It’s been a wonderful and event filled summer so far. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to enjoy some quality time with family and friends. In Harrisburg, the Senate has recessed after completing work on the revenue package and various code bills needed to fund the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget.
I’ve mentioned before that we entered this budget season facing a very concerning financial situation, forcing us to make some very difficult decisions. Throughout the entire process, my colleagues and I kept you and your families at the forefront of the discussion and focused on providing funding for programs and services that make a positive impact. There were a few measures included in the code bills passed last week in the Senate that I believe will have a positive impact on residents of Philadelphia including:
- First Chance Trust Fund – Every child deserves the right to grow up working toward achieving their dreams. Unfortunately for children with parents who are incarcerated, many times they fall victim to their family circumstances. My colleagues and I wanted to ensure we’re doing all we can to support these children and their families. In this year’s Fiscal Code bill, we established a public charitable trust aimed at helping all children impacted by the prison system. This fund will provide support to programs and services in our communities that are focused on reversing the cycle of incarceration for these families.
- Opioid Education – Pa, like every other state in the nation, is gripped by opioid epidemic that is taking thousands of lives each year. We need to take every opportunity we can to educate students about the dangers of these drugs. Language included in the school code now requires schools to provide instruction to students about the prevention of opioid abuse for grades six through 12.
- Keystone Exams – A source of much discussion in the education community for the past few years, the Keystone Exams have thankfully been delayed for use as a state graduation requirement by one additional year, until the 2019-2020 school year. Until then, discussions will continue about how to address this issue.
- Actual Value Initiative for Philadelphia – Sets the maximum market value at $47 billion and caps future increases to the total percentage increase annually for all districts, saving the school district approximately $250 million over four years.
- Stop and Go Oversight – As we all know, the issue of Stop and Go liquor sales are a problem across Philadelphia. Until now, the Liquor Control Board had little authority to address the problem. A measure passed as part of the Fiscal Code will allow the Board to suspend the license of a licensee if the licensee is found to no longer be eligible for the license after an inspection.
Again, while we have no indication when the House will return to consider the legislation we have sent them, we hope they do so quickly to bring the 2017-18 budget to a close.
Catfish Fishing Festival
There’s still time to register for the Catfish Fishing Festival on the Schuylkill! On Aug. 5, the Pa Fish and Boat Commission will host a free Family Catfish Fishing Festival from 9 a.m. to noon at the Walnut Street Fishing Pier on the Schuylkill Banks Trail. The pier is located at 2436 Walnut Street.
This is a great way to introduce fishing to your family and have a great time on the river. Fish and Boat staff will be on hand to provide instruction and information about catfish. Should be a great time for everyone. Please remember that pre-registration is required!
Local Job Fair
If you or someone you know is looking for a job or just searching for a new opportunity, come out to the Sheet Metal Workers Hall on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1301 Christopher Columbus Blvd.
Pa Turnpike Toll Amnesty Program
Just a reminder that the Toll Amnesty program with the PA Turnpike ends Friday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. You’ll have until then to pay your tolls, at a reduced rate in some cases, or risk having your vehicle registration suspended.
For questions or to participate in the amnesty program, call 1-877-736-6727 and select option 2.
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