|District Offices in Meyersdale, Confluence and Ohiopyle Now Open
My staff and I have been working to open our new district offices in Confluence and Meyersdale in Somerset County, and Ohiopyle in Fayette County. I am pleased that we are now open and ready to serve you in these locations.
All state-related services that are available in the Uniontown office are available in these new offices.
In Fayette County, the new office in Ohiopyle is located at 15 Sherman Street, and is open on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In Somerset County, the office in Meyersdale is located at 215 Main Street and is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, the office in Confluence is located at 711 Logan Place and is open on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The phone number for all three new locations is the same, (814) 634-4390.
Rep. Dowling spent a day in Somerset County meeting with the director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, members of the Meyersdale Borough Council and Merchant Association, and spending time at the Meyersdale Medical Center. Pictured are members of Borough Council.
Improving PA’s Unfriendly Adoption Policies
To help place children in loving homes, the House this week passed eight bills to improve the adoption process in Pennsylvania.
The bipartisan package would improve the state’s unfriendly adoption policies to help ensure that all parties – birth parents, adoptive parents and children – can benefit from a smoother process.
The cornerstone bill in the package would shorten the period in which a birth parent can revoke his or her consent to an adoption from 30 days to 14. This window of time would start after consent for adoption has been given, not from the time the child is born.
Other bills would ensure that birth parents have access to adoption-related counseling services; streamline and expedite the procedures for terminating parental rights; allow adoptive families to appeal the amount of an adoption subsidy; make it easier for parents who are incarcerated to relinquish their parental rights by allowing correctional staff to witness the individual’s consent to adoption; eliminate the hearing currently required to confirm a consent to adoption; refine the definition of “intermediary” to include a licensed attorney or social worker; and add reasonable living expenses incurred by a birth mother to the list of permissible reimbursable expenses paid by a prospective adoptive family during the course of the adoption process.
All of the bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
Expanding Educational Choice
Two popular tax credit programs that have allowed thousands of families across Pennsylvania to choose the best education for their children would be expanded under legislation which passed the House on Monday.
House Bill 250 would increase the amount of tax credits available under both the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. Funds available for ETIC would increase by $50 million to a record $175 million and funds available for the OSTC would increase by $25 million to $75 million.
The EITC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their voluntary contributions to organizations that fund various educational opportunities including scholarships and innovative programming. The OSTC program provides businesses with tax credits in exchange for their contributions to organizations that provide scholarships to students who live within the attendance boundary of a low-achieving public school.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Giving Families Work Choices
The House Human Services Committee held a hearing this week to clear up confusion and questions regarding an initial proposal by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that would force individuals with disabilities to spend time in the community, thereby reducing their ability to participate in day programs and sheltered workshops under the department’s Office of Developmental Programs.
At issue is the way in which DHS is changing its administration of its home- and community-based waivers. The initial proposal would have required individuals to spend 75 percent of their time in the community, rather than being at day programs or sheltered workshops. This requirement left the heads of those organizations wondering how they would continue to operate if individuals can only participate essentially one day out of five.
A compromise proposal between DHS and the General Assembly would make it possible for each person to participate in the community, but leave the decision with the individual. This proposal still awaits finalization.
To watch the hearing, visit this website and click on the March 13 date.
Love Your Dog? License Your Dog
With March designated as License Your Dog Month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reminds pet owners they must license their dogs ages 3 months and older. Failure can result in a maximum fine of $300 per violation, plus court costs.
An annual license is $8.50, and a lifetime license is $51.50. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.50, and lifetime fee is $31.50. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. Dog licenses are available from your local county treasurer and other licensing agents.
If your dog gets lost, a current license is the fastest way to get it back.
The small license fee helps the millions of dogs in the state by funding the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
For more information, click here to watch a short video or visit this website.
My Audio Podcast
I am recording audio Legislative Report podcasts on a periodic basis. You can listen to them by clicking on the Audio Podcast link above the headline in this email, and all future ones.
In the latest edition, I discuss my new district offices, legislation streamlining the adoption process and a bill to reclassify ‘sugar shacks’ used in maple syrup production as agricultural buildings that would be exempt from Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code moving through the House.
All podcasts are on my website as well at RepDowling.com. Just click on the audio section in the left column.