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Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Legislative District, the State Capitol, and the progress of my legislative priorities. If you haven't done so already, please take a few moments to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about issues that may affect you and your family.

Week of December 21, 2015
Season’s Greetings!

On behalf of my staff, and my family, I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season, and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Bills Pass Senate, Go to House
House Bill 530 – (40-10) the 2015-16 Education Code (I was not able to support this due to cuts to charter schools);
House Bill 941 – (48-2) historical distillery license fee reduction;
House Bill 1327 – (48-2) the 2015-16 Fiscal Code (I was not able to support this due to uncertainty of how it will be funded);
House Bill 1603 – (unanimous) brings Pennsylvania into compliance with federal Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) changes;
House Bill 1690 – (29-21) liquor privatization (I was not able to support this as I feel it is not privatization; would hurt small beer distributors who are already private, and; the contradiction of expanding alcohol sales but not passing medical cannabis when alcohol is more detrimental to one’s health and our communities. You can listen to my floor comments here).

Bill Passes Senate, Goes to Governor for Further Action
House Bill 777 – extends the PACE and PACENET Social Security COLA moratorium. 

Bills Signed into Law by the Governor
House Bill 477 – Act 75 – the Activities and Experiences for Children in Out-of-Home Placement Act to help children in foster care;
House Bill 698 – Act 76 – allows hunting from motorized wheelchairs.

DEP Offering Rebates to PA Residents for Alternative Fuel Vehicles
The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering rebates to Pennsylvania residents to assist with the cost of purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle.  Rebates are funded by the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program which is supported by a gross receipts tax on utilities.  To qualify, the vehicle must be registered in Pennsylvania, operated primarily in-state, and be purchased no more than six months before the rebate application is submitted. 

There are a limited number of $2,000 rebates for eligible large battery vehicles (such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus and Chevy Volt).  $1,000 rebates are offered for plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery-electric vehicles (such as the Toyota Prius plug-in, Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord), and; for natural gas, propane, hydrogen or fuel-cell vehicles (new CNG powered cars or pickup trucks).  A $500 rebate is available for electric motorcycles and scooters.  For more information or to apply, click here

PA Trips by Train
PA Trips by Train, a partnership with the PA Department of Transportation and Amtrak, offers discounted train tickets to popular events and destinations in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, New York and points between, such as:  the Philadelphia Zoo, the Pennsylvania State Capitol, a Lancaster Amish tour, Pittsburgh on-your-own, a Brooklyn culinary crawl and more.  There are also event-specific excursions, such as the Philadelphia center city holiday tour, Broadway Week and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Changes to the Issuance and Renewal of Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Act 49, effective December 21, 2015, makes changes to PA Vehicle Code regarding Commercial Driver's Licenses, mostly in response to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule changes, including:

  • Time period for school bus drivers to have annual physical and vision exams completed extended from every 12 months to 13 months. Training Permits, precursor to the Learner's Permit, will no longer be issued to school bus drivers.
  • Codes used to describe CDL classifications, endorsements and restrictions will change. New codes can be found at www.dmv.pa.gov.
  • All new CDL applicants and current holders required to renew or make any changes or upgrades to their CDL will need to do so in person one time. License holders must present proof of citizenship or legal presence in the form of a birth certificate, passport, naturalization documents or current immigration documents in person. Residency documents will be required initially, at renewal and anytime an address change occurs, such as tax records, lease agreements, mortgage documents, W-2, weapons permits or utility bills. After submitting this proof in person once, subsequent applications can be submitted through the mail.
  • If a CDL driver applicant wants to remove any restrictions on current license, the state may administer a modified knowledge and skills test on the restriction to be removed, rather than retaking the complete skills test.
  • Any Commercial Learner's Permit will be valid for no more than 180 days, and will not be issued to anyone who does not hold a current and valid driver's license. If a permit expires or was renewed once, and needs to be renewed again, all knowledge tests must be retaken. Anytime an endorsement or restriction removal is added to a permit, including existing CDL holders, the 15-day training period will be reset. 

For more information, click here


Contact Information
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.

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