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Friday, October 26, 2012

Rep. Martin Causer Posts Capitol Update

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Capitol Update
Friday, October 26, 2012
 The latest news from the State Capitol
New Laws to Aid PA Veterans

House Approves Bill Package for Pennsylvania Veterans The General Assembly recently adopted several new laws impacting the Commonwealth’s veterans.

Act 176 of 2012 offers a special designation on Pennsylvania driver’s licenses for veterans who served in any branch of the United States Armed Forces, including reserve units or the National Guard, and who were discharged or released from such service under conditions other than dishonorable. There is no additional for the designation, beyond regular license renewal costs. The designation will make it more convenient for veterans to verify their service to receive benefits, not only from government by from businesses that offer discounts as a gesture of appreciation.

To aid veterans in their professional lives, Act 185 of 2012 encourages state agencies to contract with veteran-owned small businesses. Specifically, the law sets an annual statewide goal of not less than 3 percent participation in statewide contracts entered into by the Department of General Services with veteran-owned small businesses. The law also calls for training to help veteran-owned businesses learn how to apply for state contracts.

Other measures include:

•  Act 181 of 2012, which brings the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) into compliance with the Federal Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Act of 2008 (HEART).
•  Act 194 of 2012, which establishes guidelines and funding for the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund and creates an “Honor Our Veterans” license plate, whose sales will benefit the fund.
•  Act 189 of 2012, which enacts the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act to simplify the process of absentee voting for United States military and overseas civilians in state elections conducted in Pennsylvania.
Community Pharmacy Access Legislation Sent to Governor

Community Pharmacy Access Legislation Sent to GovernorRecognizing the value of having a local pharmacist to whom patients can discuss their health and medication concerns, the House recently sent to the governor legislation that would give consumers more choice when it comes to using a community pharmacy or mail-order service.

Senate Bill 201 levels the playing field so that community retail pharmacies may enter into a network and have the ability to offer the same terms and conditions, such as discounts and other incentives, that only mail-order pharmacies are currently able to offer.

Under the bill, the retail pharmacy must accept the same pricing, terms and conditions that an insurer has established for the mail-order pharmacy. In addition, the bill will require a study to be performed by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee evaluating the impact of costs on individuals, independent and chain retail locations and health care plans.

If it is signed into law by the governor, the law would take effect in 120 days, and be applicable to all health insurance policies and government plans issued or renewed on or after the effective date.
Home Heating Assistance Available Starting Nov. 1

Winter Heating Assistance Program Set to Open Nov. 1Before we know it, the weather will turn colder and our furnaces, fireplaces and stoves will be cranking out the heat. If you have trouble paying your heating bills, you may be eligible for help through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which opens this year on Nov. 1.

LIHEAP offers both energy assistance cash grants and crisis grants. Cash grants are awarded based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. Crisis grants are provided in the event of a heating emergency, including broken heating equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced, lack of fuel, termination of utility service or danger of being without fuel or of having utility service terminated.

Applications will be available at local utility companies and community service agencies, such as Area Agencies on Aging or community action agencies. They are also available from county assistance offices:

    • Cameron County, 411 Chestnut St., Emporium, 814-486-1206.
    • McKean County, 68 Chestnut St., Suite B, 814-362-4671.
    • Potter County, 269 Route 6 West, Room 1, Coudersport, 814-274-4900.

For more information or to apply online, visit www.compass.state.pa.us

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