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Friday, April 19, 2019

Capitol Update by Rep. Martin Causer



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Capitol Update
Thursday, April 18, 2019 The latest news from the State Capitol

Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child


I had a great time reading Barnyard Banter to the kids at the McKean County Family Center this morning as part of the “One Book, Every Young Child” early literacy initiative.
 

Ag Committee OKs My Bill to Aid Dairy Farmers, Milk Haulers

Click here to view video. 
                                   
View my comments urging members to support House Bill 915 at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, which I chair, has approved my legislation that would exempt milk trucks from weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans.

While I understand the public safety concerns that may prompt officials to impose a travel ban on commercial vehicles, it causes a major problem for our dairy farmers. Cows simply don’t have an “off switch,” and their milking schedules cannot be changed to comply with weather and travel conditions.

So, the administration’s suggestion that dairy farmers need to “change their business model” is simply not an option.

My bill, as amended in committee, will require milk haulers who wish to be exempt from future travel bans to obtain and display a decal from the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board on their vehicle.

Read more about the bill here.
 

Ag Committee Talks Dairy with PA Milk Marketing Board

In light of the ongoing challenges facing the state’s dairy industry, I called a public hearing of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Wednesday to hear from members of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (PMMB).

Over the last year, the board has embarked on an effort to educate farmers and others about its role and to better assess and respond to issues and concerns raised by the state’s dairy farmers.

The board members – Chairman Robert Barley, Dr. Carol A Hardbarger and James Van Blarcom – shared with committee members what they learned during a series of listening sessions held between last September and early February, as well as the results of a survey they conducted. Two of the main issues raised include minimum pricing, as many farmers feel it benefits processors and retailers more than it benefits farmers; and the over order premium (OOP) and whether it is being properly remitted to the state’s dairy farmers. OOP is a premium applied at retail to the sale of milk produced, processed and sold in Pennsylvania. It is intended to support the state’s dairy farmers; however, Barley acknowledged that as much as one-third of the OOP is not making it back to farmers.

Another common issue raised during the sessions was about the sale of milk products in schools, which until recently was limited by federal policy to only skim milk. In late August, new federal guidelines allowed school districts to offer 1% flavored milk to students.

As a result of their discussions, the board indicated they are working to continue improving communications with farmers to further educate about the board’s role, which is not limited to pricing functions, but includes others such as auditing and payment security. They are also examining pricing systems in other states and reviewing potential solutions related to the remittance of over order premiums. In fact, the board has scheduled a hearing for May 1 on a proposed amendment to their regulations to require cooperatives to provide a line item on member statements showing the amount of over order premium being paid.

To watch the hearing in its entirety, click here.

To learn more about the PMMB, visit www.mmb.pa.gov.
 

Outreach Hours Set for May 2

To help ensure access to state government information and services, I will hold outreach office hours at the following locations on Thursday, May 2:
  • Emporium Borough Office – 9-10 a.m.
  • Port Allegany Borough Office – 11 a.m. to noon.
Services available include assistance with any state-related issues or concerns, driver license and vehicle registration applications, and applications for various state programs, such as the senior citizen Property Tax/Rent Rebate and PACE/PACENET prescription drug assistance programs.

As always, you are welcome to stop by my offices in Bradford (78 Main St., first floor), Coudersport (107 S. Main St., Room 1) or Kane (55 Fraley St.) Monday through Friday, or visit my website at RepCauser.com or my Facebook page at Facebook.com/RepCauser for the latest news from state government.
 

Veterans Assistance Available

Working to ensure area veterans receive the services and support they need, Melissa Davis of the American Legion will be available at each of my local offices in May. The schedule is as follows:
  • Coudersport: Thursday, May 2, from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Coudersport office is located at 107 S. Main St. Please call 814-274-9769 to schedule an appointment.
  • Kane: Monday, May 6, from 1-4 p.m. The Kane office is located at 55 Fraley St. Please call 814-837-0880 to schedule an appointment.
  • Bradford: Monday, May 13, from 1-4 p.m. The Bradford office is located at 78 Main St., first floor. Please call 814-362-4400 to schedule an appointment.
Davis will offer veterans assistance with issues such as compensation, education, pension, health care and death benefits. You need not be a member of the American Legion to participate.
 

April is ‘Donate Life Month’

April is “Donate Life Month” in Pennsylvania, and if you are not currently an organ donor, you may want to consider signing up as one.

In our Commonwealth, about 8,000 people are on the organ donation waiting list and, on average, every 18 hours one of them will die waiting for the call that never comes.

The encouraging news is that more people are making the decision to “donate life.” About 4.7 million Pennsylvanians have said yes to organ and tissue donation by adding the donor designation on their driver’s license. More than 138 million Americans are registered donors.

In addition, Pennsylvania driver’s license and ID card holders can support organ donation programs with a voluntary donation of $3 at the time of application or renewal. To date, nearly $14 million has been generously donated to the fund.

More information is available at donatelifepa.org.
 

Happy Easter


Wishing you and your family a joyous Easter Day!

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