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Senator Don White

Harrisburg Happenings
A Report on the Legislative Session Week
January 19, 2016

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to send you my Session Wrap Up e-newsletter. This e-newsletter features events and legislative activities during the Session Week of January 19, 2016.

If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website for more information about your state government. If you do not wish to receive these e-newsletters, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of the page. If you would like to contact my office, please go to my web page and click the "contact" button. Please do not "reply" directly to this e-mail.


Don White

Local Projects Receive $17.7 M in PENNVEST Funding

I am pleased to report that four local projects received approval Wednesday for state funding totaling $17.7 million from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, of which I represent the Senate on the Board of Directors.

PENNVEST is not supported by the state’s General Fund budget, which covers the daily operations and services of the Commonwealth. Financing is provided through the use of federal funding and prior bond issues by the state as well as proceeds from the Marcellus Shale Impact Fee legislation, Act 13 of 2012.

A portion of the money raised by Act 13 is specifically dedicated to promote essential water and sewer system improvement projects across the state. This important funding for infrastructure improvement projects would be seriously imperiled if the state were to shift to the Governor’s proposed shale tax plan where the money would be dumped without constriction or restriction into the state’s General Fund budget.

Indiana County Projects Receive $12 million

Two Indiana County water projects received approval for funding totaling $12 million. PENNVEST approved a $3,978,721 grant and a $4,236,279 low-interest loan for the Indiana County Municipal Services Authority (ICMSA) and a $3,831,000 low-interest loan for the Central Indiana County Water Authority (CICWA) at its board meeting held in Harrisburg, according to Senator White, a member of the PENNVEST Board.

ICMSA will use the $8.2 million in PENNVEST funding for its Penn Run area project which involves the construction of approximately 87,500 feet of various size water lines along with related hydrants, valves, meters and about 300 service connections, as well as a 250,000 gallon water storage tank and renovations to the Heilwood water plant.

This project will provide a safe and reliable water supply for area residents and students attending Penns Manor schools. There are serious issues related to bacteria and coliform contamination of wells in that area now. This PENNVEST funding will ease the burden on ratepayers while allowing the authority to move forward with a much needed project. In the long run, this project will benefit the local agriculture community and students and improve the overall quality of life for residents in general.

CICWA will use its $3 million award for the construction of approximately 21,200 feet of various size water lines, a 220,000 gallon water storage tank, a chlorine feed system at the Route 119 pump station and the replacement of 4,200 feet of old water lines in Center Township. The project was awarded a $750,000 H20 PA Grant in 2013.

The water project will benefit Fabin Brothers Farm and Brookside Dairy Farm. It will also support the Indiana County Development Corporation’s proposed 30-acre business park in a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone at the intersection of Route 119 and Luciusboro Road.

This project not only benefits two of our local farms, but will also provide water service to the ICDC’s proposed business park which is expected to bring as many as 200 new family-sustaining jobs to the community. The success of the Corporate Campus, shows these investments provide real benefits in the form of new business and jobs. This project will hopefully encourage similar economic growth up the Route 119 corridor.

Armstrong County Projects Receive $5.7 Million

Two Armstrong County projects were awarded a combined $5.7 million in state grants. PENNVEST approved a $4,968,405 million grant for the Rayburn Township Joint Municipal Authority and a $761,400 grant for the Armstrong Conservation District.

Rayburn Township will use its PENNVEST grant for the construction of approximately 47,000 feet of eight-inch water line, a 200,000 gallon water storage tank, pump station and related fire hydrants. The project will provide water service to residents of Rayburn Township along portions of Iron Bridge Road, McMillen Road, Cownanshannock Road, Hayes Hollow Road, Anderson Creek Road, Sloan Hill Road, Mechling Road and the Route 28/66 areas in the township.

This work is basically the second phase of a major regional project. Last October, PENNVEST approved an $8.5 million low-interest loan for the Manor Township Joint Municipal Authority to construct a new 1.4 million gallon-per-day water plant to replace a plant that was built in 1957 and in very poor condition. The work is expected to begin early in 2016 and run through the year.

The current round of PENNVEST funding will significantly improve water service to Rayburn Township, providing better access to public water around the Route 28 bypass. Some residents in Rayburn Township, especially those living in the project area have some concerns about the reliability of their water supplies, particularly during the summer when some have seen their wells run dry. This PENNVEST grant will ease the burden on ratepayers while allowing the authority to move forward with a much needed project that will provide these residents with a safe and reliable water supply.

The Armstrong Conservation District will use the grant to install infiltration trenches, vegetated swales, riparian buffer restoration, revegetation and reforestation. Other storm water improvements include replacing 1,100 feet of culverts, constructing 4,100 feet of infiltration trenches, 4,100 feet of vegetative-lined channels and stabilizing two sections of streambank along Redbank Creek.

Click for my comments on the Indiana County’s PENNVEST financing.

Click for my comments on Armstrong County’s projects and PENNVEST financing in general.

Delay of Keystone Exam Graduation Requirement Sent to Governor

The Senate concurred Wednesday on House amendments to legislation delaying the graduation requirement associated with the state’s end-of-course tests.

Senate Bill 880, which delays the implementation of the Keystone Exams (algebra, biology and literature) as a graduation requirement until the 2018-2019 school year, now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Currently, the class of 2017 is required to pass the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology in order to graduate. The Keystone Exams were intended to ensure that Pennsylvania schools are preparing students effectively and efficiently for postsecondary education or the work force. However, the tests have raised concerns from educators, students and parents. The delay will give the state time to refine the tests to address those concerns.

Bill Provides Options for Schools to Meet State 180-Day Requirement

The Senate approved a measure on Wednesday that would give schools greater flexibility to meet the state’s 180-day requirements for classroom instruction after emergency and weather-related closings.

House Bill 158 would provide potential scheduling options for school entities facing extended closings that include a school year with a minimum number of hours of instruction, in lieu of the 180-day requirement, and approving additional instruction days on not more than one Saturday a month.

The bill returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

The Senate also approved and sent to the House Senate Bill 936, which provides for a one-time fee of $50 to cover the employer’s costs in setting up the wage garnishment to comply with the enforcement of a child support order.

Committee Approves Bill Reducing General Assembly Size

The Senate State Government Committee approved legislation that would reduce the size of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Senate Bill 488  would decrease the Senate from 50 to 45 Senatorial Districts and the House of Representatives from 203 to 153 districts. The proposed change requires an amendment to the state constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed by both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.

The Committee also approved House Bill 153, a Constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to 153 members, and House Bill 1484, legislation to further preserve Soldiers’ Grove, located across the street from the Capitol Complex.

All three bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Click here for video from the committee meeting.

Senator Don White is on facebook


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