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January 24, 2019
Legislative Agenda for New Session Begins to Take Shape
Over the past several weeks, I have worked with my staff and my colleagues in the General Assembly to develop an ambitious legislative agenda that tackles the most pressing needs of our local communities and the challenges facing the state as a whole. I have already begun introducing bills to address some of the most pressing concerns we face.
More information regarding some of the issues I plan to focus on over the next two-year legislative session – including protecting taxpayers, addressing health care and the opioid crisis, reforming the criminal justice system, protecting our veterans, and supporting business and job growth – is below.
The continued growth in state spending is a serious concern. If state spending is allowed to grow unchecked, taxpayers will be asked to pay even more in taxes. I strongly believe that tax increases are something that lawmakers should try to avoid at all costs.
I recently announced plans to re-introduce an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would establish the “Taxpayer Protection Act,” which sets limits on the growth in state spending. More information about the bill is available here.
Health Care and the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis remains one of the most significant health concerns in a generation. Too many lives have been lost to addiction, and we need to find new ways to help individuals and families who are affected by this terrible disease. I look forward to re-introducing two bills I authored in the last session that are designed to address different aspects of the addiction crisis.
Proper treatment offers the promise to help many individuals break free from addiction. I plan to re-introduce a bill that would require a more patient-centered approach that takes into account the unique needs and circumstances of each patient. Providing more individualized care could help many more patients who desperately need assistance. More information about the bill is available here.
I also plan to continue the fight to hold drug dealers more accountable for the damages they cause to their customers. I have already re-introduced a bill that would create tougher penalties against drug dealers who cause serious bodily injuries through the distribution of illicit drugs. More information about that measure is available here.
In addition to addressing the opioid crisis, I am also committed to ensuring rural Pennsylvanians continue to have access to quality health care services. I plan to re-introduce a bill that was passed by the Senate last session to modernize the Professional Nursing Law for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and provide full practice authority to nurse practitioners. More information on the need to allow nurse practitioners to provide all of the services they are trained to offer is available here.
I also plan to introduce a bill to create a new reporting system to identify available beds in psychiatric treatment facilities to improve patient care (more info here), as well as a bipartisan measure with Senator Judy Schwank to improve screening, diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression (more info here).
Criminal Justice Reform
In addition to creating a new Criminal Justice Reform Caucus in the General Assembly to examine ways to reduce corrections costs and better rehabilitate offenders, I recently announced plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to address deficiencies in the criminal justice system.
Along with my colleague Senator Anthony Williams, I plan to introduce a bill that would update probation policies in Pennsylvania. The bill would ensure fair probation practices and reduce the number of technical violations that prevent offenders who have completed their sentences from fully re-integrating into society. More information on the bill is available here.
Protecting Pennsylvania’s Veterans
Pennsylvania’s veterans have earned a special place of respect and admiration for their incredible service and sacrifice. I plan to reintroduce two bills from last session designed to provide assistance to the brave men and women who have served our nation in the military.
A bill I am sponsoring along with my colleague Senator Elder Vogel would expand the Property Tax Exemption Program for disabled veterans to provide assistance to a larger number of military veterans. More details are available here. I also will continue to advocate the creation of a special logo to help promote veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses. More information about that proposal is available here.
Support Economic Development and Job Growth
As the new Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, I look forward to leading efforts in the General Assembly to improve workforce development and ensure state residents are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
I plan to partner with my colleague Senator James Brewster to introduce a bill that would help expand training opportunities by eliminating limitations that prevent the branch campuses of Private Licensed Schools from expanding into new areas. Additional details are available here.
I also plan to introduce a two-bill package that will help improve the permit appeals process. The bills will help business clear significant hurdles to new development projects by creating more certainty in the permitting process and streamlining the process for appeals. More information about these proposals is available here.
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