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State Representative PRSRT STD

Kerry Benninghoff
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
HARRISBURG PA
PERMIT NO 529

171st Legislative District

Summer 2008

DEAR NEIGHBOR
It continues to be my honor to serve our area in the state Legislature. about what you feel state government should be working to accomplish.
I enjoy representing our values and our area’s needs, in addition to fighting Together, we can continue to improve Pennsylvania, making it a leader
for what I believe is good for Pennsylvania. among all states.
Please read through this newsletter to learn more about important On a personal note, I would like to, on behalf of my family, take a
legislative initiatives that may affect you. moment to thank the many kind people who have called, sent cards and
I want our state to have excellent, affordable health care, a quality teddy bears and well wishes of all kinds upon learning of my four-year-old
education system and, most of all, family-sustaining jobs. daughter’s brain tumor. My family and I are very blessed by your kindness
I believe one of the most important parts of being a state representa- and loving prayers. We are most grateful.
tive is listening to the people I am elected to represent. Therefore, I would
like to thank everyone who attended one of my public town hall meetings
or legislative breakfasts. In addition, I appreciate everyone who takes the
time to write to or call me. State Representative
In order to best represent our area, I want to continue hearing from you 171st Legislative District

AUTISM
Expanding Health Benninghoff Benninghoff
Care Opportunities for
Autistic Children Continues Push for Fights for
The Legislature recently passed and the
governor signed into law a long-sought measure
Redistricting Reform Bonus Ban Bill
to require private insurance coverage for the As a strong supporter of efforts to reform the way
diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum dis- I firmly believe the House must act
legislative districts are drawn, I was disappointed by the to pass Senate Bill 986, known as the
orders in thousands of Pennsylvania children. failure of the Legislature to enact a meaningful redistrict-
The bill that was signed into law – House Commonwealth Agency Bonus Ban Act.
ing reform law before breaking for its traditional summer This legislation would ban the payment
Bill 1150 – was authored by my good friend, recess. Despite this setback, I am continuing to fight for
Speaker Dennis O’Brien (R-Philadelphia) and of bonuses to employees of the legis-
this important reform. lative branch and workers in various
will establish Pennsylvania’s status as the na-
Redistricting is the process used to draw boundaries executive agencies. The reason it is
tional leader when it comes to helping families
for state House and Senate districts as well as congres- needed is clear: to prevent “Bonusgate”
deal with autism.
This new law will end the discrimination in sional districts. The current process for drawing districts from ever happening again.
insurance coverage and at least provide for treat- is heavily controlled by powerful political elites, leading to The Senate passed the bonus
ment through better health care for thousands of what are known as “gerrymandered” districts with boundar- ban legislation in a unanimous vote on
Pennsylvania children with autism. ies drawn to serve political purposes. Oct. 17. The bill entered the House
The law (Act 62) requires private insurers In an effort to continue pushing this reform forward, I on Oct. 18 and was promptly referred
to cover proven treatments of autism spectrum have sent a letter to the Democrat chairwoman and Repub- to the House State Government Com-
disorders for children and young adults up to age lican chairman of the House State Government Committee, mittee – where it has languished to this
21 beginning in July 2009. which currently holds the bill, to encourage them to hold a very day.
Act 62 includes definitions of behavior spe- public hearing about this proposal. I am also considering For nearly nine months, no sig-
cialist, rehabilitative care, and applied behavioral the use of a legislative procedural maneuver known as a nificant action has been taken on this
analysis. ABA has been proven an effective treat- discharge resolution to get the bill released from the com- legislation. Instead, this commonsense
ment for thousands of children living with autism. reform has lain dormant, dying a slow
mittee. If successful, this would send the bill to the House
This important element was sought by autism death with little notice. Some of my col-
floor, where it could be voted on by all members.
advocates from all over Pennsylvania. leagues and I plan to change that.
Redistricting reform would change the entire system. In order to free the bill from the
The law exempts groups with 50 or fewer That is why I continue to push my colleagues on the
insured employees, but it requires coverage of committee and bring it before the en-
House State Government Committee to move forward with tire House for a vote, we plan to use
autism treatment up to age 21 by state govern- legislation I co-authored – House Bill 2420 – that would
ment insurance programs such as CHIP and a parliamentary maneuver known as a
reform the process by which congressional and legislative discharge resolution. A discharge reso-
adultBasic.
districts are drawn. lution is a legislative option that permits
Act 62 also ensures that Pennsylvania’s
The legislation was unveiled on April 9 at a news the entire House to remove a bill from
Medical Assistance program will remain a safety
net for these individuals and their families if the conference held along with the League of Women Voters committee when the committee has not
cost of covered services exceeds $36,000 in (LWV) of Pennsylvania and members of Common Cause taken action for 15 legislative days.
a year. Pennsylvania. I will continue to fight for this
I was honored to support my friend and vote Key redistricting reform provisions included in House commonsense reform to restore public
for this bill, which will help so many Pennsylvania Bill 2420 include: confidence in state government.
families. continued on page 3...
STATE BUDGET RECAP House Must Approve
Budget Issue Fast facts Do-Not-Call List for
Political Robo-Calls
Despite calls for new taxes and fees by Gov. Ed
Taxes and Fees Rendell, this year’s budget includes none.

NOW!
Overall Spending The budget calls for $28.2 billion in spending.

Spending Increase Spending will increase by $1.08 billion over last year.
I have advocated for legislation that would allow
Rainy Day Fund Despite calls from House Democrats and the governor Pennsylvanians to stop receiving political robo-calls.
to spend money from the state’s reserve account, the
budget does not dip into this fund. This bill was approved by the Senate in April and is
currently under consideration in the House State
Spending Cuts Using an across-the-board, 1.3 percent minimum cut in Government Committee, of which I am a member.
non-mandated budget items, lawmakers were able to
eliminate $548 million in spending from the governor’s In 1996, Pennsylvania created a Do-Not-Call List
original proposal. for commercial telemarketers. Senate Bill 820 would
All 501 school districts will receive a minimum increase
establish a separate Do-Not-Call List for political
School Funding of 3 percent in basic education funding - double the 1.5 robo-calls. As with the existing Do-Not Call List, the At-
percent minimum proposed by the governor. torney General would be responsible for maintaining
the Do-Not-Call List for automated political calls.
Reduced Legislative The House reduced its expenditures by $2.5 million The first Do-Not-Call List for political robo-calls
and the Senate reduced its expenditures by $1.3
Spending million. would be required to be in use by Oct. 15, 2008, in
time for this fall’s election season.
Taxes and Fees Under Senate Bill 820, it would be illegal for
In his annual budget address in February, Gov. Ed Rendell proposed several new taxes any political candidate or organization – including
and fees to support large increases in state spending. For example, the governor proposed so-called 527 groups – to make an automated po-
a new tax on consumer electric bills to pay for $850 million in new state debt associated litical call to any resident who signs up to be on the
with his energy proposals. In the end, the Legislature was able to pass a budget with no list. Offenders would be subject to penalties of up to
new taxes or fee increases. $1,000 per violation.
Overall Spending Senate Bill 820 does not prohibit live political
When I began serving as a state legislator in 1997, the state budget was approximately calls. Candidates and political organizations will still
$17 billion. This year, the state enacted a budget that will spend more than $28 billion. Think be able to contact all voters by telephone as long as
about that for a second. From the time our Commonwealth was founded until 1997, the they have a real person making the call.
state budget had only grown to $17 billion. In the past 12 years, the budget has ballooned

Benninghoff
by another $11 billion. Most of the spending increases have taken place during the current
administration of Gov. Ed Rendell. When the governor signed his first state budget into
law, it spent approximately $21.8 billion. By the time he signed his sixth budget into law this

Fights for Safety


year, the state was slated to spend more than $28 billion.
Spending Increase
The state budget signed into law this year by the governor represents a $1.08 billion
increase in spending over last year’s budget. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to watch state
spending increase by more than $1 billion each year. Sooner or later, such large spending
Improvements
increases will require some form of additional revenue – such as a tax increase – to pay for
them. on State Route 322
Spending Cuts Following a fatal traffic accident along state
By tightening the state’s financial belt, lawmakers were able to cut nearly $550 million Route 322 in Centre County, I sent a letter on June
from non-mandated budget items in the governor’s budget proposal. These cuts helped 23 to Allen Biehler, secretary of the Pennsylvania
eliminate the need for any of the governor’s proposed tax or fee increases. Department of Transportation (PennDOT). I urged
Rainy Day Fund the secretary to make important safety improvements
The state has accumulated a $742 million reserve account – commonly referred to as to this road. In response, Biehler sent me a letter on
the “Rainy Day Fund” – to protect taxpayers against tax increases during emergencies. These June 29 to let me know that PennDOT has plans to
funds were used, for example, following the attacks of Sept. 11 to avoid a tax increase when install centerline rumble strips along parts of state
the economic repercussions of the attacks affected state revenues. Despite calls by the Route 322. These should help alert drivers when they
governor and some House Democrats to spend some of this money in this year’s budget, cross the centerline, preventing head on collisions. I
lawmakers appropriately protected the account so the funds will be available during a true will continue to push for this and other much-needed
emergency. safety improvements to this local road.
School Funding
The governor’s original school funding proposal included a minimum increase for each
school district of only 1.5 percent. Rendell’s proposal also included $34 million in new funding
specifically targeted for Philadelphia schools. Through tough negotiations, legislators were Benninghoff
Measure Would Ban
able to double the base increase from 1.5 percent to 3 percent and eliminate the special
funding targeted to Philadelphia.
Reduced Legislative Spending
As I meet and talk with families throughout our area, I have found one common theme.
Local residents are stretching their money further than ever in an attempt to make ends
Gifts from Lobbyists
meet. I thought it was important for lawmakers to show we understand and appreciate what While current law requires lobbyists to report
residents are going through. To accomplish this, I firmly believe the Legislature should tighten certain gifts provided to lawmakers by lobbyists, I have
its own financial belt. Lawmakers did just that, cutting House expenditures by $2.5 million proposed a new law that would completely prohibit lob-
and Senate expenditures by $1.3 million. byists from providing any gifts, hospitalities, lodging or
Overall Analysis travel expenses to state officials or their employees.
While I obviously would have liked to see a more fiscally conservative budget that The current lobbying regulations are filled with
better controlled spending, I was pleased that this year’s budget included no new taxes or loopholes. Instead of trying to plug all of those holes,
fees and preserved the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Perhaps most importantly, I was pleased our state needs a new law that completely bans gifts
from lobbyists.

WWW . KERRYB
to see the Legislature cut its own expenses – a sign that House members and Senators do
understand the financial conditions and burdens of working families and senior citizens.
You Should Know
The Legislature passed and the governor signed into law two bills in conjunction with the budget that would provide for critical investments in Pennsylvania’s
aging infrastructure. They were:
 Senate Bill 2 – Provides for up to $800 million for water or sewer,  Senate Bill 1341 – Provides for a ballot referendum to authorize
storm water, flood protection and dam safety projects. The $400 million in new bonds to pay for improvements to drinking
money will be provided through bonds, which will be paid water and wastewater treatment systems. YOU will have a
back using a small portion of state gaming revenue. chance to VOTE on whether or not the state should proceed
with this plan to borrow money for these projects.

continued...Benninghoff Benninghoff Fights to Improve


Continues Push for Controversial Rockview
Redistricting Reform Land Transfer
 Congressional and state legislative districts would be redrawn In June, the House approved a land transfer bill that would convey
by the non-partisan Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau more than 1,100 acres of land from Rockview State Prison to Penn State
using strict criteria for mapping, transparency and public input. University at a price of more than $1 million. Working in a bipartisan manner
 A five-member temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission with my colleagues, I successfully amended the bill to enhance environmental
would be responsible for collecting and coordinating public protections and, perhaps more importantly, made arrangements to extend
input about any redistricting plan. public access to the land.
 A redistricting plan would be developed by the Legislative Specifically, the improvements will ensure the public – including hunters,
Reference Bureau, made available for public consideration, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts – has access to the land in perpetuity.
revised based on public input and presented to the General Originally, the land transfer arrangements would have only ensured public
Assembly for approval. access for a period of 35 years.
 Both chambers of the General Assembly would have to approve While I still have concerns about the land transfer, the overwhelming
the redistricting plan for it to be implemented. Neither chamber amount of legislative support for the measure made it impossible to block.
would be allowed to amend the original plan submitted Instead, I focused on improving what I considered a “less than ideal” piece
to it by the Legislative Reference Bureau. of legislation.
 The use of data related to voter registration and voter performance The measure – Senate Bill 740 – was introduced by Sen. Jake Corman
would not be considered when drawing congressional and state (R-34). As originally introduced, the bill included several non-controversial
legislative districts. state land transfers. After it was passed by the Senate in May 2007, the bill
 Districts would be drawn – to the extent possible – to coincide was referred to the House State Government Committee. That committee
with boundaries of political subdivisions, including voting approved a controversial amendment, championed by Rep. Mike Hanna
precincts and school districts. (D-76), that included the land transfer to Penn State, Benner Township and
The redistricting process outlined in House Bill 2420 calls for increased the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
transparency by making all Advisory Commission meetings open to the I planned to introduce my own amendment at the committee meeting.
public. In addition, all data used to draft a redistricting plan would be posted My amendment would have conveyed the land to the Pennsylvania Game
on the Internet. Commission (PGC) for more than $2 million – twice the amount Penn State
While I was disappointed with the Legislature’s failure to act, I will con- would pay. However, the overwhelming support for Hanna’s amendment
tinue to push for redistricting reform and other improvements to make state made my amendment a moot point. Instead, I focused on amending the bill
government more transparent and accountable to the people. The prospect of on the House floor to improve the provisions of the land transfer.
change tends to make those who benefit from the current system uncomfort- When the bill came before the House on second consideration, I
able. But, in my opinion, representative government does not exist to make successfully inserted an amendment prohibiting the application of sewage
certain people comfortable; it exists to implement the will of the governed. sludge on the land that is to be conveyed to Penn State. I also secured the
improvement to extend public access in perpetuity.
This is a dramatic improvement and a win-win for the public. We were
able to secure some land access protections and environmental protections
for local residents. Those are protections that weren’t in the bill when it
was introduced.
The House approved the bill on June 18. Because the bill was amended
in the House, it was returned to the Senate for consideration.

I joined representatives from the League of Women Voters of


Pennsylvania in April to unveil a comprehensive redistricting reform
bill. The legislation would change the way legislative districts are
drawn, leading to more competitive elections and a more responsive
government.

BENNINGHOFF . COM
At a state government committee meeting in Harrisburg, I planned to amend
the land transfer bill. When it became obvious the bill would pass without my
amendment, I refocused my efforts toward improving the bill by amending it on
the House floor.
FOCUS ON ENERGY
New Energy Law
The Legislature recently passed and the governor signed into law several bills designed
to increase Pennsylvania’s homegrown energy supply and move our state toward energy Leading on Energy Issues
independence. The new laws also will help consumers to conserve energy, which will lower In addition to serving on the House Republican Energy Task Force,
their energy bills. I have introduced or plan to introduce several pieces of legislation
In addition, the increased production of traditional and alternative energy in Pennsylvania specifically addressing this subject. They include:
will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs. The focus on alternative and renewable • A bill to exempt wood-burning stoves and furnaces
energy sources is good news for our environment, ensuring Pennsylvanians can pass along a used for electricity generation from the state sales tax.
clean habitat to future generations. • A bill to provide tax incentives for people who install
The new energy policy has many positive benefits, which I fully support. It will: geothermal systems in their homes. Geothermal systems
• Drive down consumer energy prices. use the natural heat found under the surface of the
• Protect the environment. earth to warm a home in the winter. They can also remove
• Increase Pennsylvania’s homegrown energy supplies. heat from a house and transfer it underground
• Move our state toward energy independence. to keep homes cool in the summer.
• Promote “green-collar” job creation.
• Enhance alternative energy production.
• Invest in the next generation of clean energy technologies.
Improve Home Energy Efficiency
To accomplish the objectives outlined above, the new state energy plan will: Homeowners who are taking steps to make their homes more
• Provide grants and loans to promote alternative energy projects. energy efficient may qualify for the Keystone HELP program.
• Support the production of solar energy and promote the solar power industry in Keystone HELP, which is primarily supported by the Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania. Treasury Department, provides homeowners with unsecured lines of
• Fund a loan program to help low- and moderate-income families install credit ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 or more at competitive interest
energy-conserving technologies in their homes. rates. There are no fees, closing costs or penalties for early payment.
• Provide funding to help consumers install solar panels and related technologies Also, liens will not be filed on property if funds are accepted.
in their home or business. Improvements must be completed by an approved contractor or
• Support ongoing research, development and implementation of the next generation dealer. Eligible improvements include:
of clean energy and energy-conserving technologies. • Energy Star-rated electric, gas and oil (83 percent AFUE
• Provide grants and loans to support renewable energy projects – including or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Rating) heating and
geothermal systems – to increase Pennsylvania’s homegrown energy supplies. air conditioning systems and related work.
• Promote the development of high-performance, “green” buildings. • Energy Star-rated windows, doors, siding, roofing and
• Help small coal-fired energy plants install pollution control technologies so they insulation.
can comply with new state and federal regulations. • Geothermal, solar energy and hot water treatment,
• Provide funding in the form of grants, loans and rebates or consumer energy small wind power systems.
conservation projects and products. • Other qualifying Energy Star and similar improvements.
• Require increased levels of renewable fuels to be used as production of those fuel Modernizing a household’s appliances can save
sources increases. homeowners as much as 33 percent on their energy
• Provide tax credits to encourage alternative energy production within the bills, while cutting down on greenhouse gas
Commonwealth. emissions, preserving style and comfort and maintaining
• Provide incentives to promote the production of biodiesel fuel. a full list of features on one’s appliances.
Unfortunately, the new energy plan calls for $500 million in new state debt. I opposed the Though no specific income requirements exist, homeowners must
borrowing involved in this plan, believing it is wrong to saddle our children and grandchildren have satisfactory credit and must be able to repay the loan within the
with the price tag for programs we implement today. maximum 10-year term.
In fact, my colleagues and I on the House Republican Energy Task Force unveiled a tax- For more information or to apply for a Keystone HELP loan, visit
free, debt-free comprehensive energy plan in September. Our plan would have accomplished KeystoneHelp.com or call toll-free at 1-888-232-3477.
many of the same goals outlined above, but would have used existing state revenues – not
new debt – to pay for any new programs.

Energy Expo
From 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 25, you can learn about programs and techniques to help lower your energy bills at my Energy Expo at the Central Penn-
sylvania Institute of Science and Technology, located at 540 North Harrison Road in Pleasant Gap.
You can attend the entire event or just show up when it’s convenient for you. We will have vendors set up booths to provide valuable information for
energy customers.

Serving You  cut along dotted line


STATE REPRESENTATIVE

KERRY
As the elected state Representative from our area, I am here to serve you. If you would like to receive BENNINGHOFF
information about the following subjects, please fill out the form below, check the appropriate boxes, cut 171st District
along the dotted line and mail the form to my district office located at: DISTRICT OFFICES:
209 South Allegheny Street, Suite B 209 S. Allegheny Street, Suite B,
Bellefonte, PA 16823 Bellefonte, PA 16823
(814) 355-1300
Name _________________________________________________________________________
(814) 355-3523 (FAX)
Address _______________________________________________________________________
77 North Main Street
City __________________________________________________ Zip ____________________ PO Box 592, Reedsville, PA 17084
(717) 667-2319
E-Mail Address _________________________________________________________________ (717) 667-6025 (FAX)
Yes! Please send me information about:
HARRISBURG OFFICE:
 Benefits and rights for senior citizens.  Consumer protection materials. 141A East Wing
 Military veteran issues.  Gun rights/Second Amendment issues. PO Box 202171
 Energy efficiency guides.  How to start a business in Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, PA 17120-2171
 Firefighter and Emergency Medical  Helpful ways to save for college. (717) 783-1918
Services (EMS) issues.  Issues affecting children. (717) 705-1889 (FAX)

email: kbenning@pahousegop.com www.kerrybenninghoff.com