Jul. 02, 2024

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A Declaration Never to be Forgotten and Always to be Celebrated!

Happy Birthday, United States of America! We are about to embark on recognizing the 248th year of the birth of our nation and our independence! It was on July 4, 1776, that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence to be completely signed on Aug. 2, 1776, as it is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t until another 100 years later, after the war of 1812 had passed, before Congress declared July 4 as a national holiday, which has been celebrated faithfully every year by American citizens.

Every American looks forward to July 4! With a day off from work, parades, picnics, and fireworks, who wouldn’t be excited for that kind of holiday? But 248 years later, are we forgetting what we are celebrating? We are so quick to wish one another a “Happy 4th" and look to the celebration of the Fourth of July with food, family and fun, but why? Do we really stop to remember, appreciate, and recognize the why and what from which we are free?

We live in an independent nation of freedom, given to the people of the United States by the Founding Fathers before us, who saw it very wise for our nation to be freed from the British rule of King George III. Do your children and grandchildren understand that our nation is free from the tyranny of government? Even today we are free and protected from dictatorship as a result of declaring our liberties as written in the Declaration of Independence and enumerating the liberties to be legally enforceable by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Our forefathers of this great nation have given us the rights to live out our inherent and fundamental freedoms as citizens of our nation, independently. We should be ever so grateful and continuously take steps to protect, provide, and preserve our nation’s freedom and independence. Take a moment to read the writings of the Continental Congress from 1776 as they declared independence from British rule to build and protect American Freedoms.
Happy Independence Day!!

Many of us enjoy celebrating our nation’s independence by watching public displays of fireworks, or by setting off our own.

If you choose to set off your own fireworks, be smart, be careful and be considerate of your neighbors. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission offers the following safety tips for using fireworks.

  •   Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  •   Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, even sparklers.
  •   Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  •   Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  •   Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  •   Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol or other substances that impair judgement or the ability to act quickly.

For details about the state’s fireworks laws, click here.

If you are traveling, check out www.511pa.com. Free and available 24 hours a day, the site provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

PennDOT will close its driver license service centers on Thursday, July 4. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.

Be safe and have fun celebrating Independence Day!
Life-Saving Dialysis Help Coming to Wellsboro

Good news for our community and those needing dialysis treatment close to home!

Independent Dialysis Group has signed a lease at 70 Plaza Lane, filing with Department of Health early last week. The final drawings have been submitted, and the previous dialysis center staff members have all agreed to come back!

We welcome this group of providers as they are here to save lives and decrease the enormous burden patients face when they must travel for their dialysis. Many local patients have had to ride over an hour each way, a minimum of three times a week, causing a greater hardship for them and their families. As with developing anything, there are typically hurdles to overcome with perseverance and planning. The facility could be ready to begin serving patients in September.
Welcome, Tioga County Commissioners

It was a pleasure to welcome Tioga County Commissioners Marc Rice, Sam VanLoon and Shane Nickerson to the state Capitol last week. We had a great discussion about issues facing the county and also had the opportunity to meet with Senator Gene Yaw. 
State Budget Overdue…Again

The House and Senate are back in Harrisburg this week after another June 30 state budget deadline has come and gone. Majority House Democrats and Gov. Josh Shapiro are continuing to push a plan that spends more than $48 billion. That’s $3.7 billion, or 8%, more than the prior year and, more importantly, it’s beyond anticipated revenue for this fiscal year.

If this plan was enacted, it would require spending one-time reserve funds to balance. And when those reserve funds run out in a couple years, it would ultimately result in increased taxes for all Pennsylvanians.

Rather than use the state’s reserves to start new, recurring programs, I support returning those excess funds to the taxpayers in the form of a cut in the Personal Income Tax and elimination of the Gross Receipts Tax on energy.

I will continue to advocate for a budget that funds the core functions of government and eliminates waste.
Time to Advance Holocaust Education Bill

In the face of growing antisemitism across communities and college campuses, a group of lawmakers launched a discharge petition last week to force action on legislation that would require curriculum transparency for Holocaust education in Pennsylvania’s public schools.

A 2023 study by The Economist shows one in five young Americans believe the Holocaust is a myth. It’s more important than ever to educate our children about this dark time in world history. House Bill 1986 aims to address the problem by requiring schools that offer Holocaust education make the curriculum available on their websites. Unfortunately, the House Democrat majority has failed to move the bill since referring it to the House Education Committee at the end of January.

Under the rules of the House, discharge petitions require the signatures of at least 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans to be successful. I was proud to sign the petition and am hopeful we will have the opportunity to advance this important effort to combat antisemitism.
Upgraded PA ABLE Website Highlights Program for Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

The Pennsylvania Treasury recently launched its redesigned PA ABLE Savings Program website, paable.gov.

PA ABLE gives individuals with qualifying disabilities a tax-free way to save and invest without impacting important benefits. All federal benefits are protected, including Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and, with some limitations, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, as are many Pennsylvania state benefits.

The new website makes it easier for individuals to learn about the many benefits of PA ABLE, open a new account and access their existing PA ABLE account. It streamlines navigation and content, integrates frequently asked questions within relevant pages, and includes changes that make it easier and more convenient for account owners and prospective account owners to find the information they need about PA ABLE.

More than 9,000 PA ABLE accounts are currently open with over $120 million in assets.

To learn more, visit paable.gov or call 855-529-2253.
Fish for Free on Independence Day!

On Thursday, July 4, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will host a Fish for Free day to allow anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish on all Pennsylvania waterways. No license is required, but all other fishing regulations still apply. This is a great way to expose the next generation of anglers to the outdoors! More information about fishing in Pennsylvania is available here.
PGC Invites Feedback from License-Buyers

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is asking hunters to provide feedback on their antlerless deer license buying experience this summer.

License sales got underway this week, starting with three high-demand Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). As of Thursday, licenses are available in all WMUs but only for Pennsylvania residents. The goal of the change, according to PGC officials, was to reduce wait times for all license buyers.

To share your license-buying experience with the PGC, go to www.pgc.pa.gov and click on the red “Provide feedback on your antlerless deer license-buying experience” button. Hunters will be asked to respond to a few questions and will be offered the opportunity to provide any additional comments. Participation is confidential, as no identifying questions will be asked.