In true Pennsylvania Dutch fashion, there was a smorgasbord of activity in Harrisburg this week while the legislature was in session and were negotiating the state budget with Governor Wolf. Here is a recap of some notable issues that could impact Pennsylvanians age 50 and older:
Has PA Made Progress on Addressing Alzheimers?
A Capitol hearing room was packed on Wednesday, June 22 as Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne and Alzheimer’s advocates testified before the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee about the need for early detection of Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases. In 2014, Governor Corbett approved a State Plan to address the growing number of Pennsylvanians impacted by this disease. Secretary Osborne vowed not to let the recommendations contained in that plan gather dust and announced that a summit meeting will take place in November to evaluate the progress Pennsylvania has made on the plan.
Representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Manager of Lancaster General Hospital’s NeuroCenter Department also discussed the critical need for early detection of Alzheimer’s. It was noted that one-half of individuals with a dementia fail to be identified and diagnosed, which impacts efforts to help families deal with the physical and mental changes brought on by this disease and restricts efforts to find a cure.
Coming Soon: Slot Machines in Airports?
In a vote leading to consideration of the State Budget, the House of Representatives considered legislation that would allow slot machines and restricted forms of internet gaming in certain airports, but turned down a proposal to legalize video gaming terminals in bars and clubs. Concerns were raised by a report from the Department of Revenue that these video gaming terminals, which would have generated revenue for the overall state budget, could negatively impact lottery sales. While AARP did not take a position on this legislation, it could impact revenues from the lottery which are designated for critical programs benefitting older Pennsylvanians. The Senate has yet to consider the legislation.
Non-Discrimination Legislation Moves Forward in Senate
Following a rally in the Capitol Rotunda, the Senate Housing and Urban Development Committee approved legislation to prohibit discrimination in housing or employment based on a person’s sexual orientation. Senate Bill 1307, introduced by Senator Pat Browne, includes an exception for religious, fraternal, charitable or sectarian corporations or associations. The legislation would extend protections that have been adopted by more than 20 municipalities in the Commonwealth to all parts of Pennsylvania.
For Some Consumers, Electric Rates May Increase
The First Energy Corporation, which operates under a number of different names in Pennsylvania – Penn Power, Met-Ed, West Penn Power, and Penelec – filed a motion with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to increase electric rates beginning on June 27. Complaints about the rate increase have been filed by numerous individuals and groups to delay the implementation of this proposed increase. PUC hearings to consider whether a rate increase will be permitted will be held in July in the following locations - New Castle, Erie, Mansfield, State College, Reading, East Stroudsburg, Washington and Greensburg. The exact time, date, and location of the hearings will be announced in the coming weeks and I'll be sure to include the details in an upcoming Ray's Round Up article.
The PUC hearings are open to the public and I encourage electric utility customers who could be impacted by a rate increase to consider testifying at a hearing.
“Ray’s Round Up” features updates on current state and federal issues by Ray Landis, AARP PA’s Advocacy Manager.