Governor Wolf Calls for $1.2 Billion in New Spending
Governor Wolf presented his 2018-19 budget proposal to lawmakers last week. The plan featured a $1.2 billion increase in spending, including approximately $256 million in new spending for Medicaid alone. I have serious concerns that this growth in spending is unsustainable and will only lead to tax increases in future years.
I introduced legislation last year that would help reduce Medicaid costs by up to $2 billion per year through the use of new technology and evidence-based medicine, and I am hopeful that idea will be part of the final budget agreement between the Governor and the General Assembly.
The plan also includes a $25-per-person tax on municipalities that do not have a full-time municipal police force and rely solely on State Police coverage. I strongly believe this tax – which would affect a disproportionate number of rural communities – is the wrong approach.
My full statement reacting to Governor Wolf’s budget address is available here.
Senate Passes Bill to Speed Up Response to Special Emergencies
Special Emergency Response Teams (SERTs) are made up of law enforcement officers who have special training in dealing with sensitive incidents, such as kidnappings, barricaded gunmen and hostage negotiations. The Senate recently approved a bill I sponsored along with Senator Ryan Aument to help these teams assemble more quickly and safely.
Senate Bill 1015 would allow SERT officers to use flashing lights and sirens when using their private vehicles to respond to incidents. More information about the bill is available here.
Legislation Would Prohibit Abortion Based Solely on Down Syndrome Diagnosis
Our region is home to many happy, healthy, productive individuals who have Down syndrome, and these men and women deserve to enjoy all of the love and joy that life has to offer. I recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the practice of selectively aborting a baby based solely on a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
An op-ed I wrote about this issue is available here. More information on the bill is available here.
Senate Panel Endorses Sales Tax Exemption for Volunteer Fire Company Fundraisers
The cost of firefighting equipment and training continues to rise, forcing volunteer fire companies to spend more time and energy on fundraising activities. The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill last month that I introduced to allow volunteer fire companies to keep more of the money they generate during fundraisers by exempting them from paying the sales tax on food and beverages sold during fundraising events.
The sales tax exemption would mirror the approach the state takes toward similar fundraising efforts, such as school sports booster clubs. More information is available here.
Update on REAL ID
In order to comply with federal photo identification standards, lawmakers approved a measure last year that would allow PennDOT to issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification beginning in 2019. The new cards will be available at the customer’s option.
The federal government granted Pennsylvania a waiver that allows state residents to use their current driver’s license or ID card as acceptable identity documents through October 10 of this year. PennDOT is applying for an additional extension to cover the time period after October 10 until the new licenses and ID cards are available.
More information on REAL ID is available here.
Hearings Scheduled on Governor Wolf’s Budget Plan
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a series of hearings on Governor Wolf’s proposed budget from February 20 through March 8. The three-week series of budget hearings will give lawmakers an opportunity to question the leaders of state agencies and the Wolf Administration about the potential impact of his budget and how it would affect community residents.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to discussing how we can deliver state services more efficiently and effectively. The complete schedule of budget hearings is available here.
Connect With Me Online
One of my most important jobs is keeping local residents up to date on the latest news from Harrisburg and in our communities. My website at www.senatorscottmartinpa.com includes all of the latest news on legislation of interest to local communities. The website also serves as an online district office where constituents can contact me with questions, suggestions and concerns.
I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SenatorScottMartinPA/) and Twitter (@senatormartinpa).
News For Constituents Available Now
In addition to the latest news from the General Assembly, my website at www.senatorscottmartinpa.com includes helpful information on a variety of topics that may be of interest to community residents, such as News for Constituents. The latest edition includes updates on Libre’s Law, resources for adult caregivers and more.
News for Constituents is available on my website under the News tab.
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