Apr. 20, 2018

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

Community Meeting Scheduled for Southern Beltway New Construction
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will hold an open-house style community meeting to provide an update on its next section of work on the Southern Beltway project.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 2, from 6-8 p.m. at the South Fayette (Cuddy) Volunteer Fire Department Hall, 661 Millers Run Road, South Fayette.

The new construction will span from State Route 50 to almost Interstate 79. Information will be shared on future detours and construction activities.

Additional details about the project are available on my Facebook page at Facebook.com/RepOrtitay.

Promoting Self-Sufficiency with Welfare Work Requirements
To ensure that public assistance programs can benefit those in legitimate need, the House is advancing three measures designed to encourage self-reliance through work experiences. In other states with work requirements, families have seen their incomes double and have been able to follow their dreams of self-sustainability.

Passing the House this week was House Bill 2138, which would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to institute work or community engagement requirements for able-bodied Medical Assistance recipients. The work requirements include being employed or attending a job training program for 20 or more hours a week or completing 12 job training program-related activities in a month. Exceptions do apply for those unable to work.

Also before the House is House Bill 1659, which would require healthy (able-bodied) adults without children to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student in order to receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

Another bill advancing to help ensure maximum efficiency of welfare programs is House Bill 1618, which would require the forfeiture of any assistance allotments that are unused after a six-month period.

Filling In-Demand Jobs Now and in the Future
To help job creators fill in-demand jobs now and in the future, the House is considering a nine-bill bipartisan package this week seeking to improve career and technical education opportunities and enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

The package includes measures to promote public-private partnerships; remove barriers for qualified career and technical educators; expand awareness of training opportunities and future earning potential; increase flexibility for innovative secondary career and technical programs; enhance and promote articulation agreements; develop and maintain a comprehensive online career resource center; coordinate state-level career exploration and workforce development opportunities; improve local and occupational advisory committees; and add K-12 teachers to the membership of the Workforce Development Board.

The package was developed following recommendations made by the House Select Subcommittee on Technical Education and Career Readiness, which was created to study and review the Commonwealth’s career and technical education policy.

The bills are expected to receive a final vote in the House the week of April 30.

More information is available here.

Keeping Students Aware of College Debt
To help college students track their student loan debt and make more informed decisions about borrowing, legislation passed the state House unanimously this week to require colleges and universities to annually notify students about their debt obligations.

House Bill 2124 would require colleges and universities, which receive federal student loan information for their students, to send letters to students with loans each year, updating them on their current student loan debt level and obligation. The letters would be mailed or emailed in advance of a student’s acceptance of additional funding and would include estimates of the student’s total debt at graduation and projected monthly payments.

Similar legislation in other states has substantially reduced student borrowing and helped students and their families to make more enlightened financial choices.

Outstanding student loan debt in this country has reached an unprecedented $1.3 trillion.

The measure is now with the state Senate for review.

‘The Wall That Heals’ to be Displayed at State Capitol May 9-13
“The Wall That Heals,” a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and an accompanying mobile Education Center, will be displayed on the State Capitol Grounds Wednesday, May 9, through Sunday, May 13.

The display will begin with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. on May 9, and closing at 2 p.m. on May 13. The display will be open 24 hours each day, and admission is free.

Constructed of powder-coated aluminum, the wall features 24 individual panels bearing the names of more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. Since many Americans have not been able to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), creators of both the original wall and the replica, want to give all citizens, veterans and their family members an opportunity to see the memorial.

Additional information about the mobile replica can be found at thewallthatheals.org. For more information about the Capitol event, or to volunteer to watch over the wall while it’s on the Capitol grounds, please visit legis.state.pa.us/TWTH.

April is ‘Donate Life Month’
To encourage people to give the gift of life, House Resolution 821 was adopted by the House this week to declare April 2018 as Donate Life Month in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, about 8,000 people are on the organ donation waiting list and, on average, every 18 hours one of them will die waiting for the call that never comes.

The encouraging news is that more people are making the decision to “donate life.” About 4.7 million Pennsylvanians have said yes to organ and tissue donation by adding the donor designation on their driver’s license. More than 138 million Americans are registered donors.

In addition, Pennsylvania driver’s license and ID card holders can support organ donation programs with a $1 donation at the time of application or renewal. To date, nearly $14 million has been generously donated to the fund.

More information is available at donatelifepa.org.
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Email: jortitay@pahousegop.com