Subscribe to E-Newsletter July 2, 2015

Dear Friend –

I want to keep you updated on the latest news from Chester County and Harrisburg.

capitolBudget

This week I voted against the majority party’s budget plan, which was immediately vetoed by the governor. My primary reasons for opposing the plan were its lack of adequate investments in basic and higher education, and its failure to address the issue of rising property taxes. The legislature has now, for decades, pledged to take action on property taxes. I believe we are faced with a golden opportunity to do so, and I don’t want to support a plan that fails to reduce, or better yet, eliminate them entirely. As the budget process continues to move forward, I will keep you updated on the latest developments.

Basic Education Funding Commission

Recently, the Basic Education Funding Commission unanimously approved a new formula to distribute basic education funding from the state to local school districts. The formula is the product of months of work by the bipartisan commission and marks a major step forward in establishing funding that is responsible, predictable and equitable for all the Commonwealth’s students.

Senator DinnimanThe Senate Education Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 910, legislation that will make the new formula law. The bill, of which I am a prime co-sponsor, must pass the full Senate and House to be signed into law. Furthermore, the new funding formula’s success is totally dependent on the General Assembly providing sufficient dollars to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to be educated to the top of the curriculum. Unfortunately, the budget plan put forth by the majority party failed to provide the funding needed.

As a member of the commission and minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, I am also pleased to see that the formula and the commission’s recommendations acknowledge and begin to address socio-economic factors related to the impact of trauma in the classroom. The commission’s inclusion of trauma-informed education is the direct result of the work I and others in Chester County have done to raise awareness of this important issue.

Keystone Exams Bill Passes Senate

testOur efforts to put a hold on the Keystone Graduation Exams continue to make progress. Most recently, the Pennsylvania Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation to delay the graduation requirement associated with the Keystone Exams for two years.

Under current law, high school students beginning with the class of 2017 (rising juniors) will have to pass Keystone Exams in three subject areas (Algebra I, Biology and Language Arts) in order to earn a diploma. Senate Bill 880 calls for delaying the requirement until the 2018-2019 school year, meaning it would affect incoming freshman.

The bill is now in the House Education Committee and I remain hopeful that its contents will be included in the School Code by this summer.

Natural Gas Pipelines

pipelineAlthough natural gas drilling itself is not occurring in our region, our communities continue to be directly impacted by its growth in the form of the ever-increasing network of pipelines. Pipelines crisscross nearly every municipality in Chester County and more are on the way. As a result, our communities continue to experience potential threats to public safety, as well as environmental and quality-of-life impacts.

Recently, I introduced Senate Bill 905 to allow governments and school districts to impose a real estate tax on natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. Currently, they are exempt from local taxation. It’s only right that pipeline companies pay a real estate tax just like property owners.

In addition, I am a co-sponsor of two bills introduced by state Senator John Rafferty. Senate Bill 557 establishes a pipeline impact fee in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 561 contralizes PennDOT as the agency charged with inspecting interstate and intrastate pipelines in Pennsylvania. Currently, interstate pipelines are regulated by the federal government. However, there is no state regulation of the siting of intrastate pipelines in the Commonwealth.

It is time for natural gas pipeline companies to pay their fair share to support local taxpayers, as well as the necessary local emergency response preparations and environmental protection and reclamation measures directly related to their operations.

Support Your Local Food Cupboard this Summer

The Chester County Food BankSummer tends to be a tough time for our local food banks as they receive the bulk of their donations during the holiday season. The Chester County Food Bank is always looking for volunteers to assist with their community garden, growing and food preparation efforts.

In addition, if you are interested in supporting a local food cupboard, I encourage you to consider Divine Sent Food Cupboard in Oxford, which was recently burglarized. Earlier this month, thieves broke into the cupboard stealing air conditioning units and a refrigerator and causing more than $20,000 worth of damage. As a result, the cupboard, which feeds almost 700 families in need throughout the year, lost a considerable amount of food to spoilage.

Remembering Our History

A number of historic preservation efforts are currently underway in our area.

This summer PennDOT is beginning work on restoring three covered bridges in Chester County to their historic standard. They are the Rapps Dam Covered Bridge in East Pikeland, the Speakman Covered Bridge in West Marlborough and the Knox Covered Bridge located in Valley Forge National Historic Park in Tredyffrin Township.

Davs Family
Pictured (from left to right): Iris Gray Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Dr. Wanda M. Davis; William Daley, Dr. Davis’ brother; Sally Davis, sister of Pfc. Davis for whom the marker is named; Senator Dinniman; Hazel Duncan of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Charles Fleischmann, Supervisor of Upper Oxford Township; and Robert J. Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission.

In addition, I am working with Upper Oxford Township and the Upper Oxford Historical Commission to recognize the five one-room school houses that educated students throughout the region at the turn of the 19th century. Recently, I honored local officials and the Davis family for their work in dedicating a historical marker at the Villa Nova one-room schoolhouse. The marker is dedicated to the memory of Pfc. Robert A. “Bobby” Davis, who attended the school as a child and later gave his life in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. Pfc. Davis was the first Chester County soldier to be killed in the line of duty in Vietnam and was posthumously recognized for courage under fire.

Earlier this spring, we marked the Centennial Celebration of the “Old Glory” Statue at the Historic Chester County Courthouse. The monument’s commemoration was part of a series of events I was involved with over the past year throughout Chester County in commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, including recognizing Phoenixville native and Civil War nurse Rebecca Pennypacker Price and honoring the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

It is vital that we continue to remember the pivotal role that Chester County played in our nation’s defining struggle and honor all that our predecessors accomplished to move our nation toward freedom and equality.

Summer Events

Finally, members of my staff and I visit a variety of events throughout Chester County during the summer in an effort to stay in touch with the issues and concerns that matter to you. Be sure to stop July 4thby our table, which will be stocked with plenty of free publications, including maps, recreation guides and helpful information on other state programs. You can access a full calendar of events here.

I hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend. Please take some time to remember all those who served and continue to serve in defense of our nation and the cause of freedom.

And as always, don’t hesitate to give me a ring at my West Chester office or e-mail me directly at andy@pasenate.com

 

Sincerely,

Andy Dinniman
State Senator - 19th District

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Offices of State Senator Andy Dinniman

www.senatordinniman.com

 

District Office
One North Church Street
West Chester, PA 19380
Phone: 610.692.2112
Fax: 610.436.1721
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harrisburg Office
Senate Box 203019
183 Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3019
Phone: 717.787.5709
Fax: 717.787.4384

 
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