Jan. 05, 2018

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Weekly Roundup
#Listrak\DateStampLong# The latest news from the State Capitol

Recap of 2017, Looking Forward to 2018

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season, and I wish everyone a prosperous new year.

Last year was a busy one. I was named chairman of the Pennsylvania House and Senate legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. The bipartisan, bicameral caucus works to promote and draft legislation important to sportsmen. Hunting and fishing activities have a significant impact on the Commonwealth’s economy. Hunters support 15,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and spend an average of $1,260 annually on the sport. They generate $121 million in state and local taxes. Pennsylvania’s anglers spend about $308 million annually in retail sales and support about 5,600 jobs.

Also, I was appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing under the Commerce Committee by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny). The subcommittee works to legislatively address any concerns related to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and mortgage laws.

Legislatively in concert with Sen. Bob Mensch, after several years of hard work, performance-based budgeting legislation was signed into law. For two legislative sessions I have pushed to make this change so we can more clearly see where our tax dollars are spent and make better budgeting decisions.

Performance-based budgeting uses performance matrixes to determine whether each state department has met its goals and objectives. It is a retrospective look back at what was accomplished with the dollars given. Once this review is done, the department then would receive consideration for future funding. Budget requests would include itemized expenditures for all activities required by state and federal statutes at minimum and current levels.

Also last year, the House approved my legislation to limit state budget increases through the Taxpayer Protection Act.

House Bill 110 would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish spending limits that the Commonwealth must abide by each fiscal year. The proposed constitutional amendment would limit the rate at which the Commonwealth’s spending may increase based on the sum of the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index and population growth each year.

The legislation would need to be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions and then presented to Pennsylvania voters as a referendum before it could be enacted. Once established, this amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution could only be temporarily suspended at the request of the governor in specific cases of declared emergencies or to fund pension obligations by a 75 percent majority vote of the General Assembly. I’m hopeful the Senate will pass this bill soon.

Both of these pieces of legislation are steps in the right direction to fixing the Commonwealth’s broken budget process. I have opposed the past two budgets due to excessive spending increases which were dependent on borrowing and mortgaging our future. These bills will help bring spending under control. Since 1970, total government spending, even when adjusted for inflation, has increased 85 percent. I’m hopeful performance-based budgeting will make a difference in this year’s budget process.

Looking forward in 2018, in addition to pushing the Senate to approve my Taxpayer Protection Act, I will be working to advance House Bill 1577, which would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to implement fraud detection measures on the use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards, also known as ACCESS cards, allow users to avail themselves of an array of public assistance benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, special allowances and general assistance. Two different auditors general have found concerns with EBT card usage. Finally, I will be re-introducing legislation to establish English as the official language of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

If you need any assistance with any state-related matter, please contact my district office at 724-437-1105. My staff and I look forward to helping you in any way we can.

Around the Community

In November, I honored veterans from the 52nd Legislative District with a pancake breakfast at DL&V Volunteer Fire Department. A wonderful time was had by all. We are forever grateful to the service of our veterans and this event is just a small way to say “thank you.”

In October, I joined Rep. Matt Dowling in recognizing our first responders. So many of their selfless acts go unnoticed and underappreciated. Every fire, police and EMS department, along with 911 dispatchers, from the 52nd Legislative District was given an award for their service.

This past fall, Sen. Pat Stefano and I held our annual Senior Expo at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus. A large crowd gained important information from government agencies and nonprofit organizations. It was great to see so many people!
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Office Locations                                                                                                                                                                      
Capitol Office: Room B-11, Main Capitol Building, PO Box 202052, Harrisburg PA 17120-2052 | (717) 787-1540 
District Office: 1040 Eberly Way, Suite 250, Lemont Furnace, PA 15456 I Phone: (724) 437-1105
Email: rwarner@pahousegop.com