On Wednesday October 17, the PA General Assembly ended its legislative work for the 2017-18 session. This term for legislators continues until November 30 and the House and Senate will return one day in November to elect new leaders for the new 2019-20 session. Now the focus is on the election less than two weeks away. When voting, ask yourself who has a farming background? Who understands issues that rural PA faces? Re the voting itself, please do. The alternative is that someone may get elected who does not share your views on Broadband expansion, help for the Dairy industry, farmland preservation, etc. Sincerely, Vince Phillips
SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR
- House Bill 1346 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong/Indiana/Butler) was signed into law as Act 78 of 2018. It bans drone flying over restricted areas (correctional institutions) and where there is an intentional invasion of privacy.
WITH THE GOVERNOR
- House Bill 544 (Moul-R-Adams) limits liability for property owners who permit recreational use of property where no admission fee is charged.
- Senate Bill 1171 (Brooks-R-Mercer/Crawford/Warren/Erie) seeks to make regulatory oversight of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) easier for farmers by allowing for active consultation on rule-making with the Farm Animal Advisory Board. Two members must have active CAFO permits.
- House Bill 2157 (Grove-R-York) codifies classification of instructional vocational technical programs and directs the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence to issue guidelines under which a student may apply credit towards completion of an agriculture education program.
- House Bill 1216 (Farry-R-Bucks) permits rescues of dogs and cats from closed cars in hot conditions. It also establishes what amounts to an animal’s Bill of Rights (although the bill does not use that phrase). A person commits an offense if he/she does not provide for basic needs of food and water, clean and sanitary shelter and protection from the weather, and necessary veterinary care.
SENATE ADOPTS AG RESOLUTIONS
Senate Resolution 418 sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Crawford/Mercer/Warren/Erie) urges the U.S. Congress and USDA to include milk in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Senate Resolution 421 sponsored by Senator Sharif Street (D-Phila.) urges the U.S. Congress to remove commercial industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance list.
ALMOST TO THE FINISH LINE
Several bills simply ran out of time before seeing final action by the General Assembly. Next year, they can be re-introduced although they will likely have different bill numbers.
- Sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Senate Bill 1237 would have established the Rural Health Redesign Center, a public-private partnership to help rural hospitals upgrade care and address solvency issues. It made it past the Senate and ended up in the House Health Committee.
- House Bill 1550 (Klunk-R-York) would have allowed for voluntary relinquishment of a preserved farmland’s additional residence provision. It passed the House and made it as far as the Senate voting calendar before the session ended.
- House Resolution 429 would have established a special legislative task force on delivery of high-speed Broadband for rural areas and would have had the Joint State Government Commission create an advisory committee to conduct a study of delivery of high-speed Broadband in underserved areas. It was part of a four bill bipartisan Broadband package sponsored by Representatives Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington). It reached the House calendar but was not voted on.
PDA ANNOUNCES FY 2018-19 FAIR FUNDING
On October 20, the PA Department of Agriculture announced its annual plan for awarding grants under the PA Agricultural Fair Act. for agricultural fairs, statewide Ag organizations which contribute to the development of agriculture and agribusiness, and to 4-H and FFA. Applications for Fair Reimbursements from statewide Organizations, and FFA/4-H reimbursements for FY 2017-18 are due to PDA by November 15, 2018.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported on the response rate by farmers for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Pennsylvania was ranked 8th nationally with a 75.15 percent response rate. The national response rate was 71.5 percent. In all, more than 67,000 questionnaires were mailed to Pennsylvanians. In another development, NASS announced that it is collecting data from vegetable growers from October 25 to December 20, 2018, with results reported in the Annual Vegetable Release February 12, 2019. The research will obtain final acreage production and value of sales for fresh and processed vegetables. Details: King Whetstone 717-787-3904; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PA Department of Agriculture issued a new organizational chart October 13 in the PA Bulletin, https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-41/1588.html, as did the PA Game Commission https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-41/1589.html.
CORRECTION: The last issue of AG ONE Newsletter contained an error spotted by Kerry Golden, Executive Director, House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. Accurately stated, Act 77 of 2018 (House Bill 1917) dealing with humane society police DOES NOT subject humane societies to the Right To Know Law. Please accept an apology if the error caused confusion.
REST IN PEACE… Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich (D-Lackawanna) died from complications relating to recent heart surgery. He was a member of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.