Military Family Relief Assistance Program Extension Sent to Governor
The Senate unanimously approved the extension and expansion of the Military Family Relief Assistance Program. House Bill 1533 has been approved by the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The Military Family Relief Assistance Program provides grants to military members who have a direct and immediate financial need due to the sudden loss of income directly related to their service or an emergency need for child care, food, shelter or other necessities. The program also provides emergency funding for travel and lodging in the event of the death or serious illness of a spouse, parent, sibling or child. HB 1533 would extend the program until 2016 and adds National Guard members to the list of service members who are eligible for the program. The legislation also expands eligibility guidelines so military families could be eligible for assistance for up to a year following their return from active duty.
Bill Strengthening Prosecution of Child Sex Offenders Headed to House
The Senate unanimously approved legislation giving the Attorney General stronger tools to prosecute child sexual abuse cases that cross county or state lines. Senate Bill 260 addresses a loophole in existing law that makes it difficult to prosecute sexual offenders who use the Internet to contact minors for sexual purposes. SB 260 would give the Attorney General concurrent jurisdiction with county district attorneys to investigate and institute criminal proceedings for the sexual abuse of children when involving more than one county or a county and another state.
Senate Approves Science in Motion bill
The Senate approved Senate Bill 766, legislation formally enacting into law the Science Technology Partnerships Program, better known as "Science in Motion." While the bill formally establishes the popular program, it does not address funding. Governor Rendell has repeatedly eliminated funding for the program in his budget proposals and left it to the Senate to restore the money. We provided $1.9 million for the program in the current budget, only to see the Governor eliminate the funding as part of his budget freezes earlier this year. Fortunately, $1.71 million or about 90 percent of the funding was restored in February. Funding is again eliminated in the Governor’s proposed 2010-11 budget, and this line item will again be considered by the Legislature during our budget deliberations. The program makes state funding available to higher education institutions to purchase high-tech science equipment. This equipment is then transported to and shared with surrounding schools. More than 300 public, private, and parochial schools were served throughout the state by 11 higher education institutions: Cedar Crest College, Clarion University, Drexel University, Gannon University, Gettysburg College, Juniata College, Susquehanna University, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Ursinus College, Westminster College, and Wilkes University.
Committee Approves Bill for Military Burials at Washington Crossing
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee approved legislation to allow for formal military burials of veterans at Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Bucks County. Current law does not provide for honor guard burial details at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. Only Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Lebanon County and National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County are authorized to conduct those ceremonies. Senate Bill 1186 would expand the authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to provide this honor and burial allowance to veterans buried at Washington Crossing.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Here's the latest edition of Harrisburg Happenings courtesy of state Sen. Bob Mensch, R-24th District: