Senate Completes Work on 2017-18 Budget
Lawmakers completed work on a variety of budget-related bills last week and sent them to the governor to be signed into law. Some of the most controversial measures were bills to borrow up to $1.5 billion against Pennsylvania’s annual payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and legislation to legalize a number of new forms of gambling, including online games, VGTs and up to 10 new satellite casinos.
More information about the revenue bill – and why I could not in good conscience support it – is available here.
While Governor Wolf signed many of these measures into law, I was deeply disappointed that he chose to veto amendments to the Human Services Code that would have improved management and patient care in the Medicaid system while at the same time creating commonsense work and job search requirements for able-bodied recipients.
More information about the impact of that veto is available here.
Ballot Question Gives Voters a Say in Property Tax Debate
Voters who go to the polls on November 7 will be faced with one of the most consequential ballot questions in recent memory. If approved by voters, the ballot question would allow the legislature to pass a law which would permit local governing bodies to eliminate the property tax through the existing homestead (personal residence) exemption. I encourage all voters to learn more about the impact of this ballot question and make an informed choice at the polls next week.
More information about the ballot question is available here.
Resolution Condemns Selective Abortion of Children with Down Syndrome
Some studies suggest that the abortion rate of babies with Down syndrome is as high as 90 percent. There are a wide range of viewpoints on the topic of abortion, but we should all be able to agree that no individual’s life should be terminated based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. We should be celebrating the lives of men and women with Down syndrome, not looking for ways to end them.
I recently sponsored a resolution that condemns this practice, and I appreciate all of the cosponsors of this proposal who joined me for a news conference recently in support of individuals with Down syndrome. Highlights from the news conference are available here.
At a Capitol news conference in support of my legislation condemning selective abortion of Down syndrome babies, we were joined by Chloe Kondrich, a young girl from Pittsburgh who has Down syndrome and was the inspiration behind passage of Chloe’s Law in 2014.
Senate Approves Measure Protecting Parking Spaces for Motorists with a Disability
On October 17, the Senate approved a bill I sponsored along with Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty that would improve accessibility and strengthen enforcement measures of parking spaces for persons with disabilities. The legislation is designed to ensure parking spaces and access aisles designated for motorists with a disability remain clear and available for use.
Additional information about the bill is available here.
Legislation Could End Discriminatory Project Labor Agreements
Many small businesses are prohibited from working on taxpayer-funded construction projects due to Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that require the use of unionized workers. I led efforts to ban PLAs as Lancaster County Commissioner, and I recently introduced legislation that would ban this practice at the state level.
My bill would allow more companies to compete for government-funded projects, ensuring these projects can be completed at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. More details about my bill are available here.
Special Ceremony Honors Local Vietnam Veterans
Lancaster County’s delegation to the General Assembly hosted a special ceremony on October 21 honoring local Vietnam veterans. More than 200 local veterans were honored. Video from the event is available here.
It was an honor to recognize local Vietnam veterans and their families during a special ceremony on October 21.
Video Contest Encourages Students to Fight Back Against Opioid Epidemic
A new statewide video competition challenges middle and high school students to promote awareness of the heroin and opioid epidemic that is affecting communities throughout the state. A total of $10,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning entries.
Details on the contest are available here.
For more information on issues of importance to Pennsylvania, please visit my website at senatorscottmartinpa.com.