Aug. 23, 2019

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

Recognizing an Eagle

 
Congratulations to Jack Self of Troop 2 in Bridgeville for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Jack is the 73rd Eagle Scout from the troop. It was an honor to present Jack with a House citation recognizing his accomplishments.
                                                     

Touring a National Guard Unit
                                   
 
On Monday, I joined some of my House colleagues in a visit to the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania National Guard in Coraopolis. Thank you to Col. Mark Goodwill for the tour. We learned about how the state can provide ways for unit members to serve their missions effectively and efficiently.
 

Save for Higher Education with State 529 Plan
 
For families looking to plan for higher education, the Pennsylvania Treasury offers two savings programs: the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP), in which growth is tied to the rate of tuition inflation, and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), in which investment returns are determined by financial markets.

Contributions to PA 529 plans are deductible from Pennsylvania income taxes, grow tax free, and, when used for qualified educational expenses, are federal and state tax exempt. Both plans provide flexibility to pay for higher education expenses at most higher education institutions across the country, including colleges and universities, as well as many technical and career schools. The money may also be used to pay for tuition expenses up to $10,000 at elementary or secondary public, private or religious schools.

The PA 529 GSP is offering free enrollment – a $50 savings – for all new accounts opened before Aug. 31. Sign up at PA529.com and use code “SUMMERGSP” when prompted.

The PA 529 IP features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options. No enrollment fee is charged for the PA 529 IP.

Information about both programs is available here.
 

New Ag Grant Programs Accepting Applications
 
Two new grant programs established as part of the 2019-20 state budget to help grow our Commonwealth’s agriculture industry are now accepting applications.

The Very Small Meat Processor Grant Program will provide funding up to $50,000 to meat processing businesses with annual sales of less than $2.5 million and fewer than 10 employees. The goal of the program is to increase the supply of locally produced meat products for local consumption. The funding is to be used to help small processors meet federal inspection and certification requirements.

The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program will provide microgrants of up to $2,500 or collaboration grants of up to $50,000 for projects to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources and support for community development efforts.

Both programs are now accepting online applications here.

The deadline to apply for the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program is Friday, Sept. 6. The deadline to apply for the Very Small Meat Processor Grant Program is Monday, Sept. 30.

More information is available at agriculture.pa.gov.
 

Seeking Investigation of PA’s Parole Processes
Responding to a series of murders committed by people recently paroled from the state prison system, the House Judiciary Committee is calling for an investigation of the state’s parole procedures by Inspector General Bruce Beemer.

While the Department of Corrections is rightfully conducting an internal review of these cases to determine if improvements can be made to prevent such tragedies, it is also vital to conduct an independent investigation to ensure every effort is being made to protect public safety.

In a letter to the inspector general, Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) pointed to the stabbing deaths of three children and a woman, the strangulation of a domestic partner, and the shooting death of a police officer committed by state parolees as evidence of the need for an investigation.
 

Savings Program to Support People with Disabilities Experiences Rapid Growth
A state program designed to help people with qualified disabilities save for future disability-related expenses has more than doubled its assets in just one year, reflecting the high level of popularity and need for this savings option.

PA ABLE provides a tax-advantaged way for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families to save.

Participation does not jeopardize access to state and federal programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (savings up to $100,000) and Medical Assistance. But it does allow for savings to be used to pay for any qualified disability-related expense including housing, education, health care and assistive technology to improve quality of life.

Administered by the State Treasury, the program has more than $18.4 million in assets, up from $8.6 million in July 2018. More than 2,500 PA ABLE accounts have been opened since the program launched in 2017.

For more information, visit PAABLE.gov or call 1-855-529-ABLE (2253).
 

Blue Star Museums Offer Free Admission to Active-Duty Military
 
Active-duty military personnel and their families have free access to dozens of museums in Pennsylvania – and thousands nationwide – through the Blue Star Museums initiative.

The initiative is a joint effort of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums nationwide.

The program concludes on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2.

To find participating museums, click here.
 
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Office Locations                                                                                                                                                                      
300 Old Pond Road, Suite 205A, Bridgeville, PA 15017 | Phone: (412) 221-5110
Room 143-A, East Wing, PO Box 202046, Harrisburg PA 17120-2046 | (717) 787-1281
Email: jortitay@pahousegop.com
 
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