May. 10, 2019

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Protecting Babies Diagnosed with Down Syndrome

House Bill 321 seeks to prevent the selective abortion of unborn children with Down syndrome. According to the best evidence available, between 67% and 80% of all unborn children with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. That has led to a 30% overall drop in the number of Americans with the genetic condition.

Approximately 89% of all abortions occur before the 10th week of pregnancy. Surveys indicate that women choose to have an abortion during these early weeks because they do not, or believe that they cannot, give birth to a child at that time. Testing for Down syndrome occurs after the 10th week, indicating that those who choose to abort their unborn children after discovering that their child has Down syndrome are doing so solely because they do not want a child with a disability. This legislation would end the routine practice of healthcare workers referring women for abortion immediately after the revelation of a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is not a terminal illness. People with Down syndrome are largely able to live healthy, happy and productive lives. Pennsylvania provides a significant amount of support for children with Down syndrome and their families, and adoption agencies that specialize in disabled adoptions have a waiting list for children with Down syndrome. We can do better than to snuff out the lives of innocent children with disabilities.
Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia

Many constituents have emailed or called my office this past week following the publication of multiple videos of state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) harassing women and children who pray and sidewalk counsel outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. Rep. Sims’ aggressive and, frankly, creepy behavior is reprehensible. This past week the Republican and Democrat leaders of the House made a joint statement denouncing inappropriate behavior, such as Sims’, by members of the General Assembly.

Many people have asked if the legislature could vote to expel Rep. Sims. We cannot. Legislators can only be removed if they commit and are sentenced for a felony. Sims’ behavior warrants removal, but that decision will be made at the ballot box by his constituents.
Rallying to Preserve Second Amendment Rights
The Pennsylvania State Capitol played host to an annual rally Monday to demonstrate Pennsylvanians’ support for the Second Amendment.

Hundreds of people came to the Capitol Rotunda to encourage that gun rights be preserved and to hear from speakers. Among the speakers were Kelly Ann Pidgeon, Armed and Feminine LLC; Eric Pratt, executive director, Gun Owners of America; Joshua Prince, chief counsel, Firearms Industry Consulting Group; and Tim Schmidt, United States Concealed Carry Association.

The right to keep and bear arms is an enumerated right under the U.S. Constitution, and such rights “shall not be questioned” under the Pennsylvania constitution. I took an oath to preserve the Constitution of the U.S. and that of Pennsylvania, and I will stand by that oath to protect our rights.
Committee Evaluates Permitting Process

On Wednesday, the House Environmental and Resources Committee held an informational meeting with presentations from the regulated community. The presentations were focused on those individuals’ experiences with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's permitting program and the variety of permits associated with projects across the Commonwealth.

At issue is whether Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is not processing permits efficiently or possibly even “slow walking” permits for certain commercial projects, such as natural gas wells in western Pennsylvania. A professional engineer who testified before the committee and whose firm operates in multiple states testified that Pennsylvania takes two to three times as long to process permits as elsewhere.

The DEP claims that it is underfunded and understaffed, which can result in longer wait times. The purpose of these and future hearings will be to determine what the problems are and to recommend solutions.
PennDOT’s Schedule for May 13 to May 19
  • Driveway milling on Old Route 16 in Washington Township.
  • Pothole repair on Golf Course Road in Greene Township.
  • Crack sealing on Black Gap Road in Greene Township.
  • Base Repair on Main Street in Waynesboro borough.
PennDOT also is planning for bridge washing throughout Franklin County. Motorists should expect to encounter flagging crews to direct traffic around bridges.
Expanding Education Opportunities

More students and their families would have access to additional educational options under legislation approved by the House this week to expand the successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

House Bill 800 would increase funding for the program by $100 million to $210 million, providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their students’ needs.

In order to ensure that the scholarship program can continue to grow to meet demand, the legislation would also establish an automatic escalator, increasing the EITC scholarship cap by 10% whenever 90% of the tax credits are claimed in the prior year.

To allow more middle-class families access to this program, the bill would increase the maximum annual household income by $10,000 (to $95,000, before add-ons per child), while guaranteeing that once a student has received a scholarship, he or she will remain eligible through high school graduation regardless of changes to family income.

The EITC program provides tax credits to businesses that make contributions to approved scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children in kindergarten through grade 12, educational improvement organizations providing funding for innovative educational programs in public schools, and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.
Celebrating Our Small Businesses

This week marks Small Business Week in Pennsylvania.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy, employing over 2.5 million people. In fact, 99.6% of employers in the state are small businesses.

House Republicans have been working hard to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses thrive and grow by cutting the red tape that creates barriers to growth and cleaning up our outdated laws.

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