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Budget Impasse Update
As we enter the fourth month without a state budget, it appears that no resolution is in sight.
In fact, things may have taken a step backwards with Governor Wolf’s veto on September 29 of the emergency funding package that would have provided vital financial relief to local school districts and social service agencies impacted by the prolonged budget impasse.
The emergency funding proposal was the latest effort by Republicans in the General Assembly to help schools, counties, municipalities, agencies and contractors that saw their state payments end on July 1 after Governor Wolf vetoed House Bill 1192 (the Fiscal Year 2015-16 general fund spending bill) on June 30 -- almost immediately after its passage by the General Assembly.
The fact is the emergency funding in no way represented a commitment to anything in the final budget. It was simply a way to get money to schools and social service organizations to see them through while negotiations continue.
It would also have released federal funds that are administered by the state. Taxes are continuing to be collected and money is just sitting in Harrisburg. The three-bill emergency funding package -- Senate Bill 1000, Senate Bill 1001 and House Bill 224 – would have provided $11.2 billion in state allocations. That represents one-third (four months) of the state funding as authorized by HB 1192 with limited exceptions.
Cheese Auction Benefits Local Youth
I was pleased to be joined by Commissioner Rod Ruddock at the Indiana County Fair Cheese Auction. I was joined in sponsoring this event by the Indiana County Dairy Promotion Committee. Proceeds benefit children involved in the 4H program, which includes the Don White Scholarship Fund.
Seeking the Best Photos of the District
I believe the 41st Senatorial District is one of Pennsylvania’s most scenic and picturesque areas and I am looking for photos that capture its spirit and beauty. That is why I am holding a photo contest in which the best entries will be prominently featured in the display window of my Indiana District Office at 618 Philadelphia Street.
Contestants may submit two photos per category: spring, summer, fall and winter. The contest is open to children and adults, but photos must feature locales in the 41st District. Entries will be accepted until October 31. Voting will take place in November with the winners to be announced in December.
More information and the entry form are available at http://www.senatordonwhite.com/photo-contest/.
New Partnership Supports Farmer Veterans
The state Department of Agriculture recently launched a partnership with the national Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) initiative to support Pennsylvania’s farmer veterans and provide consumers with a way to support current and former military service members.
Under this partnership, products from Pennsylvania’s farmer veterans can display a special “Homegrown by Heroes/PA Preferred” label. This designation will allow all of us to support our friends and neighbors who have chosen to serve our nation twice, by defending it and by feeding it.
Created by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, HBH was granted national status on Veterans Day 2013. It now has more than 250 members in 43 states and is supported by several national agriculture and food safety leaders including the USDA and the American Farm Bureau.
The program is open to Pennsylvania farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and value-added producers of all branches and eras of military service. For more information about participating in Homegrown By Heroes and how to support farmer veterans, go tohttp://www.farmvetco.org/homegrown-by-heroes/. To learn more about PA Preferred, go to http://www.papreferred.com/.
Enjoying the Ride at Avonmore Harvest Jubilee
A big thanks to the Avonmore Volunteer Fire Department for the lift during the Avonmore Harvest Jubilee parade on September 19. It was truly a pleasure to participate in the 51st installment of this wonderful festival.
Free App Available to Help Prepare for Emergencies
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s new smartphone app provides key tips to prepare for emergency situations. I encourage all Pennsylvanians to download the free ReadyPA app for Apple or Android or visit www.ReadyPA.org to find tips and valuable information on preparing for emergencies.
Emergencies, especially those created by severe weather, can arise in Pennsylvania at any time throughout the year. It is important to know that help may not be immediately available when an emergency arises, so PEMA recommends that residents should always be stocked with enough provisions to last at least 72 hours. The ReadyPA app and website provide sample checklists, contact lists and other important tools to help the public prepare for emergency situations.
In addition to taking steps such as storing medicines, flashlights and battery-powered radios, PEMA emphasizes people should especially consider those in their family who may have special needs that could inhibit their ability to help themselves. Families should include their pets in their preparedness planning as well.
Voting Underway for Color of 2016 Fishing License Button
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is encouraging anglers to vote online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R6PJ3L2 for their favorite color for the 2016 fishing license button.
In addition to six color choices for the button, the PFBC has also provided a Brook Trout button background as a choice. The online ballot will be available through Oct. 7.
Each custom button measures 1 ¾ inches with a high-quality, pin-back design and feature the angler's customer identification number, the same number displayed on a paper license. The PFBC re-introduced the availability of an annual Pennsylvania fishing license button in 2014. The selected button for 2016 will be available for purchase on December 1.
Mark your calendar
Representatives Dave Reed, Cris Dush and I will co-host a Senior Expo on Thursday, October 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the S&T Bank Arena, White Township Recreation Complex, 497 East Pike Road, Indiana.
The expo will provide you with information regarding the following services: Health Care, Insurance, Nutrition and Exercise, Fire Safety, Financial Planning Benefit Programs, Personal Safety, and Health Screenings.
Flu shots will be available. Please note that a Prescription Drug Take Back is being held during the expo. Collection is anonymous. Please remove any personal information from containers. Accepted: Prescription/over the counter dosage medications, liquid medications, creams & ointments, nasal sprays, inhalers and pet meds.
For more information, contact my Indiana County District Office at (724) 357-0151.
286 Main Capitol