EQB Issues Ruling on RGGI
On Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved the governor’s unilateral order forcing Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
I am not surprised, but extremely disappointed that this massive regulation continues to move forward. The EQB ruling completely ignores the many serious concerns expressed by affected communities across the Commonwealth, in particular the ones that rely on the carbon-emitting generation of electricity and the various industries that support it for their economic well-being.
Additionally, this final rule entirely dismissed the various factors detailed by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. While this is seemingly a setback for working people, rate payers, school districts and municipalities, I am confident that there remain many chapters yet to be written on the future of the Governor’s onerous and regressive carbon tax and whether it will actually become a reality in Pennsylvania.
SSHE Board of Governors Approves Merger Plan
On Wednesday, the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) Board of Governors’ approved a merger plan involving six of its member schools. The plan does not directly impact Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
The decision made by the Board of Governors today was difficult, but necessary. As we have witnessed at IUP, the system-wide decline in enrollment created the need for many difficult decisions – primarily on how best to maintain affordability and quality educational services. The General Assembly specifically allocated $50 million in the current state budget to support SSHE’s redesign effort.
My expectation is these funds will be used to quickly facilitate this transition. The time to act is now. We can no longer delay in moving forward on the necessary work to reduce costs and ensure that SSHE remains a quality and affordable option for students and their families.
Legislative Reapportionment Commission Update
The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission held an administrative meeting and public hearing Tuesday to focus on staffing, census data, primary election deadlines and reapportionment criteria.
You can view the agenda and video here.
The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the legislative districts for the state House of Representatives and Senate be redrawn each decade following the federal census. This process is mandated so that each citizen’s vote ultimately carries the same weight in the ballot box. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission consists of five members: two members of both parties and a chair.
2021 Legislative Roundup: Children & Families
Among the key bills passed by the Senate in the first half of the year are several that strengthen protections for children and older Pennsylvanians. They include:
Act 20 of 2021 aligns the Family Caregiver Support Act with federal standards, expands the definition of “care receiver” to add a child being raised by a grandparent and an adult with a disability who is cared for by an older adult, and makes other changes to help families.
Act 42 of 2021 allows a criminal justice agency to share information relating to an allegation or instance of child abuse with a county agency or the Department of Human Services to investigate, or with a children’s advocacy center to provide services to investigating agencies.
Act 48 of 2021 gives the Attorney General’s office concurrent jurisdiction with county district attorneys to investigate individuals who use their position of trust to financially exploit older adults and care-dependent people.
Act 49 of 2021 targets elder abuse by making it a misdemeanor for a professional caretaker to post pictures of care-dependent individuals on social media without permission with the intent to ridicule or demean.
Act 53 of 2021 increases the penalties for those convicted of child pornography and permits the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to increase penalties for those convicted of the sexual abuse of children when the victim is known to the defendant.
A complete list of notable bills passed by the Senate this year can be found here.
State Government Merger to Save Taxpayer Dollars
Legislation merging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole was recently signed into law.
The new law transfers supervision of offenders and certain administrative functions from the Board to the Department, but preserves parole decision–making responsibilities within the Board. The merger is projected to save taxpayers $29.6 million through 2023 when fully implemented by eliminating redundant procedures and sharing of resources and personnel.
Preventing Child Deaths in Hot Cars
Since 1998, an average of one child per year has died in Pennsylvania after being left in a hot car. All of these tragic deaths could have been prevented.
More than half of pediatric vehicular heat stroke deaths involve children under 2 years of age. By far, the leading circumstance is children forgotten by a caregiver.
The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access and teach them that cars are not play areas. And look in the back seat before you leave and lock your vehicle.
Increased Unemployment Compensation Fraud and Identity Theft
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, unemployment phishing attempts are at an all-time high. Before clicking on any link or responding to suspicious messages, claimants are asked to review all verified UC contact methods.
What to do when someone files for unemployment benefits using your identity:
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