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Friday, February 28, 2014

Capitol Update by Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, February 28, 2014 The latest news from the State Capitol

Working to Expand Higher Education Opportunities in Rural PA

The House Education Committee held an informative public hearing this week on my legislation to create a rural community college pilot program to serve the 11-county region of northwest and northcentral Pennsylvania.
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There was some great testimony in support of the concept, especially from some of our local education and workforce advocates: Duane A. Vicini, president of the Education Consortium of the Upper Allegheny; Kate Brock, executive director of the Community Education Council of Elk and Cameron Counties; and Pam Streich, director of planning for the North Central Workforce Investment Board. To view their testimony, click here.

Conversely, some in the education establishment testified in opposition to the measure, though the opposition seems to be driven in large part by a desire to protect the status quo when it comes to money and turf. That was really disappointing, because the focus should be on the students of rural Pennsylvania and ensuring accessibility to affordable education and training programs.

For a full report of the hearing, click here.

To watch the full hearing, click here.
Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who came out for my town hall meetings in Kane and Coudersport this week. I enjoy the opportunity to talk with you and hear your concerns. If you couldn’t attend either of the meetings, you are always welcome to contact my offices or through my website. 

Committee Aims to Address Recruitment and Retention Incentives for Volunteer Emergency Responders

Members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing in Harrisburg this week to discuss recruitment and retention incentives for volunteer emergency responders in Pennsylvania.

The committee received testimony from State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann, as well as representatives from various emergency responder organizations and state and local government entities about the challenges they face. In the mid-1970s, the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania was nearly 300,000. Today, the number is closer to 50,000.

Several legislative proposals to enhance recruiting and retention were discussed, including making training more accessible and affordable, covering the costs of college tuition and offering tax credits for emergency responders and tax credits for employers who permit employees serving as emergency responders to take paid leave to attend to an emergency. 

We all have a vested interest in shoring up the ranks of our volunteers, as they save taxpayers as much as $6 billion annually.  

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