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Friday, October 28, 2016

Headline Harrisburg By Rep. Matt Gabler

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Headline Harrisburg
Friday, October 28, 2016
The latest news from the State Capitol 
Expanding Options - Legislation I authored that would allow for the use of semi-automatic firearms and air- or gas-powered rifles for certain hunting applications has been sent to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for his signature.

I am proud that House Bill 263 is the NRA’s top legislative priority in our state and the most significant pro-gun legislation passed by the General Assembly this session. The inspiration for House Bill 263 came from an Elk County citizen who showed me how advancements in technology associated with these air-, chemical- and gas cylinder-powered rifles made them viable, humane options for use in hunting applications.

In addition, my bill now brings Pennsylvania in line with many other states that provide semi-automatic firearms as a viable hunting option. I thank the Senate for working with me to move this bill, and I look forward to having the governor sign the legislation into law.

Experience in other states has shown air- and gas-powered rifles to be especially popular among young hunters, women and new participants in the sport. The intent of the legislation is to bring these new options to all our state’s hunters and sportsmen. I am excited to offer this bill to expand options for people young and old alike who would be able to fully enjoy our area’s strong outdoor heritage.
Support for Our StudentsOn Wednesday, the state Senate unanimously passed legislation I authored that would protect students attending postsecondary schools accredited by an agency that loses its federal recognition. House Bill 2338 now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature.

I appreciate my Senate colleagues acting swiftly in moving House Bill 2338. Students who are in the middle of their education depend on federal and state financial aid, as well as being eligible at the conclusion of their education to receive accreditation or professional licensure for the course of study they’ve gone through. This legislation ensures that any student who is in the process of their education is able to continue to pursue their career without having their life interrupted because of a bureaucratic hiccup in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Education under the Obama administration recently decided to derecognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), one of the country’s largest national accrediting agencies. The move places many students at Pennsylvania’s career and technical schools in jeopardy of losing financial aid and eligibility for professional licensure.

These schools would also have an 18-month window to receive new accreditation by another agency. Extensions would also be possible if they are deemed to be in the best interest of the student body.

While my bill was written with the intent of assisting all ACICS schools across Pennsylvania, including DuBois Business College (DBC), other factors led to the untimely closure of that school in late September.

Unfortunately, no state-level legislation could have changed the outcome at DBC. In spite of that, I am proud that I have worked with DBC’s leaders to offer this bill that will save several dozen school locations across our state that face very similar situations as DBC.

I encourage the governor to sign this bill and immediately start protecting students across our state who otherwise face a real threat to their education and career paths.
DuBois Sewer Improvements - I'm pleased to announce funding has been awarded to the City of DuBois for an efficiency study on its wastewater treatment facility in Sandy Township. The $100,000 grant has been secured through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s (CFAs) Sewage Facilities program, one of seven programs funded through Marcellus Shale Act 13 revenue.

The program is supported by revenue from Marcellus Shale drilling impact fees as part of Act 13 of 2012. I am pleased that our community will benefit from these funds and I congratulate city leaders for their great work on this project.

The study will update the city’s Municipal Sewage Facilities plan and evaluate the overall performance and efficiency of the treatment plant. The analysis is in anticipation of regulations to be put into place by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2018. The CFA was established in 2004 as an independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development to administer Pennsylvania's economic stimulus packages.

The seven grant programs to which revenue may be directed are Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement; Baseline Water Quality; Flood Mitigation; Orphaned and Abandoned Wells; Sewage Facilities; Greenways, Trails and Recreation; and Watershed Restoration and Protection.
Recognizing Our Future Leaders
– Congratulations to Zeph Woelfel, whose Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held last Saturday at the Fox Township Senior Center.
On Tuesday, I joined House colleagues from western and northwestern Pennsylvania in welcoming to Harrisburg members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s Alle-Kiski Chapter 519. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat.

The group with us Tuesday is comprised of veterans from the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. 

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