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Friday, February 3, 2017

Capitol Update By Rep. Martin Causer

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Capitol Update
Friday, February 03, 2017 The latest news from the State Capitol
House Readies for 2017-18 Budget Address
The House and Senate will convene a joint session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly this Tuesday, Feb. 7, to hear Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for the third year of his administration.

After two years of pursuing increased income and sales taxes, the governor has said he will not propose such broad-based tax increases this year. He is also seeking to consolidate four state agencies – the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs – into one Department of Health and Human Services. I am generally supportive of any effort to streamline state government, but I have not seen many details about how the governor would like to implement this plan and what impacts it may have on services or cost savings.

As is always the case, my goal is to adopt an on-time, fiscally responsible budget that focuses on the core functions of government. To watch the governor’s address live, log onto beginning at 11:30 a.m. The address is expected to begin closer to noon.
Gone Fishin’: Trout Stocking Schedules Available
Local anglers are now able to find out when their favorite fishing hole will be stocked with trout by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, as the annual Trout Stocking Guides are now available in print, online and on the commission’s FishBoatPA mobile app.

The commission stocks approximately 3.15 million adult trout in more than 720 streams and 120 lakes open to public angling each year. These figures include approximately 2 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout; and 500,000 brook trout. The average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.

Included in this year’s stocking lists are the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters, a program where 14 waters across the state will be stocked with large 14- to 20-inch trout. Approximately 4,500 large trout will be distributed among the 14 waters at a rate of 175 to 225 per mile, which is comparable to the numbers of similarly sized fish in Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters. Among the 14 waterways are Kinzua Creek and First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek.

The statewide opening day for trout season is Saturday, April 15, and a Mentored Youth Trout Day is set for Saturday, April 8. Learn more about the program here

For more information about fishing licenses or regulations, or to check the online schedule, click here
Bill to Expand Reduced-Fee Vehicle Registration for Retirees
More retirees would be eligible for the state’s reduced-fee vehicle registration program under legislation I recently reintroduced.

The program currently offers a discounted vehicle registration for just $10 to any person who is retired and receiving Social Security or other pension income that does not exceed $19,200 annually. However, since the income limit was last increased in 1998, many retirees have received modest cost-of-living increases in their Social Security income, and that has pushed them just beyond the eligibility limits for the program.

My House Bill 188 would increase the income eligibility limit to $23,500, the same limit set for the state’s PACENET prescription drug assistance program. The bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee and is scheduled to be voted upon next week. Last session, the bill was approved by the House but not taken up by the Senate.

For more information about the existing reduced-fee vehicle registration program, visit
Reminder: Veterans Assistance Available
Melissa Davis of the Veterans of Foreign Wars will be available in my Bradford office next week, and the Kane office the following week, to assist veterans and their family members with issues such as compensation, education, pension, health care and death benefits. No appointments are necessary – just stop by the Bradford office, 78 Main St., first floor, on Monday, Feb. 6, from 1-3 p.m. Or stop by the Kane office, 55 Fraley St., on Monday, Feb. 13, from 1-3 p.m.

For information about future veterans outreach dates and locations, click here

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