Jun. 09, 2019

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.
June word of the month is “Ethics.”

“The discipline dealing with what is good, bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles; a theory or system of moral values.”

Proud of my Daughter

Congratulations to my daughter Kennedy who graduated from high school this past Saturday. As the oldest of three, she is my first to head off to college and begin her journey towards a biology/pre-med degree.

So proud of all you have become Kennedy- love you!
Congratulations to all of the students of the Class of 2019 and their parents/ guardians for their hard work and efforts. Wishing you all tremendous success and happiness!
Brown Continuing Success with Financial Literacy Efforts in Harrisburg

On Wednesday, June 5, my Incentive-Based Savings Account legislation, House Bill 858, was passed unanimously by the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Far too many Pennsylvanians struggle to build their savings, as most of their money is put toward paying their bills. By offering incentives, we reinforce the importance of creating a personal “rainy day fund” to ensure money is set aside for unexpected events, emergencies and even retirement.

This legislation authorizes certain financial institutions to offer incentives, such as the opportunity to win prizes, additional money, etc., for saving money. By creating an incentive-based savings program, this legislation will help foster monetary savings among constituents by giving them a chance to benefit additionally while they help build their savings.

This measure also builds on my continuing efforts to ensure that financial literacy is being taught in our schools so that knowledge can guide our children to developing a financially stable future.

As part of my financial literacy efforts, I have also introduced First-time Homebuyers Savings Account legislation, House Bill 128, which is currently being considered by the Senate, and House Bill 49, which would require public schools to allow students to apply credits earned through courses in personal financial literacy to satisfy graduation credit requirements.

House Bill 49 will be up for a final House vote in the coming weeks.
Continuing Support for PA Military, Veterans

In recognition of the service and sacrifice of active duty military and veterans in the Commonwealth, the House is always working to enact policies that help and support these men and women and their families.

This week, we approved House Bill 630 to extend Pennsylvania’s current employment protections to Pennsylvania citizens who are members of another state’s National Guard and are called up to serve outside of the Commonwealth.

We also approved House Bill 1050 to ensure an in-state tuition rate for military families as soon as a student enrolls in a public college or university, regardless of whether his or her military parent is reassigned out of the state. Both bills are now pending consideration in the Senate.

Finally, lawmakers joined with representatives of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to send off seven new vans that will help DAV volunteers transport veterans to their VA medical appointments.

For more information about state services and support for our military and veterans, visit the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website at dmva.pa.gov.
Welcome East Stroudsburg South Student Matthew Ruiz

Matthew Ruiz, a junior at East Stroudsburg South, shadowed me in my Harrisburg office on Tuesday, June 4, and had the opportunity to attend meetings, an education hearing and session as well as help me show support for the dairy industry.

We had a quick break to grab a milkshake and a chance to meet with many Dairy Princesses and Ambassadors from across the state!

It was a pleasure getting to spend the day with Matthew and his father, Raymond Ruiz, who is a Marine veteran. I wish you the best of luck, Matthew, as you begin your senior year of high school in the fall! What an amazing young man.

Bills Advance to Grow PA Agriculture

Recognizing the important contributions of the state’s agriculture industry, the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee this week approved a package of bills to support current and future farmers in the Commonwealth.

Among the bills approved by the committee are ones to create a Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to ensure a quick state-level response to threats such as invasive species or disease; establish a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to help farmers create a business plan, transition plan or succession plan; and empower the State Conservation Commission to provide technical assistance and financing options for implementing best management practices.

To ensure our youth have greater exposure to and understanding of the importance of farming, other bills would revive the PA Farm-to-School Program to support child nutrition and reestablish the former Agriculture and Rural Youth Development Program to fund youth organizations that promote development in agriculture, community leadership, vocational training and peer fellowship.

Other measures aim to boost enrollment in the veteran farmer Homegrown by Heroes program, provide specialty crop block grants, aid with meat inspection costs for small or new processors and protect agritourism business from lawsuits where no party is at fault for injuries or damages.

The bills now go to the House for consideration.
Follow This Trail for Sweet Treats!

There’s nothing like a delicious ice cream cone or sundae on a warm summer day or night…or both!

To help Pennsylvanians find the best of the best and support local farms, the state departments of Agriculture and Community and Economic Development have unveiled an expanded Pennsylvania Ice Cream Trail program for 2019.

The program includes a passport that visitors can have stamped at each of 32 stops along the three trails in eastern, southcentral and western Pennsylvania. More information about creameries on the trail, including a downloadable passport and prize information, can be found at visitPA.com/scoops. Be sure to post your pictures to social media using the #PursueYourScoops hashtag.

The trails officially opened June 1 in conjunction with the start of Dairy Month in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth is ranked sixth in total milk production nationally, with 525,000 cows producing more than 10.8 billion pounds of milk each year. We have the second largest number of dairy farms in the country, second only to Wisconsin. The average herd size is around 80 cows, and 99% of all dairy farms in Pennsylvania are family owned.

Center for Independent Living’s Annual Legislative Luncheon

Last week, the Center for Independent Living held its annual Legislative Luncheon at its Transitional Skills Center in Scranton. What an amazing and passionate staff. You can feel the warmth from the moment you walk through the door!

The center provides students with the skills needed to be independent and job ready. The facility includesa sensory room, kitchen, classrooms, a “grocery store,” and the students even tend to a full garden. It was a privilege to see firsthand the students learning and interacting. Thank you for hosting us!

Measures Aim to Improve Mental Health Care Access

Working to strengthen communities and support Pennsylvania families, we are continuing our efforts to improve access to behavioral health services in the Commonwealth.

House Resolution 268 directs the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to assess the Commonwealth’s treatment capacity for mental and behavioral health care by studying the patient care and financial impacts of delayed emergency department discharge of patients with a behavioral health diagnoses, and the cause of such delays.

A second measure, House Resolution 193, calls on JSGC to study the shortages in the mental health care workforce that are leading to delays in obtaining treatment.
The House also approved a bill to clarify current law regarding consent to mental health treatment for minor children. House Bill 672 specifically states a parent can consent to care without a minor’s approval. While this is the intent of current law, there has been confusion among parents, minors and providers about who can or must consent to care.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
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.