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State Representative

SETH GROVE
196th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID HARRISBURG, PA PERMIT NO 529

Winter/Spring 2010

With the new year under way, I want to make you aware of the issues Pennsylvania and the 196th District are facing in 2010. The General Assembly will have some difficult choices ahead this year, as our economic situation has not improved and we are again falling behind in revenue collections. I believe we are headed for another challenging budget process. Complicating our budget challenges is the approaching spike in the employer contributions to public employee and teacher pensions, which could cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The state is obligated to pay these pensions and the court has ruled three times that we cannot evade this responsibility. I have been working with my colleagues to find a solution to the impending crisis, and I am hopeful that we can find an answer that will reduce the impact on Pennsylvania taxpayers. Another issue we are tackling in the Legislature is a proposal to ban the use of hand-held cell phones and text messaging while driving. House Bill 2070 passed the House in late January and is awaiting the consideration of the Senate. I voted in favor of this measure because I believe it will ultimately save lives by reducing distracted driving. If you have any questions about any of the issues dealt with in this newsletter or any other state matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at (717) 767-3947. Sincerely,

Dear Neighbor

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Following is a list of upcoming district events I am hosting. I invite you and your family to join me at any of these events to discuss the issues most important to our state and our community. You can also cut out this section of the newsletter as a convenient reference to what is happening in the 196th District. LEGISLATIVE EGGS AND ISSUES BREAKFASTS *All breakfasts will begin at 8 a.m. Please R.S.V.P. as soon as possible by e-mailing your name, address, phone number and date of the event to wleahy@pahousegop.com or by calling (717) 767-3947. Friday, March 26 Friday, March 12 Country Meadows of York Dover Valley Restaurant 1900 Trolley Rd. in York 3720 Carlisle Rd. in Dover R.S.V.P. by Friday, March 5 R.S.V.P. by Friday, March 19 Friday, March 19 Ski Roundtop 925 Roundtop Rd. in Lewisberry R.S.V.P. by Friday, March 12 Friday, April 9 Windy Hill Senior Center 50 North East St. in Spring Grove R.S.V.P. by Friday, April 2

Community Calendar

Seth Grove State Representative 196th District
In December, Rep. Grove welcomed the Central Penn Crushers Youth Sporting Clays Shooting Team from Wellsville to the House floor. The team was issued a citation for its first place finish at the national championships and for its successes in the Scholastic Clays Target Program.

LEGISLATIVE LUNCHEON Saturday, April 10 11 a.m. Dover Valley Restaurant 3720 Carlisle Road in Dover Please R.S.V.P. by Friday, April 2 TOWN HALL MEETINGS * All town hall meetings begin at 7 p.m. and do not require an R.S.V.P. Thursday, April 29 Thursday, April 8 West Manchester Township Spring Grove Borough Municipal Building Municipal Building 1 Campus Ave. in Spring Grove 380 East Berlin Road in York Thursday, April 22 Warrington Township Municipal Building 3345 Rosstown Road in Wellsville Wednesday, May 12 Dover Township Municipal Building 2480 West Canal Road in Dover

Sign up to receive e-mail updates about upcoming events at RepGrove.com

SPRING DISTRICT OFFICE OPEN HOUSE Friday, April 23 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Westgate Plaza 1550 Kenneth Road in York

www.RepGrove.com

Too many senseless deaths and auto crashes occur when an individual whose judgment has been impaired by alcohol gets behind the wheel of a car. Those who drink and drive are not only risking their own lives, but are also imperiling every other driver with whom they share the road. To address this problem, I have introduced three pieces of legislation, which would work to reduce the number of repeat “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) offenses.

Grove Takes Comprehensive Approach to Lowering DUI Incidents

Treating Alcohol Addiction House Bill 1919 would allow judicial districts throughout Pennsylvania to establish DUI courts to adjudicate individuals charged with a DUI. The objective of this legislation is to decrease incidents of DUI and DUI-related deaths by getting to the root of the problem – alcoholism. The bill would impose a $25 surcharge on defendants convicted of drug- or alcohol-related crimes to help financially support the court, instead of relying on taxpayer funding. A similar bill, Senate Bill 383, has been approved by the Senate and could be voted on in the House soon. My DUI court legislation was amended into this bill. Creating a special court to deal with these types of offenses would save money, reduce recidivism, keep families together and provide effective treatment for people suffering with addiction. These courts would be a proactive and practical method of reducing crime, and would stop the cycle of repeat imprisonment for people with alcohol addictions. When you consider that for every $1 spent on treatment, we see a $7 savings in the first year alone, it becomes clear that DUI courts are not only a good investment, they are also commonsense judicial practice. York County’s special court has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Closing the Multiple First Offenses Loophole I have also introduced legislation to address a loophole created by the case Commonwealth versus Haag, which allows repeat DUI offenders to be charged with multiple first offenses. In this case, Haag was charged with a DUI at 11:40 p.m., after which he was released to the custody of his wife. At 1 a.m. the next morning, only one hour and 20 minutes later, he was caught driving again and was cited for a second DUI offense. The case was originally tried as a first DUI

and a second DUI offense, but a decision by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled these offenses should have been considered two first DUI offenses since neither had been adjudicated yet. My legislation will correct this loophole to allow for any DUI violation which occurs after the initial offense, but before a hearing, to be considered a subsequent offense. Taking DUI Offenders Off the Road When a person is convicted of certain violent crimes, we bar them from purchasing firearms. An intoxicated person behind the wheel of the car is wielding a dangerous weapon, and we must take away a repeat DUI offender’s ability to hurt or kill another person with a vehicle. I am introducing legislation that will require a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for habitual DUI offenders with a provision to force them to forfeit their vehicle. A stipulation is included in the legislation to protect “innocent owners.” This legislation will apply to individuals who have had numerous opportunities to comply with the drunken driving laws and to take advantage of drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation programs, but have either failed or refused to do so.

Recently, Rep. Grove participated in a “ride along” with the West Manchester Police Department. Grove is pictured here with Officer Hal Brook.

Grove Legislation Aims to Protect Teens from Child Predators, Felony Prosecution
Recently, I introduced legislation to address the practice of minors texting risqué photos of themselves or their peers, called “sexting.” After seeing reports of how widespread this dangerous practice had become and hearing about an incident in one of the school districts I represent, I knew something had to be done. Sexting is dangerous because it can expose children to genuine sexual predators. Once these images are sent out in electronic form, there is no telling where they can end up, and police in York uncovered such photographs on the computer of a convicted sex offender. Sexting can also lead to low self-esteem, harassment, bullying and has been linked to the suicide of two teen girls. Under current law, individuals who send these inappropriate text messages can be prosecuted with a felony crime if the messages contain a nude picture of person under the age of 18. A minor who participates in this type of activity could be charged with sexual abuse of children, be forced to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, and be marred by this conviction for a minimum of a decade. The goal of House Bill 2189 is to balance the very real need to protect children from exploitation with a fair punishment for the adolescents who do not fully understand the ramifications of their actions. The legislation would create a misdemeanor of the second degree for teens caught sexting and would apply if a minor sends nude images of himself or herself or another teen via electronic communication. It would not apply to images portraying any sexual act or minors under 13 years of age. By classifying sexting as a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, it sends the message to teens that this is against the law and carries considerable punishment, but not a punishment that would preclude a child from attending college, joining the military or getting a good job. This legislation has the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, and is expected to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee in March.

FOLLOW REP. GROVE ON

No Help for Homeowners in Table Games Bill
As you are probably aware, Pennsylvania recently adopted a law to allow table games at slots parlors. I voted against this expansion of gambling for several reasons, but my main concern was the lack of immediate property tax relief for Pennsylvania’s struggling homeowners. When slots parlors were legalized in 2004, it was with the promise of property tax relief. Not only have we not seen meaningful property tax relief from slots, but this legislation does not allocate a dime of table games money to the Property Tax Relief Fund until the Rainy Day Fund reaches a threshold of $750 million. As our Rainy Day Fund has a zero balance today, it will likely be a decade or more until homeowners see any benefit from table games. Along with my disappointment over the disregard for property tax relief, I was also concerned by the lack of important and necessary gaming reforms in the legislation. Some of the issues needing to be addressed include political contributions to public officials from gaming interests, allocation of the local share of revenue, licensing standards and the relationship between the Gaming Control Board and casino interests. We will see in time how much revenue this gaming expansion brings into the Commonwealth, but with surrounding states moving to legalize gaming, I do not think the results will be as favorable as the governor has presented. I have heard this rush to legalize gambling called a “race to the bottom,” and I guess we will find out who reaches the all-time low first.

Pennsylvania’s Financial Difficulties Continue in 2010
It is hard to believe, but Pennsylvania lawmakers are already starting to work on the 2010-11 fiscal year budget. From the looks of things, we are in for another extremely difficult year. As of the end of January, Pennsylvania was $374 million behind projections for revenue collections, and January marks the 21st consecutive month the state has failed to meet these revenue projections. Compounding our economic troubles are empty state savings accounts, like the Rainy Day Fund, federal stimulus funds that are set to expire at the end of next year, a looming spike in the employer contribution of the public pension system, and the governor’s indication the state will end the fiscal year with a significant budget gap. I stood with the majority of my Republican colleagues in the House to oppose the 2009-10 budget because we believed it outspent our available resources. The state was already in the red before the ink was dry on the governor’s signature of the budget. Now, even with all the financial problems our Commonwealth faces, the governor is requesting an increase in state spending by 4 percent. I believe it is fiscally irresponsible to further increase spending when we will end the current year with a deficit. Following is a breakdown of the priorities the governor outlined during his budget address in early February: Spending: The governor has proposed a $1.2 billion increase in spending using $26.27 billion in state dollars and an additional $2.76 billion in federal stimulus funds. It is important to note that $800 million of these federal funds have not yet been approved, so there is no guarantee we will actually receive these dollars. Budget Cuts: The governor is calling for reductions to the budgets of the Department of Environmental Protection ($3.8 million cut), the Department of Health ($7 million cut), the Department of Agriculture ($5.4 million cut), the Department of Labor and Industry ($3.1 million) and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ($1 million cut). Budget Increases: The governor would increase funding for basic education, county child welfare programs, mental retardation services, services to senior citizens, the state police, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Sales Tax Expansion: The governor is proposing a reduction of the sales tax rate from 6 percent to 4 percent, but would expand the tax to cover 74 items and services that are currently exempt – food, clothing and prescription medicines would still be tax exempt. He would place the extra revenue raised from this tax in a reserve account called the Stimulus Transition Reserve Fund to help offset the future termination of stimulus funds. It is important to note that many property tax reduction or elimination plans rely on a similar tax shift, making further property tax relief questionable. What would be included in the governor’s sale tax proposal? •Coal •Vending machines •Firewood •Residential fuel oil/gas •Funeral services •Newspapers •Non-prescription drugs •Stair lift devices •Residential telephone service •Textbooks •Water and Sewer Services •Trout •Truck transportation •Waste management •Scientific research and development I will continue to bring you the latest budget news, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact my office or e-mail me at sgrove@pahousegop.com sgrove@pahousegop.com.

Many people have asked if they can receive an electronic version of my newsletter, rather than the paper copy. The answer is ... absolutely. Simply go to RepGrove.com and click on the “e-newsletter” icon on the upper right corner of the page to sign up. Even if you already receive regular e-mail updates, you must complete this form and include your full mailing address so you can be removed from the newsletter mailing list. You will be notified via e-mail when a new edition of the e-newsletter is available.

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VIN Etching Event
West Manchester Mall 1800 Loucks Road in York
During this free event, hosted in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority, your car’s vehicle identification number will be engraved on your car’s windshield and windows. Some auto insurance companies offer discounts for such procedures. Check with your insurance company to see if this process could save you money on your premiums. For more information about VIN etching, visit www.watchyourcar.org.

Saturday, June 12 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In the District

Recently, Rep. Grove visited the Glatfelter Memorial Library to read several books to area children for the library’s “Dads and Donuts” program. Pictured above is Grove with librarian Ellen Helfrick.

Despite my calls to delay or phase-in the expiration of electricity generation rate caps, rate caps have already expired all across Pennsylvania for many electricity consumers. For residents of York County who are Met-Ed customers, rate caps will expire at the end of 2010. When they do, customers will pay fair market value for electricity generation and will likely see a substantial increase in their electric bills. Customers of Adams Electric were never subject to these rate caps, as electric cooperatives were not part of electric deregulation. Why were the rate caps put into place? When Pennsylvania deregulated electricity to allow for consumer choice, the caps were instituted to protect customers during the transition to full competition. Specifically, the caps were designed to prevent utilities from shifting costs to remaining customers as some customers migrated to competitive suppliers. What can you do to offset the expiration of rate caps? You can start saving money on electricity costs now by making your home more energy efficient. Simple actions like replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (remember that these bulbs must be disposed of as household hazardous waste), upgrading to Energy-Star appliances and sealing any air leaks around doors and windows can add up to significant savings. Reducing energy use during peak hours can save you money too. Finally, as the rate caps expire, check out the competition and don’t be afraid to make the switch. Where can I learn more about the competition? Visit www.puc.state.pa.us/utilitychoice/ for information about alternative electric companies, including a list of their prices per kilowatt hour.

Rate Caps for Met-Ed Customers to Expire in December 2010

Rep. Grove is happy to personally meet with any resident of the 196th District to discuss their priorities for the district and their concerns about state government. Call (717) 767-3947 to make an appointment.

During one of his district work days, Rep. Grove joined the crew of Heritage Lawn and Landscape Care in Thomasville for a day of hard labor.

CONTACT ME

196th Legislative District
DISTRICT OFFICE: Westgate Plaza, 1550 Kenneth Road, York, PA 17408 Office: (717) 767-3947 Fax: (717) 767-9857 HARRISBURG OFFICE: 52-A East Wing, PO Box 202196, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2196 (717) 783-2655 Fax: (717) 772-9869 E-Mail: sgrove@pahousegop.com Web site: RepGrove.com

SETH GROVE

State Representative

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