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|Wolf Vetoes Legislative Bill to Pay for His Voting Machine Mandate on the Counties
Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a key election reform bill that would have provided $90 million in funding for the governor’s mandate for all new election machines in each of the state’s 67 counties. The governor announced this week he would simply go around the Legislature and supply the funding unilaterally by borrowing in the taxpayers’ name a bond for $90 million plus possibly $15.5 million in interest over 10 years.
Leaders in both the House and Senate question the governor’s authority to take such action without legislative authorization.
The need for the funding was brought about by the governor’s decision to decertify every type of voting machine currently in use in the Commonwealth. It is estimated to cost $150 million to replace machines in all 67 counties, which is a significant burden on taxpayers across the state.
The governor decertified the machines without any way for counties to pay for the new ones.
By vetoing the legislation, the governor is also robbing voters of other needed election improvements, including extending the deadline for submission of absentee ballots to ensure all votes count and creating a commission to manage the process for election machine decertification in the future.
Finally, the bill sent to the governor’s desk would have brought Pennsylvania in line with more than 40 other states by eliminating the “straight party” voting option, the measure most strongly opposed by the governor. The change could have opened the door to more minor party candidates and encouraged voters to cast their ballots for a person rather than a party.
Bills to Support Crime Victims Signed into Law
Delivering on our commitment to help support victims of crime and ensure justice is served, I’m pleased to report several new crime victim protection bills were signed into law this month. The House focused heavily on these issues back in April.
o Act 23 of 2019 ensures a victim is permitted to be present in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim's own testimony would be altered by hearing other witnesses.
o Act 24 of 2019 helps protect victims of rape by preventing prosecutors from bringing up the victim's sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
o Act 29 of 2019 makes updates to the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act, including requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing and storing rape kits.
o Act 21 of 2019 criminalizes the act of female genital mutilation by making it a first-degree felony.
o Acts 30 and 31 of 2019 expand the circumstances under which out-of-court statements may be used, including those from victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder (Act 30) and adding new crimes to the list that allows such statements made by a child under age 12.
In addition to these new laws, the General Assembly has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to include a Victim’s Bill of Rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution. This was my House Bill 276 known as Marsy’s Law. Voters will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot question to give victims a voice in our state Constitution in the upcoming November election.
Fiscal Responsibility Leads to Healthy Deposit in State’s Rainy Day Fund
A strong economy and our efforts to control spending in recent years have resulted in a healthy investment of nearly $317 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Every year, Gov. Wolf wanted to spend money the state didn’t have, but we stood up for the taxpayers and pushed back to not overspend.
The Rainy Day Fund serves as the Commonwealth’s savings account to help weather the next economic downturn without further burdening hard-working taxpayers.
Last year marked the first deposit in the Rainy Day Fund in more than a decade. This year, lawmakers agreed during budget negotiations to deposit the full amount of the General Fund balance at the close of the 2018-19 fiscal year into the fund.
New Law to Save Taxpayers Money
Working to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, the General Assembly passed a new law that will enable the Commonwealth to pay off state debt more quickly and save on interest costs.
Act 43 of 2019 will change the way state bonds are issued to accelerate the retirement of Pennsylvania’s General Obligation debt, reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of state-issued bonds, and help the Commonwealth improve its bond rating.
The law requires the principal for new issuances of state debt to be repaid in equal amounts over the term of the bond – usually 20 years – rather than front loading interest payments with lower principal payments that grow as the bonds mature.
Calling on the FCC to Protect Your Phone from Spoofers
Calls from telemarketers have long been an issue, but the situation becomes dangerous when scammers “spoof” calls. That’s when a call shows a different name or phone number than is actually associated with the caller. All too often it can result in recipients being tricked into sharing their personal information and scammed out of their hard-earned money.
Spoofing needs to be swiftly and aggressively addressed. Despite being illegal, these unwanted robocalls that appear to originate from local, often legitimate, numbers in order to deceive consumers are on the rise.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously supported a resolution urging Congress to grant additional authority to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to stop unwanted robocalls and spoofing, as well as to educate the public on how to report illegal calls. Spam calls are the most frequent complaint received by the FCC, and it’s time to do something about it.
While we implore the FCC to stop the harassment of Pennsylvanians through their own devices, residents can take action to limit another form of harassment – unwanted calls from telemarketers.
There are two Do Not Call Lists available: The National Do Not Call List and the Pennsylvania Do Not Call List. Register your cell phone and landline numbers with the state list by calling 888-777-3406 and the national list by calling 888-382-1222. Both phone numbers are toll free.
Staying Safe in Summer Heat and Humidity
With temperatures predicted to rise into the 90s again next week, the state Department of Health is offering several tips to help stay cool and safe. It also is important to keep an eye on those who are vulnerable like the seniors, children and animals in our community.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing; limit outdoor activities to early morning or evening hours when temperatures are usually cooler; and pace yourself if you do need to be outdoors. When possible, stay indoors in air conditioning on hot days.
Staying hydrated is important, and health experts recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day instead of waiting until you feel thirsty. Avoid consuming caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary beverages, and replace salt lost from perspiration by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks.
Extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States each year. Infants and young children, people age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions and those who must work outdoors are especially at risk for developing a heat-related illness.
Learn more here.
|Rep. Delozier in the Community
• On Wednesday, those who worked with Kathy Godfrey gathered to wish her the best in her retirement. Kathy served the Borough of Wormleysburg for 23 years in roles that included secretary to the borough manager, utility billing clerk and code enforcement officer. Best wishes to Kathy!
• The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation has a new home at 704 Lisburn Road in Lower Allen Township. The foundation, which advocates for state parks and forests, held an open house Wednesday. We presented a plaque and certificate to the foundation as token of my gratitude for its work.
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