In this Update:
Limiting the Influence of Lobbyists and Political Consultants
This week, Senate Republicans introduced a package of bills that would subject lobbyists and political consultants to new transparency and ethical standards to limit their level of influence in state government.
Senate Bill 801, sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), would require lobbyists to register any clients seeking state financial assistance or grants and prohibit kick-backs and inducements for referrals or performance bonuses for a successful application for taxpayer-funded grants.
Senate Bill 802, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would prohibit any state entity from hiring an outside lobbyist or political consultant to lobby any branch of government. The bill would also prohibit former lobbyists who become employees of the General Assembly from being lobbied by their previous colleagues for one year after separation from employment. This would prevent the revolving door of individuals leaving a lobbying firm to join the legislature and immediately being influenced by their former coworkers.
Senate Bill 803, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), would prevent lobbyists from also being registered as political consultants and would prohibit a political consultant from lobbying a state official who was a client for the remainder of the term for which consulting services were provided.
Senate Bill 804, sponsored by Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), would require all registered lobbyists to complete mandatory annual ethics training developed by the Department of State.
PennDOT Invites Pennsylvanians to Share Feedback
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is inviting the public to share construction and maintenance services feedback via an online survey through Oct. 26.
The 20-question survey asks how they receive PennDOT roadway information and how often PennDOT meets or exceeds expectations in construction and maintenance activities.
Respondents are also asked about experiences with reporting concerns to the department, and whether or how they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services, which provide information about the condition of more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania online at www.511pa.com.
Discussing How to Best Protect PA Communities
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee hosted a public hearing focusing on Senate Bill 698, which would allow counties to create countywide public safety authorities for firefighting and/or emergency medical services (EMS). Rather than replacing volunteer and career fire and EMS companies, authorities would exist to support them and their work.
The speaking panels included people representing local government, fire and EMS. They shared varying opinions about how to most effectively preserve access to life-saving care for all Pennsylvanians.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to Open Oct. 18
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which promotes funding for mitigation measures that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property for future disasters, will open on Monday, Oct. 18.
State agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments/communities and private nonprofit organizations are eligible to develop mitigation project sub-applications to submit to their state, territory or tribal government. States, territories and tribes are then responsible for selecting the sub-applications that align with their mitigation priorities and submit them in an application to FEMA.
FEMA will conduct a final eligibility review of all sub-applications to ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Click here for more information.
Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness Month
About one in 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome each year – or about 6,000.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month serves to remind us that people with Down syndrome can live full, rich lives. A loving, stimulating home environment and the right health care enable people with Down syndrome to excel and enlighten.