Legislative corner -- week of May 19-23

The House was recessed for the week but there is still plenty of legislative activity I can share with you. Several bills I signed on to were formally introduced this week and include:

H.B. 1475 Conservation Corridors
Pennsylvania is a leader among states in annual outdoor recreational activities and consumer spending, so it is important for the state to protect and preserve its natural resources. This legislation would require a study to focus on the economic benefits of conservation corridors to tourism and wildlife preservation in Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest lands.

H.B. 1477 Genuine Second Chances
More than 20 percent of jobs in Pennsylvania require a license. In many cases, people were trained for these jobs while serving their time in prison. But when they're released and try to get a license in the field they trained in, their record prevents them from being licensed. It doesn't make sense to deny access to work, especially in an attempt to reduce recidivism. This legislation would forbid licensing boards from barring someone from being licensed unless their criminal conviction relates directly to the field they want to work in.

H.Bs. 1482-1487 School Administration Financial Reform Package
The egregious financial mismanagement of a Pittsburgh-area school district prompted this legislative package that would require reforms based on recommendations in a state audit. While schools are mostly managed at the local level, safeguards must be put in place so that no school district can be so reckless and no taxpayers have to shoulder the burden of that mismanagement.

H.B. 1493 Your Vote Counts

Current law limits voting by absentee ballot to only a few reasons. But in our daily, hectic work and family lives, there are many reasons we may not be able to get the polls on election day. This legislation would allow all voters to request and receive an absentee ballot, for whatever reason.

H.B.1495 Reporting sexual assaults on campus
Transparency in the incidences of sexual assault and violence on college campuses is important to students and their parents when considering schools. However, reporting of it is not mandatory. This legislation would require school districts and colleges/universities to annually submit information regarding the number of sexual violence and harassment incidents that occurred at their schools. The Education Department would then be required to compile the information and issue a report card so that families and students can be better informed.

H.B.1496 It’s on us online reporting
Transparency in reporting incidents of sexual assault on campus is important, but if victims don’t feel safe to report their assault, the true numbers cannot be obtained. It’s estimated that 90 percent of these crimes go unreported. This legislation would require colleges and universities to offer online and anonymous reporting options for students and employees. It is widely recognized as the best first step to make victims feel safer moving forward with a formal report.

H.B.1499 Extending State Tax Relief to all Uniformed Services
Right now in Pennsylvania, state tax relief is extended to only the four uniformed services contained within the Department of Defense and to the US Coast Guard contained within the Department of Homeland Security. The uniformed services of the US Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are excluded. This legislation would add USPHS and NOAA members, making it so that all seven uniformed services are treated the same way when they are on active duty outside Pennsylvania in terms of PA Income Tax.

H.R. 350 Supporting our service members with jobs
The military trains its brave men and women in skills applicable to at least 962 civilian occupations Yet more than half of veterans say they find it difficult to transition back to civilian life. One barrier to that is many professional licensing boards across the nation do not recognize official documentation of military training as proof of qualifications for licensure. This legislation would urge Pennsylvania’s 29 licensing boards and commissions to review how military education and training could partially or completely fulfill licensure requirements and develop those paths to licensure.

H.B.s 1488-1491 Sustainable Development and Manufacturing Tax Credit Package

Green homes and buildings and manufacturing products are one way we humans can signal that we care about the Earth’s future. This legislative package incentivizes green building and manufacturing in Pennsylvania by establishing a series of tax credits in the green energy sector to stimulate job growth.