State Legislative Update – June 17, 2011

A summary of important events on Capitol Hill
Provided by State Representative George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland)

Dunbar, Fiscal Conservatives Hold The Line: $27.3 Billion Total Spending for 2011-12 State Budget and No More


State Representative George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland) and 22 other fiscally conservative lawmakers issued and signed the following letter addressed to Pennsylvania taxpayers this week in regard to the 2011-12 state budget.


Dear Pennsylvania Taxpayers:


House Republican Leadership deserves credit for crafting and advancing to the state Senate a fiscally-responsible state budget (House Bill 1485) with reduced spending compared to last year’s budget and no tax increases. These proposed spending reductions are the first step in the right direction to continuing the decrease in state government spending.


In the interest of protecting YOU the taxpayer from the dangers of excessive government spending, and to further enable Pennsylvania’s economic recovery and future job creation, we the undersigned fiscally conservative members of the House Republican Caucus are opposed to any future or amended budget legislation that exceeds the $27.3 billion spending limit established by both Governor Tom Corbett’s original budget proposal and House Bill 1485.


We will continue our work to advance fiscally conservative policies that hold our state government accountable and to protect taxpayers’ rights to financial security.


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Dunbar Votes to Advance Unemployment Compensation Reform Measure


Voting to protect jobs and workers, Rep. Dunbar and members of the Pennsylvania House unanimously passed an amended bill this week that would extend unemployment compensation benefits for 45,000 Pennsylvanians and offer cost-savings to the system.


If signed into law, Senate Bill 1030 would make it a requirement for those receiving unemployment compensation benefits to actively search for work.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Pennsylvania is the only state that currently does not have such a requirement.


In addition, the bill also creates a severance pay offset so those receiving dismissal pay would receive smaller benefit checks until the severance pay ends.  The amount of severance pay not subject to the offset is $17,853.

The credit week definition would also be increased from $50 to $100 beginning in 2013 and the minimum benefit level would be raised from $35 to $70 also to take effect in January 2013.

The average annual savings to the UC Trust Fund from 2012-2018 will be $133 million with the bulk of the savings in the last 4 years.  The cumulative savings for 2011-2018 will be nearly $1 billion. 


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Bill Banning ‘Bath Salts’ Awaits Governor’s Signature


Senate Bill 1006, supported by Rep. Dunbar to reform Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act to include street drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts,” was passed by the House and Senate last week and sent to the governor for signature.


The bill was strengthened by an amendment to expand the classes of drugs covered to include synthetic marijuana and Salvia Divinorum, in addition to Salvinorin A, Divinorin A, and psychedelic phenethylamines (referred to as C2).


Sold primarily in some tobacco shops, hemp stores and other non-traditional locations, bath salts are part of a new group of designer drugs that can cause higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, psychosis and a tendency to engage in violent behavior.


Compounds found in these new bath salts have already been banned in Europe, as well as several states throughout the country.


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