Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my E-newsletter. I am honored to serve the 23rd Senate District and look forward to working with you toward building a better future for Pennsylvania!
This E-newsletter serves to keep you updated on what is happening throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties and what I am doing as your state senator in Harrisburg. I hope that you will find this E-newsletter helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Senate Reconvenes This Week
Last week, the House of Representatives amended and passed House Bill 453, the Fiscal Code Bill, by a vote of 103-91. Under their proposal, the House maintains that the revenues needed to balance the budget can be obtained through their plans on partial liquidation of the Tobacco Settlement Fund, special fund transfers, and additional legislation generating Gaming proceeds as well as the Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association transfer.
The Senate is currently working through each component of the House revenue and borrowing package and will continue due diligence on each of these proposals.
Committee Meetings Slated for this week include:
MONDAY - 9/18/17
Senate Appropriations - Off the Floor, Rules Committee Conference Room
Senate Labor and Industry - Off the Floor, Rules Committee Conference Room
HB 298 Amends PA Construction Code Act re: inspectors
Senate Rules and Executive Nominations - Off the Floor, Rules Committee Conference Room
To consider certain executive nominations and HB 453 - Amends Fiscal Code re: budget implementation
TUESDAY - 9/19/17
Senate State Government, 10:00 a.m., Room 8E-B, East Wing
SB 625 Amends Act re: POW/MIA flag at rest areas
Senate Law and Justice - 11:00 a.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building
Public hearing on Liquor Control Enforcement of Stop and Go’s and legal gambling devices
To read more, click here.
Equifax Data Breach Update
On September 8th, Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Bureau of Consumer Protection opened an investigation into a massive data breach involving Equifax, a national credit-reporting agency, which impacted up to 143 million consumers nationwide.
This investigation is reviewing Equifax’s report that cyber criminals gained access to consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license information. Their report also indicated that credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers and documents containing personal information related to credit reporting disputes for about 182,000 people were compromised. Equifax said the breach occurred sometime between mid-May and July. The company said it discovered the hack on July 29. It is unclear at this time how many Pennsylvania consumers have been impacted.
My office has discussed the issue with our Senate Consumer Protection Committee who has oversight and may consider legislation, HB 1094, in the near future that will permit consumers to place a permanent freeze on their credit report. This bill was previously introduced as HB 1184 (2015-2016). Additionally, I will be signing on to a letter urging our Consumer Protection Committee to amend the legislation to remove the $10 fee charged to consumers who would like to place a freeze on their credit reports. Current law allows the three credit monitoring agencies to charge consumers a fee (up to $10) in Pennsylvania. These fees could cost consumers $60 if they want their information frozen/unfrozen.
Further, my office has been informed that Senator Ryan Aument, Chairman of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, has decided to hold a hearing on cyber security issues in the near future.
While these are long-term efforts with no definitive outcomes, in the short-term it’s important for individuals to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. Equifax is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier.
At this point in time, it does not appear that the hackers have sold any of the information; however, it is critical for all of us to remain diligent and monitor our reports.
Pennsylvania Submits REAL ID Extension Request to Federal Department of Homeland Security
On September 6th, Pennsylvania submitted a request for a REAL ID enforcement extension from the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Pennsylvania’s current extension, which applies to residents’ access to federal facilities, will expire on October 10, 2017. There is no enforcement on commercial air travel until January 22, 2018.
Per federal requirements, persons without a state-issued REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or photo ID must present an alternative form of DHS-compliant identification unless the state issuing the driver’s license or photo ID has an extension granted by DHS.
Starting October 1, 2020, all air travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, photo identification card or an acceptable alternative identification as approved by the Transportation Security Administration to board domestic commercial aircraft or enter a federal facility that requires identification without a secondary form of DHS-approved identification.
Bradford County Families Chip In for Harvey Relief
[Pictured from L to R: Ron Austin, Johann Voegtlen, Jim Van Blarcom, Bob Storch, Earl Swain, Dean Jackson, Cliff Geer. Taking the picture not shown is Bob Dinger]
All across Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties, I have heard stories of generosity and kindness from countless residents seeking to help those suffering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Last week, Jim VanBlarcom, Bob Storch and their families organized one such donation collection drive to assist the families impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Jim, Bob and other volunteers worked with the Houston Food Bank to solicit needed items such as blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, toothpaste, baby formula, clothing, towels, pet food, etc. They departed on Labor Day to deliver these needed items to a devastated state.
Thank you to all who donated across North Central Pennsylvania and the amazing volunteerism exhibited in this time of great need. No one is more appreciated than someone who lightens the burden of another.
How to Help Survivors of Hurricane Harvey, Irma While Making Smart Choices
As a tremendous number of people, businesses, and service organizations throughout North Central Pennsylvania collect and donate goods and services to assist storm survivors in Texas and Florida, it is important to know how you can best help rescue and recovery efforts while also protecting yourselves.
While donations of goods such as food and clothing are well-intentioned, unsolicited materials can overwhelm organizations that are tasked with helping survivors but are unprepared to store, sort and distribute large quantities of donated goods.
For more information on tips on charitable giving, click here.
A Focus on PA Agriculture
Last week, I hosted two Breakfast Meetings on Agriculture in Lewisburg, Union County and Troy, Bradford County. These annual breakfast meetings are designed to listen to concerns and answer questions on how to improve agricultural conditions throughout our region. I was pleased to have Richard T. Roush, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University as well as Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection joins us.
I often receive many questions on dairy policy and dairy pricing, crop insurance, flood repair, and other farm-related topics. These meetings are intended to create a friendly dialogue and exchange of ideas.
[Sullivan County Dairy Princess Fallon Russell (left) and Sullivan County Fair Queen Elizabeth Fluck (right) join Senator Yaw for a “Milk Toast to Pennsylvania Agriculture” during the breakfast meeting hosted by the Senator and State Rep. Fred Keller] For more pictures, click here.
[Attendees listen to PA DEP Sec. Patrick McDonnell at the Troy Sale Barn in Bradford County] For more pictures, click here.
166th Annual Sullivan County Fair Held
On August 31st, I again had the opportunity to visit the annual Sullivan County Fair in Forksville. [Pictured above with Sullivan County Fair Queen Elizabeth Fluck; Pictured below with Blaine Warburton with his Reserve Grand Champion Dairy Cow Ribbon]. The County Fair had everything from apple pie and ice cream contests to Hay Bale Throwing and Demolition Derby. Mark your calendars for the 2018 Fair scheduled for August 29th to September 3rd, 2018.
Free Weatherization Services for Residents
Residents can save money and stay warm this winter with free weatherization services by SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG). This service is available to income-qualifying homeowners and renters in Columbia, Juniata, Mifflin, Montour, Perry, Snyder, and Union counties.
Weatherization services include energy education, diagnostics and solutions, emergency furnace repair or replacement, and Cold Weather Crisis intervention.
To get the whole picture, SEDA-COG staff reviews the home heating bills, energy leaks, and heat distribution system.
Specifically, services can include:
Income qualifications range from $23,540 for a family of one to $81,780 for a family of eight. (Add $8,320 for each additional family member.) Residents also must live in the home year-round to qualify.
Since the inception of SEDA-COG’s Weatherization program in 1976, over 37,000 homes have been weatherized. SEDA-COG makes homes more affordable, comfortable, and energy efficient with staff and technology expertise.
For more information, call SEDA-COG at 1-800-332-6701 and ask for the Weatherization program.
Flood Mitigation for Pennsylvania’s Rural Communities
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has announced the availability of the research report , Flood Mitigation for Pennsylvania’s Rural Communities: Community-Scale Impact of Federal Policies. To view the report, click here.
The research explored the impact of the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Pennsylvania due to the passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.
PEW Article: Harvey Recovery Efforts Will Take Years. Fixing Flood Insurance Shouldn’t
Congress must help storm victims first - but can’t neglect ailing national program
“With Tropical Storm Harvey continuing to unleash unprecedented rainfall across the Houston region and other Texas communities, it is clear that this storm will go down as one of the most destructive weather events ever to strike the United States. President Donald Trump has authorized emergency aid, and local, regional, and federal disaster relief teams are focused on ensuring the safety and security of the millions of people directly affected by Harvey. But for many of those afflicted, rebuilding their lives may take years.
When Congress returns to work, therefore, its top priority must be appropriating sufficient recovery aid for communities battered and inundated by Harvey, which came ashore Friday as a Category 4 hurricane. Lawmakers also face the task of debating and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expires at the end of September. The program, which provides federally backed coverage for homeowners and small businesses in more than 22,000 U.S. communities, is nearly $25 billion in debt.”
To read more, click here.
Upcoming Satellite Hours and Locations
As a means to better serve area residents through increased outreach efforts, the below hours and locations have been added to provide better opportunities for area residents to meet directly with a member of my staff.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Satellite Office hours provide area residents with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the senator’s staff to address state-related problems they may be encountering. A staff member will be able to offer assistance with driver license and vehicle registration applications, and help in filling out applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE prescription drug assistance programs.
Constituent services are always available at Senator Yaw’s Williamsport District Office, located at 175 Pine Street, Suite 105, from 9AM-5PM, or by calling (800) 443-5772.