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Tierne’s Law Earns Senate Approval
Our local community has endured far too many tragic and heartbreaking cases of domestic violence, not the least of which was the passing of Washington County resident Tierne Ewing last year. Tierne was kidnapped and murdered by her estranged husband, who was previously released on bond after assaulting her.
This week, the Senate took an important step toward protecting victims of domestic violence by passing legislation I authored to ensure judges can weigh the risks that abusers might reoffend if released on bond. The bill clarifies that judges can use risk assessment tools – which have been proven effective in determining the odds of a subsequent offense – when making decisions pertaining to bond. The bill ensures that judges have the information they need to make the best possible decision in order to protect victims of this terrible crime.
It is my hope that this bill will help keep the most dangerous abusers behind bars, and ultimately help save lives. More information about my bill is available here.
Local Hearing Set to Gather Input on Potential Water Rate Increase
Pennsylvania-American Water Company recently requested a 16-percent rate increase. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is inviting residents to offer testimony and statements regarding the rate increase request during a series of hearings to be held throughout the Commonwealth – including one hearing in Washington County.
A public input hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 24, at 1 p.m. in Room 103 of the Washington County Building, which is located at 11 W. Beau Street in Washington. Residents of local communities are invited to testify or offer unsworn statements regarding the proposed rate increase.
More information about the ratemaking process is available here.
Some of the region’s finest young athletes were recently recognized on the Greene County Courthouse steps. Congratulations to Marissa Kalsey, Gavin Teasdale, Ben Bumgarner and the West Greene Girls Softball team!
Turnpike Offers Toll Violation Amnesty Program
A new state law will allow PennDOT to suspend vehicle registrations for unpaid Pennsylvania Turnpike violations totaling $500 or more. Before the law goes into effect on August 4, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is offering a partial toll violation amnesty program to help individuals who have unpaid violations avoid a suspension.
More information on the program is available at the Pennsylvania Turnpike website at www.paturnpike.com.
The General Assembly took action last week to help eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in state government by approving Senate Bill 527, which permanently establishes the Office of Inspector General in state law and gives the office greater authority and independence.
The Senate also acted on a number of other noteworthy bills.
House Bill 1285 would provide a mechanism for local governments to eliminate property taxes through the homestead exemption.
Senate Bill 6 would help prevent abuse of public welfare programs.
Senate Bill 172 provides a five-year trial period for PENNDOT to place speed cameras in active work zones on limited access highways.
House Bill 176 exempts roadside agricultural stands from the Uniform Construction Code.
Senate Bill 431 increases fines for littering.
Senate Bill 590 increases the service charge for bad checks.
Senate Bill 553 provides for chemical testing and other measures related to driving after using alcohol or drugs.
Senate Bill 589 increases the maximum allowable gross weight for commercial vehicles powered by natural gas from 80,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.
Thanks to Senate Majority Policy Committee Chairman David G. Argall for visiting Washington County to tour some of the blighted areas in the region. I appreciated the chance to discuss how the Pennsylvania Legislature can assist municipalities in dealing with this pervasive problem.
Fundraiser Benefits Greater Washington County Food Bank
Food insecurity affects communities in every corner of the state, including many individuals and families in southwestern Pennsylvania. I appreciated the chance to partner with the Greater Washington County Food Bank for a special “Cooking With Camera” fundraising event in Brownsville this week. My thanks goes out to all of the participants who helped make the event a success. I look forward to sharing more about this event in a future e-news and in an upcoming edition of my “Focus on the 46th” TV program.
Bella Sera Sous Chef Chad Rogers and I hosted a cooking class as part of the “Cooking With Camera” fundraiser.
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building