Mar. 08, 2019

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
 
On the Subject of School Safety

My most recent town hall meeting addressed the subject of school safety. In light of increased public attention, particularly following the shooting incident in Parkland, FL, the safety of our school children has been much discussed.

Last year’s state budget included a $25,000 grant for school safety to each of the state’s 500 public school districts, together with more money available through grants. In addition to “hardening” school entrances, schools have instituted active shooter drills, 24-hour tip lines and some have ramped up security with armed police or guards.

Last year, the Washington Post analyzed the statistics relating to school shootings. Nationally, over 50 million children attend public schools an average of 180 days per year. Over the last 20 years, the likelihood of a child being killed by a gun at school on any given day was 1 in 614 million. And, since the 1990s, the incidents of school shootings have declined. I don’t remember a lot from my statistics class, but I recall enough to deduce that school shootings are really, really, really unlikely.

The image of a student killed by a gunman’s bullet, and the testimony of those who survive, are compelling. Afterall, I have four children currently attending public schools. In a nation where we hold our government leaders accountable, leaders have worked hard to account. That response has come in the form of more money for school safety, mandatory active shooter drills, armed guards, locked school doors, 24-hour tip call lines and additional gun laws. Our political class has proved that they care.

However, we already know that school shootings occur in schools with locked doors, armed guards, regular active shooter drills, tough gun laws, background checks, etc. All new public policy is based on an assumption that the new idea will work. Why are we attempting to solve a problem by reaching for solutions which seem not to have worked? This is not a merely academic question, Pennsylvania is spending millions of dollars on this and risking traumatizing school children by drilling them on what to do if a “bad man” with a gun suddenly appears in their classroom.

On average, 2,400 children are killed every year driving themselves to and from school. If we want to save children’s lives, 2,400 of them annually, we could outlaw kids driving to school. This would cost schools no money and challenge no one’s constitutional rights, yet it is never seriously considered. When it comes to demands for new public policy and the expenditure of limited government resources, are we truly focused on likely problems or distracted by events which are only half as likely to occur as winning the Mega Millions jackpot (1 in 302.6 million). As always, I would appreciate your comments.
 
 
Town Hall in Greencastle


Thanks to all who attended last week’s town hall meeting in Greencastle, where we discussed school safety. My next town hall is scheduled for Thursday, April 25, 2 p.m. in the Hess Room at Quincy Village in Waynesboro. We’ll be joined by a representative from the Office of Attorney General who will present information on how to protect yourself from scams.
 
 
Recruitment and Retention Benefit Proposed for National Guard

Helping to address challenges with recruitment and retention in the Pennsylvania National Guard is the driving force behind a first-of-its-kind Military Family Education Program for guard members and their families.

The legislation, which should be introduced soon, builds on the state’s existing program by extending benefits to a guard member’s spouse or children in exchange for the guard member committing to a second obligation of six years in the Guard. The program would provide for 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family member(s).

Benefit programs are never free, but the National Guard estimates that the long-term cost of this benefit will be far less than the cost of additional recruiting expenses. The Guard also argues that the program may help to address a retention problem which could impact the Guard’s readiness.

I am open to the program, but I will want to know more before lending my full support. Learn more here.
 
 
Budget Hearings Conclude

The House Appropriations Committee wrapped up a three-week series of budget hearings on Wednesday, with the committee looking into all aspects of the governor’s spending proposal for the next fiscal year.

The committee heard testimony and asked questions to the departments of Education, Agriculture, and Military and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

The committee will take the testimony gathered from these hearings into negotiations for the 2019-20 budget. Videos of all of the hearings are available here.
 
 
Small Business Outreach Day on March 26

The Shippensburg University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will hold a Small Business Outreach Day on Tuesday, March 26, 9-11 a.m. at my district office in Waynesboro, located at 1402 E. Main St. The SBDC provides no-cost, confidential professional business consulting assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs planning to start a small business in Pennsylvania.

The SBDC is also partnering with the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce to provide the consulting service from noon to 2 p.m. on the same day at its office, located at 217 E. Baltimore St. in Greencastle.

If you would like to reserve a time to engage with SBDC staff at either location, please call 717-477-1935 or email Katie Neiderer at vkneiderer@ship.edu. Walk-ins are also welcome.
 
 
Business Expo in Waynesboro

 
Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table at the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce’s recent business expo at the high school. More than 70 businesses and government officials were represented at the 23rd annual event, which attracted about 800 people.
 
 
Pennsylvania’s Economic Outlook

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania collected $2 billion in General Fund revenue in February, which was $2.5 million less than anticipated. So far this fiscal year, General Fund collections total $20.2 billion, which is $287.4 million above the official estimate.

Since the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year, overall tax revenue is $1.1 billion more than was collected during the same period of the last fiscal year. Learn more here.
 
 
Spring Ahead This Weekend

Daylight saving time will begin on Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m., and you are reminded to turn clocks ahead one hour Saturday night. This is also a good time to check and/or change batteries in both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. The alarms should also be replaced every 10 years. Daylight saving time will end on Nov. 3.
 
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Office Locations                                                                                                                                                                      
1402 E. Main Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268 | Phone: (717) 749-7384
1270 Crottlestown Road, Chambersburg, PA 17202 I Phone: (717) 263-1053
10655 Antrim Church Road, Greencastle, PA 17225 I Phone: (717) 895-3902 
Room 150-B, East Wing, PO Box 202090, Harrisburg PA 17120-2090 | Phone: (717) 783-5218
Email: pschemel@pahousegop.com
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