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(HARRISBURG) – The Senate approved legislation on Thursday to protect Pennsylvanians’ Second Amendment rights by preventing local jurisdictions from imposing firearms ordinances that are more restrictive than state laws, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati, who strongly supported the measure, explained that the amended version of House Bill 80 would prohibit local laws or ordinances attempting to regulate firearms or ammunition.

The bill would allow an individual or organization to sue to block or overturn a local ordinance. If successful, the individual would be able to recover all expenses, including attorney fees, costs, expenses, and lost income from employment.

“This legislation is a commonsense measure to not change, but simply clarify current law,” Scarnati said. “Senate Bill 80 clarifies existing law to ensure that firearms and ammunition laws are consistent across Pennsylvania.”

“Unfortunately, anti-gun advocates are now pressuring local governments to enact laws which violate our Second Amendment rights,” Scarnati explained. “They are engaging in this underhanded tactic in order to push an unpopular agenda which has repeatedly failed to succeed at the state or federal level.”

Scarnati noted that over three decades ago state firearm preemption was enacted by the legislature to avoid the possibility of having over 2,600 separate firearm laws across the Commonwealth. In recent years more than 50 local governments have enacted local gun control ordinances in violation of the current state firearms preemption law.

“The myriad of local firearm laws across our Commonwealth makes compliance very difficult and nearly impossible for responsible gun owners,” Scarnati said. “Many local residents travel across the state with a lawfully owned gun in their car. We need consistency to prevent individuals who travel with firearms for personal protection and hunting from being at risk of breaking the law simply by crossing from one municipality to the other.”

House Bill 80 is supported by various pro-Second Amendment organizations. The legislation was approved by the Senate by a vote of 34 to 14. The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for a vote on concurrence.

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CONTACT:
Casey Long
clong@pasen.gov
(717) 787-7084

prescription-drugs

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate today gave final approval to legislation that would help to save lives and prevent prescription drug abuse by creating a confidential prescription drug monitoring database in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati, who strongly supported Senate Bill 1180, explained that the legislation will establish an electronic database listing all controlled substances that are prescribed and dispensed in Pennsylvania. The database will serve as an important tool to help improve patient care and prescribing practices.

“Far too often prescription drugs are misused and end up causing harm to people’s health,” Scarnati said. “The database will be a strong resource to confidentially help identify those who are misusing drugs and ensure that they receive appropriate help for addiction issues.”

Scarnati said that according to recent studies, Pennsylvania ranks seventh in the nation in the number of drug overdose deaths, most of which involved prescription drugs. Drug overdoses now surpass the number of deaths each year from automobile accidents in Pennsylvania.

“Drug abuse has detrimental impacts to individuals in all areas of our state – rural, suburban and urban,” Scarnati said. “I am pleased that this legislation has received such strong bi-partisan support and will soon help to save the lives of individuals across our Commonwealth.”

Scarnati noted that the legislation allows for the creation of the “Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program” (ABC-MAP) within the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Oversight of the program will be managed by the ABC-MAP Board, consisting of the following individuals:

Secretary of Health
Secretary of Human Services
Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Secretary of State
Insurance Commissioner
Secretary of Aging
Commissioner of the State Police
Attorney General
Physician General, if the Secretary of Health is not a physician
One of the chief responsibilities of the Board will be to develop policies and procedures to safeguard the release of information only to authorized users and ensure the privacy and confidentiality of patients’ information.

“Senate Bill 1180 is a positive step forward to do all that we can to combat substance abuse in our local communities,” Scarnati said. “Efforts to fight Pennsylvania’s growing drug epidemic have been focused on during this legislative session and will continue to be a central issue as we move into the 2015-2016 legislative session.”

Senate Bill 1180 passed the Senate by a vote of 46 to 2 and will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.

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CONTACT:
Kate Eckhart
keckhart@pasen.gov
(717) 787-7084

scarnati

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Finance Committee has advanced legislation to limit the growth of state government spending in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 7, known as the Taxpayer Protection Act, explained that the legislation will help protect taxpayers by ensuring that state spending has appropriate accountability and does not exceed certain inflationary thresholds. The bill was passed by the Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 7 to 4.

“Every day hard working families across Pennsylvania are faced with spending decisions in order to make sure they are living within their means,” Scarnati said. “It is important that as a Commonwealth we also make a commitment to reject excessive spending that could hurt our state’s economic future and our ability to compete.”

According to Scarnati, SB7 would reasonably limit the growth of state spending through the lower of the following thresholds:
· Limit state government spending to the average change in personal income for the three preceding calendar years, OR
· Limit state government spending to the average inflation rate plus the average percentage change in state population over the three preceding years (with exceptions for certain extraordinary circumstances).

“I commend my colleague and SB7’s prime sponsor, Senator Folmer for his work on this important measure to bring greater fiscal responsibility to state government,” Scarnati said. “After sitting at the budget negotiation table for the past several years I understand the need for this initiative and will be a strong voice for passage as debate on the issue moves forward. I think it is more than fair for legislators to be required to keep in mind that with any increase in spending there is a direct impact to taxpayers.”

Scarnati noted that the legislature has successfully passed budgets within the parameters of the Taxpayer Protection Act in each of the last four years.

“The Republican controlled legislature has made it a priority to pass on time, reasonable and responsible budgets the past four years,” Scarnati explained. “Enactment of this landmark legislation will ensure that future governors and legislatures continue to spend within their means without unduly burdening hardworking Pennsylvanians.”

“In addition to this common sense measure, I will also continue to push for meaningful public pension reform which will allow state government and our local school districts to control future costs for all taxpayers,” Scarnati concluded.

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CONTACT:
Casey Long
clong@pasen.gov
(717) 787-7084

 

SenScarnatiHeadShot

(HARRISBURG) – The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has approved a total of $2,594,832 for eight energy, transportation and water and sewer projects in the 25th Senatorial District, announced Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

The projects approved for funding are a part of three different programs that are administered by the CFA, including the Alternative and Clean Energy Program, Multimodal Transportation Fund Program and PA Small Water & Sewer Program.

“I am pleased that eight projects in our region have received state funding for important public improvements to better serve area residents and businesses,” Scarnati said. “These investments will provide needed growth and updates while also helping to generate local economic development.”

Scarnati explained that in the 25th Senatorial District the following projects were approved across five different counties:

Cameron County

Mid Cameron Authority – $40,000 grant (PA Small Water & Sewer Program)
The project will involve making repairs to an aerial sewer crossing that transfers sanitary sewage waste from one side of West Creek to the other by correcting the erosion at the existing abutments on each side of the creek and adding the additional steel support to the existing steel hangers. The total project cost is $53,000.

Clearfield County

CNG Motor Fuels of Clearfield County – $681,680 grant (Alternative and Clean Energy Program)
CNG Motor Fuels of Clearfield County will install a public CNG fueling station at the existing Pacific Pride petroleum-based fuel site located in DuBois City. The station is located near major travel corridors, including I-80, US 119, US 322, US 219 and PA 255. CNG Motor Fuels of Clearfield County will provide $1,022,520 in matching funds.

City of DuBois – $596,695 grant (Multimodal Transportation Fund Program)
The City of DuBois is extending the Beaver Meadow Walkway and linking Memorial Park to the downtown business district to encourage recreation and promote commerce to the local community. An additional trail loop and streetscape project will provide access to no less than six empty store fronts along the proposed pathway. Funds will be used to make safe passage from the Memorial Park and Beaver Meadow Walkway through the Downtown Business District by replacing old, broken and missing sidewalk; adding efficient street lighting and installing informational and direction signage. The total project cost is $852,421.

Clinton County

Clean Energy – $400,257 grant (Alternative and Clean Energy Program)
Clean Energy plans to install a new CNG station at the existing Clean Energy LNG station, to provide CNG and LNG capabilities at the site. Clean Energy will provide $600,385 in matching funds.

Jefferson County

Big Run Area Municipal Authority – $125,000 grant (PA Small Water & Sewer Program)
The project will include the purchase and installation of an additional sludge storage tank to reduce the plant’s organic loading back to normal levels. Portions of the treatment facility are also exhibiting severe corrosion; therefore the project will also include sandblasting and painting rusted tank walls and replacing the cathodic anodes for corrosion protection. The total project cost is $150,000.

CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County – $287,600 grant (Alternative and Clean Energy Program)
CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County will expand an existing public CNG fueling station to meet the increasing demand by truck fleets and the public for CNG. The station is located less than 1/4 mile from exit 78 of I-80, and also has easy access to PA 36, US 322 and PA 28. CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County will provide $431,400 in matching funds.

CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County – $353,600 grant (Alternative and Clean Energy Program)
CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County will expand an existing public CNG fueling station to meet the increasing demand by truck fleets and the public for CNG. The station is located at the Punxsutawney Industrial Park along Route 436 and is less than a mile away from Route US 119 and PA 36. CNG Motor Fuels of Jefferson County will provide $530,400 in matching funds.

Potter County

Coudersport Borough Authority – $110,000 grant (PA Small Water & Sewer Program)
The project will remove a 100 year old water main and replace it with 700 LF of 8″ water line along with the installation of three new fire hydrants. The total project cost is $147,000.

According to Scarnati the grants were approved at the September 9th CFA meeting in Harrisburg.

“I commend our local cities, businesses and municipal authorities for seeking out support and receiving this substantial funding,” Scarnati said. “I am confident that these projects will provide significant benefits to the community for decades to come.”

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) was established as an independent agency of the Commonwealth to administer Pennsylvania’s economic stimulus packages. The CFA holds fiduciary responsibility over the funding of programs and investments in Pennsylvania’s economic growth.

More information regarding programs administered by the CFA can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development website: http://newpa.com/find-and-apply-for-funding/commonwealth-financing-authority.

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CONTACT: Kate Eckhart keckhart@pasen.gov (717) 787-7084

kinzuabridge

kinzuabridgeFrom State Representative Kathy Rapp:

Last week, I had a wonderful time participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited park office and visitor center at Kinzua Bridge State Park.

The visitor center will house two exhibit halls and a lobby; park administrative offices; public restrooms; and classroom space. Interpretive exhibits are anticipated to be completed at the same time as the building.

Themes include the landscape of the Allegheny Plateau; the viaduct as a symbol of the engineering industry advances that supported the Industrial Revolution and as an inspiring reminder of the inventiveness, resourcefulness and “can do” spirit of the people of the late 1800s; and the unique opportunities for experiencing natural beauty, observing wildlife and participating in recreational activities at Kinzua Bridge State Park.

The bridge and observation deck will remain open during construction of the office and visitor center. Construction is expected to be completed next fall.

For the latest legislative and district event updates, visit RepRapp.com or Facebook.com/RepRapp.

 

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(HARRISBURG) – Beginning next week, volunteer fire and ambulance services can apply online for state grants to help fund their operations, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati said the on-line application period for the 2014-15 grant period will start September 3rd and remain open for 45 days.

Grants will be awarded to eligible volunteer fire companies or volunteer ambulance services. The minimum grant is $2,500, while the maximum is $15,000. Volunteer fire companies that also provide ambulance services are eligible to apply for both a fire company grant and a volunteer ambulance service grant.

“The high cost of equipment and training has created serious financial difficulties for many of Pennsylvania’s firefighters and ambulance crews,” Scarnati said. “These grants will help provide life-saving equipment and training, to allow our dedicated volunteers to do their jobs more effectively.”

The grants can be used to renovate or repair facilities and to repair or purchase firefighting, ambulance or rescue equipment. Funding may also be used to aid in debt reduction or for training and certification of members.

Scarnati explained that the program’s eGrant application is intended to make the application and award process easier for companies. Program guidelines are available at www.osfc.state.pa.us. Online grant help is also available throughout the grant process by clicking on “Application Assistance.” Applications must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on October 17, 2014.

“Our local volunteer fire and ambulance staff deserve our greatest respect and gratitude,” Scarnati said. “I thank these brave men and women for their service and strongly encourage all eligible units to apply for these support grants.”

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CONTACT:
Kate Eckhart
keckhart@pasen.gov

 

Bradford-Airport-Terminal

Two airports in the 25th Senatorial District have been awarded a total of $387,500 in state grants to improve safety and operations, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati said St. Marys Municipal Airport in Elk County was awarded $262,500 to construct a vehicle parking lot.

Bradford Regional Airport in McKean County will also receive $125,000 to rehabilitate four hangars.

The two projects are funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Aviation Development Program, which is financed by the state’s jet fuel tax and leverages $1.5 million in local matching funds.

“Airports are a critical part of our transportation system, particularly in rural areas of the state,” Scarnati said. “I’m pleased that we are investing in Pennsylvania’s smaller regional airports, which are important to economic development and providing safe transportation for area residents.”

The local facilities were among 20 airports across Pennsylvania to share $3.4 million through this round of funding. Public-use airports in the Commonwealth are eligible for the Aviation Development Program.

More information regarding state aviation programs can be found on the PennDOT website (www.dot.state.pa.us).

 

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CONTACT: Kate Eckhart keckhart@pasen.gov (717) 787-7084

Route 6, Columbus, PAWestern New York & Pennsylvania RailroadME-2 Westbound

(HARRISBURG) – Two projects in the 25th District have been awarded grants through Pennsylvania’s Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and the Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP), according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).

Scarnati said RTAP is a capital budget grant program funded with bonds, and RFAP is underwritten through Act 89 of 2013, the Commonwealth’s new Transportation Funding Plan.

“Just like roads and bridges, our rail lines are crucial to transportation and economic development, particularly in rural areas,” Scarnati said. “These grants will help make needed improvements to ensure that these vital rail lines are safe and in good repair.”

RJ Corman Railroad Group PA Lines will receive a $4.3 million RTAP grant to install cross ties and switch ties, renew several crossings, install bridge ties and other track work. The rail company serves Cambria, Clearfield, Clinton and Indiana Counties.

Western New York PA Railroad Company, LLC, which serves McKean County, will receive a RFAP grant of $448,078 to repair a railroad bridge, including timber repairs and replacements, and track approach repairs.

Scarnati explained that The State Transportation Commission (STC) voted last Thursday to approve nearly $35.9 million for 13 projects through the Rail Transportation Assistance Program and 26 projects through the Rail Freight Assistance Program.

“The Transportation Funding Plan enacted last year was a comprehensive and thought-out approach to our transportation needs and is getting projects moving now,” Scarnati stated. “Through these grants awarded today, we are making an important investment in updating and improving our railroads, which are helping to reduce congestion and pollution and spur economic growth.”

More information regarding the state’s Transportation Improvement Program can be found on the PennDOT website (www.dot.state.pa.us).

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CONTACT: Kate Eckhart keckhart@pasen.gov (717) 787-7084

FRACKING IN PENNSYLVANIA BRINGS RISKS AND REWARDS

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) has issued the following statement regarding the Flatirons Development, LLC decision concerning the Brandon-Day well:

“Flatirons Development, LLC, has agreed to discontinue Marcellus drilling operations of the Brandon-Day well which is located upstream of the Brockway Borough Municipal Authority Rattlesnake Reservoir.  The existing bore hole will be abandoned, sealed and reclaimed to eliminate the possibility of watershed contamination.

“This recent decision by Flatirons Development to stop plans for drilling at the Brandon-Day well is a good and responsible decision for our community.  Earlier this year after taking part in numerous discussions and meetings regarding this well, I reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to express serious reservations with permitting any further drilling at the proposed site or any nearby site which could potentially compromise the reservoir.

“Toby Creek Watershed Association President Bill Sabatose and members of the Toby Creek Watershed have done an outstanding job monitoring the process surrounding this well and working to make sure the watershed remains clean.  This decision is a strong testament to the successful teamwork of area residents, local leaders, DEP and Flatirons to do what is in the best interest of our community to ensure public safety and protect our natural resources.”

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CONTACT:
Kate Eckhart
keckhart@pasen.gov
(717) 787-7084

Sports_Equipment

From Representative Kathy Rapp:

With the fall sports season getting underway, students, parents and coaches should be aware of two recent state laws aimed at protecting student athletes.

Act 59 of 2012 raises awareness about the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest by requiring coaches and parents to complete an online training program to learn how to identify symptoms. Under the law, student athletes must be removed from practices or games if they display symptoms, and they cannot return to play until cleared to do so by a medical professional.

Similarly, Act 101 of 2011 requires the removal from play of a student athlete who shows symptoms of a concussion, such as confusion, headache, nausea, blurred vision or memory loss. Parents and their student athletes are required to sign a concussion awareness sheet annually before the student is allowed to participate in a sport, and coaches of those sports must complete a concussion certification course each year.

Additional information about both laws, and access to the online training course related to sudden cardiac arrest, are available through the Department of Health website.

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HARRISBURG – The State Senate has recently passed bi-partisan legislation to begin reforming Pennsylvania’s pension system by moving members of the General Assembly and other statewide elected officials to a defined contribution plan, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati explained that last month the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 922, which takes an important first step to move all elected officials, including members of the General Assembly, out of a defined benefit public pension plan to remove this financial burden from taxpayers.

“Reforming public pension benefits is an important goal that Senate Republicans have been engaged in throughout the current legislative session,” Scarnati said. “Leading by example is what Pennsylvania residents expect and deserve from their elected officials.”

The amended version of Senate Bill 922, which was approved in a historic vote by the full Senate, would remove members of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the judiciary from the current defined benefit pension plan. The bill would create a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k) plan for legislators, the Governor, the Attorney General, the Auditor General, and Treasurer upon re-election, as well as the judiciary upon retention.

“Recently the governor has been traveling across our Commonwealth to speak with Pennsylvania residents about the need for pension reform,” Scarnati stated. “I appreciate that the governor shares our concern for the long-term sustainability of our Commonwealth’s pension systems, and look forward to sitting down with him to proactively work as a team to solve this problem.”

Scarnati noted that Members of the Senate decided to change their own pensions first, before asking others to make changes to their plans. If changes are to be made to the retirement system for state employees, then those that vote for those changes should be held to the same standard.

“This issue did not arise overnight and requires that we work together to enact responsible pension reform in a strategic manner,” Scarnati said. “I am very pleased to work with my colleagues in the Senate to take the first steps to address the long-term sustainability of the state’s public employee pension systems.”

Senate Bill 922 is currently before the House Finance Committee.

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CONTACT: Casey Long
clong@pasen.gov
(717) 787-7084

Airport

Three airports in the 25th Senatorial District will receive a total of $1,225,754 in grants to improve safety and operations, according to Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).

Scarnati explained that the grants are being awarded to airports in Clinton, Elk and Jefferson counties. Funding for the grants comes from PennDOT’s Aviation Development Program and a Federal Block Grant Program.

“Aviation is a key component of Pennsylvania’s economy, and public-use airports in rural areas are vital to supporting local commerce and jobs,” Scarnati said. “This funding will help pay for important upgrades and equipment to ensure our area remains competitive for business growth and regional jobs.”

Aviation Projects in the 25th Senatorial District Receiving Support Include:

  • William T. Piper Memorial Airport (Clinton County) — $389,500 to rehabilitate taxiways and an apron.
  • St. Mary’s Municipal Airport (Elk County) — $455,004 to remove obstructions and acquire snow removal equipment.
  • Punxsutawney Municipal Airport (Jefferson County) — $381,250 to construct a taxiway turnaround.

Scarnati explained that the grants being awarded for local airports were a part of more than $18 million invested at 35 airports statewide, which support over 2,600 jobs.

“Providing individuals with access to safe and reliable transportation across our state is a core responsibility of government,” Scarnati stated. “By making this investment in local airports we are helping to further the creation of a strong transportation infrastructure across Pennsylvania.”

Scarnati noted that the State Aviation Development Program is funded through the state jet fuel tax and leverages local matching funds. The Federal Block Grant Program is funded through taxes collected nationally on airline tickets, freight waybills, international departure fees, and the sale of aviation fuel. Airports receive up to 90 percent of eligible project costs for projects included in Pennsylvania’s 12-year transportation program.

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CONTACT: Kate Eckhart keckhart@pasen.gov (717) 787-7084