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Committee Approves Extending Ban on Taxpayer-funded Abortions
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee at its January 25 meeting approved Senate Bill 3, a measure introduced by Committee Chairman Senator Don White that would place a proposed new insurance system created by the federal healthcare law under Pennsylvania's current restrictions barring the use of public funding for elective abortions.
SB 3 prohibits health insurers participating in the taxpayer-subsidized state health insurance exchanges—an insurance system created under the new federal healthcare law and currently slated to be operational by 2014—from providing coverage for elective abortions.
"Under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have the authority to prohibit certain abortion coverage in these health plans and we intend to exercise that power," Senator White said. "This is not a new step for Pennsylvania, but rather an extension of the restrictions already in place for medical assistance and other taxpayer subsidized programs."
The restriction on taxpayer-funded coverage of elective abortions proposed in SB 3 is consistent with the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program and the Abortion Control Act. There are exceptions allowing for coverage in cases involving rape, incest or when the life of the woman is in danger.
"This is very straight forward," Senator White said. "Senate Bill 3 does not ban abortions, nor does it bar insurance coverage offered in the private sector from covering abortions. This legislation simply extends our standard restriction on taxpayer-funded elective abortions to health insurance exchanges -- in the event that they should be established -- and maintains uniformity with our existing programs and policies."
Corbett Cabinet Taking Shape
Governor Corbett continued to fill out his senior Administration staff over the past few weeks with his nominations for numerous cabinet positions. The nominations will be reviewed by various Senate standing committees before they come to the floor of the Senate for a final confirmation vote.
Secretary, Department of Aging: Brian Duke, 53, of Washington Crossing, Bucks County. Duke is currently the director of the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging.
Secretary, Department of Agriculture: George Greig, a farmer and agriculture leader from Linesville, Crawford County.
Secretary, Department of Banking: Glenn Moyer, 59, of Oley Township, Berks County. Moyer is currently serving as Special Advisor to the CEO of National Penn Bancshares, Inc.
Secretary, Department of Community and Economic Development: C. Alan Walker, 66, of Clearfield. He is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Energy Company, Inc.
Secretary, Department of Corrections: John Wetzel 41, of Chambersburg, Franklin County. Wetzel has been the warden at Franklin County Jail since 2002.
Secretary, Department of Education: Ronald J. Tomalis, 48, of Clarksville, Maryland. Tomalis is currently Director at Dutko Worldwide/Whiteboard Advisors.
Secretary, Department of Environmental Protection: Michael Krancer, 53, of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County. Krancer currently serves as a Judge on the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.
Secretary, Department of General Services: Sheri Phillips, 49, of Harrisburg. Phillips has served as the Director of Management Services in Pennsylvania's Office of Attorney General since 2005.
Secretary, Department of Health: Eli Avila, 51, of Hampton Bays, N.Y. Avila currently serves as Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County, N.Y., Department of Health Services.
Insurance Commissioner: Michael F. Consedine, 41, of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County. Consedine is currently Partner and Vice Chair of Saul Ewing's Insurance Practice Group.
Pennsylvania Adjutant General, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: to be announced
Secretary, Department of Public Welfare: Gary D. Alexander, 42, of Greenville, R.I. Alexander most recently served as the Rhode Island Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Secretary, Department of Revenue: Dan Meuser, 46, of Shavertown, Luzerne County. Meuser is a board member and consultant with Pride USA.
Secretary of the Commonwealth, Department of State: Carol Aichele, 60, of Tredyffrin, Chester County. Aichele currently serves on the Chester County Board of Commissioners.
Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner: Frank Noonan, 64, of Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County. Noonan is a career investigator with more than 30 years experience.
Secretary, Department of Transportation: Barry Schoch, of Camp Hill, Cumberland County. Schoch is currently a Vice President at McCormick Taylor, Inc.
Secretary, Department of Labor and Industry and Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: to be announced
Senator White's Committee Appointments Set
With the opening of the 2011-12 Legislative Session, Senator Don White, R-41st District, was reappointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati to continue serving as Chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, a post he has held since January 2007.
Senator White will also continue serving as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, which plays an important role in setting the Commonwealth's agenda for highway maintenance/construction projects and the promotion and regulation of rail, air and maritime services in the Commonwealth.
"Over the past decade, local projects such as the Route 22 and 119 widening projects, the completion of the Route 28 bypass around Kittanning and the future improvements scheduled for Route 422 have shown us that investments in upgrading our highways pay dividends for our region while improving public safety," Senator White said. "Even in these difficult fiscal times, those types of projects must continue and receive priority consideration from the state."
"These committees will all be playing major roles in shaping our Commonwealth's future," Senator White said. "The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee has been at the forefront of the Senate's oversight of Marcellus Shale operations in Pennsylvania. The State Government Committee will be active in the reapportionment process and the reconfiguring of Pennsylvania's congressional and state legislative districts. And, I expect Community and Economic Development will work with the new Administration to expand opportunities and job creation efforts in the Commonwealth."
Senator White is also a member of the PENNVEST Board of Directors, a position which has enabled him to deliver millions in funding for public water and sewer projects throughout the area he represents.
Help Available to Understand Electric Deregulation
As caps are being lifted on electric rates, Senator Don White continues to urge consumers to learn more about electric choice to ensure they receive the lowest cost electricity for their households.
Although consumers will still receive their electricity from the same provider, ratepayers now have the option to choose the company from which their energy is generated. With energy costs expected to increase by up to 30 percent due to the expiration of rate caps, residents should use all of the resources available to make the best choice for their households.
The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate offers a free Electric Shopping Guide online at www.oca.state.pa.us. The guide includes price comparisons for all of the companies that generate electricity in the state. Consumers who do not have Internet access can get more information by calling the Office of Consumer Advocate toll-free line at 800-684-6560.
Consumers can also get pricing information and learn more about basic consumer protections for electricity customers online at the Pennsylvania Utility Commission's utility choice website at http://www.papowerswitch.com/ or by calling 1-800-692-7380.
Applications Now Accepted For Park/Recreational Grants
Applications are now being accepted for a state grant program that promotes the rehabilitation and new development of parks and recreational facilities.
The Department of Community and Economic Development will accept applications for the current round of C2P2 Community Recreation and Conservation grants until 4 p.m. on April 20.
C2P2 grants are awarded to municipalities and authorized nonprofit organizations for recreational, park and conservation projects including acquisition of land for active or passive parks and conservation purposes for planning and feasibility studies.
Most projects require a 50 percent match except for some technical assistance grants and development projects eligible as small community projects whose total project cost is $60,000 or less.
More information is available at:
FAFSA Applications Now Available
The 2011-12 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available and students and their families can submit an application electronically, according to state Senator Don White.
The FAFSA is used to determine students' eligibility for almost all types of student aid, including state grants, Federal Pell Grants, Keystone Stafford Loans, regular Federal Stafford Loans and other federal and institutional programs.
"The costs of going to college continue to rise making it increasingly more difficult for families to make ends meet. That's why I strongly urge the families of high school seniors to file the FAFSA," Senator White said. "There are many grant and loan programs available for students and this application is the first step in securing that money."
Families are encouraged to visit www.pheaa.org/fafsa to access the 2011-12 online FAFSA and a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to help walk them through the application process step by step. Students may also file online at www.fafsa.ed.gov .
Students planning to enroll in baccalaureate degree programs – including those enrolled in college transfer programs at community or junior colleges -- must file the FAFSA by May 1, 2011. Students planning to attend business, trade and technical schools; hospital schools of nursing, or two-year non-transferable programs at community, junior or four-year colleges must file the FAFSA by Aug. 1, 2011.
286 Main Capitol