Jun. 11, 2017

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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. Click here to learn more.
June’s word of the month is “Good Citizenship.”
““The act of respecting others and their property, helpful and considerate; makes contributions to society.”

House Passes Pension Changes for New Employees
In a major step forward in the effort to reform the state’s public pension systems, the House this week passed legislation that aims to slow the growth of pension liabilities, shift risk away from taxpayers and ensure the Commonwealth can meet its future pension obligations.

Senate Bill 1, which received bipartisan support, would establish three new public pension plans from which state employees and teachers hired in 2019 or later can choose. Each offers a defined contribution component, similar to a 401(k) commonly offered to workers in the private sector. The plans provide future employees with retirement security and portability while also protecting taxpayers.

Current employees will have the opportunity to opt in to a new plan or continue in their current plan, and retirees would not see any changes to their plans. The governor is expected to sign the measure. For more information, click here.

AED Awareness Week in PA
Click Here to Watch
I am sponsoring House Resolution 249, which marks June 1-7 as AED Awareness Week in Pennsylvania. This is in conjunction with the National AED Awareness Week. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and more than 350,000 people will suffer from sudden cardiac arrest this year. It can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere and at any age. An AED is an effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest and is an easy-to-operate tool for someone with no medical background. The average response time for first responders once 911 is called is 8-12 minutes. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10 percent.

Status on Home Owner Association Legislation – House Bill 595
As you probably know, I am sponsoring House Bill 595, a bill to improve the way investigations and mediation complaints are handled in residential communities across the Commonwealth. Click here to learn more about the bill, which passed the House in April and was sent to the Senate. Because I have heard from many constituents asking about the current status of this bill, I want to give you a status update.

The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee passed the bill on May 24. The bill must now be considered by the full Senate. My staff and I are suggesting concerned constituents call their state senator and let them know how important this bill is, and ask that he or she support a full Senate floor vote on House Bill 595.

Area senators’ district office contact information:

Sen. Mario Scavello: 570-620-4326 - mscavello@pasen.gov
Sen. John Blake: 570-207-2881 - jblake@pasenate.com
Sen. Lisa Baker: 570-675-3931 - lbaker@pasen.gov

Tax Amnesty Ends June 19
Taxpayers who owe state taxes only have a few more days to take advantage of the latest tax amnesty period. The program, which offers incentives to Pennsylvanians to settle their delinquent tax accounts, is expected to generate as much as $150 million in revenue for the Commonwealth. The program does not “forgive” taxes owed but instead waives penalties, collection and lien fees, and half of the interest owed.

All taxes owed to the Commonwealth administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible for the program. The delinquent taxes must have been owed as of Dec. 31, 2015. Any unpaid taxes, penalties and interest resulting from periods after Dec. 31, 2015, are not eligible for the program. The amnesty period runs until June 19, 2017. More information is available at revenue.pa.gov. For a video explaining the program, click here.

Area Family Visits State Capitol
It was wonderful to welcome the Kieselbach family to the state Capitol in Harrisburg on May 24. Matthew, (pictured on the far left,) is a small business owner in East Stroudsburg, and Laura, (pictured to his right,) is an associate professor at East Stroudsburg University. They are pictured with their four children, from left, Auryk, Torin, Rehner and Liam. Thank you for visiting and bringing your family to explore our beautiful Capitol and to learn more about our state’s history and government.

Women in Government
I had the opportunity to talk with women from Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics this week in Harrisburg. The group visited the state Capitol and met with me and my female colleagues in the House to learn more about the important roles of women at each level of government. The program teaches college-aged women the values of civic engagement and encourages them to see themselves as empowered leaders who can participate effectively in politics and public policy. Thank you for visiting and for your interest in our state’s government.

Pleasant Valley FBLA Wins at States
I visited the Pleasant Valley High School on June 1 to present certificates to members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) group, who recently competed at the state competition in Hershey. More than 4,000 students, from more than 300 FBLA chapters, competed at states. Pleasant Valley has nine students who will advance to the FBLA national competition. Those students are Joseph O’Connor, Logan Weiler, Chris Kaye, Jordan McGrath, Sara Coyle, Trisha Dominick, Sarah Kaye, Ben Bard and Zachary Hansen. Congratulations to this bright, talented and driven group of students. We are proud of you. Good luck at nationals!
Recognizing an Area Eagle Scout
 On June 3, I attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for Cody Dailey at Akenac Park in Delaware Township. For his project, Cody created a half mile walking path with seating and exerciser boxes for the park. I am pictured here, from left, with Cody’s Scoutmaster Kevan Kelly; Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg; Delaware Township Supervisors John Henderson and Ronald Hough; Cody and his parents, Robin and Brad; and Pike County Commissioner Steve Guccini. 

Honoring the Justice Bell Award Recipient
 On Friday, June 2, I attended a dinner where Nancy Shukaitis was honored with the 2017 Justice Bell Award at the League of Women Voters State Convention held at the Inn at Pocono Manor. Nancy is a former Monroe County Commissioner, the first female to serve as commissioner in the county, who worked diligently to stop the Tocks Island Dam Project in 1970s. As a stay-at-home mother of four, she gathered petitions, motivated coalitions and established hearings with Congress, ensuring the voice of the local people were heard. We thank her for her dedication and commitment!

Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be in Plainfield Community Park in Nazareth from June 14-19. The park’s address is 6101 Kesslerville Road. On Thursday, June 15, a special Vietnam veterans night will be held, and the memorial will be closed from 6 p.m. to midnight. The opening ceremony will take place on Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m. The candlelight vigil and wreath-laying ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 17, at 7 p.m. For more information, call 484-764-8198 or 610-509-3741. Click here to view the event flyer on Facebook.

Monroe County Elder Abuse Task Force Justice Day
The Monroe County Elder Abuse Task Force Elder Justice Day is being held on June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center in the Serenity and Tranquility Room at Lehigh Valley Pocono. Lunch will be provided. Pre-registration is required by calling 570-420-3735. Seminars will include presentations by lawyers, doctors and a panel discussion by the Office of the District Attorney of Monroe County. Our office will be one of the exhibitors.

Bill to Base Budget Decisions on Performance Passes House
To help ensure tax dollars are used to their maximum benefit, the House passed legislation, which would require performance-based budgeting. This type of budgeting uses performance matrices to determine whether each state department has met its goals and objectives, and bases future budget allocations on what was accomplished with the dollars given.

Budget requests would include itemized expenditures for all activities required by state and federal statutes at minimum and current levels. This is another effort by the House to stand up for taxpayers and reinvent the way state government operates. House Bill 410 now goes to the Senate for review.

Improving a Health, Human Service Helpline
To help residents better access both private and public human services, House Bill 211 passed the House this week to improve Pennsylvania’s 2-1-1 system. The 2-1-1 system is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service provided by the United Way that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, along with private and nonprofit organizations in their communities.

The new public-private grant program established under House Bill 211 would help expand the service, develop mobile applications and ensure efficiency and quality standards across the state, all while reducing the taxpayer costs needed ensure its success. House Bill 211 now moves 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. 
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Office Locations
143 Seven Bridge Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301 | Phone: (570) 420-8301
164A East Wing, PO Box 202189, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2189 | Phone: (717) 260-6171
Email: rbrown@pahousegop.com
TTY: 855-282-0614