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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of May 1, 2017

Newberry Township, York County Drunk/Drugged Driving Town Hall Meeting
In partnership with the Newberry Township Police Department, I will be holding a Drunk/Drugged Driving Town Hall Meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4th at the Yocumtown Church of God, 160 Red Mill Road, Etters.

Speakers include: John Snyder, Chief of Police,Newberry Township; Tim Barker, Chief Deputy Prosecutor – Policy and Research, York County District Attorney’s Office; Jerry Spangler, DUI Treatment Compliance Project Manager, PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; Kristina Bingham, Deputy District Director, PA Board of Probation and Parole; State Representative Dawn Keefer, 92nd House District, and; myself.

We encourage you to attend this important town hall meeting to hear what is being done in York County and the Commonwealth to help combat drunk/drugged driving, and voice your concerns and suggestions to your state legislators, state department representatives and local law enforcement.

Medical Marijuana Program Update
My office received the following update from PA Department of Health Secretary Murphy regarding the implementation of the Medical Marijuana Program:

Grower/Process and Dispensary Applications
Over 500 packages were received by the Department of Health containing applications to grow/process and/or dispense medical marijuana (and in many instances, more than one application). Despite the large volume, DOH has developed an intake process to carefully track and log each application and to ensure adequate staffing to meet the demand. The department still anticipates it will issue permits at the end of June, consistent with their original 90-day review timeline.

Of the packages received, the department has logged 258 applications to date. In keeping with the principle of transparency held as a top priority since the beginning of the program, information from the applications that have been logged to date relating to the names of applicants and the regions in which they applied will be continuously updated here. Secretary Murphy emphasized this is only a partial list of applications received, and the list will be updated as the remainder of applications are processed.

Seed-to-Sale Tracking System
The Department of Health has selected MJ Freeway to develop the state’s Seed-to-Sale Medical Marijuana tracking system.

Safe Harbor Letters
The department has issued 231 Safe Harbor Letters to date. Parents, legal guardians, caregivers, and spouses of minors can apply here for a Safe Harbor Letter, which certifies that it is not a violation of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act or Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act if the applicant lawfully obtains medical marijuana from outside of Pennsylvania to be administered to a minor.

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House for Further Consideration
All bills passed unanimously unless otherwise noted.
Senate Bill 5 – (34-16) prevents local jurisdictions from imposing ordinances more restrictive than state law in regard to firearms and ammunition regulations;
Senate Bill 8 – (39-10) my and Senator Scarnati ’s bill to reform civil asset forfeiture (listen to my comments here);
Senate Bill 25 – (39-10) modernizes the Professional Nursing Law for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses;
Senate Bill 95 – (42-8) anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) protections;
Senate Bill 260 – provides broader crime victim representation on the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency Victims’ Services Advisory Committee;
Senate Bill 399 – clarifies other positions a Second Class Township Supervisor may hold;
Senate Bill 554 – safe harbor for child victims of human trafficking.

Bill Signed into Law by the Governor
Senate Bill 250 – Act 1 of 2017 - allocates $15 Million in temporary funding to the PA Department of Labor & Industry for Unemployment Compensation call centers.

Executive Nominations Unanimously Confirmed by the Senate
State Board of Chiropractic – Miriam Merry Woods, Maple Glen
State Board of Massage Therapy – Camille Baughman, Carlisle
State Board of Optometry – Jeffrey B. Becker, Lakeville
State Board of Osteopathic Medicine – Randy G. Litman, Lansdale

Senate State Government Committee Action
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, held a meeting to consider the following legislation: Senate Bill 168 – (Stefano) requires public employer collective bargaining agreements be posted online, reported as committed, 8-4;
Senate Bill 353 – (Rafferty) conveys land to the Pennhurst Memorial Preservation Alliance, unanimously reported as committed;
Senate Bill 503 – (Aument) requires public access to meetings where public sector collective bargaining agreements are negotiated, reported as committed, 8-4;
Senate Bill 504 – (Martin) removes the exemption of collective bargaining from the Right-to-Know Law, reported as amended 8-4;
Senate Bill 539 – (Dinniman) enacts the Medal of Honor Grove Act, unanimously reported as amended.

Middletown Area High School Takes First Place at Chamber Business Challenge
Middletown Area High School took first place with their business called “Polarus Systems” in the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC’s ninth annual Chamber High School Business Challenge at Harrisburg University of Science & Technology. Each team member, including Mai Dang, Aaron Fischer, John Hursh, Shannon Reese and Jessaca Rusnov, received a $400 scholarship. Sean Burke and David Martin were team advisors and Brian Groff served as mentor.

Left to Right: Mentor Brian Groff, Pennsy Supply, Inc.; Emcee Amanda St. Hilaire, WHTM abc27; Students John Hursh, Jessaca Rusnov, Shannon Reese, Aaron Fischer, and Mai Dang; Larissa Bailey, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC. Not pictured are team advisors Sean Burke and David Martin.

From generating written business proposals to pitching their plans to a panel of judges “Shark Tank style,” the competition provides students grades 9-12 with the opportunity to see the business planning process from start to finish. “Polarus Systems” manufactures high-quality, transparent photovoltaic cells to replace the windows of cars. These high-tech and high-quality windows are made from photovoltaic cells that are efficient and manufactured to be long-lasting and eco-friendly. Congratulations!

My Continued Fight for SB 76: The Only Bill to Totally Eliminate Property Taxes

4/26/17 - School Property Tax Elimination

It was great meeting Lebanon Valley College student Alyssa Smale at the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol day, and observing her research poster, Ruthenium tris-bipyridine cage complexes as host systems for alkali and alkaline earth guests.

Coming Soon! May Community Report Cable Show at Quittie Glen, Annville

We had a beautiful day to film my May Community Report cable show at Quittie Glen in Annville, Lebanon County, a center for nontraditional therapeutic activities, integrated medicine and wellness-oriented complementary services, including yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness meditation and summer day camps for kids. Stay tuned for the upcoming show!  

Column: The Gradual Loss of Freedoms
In a 1775 letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote: “. . .a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

Adams was Vice President when the Bill of Rights were adopted, including the 10th Amendment, which has been under assault: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

These concerns are why I pushed to exempt Pennsylvania from the mandates of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, which requires states comply with federal standards for drivers’ licenses and identification cards.

My legislation to exempt Pennsylvania was first introduced in 2009 and thoroughly vetted: it was amended three times in 2009 and 2010 but not passed. In 2011, I reintroduced similar legislation, which was again amended, passed the General Assembly with just five negative votes, and signed into law in 2012. Other states passed similar measures.

From 2012 until last year, the federal government hadn’t taken action against Pennsylvania for not complying with REAL ID. Then, the federal government notified the Commonwealth its drivers’ licenses would no longer be accepted to get into federal facilities (military bases, nuclear plants) the end of January 2017; January 22, 2018 Pennsylvania drivers’ licenses wouldn’t be accepted to board commercial flights.

This notice led to citizen angst and the Governor and General Assembly initiated efforts to bring Pennsylvania into compliance with REAL ID, resulting in a federal extension to June 30, 2017 for compliance. While I’m certain Pennsylvania will become compliant, I remain concerned with REAL ID.

Requiring identification isn’t rare. My question is how REAL ID makes us safer? Consider 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Born and raised in a typical working-class environment, McVeigh joined the army and was decorated for valor before being discharged. There would be no reason he wouldn’t have received a REAL ID card. Yet, he was convicted and executed for the worst case of domestic terrorism: his bomb killed 168. A REAL ID card wouldn’t have stopped Timothy McVeigh.

REAL ID requires states collect a digital facial image/photograph of all drivers’ license applicants. Prior to REAL ID, most drivers’ photos were low resolution pictures that weren’t facial recognition compatible. What are the costs to upgrade licenses to the high resolution digital facial images required by REAL ID?

REAL ID also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security power to determine when “Official Purposes” require a REAL ID compliant drivers’ license. Will “official purposes” include the purchase of weapons and/or ammunition? What about picking up prescriptions? Where is the Constitutional authority for such broad and sweeping power being given to the Executive Branch in general and a Cabinet member in particular?

REAL ID also calls for linking state motor vehicle databases to give federal authorities direct or indirect access. While people will still be able to board commercial airliners without a REAL ID compliant license or another acceptable ID (passport, military ID card, enhanced drivers’ license), how will they be protected from identity theft?

Article IV, Section 2 of the US Constitution guarantees “the Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” This gives us the right of free ingress into and from other states. When did this right become a “convenience”?

As James Madison said: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.”

Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

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