Updates from Harrisburg

I think you will agree with me when I say we blinked and are already in the month of May. One thing is for certain: warmer weather and sunshine are being welcomed here in Lackawanna County. As I look back on the first five months of the year, I’m happy to report some legislative accomplishments that have taken place so far.

About a month ago, I wrote about my bill that would stop taxing Olympians and Paralympians on their winnings. I am happy to report the bill unanimously passed on the House floor and is now in the hands of the Senate. I am hopeful the bill will soon be signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf.

I was also proud to help pass several resolutions so far this year. One recognized the month of March 2019 as Irish American Heritage Month, another recognized April 2019 as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Month, and another recognized April 16, 2019, as 4p-/Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome Awareness Day.

I have also sponsored and co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that I believe would benefit and help people across Pennsylvania. I am happy to report that most of these bills are supported by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and are currently working their way through various committees before heading to the House floor for a vote.

The first bill I want to highlight would require child day care providers to install safety guards on doors. Every year, more than 300,000 door-related injuries requiring emergency medical treatment occur, with young children suffering most of these injuries. As the father of a newborn, I am mindful that children are wondrous and curious, to no fault of their own. Door safety guards installed on the hinge side of the door are designed to prevent children from inserting their finger or hand into the hinge area, and to minimize the risk of fracture, laceration and even amputation. Though quite traumatic and expensive to treat, child door-related injuries can be entirely preventable.

Another bill I am proud to sponsor would raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36.5 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. The CDC also reports that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths a year, or 1 of every 5 deaths. This makes tobacco more harmful to individuals than alcohol, for which an individual must be 21 years old to legally access. Six states across the country have already raised the minimum age for legal access to tobacco, with 380 different communities doing the same. This bill would have a positive impact on our public health, especially for future generations.

There certainly seems to be a great deal happening in Harrisburg. As I write this, discussions and debates for the state budget are beginning, and I am excited to continue advocating for issues important in our community, like education, infrastructure and property tax relief.

I hope you find these issues as important as I do. As always, please contact my office at 570-342-4348 if you have any questions or comments on these bills, or on any state-related matter. Hearing what issues and causes are most important to you helps me develop and fine tune my policy standpoints.