In this Update:
Introducing Cody Law to the Senate
I had the honor to introduce Cody Law on the Senate floor. Cody is a 2018 NCAA Division II 157-pound National Champion at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Cody is currently a professional MMA fighter for Bellator MMA. It was great to have Cody and his girlfriend, Emily, at the Capitol.
Senate Finalizes 2023-24 State Budget
The Senate on Wednesday finalized the 2023-24 state budget by approving two major bipartisan budget implementation bills, which have now been enacted into law.
A large portion of the 2023-24 state budget was completed in August with enactment of the General Appropriations Act. However, several important components still required additional budget implementation language to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the governor.
House Bill 1300 (Fiscal Code amendments) and House Bill 301 (School Code amendments) make major investments in the future of Pennsylvania and achieve many of the principles and priorities identified by Senate Republicans as a focus in March.
House Bill 1300 includes several important and time-sensitive measures, including reauthorization of funding for county 911 systems, expansion of a tax credit helping parents seek and maintain employment and allocation of funding for an additional 100 Pennsylvania State Police troopers to help make our communities safer. House Bill 301 includes many provisions to expand education empowerment and access and increase school safety. Read more.
Bill to Combat Package Thefts Signed into Law
The Senate passed legislation to combat porch pirating – the theft of packages delivered to people’s homes – and it was recently signed into law.
Senate Bill 527, now Act 41 of 2023, implements specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. In Pennsylvania, theft of mail is currently charged based solely on the value of the item taken.
According to Forbes, Americans spent $1.7 trillion shopping online since 2020 and nearly eight in 10 Americans have had a package stolen in 2022. Pennsylvania now joins eight other states that have already made porch pirating a felony.
Bill to Safeguard Transit Operators Passes Senate
The Senate passed legislation to safeguard transit operators against assault.
Senate Bill 977 would make it a felony of the third degree to interfere with and cause bodily injury to an operator of any public transit vehicle. The offense would be steepened to a felony of the first degree if the intrusion causes serious bodily injury or death.
Senate Votes to Preserve Prescription Benefits for Seniors
Legislation to preserve senior citizens’ access to the state’s PACE and PACENET prescription drug benefit plans passed the Senate and is set for enactment.
Senate Bill 607 would continue a law set to expire this year through Dec. 31, 2025 that prevents Social Security cost-of-living increases from making seniors ineligible for PACE and PACENET.
Current income eligibility levels for PACE are set at less than $14,500 for a single person and less than $17,700 for a couple. PACENET, which covers those individuals with incomes exceeding PACE maximums, is open to individuals earning between $14,500 and $33,500 and couples with incomes between $17,700 and $41,500. The minimum age to participate in the programs is 65, and they are funded from proceeds of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
New Law Gives Young Adults Strong Financial Literacy Foundation
Legislation to provide students with basic money management skills was recently signed into law. Specifically, it requires completion of a half-credit personal finance course to graduate high school.
Recent estimates calculate there are more than 350 million American-owned credit card accounts, and, on average, credit card owners have about four cards apiece. Families in the United States are approaching approximately $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt and more than $15 trillion dollars in debt overall.
The course will give high school students the understanding they need about topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, home and auto loans; and planning for postsecondary education and retirement.
2024 Fishing Licenses, Permits for Sale Now
Fishing licenses, permits and vouchers for 2024 purchased now are valid immediately through Dec. 31, 2024. The price of an annual resident fishing license is $27.97. Multi-year options are also available in increments of three years, five years or 10 years.
They can be purchased through the HuntFishPA online portal on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, via smartphone by using the FishBoatPA mobile app or by visiting a retail license issuing agent.
Vouchers that can be given as gifts and are redeemable by recipients are also available.
Don’t Get Scammed This Holiday Season
Sadly, just as the holiday season is often a charitable time, there are people hoping to take advantage by scamming others.
From email and text phishing to delivery stealing to credit card skimming and more, there are so many ways to fall prey. Learn more about the common scams criminals use.
Protect yourself and your family by setting up alerts with your credit card company so you know when purchases are made and avoid paying with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo to buy a gift online. Never use Alexa to find a customer support number and dial for you or click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad or text message to make a purchase. Instead, go directly to the store’s website.
Sharing the Holiday Spirit with PA Veterans
If you would like to support our veterans and military families this holiday season, making a monetary donation goes a long way toward helping the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide members, veterans and their families with essential programs and services that would not be available otherwise.
Donations can be made by mail or online. They are tax-deductible, and gifts of any amount are appreciated. Learn more about making a donation.
Driving Safely During Inclement Weather
Pennsylvania has nearly 40,000 miles of roads – which translates to 96,000 snow-lane miles – that must be maintained during inclement weather so people can travel safely.
The approximately 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks have in-truck technology that logs and shares data in real time so the public can monitor the routes of their interstate and expressway travels on www.511PA.com.
Of course, drivers should avoid the roads until they have been cleared, if possible. Anyone who must travel is urged to use extra caution by slowing down, increasing their following distance and avoiding distractions. Read more winter driving tips here.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!
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