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Harper March 2010

Harper March 2010

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03/01/2010

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tate Representative 
Kate M. Harper
61st Legislative DistrictateHarper.net
RSRT STD.S. POSTAGEAIDARRISBURG, PAERMIT NO 529
March 2010
Dear Neighbors
,
 As I write this, the scene is snowy outsidemy house and school openings are delayed. Ona parallel track, our nation’s economic recoveryseems to be gaining traction but its recovery ispainfully delayed to those out of work, thosewho have exhausted their savings, those whonever got around to refinancing their mortgagesor selling their houses and now find the banksand the market unwilling to cooperate.he health care debate in Washington seemspolitical and academic except for the gnawingrealization that health care insurance dependson keeping a job, or paying higher premiums,and the certain insight that increasing anygovernment program will come with higher costsand higher taxes. And higher taxes without aneconomic recovery means less money availablefor hiring back down-sized employees.n Harrisburg, where the budget must bebalanced each year – we don’t print moneyand we cannot “deficit spend” – we are awashin red ink again. Costs continue to rise for education, Medicaid, unemployment payments,and everything else while revenues from salestaxes, income taxes and corporate taxes arefalling below the expected marks by hundredsof millions of dollars.Last year’s embarrassing budget impasse issomething no legislator wants to repeat, but itwas not the product of “laziness.” Instead it wasthe result of differing philosophies on how to bestbalance a state budget when revenues are off by$300 million and costs are up. It could happenagain. Last year, Governor Rendell stubbornlyheld out for a personal income tax increase andexpanded gambling. The General Assembly didnot believe increasing broad-based taxes in arecession was the right thing to do.his year, however, the debate may includea “severance tax” on natural gas in the MarcellusShale regions of the state. Last year, neither thelegislators nor the Governor wanted to tax thisindustry thought to be “in its infancy,” but withmost other states levying the tax and major energy company Exxon now one of the playershere, the tax is back on the table as a way toavoid another personal income tax increase(it would be the second in Governor Rendell’seight-year term of office) while people are stillstruggling.or those of you who don’t have land in themore rural regions of the state and haven’t visitedhere recently, it might come as a surprise to knowPennsylvania has a bit of a gold rush going. Lastyear, 4,000 new oil and gas wells were drilled inrural PA, more than any other state in the nationexcept Texas. This year, a staggering 5,200 wellpermit applications are expected by the stateDepartment of Environmental Protection (DEP).he object is to tap into billions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in a rock formation knownas the Marcellus Shale accessible now becauseof new technology anddrilling techniques thatpump millions of gallonsof water infused withchemicals into the eartho fracture the rock(“fracking”).Unfortunately, lastyear’s compromisebudget (which I opposed)included revenue fromunlimited drilling in our own state forests, withno environmental impactstudies, no minimumbid prices or maximumacreage limits. The firstbids for 31,967 acreswere higher than revenueprojections and some instate government seehe Commonwealth’sorests as a “cash cow.”To be sure, the natural gas industry isbringing money into parts of the state that needmoney and jobs. Unfortunately, because thedrillers bring in out-of-state crews, the industryis not bringing in the job opportunities manyexpected, and is exacting a heavy toll on ruralroads (often unpaved), rural services, and insome cases, the rural environment. I believe anatural gas severance tax, with the proceedso include more money for environmentalregulation of the industry and protection for our waters and forests, is an option worth exploring.Some of the revenues should be dedicated tolocal governments to help with the ill effects of he “gas rush,” but this source of revenue wouldbe one way to close the state budget gap. Whatdo you think? Feel free to call or e-mail me.
Thanks to the generous donations of people throughout Montgomery County, Rep.Kate Harper’s office shipped 13 boxes full of more than 1,000 CDs and DVDs to soldiers in the B 1/150th Unit #072 in Camp Basrah, Iraq, just in time for the holidays. The shipment weighed 511 pounds. Harper’s staff, Shannon Bucher (left),Mike McLaughlin and Intern Kristin Donehower delivered the donated music and movies to the post office. Harper held the collection in honor of fellow lawmakers,Reps. Nick Miccarelli of Delaware County and Scott Perry of York County, who were serving in Iraq over the past year, as well as the many other men and women from Montgomery County and across the state serving our country.
Waiting for Spring and the Return of Prosperity
Harper Available to Speak to Area Groups
Looking for an update on state government? Tips on how to getinvolved in public service? Information on new laws that affect your community or professional organization? Rep. Kate Harper welcomesthe opportunity to speak to groups of all sizes and all ages about issuesof interest to you. She equally welcomes your feedback on state andlocal issues.Just call the Blue Bell office at 610-277-3230 to schedule.
 
www.Kate
Gambling in PA Expandedto Include Table Games
Licensed casinos in the Commonwealth will soon be adding poker,roulette, blackjack and other table games to their facilities under a newlaw approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor inJanuary.he addition of table games is expected to generate approximately$140 million in the next fiscal year to help balance the state’s budget.Under the law, Category 1 and Category 2 licensed slot machinefacilities are permitted to operate up to 250 table games at any onetime, while Category 3 licensees (also known as resort facilities) canoperate up to 50 table games. The one-time fee to obtain a table gameslicense is $16.5 million for Category 1 and 2 licensees, and $7.5 millionfor Category 3 licensees.he measure also makes a number of necessary reforms to thegaming industry by prohibiting gaming board members from owningany financial interest in an applicant or licensed facility and imposing alifetime ban on applicants who seek a license and have been convictedof a felony.
Rep. Harper presents Elizabeth “Lib” Sinclair with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in honor of her 100th birthday.
State Grants Invest in AreaBusinesses, Employees
Four local businesses have been awarded grants from theCommonwealth. The funds support important investments in employeetraining and alternative energy.Premier Dental Products Co. of Plymouth Meeting received a grantof $1,750 for employee training through the Workforce and EconomicDevelopment Network (WEDnet) grant program. The companymanufactures and distributes quality health care products worldwide.MS, also of Plymouth Meeting, received a grant of $6,500 for employee training through the Workforce and Economic DevelopmentNetwork (WEDnet) grant program. The company provides marketresearch to the pharmaceutical and health care industries.Merck & Co. will receive a $1 million grant toward an $11.3 million,1.6-megawatt solar photovoltaic system that will generate about 22percent of the electricity for its facility in Upper Gwynedd Township. Thecompany was also awarded an $875,000 grant to support solar energythrough the PA Green Energy Works program, which is supported byfederal stimulus funds.Solar Park LLC, based in Conshohocken, will receive $5.5 millionfor a 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Carbon County. Theplant is part of a $78 million PA Solar Park that is being developed on 134acres by Green Energy Capitol Partners. Overall, the Solar Park facilitywill generate enough electricity to power about 1,450 homes.Elizabeth “Lib” Sinclair, of Lansdale’s Dock Woods Community,celebrated her 100th birthday on Dec. 16, 2009. As a woman who dedicated her life to helping others, Lib hasmade a difference in many, many lives during the past century.She worked as a teacher, served as president of her church’sWomen’s Guild, reported plane traffic with her husband, Alonzo(also known as “Feet”) during World War II, and led a local sorority,Eta Delta Tau, and the Salvation Army in a number of communityservice projects. An active member of the local PTA, Lib eventually was electedto the Norristown school board and became only the second womanelected president of the board in 125 years.Even in retirement, when she and her husband spent time inthe Virgin Islands, they were still serving the community, gettinginvolved in the local Moravian church and serving as greeters totourists arriving on the island.Some sage advice from the centenarian: “Make yourself a partof the community. Join with what’s going on and help when andwhere you can.”
Celebrating a Lifetime of Public Service; Elizabeth Sinclair Turns 100
Kate Harper participates in the ground-breaking ceremony for renovations to the SEPTA station at North Wales. Pictured left to right are Rep. Kate Harper, SEPTAGeneral Manager Joseph Casey, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, North Wales Borough Council Member Jocelyn Tenney, District Director Julie Slavet, North Wales Borough Manager Susan Patton, Borough Council Member Bill Van Sant, and Upper Gwynedd Township Manager Len Perrone. The project includes a new roof,restoration of existing brick work and interior elements and installation of energy efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting and windows.Rep. Kate Harper greets guests during a Holiday Open House at her Blue Bell office. A variety of state forms and information are available at the office, located at 1515 DeKalb Pike, and Harper and her staff are happy to assist people with state government-related concerns.
 
Rep. Kate Harper congratulates David M. DeLong for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.His community service project involved the design and construction of a handicapped- accessible ramp at the Burton Fork Baptist Parsonage in South Carolina as part of a Lansdale United Methodist Church Youth Mission trip. David is a member of Troop 152 in West Point and is the son of Paul and Sandy DeLong.Rep. Kate Harper congratulates Michael Wheatman and Joshua Bowman for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Michael’s community service project included landscaping a garden and constructing birdhouses for the Abramson Center for Jewish Life in Horsham. Joshua’s project involved removing old playground equpment and installing new equipment for the preschool program at Temple Sinai. Michael and Joshua are both members of Troop 665 in Dresher. Pictured left to right are Steven Wheatman,Ellen Wheatman, Michael Wheatman, Rep. Harper, Joshua Bowman, Barbara Bowman and Bill Bowman.
Eagle Scout Awrds 
Congratulations to these fine young men ontheir Eagle Scout achievements!
Harper.net
Rep. Kate Harper congratulates Derek Stufflet for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.Derek’s community service project involved helping to organize fundraisers in support of Backpacks and School Supplies for Foster Care Children, resulting in 300 backpacks filled with school supplies being distributed to children in foster care. Derek is a member of Troop 216 in Plymouth Meeting and is the son of Chip and Sherry Stufflet.
Pothole? Call 1-800-FIX-ROAD
Dorthea (Dot) Gillespie, president of the Walnut Meadows Homeowners Association,testifies before the House Urban Affairs Committee in support of House Bill 1201,introduced by Rep. Harper. The bill aims to protect owners of mobile homes from unreasonable and unexpected ground rent fee increases. More than 100 area seniors attended the hearing at the Montgomery Township Municipal Building.
Statewide Network OffersFree Legal Services
People in need of legal advice but without the means to payfor it may be eligible for assistance from Legal Aid of SoutheasternPennsylvania (LASP), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Legal AidNetwork (PLAN).Services are free for people who qualify. Eligibility is based onmonthly income, current assets, family size, type of legal problemand place of residence. Among the many types of legal services provided by LASPare assistance with landlord/tenant disputes, public housing,utilities, bankruptcy, denial or termination of government benefitsand more.For additional information, call LASP’s toll-free Helpline at1-877-429-5994, visit
www.lasp.org 
or 
 
stop by the office at 625Swede Street in Norristown.The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network and its affiliates arefunded in part by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and aredesigned to ensure equal access to legal services regardless of financial status. Rep. Harper is a board member of Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP).
New Law ExtendsCoverage for AdultDependent ChildrenThrough Age 29
 A new state law (Act 4 of 2009) requires insurance companieso offer the option of providing health insurance coverage to adult,dependent children on their parents’ policies through the age of 9.The coverage would be offered at the option of the policyholder (in most cases, an employer who provides benefits to his or her employees through a group policy). Employers who choose to offer his coverage would then make it available to their employees.In order to qualify, the child must be unmarried, have nodependents, reside in the Commonwealth or be enrolled as a full-ime students at an institution of higher education, and have noother health insurance coverage.Employees interested in such coverage should talk with their employee benefits office to determine availability.

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