs.

Pennsylvanians who have pre-verified their required documentation for obtaining a REAL ID may apply online to receive it without visiting a driver license center. PennDOT has indicated those IDs will be mailed out to recipients in 10 business days.

Residents who have not pre-verified but wish to obtain a REAL ID will be required to bring original versions or certified copies of the following documents for verification to a local driver license center:

o Proof of identity, such as an original or certified copy of your birth certificate with a raised or embossed seal, or a valid U.S. passport or passport card. Birth certificates with a sticker rather than an embossed seal will not be accepted.
o Proof of Social Security number by providing your Social Security card. The name on the card must match the name on your current driver license or photo identification card.
o Proof of legal name changes, such as marriage certificates or court orders issued by a family court. You must have documentation to show all name changes from your original name on your birth certificate to your current name.
o Proof of current, physical address, such as your current, unexpired driver license or state issued ID card, vehicle registration or utility bill. TWO forms of proof must be provided.

More information about REAL ID in Pennsylvania, including frequently asked questions and additional guidelines on documents required for REAL ID, can be found at penndot.gov/REALID. For additional information, please call my office at (570) 321-1270 .
 
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Office Locations                                                                                                                                                                      
349 Pine St. Suite 1, Williamsport, PA 17701 I Phone: (570) 321-1270  
Room 427, Irvis Office Building, PO Box 202083, Harrisburg PA 17120-2083 | Phone: (717) 787-2885 
Email: jwheeland@pahousegop.com
 
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