Jul. 14, 2019

 
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The latest news from PA State Representative Rosemary Brown


District of Character
The “District of Character” is an initiative I created to enhance character development and promote daily reminders for residents of the 189th District about how we can create a stronger community without policy changes. No one is perfect, but we can always work to improve our character daily.
July word of the month is “Temperance.”

“Moderation in action, thought, or feeling; showing restraint.”
                       
 
PASSHE Freezes Tuition for First Time in 20 Years

Good news for the nearly 100,000 students who attend East Stroudsburg University or other state system universities! The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of freezing state system universities’ tuition. The last time the Board of Governors held the line on tuition was 1998-99 – 20 years ago!

This freeze will keep in-state tuition at about $7,716 for the upcoming academic year and will hopefully draw more students to apply or stay in the state system and pursue their prospective career paths.

Nearly 90 percent of the PASSHE student body resides in Pennsylvania, and 72 percent of graduates find work in the Commonwealth within two years of earning their degree.

Next year, as part of its ongoing redesign efforts, the State System will for the first time permit individual universities to set multi-year tuition strategies, subject to board approval. This unprecedented measure, approved by the board in April, will result in public universities improving their competitiveness and affordability.

 
Fiscal Responsibility Leads to Healthy Deposit in State’s Rainy Day Fund

 
A strong economy, combined with House Republican efforts to stand up for taxpayers and against a series of tax hike proposals from Gov. Tom Wolf over the last four years, has resulted in a healthy investment of nearly $317 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The fund essentially serves as the Commonwealth’s savings account, available to help weather the next economic downturn without further burdening hard-working taxpayers.

Last year marked the first deposit in the Rainy Day Fund in more than a decade. It totaled just $22 million.

This year, lawmakers agreed during budget negotiations to deposit the full amount of the General Fund balance at the close of the 2018-19 fiscal year into the fund.


New Law to Save Taxpayers Money

 
Working to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, the General Assembly passed a new law that will enable the Commonwealth to pay off state debt more quickly and save on interest costs.

Act 43 of 2019 will change the way state bonds are issued to accelerate the retirement of Pennsylvania’s General Obligation debt, reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of state-issued bonds, and help the Commonwealth improve its bond rating.

The law requires the principal for new issuances of state debt to be repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond – usually 20 years – rather than front loading interest payments with lower principal payments that grow as the bonds mature.

 
Wolf Aims to Fund Voting Machine Replacement without Legislative Authorization

 
After vetoing a key election reform bill that would have also provided $90 million in funding to help counties replace their voting machines, an initiative the governor mandated, the governor announced this week he would simply go around the Legislature and legislation.

Leaders in both the House and Senate question the governor’s authority to take such action without legislative authorization.

The need for the funding was brought about by the governor’s decision to decertify every type of voting machine currently in use in the Commonwealth. It is estimated to cost $150 million to replace machines in all 67 counties, a significant burden on taxpayers across the state.

By vetoing the legislation, the governor is also ignoring other needed election improvements, including extending the deadline for submission of absentee ballots to ensure all votes count and creating a commission to manage the process for election machine decertification in the future.

Finally, the bill would have brought Pennsylvania in line with more than 40 other states by eliminating the “straight party” voting option, the measure most strongly opposed by the governor. The change could have opened the door to more minor party candidates and encouraged voters to cast their ballots for a person rather than a party.

 
Calling on the FCC to Protect Your Phone from Spoofers

 
Calls from telemarketers have long been an issue, but the situation becomes dangerous when scammers “spoof” calls. That’s when a call shows a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller. All too often it can result in recipients being tricked into sharing their personal information and scammed out of their hard-earned money.

Spoofing needs to be swiftly and aggressively addressed. Despite being illegal, these unwanted robocalls that appear to originate from local, often legitimate, numbers in order to deceive consumers are on the rise.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously supported a resolution urging Congress to grant additional authority to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop unwanted robocalls and spoofing, as well as to educate the public on how to report illegal calls. Spam calls are the most frequent complaint received by the FCC, and it’s time to do something about it.

While we implore the FCC to stop the harassment of Pennsylvanians through their own devices, residents can take action to limit another form of harassment – unwanted calls from telemarketers.

There are two Do Not Call Lists available: The National Do Not Call List and the Pennsylvania Do Not Call List. Register your cell phone and landline numbers with the state list by calling 888-777-3406 and the national list by calling 888-382-1222. Both phone numbers are toll free.

 
Local East Stroudsburg Native Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in U.S. Army

Congratulations to Matthew Horton, a 2015 graduate of East Stroudsburg High School North. In May 2019, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in health care management and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
This young man has just turned 22 years old and has been assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team Airborne, 25th Infantry Division as an Artillery Officer, based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage Alaska.

Matthew's parents are Roy and Marisela Horton of Tamiment and his younger sister, Barbara, is entering the third grade.

So proud of Matthew and his outstanding achievements! Wishing you continued success.


Project Healing Water Event Held in Stroudsburg

 
Last Wednesday, I spent some time at Project Healing Waters, led by veteran John Rocchio, and supported by our great community. Ray Starner, a constituent, offered his property for the fifth year and Rotary of the Stroudsburgs’ members supplied the barbecue and setup. Trout Unlimited also provided partners for each veteran and our Bushkill Ambulance team, Gail Kulick and her son Jonathan, were available if needed.

Thank you, John, for giving me a fly-fishing lesson too. The mission behind Project Healing Waters is to provide a peaceful, therapeutic activity for our wonderful veterans!

Just a reminder: If you are encountering an issue with state government, please feel free to contact my district office. We are here to help you with the following services:      
 
 - Driver’s license and vehicle registration applications and renewals. 
 - Assistance with PennDOT paperwork (lost cards, changes, corrections, special registration plates, vanity plates, and temporary placards for disabled persons).                         
 - PACE and PACENET applications for seniors.                         
 - State Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Work.
 - Voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications.                         
 - State tax forms.                         
 - Student aid applications.                         
 - Free state maps, state park information, and PA Vacation Guides.                         
 - Copies of legislation and tours of the State Capitol.                         
 - Referrals to agencies to resolve state-related matters. 
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Office Locations
143 Seven Bridge Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 | Phone: (570) 420-8301
210 Ryan Office Building, PO Box 202189, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2189 | Phone: (717) 260-6171
Email: rbrown@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614
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